Sunday, July 28, 2013

Practicing Gratitude 7.28.13

- Essie turns 7. Love this spunky girl.
Celebrating with Daboo and Cappy
Favorite flowers from Daddy

- Watching Bran and Corbin read my post about Yukon. They both needed Kleenex.

- Swimming in the rain with the Schaefers

- SWEET Daboo taking the boys fishing at the lake. This was one of several trips she took them this summer.

- A new snow cone machine. Thanks to Costco, it was cheaper to buy one than rent one.

- A visit from Purdy... might as well be Christmas
Going to see Tim Hawkins. Competing to see who's the funniest.
- Finally... new mulch!
He's excited about this
Almost as much as he is

- Hud and his creativity. About three hours invested setting up a paracord rappelling system from our Magnolia. And it worked!

- Atlee gift of sewing a button back on Bran's shirt for me. Keeping her around.

- Birthday girls 

Thank you, Aunt Kay!

- Summer rhythms - swimming and snowcones

- It took awhile, but they perfected it!

- Uncle Chris and his posse of beauties

- Precious Noah James - and a visit with Tom and Katie!

- Swings behind our home - a reminder that they're still little

- A special birthday outing. Es picking out a "just like me" doll ~ complete with glasses, green eyes, and red hair!

- Horse lessons with Katie

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...   1 Chronicles 16:11-12

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Crossroads by William Paul Young - a Review

A sweet friend gave me a copy of Cross Roads last winter for my birthday. She and I shared an affection for The Shack, and she put Paul Young's new book in my hand hot off the press. It took me several months to read it, primarily because I didn't want to rush through this book in the busyness of the school year.

I read The Shack during it's infancy of fame, and after posting a review, Young endered me to himself when actually took the time to comment. Years later, my college roomie Jessica met him on an elevator and then heard him share his story in a small setting at the National Prayer Breakfast. I knew intuitively that Young must have endured significant suffering to be able to pen his first book. You can't write what you don't know. After Jessica relayed his personal story to me, along with his gracious, almost humorous responses to heavy criticism, I was even more endeared by the man. Similar to The Shack, Young's Cross Roads does not shoot for perfection or even a strict literary method, but instead offers up a creative, out-of-the-box view into sanctification and redemption. And ultimately, relationship.

I had no idea what to expect from Young after his mega-best-seller-controversial-for-uneasy-Christians- The Shack. Quite honestly, even if this second book was a total dud, I was proud of him for writing it. What new author, who engulfs the New York Times Bestsellers List with his first published work, would ever attempt another book? Talk about jumping in line for the firing squad.

Yet Paul (Willie) Young did just that. Even before cracking open the pages, what impressed me most about Cross Roads was Young's willingness to hand over his literary blood, sweat, and tears to a critical arena. But if there's one thing about writers, they write. And perhaps Young cares less about criticism and more about encouraging a thirsty population with his creative, encouraging stories.
Cross Roads certainly offers that.

What I loved:

- Obviously, first and foremost, Young's courage for writing a SECOND book after his first best-seller.

- An intriguing genre. Very much in line with The Shack. Because I am not particularly drawn to science fiction (Crossroads is the closest thing to C. S. Lewis' Space Trilogy I've read, which I didn't love, but the stories stayed with me) I am proof that the reader doesn't have to be the artist-type to be moved by this book. The strong characters and story line allow for lots and lots of creative, funky surroundings.

- Character development. Tony Spencer - an egotistical, seemingly ridiculous waste of a man, and yet I found myself cheering for him. Cabby - love this punkin. Papa God, Grandmother, Jesus... all of these men and women (and children) who represent the Trinity are creative, lovely portrayals of the real deals. As in The Shack, Young expands our view of God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. And how they all fit together. The results are tender, inviting, and mind-stretching.

- Young's allegory of Tony Spencer's land representing his heart (staying brief here so as not to offer a spoiler) - brilliant. What in the world would my landscape look like? So much of our internal maturity is just that - internal - not visible to our own view, much less to others. But to gaze out at a landscape and "see" the condition of our heart - gives us a vision for who we want to be, what kind of life we want to live, and that daily cultivating our hearts in this crazy life indeed matters.

My take-aways: 

- The gift of escaping into a good story. 

- A caution against assuming that my friends or loved ones who have neglected their harvest year after year, whose lives produce a "drought" at the end of their days, are beyond redemption.

- I both enjoyed and am encouraged by Cross Roads. I applaud Young in that the cumulative efforts of his writing, of his day-by-day discipline to frame his life and thoughts into story, will offer a beautifully cultivated landscape not only for his grandchildren, for whom it is intended, but to those of us who partake in the story.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Practicing Gratitude 7.23.13

- Lots to be grateful for from July. The first and foremost, is that we still have another month of summer!

- My patriotic son.

Marc and Bran. I found these pics on my phone a day later.
- 4th of July at the Shopes - such a fun tradition. I admire Rachel as the hostess with the mostess - and the mostess relaxed while she's at it. 

- The boys were so desperate to fish, we went a couple of times to Benbrook pond. That's right, not Benbrook lake, Benbrook pond

Bleu taught Bran and Hud a thing or two
- Watching the Bannisters give and give and give of their time and love and resources.

- Struggling with parenting decisions. Kids watching us wrestle, hopefully understanding that we are all a work in process.

- TCU cheer camp. I had fun watching Esther. I'm her mom, but she's a natural.

- Precious, precious Camp Calico. Katie is simply amazing, as are her three friends who helped put on camp.

Last day of camp, presenting each girl with a character quality. Basden blushing, but in a good way.
Goodness, what a sweet group.
- A new car battery - fairly simple solution to why my car was acting up, and Corbin taking care of that so for me quickly.

- These two cousins (and more) together in Montana. Luke and Julie's family taking a week to be with Chris and Crystal's in their gorgeous hometown - really fun.
Joy Taylor (Bozeman) and Bogan (Tulsa)
- Corbin and I taking a 12-hour "get away" to Hotchkiss' ranch - in the middle of the week - complete with an early morning catch for Corbin. 

- A spontaneous slumber party. Sweet girls.

 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...   1 Chronicles 16:11-12