January

 

I don’t know what made me assign colors to the months of 2016, but I did.  I had already decided to focus on one of the Spiritual Disciplines in The Celebration of Discipline each month, and that sort of started this whole thing.

January: Meditation.

Meditation gets a bad rap because it is too often only considered in the New-Age, Eastern mysticism way.  But truthfully, the Bible has long held the word meditation as a core way to live out the Christian faith.

Where the color thing comes from I’m not sure.  But I was thinking about the word Meditation and what it means for the Christian – meditating on God, on his Word.  And sometimes creation can call us to meditate upon the greatness of God.  As I was putting things on my pinterest board (the meditation one, in particular, is hard to find things for that don’t relate to chakras) I came across some pictures, none of which really sparked anything in me.  But it gave me the idea to maybe have some pictures on each board that made me think of the Discipline of the month.  So anyway.  Dark teal and light pink were January’s colors.

Sounds weird, doesn’t it?  I think it’s my way of keeping myself constantly reminded.

So it’s win win for me.  But I can definitely see where it can look really strange from the outside.

I digress.

So anyway.

The new year starts like this:

– Began reading My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers (something I had long intended to do but often forgot.  And because the dates are listed starting on January 1, I felt I had to start on that day even though I *knew* it wasn’t necessary.)

– Did 30 Days of Lists from Wedgienet.  (This has been incredibly fun)

image

– Read the 1st (Intro to the Disciplines) and 2nd (Meditation) chapters of Celebration of Discipline.  I also revisited Chapter 2 as I worked on, this month, practicing meditating on God and Scripture. 

– Read the first four of my fifty-two books for the year:  This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge, The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun, and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

The books:

This Present Darkness

Frank Peretti has been one of my favorite authors for as long as I can remember.  I first read Piercing the Darkness in late middle school or early high school, not realizing that my grandmother was reading Prophet at the same time.  Soon after I read all the books he had written at the time, and as he’s written more, she buys each one for me, reads it, and then gives it to me.  🙂  I will say I love his older stuff more so than the newer, but this year I’d like to go through and re-read all of his works, so maybe my mind will change with subsequent readings.

The Darkness books by Peretti are my favorites.  I’m updating this post as I actually read them, and right now I’m in Chapter 18, reminded of the fact that I always get a little emotional at this part of the book.  I wouldn’t remember it if it weren’t happening again now!  But I just love it – the first time that, in their little community church, the people gathered together are all true believers with no other agendas.  In light of all the struggles the pastor has gone through, the excitement of it is actually palpable to me as the reader.  So good!

Peretti is one of those writers (at least in those older books that I have read over and over again) that, once you get started, it’s full steam ahead.  I couldn’t put the book down and finished it in just a couple days.

The end found me a little sad.  Not necessarily teary, but more that ‘end of the journey’ type of feel that one gets at the end of a book with characters they’ve enjoyed.

Now, all that said, don’t get me wrong – there are some definite flaws with TPD.  I’ll be the first to admit that there is some writing that feels a bit… uncomfortable (for lack of a better word?) for me.  The casting out demons portions, for sure.  Those read weird to me, and overall I just try to get through them as quickly as I can.  There is also some clunkiness in the storyline and some situations and relationships feel a bit forced.

However, it’s still just an overall enjoyable, fun read.

I wrote multiple blog posts on Captivating… so I won’t rehash that here.

The Heavenly Man

So this book has gotten some criticism from some Christians, claiming that his stories fall too closely to scriptural accounts of Paul and others.  Some say that the ‘real’ Christians in China distance themselves from Brother Yun, as he is seen as not being authentic or true.

However, I don’t make a habit of speaking for things that I didn’t see.

So it’s entirely possible that the cycle of events in The Heavenly Man – preach, arrest, abuse, escape, repeat – is all a huge story that someone has woven together for our enjoyment.

At the same time, it’s entirely possible that all of the things in the book really did happen.  So.  Who am I – who is anyone? – to judge whether it is true or not?

Is God capable of all the things in the book?  Absolutely.

So.  I’ll just take it at face value.  And if in the end it was a big lie and conspiracy, well, things happen.  Either way, I know that the things are possible.

Through the first few chapters of the book, it really feels like it’s going to be an unending cycle of depressing events, as listed above.  Long periods of time in prison, away from his family, beatings from the guards, and release only to have it happen again in time.

However, as it moves along it really does begin to move along and feel more interesting.  Around the end – probably chapters 24-25?  – dude starts preaching and that’s pretty good.  A favorite:

Forgot to post yesterday's #wednesdaywisdom from #brotheryun #theheavenlyman #52in52

A post shared by kayelbee05 (@kayelbee05) on

In the end, it was enjoyable.  I’m going to keep it around.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Some people hate this book; others love it; others hate to love it.  😀

I thought it was awesome.

Disclaimer: I haven’t started discarding yet.  I’m hoping that sometime this week I can tackle the clothing portion (the first category in the grand undertaking that is ‘discarding’ via the KonMari method).

But I seriously CAN. NOT. WAIT.

So basically it’s this: If you don’t love it, get rid of it.

Yeah, that’s it.

Take everything out, touch it, and if you don’t love it, if it doesn’t ‘spark joy’, as she says, then it goes.  No magic number of things that you should keep (this many shirts, this many dresses, etc), no short and easy weeding out over time.

So yeah.  I’m pretty stoked.  🙂

I’ve seen people say that Marie Kondo is a bit crazy.  That may very well be the case – I can’t say I know many grade-schoolers with the obsession with organizing and decluttering that she has always had.  However, if anything, I think that is more of a sign of a possible case of OCD? (Idk, I’m not a psychologist!!) than any sign that the lady is actually crazy or has anything wrong with her.

She does say in the books to vocalize things that sometimes seem odd:

When you get home, say ‘Hello!’ to your house, or later, thank it for being there.  Or something to that effect.

When you’re discarding clothes, thank them for a job well done.

Etc.

I actually see these things as not being as nutty as some people seem to think.  I think that to express thankfulness is actually more so that you’ll realize it in your mind, when it comes to the house.  How many people really think about the fact that they have a roof over their head?  Not many.  So if the reminder from her is to vocalize thanks to the house for all it does, what harm comes?

Does the house care?  No.  The house is an inanimate object.

However, to express gratitude – even inwardly – for something that you don’t often realize or see as something to be grateful for (like a home), it changes something in you.

As for thanking the clothes, I honestly see it as a way to let go.  Some people, I think, would have a lot of trouble getting rid of some clothes because they think maybe I should keep it.  However, the fact is, (and yes, she says this in the book), if you love something – if it sparks joy – you already use it.  Why keep the rest of the things that you don’t love just because you think you should?

I really do think that one has to have the mindset that this item has fulfilled its purpose for me in order to be okay with discarding the large number of things that will be required.

Anyway.  🙂

(Oh, and people have problems with the idea of the socks not having time to rest.  Am I the only person who totally gets that sentiment???!!  I lay my socks flat in the drawer right now, but I certainly don’t ball them up!!  I find that to be extremely hard on clothing, and have actually used the phrase ‘the fabric needs to rest’ before.  So.  Maybe it’s just me.)

 

That pretty much sums up January, on a personal level.  We have almost finished Week 24 (!!!) of our school year, so I’ll post about that in another week or so, I’m sure.

 

Happy February!!

 

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