A Time To Dance (A Book Review)

A_Time_to_DanceI’ll admit it. I don’t too much care for Christian fiction.

It sort of feels like blasphemy letting those words slide off my tongue, but it’s the truth.

It wasn’t until a few years ago when I read “Heavenly Places” by Kim Cash Tate, that my faith in quality fiction was restored.

Over a year ago I was skimming the shelves of the Christian fiction shelf and came across this book by Karen Kingsbury.

At the time , my husband and I had just gone through a rough patch in our marriage.  After reading the synopsis of this book, I was intrigued and hoped to be encouraged by the characters story of endurance and restoration.

It kept my attention for a few short days, and then I stopped reading.

To be clear…this happens to me often, so it wasn’t necessarily that the book wasn’t good.  When a book doesn’t grab my attention immediately, I stop reading it and return back to it at a better suited time.  This is also the reason I usually read more than one book at a time.

About a week ago I decided to give it another try, and this morning I finished it.  (A whole week to finish a book may seem like a long time to you fellow bookworms. But with a husband, 2 small kiddos, 12 vocal students, and a script to learn for a play…this was no small feat.)

All in all, this was a good read.  I love the way Kingsbury threads the word of God into every day conversation between the characters.  Every character is faced with an opportunity to hear and heed to the voice of God in this story.  He’s in their thoughts, He’s in their hopes, He’s in their mistakes, and He’s in their choices.  I was so inspired by this! It encouraged me to evaluate how of ten I include, acknowledge or even ignore God’s nudges and voice in my every day life.

I also loved the family dynamic.  It was evident the main female character Abby had spent quality time with her children ; nurturing their gifts, their understanding of God, and loving them for their unique personalities.  An even greater awareness became evident as the story unfolded : even great, perfectly matched, God-fearing marriages endure rough seasons.  From John’s attraction to another woman to Abby’s inability to admit her own contributions to their troubled marriage, I was convicted, encouraged, and inspired to be more specific about the prayers I cover my marriage in.

This story was realistic. 

There were a few times I felt as if the story was dragging a bit.  The dialogue lacked depth and it was very much a predictable plot.

While I wouldn’t quite say I’m a new Karen Kingsbury fan, I will most likely read more of her books.

3 out of 5 stars for an enjoyable, realistic read.

Here’s to renewed faith in Christian fiction.

 

 

 

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Nothing — Everything : A Journey to Healing

It’s 5 am.

I’m sitting straight up in my parents bed..sweat on my back, tear stained tissue lying beside me. 

Maybe it was the onions from dinner. 

Maybe it was the emotions stirred by watching the Book Thief just before bed. 

Or maybe it’s the change of environment and the intention I brought along with me to 

slow down, hear from God, rest, and reset. 

I didn’t expect that intention to lead me back to a place of lingering hurt. 

There have been hurts in my life that I’ve dealt with head on. 

This is what it is. This is where it stems from. This is what has to be done to get over it. Very systematic and matter of fact. 

But this particular hurt is almost a year old and has been tugging at my heart randomly over the last 2 weeks. 

I had to get over it in a hurry.  There were too many things at stake.  I couldn’t afford to let it overtake me, yet it was too big to stuff in my normal I got this file and face it and fix it. 

And so…the truth is…it haunts me. 

Not daily. Not weekly. Not regularly. 

But when I’m still. 

I’m convinced this is why so many of us are afraid of silence and stillness. We busy our lives with activities,demanding jobs, good deeds, people, mindless tv, and a riveting novel …anything to keep us from having to just sit and reflect. At times the weight of things undone can be frightening.  It can be difficult to evaluate your life and take note of the leaks, holes and duct tape disasters. 

But..see…I’m on a journey to wholeness. I refuse to let the fear of confronting heavy emotions deter me from healing simply because of the intricate process I’ll have to endure to be free. 

I sat here.  Heavy with fear. Crippled by unanswered questions. Slowly drifting over from I can handle this to I want to be free. 

There was no magic wand. There was no vision of a dove. There was no writing on the wall. 

But this truth embraced me. 

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BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING , BUT IN EVERYTHING BY PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION WITH THANKSGIVING LET YOUR REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN UNTO GOD. AND THE PEACE OF GOD , WHICH SURPASSES ALL COMPREHENSION, WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS. ” (PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7 NASB)

Anxious for nothing. 

Pray in everything. 

I love and hate this verse. {Is it ok to say hate in regards to scripture?}

It is comfort , and it is conviction. 

Because too often I lean towards my own problem-solving skills to work out things that can only be fixed and resolved by the love, truth and ability of Jesus.

My pastor said this the other week…”Natural remedies cannot resolve spiritual issues”. 

When I am too eager to hide my wounds instead of endure the healing process I in end up living in denial with only temporary relief. 

When I am willing to allow the Holy Spirit to carry me through the process of healing, it results in peace and produces fruit that remains.

I would rather plow through the illusion of resolve to experience God’s incomprehensible peace. 

Anxious in nothing. 

Pray in everything. 

One step closer to healing. 

The Color of Friendship

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I am rich in friendship.

I have friends like family.

I have childhood friends I still keep in touch with. 

I have friends I connect with spiritually. 

I have friends I’ve connected with over social media. 

I have friends. 

Real friends. 

Black friends. 

White friends. 

Married friends. 

Single friends. 

West Coast friends. 

East Coast friends. 

Mid West friends. 

Down South friends. 

City girl friends. 

Small town girl friends. 

Friends who make me laugh. 

Friends who give great advice. 

Friends who have overcome great trials.

Friends who inspire me. 

Friends. 

Real friends. 

And tonight, while sitting around a table of food with friends I’ve had since kindergarten and 6th grade; I felt unbelievably grateful and blessed. Each one of my friends add color to my life. Not one of them takes more than they give. (which is huge). 

I’ve accepted that while there are people that I love, support, and believe in…I am only willing to give space to those who value our friendship, value my opinions, emotions and time & those who are committed to making our friendship …for however long or for whatever reason … grow. 

If you’ve never experienced genuine friendship…take a look at yourself. As a teenager my mom once told me that learning to be a good friend was preparation for learning to be a good spouse.  It takes commitment, authenticity, loyalty and unconditional love. I learned early to be a good friend.  And in this season….what has been sown is returning in a beautiful harvest of well rounded friendship. 

I am rich in friendship. And for this…I am thankful. 

The Trouble With Being Social

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I used to think I was an extrovert.

I rather enjoy the company of friends, or the electrifying feeling of a crowd playing adult twister or dancing to the best of the 80’s.  I actually love going to our new church because I’m bound to see a person I’ve never seen before.

I like baseball and basketball games.  I love the thrill of thousands of strangers eating sloppy concession stand snacks and  uniting their ooh’s, ahh’s and cheers for a particular team.

I’m not bothered by the fact that I follow more people than I have followers on pinterest and instagram.  I stroll through my feed appreciating the different daily routines, emotions captured, threads worn, and meals made.  I love LIFE.  And for me part of enjoying life is enjoying the life in others.  I’m not so absurdly mistaken to think that my life is the only one being lived. I wonder about the school secretary.  I wonder about the older man in my small group who has just as much sweet to say as he does bitter.  I wonder about the couple at the gym who always work out together, always touch each other, and seem to be hopelessly in love…but she’s so mean. I wonder. I look. I pay attention.

But, every once in awhile it all becomes too much.

The noise clutters my thoughts and I long for silence.

I tire of of the perfect pictures, the smiling, the put together outfits , the shout outs to the “true friends” or people “keeping’ it real”, or those one their “everyday hustle”.

It all seems so contrived at times, so conjured . A stage play put on for all the world to see.

it’s too much.

It’s too loud.

And as much as I enjoy looking, I’d rather see.

I had a friend; a dear friend in fact, tell me a few weeks ago that I was boring. I was so abruptly shaken and truthfully offended by her statement that I couldn’t gather the composure to ask, “in what way” ?  Her statement haunted me for days. I found myself taking inventory of my life.

well, I do read a lot of books. 

my greatest fetish is paper supplies in comparison to the usual woman’s fetish of make up and heels. 

I guess I do listen to strange music : classical, 80’s, Hillsong, ColdPlay, Bonnie Raitt ; not your usual” black woman” music, right?

I started making this mental list of all these things that perhaps someone might think were boring, and then I STOPPED.

My preferences, likes, dislikes, strengths, quirks, and shortcomings are what make me who I am. 

Spend an hour with me and you’ll find I’m not afraid of trying new things. 

I died my hair BLONDE on a spontaneous whim in October.

I auditioned for a secondary lead in a play after not acting on stage for over 12 years.

I moved to California for my husband’s job at 8 months pregnant. We drove. For 3 days.

And after all the {insert a rather colorful word} we went through in California with church people….I still  recently made a choice to get active in church again.

But most importantly, to whom do I have to prove anything to ????

See, this is the trouble with being social. We take on this unhealthy assumption that our life has to measure up to this invisible standard others have for us in order to mean something.

Stay at home mom’s have to bake intricate cakes and cook 3 course meals at least 3 times a week in order to be considered meaningful. Didn’t you know?

Working moms have to have all the latest handbags and threads and bring in a certain amount of money in order to be considered successful. Didn’t you know? 

Single ladies have to maintain a certain image and pursue a certain level of education and social awareness in order to be an acceptable mate. Didn’t you know? 

There’s just no way that the only person any of us really need to be aiming to please is God. That’s just not enough.

If I could, I’d pack a bag tomorrow and go on an excursion to Paris. I’d write and eat at a different cafe’ every morning, I’d explore the city in the afternoon, and sit and stare at the Eiffel Tower every night.

If I could, I’d go on a shopping spree to my favorite stores, buy shoes and accessories to match each outfit, and buy plenty of spanks to ensure I could properly FIT into the piles of clothes I’d just purchased.

If I could, I’d live in a 4 bedroom house with Pottery Barn furniture, West Elm extras and I’d always have plenty of money for organic foods and fresh vegetables instead of the frozen peas & broccoli cuts and I so often buy.

If I could.

But, since I can’t….

I’ve worked hard to be okay with what I can do. 

The trouble with being social is the deceptive illusion that tells us what we have, and who we are is not enough.

The truth is, I’m a forced extrovert.

While there are times I crave social interaction, I just as quickly wish for a cabin in the woods with a roaring fireplace and a stack of books with just my husband and children nearby.

While there are times I appreciate the kind words of those who acknowledge the good things about me, flattery is fickle. I’d much rather know and believe God’s unwavering opinion of me.

Sometimes I fantasize about a life without a cell phone, Facebook, reality tv, catalogs , and I wonder if what I’m fantasizing about is the life I’m really meant to live.

Pieces of A Dream

This weekend something wonderful happened to me.

About 9:30am on Saturday morning,  one of my dearest friends arrived (with Starbucks in hand might I add) ready to assist me in making one of my dreams come true.

An hour later my small living room was filled with 8 girls/ladies ready to learn about songwriting. 

I’ve made it my business as a vocal coach not just to focus on vocal ability and technique, but all things music.  I don’t want my students to be one-dimensional.  I want them to flourish as vocalists, songwriters, music lovers and overall as people.

It’s been my dream to host enrichment classes that are affordable and relatable. I think its great that many women’s ministries and churches are able to put on lavish conferences with great amenities and well-known speakers.  I’ve been to a few conferences that have been a blessing.  But I had to save & scrape just to get there. And unfortunately, I’ve rarely had the opportunity to then sit down with one of the speakers to ask questions or experience them outside of a perception.

I wanted something hands on.

I wanted to do something that was affordable, but life-changing.

I wanted something relatable and attainable.

I don’t think I ever even necessarily prayed and asked the Lord to make this happen for me.

He just ….DID.

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One of my vocal students posted this picture of my dear friend and I demonstrating spontaneous worship.

Not only did we learn basic songwriting tips, God’s presence met us in worship and each of us was touched in a personal way.

It was as if I could see pieces of a dream falling into place.

I am loving this season.