Looking for Something?

Some days, my blogs get a smattering of random hits (this blog and my old personal blog where I wrote for over a year).  It seems like someone is rifling through my posts, trying to find something.  I don’t know who or what or why.

Glancing at my statistics, today seems to have been one of those days.  And I just feel that if you’re looking for something in my little space here, maybe-just-maybe, I can help you find it.

So, whether you’re a dear friend or a perfect stranger, settle in for a few minutes.  I want to talk to you.

In church on Sunday, we talked about Martha and Mary and Jesus and about how Martha lost her focus about why she was doing what she was doing because she shifted her gaze from Jesus to Mary.  I was thinking about how alike Martha and I are, although I’d never looked at this story from that particular perspective before, and Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus and Strangely Dim  and Fix My Eyes came to my mind.  Maybe you’re here because you’re like me, and you’re continually having to readjust your focus on Jesus instead of what everyone else is doing or even what you think you should be doing.  Can I just say, as much to myself as to you, that God declares,  “You will seek Me, and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).  It’s that simple and straight-forward, so, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).  Let us seek Him, and as we look to Him, may everything else fade away.

Maybe that’s not why you’re here at all.

Yesterday, I was listening to a piece on NPR interviewing the producer of a show called Maude from the early 1970s and they aired a clip from the show that addressed abortion, and I was floored by how callously the topic was being addressed, like it wasn’t a big deal, even then (pre- Roe v. Wade).  Then I came to work and one of our campus organizations was airing October Baby as part of an ongoing dialogue about dignity for women, and let me tell you, I love the movie for a bajillion reasons, the chiefest of which is its declaration that if Jesus sets you free, you are truly free (John 8:36).  And that’s not just for the girl who’s coming to terms with the conditions of her birth and adoption, but for the girl who has had an abortion.  It’s a powerful and life-giving message: Jesus sets you free.

BUT my mind keeps going back to the fact that some people don’t think abortion is a big deal,  it just is what it is.  Shrug.  They have nothing to be set free from, because they’ve done nothing wrong.  I was seventeen the first time I a woman told me having her abortion was the right choice, but I’m not really talking about individuals here, I’m talking about the prevailing attitude in our culture: I decide what’s right for me.  And the fact is, this attitude has been around since the Fall, and it’s present even within me.

All I can think is how blind we are when we can’t perceive our own sinfulness; when we’re not even willing to entertain that we are not good enough on our own, that we need Jesus;  when we refuse to acknowledge any god but ourselves.  And I’m overwhelmed, because I can’t combat that kind of blindness, but I move to peace when I remember that’s not my job.  Like Jesus, I am simply to proclaim freedom to captives (Luke 4:18) – the ones who know they don’t have a chance of making it on their own.

Jesus says that when He sets you free, you are truly free.  Whatever that sin is, however heinous, however hidden,  Jesus invites you to release it and live life fully and freely.

Maybe you’re not here to hear my philosophy on life or freedom.

Maybe you came because it’s been a heavy season, and tears flow frequently and freely these days.  The first year I became a believer, God sent me to the book of Isaiah in preparation for one of the saddest seasons of my life.  Last year, during another difficult time, He sent me back.  And chapter 25, verse 8 stood out to me both times:  “He will swallow up death in victory, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces.”  During both seasons, I couldn’t wait to be done crying.

It reminds me of Revelation 21, a passage my family memorized when I was younger: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’  He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new! Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'” We still live in a world ruined by sin, but the time is coming when God will make all things new, and He made sure that John let us know. 

It doesn’t take away the ache, I know.  It doesn’t replace what we’ve lost, but it gives us something to hold onto when the empty spaces in our hearts threaten to consume us.

Maybe you’re here as an old friend, to see how I’m doing, or a new friend, to see who I am.  I’m a work in progress, as I always have been, and always will be.

Whatever led you searching here today, I pray you’ve found it.

 

 

 

 

We’re All A Little Beastly: A Review of ‘Becoming Beauty’ by Sarah E. Boucher

“All of us are somewhat beastly, you know.” ~Jack, Becoming Beauty

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(Click the picture or here to buy).

Synopsis (from Amazon):

Claws. Long, filthy, and dangerously sharp.
They’re the first thing Bella sees after what’s been the worst day of her life. If Bella were the quintessential Beauty–gorgeous, kindhearted, and self-sacrificing–she might have a chance at transforming this monster into a man, but she’s never been the toad-kissing kind. Obsessed with landing a wealthy nobleman and escaping her humdrum life, Bella will stop at nothing to achieve her goals. Which is precisely what landed her here, at the mercy of the Beast.

In this imaginative retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Bella’s sense of entitlement strains both her family’s finances and patience. As punishment for her selfishness, she’s sent into the Beast’s service where she must choose whether to follow the path she’s always dreamed of–or risk it all for something even greater.

About Sarah E. Boucher (also from Amazon):
Sarah E. Boucher spends her days instilling young children with the same love of literature she has known since childhood. After hours, she pens her own stories and nurses an unhealthy obsession for handbags, high heels, baking, and British television. Sarah is a graduate of Brigham Young University, who currently lives and teaches in Ogden, Utah. Becoming Beauty is her first novel.
You can connect with Sarah on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
My Review:
I give Becoming Beauty by Sarah E. Boucher 4 out of 5 stars.
It’s a fresh take on the traditional Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, with all of the characters being “somewhat beastly” in nature.  It’s about transformation, but Boucher touches on something deeper and I think very important: transformation should never come at the cost of who you really are.  Although the characters go through many positive changes throughout the story, they retain the characteristics that, well, make them who they are.  I love that concept!  I also really appreciated the choice Bella faces in the story – it’s a choice I wholeheartedly identify with (minus the fairy-tale characters and setting), and I think many other readers will as well.
From the first sentence, Boucher draws us into Bella’s personality, point of view, and surroundings.  I fully expected Bella to really annoy me, but as self-centered and manipulative as she was, she’s an endearing character because she owns who she is, and I found myself identifying with her instead.  And I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed the description and vocabulary in a book quite this much:  it’s not over the top, but does paint a concise picture of the characters and their settings and emotions.
Being a fairytale retelling, I was expecting a sinister plot element or character (and to be honest, I totally had one in the back of my mind), but it never came.  (Seriously. What is wrong with me?! Ha).  I also wanted to get to know Bella’s family a little bit better, discover more of their beastliness.
Becoming Beauty is a quick read, and I recommend it to anyone who loves a good fairytale retelling.  I’d also recommend it to fans of Jane Austen, because to me it had the feel of a Jane Austen novel, though perhaps more introspective.  In other words, if you like Once Upon a Time and Emma, I think you’ll really like Becoming Beauty.
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(A super attractive book selfie with Becoming Beauty, for your viewing pleasure).

Retail Therapy, A (Very) Short Story

Retail Therapy

a (very) short story

by Lydia Thomas

©2014

This is a work of fiction.

 

“Jenna, would you like to talk about why you’re here today?” the group leader asks.

I think her name is Simone, but I don’t remember, because I wasn’t really paying attention. I’m just going to call her Simone.

“Retail therapy,” I mumble.

“I’m sorry?” Simone asks, eyebrows furrowed together.

I imagine you’re looking at me the same way Simone is right now, so let’s just get this settled right off the bat: it’s not what it sounds like.

I sigh.

“There was an, uh, incident with a customer,” I explain. “This is a condition of my continued employment.”

It’s Time for an Announcement

So I’ve been sitting on this thing for a few weeks.  Since my post on hope, really.  I’ve only shared the news within a circle of very dear friends, some of whom have been praying about this thing since its inception nearly four years ago.

I’ve actually been slightly scared to share it, because sharing it makes it more real, like, there’s no going back now.  After all, I’m sharing where God is calling me to be, and when He’s calling me to be there, so if there’s any disobedience, well, everyone reading this blog will know.  Also, it means turning away from something very real in the here and now in order to wholeheartedly pursue God’s call, and I am terrified of missing out.  (It’s completely ridiculous, I know).

More and more, I realize it’s time to get off the fence, share the news, and fearlessly go after the vision God has given me.

So…

Dear Friends (whether you’ve joined me recently or you’ve been in my life for a long time),

Lord willing,  I will be moving from my longtime home in Dallas to Seattle in September 2015.  While this may seem sudden to people who haven’t known me for a long time, I have actually been praying about this move for what will be four years next month.  God placed Seattle on my heart at a time when I was seeking His will for my life after college, and in spite of several detours on my end, He has continued to bring it up again and again.  As I’ve researched Seattle in preparation for such a move, I’ve been drawn to the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, the entrepreneurial spirit of the city, the weather, and the culture.  I know beyond any doubt that God has great plans for me in Seattle, and well, I’m pretty stinkin’ excited.

The toughest question I’ve had to field has not been why I want to go to Seattle, but why not leave now since I’m so certain Seattle is where God is calling me.  Detours, my friends.  Detours.  I made a faithless decision to accept a job here in the DFW area that was less than what I should have accepted in just about every way.  During my time in that position, I accumulated nearly $30,000 in financial obligations.  Moving without a good full-time job in Seattle in place has not been an option, and such an opportunity has not arisen.  However, God has really provided for my financial obligations by first moving me out of the less-than job into two part-time jobs.  Beginning next September,  I will be free from these obligations, and God really convicted me a few weeks ago that would be the time to make my move.

Here comes the fun part:  I will be moving, job or no job.  Of course, I will be looking for a job, and I am praying God provides one before I move, because it will just make life that much easier.   However, I know God is not about giving me what is easiest, but what is best, and I’m prepared to make a move whatever happens (or doesn’t happen, as the case may be).

Friends, will you pray with me and for me?  Right now, I need prayer that I will be faithful in reducing my debts and saving money for this move over the next ten months.  As I mentioned earlier, there is something I am struggling with giving up because I’m afraid of missing out on it – I don’t want to give tons of detail, but I need your prayers on that.  Pray for renewed enthusiasm for me: I am making the most concrete plans I’ve made for Seattle, but something about praying for this for four years has me all dried up inside.  There are practical things too: a trip to get my bearings before I move, moving expenses, a job, a place to live, a church, and anything else God lays on your heart to pray.

On one hand, I can’t believe it’s time to take definitive steps in Seattle’s direction, and on the other, I can’t help but think it’s about time.

Whew!

2015 is shaping up to be a crazy busy year what with A Year with the Baptists launching (still not certain on the date, but hopefully pre-Seattle), new writing projects, and now, a relocation.

Let’s do this! 🙂