Sunday, June 7, 2015

He Never Gives Up

I love my smart phone!

Who could have imagined these devises 45 years ago when I was untethered from home base and 700 miles away cocooned in a small private college? One wall phone hung at the end of the hall on each dormitory floor. Whoever was close by would answer the call and yell out the name of the intended receiver. The only calls I remember getting were from my parents, and they made sure to inform me each time that they couldn't talk long or they'd "wrack up the bill".

As a young married mom with kids I stayed connected to other stay-at-home moms with the 30 foot extension cord of the home wall phone so I could talk and do dishes, load the washer in the next room or stretch it into the closet if I wanted some privacy.  Happy were the days when the cordless phone afforded talking anywhere in the house and parts of the driveway.

Then came the progression of the cell phone. Mine included a flip phone, then a slide-out for texting, a smart non-iPhone with WiFi internet hookup and finally, my creamy yellow iPhone 5 bought under contract with my daughter-in-law's data plan which covers all of my usage.

Now I can call, text, Facetime, do any internet work or fun, play my ongoing Words with Friends games, and read books on the Kindle app. (Just to mention the things I use it for most).  Goodby alarm clock, wristwatch, pocket calendar and address book. What a magic do-it-all that fits in my hand!

Last weekend I traveled about 50 miles to spend time with my son and family.  Baby Rowan was born almost two weeks before, and I was looking forward to a grandma fix. The family had moved before she was born and even though my husband had driven us to their new place before,  I turned on iPhone GPS and headed out with confidence. Missy iPhone got me there perfectly. Goodby, atlas!  (Well, not entirely. Those of you in my generation may understand the benefit of seeing the bigger picture map-without zooming or swiping a screen. The atlas will continue to accompany our longer road trips.)

On the way back, I didn't need Missy, but as I got closer to home I decided to test her smartness. Unlike the old Garmin we used before, Missy doesn't have to collect her wits and 'recalculate' whenever we turn a different way from her instruction.  Nor does she command us to make a U turn. She'll just take our new positioning and guide us from there. I had set her destination to my workplace, but intended to go to my house. With each 'wrong' turn I made, she had the next move ready to get me back towards my destination.  I could tell she was either getting me to go around the block or to make the next available right turn, if I missed her first one. Missy was relentless.  She wasn't giving up. She was determined to get me there!

As I observed her steadfastness, I thought of God's faithfulness to guide us. Of how he never gives up on us. Remember Moses and the excuses he clung to, to hopefully derail God's plan for him?
Moses: Who am I to do this?
God: Turn on Iamwithyou Street.
Moses: What if they don't believe me?
God: Turn right on Miracle Tricks Lane.
Moses: I'm not a good speaker.
God: Take the next turn on Iwillhelpyouspeakandteachyouwhattosay Street.
Moses: Please send someone else!
God: In a mile and a half, at Exit Frustration, turn towards Brother Aaron.
God kept guiding until Moses got there.

Or take Gideon.  He was a wimp hiding from enemies who were infiltrating his country.
God shows up and calls him a mighty man of valor and that the Lord is with him. Gideon wasn't going down that path.
Gideon: Yeah right! If that was so, then why is all this happening?
God: Go on Strength You Have Street.
Gideon: Are you kidding? I am the least in my family!
God: Turn on Iwillbewithyoustreet.
Gideon: Show me a sign so I know I'm going the right way.
God: Zap! See the fireworks?
Gideon: Too scary.  I'm turning around.
God: Take Peace Street and you'll arrive at your destination.

We are given chance after chance to get it right. God keeps guiding, keeps turning us in his way.

-Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”Isaiah 30:21niv
-Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track. 
Prov. 3:6msg

-You will show me the path that leads to life;  Psalms 16:11gnt
-Your constant love is my guide; your faithfulness always leads me. Psalms 26:3gnt
-We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.Ro. 8:28voice  (The destination is His plan and He'll keep working toward that no matter what happens or what we choose-if we love him and want to live in His plan)

And the times we sin and insist on going our own way? He does call for Repentance, a necessary U turn! 

If you're looking for some direction today, believe that He has a plan and will guide you into it. 
If you think you've completely messed up His GPS, believe He can work with untangling any 'lostness' you give to Him.  Let Him take over from here.
If you know you've deliberately chosen to not listen to Him, make a U turn and ask for His forgiveness and help in getting back on track.

I'm setting this as HOME; how about you?
You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.  Psalms 16:11nabre 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Book Review-Going the Distance

Going the Distance, by Stephen Elkins

This husband and wife team of authors has created an attractive package of book and activity in this great resource for youth.  Alec London is a sensitive, likeable kid who weathers disappointments and challenges with family and school mates. The reader feels his struggle as he wrestles with missing his mother, who is often away from home because of job obligations, enduring summer baseball camp, the up and down relationship with his older brother and an intimidating classmate.  Resolving his feelings often means turning his thoughts into prayers for help to do the right thing. 

Alec says, “Dad always gives me pretty much the same message as my teacher.  They both say how it’s important to give my all in everything I do.  It’s called ‘going the distance.” At the end of each chapter Alec expresses an honest summary of his conflict in a letter to his mom.

Besides the summary letter, each chapter ends with a word search game.  The back of the book offers discussion questions about the book and a few short resources to sharpen the reader’s English and math skills.  For instance, this particular book in the series includes a worksheet about baseball’s rules and fundamentals. Answer keys are provided for the word searches and the worksheets.

The adults in the book are great role models in spite of their weaknesses. Alec’s maturity for a fourth grader, his writing skills shown in his letters to his mom, and his personal relationship with God are exceptional and maybe unrealistic.  But the authors show a way for kids in this age group to reach for the God who is always there and who is very interested in the details of our lives.

I received this book from Moody Press publishers in exchange for my review.

Book Review-My Sing-Along Bible

My Sing-Along Bible by Stephen Elkins

When I received this book I was a bit skeptical that its contents would be full of quality and appealing to my over-exposed, media-trained grand kids.  I’ve read and heard “cheesy” Christian resources, and I’ve become quite a critic of how effective they are in competing with popular media.

I approve of this book.  I think it will hold young kid’s attention because of its simple layout.  The songs are catchy and have a lot of repetition in the lyrics which makes it easy to memorize them. The key to making this resource a success is in the enthusiasm of the reader and in providing exposure to the songs.  I can imagine children listening to this as they go to sleep at night or riding in the car. This will give 3-6 year olds an early dose of God’s word and build a faith foundation that will be in place for whatever other media captures their attention.

Each Bible story follows this format:

A few simple story lines to read aloud
A Scripture verse with reference
Written words of the companion song on the CD
A one sentence “little lesson” of the story
Bright, colorful simplistic drawings

The book has a soft board cover and a durable binding. A CD is included inside the front cover.

I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House.