book list 2017 // something for everyone

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Every.Single.Christmas.Season I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what gifts to give. I really do enjoy buying the perfect gift for my loved ones – something special that will uniquely fit a person’s personality and interests.

I had a flashbulb moment this year (and I’m not sure why on earth I hadn’t thought of this earlier). I was blow-drying my hair (when all my best ideas happen) and I thought, “This is the year of books! Everyone gets a book!” It’s a pretty perfect idea – I adore literature, and there really is a book for every person – opening a world of new ideas, opinions and thoughts. Books grow and teach us. They soften us. They are the perfect, thought-filled gift.

This year, in between shopping for my friends and family at the bookstore, I decided to also compile a book list for you. As with any booklist, mine is obviously not exhaustive. Many of the books dearest to me don’t even appear. It pained me to not include each and every amazing title that I’ve enjoyed or gleaned from, but it’s just not possible!

The books I selected have been read by me this year, or are those that I pick when asked for a suggestion in that specific category. It doesn’t mean they are the only suitable choices, simply my go-to’s and ones that have proved perfectly fitting. There are at least another 30+ I could add for each category (and hundreds more for history lovers, educators and children!) Alas, that wouldn’t help you much, would it? To that end, I endeavored to keep my selections to a minimum.

Again, there are so many others I wanted to add, and if you need additional selections, contact me! I’d love to help you find the exact book you are searching for.

ENJOY and here’s to reading!

Note: There is much crossover amongst the categories. Please take a look at each, for you might find something that suits a completely different person than suspected!

***

 

For the student of theology and religious study:

For the homeschool mother:

For the sports lover:

For the new-ish Elementary school reader:

For the the food & feast lover/entertainer in your life:

For the political junkie and social issues aficionado:

For the science-fiction/fantasy lover:

For the hurting or grieving:

For the dad who doesn’t have enough time to read:

For your husband:

For the exhausted mom:

For the classically-inclined young lady:

For the middle schooler who isn’t completely won over by current YA fiction:

For the young one in the family (picture books and short read-alouds):

For the skeptic:

For the eagerly-growing Christian:

For the history buff:

For the poetry/short story/essay lover:

For the older and wiser women in your life:

For your grandparent:

For that adorable pre-schooler in your family:

For the fiction-reader:

For your sister:

For the family who loves to read aloud together:

For the education-lover:

***

I hope this list proves beneficial. I had a wonderful time compiling it for you.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas came early // breaking tradition

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Breaking tradition felt good and needed.

I didn’t apologize or care that I wasn’t supposed to.

After the year I’ve had, I looked at my husband last weekend and said, “Do we HAVE to wait until people leave on Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas?” To which he wisely answered, “Of course not! Let’s go get a tree right now. Who cares if it’s fake. Who cares?”

So we bucked 15 years of marital traditions. 37 years of resolute Christmas choices on my end. Real trees only. Christmas music in December only. NO talk of anything Christmas before Thanksgiving! No!

We bucked tradition and we decorated, listened to Christmas carols and sipped hot toddies on November 13th. A cardinal sin in my house.

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It felt good. It felt sooo good.

And maybe no one would have cared if I did this a decade ago. Maybe I created these so-called Christmas fundamentalist people in my mind, because I myself was one (although people get really heated about the Christmas carol discussion, which is hilarious.)

I was a Christmas fundie for no good reason. It’s exhausting caring so much about non-salvation issues.

It’s good to grow up and realize. And celebrate joy when needed. And break tradition, once in awhile.

fourth year // thankful

My first year homeschooling was spent figuring out how I would answer the question, “But your child goes to a great private school. Why homeschool?”

My second year of homeschooling was spent thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m exhausted but this is amazing, What the heck have I done?”

My third year of homeschooling was spent thinking, “This is the hardest year of my life and maybe I’m not cut out to do this and deal with life, at the same time.”

…..but this fourth year of homeschooling has largely been spent thinking, “Thank you Lord that I stayed the course. This opportunity is incredible and I’m so grateful I’m doing this. Thank you for sustaining me.”

God knows the seasons we will encounter – they are no surprise to Him and when the tide rolls over us, before we have time to gather our belongings and RUN!…..He is there. Reminding us that He’s got us in the palm of His hand. Us and our ridiculous life circumstances. It’s comforting.

 

There have been times in the last four years that I have wished I had margin to breathe. Homeschooling is all-consuming (no seriously, there’s no downtime except maybe at 1:45am), and that can prove to be difficult when walking through unexpected and painful times. However, the all-consuming nature of your children being at home is also a very special (and unexpected) gift. The created family culture that I’ve witnessed is remarkable. What was once a desire to give my child a custom education and “be around them” has turned into much, much, MUCH more than that. I am seeing benefits of our learning, growing and aging together, that I never expected. Ever.

To some, homeschooling must seem like a rogue choice to stick it to the education system. Sure, there’s a bit of that. But if that’s all people think homeschooling is, they are missing so much of its rich value.

Year four is rewarding Sean and I in many ways and,

I.

AM.

ABOUNDING.IN.

THANKFULNESS.

month of peace // glow

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Christmastime smells different to me. It’s in the air (yes, even Southern Californian air.) I can feel the change and I’m not referring to constant LEXUS car commercials, frenzied mall shopping, or holiday tunes in mid-October.

No,

From the last day of November until fireworks usher in the New Year, our family finds itself truly living in the glow of the season. I like to believe that it is just as wonderful as I imagine it in my mind, and it certainly is, but this is only because I actively set aside the normal and embrace the magical. The light-filled month of December is our true homage to life-giving truth and love. Feeling the warmth of the Christ-child and His birth. Knowing that all of life can be a bit muddled but inside our hearts and home, there is space. Rest.

My girls (and I) pack away the more vigorous aspects of homeschool – notebooks and science experiments are placed on a shelf and replaced with the finer things in life. There are moments that I wonder why we don’t park in this space for an entire year but I then reflect on the value of this season. How it deserves to be placed a bit higher. Reverence. Time allotted to breath, peacefully reflect and quietly learn.

If this all sounds a bit emotionally and nostalgically charged, it’s because it is. This month has become sacred in our house – the girls know that it won’t be filled with calendars and daily routines. No assignment lists or checked boxes. As a creature who thrives on rhythm and order, December is the time when I breath a sigh of relief and allow time to run away from me. No grand expectations or requirements. I want this month to be rife with tranquility and (as we have been working toward a new family culture) the last few years definitely have granted us rest and warmed souls. While the world outside speaks of stress and anxiousness – booked evenings and overspending, I relish in this time with my girls and husband. We intentionally keep our days clear and allow them to organically fill. It takes work but it is a worthy investment. When the moments of wonder come and overtake us with awe, we are ready. We don’t miss it.

Tangibly speaking, we transform our normal routines and clean house. We fill our home with books which reflect the season. We slowly rise and linger more at the table, speaking of the weather (although often it changes to the weather somewhere else, as SoCal weather is pretty basic during December) and eating really, really rich and heartwarming food. It certainly isn’t a strict time of moderation, but rather savoring very good things – because we have time to appreciate them, without rushing. A fire is constantly roaring, whether outside or in and allows hours of inviting friends in, cooking and baking. Long walks through our neighborhood, although often treaded, take on completely invigorating scenery. I take a term-long break from my normal schoolwork, forsaking the studies towards my masters degree for a 6 week term in paper crafts, baking cookies and glitter glue. Writing a letter that has been due. Sitting longer and not feeding the urge to jump up and do do do. Basking in the good and hard memories of years past – allowing room for the Lord to heal and bring about renewal.

All of these things are possible. If only we hand over our busy inclinations and remain.

So, I wait. I bake pumpkin bread and cook a turkey and feel extremely thankful. I enjoy the month of November because it’s more time the Lord has granted me with my girls, my friends and my husband.

But I wait. And I wait.

Because the season of peace is almost upon us.

***

Dear reader,

If this all seems rather whimsical, it really isn’t……It’s simply a call to give the best part of you to the season of Christmas, rather than allow the commercialization of December to eat your alive. I encourage you to carve out days, weeks and moments this upcoming season to dedicate to filling your soul with promises from the Lord and His truth, goodness and salvation. It’s not as intensive as it may seem. It’s a gift the Lord offers each of us.

Bring a basket into your living room and fill it to the brim with books that bring families together such as this advent, these short stories, or my personal favorite Christmas book (which can be read all year long.) Read whenever it comes to you, without regard to time (well, I mean, you have to feed your children and stuff.)

Wrap yourself in a blanket and sit with your kids. Light a candle, turn on a beautiful Pandora station (Christmas hymns station is our go to) and play a game or two. Bake. Play cards with your kids and light a fire. Make something simple for your neighbors and give yourself time to walk over to their homes and actually talk with them. Take all the opportunities to serve at your church and in your community (and easy way to serve others that I’m sure your church is doing also.) The season is hard for many people – give your time and resources to others. Come home and talk with your children about it. Create a culture of giving and inviting. Sing Christmas hymns over bacon and cinnamon rolls. Watch a movie as a family. Work on forgiveness, even when it takes time and is especially painful. Call someone who you struggle with – someone who doesn’t deserve it.

Sit and bask in your tree, advent, Bible. Allow the season to slowly wash over you and keep the Lord locked in your vision and in your heart. Give Him this season in the small ways and He will hand it back to you in the largest way possible.

Be still and know. Submerge in the glow, peace and comfort of Christ.

enchanted // charmed

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When life moves at the speed of light, one can completely miss enchantment. The type of magical distraction that catches your eye and occupies your thoughts for too long – way past the point of guilty pleasure. You’re attempting to simmer soup or craft a thank you note and voila! Another charming image flashes in your mind and removes necessary tasks from your list. Your brain is a whirly gig and finding the spot you left off on is impossible (this happened to me twice today while making a grocery list.)

We’ve all been known to take a sabbatical from being charmed – some for longer than others, in a natural, yet depressing, “I’m an adult now and must put off these youthful flights of fancy” type of way. Life has been known to deal lethal blows of well, life, and we forget how to live altogether. Mundane exchanges and responsibilities are somewhat soothing, much like the ticking of an old clock, but think of what we might be missing.

The things that charm me are plenty and diverse. sometimes so plentiful that I’ll forget how dazzled I can be by normal things like postage stamps and designer dog collars. Darling door stops and the small finger nails on a toddler, reaching for a crayon. Words of an old poem that still contain modern wisdom, wet cement drawings or model ships in a glass bottle (I saw one recently -fascinating!) The curve of an old tree with a forgotten birdhouse, or the precise positioning of antique photography in a home that hasn’t had visitors in years. Nightstand books, witty tip jar signs or a fairy tale heard for the first time. Small candles in front windows or the promise of rain. Handmade dollhouse furniture, piles of old letters that have no owner but still hold memories or small pieces of taffy in wax paper. Emerging from a book only to realize you gladly lost two hours of your afternoon. Seashells half the size of a penny or the way teacups and saucers clink when they meet.

Down each street is something that catches my eye but each season allows for the amount of time I’ll spend in appreciation. There are seasons where charm is limited and grit, stone streets and drab is all I seem to see. Gladly, those seasons have been few in my life, but as I grow older I am finding them more frequent, because, let’s be honest….life can be downright painful. Amidst the pain and corkscrew turns however, there is much to be entranced by. This electric world, created with just a few words, is busting with color and small confetti-like moments, people, creations, words, things.

I’m on a hunt to find them all. Discover the hidden-in-plain-sight magic that is all around me.

the rich life // abundance + sanctuary

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Without question, my very favorite days are those spent at home. The days where we have no commitments or errands to run. We spend the entire day reading and solving math problems, washing dishes, loading the laundry and refilling the coffee mug over and over. We have these days often and I wake up very peaceful and grateful, looking forward to what the day will hold.

This post serves no purpose at all except to share how very grateful I am for the current stage of life we are in with our children. Our home is a place of learning, refuge, gladness and sanctuary. It seems each day I hear of another national or international tragedy and I am jolted back in line – realizing I am so very blessed to have a minivan in the driveway, and my three girls sitting next to me. Some wish they had those comforts. It makes me cling to my family and prayerfully rejoice in our small life. Live in utmost gratefulness and give to others. It’s small but it’s so significant. In a year of personal upheaval, our home has been a place of joy and abundance. A year of good books, togetherness, bonding and expanding minds.

I am certain I will always look back on this particular time in our life with fondness. The light within these four walls is a sweet respite from a dark world.

 

Reformation Day // 500 years

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While everyone is passing out Snickers and hot glue-gunning the last detail on their child’s costume, I’m over here celebrating the 500th anniversary of Reformation Day. Before I even truly understood the importance of Luther, his 95 Theses, and Wittenberg, I had been looking for a way out of Halloween. I don’t care for it much. It rubs me the wrong way, and so when I began my journey through Reformed theology, and learned more about Reformation Day, I thought, “This couldn’t be more perfect!” Of course, that’s very self-serving, but hey….it’s a bonus, that’s for sure! Simply put, the fact that Luther turned religiosity on its head, and bravely called out impurities, needless tradition and abuse, from within the Roman Catholic church, is just so maverick. He wasn’t joking around and didn’t give a flying fig what anyone thought. He’s my kind of guy. We need more people who are bold like that. Especially now.

There are many articles/books/posts out there that will educate you on Martin Luther, Reformed theology, the importance of the 95 Theses, the SOLAS, and the differences between Protestantism vs. Catholicism. I won’t endeavor to write anything revolutionary on the topic because, if I’m honest, I’m not yet qualified. While I am certainly a “cradle Christian” and can handily defeat anyone in a game of Bible Trivia, I’m only a few years into my serious research and study of the Word and theology. I have a long way to go, and I’m grateful for that. Instead of penning my own thoughts, I’ll share some edifying resources and fun links. This should help you get into the spirit of celebration.

Happy Reformation Day and Soli Deo Gloria!

A primer on the Reformation 

Indulgences, explained

More background on Luther and the 5 Solas

Something for the kids

A podcast on the inspiring women of the Reformation

The implications of Luther’s theology

The Legacy of Luther (free ebook!)

Thoughts on a purchased salvation

Martin Luther style

My current favorite book on Martin Luther

morning rumination // mother’s basket


“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23

A new week is upon us, so there’s no better time to talk about new rituals!

There’s no verse in the Bible that states that you must spend time with the Lord in the morning. Yet, for many years I would go through my day feeling like a failure if I didn’t forsake all other human tasks, prior to communing with the Lord. Essentially, I began each morning behind the curve, or so I felt. Even if I would spend time in the Bible later in the afternoon, I still felt like I was doing life wrong.

It turns out I felt that way because, for me, I’m at my best in the morning. I’m an early bird by nature, and am most alert before 1pm. After 1pm, I run on caffeine and many prayers for survival. I suppose I felt like I was failing all those years because I knew that I wasn’t giving my very best offering to the Lord.

And then along came three children. Middle of the night everything. Exhaustion. Busyness. Blurry vision and fuzzy thinking. My youngest is just now three and I still feel many of these things and am finally, just finally, feeling like I’m coming up for air. But barely. I’m still tired. I’m still an early bird, I still have early-risers and I still have a problem to solve.

When will I sit quietly with my Savior? 

It’s something I desire and it’s definitely something I need (we all do.) I’m 100% more refreshed, renewed and inspired when I start my day with truth and peace, but man. It’s really hard. The clock yells, “5:30am! IT’S ALREADY HERE AND YOU’RE STILL TIRED! JUST SNOOZE FOR A FEW MORE MINUTES!” But the truth is….If I want peace and quiet and some sort of time for reflection, it must be before my three girls arise. And if I don’t grab that time then, it’s not happening until, well, it probably won’t.

Admitting that truth has made my plan much clearer, and it is this:

I’ll sleep when I’m dead, I guess. (I laugh at that to keep from crying.)

But seriously, no matter how painful it might seem in the present moment, I need to surrender that time. My girls need me to have that time with Him and so does my husband. They all deserve a mother, wife and friend that is bathed in scripture. So, as NIKE says….I have to “JUST DO IT”.

I was recently listening to a favorite podcast and loved their take on the “Mothers Basket” (this is a home education podcast but you do not need to be a homeschooler to benefit greatly from this episode.) We have a daily ritual in our homeschool called, “Fireside”, where we get out a huge basket of books, poetry, art pieces, scripture, music and enjoy the feast before us. We sit on the couch (and if this SoCal weather would cool, we light a fire) and soak in literature and learning. It’s everyone’s favorite part of the day (usually because we have an exciting read-aloud happening. Right now it’s this one and we have ONE CHAPTER LEFT AND I’M MORE EXCITED TO FINISH THAN ANYONE IT’S SO GOOD!). The girls look forward to these moments because it’s specially-curated pieces of learning and it’s set apart. They get cookies and milk and they devour snip-its of culture. Plus, it’s quiet (nap time for Polly!)

While I personally have a small basket which holds my Bible and reading material for my own edification, I had never thought to fill it with anything other than the “essentials”. Where the heck am I going to find enough time to read anything else but the Bible?! I can’t even manage THAT in large degree. However, this podcast episode allowed me to imagine enjoying, in small doses, pieces of several delicacies (as long as we are talking about a feast here) during my morning ritual. I don’t need to eat an entire cake. A few pieces will do. The episode pushed me to think outside the box and mentally prepare and retrain my mind for the importance of this time I have with the Lord!

I worked on my “Mothers Basket” this weekend and am looking forward to spending time with the Lord in a renewed way. Delighting in Him and the varied interests He has given me. I would encourage you, if you are struggling in your personal time with the Lord – maybe it’s also been rough for you to make time – to listen to that episode and begin thinking about a new way to approach your morning time with Christ!

It’s a beautiful opportunity we have, at our fingertips. I regret thinking of all the mornings that slipped into afternoon and evening, without me meditating on His word.

Here are to new starts and baskets full of invigorating truth, beauty and virtue. I have my basket ready – by a comfortable chair. All I need is my hot cup of coffee and the alarm to ring. I’m ready!

***

I will be changing my basket out monthly, I think. Here is what I currently have in it and I look to read these books on a rotation, not necessarily daily. I hope to give myself 40 minutes a day. We’ll see how that goes!

My Bible

A Little Book….

A short novel

Something to grow me (given by my dear friend, who has stood by me for years and is currently discipling me and a friend – go read her blog!)

Some thing I enjoy learning about (easily one of the best books I’ve read this year)

A small book on Paul Cezanne (I don’t particularly love his art, but the girls are learning about him, and I want to grow my appreciation. I found this small book at our local used book store.)

Learning to love liturgy (I was recommended this book by a bunch of friends in a private, online community of believers. It’s the 1979 revised edition. I’ve never given it a try, but am anxious to follow a church calendar! Any tips from veteran readers?)

I also have several magazines about education and a book of poetry written by a friend that I will rotate.

Overwhelmed? Looking for an easy place to begin? I would recommend THIS book. The passages are daily and while they are short, they are packed with truth. This and some quiet prayer time will fill your day with endless promise!

***

My hope is that this inspires you and gives you tools to begin something similar for yourself – let me know what’s in your basket! Here’s to this week, personal growth, and many special moments with the Lord!

forgotten history // our new muse.

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Recently, I claimed a concentration. I’ve entered back into the world of academia (wait, I never really left – homeschooling/teaching/always learning!) I’m doing my darnedest to gradate with my MA in American History. It was a back-and-forth debate on whether I should focus on my native country, or Military History, but eventually I came to peace with my choice – when I first started discovering my passion for history, it centered on my homeland and that has always remained of the most interest to me. This is not to say I am not thoroughly intrigued with European, Public or Ancient history – I most certainly am! However, the American experiment has my heart.

Within my first three terms, I’ve had the opportunity to research/write about The Great Depression, FDR and the game-changing photojournalism featuring Dust-Bowl migrants, destitute farmers, and urban squalor. It’s been enlightening and all-together wonderful.

I absolutely love history.

I’ve also found a renewed interest in forgotten history. I’ve long had a thing for historical “leftovers”. The subjects and materials that no one writes books about (well, except this one.) The articles of the past that are left at estate sales (that I capture and give new life to) and the stories that are rarely recounted or heard. I could pour over historical trivia, ephemera, and little-known accounts for my entire life, and never tire.

We recently renovated our home and it offered us a clean slate. Our walls have never been more bare, and with this golden opportunity, I decided to begin a new collection that I’ve always desired to start. Vintage portraits of unknown people. I took down our “flower wall” (any of you remember it?) and Sean and I have taken a new direction. Slow and steady is the key – finding the portraits that peak our curiosity the most.

I recently stumbled upon an ETSY seller that I was instantly captured by. She had a portrait that spoke to me (the fabulously dressed muse at seen at the top of this post), and after some time and deliberation, we purchased it. Come to find out, the portrait has a little American history of its own, which made it more than just a striking piece! It turns out that the artist is C.L. MacNelly. MacNelly was the publisher of the Saturday Evening Post from 1961-1964. This was after he served in the Navy in WW2. Later in life he turned toward portrait painting, and painted many politicians and famous figures, including Barry Goldwater, Hugh Downs, and Billy Graham (you can learn more about him here). Our lovely lady is said to have been the wife of a Portuguese Ambassador, visiting the United States, in the late 60s. I do wish I knew more of her story. I’ll settle for this beautiful rendering, however. It’s colorful and soothing and has vibrant life. This is the first piece of art we’ve had in our home which came with appraisal papers & a back story, which makes it somewhat traceable. Most of our past wall-hangings have been cast-offs, found in dusty attics and back-alleys. It’s an exciting change and one that has me searching for my next portrait.

Until I find another of the same stature, I must find a name for this lovely woman. Have any suggestions? I’d love to hear them!

***

If you’re anything like I am, you can easily be distracted by a post/article/book that reveals lost history. Here are a few online suggestions for your viewing pleasure, that I’ve recently enjoyed. There’s more where these came from – I could fill post after post with intriguing historical curiosities. For now, have fun discovering!

I’ve been searching, buying and recovering vintage/antique photos for years and have seen my fair share of forsaken photo collections, but never like this: Rescued Film Project

Personal tales of Civil War families.

What a lovely Restoration story, full of rich American history.

Abandoned America is a fun website that will turn into a rabbit hole adventure. It’s eerie and somewhat sad.

I almost fell over learning about this failed 1930s town. You can also grab a book on it here!

The changing landscape of heirlooms and passed-down family treasures.

The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.”

Winston Churchill

abandoning lukewarm // living as Laodicea

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“For true doctrine is not a matter of the tongue, but of life.” 

-John Calvin

Nothing reminds you of your lukewarm tendencies as does a barrage of chaotic or unexpected life events. At least, this has been the case for me. I, much like everyone else I know, has felt the unparalleled strain of the world lately. Whether it be within the walls of our own homes, or the stains and streaks of unwarranted suffering, slashing loved ones. It’s all around. The death, the hurt, the words, the poison targets people are aiming. The strain and indifference and valleys in-between what used to be and what suddenly is. It’s like the decay of human relationships and health and belief and love are hanging on the air – so thick that I know I’m not the only one suffocating.

Or, maybe I am and it’s my turn to stumble through a bit of the pain which other people have gracefully marched through their entire life.

And… I’m presented, once again, with my lukewarm default. Because, you see, lukewarm works when things are bright and vivid. Stale and familiar prayers and chants and positive vibes are so taupe and vague and perfect and normal, when all is well. They satisfy.

But oh, when you hurt. The hurt that reduces you to your very lowest and most raw shadow. When you have no where to go, so you sit in it. That dark moment is when lukewarm is the very most disgusting thing that has ever resided within me. If we are in a place of aching and all we have are lukewarm sentiments to soothe us, we have no solace or hope, whatsoever. Nothing.

I’ve been a shell. I’m a walking Laodicea.

I am tired of lukewarm. Lukewarm has moved me through hard conversations and short inscriptions, proclamations of faith, and hope and believing. Lukewarm has resembled fiery passion for short moments, when I was introduced to uncomfortable situations but nothing has made me confront my own comfortable coma like real mental torment.

For this grinding ache,  I shout hallelujah! I rejoice in hurt and falling tears that will come and go as quickly as the wind blows and dies away.

Pain and swift-changing reality has given me the greatest gift.  It’s cracked me wide open and let everything pour out.

It has turned over a mirror and forced me to stare at my deplorable lukewarm nature and finally let it float away on the ever-changing winds of time, life, pain, joy.

I hate lukewarm. I don’t care if lukewarm comforts people and releases them to be acquainted with me. I abhor lukewarm because Christ is revolted by it. With lukewarm, I am so much farther from the Father then if I had never known of Him. To think of so much of my life being squandered with lukewarm platitudes and my imagining that I was, all along, white hot.

Lukewarm is my worst nightmare and it has been a constant companion for many years, sparked with genuine moments of intense strength where I saw glimmers of real faith. It’s gotten me by. It’s given me just enough to maintain. Be enough for others, but never for me or Him. I knew it, too. That’s the most horrible admonition.

And so, once again….

I say thank you Heavenly Fatherfor pain.

Without heartache, I would be living without a victory march, but simply a half-forced smile.

Beige. Tepid.

But with pain, I feel. I will live loudly, vibrantly, boiling and burning hot.

Laodicea, no longer.