Blind Spots

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My oldest son’s first car was a used convertible. When I borrowed it once for an errand, I commented to him that the car had a huge blind spot. The corner between the small plexiglass back windshield and the door window was wider than in most cars. If I looked back over my right shoulder, I could hardly see anything. My son responded, “Yeah, but if the top is down, there’s no blind spot!”

We know that vehicles have blind spots—areas where we can’t see what’s around the car. So we use mirrors, signals, and occasionally other passengers to help make sure the way is clear when we need to change lanes.

If you’ve ever read about the blind spots of an 18-wheeler, you know not to drive your car next to the truck in a spot where you can’t be seen.

But somehow we go barreling through life without thinking that we might have personal blind spots.

Our church has just finished reading through Malachi, where God brings up several different issues with His people. But their response to each charge is basically, “What are you walking about? We’re doing fine.”

God said of the Laodicean church in Revelation, “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

You’ve probably read online conversations, as I have, where someone lashes out at others over some issue, and then complains about feeling judged. But somehow these folks miss their own judging of others that they’ve just displayed. The irony would be been funny if it wasn’t so serious.

And then, just about the time I get all stirred up about other people’s blind spots, God reminds me that I have a few of my own.

What causes blind spots?

We think we know more than we do—at least, more than the other person.

We’re too busy looking at the speck in another person’s eye to see the log in our own.

We haven’t given enough thought or prayer to a subject.

We assume we know the other person’s meaning and motives.

We haven’t studied the Bible enough to know what it says on certain issues, or we study with preconceived conclusions in mind.

We don’t want to change our views on a subject, so we don’t listen to other perspectives.

How can we combat blind spots? What tools, mirrors, assistance, or signals can help us navigate and avoid collisions?

Humility. We don’t know all there is to know on any issue. We don’t know every perspective. Sometimes we’re quick to jump on and expound upon a topic because we’ve read and studied it out before. Still, even if we’re an expert in an area, we have to be careful of appearing arrogant. And there might just be a thing or two we could still learn about it.

Ask for others’ feedback. Just as a fellow passenger can see what we can’t from their viewpoint, a friend or mentor can give us a kind but honest assessment.The first time I turned in a partial manuscript for a paid critique, I was astounded and humbled at the number of mistakes the editor discovered. The experience was a painful but necessary step to improvement.

Prayer. David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” This is something we should be doing regularly. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?Other versions say “desperately  wicked” or “incurable.” We’re probably deceived about ourselves more than anyone or anything else.

Listening. James 1:19 says, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” If I am getting riled up about something, that’s usually a clue that I need to step back rather than launch in. And before I share what I think, I need to really hear what the other person is saying and look at it from their point of view. I still might not agree with them, but I might understand them better.

Read and listen to God’s Word. Anatomically speaking, we all have a blind spot where nerves pass through our retina. At the spot where they pass through, there are no rods or cones, so our eyes don’t see light there. The brain usually fills in what we don’t actually see. Spiritually, though, we don’t need to have any blind spots. We need God to turn His searchlight on to show us things we need to confess to Him and seek His help to overcome. If something keeps coming up in our Bible reading, books, sermons, and conversations, God might be trying to get our attention about it. Instead of being quick to brush it off, we need to take it before the Lord.

Listen to criticism and correction. Sometimes criticism is totally unfounded. But instead of getting defensive, we need to examine criticism for any truth in it. “The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise” (Proverbs 15:31).

Proceed cautiously. I was extra-careful in my son’s convertible since I knew I couldn’t see traffic in one area well. Similarly, there’s a turn on our way home that’s right on top of a hill. I can’t see oncoming traffic until I get to the top, so I am careful not to turn early. Ephesians 5:15 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.”

I usually use a Swiffer sweeper on our hardwood floors, because it gets dust and hair more efficiently. But one day I got the broom and dust pan to sweep up some crumbs.The sunlight was streaming in the windows as I swept, and I saw a cloud of dust swirling almost chest high from my efforts. Without the light shining in, I would never have known that I was stirring up more dust than I was getting rid of.

How desperately we need God’s truth to shine in on our lives and show us what we wouldn’t otherwise see. How we need His wisdom, cleansing, and guidance.

To open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me (Acts 26:18).

Clara H. Scott wrote a hymn in 1895, asking God to open her eyes, ears, mind, and heart to His truth. It’s a good prayer for us today:

Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.

Refrain 1:
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.

Refrain 2:
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my ears, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my mind, that I may read
More of Thy love in word and deed;
What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead?
Only for light from Thee I plead.

Refrain 3:
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my mind, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my mouth, and let me bear,
Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.

Refrain 4:
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my heart, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Hearth and Home,
Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Purposeful Faith),
InstaEncouragement, Legacy Link-Up)

Late Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading onlineI‘m sorry I missed the Friday’s Fave Fives yesterday! I know some of you especially like those posts. I just had a lot of things that had to get done the last few days, so I haven’t been at the computer for very long at a time since Thursday morning.

I was going to save the “Laudable Linkage” for next week since it’s late in the day and I haven’t even finished reading every post in my Feedly account. But I decided to go ahead and pop in and say hello and share what I have so far.

Busy Day? Keep Quiet Time Simple (Bible Study Tips), HT to Lisa. Our other relationships vary with how much time we spend together on any given day. We forget sometimes that our quiet time is about our relationship with the Lord, not just our routines.

You Keep Using That Word, HT to Challies. “If you have heard, for example, that critical theory or some other -ism is making inroads into the church and you are concerned, do some homework before saying anything. When we do not do this, the possibility of our violating the ninth commandment goes up exponentially.”

How to Pray in Perilous Times. I love that the Bible teaches us how to pray both by instruction and example. This prayer of David’s has much to consider.

Is White Fragility a Helpful Resource for Christians? I know this is a delicate and sensitive topic right now, but that’s all the more reason to think Biblically about it. I have not read this book, but I’ve had some of these same concerns just from reading others’ comments on it.

When Homeschooling Wasn’t Your Plan: 10 Tips to Help. I wish I had read something like this during the few years we homeschooled, even without a pandemic.

I saw some of this sweet story on “The Greatest #AtHome Videos” TV show on Friday night on CBS. A pregnant wife had to spend several weeks in the hospital when her water broke prematurely at 20 weeks. Her husband couldn’t be with her due to COVID restrictions. So he set up “date nights” where he would send food up to her room and have his outside her window so she could see him and they could sort-of be together. When they aired the show, she had had the baby and all was well. In their honor, the hospital was going to install a bench where this man used to set up his chair, so other patients could “visit” their loved ones that way.

Have a great rest of your weekend!

Book Review: Be Amazed

Be Amazed (Minor Prophets): Restoring an Attitude of Wonder and Worship is Warren W. Wiersbe’s commentary on Hosea, Joel, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Malachi. He covers the rest of the twelve minor prophets in two other books. As I said in an earlier review of Be Concerned, these books are considered “minor” only because they are much shorter than the “major” prophets.

And, as with the previous book, Wiersbe gives a little background of each of these prophets, the times they lived, the kings who were in power at the time, and the prophets’ major messages and concerns, a suggested outline of the books, and his commentary.

There are commentaries much longer and more detailed than Wiersbe’s “Be” series, but these are a nice size, easy to use with one’s Bible study.

Wiersbe says in his introduction:

We should be amazed as Hosea describes God’s jealous love and Joel pictures God’s glorious kingdom. Jonah and Nahum both deal with the wicked city of Nineveh and amaze us with God’s gracious long-suffering. Habakkuk watches the enemy approaching and invites us to be amazed at God’s righteous judgment. Malachi amazes us with his revelation of God’s contemptuous people, weary of serving the Lord.

Too many sleepy saints have lost their sense of wonder. The Minor Prophets shout at us to awaken us and invite us to open our eyes and be amazed at what God is doing in this world.

The Lord Jesus admonishes us “to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24: 25), and that includes the Minor Prophets. May we be faithful to receive and believe their messages and to obey what God tells us to do.

I won’t get into any more of the individual books than that, since there are six of them. But here are a few of the many quotes I highlighted:

One of the greatest judgments God can inflict on any people is to let them have their own way.

The essence of idolatry is enjoying the gifts but not honoring the Giver.

Until people experience the guilt of conviction, they can’t enjoy the glory of conversion.

In their trials, they turned to God for help, but in their prosperity, they became proud and turned away from God to idols.

Idols are dead substitutes for the living God (Ps. 115). Whatever people delight in other than God, whatever they are devoted to and sacrifice for, whatever they couldn’t bear to be without, is an idol and therefore under the condemnation of God.

But wrestling with these challenges is the only way for our “faith muscles” to grow. To avoid tough questions, or to settle for half-truths and superficial pat answers it to remain immature, but to face questions honestly and talk them through with the Lord is to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3: 18).

When God’s people deliberately disobey Him, they sin against a flood of light and an ocean of love.

The one thing that encourages us to repent and return to the Lord is the character of God. Knowing that He is indeed “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Joel 2:13 NIV) ought to motivate us to seek His face.

This sounds eerily like our times:

Their concern was for healing and not for cleansing. They saw their nation in difficulty and wanted God to “make things right,” but they did not come with broken hearts and surrendered wills. They wanted happiness, not holiness, a change of circumstances, but not a change in character.

I’m thankful once again for Dr. Wiersbe’s insights into these books.

(Sharing with Booknificent Thursday)

Book Review: Candleford Green

Candelford Green is the third installment of the Lark Rise to Candleford series, Flora Thompson’s semi-autobiographical account of growing up in a small English village.The books take place in the 1880s and 1890s, and Flora writes as an adult looking back at simpler times and the changes that happened since.

In the first book, Lark Rise, Flora’s alter-ego, Laura, is the oldest daughter in her family, living in the small village of Lark Rise. In the next book, Over to Candleford, Laura spends a lot of time with her relatives in Candleford Green, a slightly bigger village some eight miles away.

In this third book, Candleford Green, Laura works as an assistant in the post office. Young girls often went into service as maids or mother’s helpers at this time. Laura’s mother didn’t feel she was suited for either of those jobs. But when a friend of the Candleford relatives invites Laura to help her out in the Post Office, her family agrees to let her go.

Like the first two books, there’s no real plot. The book is mostly Laura’s observations of how the people lived, worked, celebrated, decorated their homes, etc. Along the way are little vignettes of some of the individuals who make up the village.

Some of the quotes that caught my eye:

Few would care to take that trouble for the sake of a few spoonfuls of jelly in these days. . . it was thought a waste of time in many households. On the face of it, it does seem absurd to spend the inside of a week making a small jelly, and women were soon to have other uses for their time and energy, but those who did such cookery in those days looked upon it as an art, and no time or trouble was thought wasted if the result were perfection. We may call the Victorian woman ignorant, weak, clinging and vapourish—she is not here to answer such charges—but at least we must admit that she knew how to cook.

At fourteen it is intolerable to resign every claim to distinction. Her hair was soft and thick and brown and she had rather nice brown eyes and the fresh complexion of country youth, but those were her only assets in the way of good looks. ‘You’ll never be annoyed by people turning round in the street to have another look at you,’ her mother had often told her, and sometimes, if Laura looked dashed, she would add: ‘But that cuts both ways: if you’re no beauty, be thankful you’re not a freak.’

And she had her own personal experiences: her moments of ecstasy in the contemplation of beauty; her periods of religious doubt and hours of religious faith; her bitter disillusionments on finding some people were not what she had thought them, and her stings of conscience over her own shortcomings. She grieved often for the sorrows of others and sometimes for her own.

‘You’ve got to summer and winter a man before you can pretend to know him’ was an old country maxim much quoted at that time.

This about two single women taking care of elderly parents while trying to run a shop:

No wonder the Pratt girls looked, as some people said, as if they had the weight of the world on their shoulders. They must in reality have carried a biggish burden of trouble, and if they tried to hide it with a show of high spirits and simpering smiles, plus a little harmless pretension, that should have been put down to their credit. Human nature being what it is, their shifts and pretences only served to provoke a little mild amusement.

The new vicar, according to Laura, didn’t mention heaven or hell or sin or repentance, but his sermons made “you feel two inches taller.” The people were what I’d call God-fearing in a general sense, but it doesn’t sound like the gospel was proclaimed except for one or two of the townspeople.

I found the first book sometimes hard to wade through. I didn’t have any problems with the last two: maybe I grew more used to Thompson’s style.

Nowadays, the books are usually packaged together under one title, Lark Rise to Candleford. My copy looks like the one here.

I hope to be able to watch the series, Lark Rise to Candleford. I know some things will be different. Laura is just a teenager in this last book and younger than that in the first two books. Dorcas, the postmistress, doesn’t appear until halfway through the second book, but I understand she’s there at the beginning of the series.

Overall, these were pleasant reads. I’m glad to finally be acquainted with Laura and the villagers.

(Sharing with Booknificent Thursday)

Book Review: The Red Door Inn

In The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson, Marie Carrington has been betrayed in the worst way. She flees to Prince Edward Island because she fell in love with the place when she read Anne of Green Gables. Just when her money is about to run out and she doesn’t know what to do, a chance meeting lands her a job decorating a soon-to-open bed-and-breakfast. Now, if only she can conquer her panic attacks, she can start her new life.

Jack Sloane had come to the island fifteen years ago with his beloved wife, Rose. She loved the area and always dreamed of opening a bed-and-breakfast there. She had passed away, but Jack meant to fulfill her dream. He was woefully inept with colors and decorations and furnishings, so he was glad when Marie came along. Besides, the kid looked like she could use help.

Jack’s nephew, Seth, is helping him get the inn ready. Seth is at a low point since his former fiance conned him and cleaned out his bank account. Because he has so recently been burned, and because Marie is not forthcoming about her background, he doesn’t trust her.

Of course, you can guess that Marie and Seth will be mutually attracted even though wary of each other. But can they work past their mistrust and painful pasts?

It took me a long time to warm up to Seth—he seemed extremely harsh at first, even considering his background. But that and his protectiveness of his uncle are good reasons for him to be suspicious.

A couple of the secondary characters—an antique shop owner and a baker—are quirky and delightful.

One thing Marie has to work through is her concept of God as a father. Her own father had failed her in many ways, and Marie can’t seem to disassociate her idea of God as a father from the characteristics of her own father. But she sees another example of a father in Jack, even though he never had his own children.

Overall, I found this to be a sweet story.

(Sharing with Books You Loved, Booknificent Thursday)

God’s Word: Our Sure Guide

My husband sat on the Zoning Board of Appeals in the town where we used to live. People would come before the board to settle disputes over property lines or usage or appeal a ruling. The board had a thick book of zoning regulations which the members were to consult in order to make their decisions.

Sometimes people would appeal to all the work they had put into a structure that they had placed in a wrong area without checking the zoning regulations first. “It’s already there. It’s not hurting anyone. Can’t we just leave it?”

Sometimes the board sympathized with the plaintiff. Occasionally public sentiment swung heavily toward one side.

But the board members could only make their decisions based on the zoning regulations.

Why? Because they were Pharisaical hard-nosed rule-followers who only cared about regulations?

No. The regulations were there to insure the greatest efficiency and happiness of the people and businesses of the city. To allow a structure in a wrong place or a usage of land that went against the zoning ordinances would cause problems for other people down the line.

This need to go back to the book, to make every decision in accord with the zoning regulations already in place, reminded me of the Bible.

People don’t want to hear their choices are harmful, they are worshiping a false god, they’re going in the wrong direction.

Sometimes it’s easier to go with the flow. “If I take a stand on this issue, I’ll only stir up a hornet’s nest.” But we don’t do people any favors by hiding truth.

There are some issues where the Bible allows for differences (Romans 14). We don’t die on those hills. We pray and study God’s Word and make the best informed decision we can, and we allow others to do the same.

But where God draws the line in the sand, we need to draw the line also. We speak the truth in love, with kindness and compassion.

Satan still questions, attacks, and twists God’s Word today just as he did with Adam and Eve. He even masks his falsehood by seeming as an angel of light.

Our church is almost finished reading through the major and minor prophets in the Old Testament. Many of the prophets had to contend with false prophets who told the people what they wanted to hear. When Jeremiah warned that God was sending the Babylonians to take Judah into captivity, he was considered a traitor. Who wouldn’t rather listen to the prophets who said everything was going to be all right? But who would be better prepared to face what was coming—those who listened to Jeremiah or those who listened to false prophets?

The New Testament warns:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Timothy 4:3-5).

Who do we listen to? Those who make everything pleasant, who never mention sin and repentance, who never take unpopular stands, who promise prosperity and blessing no matter what? Or the ones who tell the truth according to God’s Word, even when it’s hard, even when it’s painful, trusting that He is good and right and true and kind and will work everything out for good in the long run?

Do we go to the doctor who says everything is okay when we have an insidious cancer growing in us? Or the one who says, “We have to treat this thing aggressively or it’s going to kill you?”

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). John said, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). The KJV says His commandments are not “grievous.”

But His Word is not just about rules.

Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors (Psalm 119:24).

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17)

Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life (Psalm 119:49-50).

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130).

Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (2 Peter 1:3-4).

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord,  and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither (Psalm 1:1-3).

What a treasure trove we have in God’s Word! We can echo the psalmist: “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17). How we need to consult His Word every day and build our lives around it.

(Sharing with Hearth and Home, Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Senior Salon,
Purposeful Faith, InstaEncouragement, Recharge Wednesday,
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Grace and Truth, Blogger Voices Network)

Laudable Linkage

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Here are some of the latest good reads I’ve come across. This also might be a good time to remind that linking doesn’t imply 100% agreement. In some cases, I have never before read the writer, but I followed a link someone else provided. In some cases, I might agree with the majority of the article, but the small thing I have a difference with isn’t worth mentioning.

Counseling Children Who Have Professed Faith in Christ. “Like many children who’ve grown up in a Christian home, Clara professed faith in Christ at an early age. But, like so many other young people who professed faith early, she struggles with doubts.”

No One Shared the Gospel with Me, HT to Challies. “Rather than hate that lost person because he or she is doing what any biblically informed Christian should expect a totally depraved sinner to do, namely sin, we should pray for them. Show them the compassion and love of Christ. Tell them that life is not meaningless. Tell them that with Christ, there is light at the end of the tunnel, eternal light. We cannot simply assume that a lost person is a lost cause.”

Love is Inconvenient, HT to Challies. “Love is inconvenient. It actually has the audacity to ask us to drop what we’re doing in order to attend to the needs of another.”

How to Respond to Social Media Enemies.

The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. “Shrier writes as one who is sympathetic to people who have diagnosable gender dysphoria and for such people she affirms their decision to transition. But she is dismayed that ideologues have made transgenderism a valid and desirable option to those who are not truly diagnosable. She laments the way it has spread among young women as a kind of social contagion. She fears that many of them will go on to have regrets but be left with permanently damaged bodies.”

Not White Fragility—Mutual Responsibility, HT to Challies. This makes better sense to me than anything else I’ve read on race relations. “The concept of white fragility is an academic way to tell white people to be quiet and listen. Bottling up the expressions of white people, though, is not the path to addressing our society’s racial alienation. Indeed, it’s a path that will continue to frustrate attempts at correcting racism’s genuine effects.”

It’s Alright To Just Be Pals, HT to Challies. “They wanted to formalise something that, as far as I was concerned, didn’t need formalising. They wanted to stick a label on something . . . that we were essentially already doing as mates.” Yes! I agree that we don’t have to formalize and label relationships in order for them to be beneficial.

Maher panel blasts ‘cancel culture’: It’s a form of ‘social murder.’ HT to my husband. I don’t follow Fox News (or CNN) and would rarely agree with Maher, but I agree with these concerns. ” If conversation with people that we disagree with becomes impossible, what is the way that we solve conflict?”

Delight in Loveliness for the Glory of God. Productivity is important, but it’s not everything.

And to end with a smile:

Happy Saturday

Friday’s Fave Five

Here we are at the last day of July! It’s time to pause with Susanne and friends to note and appreciate some of the highlights of the week.

1. Good news. Some of you know that we’d had to cancel my oldest son’s visit last April due to the pandemic, and it looked like we might have to cancel August’s visit as well. He wasn’t comfortable with flying yet nor staying in a hotel if he drove (neither were we). Then my husbands colleague mentioned going somewhere in a sleeper car of a train, where he could basically keep to himself. We checked on prices and station locations, then ran the idea by my son. He thought that sounded feasible—so he’s coming in August! We’re so excited. We won’t be able to go and do like we usually do when he’s here, but we’ll get to see him in person, and he’ll get a break from his apartment. And I’m sure we’ll do lots of hanging out and playing games.

2. Early voting for our state’s primary will hopefully mean less of a crowd. My son and d-i-l voted yesterday and I am planning to before they close.

3. Jeopardy. My husband and I usually watch weeknights after dinner. Lately they pulled out some early episodes. It’s been fun to see how the program have changed over the years.

4. Kind comments. I so appreciated your kind remarks on my blog birthday and my ponderings about my direction.

5. My husband’s indulgence. I got to the end of Wednesday afternoon with little to no desire to cook, and suggested maybe getting takeout pizza. We usually save that kind of thing for weekends, but my husband graciously agreed.

Bonus: My husband stopped by my son and daughter-in-law’s house for something, and Timothy had just lost his front tooth. So he sent a selfie of Timothy’s snaggletooth smile—a phrase my mom used to say based on a cartoon character way back.

How was your week?

End-of-July Reflections

JulyWow, July has gone by fast, hasn’t it?

We’ve had a fairly quiet month. Our local COVID-19 cases and deaths are still rising rapidly, so we’ve pretty much been staying at home as much as possible. We do get together with my son and daughter-in-law and grandson since they’re mostly sheltering at home as well.

The heat and humidity would be keeping us inside even if the virus wasn’t.

We had a fairly traditional 4th of July with grilled burgers. All the major fireworks displays were canceled, but we saw several around the neighborhood.

Jason’s family and my husband camped out in their yard and then in ours to get Timothy used to it before camping away from home. He enjoyed it!

Timothyisms

Once again I have none! There have been a few times he’s said something cute, and I’ve thought, “I need to write that down.” But then I forget.

He’s in the tooth-losing stage of life and currently has three out in front. So cute!

Creating

Jason’s birthday was this month. Since he had asked for some camping equipment, I went with that theme for his card:

The Cricut has some designs that can be printed out, and this was one. It came out darker than it looked on the computer. The things in the corners are some button-like stickers.

I don’t usually show the insides of the cards I make, but they can be the hardest part. I don’t want to say the same thing every time. With this one, all sorts of camping terms flooded my mind, so I wrote them down to see what I could come up with.

Watching

While riding my exercise bike, I’ve worked my way through a few movies. Watching something keeps me there for the allotted time more than listening to something, even an engaging audiobook.

To Catch a Thief was an old Hitchcock film with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. A burglar known as “The Cat,” played by Grant, had served his time and changed his ways. But now someone else has committed a string of burglaries using his MO, and he sets out to catch his imitator.

Funny Face was another old one with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. He’s a photographer for a high-profile women’s magazine who “discovers” her in a book shop and thinks she’s the face for the magazine’s new campaign. The only reason she agrees is to be able to go to Paris. It started out a little weird, but ended up being sweet and cute.

Beyond the Mask is a Christian film set during the Revolutionary War. The main mercenary for the East India Company wants to quit and is betrayed. He ends up working against the EIC . . . and falling in love with his rescuer and meeting Benjamin Franklin. I don’t think I have ever seen a Christian film with such extensive costuming and setting. I enjoyed it. And the two main characters are married in real life.

Waiting for Anya was just released this year. A young shepherd boy in France who is not very responsible at first ends up helping a stranger smuggle Jewish children into Spain during WWII. It was pretty good! I’d like to look up the book it’s based on.

I think I watched all these on Amazon Prime, but they may be available elsewhere as well.

Reading

This month I finished (titles link back to my reviews):

  • Monday’s Child by Linda Chaikin. I had finished but not reviewed this last month. Set after WWII, a model serves as a courier for Interpol but soon learns not everyone is what they appear to be. Excellent!
  • Rain Song by Alice J. Wisler. A Southern young woman was born in Japan, where her mother died. She has determined never to fly and never to go back to Japan—until she’s attracted to a man online who lives there. Loved this one, too.
  • If We Make It Home: A Novel of Faith and Survival in the Oregon Wilderness by Christina Suzann Nelson. Former roommates meet up for a 25th anniversary and go on a wilderness camping trip, which doesn’t go as planned. Very good.
  • Hurricane Season by Laura K. Denton. One sister leaves her two children with the other sister for two weeks, but ends up staying away much longer, which strains relationships. Very good.
  • Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin. A Dutch immigrant looks back on her experiences coming to and trying to make it in America through much hardship. She finds an unusual connection with a young woman at a crossroads in her life. Very good.
  • Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott, sequel to Eight Cousins (audiobook). Rose, the orphaned and only female cousin in the Campbell family, grows up. Sweet, old-fashioned story.
  • Billy Budd by Herman Melville (audiobook). Melville’s last novel, about a winsome young sailor who accidentally kills a superior officer.
  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (audiobook). A mysterious “opera ghost” manipulates the opera house managers and his young protege.
  • Be Concerned (Minor Prophets): Making a Difference in Your Lifetime by Warren Wiersbe covers Amos, Obadiah, Micah, and Zephaniah.
  • The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson (just finished, not reviewed yet)

I plowed through a lot of Christian fiction on the Kindle app in the evenings.

I’m currently reading:

  • Candleford Green by Flora Thompson, the last of the Lark Rise trilogy
  • Write Better by Andrew Le Peau
  • None Like Him by Jen Wilkin
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (audiobook)
  • Be Heroic (Minor Prophets): Demonstrating Bravery by Your Walk by Warren Wiersbe
  • 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates: Healthy Eating for Healthy Living with a Low-Carbohydrate, Anti-Inflammatory Diet (Healthy Living Series Book 1) by Susan Neal

Blogging:

Some of my posts this month, besides the weekly Friday’s Fave Fives and occasional Laudable Linkages:

Writing

I got some good sessions in on my book-in-progress. I was especially thankful for a long work session where I got the basic information down for what I think is my most difficult chapter to put together.

And that wraps up July! We have some things to look forward to in August while we hope and pray for deliverance from the coronavirus.

I hope you’re keeping cool and well this summer! How was your July?

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Hearth and Home, Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, InstaEncouragement, Let’s Have Coffee)

Blog Birthdays and Musings

Blog birthday and brand musingMonday marked my blog’s 14th anniversary.

And just like any other adolescent, it’s wrestling with what it wants to be when it grows up. 🙂

When I first started blogging, bloggers were like neighbors visiting over the back fence. Blogs—at least the kind I ran into—were chatty and varied. Some were fun, some were serious, some were inspirational. But my favorites were a combination.

Then blogs became Business.

And now, while learning all I can about publishing to be ready when I get my book finished, I find writers are encouraged to develop their “brand” so readers know what to expect from them. Readers who like Amish fiction, for instance, don’t want to pick up their favorite author’s new book only to find they’ve switched to science fiction.

I see the wisdom in developing a brand. But I think it’s possible to make a brand too narrow. If someone writes only about finances, I know I can seek out their books if I have a questions about finances. But I don’t read about finances often. I love WWII fiction, but I don’t want to read only WWII fiction. I love writers like Kristy Cambron, who writes historical fiction, but in a variety of times and places. I’m told it’s hard to drum up a whole new audience if you write both fiction and nonfiction or different types within each. But I think some of the audience would follow a favorite author into different forays. I’ve read books in a different genre because an author I liked crossed over to it.

So as I consider what elements I’m passionate about and what might make up my brand, these come to mind:

  • I want to encourage women to develop their own relationship with God.
  • I want to encourage women in their walk with God in whatever stage of life they are in.
  • I want to encourage women to get into the Bible for themselves, not as an end in itself, but to get to know God better. My book-in-progress is on this topic.
  • I want to encourage women to look at everything through the lens of Scripture.

I’ve written a lot about having a quiet time with God in His Word, but that’s not all I write about. I’ve written a little about marriage, parenthood, becoming an “older” woman, caregiving—not as an expert in any of those fields, but sharing what I’ve learned along the way. Occasionally I’ll ponder current issues and try to view them through the truth of God’s Word. I love reading and love sharing good books I’ve found. When I did a blogging preference poll a couple of years ago, people’s preferences about what kinds of posts they liked best varied.

When I saw that well-known Christian blogger Tim Challies called himself a generalist, a light bulb went on in my mind. Maybe that’s what I am, too!

I’ve tried to narrow things down a bit, yet not too much, to hopefully present to a future publisher. If I needed to sum it up in one sentence, it would be that I want to encourage women in their walk with God. I don’t know if that’s catchy or original enough, but that’s my desire.

By the way, although I have women in mind as I write, I don’t mind if men read along.

Thank you all for being here. I didn’t know, when I started blogging, that I’d make so many dear friends that I’ll likely not meet in person until heaven. Your kind comments encourage me and make my day.

I’d love to know what you think about author and blogger “brands” or anything else I’ve mentioned here. Do you read or follow those who write in particular niches, or those who write generally?

(Sharing with Recharge Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee)