Laudable Linkage

Welcome to another gathering of great reads discovered this week:

Imperfections Make Sundays More Beautiful, HT to Challies. “I’ll admit it: these human quirks and errors sometimes exasperate me. I’m here to focus on the Lord! Your awkwardness is distracting me from worship! So mutters my self-righteous heart. Perhaps the real problem isn’t with the clumsiness of others, but with our expectations for corporate worship.”

The Bible: Reading the “Ordinary” Way, HT to Challies. Good thoughts about taking the Bible “literally,” how metaphor is used, etc.

Are You Different Enough? 5 Ways to Use Differences in Your Relationship.

The 17 Phrases That ‘Scare’ Introverts the Most, HT to Lisa. This was posted before Halloween, thus the “scary” faces.

Heartwarming Photos of Acts of Kindness, HT to Lisa.

Back to the Sources, HT to Linda, on cases of what were probably inadvertent plagiarisms by Christian authors (see the comments for how it could possibly have happened).

The 2018 Modern Mrs Darcy Gift Guide for Book Lovers, HT to Linda.

As we look ahead to Thanksgiving in the US this week:

There seems to be a theme running through most of the posts I’ve read concerning Thanksgiving so far this year: the fact that thankfulness isn’t an emotion, but an act of the will, and not always easy. Here are a few:

Gratitude Is a Gift for All Seasons. “To intentionally call to mind images of gratitude in the midst of peace and prosperity is one thing, but it takes a sinewy faith to summon them when chaos reigns and the future looks bleak.”

Being Grateful Ain’t Always Easy (Or Is It Just Me?)

Thankfulness From Those Who Suffer.

Time Out for Thanksgiving

For some Thanksgiving fun:

Free printable Thanksgiving trivia, for use as a game or conversation starter

Thanksgiving Bingo.

Thanksgiving Word Search Place Cards, HT to Laura.

And, finally, a couple of my favorite Thanksgiving quotes:

Happy Saturday!


Laudable Linkage


I don’t usually post these two weeks in a row, but I came across several good reads this week, and some pertain to Easter.

Ten Things You Should Know About the Cross, HT to Challies.

What If Jesus Really DID Rise From the Dead?

Despite Loving Christian Parents, I Left the Faith, HT to Proclaim and Defend. Good tips for parents at the end.

When a Member of Your Church Is Dying, HT to Linda.

Should I Bring My Kids to a Funeral? HT to Story Warren.

The Blessing of a Good Example, HT to Challies.

9 Things That Quiet, Awkward Introvert Wishes You Knew, HT to Linda.

Are home renovations necessary?  HT to Linda. Nothing wrong with home renovations, but all the flip and fix shows popular now can make us discontent.

When I Don’t Get What I Need

I’ve always known I was an introvert, preferring small groups (or, better yet, home!) to big crowds, having a few close friends rather than being the social butterfly, needing time alone to process and think. Reading Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking helped me understand myself better and understand that these issues aren’t just preferences, that introverts’ and extroverts’ brains are wired differently. When she pointed out that introverts are drained by social interaction and need solitude to recharge whereas extroverts thrive on social interaction, the proverbial light bulb went off in my mind. “That’s it!” I thought. I had never heard it put that way before, but it just fit my experience so perfectly. I don’t want to be a hermit; I do value social interaction, but it does drain me and I function better overall with some degree of time to myself.

When my kids were in school, I had about seven hours a day to myself. Oh, that wasn’t all spent curled up reading a book or thinking: housekeeping, grocery shopping, errands, and different ministry responsibilities kept me busy. But I did have a good bit of quiet time. I thought once my kids grew up and left home, that time would naturally increase. I’d miss them intensely, but I had plenty of things I looked forward to accomplishing when that time came.

Instead, I have less solitude than ever. One child is still home but working and taking classes online at home. We’re taking care of my mother-in-law in our home, and we have a lady who stays with her in the mornings plus hospice people coming in and out throughout the week. My husband’s job has him working from home a few days a week now. I am not complaining about any of that: this is the home of all of us, not just me, and of course they all have a right to be here. But some days quiet moments are hard to come by except for early morning and late evening.

I imagine some extroverts have the opposite problem: an intense need for companionship and struggles with too much alone time.

So what do we do in such cases? Allow ourselves to get cranky because our needs aren’t getting met? Whine and complain to God about it? I’m afraid I have done both of those.

Recently, though, I was arrested by Philippians 4:11-13: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Paul mentions hunger there. He didn’t thrash around before God and say, “You made me to need food. So why don’t I have it? What are you doing?” He trusted that God would help him in any circumstance. He would either meet his need for food or take him to where there is no more hunger and thirst. He will sustain us until the time that He provides. Paul says he learned this contentment, which encourages me that it’s first of all a process, and secondly, that it can be learned.

But why would God create us to need certain things and then not provide them for a time? Just to teach us contentment? Well, one other time that God allowed His people to hunger comes to mind:

And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Deuteronomy 8:2-3.

A few reasons are mentioned there:

  1. To humble us.
  2. To test us (the KJV says to “prove” us). He knows what’s in our hearts, but sometimes our reactions to unmet needs are a revelation to us of just how sinfully self-centered we are. This also tests the depths of our love and commitment: that was one of Satan’s challenges to God about Job: “He only serves you because You bless him. Take away some of those blessings, and You’ll see how fast he turns away from You.” Do we only serve God with a right heart when all of our perceived needs are being met?
  3. To teach us dependence on Him to meet our needs.
  4. To remind us of what’s most important.

These are not meant to be explanations for famine: that would be a completely different study. And God may have other reasons for not answering prayers. And this doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t take means sometimes meet our needs, but sometimes those needs surface despite our best efforts. Back to the need for solitude, Jesus many times went away from the crowds and His own disciples to be alone to pray – and He also had the experience of people seeking Him out during those times and interrupting His time alone, another way in which He was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin.

But God has been working with me for a while on changing my attitude from one of demanding what I think I need or lamenting the lack of it to trusting that He knows what I need and will provide it. And He has, many times over, in unexpected ways. Plus that restful, trustful demeanor helps me not only inwardly but outwardly. Not only is my spirit at peace, but instead of focusing on myself, I can turn my attention to others and try to minister to them for whatever purpose God brought them into my life. I confess I have failed in that more often than I like to admit, but I am trusting His grace to change.

So whatever our need, whether for solitude or companionship, affirmation or humbling, inward or outward, we can trust that God has a reason for allowing it, will give us grace while it is unmet, and will meet it in His own time and way.

Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:32b-33

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  2 Corinthians 9:8

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Glimpses, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Writer Wednesday, Coffee For Your Heart, Porch Stories, Wise Woman, Faith on Fire)

Laudable Linkage

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to share links to posts I found interesting, so this will be a bit longer than usual, but I hope you find something here of interest:

Wonderful Hope by Bobbi’s dad, who is facing a terminal diagnosis at the same time his wife is undergoing cancer treatments.

Advice On Seeking Answers to Spiritual Issues.

Becoming Christ-Like: The Goal of the Christian’s Life? There is a subtle but important point here that resonated with me.

God Does Not View Your Labors as Filthy Rags. We have this tendency to take one verse and run away with it.

Are Christian Missionaries Narcissistic Idiots? No. Here’s why.

The Risk of Practical Love.

The girltalk blog has had a series on training your children in dealing with their emotions. 7 Reminders When Talking to Your Teen About Emotions and Helping Children Handle Their Emotions were two that stood out to me.

Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt.

12 Strategies for Singles and Hospitality. The tips are good whether you’re single or married.

Why Courtship Is Fundamentally Flawed. Courtship vs. dating is a hot button debate and I am a bit hesitant to just post the link without discussing it further. I may come back and do so at some point. I may not agree with every little thing but overall he made some excellent points. I did read the book in question before my kids got to that age and pulled some principles from it but did not follow it exactly. We did feel dating – at a certain age and under certain guidelines – was a good way to get to know someone before taking the relationship further but we did want to avoid continued serious relationships and breakups one after another: we didn’t feel the latter was good emotionally nor good training for marriage.

Why Prison Isn’t Restful. We need to be careful about throwaway quips on topics we really know nothing about.

For the Quiet Child (And For Their Parents)…You Can Stop Apologizing For Who You Are.

Ten Things Your Husband Hates.

5 Myths You Might Still Believe About the Puritans.

On Writing Negative Reviews. Good reasons to do so when necessary.

Have a good weekend!


Thoughts on being an introvert

IndoorsyI don’t know if I was taught this somewhere along the way or if it was just a misconception, but as I was growing up I had the idea that an introvert was someone who was indoorsy, not as physically active (and therefore probably a little pudgy), quiet, and didn’t have many friends, whereas an extrovert was more physical, active, outgoing, talkative, and loud.

Evidently I’m not the only one with incorrect ideas of what it means to be an introvert. I was talking with a friend yesterday who said that she has sometimes been accused of being antisocial and once even of being sinful due to her introversion (the latter was said teasingly, but still, that kind of thing stings).

Over the last year I’ve found myself reading a number of books (Quiet; The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain and Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh, both linked to my thoughts on them) and articles about introverts that helped clarify my own thinking and understanding. But as I was commiserating with my friend yesterday, one problem is that extroverts aren’t likely to read books about introverts, and therefore misunderstanding continues.

No one is completely all introvert or extrovert, but most people do lean strongly one way or another. The differences between the two aren’t just a matter of preference: Cain quotes a number of sources documenting that introverts are neurologically wired differently. So it behooves us (both introvert and extrovert) to understand and accept our differences, to realize that God created people differently and has different ways they can each minister, rather than trying to make each other more like ourselves or make everyone fit into one mold.

One of the main differences between the two are their sources of energy in relation to people. Introverts are drained by much social interaction: extroverts thrive on it. Introverts are not antisocial: they do like to get together with people but usually prefer smaller groups. If they are in a large gathering, they’ll likely be on the sidelines talking with one or two people rather than mixing and mingling with many (and they’ll likely collapse at home afterward).

Introverts also tend to be more analytical and slower to process their thoughts. That’s one thing that makes them lag a bit in group discussions and conversations: by the time they process what is being discussed and what they want to say, the conversation has moved on. That’s also why they can panic or at least strongly dislike being called on in a class or small group, and why they don’t think “on their feet” well and often express themselves better in writing than speaking. Introverts are generally more quiet because they’re thinking and processing (and because they prefer quietness and calmness), whereas extroverts often think things through by talking.

Not all introverts are shy: shyness may involve some of the above but may have the added factor of fear, or may just be habit. I was actually raised with the phrase, “Children are to be seen and not heard,” and it is hard to just flip the switch as an adult and start talking. God has helped me with that a lot (that may be a subject for another post). But even if shyness is due to fear, it isn’t helped by rebuking a person for it. Take whatever you’re most afraid of (public speaking, heights, spiders, etc.), and tell yourself “Just stop it!” and see how far you get. 🙂 Then apply that to a fear of people, and perhaps you’ll understand a bit better. One can learn coping mechanisms to help with shyness (and should, since one needs to learn to interact with people), but understanding and empathy help more than a superior or judgmental attitude.

Few if any introverts want to be total hermits. They do need and want people – just preferably in smaller doses. Some of us can talk a blue streak once we get to know and feel comfortable with people. And we can learn to be more talkative than we are really comfortable with. We do need to reach out and be involved in community – all those Biblical “one anothers” do involve other people. But it is comforting to know that Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

There are other characteristics of introverts (which is why, after all, whole books have been written about them), but the main point I wanted to make today was just that we need to understand and respect differences. God made people different and as such He has a place and a purpose for each. The church needs both introverts and extroverts both for balance but also so they can minister to those most like themselves as well as to each other. One of my favorite e-mails came from Karla Dornacher, when I had posted a comment on her blog in a post where she had mentioned being a bit of a loner even though she does well at speaking to crowds. She responded that she couldn’t be alone in her studio so much of the time if she couldn’t be content with being alone for long stretches, and God gives us personalities to fit our callings. That was one of those proverbial light bulb moments for me. I’ve appreciated ways that God has opened for me to minister to others that fit in with the personality He has given me.

There are times, though, that He has pushed me out of my comfort zone. Every trait has its good and bad tendencies, and Adam’s book in particular cautions introverts against some of their potential problem tendencies (some of the most helpful quotes are here). We can avoid people sometimes just out of selfishness rather than need, and we need to realize that a lack of interaction can be hurtful and seem rude even if it is not meant to be. Adam also encourages us that when God does call us to make sacrifices or extend ourselves, He will provide the grace to do so.