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Don't Be Dottie

Grace and Transformation

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December 2014

What I Read in 2014

I really love to read. I’ve read a few books this year. 10 to be exact. I’m sure that’s not as many compared to others. But each one has had a significant impact on my life this past year, 2014. How I live, work, and think got some fresh perspectives! I’m sharing the list with you. Maybe you can add one or two of them to your reading list for 2015!

Books I read in 2014:

1. Hot dogs and Hamburgers, Rob Shindler: a book about Literacy and how learning to read is an act of love.

2. Daring Greatly, Brene Brown: how choosing vulnerability leads to courage in all of our relationships.

3. The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown: “I’m imperfect and I’m enough” This is a must read.

4. Knowing God, J. I. Packer: Read this for the first time almost 40 years ago. Fast forward and it still had a significant impact on my faith and my view of
God.

5. The Paleo Approach, Sarah Balyntine: A textbook for anyone seeking to find healing with foods.

6. Bread and Wine, Shauna Niequist: Easy read by a girl after my own heart. Memories and food chronicled together.

7. The Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp: Advent will never be the same. Add it to your Christmas traditions.

8. Against All Grain, Danielle Walker: This cookbook propelled my culinary skills to new heights. Every recipe is delicious! And yes, I read it from cover to cover.

9. Being a Woman of God, Ginger Gabriel: The chapter on friendship gave me a fresh perspective and left me longing for some deeper levels of relationships.

10. The Nesting Place, Myquillan Smith: Eye candy for decorating with a heart for transforming where you live.

I am still working on my reading list for 2015. So far I have The
Red Tent and The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant, Jesus Feminist by
Sarah Bessey, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, and Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor.

What will you be reading?

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Hopes and Fears of all the Years

Are you doing anything special for Advent? Reading a book or devotional? Lighting candles? Opening those little doors on calendars? Here at our Home Sweet Home The Pastor and I are reading through Ann Voskamp’s devotional “The Greatest Gift”. I really wanted to buy this book last year and didn’t, so this year it was at the top of my list. If you are not acquainted with Ann and her writing, you’ll want to join her at aholyexperience.com. You wont be disappointed. So I thought for the next few weeks as I wait for Christmas, I would write a bit about what I’m reflecting on for Advent.

Advent is the idea of being focused on the something that is coming. The coming of Christ as the baby in the manger. The hope of something that has been waited for for so many years is finally happening! God entering the world as a human to be our Savior. As Ann says, “The Giver becoming the Gift”. The Gift of that baby has been the one relationship that has brought me through these many years. Maybe even more so, this Advent season.

My life has been filled with so many hopes over the years. But always first the hope that my life would be so woven into the fabric of those swaddling clothes, to be held and warmed by the closeness of that baby. That is the hope that is real and true in my life.  Jesus is my one and only in ways that I never imagined.

My hopes for this season of my life reflect my need for my Savior to hold me close once again. I’m hoping for peace in relationships that are woven with disappointment, failure and unforgiveness. I’m hoping for inspiration and open doors that will lead to work to pay the bills. I’m hoping for relief and healing from diseases like cancer and depression.

You see however, the other side of hope is fear. Those hopes can manifest themselves as fears so subtly in my thoughts.  I’m afraid of the loss of valued relationships with family and friends I love. I’m afraid of wandering too long in the wilderness waiting for an answer for work that will support The Pastor and me. I’m afraid of sickness that can steal a person’s identity and very future. Fear dismantles hope. It distracts from the blanket of the baby wrapped around my soul.

Fear leads me to see the dark side of my life. Masking hope by reminding me of unmet expectations, piles of bills, and hurts that accumulate like a pile of dried up leaves. I feel like I have to try harder and dig deeper to make the fear subside. To keep smiling and looking on the bright side. My fears unravel the warmth of that blanket of hope that was intended to cover me.

As I reflect this Advent on the coming of the Baby in that manger, one Christmas Carol is playing in my heart and mind.

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above your deep and dreamless sleep,
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

This reminds me that in the dark streets of my life there is a light that shines through. All of my energy, worry, and workings are not part of His equation for hope. God doesn’t need me to strain to seek Him.  My straining will not make my fears dissipate.

What adds up to hope is the everlasting, eternal plan for darkness to be extinguished by His presence.  My Hopes and My Fears  go together and are met in Christ today, tonight and forever. The blanket does not unravel and light never dims.

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