Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Big Move

The time has come for me to move–  to a new website.

I will not be posting here any more, which is crazy to think about, but I will be posting at NicoleDeVries.com and I'd love for you to join me over there.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Why You Should Listen to Christmas Music this Summer

Context is usually dangerously important; without it we make wrong conclusions and decisions. Seasons offer an important context to music, but what if they also, indirectly, swallow the meaning?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June Readings

Corrie ten Boom: Faith Amidst Fear by Sam Wellman
Just over 200 pages, this biography was very short. I liked reading about Corrie's life, and somehow it was comforting that, of all her sisters, she struggled the most with faith, forgiveness, and trusting God during the imprisonment and concentration camps. It was a reminder that I don't need to be perfect, I need to have an obedient and determined heart.

Discipled by Jesus by Hal and Debbie Perkins
The writing was not crafted, but that wasn't the intention of the authors. Although I wanted to read with a red editing pen in hand, I learned a lot about discipling questions, the importance of close relationships, and I am excited to use this both in a bible study setting and my classroom this fall. I recommend it not for how it was written, but for its message.

Books I did not finish:

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell
I only read the first story in this book, and while it was written well and fairly enjoyable I simply had too much going on this month to finish it. I've returned it to the library, and it is doubtful (though possible) I'll get it again.

Common Sense Christian Living by Edith Schaeffer
I did read a good deal of this book, but I started in the middle and didn't feel compelled to finish the end or go back to the beginning. A lot of the book would probably be better titled, 'Common Sense Christian Motherhood'.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rubbing Off

Every couple of weeks I assessed the reading abilities of my Kindergarteners. I called individuals to my desk and had each one read a set of five words with various special sounds we have been learning. Towards the end of the year, I called a student to my desk and as he came near he shook his head and half-whispered, “I just really don’t want to do this.”
I looked at him, frowning to hide my amusement, and asked, “Hmm, is that a good attitude?”
His eyes widened and he responded right away, “No—that was the Old Me. The New Me doesn’t complain.” And he went on to read all five words.
I was astonished at his response. Sure, our memory verse for the week had been 2 Corinthians 5:17. And sure, I had been teaching them about the Old Self and the New Self, and about how Christians can only live the New Self through Jesus. But I had not believed they were actually picking up on it. It’s amazing what happens, what the kids pick up on, when they listen. And, sometimes more amazing, they listen a lot more often than I realize. And things were catching on.
The question is, what else is rubbing off on them?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I Had Set Myself Up.

I had been recognizing some snippy responses and selfish attitudes in myself, and I was ready to be done with them, so I prescribed myself more verses to meditate on, more time alone with God, more passages to study.

I couldn't have set myself up better for the next day's devotional reading if I had tried.
Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest says:
"Can a sinner be turned into a saint? Can a twisted life be made right? There is only one appropriate answer-- "O Lord God, You know" (Ezekiel 37:3). Never forge ahead with your religious common sense and say, "Oh, yes, with just a little more Bible reading, devotional time, and prayer, I see how it can be done. 
It is much easier to do something than to trust in God...We would much rather work for God than believe in Him. Do I really believe that God will do in me what I cannot do?"
I have gotten caught up with my actions rather than staying focused on my relationship with God. The next day's reading said:
"Are you obsessed by something? You will probably say, "No, by nothing," but all of us are obsessed by something-- usually by ourselves, or, if we are Christians, by our own experience of the Christian life. But the psalmist says that we are to be obsessed by God. The abiding awareness of the Christian life is to be God Himself, not just thoughts about Him. The total being of our life inside and out is to be absolutely obsessed by the presence of God."
Being obsessed by thoughts about God doesn't seem to be that different than being obsessed by God himself, but that is why it is more dangerous. Either way, we are doing a lot of the same things, but the intentions-- the heart-- are different. And God looks at the heart.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Books that Accompanied me through May

The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis
academic and philosophical. It had never before occurred to me to think half of those thoughts. Having thought through some of them, now, I feel more comfortable with C. S.'s conclusions, though they still feel beyond me.

A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis
a small book brimming with emotion and imagery and beautiful language. A book of true, bitter mourning and loss. It leaves me feeling both full and empty.

The 5-minute Plantar Fasciitis Solution by Jim Johnson
helpful and effective. The 5 minutes of stretching are explained in only two pages, near the middle of the book, but having read the rest of it as well I understand plantar fasciitis better than I did before, and am hopeful for improvement. The long-term effectiveness of the stretch I do not yet know, but short-term it does seem to be providing relief- especially first thing in the morning.

You'll Get Through This by Max Lucado
Lucado's mantra through his book is his title, drawn from the principles in the account of Joseph as well as many modern stories of pain and suffering. Not only, Lucado says, will you get through this present struggle, Christians can expect to come out stronger and more prepared.

Confessions of a Prayer Slacker by Diane Moody
Moody's style left me feeling comfortable. She wrote about her prayer journey with lessons applicable to all. Overall: get up early and pray and read your Bible as if Jesus is sitting right next to you. Make a commitment and actually meet with God every morning. And don't succumb to guilt about the occasional missed day. (author unrelated to D. L. Moody)

This month, I started a book called Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller, but I could not get into it much less finish it. I have returned it to the library.

I also started:
the Simply the Story Handbook
Tea with Emma by Diane Moody
Brisinger by Christopher Paolini
Where is God When it Hurts? by Philip Yancy

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Shipwrecked and Cared For

Do you remember the story of Paul, traveling to Rome as a prisoner? They are well on their way when a storm blew in and wreaked havoc. The sailors had no control over the direction they were heading since the winds and waves were so strong. They tried to tie the boat together, and to lighten it by throwing cargo overboard. Days went by. And then, they "finally gave up all hope of being saved."

After a long day on my feet, with my plantar fasciitis acting up, I, too, give up all hope of being saved.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Selfish Bird Feeding

Earlier this Spring, I bought birdseed and filled the little bird feeder by the window. I sat there, watching the many finches and cardinals come by for a meal. They hopped and chirruped, shaking their little winds and defending their portion of the seed. I sat there a long time, taking it all in.

The feeder started to look empty, and I decided I would fill it -- in the morning.