Tag Archives: Francine Rivers

More First Year Reflections

I spent the morning at Middle School Schedule pickup.  It was an amazing reminder of how far God has brought me in the last year.  This time last year, two somewhat timid middle schoolers and their very nervous mom stood in long lines and filled out forms, knowing no one, missing old friends and unsure of what our new community and new school would hold.

Today we spent the entire morning at the school confidently talking to other nervous parents and new students about their schedules and what a great experience the last year had been for us.

As I continue to reflect back on this last year, I see God’s hand working in our lives almost everywhere.  My goal this year is to continue to remain disciplined to staying as close to God as possible.  But even the simple distractions of everyday life can pull me away from that.  The house is not clean enough, the bills need to be paid, pick up the drycleaning and the kids and make sure dinner is planned. My personal goal of training for a half marathon has required hours a week of walking and running.  And then there is social networking (which I really need to give up this year) and blogging, which I love.  It is my creative outlet.

The fun part about blogging is that I have absolutely no idea who reads what I write.  I don’t pay for the sophisticated tracking programs, so my blog stats just come in the form of numbers.  40 views.  That means 40 page views, not even unique visits.  Occasionally, someone will send comment or a note and it usually surprises me to find out who is actually reading what I write.  I was also surprised to look back on my year to find out I had posted almost 50 blogs since last August.  Granted some of them were just reposts of the good writing of others, but it has been a rewarding experience to write through all the things that God is doing in my life.  And my prayer is that He also uses this blog to touch the lives of others along the way.

This past year I’ve read some great books:

Character Makeover by Katie Brazelton

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver

Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro

Primal:  A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity by Mark Batterson

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars by Mark Batterson

Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up the Way You Thought He Would by Pete Wilson

Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

The Real Deal: Becoming More Authentic in Life and Leadership by Dan Webster

For someone who has not picked up a book for pleasure reading since college, I have really enjoyed the renewed love of reading God has given me this year.

As for the next year, I want to leave it flexible enough to be open to what God holds.  And for those of you who know about my addiction to volunteering, I have done better in Florida.  I am serving as president of the Band Parents Organization as well as teaching at church (an 8th girls Lifegroup (otherwise known as Sunday School) and a class of 3 year olds on Sunday mornings).  Luckily, our church has 7 services, so teaching 2 hours still give me a chance to attend any one of the other 5 and not working 40-60 hours a week, gives me plenty of time to rest up.

My books on the “to read” list for this year include:

Love at Last Sight: Thirty Days to Grow and Deepen Your Closest Relationships by Kerry and Chris Shook

Sun Stand Still: What Happens When You Dare to Ask God for the Impossible by Steve Furtick

Water into Wine: Hope for the Miraculous in the Struggle of the Mundane by Kelly Minter

At least one other Francine Rivers novel

At least one book by Andy Stanley

Increasing Your Personal Impact by Dan Webster

I have a few other personal goals for the year that involve spending time with my family traveling, continuing to enjoy my long walks/runs, yoga classes and making it to Costa Rica at least three times this year to help support the work of the Brook Ministries (http://www.thebrookministries.org/).  I just love the work that they are doing for pastors in both the US and South America.

This year has been a year of regaining perspective.  Sometimes we work so hard and so long (often driven by the examples we’ve had set for us by others for most of our lives) that we lose perspective of the life that God has for us.  It has been such a blessing to have this last year to regain at least some of that perspective.  I imagine that it will take many more years of focused time with God to get even close to where He wants me to be, but I have to admit that it has been an enriching journey.

Frisco has been tough to let go of.  Much tougher than I anticipated.  I loved my life and my friends in Texas and often when old work or community projects surface that I was incredibly passionate about, I get pretty emotional about not being able to be there to help “steer the ship.”  But I am learning (slowly) that I need to let go of the old and trust that God is in control and He is much more capable then I am of taking care of all the projects and friends that He gave me such a heart for in the first place.

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A Lineage of Grace

One of the big differences about my life in Florida is that I have really come to enjoy reading.  The book that I just completed was big and huge and if I could travel back in time a year ago and tell the old me “you just read a Francine Rivers novel,” the old me would have laughed out loud!

The book I just completed was actually a compilation of 5 different books.  It contains mini-novels about the lives of the 5 women who are mentioned as part of the lineage of Jesus in Matthew 1.

Tamar – betrayed by the men who controlled her future (Judah and his sons), she fought for the right to believe in a loving God and for the right to claim what society offered her in those days.  Tamar was the sister-in-law of Joseph, the daughter-in-law of Judah and the mother of Perez.

Rahab was a harlot who lived in the walls of Jericho and held the ears of the King and other men of great importance.  She hid the Israelite spies, who promised to protect her when they returned.  A Canaanite by birth, her society worshipped false gods.  But she trusted God and became part of the Israelite nation.  Rahab was the mother of Boaz.

Ruth was a Moabite by birth.  She came from a society that was wealthy and worshipped pagan Gods and yet when she was given the choice by her mother-in-law to return to the easy life, she chose to stay with her mother-in-law, live a life of poverty and follow her God.  Ruth was the wife of Boaz and the grandmother of King David.

Bathsheba was the daughter of Eliam, one of King David’s elite warriors and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.  Even though she was married, she gave her heart to King David and became pregnant with his child.  In his desire to cover his sin, King David sent her husband to the front lines where he was killed.  After Uriah’s death, David took Bathsheba to be his wife.  Bathsheba was the wife of David and the mother of King Solomon.

Mary was a young virgin with a heart for God who said “Yes” to being part of God’s plan not knowing all of the pain and suffering it would bring.  Or the joy.   Mary was the mother of Jesus.

Joseph, Judah, Boaz, King David, King Solomon, Jesus…..those are all pretty big names in the Bible.   They were all men who changed the course of history, but what about the women who God used to make all of this happen?

A couple of observations about them:

  • They had very little control over their lives – women in the Old Testament had marriages that were arranged by their fathers or other male relative.  They were married as soon as they were able to get pregnant and if for some reason their husband preceded them in death without children then the rules of society called for them to marry the next eligible male relative.  These women may have held respect for the man they were required to marry, but I’m sure love, happiness and happily ever after were not part of the initial equation.  If that did happen, it would come over time.
  • God used these five women despite their mistakes – these women were far from perfect in the eyes of society.  All of them fail the social standing test.  Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba failed the sexual purity test.  Ruth, as a Moabite, was an outcast in Bethlehem.  All of their marriages and family relationships had significant challenges that might have made them eligible for a reality TV show.

But God used all of them in His big picture and plan, despite their imperfect lives.

I think sometimes as Christians we believe that God uses people who are perfect according to the rules and laws spelled out in the Bible or in society.  These people manage their money perfectly, never yell at their kids, don’t have strains or stress in their family relationships and are blessed with good jobs and marriages that make them ecstatically happy.

And if we can just do the right things to get ourselves into the right job or relationship then God can use us to make a difference for Him.

The lesson for me in this book is the exact opposite.  I need to be less concerned about making everything perfect in my life and more focused on how God wants to use me right where I am.  I’m not the perfect daughter, wife, mother or friend.  I have made plenty of mistakes in my life and I continue to do so every day.  I try, but I fail because sometimes my flesh is stronger than my faith and most of the time my heart is stronger than my head.

In fact if I took all the time I spent thinking about my past mistakes and worrying about what others thought of me and instead focused that time in prayer about how I can be part of God’s future plan, I can only imagine what He could do in my life.

In this book, Francine Rivers does an incredible job of showing us how each of these women stepped above the judgment of others to be used by God.

Sometimes when others judge us (or we judge ourselves), it is easy to get paralyzed by that judgment and give up on believing that God can use us as part of his plan.  But the lesson of these five women is to step above the judgment of others, to accept God’s forgiveness and grace and to never give up on the work that God is doing in our lives.

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