Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's a Boy!

Welcome to the family Isaac Peter! You are so loved already!



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pass - Set - Spike!

Yesterday I headed back to my old high-school for a "hard-core" volleyball game with some former teammates. I was interested to see how the day would go, given that 1) I have not been in my high school since I graduated in June 2006, and 2) I have not played "hard-core" volleyball since our team lost at regionals in March 2006! The day ended up being a lot of fun and brought back so many memories.

Volleyball was a huge part of my life during my high school years. I play year-round either for school, a travel team, or with different camps/clinics. I absolutely loved to play, which was interesting because I was an okay player, but nothing great. Heading back to the court yesterday really lead me to reflect on some of the things I learned throughout those years and what lessons have carried with me today.

December 2005

Punctuality

The number one thing I would say I learned from playing sports was the importance of punctuality! What, were you expecting sportsmanship or leadership to be first?? I should preface this by saying that my high school volleyball coach really scared the life out of me, especially during my years on JV. Coach was very strict about punctuality. There was a clock in the gym where we practiced and we lived by that clock. If one of our teammates was even a second late the rest of us would be running laps and going through conditioning for the rest of the practice. At the time it was annoying and stressful, but today I often hear Coach's voice reminding us about the importance of punctuality - not just to practice or games, but to class and other events in life. She would always talk about how being on time is a sign of respect, and when you are late or hold others up, you are not only disrespecting them, but suggesting that your time is more important than theirs. 

You Can Demonstrate Christ's Love Everywhere, Doing Anything

I went to a Christian school and was consequently blessed to have teammates and a coaching staff that shared my faith. As a team and individuals we were constantly reminded that our words and actions would be associated with Christianity wherever we played because of the name written across our uniforms. Now, I should say that I don't think a believer should act any differently whether or not they are known to be a Christian, but as a teenager it was a good reminder to check myself and my attitude. I learned that I could display my faith even in something as minute as playing on a sportsteam - in the way I treated my teammates, respected my coach, and responded to my opponents.

Worth

This was a hard lesson to learn. Like I mentioned earlier, I was never a very good player, but I wanted to be! I spent hours of energy working on getting better and many sleepless nights worrying about what my performance would be like at the next game, practice, or tournament. I was very self-consious about how others thought I performed and did not have confidence in my own abilities. The truth is that I defined my worth during those years by how well I performed - and given that I often didn't perform the best, I didn't consider my worth to be very high. Looking back, I think many of these feelings contributed to the development of my eating disorder. As the years went by, my confidence developed, but I also learned to let go. Each game I went into knowing I would strive to give my best, and that was all I could do. At the end of the day I sought to learn from my mistakes, and then let them go. Often times when I find myself dwelling on a worry or mistake I've made the words we used to say to a teammate after a mess-up "Shake it off."


December 2012

There are many other lessons: respect, leadership, sportsmanship, discipline, perseverance, dedication, etc., but the ones above are those that have really stuck with me into my adult years. Throughout high school and college I've been involved in alot of other activities that have taught me similar lessons (i.e. volunteer work, school leadership team, orchestra, school play, student government) but none that played as big of a role in my life as volleyball did. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to play, and most importantly, to have been able to build the relationships that I did.

What about you? Have you ever been involved in an activity or program that influenced you at a young age? If not, did you learn similar lessons through different avenues?


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Over Already?!


There is nothing I look forward to more during the holiday season than spending time with my family. Since both of my brothers are married we have an on/off year schedule for Christmas Day so they can spend time with their in-laws.  This was an “off” year so we actually celebrated our family Christmas last Sunday.
Family Christmas for us is an afternoon/evening of lots and lots of eating, good conversation, and exchanging presents. Nothing big or out of the ordinary, but my family means the world to me, so any chance to get together is something to look forward to!
Highlights from this year:
-Sasha (5) requesting that we go around and each say something we were thankful for. Half the family mentioned the grandson/nephew/son on the way, especially my very pregnant SIL who is very ready to not be pregnant anymore!
-Grandpa (88) and Grandma (89) getting a portable DVD player for Christmas and being thoroughly confused about what this laptop looking thing was for and finally concluding that “It’s one more thing we’ll have to call Jim (my dad) to fix!”
-Alexis (3.5) has become our family princess. There is absolutely nothing she likes better than to dress up in anything that is fancy – especially if it sparkles! This year her Christmas presents included pink glitter shoes, a fancy tutu, a feathered headband, and a box of my SIL’s old jewelry. She spent the night decked out in all her regalia walking around the family room and randomly posing (mind you, no one was taking pictures of her, she was just posing for herself :) ).
-Lexi also gave us the biggest laugh this year when she sang through dinner! She would take a bite of food and then break into a song – which she would make up and make absolutely no sense. It was generally a combination of a Christmas carol, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo (from Cinderella).
Sometimes I try and remember what Christmas was like before we had any little kids around....it must have been pretty dull!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas in Heaven

With the horrible shooting in CT last week, death and loss is at the forefront of many people's minds. This past Saturday I was at a funeral and this beautiful poem was read. I've heard it before, but with the loss of both my grandparents this year, I heard it this weekend with a new light. 

I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below,
With tiny lights like Heavens stars
Reflecting in the snow.

The sight is so spectacular
please wipe away that tear
for I am spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
that people hold so dear
but the sound of music can't compare
with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you 
of joy their voices bring
for it is beyond description
to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart
for I am spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.

I can't tell you of the splendor
or the peace here in this place
Can you just imagine Christmas
With our Savior face to face.

I'll ask him to life your spirit 
as I tell him of your love
so then pray for one another
as you life your eye above.

Please let your hearts be joyful
and let your spirit sing
for I am spending Christmas in Heaven
and I'm walking with the King.

Anonymous

Friday, December 14, 2012

Embracing Weird

Do you ever have something that you feel like the Lord is just pushing on your heart? That at first you might just think is a bleep on the radar, but all of the sudden it keeps coming up again and again.

Over the past two and a half years, I have felt God placing it on my heart to embrace the weird.

I know - sounds ridiculous right? But the truth is that I'm tired of living what may be considered a "normal" life and letting what culture tells me dictate what decisions I make. I'd like to think that I have never been afraid to march to the beat of my own drum, but lately I've recognized the importance of not only accepting living a counter-cultural life, but striving for it.

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Romans 12:1-2

What do I mean? I mean purposely making choices like letting my faith dictate every decision I make, choosing to maintain strict physical boundaries in my relationship, living simply - debt free - and within my economic limits, dressing modestly, seeking to strive to be hospitable and commit to investing in relationships, going to law school - and then choosing to be a stay-at-home mom, choosing to homeschool my children, etc.

All to frequently I find myself engaging in conversation with individuals whom I would consider to be passive Christians. Yes they believe in God, but their faith is restricted to a Sunday morning worship service and occasional mid-week Bible study. The reality is that this passive Christianity is not working.    To truly embrace the Word of God we need to be willing to make sacrifices for him - we need to be willing to seek out ways to live out the Word on a daily basis and in a manner that might make other uncomfortable.

"The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions."
Proverbs 28:1

I don't believe everyone's weird is the same. I listed above a couple of things that I have come to believe are really important and plan on striving to implement in my own life, but your weird may revolve more around how you seek to be a good steward of God's creation, or how you strive to be a bold witness in your workplace.

Let's face it - alot of people think that Christians are weird enough already - so why not embrace it? I rather be considered weird by my peers and be seeking to serve Christ to my fullest than to seek to fit in with popular culture and be willing to put my faith on the back burner.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
2 Timothy 1:7



*Some books that I would highly recommend in regards to this topic are "Cunchy Con" by Rod Dreher and "Weird" by Craig Groeschel.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dreary Days

I have a love-hate relationship with this time of year. I was actually thinking the other day what next year will be like, when I will experience the first December in the last THIRTEEN years with no exams (this is of course, assuming I will have passed the BAR in July...). 

God is good, all the time.

But I really do dread these first couple of weeks of December. The get-up-and-study-all-day-realize-you-haven't-left-the-house-in-a-week-and-haven't-shower-in-three-days kindof weeks. I always know it is exam season because I have exactly 2 pairs of sweatpants, 2 long sleeve tops, and a sweatshirt that I rotate wearing. Its like my mind literally decides it's too much of an effort to put into actually getting dressed!

Positives of these weeks - I eat a LOT of chocolate and generally let myself sleep in a little later. Also, although Allie isn't due until Jan. 5, the doctors are speculating the baby will come in the next week or two! Although Lexi will still cuddle with me sometimes this auntie is ready for a little baby to fill her arms again!


So for another week this blog will be sparse - my words are all being put towards defining the establishment of corporations and differentiating between common and preferred stock (which I really do not care at all about). And then I will hopefully return refreshed and rejuvenated before I start my final semester of law school!

And since this post is random, I'll leave you with yet another random clip of my favorite princess, who also just so happens to be dropping by tomorrow night to give me a little studying reprieve with some Christmas baking.






Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Burst of Sunshine

Nothing makes a Wednesday night better than a Princess visit to break up the studying. (Side note - she requested sparkle shoes and fancy dresses for Christmas)



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lucia 2012

This upcoming Saturday I’m participating in one of my favorite holiday traditions.
I attend a covenant church. The original founders of the covenant church were predominantly Swedes (this meant that when my family left the Christian Reformed church during my early elementary years (which is a historically Dutch church community) I left a church full of Van Ests, Vander Lars, and Boomsmas to go to a church dominated by Andersons, Petersons, Swansons, and  Larsons!) In the 70s, several families in my church decided to get together and start a new Christmas program and outreach that focused on the celebration of the church’s Swedish heritage – thus St. Lucia was born.
St. Lucia was a young girl who was martyred for her faith aroud 340 AD. The traditional story is that she brought food to the Roman Christians hiding in the catacombs and wore a wreath of candles on her head to light her way and allow her hands to be free to carry the supplies. Today she is represented wearing a white dress (symbolizing purity) and a red sash (symbolizing her willingness to sacrifice her life for her faith).
The sanctuary all set up before the first breakfast - about 7:30 am

Every year on the first Saturday in December our church puts on 3 breakfasts open to the community. The first breakfast (which serves Swedish food) begins around 8 am and the remaining 2 are spaced about 2 hours apart. All of the pews are removed from our sanctuary and tables and Swedish decorations fill the space instead. One of my favorite parts of the celebration has always been that the entire church participates – from about 2/3 years old on up. Here are some examples:
Tomtar – “Little Elf” – the smallest children do a series of 4 dances around a Christmas tree in the center of the room. (This is absolutely adorable and was one of my favorite parts of participating in Lucia J)

Star Dancers – Older elementary children who also do a set of dances
Star Boys
Pepparkakor Girls – Sing and pass out cookies – the national Lucia in Sweden will often pass out Pepparkakor cookies (like ginger snaps) when she goes visiting
Lucia’s Court – high school girls
St. Lucia – typically whatever 12th grade girls are present rotate the role. The year I was Lucia the  church still put on 4 breakfasts and there was only one other senior girl participating so I was able to be Lucia twice. It really was one of my favorite Christmas memories – although walking around with a crown of candles was a little intimidating!
Annika was one of our Lucia's this year (and the best one!) and her sister Malin - our families are close friends and we have pics every year of the 3 of us girls since I was about 10.

The adults participate by – serving the breakfast, participating in the Chorus (who sings throughout the program), playing handbells, doing food preparation and clean up, and making up the orchestra.
This year I am playing the violin in our small 5-piece orchestra.
My brother (who did all the sound and lighting) and me

Some people might think the whole thing is pretty strange, especially when the majority of our church members are not Swedish, but I always loved the opportunity to participate in what felt like more of a historical Christmas program. I think there is also such a great connection in regards to the story of St. Lucia and her connection to the Christmas story. In fact, she is often referred to as the “bride of light.” I know that this tradition won’t last forever, but the lighting of candels in early winter always makes me think of Lucia and Christ lighting the way.
The front of the church where I played with the orchestra.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Pre-Nephew Celebrations

Our family is officially at the 5 week mark before we are scheduled to meet our newest family member! (although all the docs are telling Allie she will go early...) To celebrate my other SIL, Heidi, and I threw Allie a shower last weekend. It wasn't anything super big, but we had a lot of fun and really enjoyed getting together with family and friends to celebrate a little boy who is so loved already!

I was in charge of decorations, and I knew going into the shower that I wanted to make some poms that  Nana and Kaitlin pulled off so beautifully at several parties they had hosted. I also like to have a non-thinking project around this time (exam season) so it worked out perfectly!

We didn't go with any "theme" just colors - blue, brown, and white.



We welcomed guests into the home with this verse - which has become such an important verse for our family during this pregnancy. Allie and Todd had been praying God would bless them with a child for quite awhile and Allie has had some challenging health issues along the way. Heidi and I decided to stem off this verse and take a different tone to this shower. Allie had already had 2 previous showers and so we decided to make this more of a time to recognize God's greatness in the gift of this little boy and to bask Todd and Allie in prayer as they enter into parenthood. One of the ways we did this was by choosing to forego typical "shower games." Instead my mom gave a really beautiful devotion and the guests spent some time writing down prayers/blessings/wishes for Allie and the baby for Allie to read later on.



These are the poms - we hung several large ones around the family room using those hooks that can easily be pulled off the wall - they worked great!


One of my favorite things was taking smaller poms and putting them on spray-painted, ribbon wrapped dowels. They gave a flower effect and we used them as part of the centerpiece on the food table.


This sign was another simple project that I worked on and ended up loving. It hung between where we served the food and the family room where we primarily held the shower.


We wanted to have some favors for the guests, but again keep them simple. So we went with homemade chocolate chip cookies that fit the color theme perfectly!

We held the shower in the afternoon (which worked well for out-of-town guests) and served a spread of appetizers and desserts.

I love these ladies so much! (Lexi LOVES her sleep and so she decided to take a nice long afternoon nap instead of joining us for the shower :) ).


And I cannot end this post without a shotout to these guys. My dad and Brandon were amazing in helping clean and help set up for the shower and they had a little extra bonding time while putting one of the gifts together (a highchair).


Come soon little boy! I can't wait to meet you! (and find out what your mommy and daddy are going to name you!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Newcomer

As I mentioned in my last post, Thanksgiving this year brought a special guest.

The last couple of months have been crazy. That is really the absolute only way I can explain it. The timing hasn't necessarily been what I would have preferred or expected, but the end result is that I am experiencing a completely new sense of happiness, calmness, and excitement than I ever had before.

Meet Brandon.


I could go on and on about what an incredible man of God Brandon is and how he is passionate about his family, friends, faith, and work.....but the short of the story is that Brandon and I have begun to get to eachother and eachother's families in an intentional manner.

The challenge = Brandon lives in Minnesota, I live in Michigan

How then did we meet? You might remember my friend Jess, who I have mentioned before. Brandon is actually one of Jess' husband's best friends. We had met occasionally during the time Jess and Rob were living in Michigan, but during those times we were both in different relationships. This fall, everything kindof clicked into place and we started talking - a lot!

To be honest, I was nervous. Nervous that I was jumping into something too quickly after ending things with Justin, nervous about dating someone long distance, etc. On the other hand, I was amazed at the connections Brandon and I shared in our values, goals, beliefs, thoughts, etc. 

And so the flights began. We are blessed in that Brandon's mom works for the airlines so we can both fly standby. This has given Brandon the chance to come out to Michigan for several short visits - however for Thanksgiving he was able to stay for several days, which was really nice. 


Thanksgiving Dinner


I would have to say that one of my favorite parts of the trip occurred during Thanksgiving itself. During his last few visits, my grandpa and dad had been teasing Brandon that they were going to have a background check done on Brandon. Brandon actually had a report done on him for work this past summer. So as we all sat around after finishing the meal, Brandon presented my dad, grandpa, and brother with a 47-page background check on himself! Let's just say he won a couple of points all around :)

Up next = I fly to Minnesota for Christmas to spend some time with Brandon's family.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Obligatory Thanksgiving Post


I truly do have so many things to be thankful for this year. It has been a year full of ups and downs and many changes that I never expected, but in the mix of it all I have drawn closer to God and realized his blessings on an even greater level.

1. I am thankful for my family. For their caring hearts and commitment towards one another. We may not always be the best communicators, but we genuinely try, and the last years has particularly demonstrated that when things get tough we stick together.

2. I am thankful for new life. In a little over a month a new family member will join our mix. Many prayers have been offered up for his life and for the ability for my brother and his wife to be able to have children. Last year at this time there were alot of questions about what lied ahead in the future of their family - this year we are all eagerly anticipating the opportunity to embrace and love a new little boy into our family!

3. I am thankful for my church family. Due to the circumstances of the last couple of months I had been trying out other local churches. Last week I decided it was time to return to my home church and I was welcomed with open and loving arms. Big churches may have the advantage of drawing in strong pastors and talented worship leaders, but I would never choose that over the incredible community of my smaller home church.

4. I am thankful that my Grandma and Grandpa TM are celebrating this Thanksgiving and Christmas in the arms of our loving Savior - and the fact that they were able to enter his kingdom together this year. Although the last several months have been difficult, there have been many many times that someone in our family has commented that we are so grateful they were both taken on the same day, and how much sadder it would have been if today we were caring for one or the other of them who was lonely and missing their partner's companionship.



And last, but certainly not least, I am thankful for a very special guest who is joining my family for the Thanksgiving holidays with the purpose of getting to know me and my family better. God can work in incredible and often surprising ways, but more on that later! :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

An Unexpected Idol

I've had an idol for a large part of my life and have spent many years ignoring facing it. To give myself a little bit of a break, I don't think I fully understood that I was holding onto this idol so tightly until recently.

My idol is marriage.

For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to be a wife and a mother. I was naming my future children from as early on as I can remember and have notebooks filled with sketches of wedding dresses and home layouts. (it's alright to pause here and laugh at my inner-nerd) As a child, I remember thinking that everyone I knew who was truly happy had a family. My parents were an incredible demonstration of love towards each other and us kids and I always wanted what they had.

On one level, I think it is strange to think about marriage as an idol - after all, isn't it a good thing? Isn't it something that can be completely beautiful and God honoring? If so, how can it be made into an idol?

We all know the truth - too much of a good thing can be bad for us. 

For me, marriage became something that I wanted so bad that it not only began to cloud my judgment, but it began to pull me away from God and his plan for my life.

And this is where I take my step of vulnerability in this post. In my past relationship I was dating a man who is an incredible Christian and has a true heart for God and others. I will never have anything bad to say about him and I truly cared about him. But I think the reality is that I allowed myself to get so emotionally pulled into the idea of creating a life with this man and having a family together that I ignored the questions my family raised and the doubts I was having in my own mind.

At the end of August I knew things needed to end. And the moment I realized that I was petrified. I realized that I could stay in the relationship and things would probably continue on fine and I knew that eventually there would be an engagement and marriage. On the other hand, I could face the feelings of frustration and confusion and choose to walk into a place of complete vulnerability. 

The moment I chose the path of vulnerability was the moment I surrendered my idol to God. I gave control over his plan for my life back to him and released my clutch on what had been my plans and my idea for the perfect future. From that moment on I truly felt peace - yes, the next days were difficult and I felt sad and lonely at times, but I also felt a peace in knowing I had made the right decision. 

I think marriage can often be an idol for young (and old) women. We live in society that idealizes weddings (which is ironic considering we have such a high divorce rate). I think getting excited about a wedding and praying for your future husband is a fine thing - but are you thinking about what happens after you say "I do"? Are you with someone just because you want to make it to the alter or because this truly is the man you believe God has chosen for you to spend the rest of your life with? 

Most importantly, don't be in a rush. I've had to learn that just because my friend's are getting engaged, walking down the aisle, and becoming momma's doesn't mean that I have to do it too. God has a plan for each of us - and it is a perfect plan that is superior to anything we could ever plan on our own.....and that might mean serving him in the role as a single adult.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Encouraging Words

I spend quite a bit of time in the car each day. Often times it is easy to drone out the morning traffic with music or talk radio (NPR carried me through the election :)) but one of my favorite things to do is listening to sermons. Not only do I feel more awake when I have something to focus on listening to, but I've also noticed a positive change in my mood when I start the day off engaging in God's word.

I've come to find some pastors who I really enjoy and thought I'd share -

Greg Boyd - Pastor at Woodland Hills in Minnesota - I've had the blessing to hear Greg Boyd in person several times during my visits to Minnesota. Something I really enjoy about him is his use of scripture throughout his teaching and how his sermons are often more intellectual challenging. 

Jeff Manion - Ada Bible Church in Ada, Michigan - I attended Ada during my undergrad years. Jeff has done some powerful sermon series over the years, including one I especially enjoyed on Paul. Something I enjoy about Jeff's teaching is that he speaks with passion and emotion.

Craig Groeschel - Life Church in Oklahoma - I was introduced to Craig Rochelle through a Bible study I did on his book Weird. He has an excellent sermon on examining a biblical perspective to worrying which I thought was excellent!

Other sermons/bible studies I've also enjoyed lately have been given by Francis Chan, Dr. S.M. Davis, and Beth Moore.

What about you? Do you have any favorite pastors you enjoy listening to on a regular basis?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pending Results....

For an hour and a half this morning I waited in this line...


to get this sticker :) 


Thought to remember as voting continues and the results are revealed:

"If you have any fear in life you are not fixing your eyes on Jesus and keeping your trust in God."

(spoken in a sermon by Greg Boyd at Woodland Hills Church in regards to the election)

Presidents will come and go, but the Lord's reign is eternal.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Back in the Swing of Things

There is a montre people like to associate with law school....


The first year they scare you to death,

The second year they work you to death,

The third year they bore you to death.

Well the first year I was definitely scared out of my mind, and last year I was very very busy, but I would say this final year is more of a combination of all three --> I'm petrified of taking the BAR come July and finding a job, my school and work schedule is the busiest it has ever been, and I am bored out of my mind (seriously 19 years of school is more than enough...). 

Thus the lack of blog posts!

But yet life goes on. One of the big things around Detroit in the last couple of weeks was the Tigers quick rise (and fall) in the World Series. My baseball loving cousin surprised us all by flying in last minute from California for the games (well, really his girlfriend's brother plays for the Giants, so more like he came to see the games and we fit in some family time throughout). 

Although the Tigers ultmimate performance was a clear disapointment, whoever was in charge of writing the newspaper headlines was certinly creative - here are some of what we saw during the last 2 weeks of the series:

Rain delay? Reign Delay!

Giant Headache!

Seriously though our time with Gerrit was a blast. Gerrit is hands down my favorite (and only) C family male cousin - he is full of laughs and fits right in with my brothers. I have to admit that I really missed him when he left! Having him around was kindof like having a little brother - well, little in the sense of age, he is so tall that he barely fit through our doorways!


Gerrit, Grandma, Grandpa, Todd, Allie, mom, me

Gerrit and me with Grandma and Grandpa (we like to claim we are the favorites :))

Manicures and Pedicures have become a VERY regular occurrence around our house - I love having girly girls!

The boys - I don't know if this is just a C family thing, but my dad, uncle and Grandpa have always been slightly obsessed with comparing each others height and weight to one another (they always want to be the tallest and the leanest) - the reality is, even though Gerrit is the youngest in the family he is by far the tallest and has the most muscle!

Gerrit was also the kiddos favorite plaything for the weekend - they LOVED him!

Mama-to-be at 7 months! We are getting so excited to meet this little guy! 
This month is full of baby showers and nesting projects. I might be bias but I think she is probably the cutest pregnant lady I've ever seen.

Trying (unsuccessfully) to feel some kicks (and yes I really am almost a foot taller than Allie!)

Whenever the going gets tough I am quickly reminded by how blessed I am to be surrounded by such an amazing, loving, family. 


"You don't choose your family, they are God's gift to you as you are to them."
Desmond Tutu

Friday, October 26, 2012

Everything (Book Review)




I was excited when I was asked to review Everything. The description I initially read that went along with the book stated - "what you give and what you gain to become like Jesus." I have to admit however that along with my excitement came some skepticism. I've read alot of "Christian Living" books and often feel as though they cycle through the same points and scripture. Ultimately I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed Ms. DeMuth's style of writing and the book as a whole (which is a lot to say considering that when I get close to law school exam season time I normally don't read anything except my textbooks!).



DeMuth's book takes the reader on a journey of transformation and seeking to give oneself fully to following Christ. The book is broken up into 3 sections:

1. Head - What We Think
2. Heart - Who We Are
3. Hands - How We Live

My favorite part of section one was when DeMuth addressed the power of the gospel and how it should literally be "the legs we walk on, the air we breathe", rather than just something we occasionally flip to for guidance or comfort. I have had the opportunity to attend various churches over the last couple of months, and something that I have realized and become frustrated with is the way in which the power of the gospel is watered-down or minimized. I liked that DeMuth began her book with the importance of the gospel and how important it is to be in the Word if we are committed to giving our everything to God.

But my favorite quote from this section came from the chapter on worry...

"Worry is needless. It doesn't enhance our lives, give us joy, or produce a longing for renewal. It simply looks at the existing stress lurking in our lives, enlarges it to monster proportions, then immobilizes us from growth."
Mary DeMuth, Everything

Section two deals with the heart. DeMuth addresses issues such as how dwelling on past failures can prevent future faith growth, the fierce power of control, and choosing to allow ourselves to heal from past traumas or mistakes.  I loved how DeMuth ended this section of her book with a reflection on how to not be too hard on yourself! As a perfectionist I often find myself falling into that trap, instead of applying Christ's principles of humility and forgiveness to my own life.

"Why do we tend to love everyone else, offering grace and forgiveness aplenty to others, but we cannot extend that same grace to ourselves?"
Mary DeMuth, Everything

Everything concludes with a reflection on the applicability of how one lives. Some topics discussed are money matters and how worrying about money is really distrust in the Lord's provisions, what happens when you don't succeed, the power of community and being wise and intentional with one's relationships, and what I found to be most personally conflicting - wanting a painless Christianity. Don't we all like to be safe and comfortable? Yet DeMuth presents the challenge that we can only experience real growth when we accept the discomfort of making difficult decisions or sacrifices for the Lord.

"Without the heart of Christ in the center of our actions, we cannot sustain our growth."
Mary DeMuth, Everything

While I didn't find the content of the book to promote any dramatic revelations, I did feel that DeMuth presented topics that I struggle with (i.e. control, loving those who hurt us, confrontation, etc.) and did so in a manner that was thought provoking and prompted spiritual reflection. 

Additionally, at the end of each chapter, DeMuth included discussion questions. Although I did not read through this book with a group or bible study I still found the questions helpful in really pausing and reflecting back on the information I had just read.

(I was provided with a copy of Everything by TLC Book Tours for agreeing to complete this book review.)