Thursday, November 27, 2014

True Thanks-giving is Thanks-living*

I posted the Bible as one of the most influential books of my life in my #BookishThanks last week. Also in that post was a book on being thankful, called One Thousand Gifts. On a day like Thanksgiving, I've got to shout out a valuable lesson I've learned in the past couple years from these two main sources in my life. If you are familiar with the story of my tattoo, then this will all sound familiar, except perhaps it's better stated here than I have previously. God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

There are always things for which we are grateful. The bills paid another month, the new job, the kids doing well, time spent with family and friends, the recovered health of a loved one. And rightly we should be thankful for them. But we also look to these types of thankfulness to lift us in bad times. Sometimes they do, however, in the couple years since I've started reading on the topic, I've felt challenged to look at thankfulness differently. When I think of thankfulness, should I only think of the good? Does a season of hard times lack reasons to be thankful?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." The key word is ALL. Give thanks in ALL circumstances. So giving thanks does not mean that I need to go looking for the good while living through a bad situation in order to be thankful. Or that because I cannot find the good, I have nothing for which to be thankful. It means, in the midst of the bad situation, I should be giving thanks anyway. Saint John of Avila, a Spanish priest born at the end of the Middle Ages, said, "One act of thanksgiving when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations."

Why is that? We don't naturally feel like being thankful when things are going wrong. So why should we? The real question is, What is the purpose of giving thanks? Psalm 7:17 says, "I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High." We give thanks because He is righteous. Because He is just. Because He is holy. Because He is worthy. There is no other reason needed; therefore, we can and should rejoice in the hard times. Job, who lost everything, said it best when he cried out, "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of The Lord be praised." (Job 1:21)

You see, there is a bigger picture. God has intentions, purposes, and reasons we will never be privy to here on Earth. "For His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9). God's ultimate purpose trumps all we deem important here on Earth. We need to have faith that He knows what He is doing and be thankful we are His.

Easier said than done? Absolutely, one hundred times, yes! It has taken me years upon years to even consider true thanksgiving, let alone attempt it. God never said life would be easy or that pain would be less because of our faith. And although I may not have suffered comparable to others, I have gone through a few things and come out the other side a better person for it, able to see in hindsight how God used the experience to mold me. And the "side effects" of living thanksgiving are priceless. Grace and joy miraculously abound as we put into practice a thankful heart.

Thankfulness for the good things in life is not diminished just because we need to be thankful during the bad. I have never been more thankful than I am this year and it has been through both good and bad circumstances. Each season draws me closer to this truth in its own way. And each act of thanksgiving - true eucharisteo - is a moment of grace and a filling of joy.

*title created using "thanksliving" from Ann Voskamp's site

Monday, November 24, 2014

MEV: Modern English Version Bible

Modern English Version (MEV) Bible
Publisher: Passio, Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group
Publication date: October 7, 2014
Category: Religion, Spirituality
Source: I received two free copies from the publisher for my honest review and a giveaway. The giveaway copy will be given to a new church member in need.

Why review a Bible? Two reasons. First, there are so many versions/translations of the Bible, I wanted to know what another could possibly offer. What does the MEV offer over other Bible versions? The blurb on the book jacket claims that the MEV is "the most modern translation of the King James Version in thirty years" and that its "literal translation beautifully communicates God's Word in a way that is accurate, clear, and easy to read."

So what did I think? I examined a few chapters with which I am most familiar, one of them being 1 Corinthians 13. The meaning from the King James to the MEV is intact, as well as the formatting of the sentences. The main change is the removal of thee and thou and the "th" ending on words like "doth," using " do not" instead.

Examining Romans chapter 8, I also noticed that whole sentences are the same except for switching out a word or two. For example, the word "consider" in MEV to replace "reckon" in the King James. However, in places, I did find some simplification of sentence structure/grammar that is more consistent with how we speak today. For example, Romans 8:25 in the King James reads:  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. The MEV states Romans 8:25 as: But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

And because I'm no Bible expert, I thought I'd get a pastor's opinion as well. Doug Reed, head Pastor of Bridge of Hope Church (#bohchurch) in Boardman, Ohio, had this to say about the MEV Bible:
I looked through all of the major verses and big verses in which other versions tend to use different verbiage or language that alters theology. The main verses all checked out in my opinion. There were some slight differences in the words they chose to add or replace, but none of them altered the meaning of the text. It was more the preference of the translators. It's usability and layout is similar to all the other versions I have used in the past.

So, I'd say Pastor and I agree. MEV seems to be a solid Bible, sticking pretty closely to the King James Version from which it's derived, while updating the language and sentence structure as needed.

Oh, and my second reason for reviewing a Bible? See the graphic below, provided by Christian Universities Online:

The Bible

That's what I'd call a successful book. Wonder who His publicist is?! 

Favorite Bible versions anyone?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

Reading Max Lucado's book Before Amen (about prayer) with two groups - one group of real life friends and one group of women who signed up with Proverbs 31 Ministries to study the book together. The book study has only begun this week, but I found one quote I know is true from experience.

Friday, November 21, 2014

#BookishThanks November 15-21

I am participating in a most wonderful bookish Thanksgiving meme, #BookishThanks, put together by Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. A category is given for every day in November, to which you can apply the book of your choice, posting it on your social media. It has been so much fun, I figured I'd post them on my blog weekly! Feel free to leave your choices for any categories in the comments.

15. Sparked my imagination - Juliet's Nurse, by Lois Leveen

16. Stretched my mind - One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp

Stretched me so much, I made sure I'd never forget it!

17. Took my breath away - Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo

18. Taught me something new - Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See

19. Discussed with a friend - The Best Yes, by Lysa TerKeurst

20. Gave me a different perspective - The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara

21. Makes me take copious notes - The Bible

Once again, what better place for lasting impressions?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Student Spotlight: Donald R.

Hi! Welcome to Student Spotlight on My Life in Books. Today's featured student writer is Donald R. He is an 11th grader and his class read Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, earlier this year. In the novel, many characters have big hopes and dreams for the future, although none of them reach their goals. Although there are extenuating circumstances for Steinbeck's characters, the Impossibility of the American Dream is one of the themes of the novel. Based on this theme, students were asked to describe and plan steps toward a possible hope or dream(s) they have for their own future. The best laid plans of mice and men may often go awry, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

I am very proud of Donald for taking this essay seriously and choosing such a thoughtful topic. Welcome Donald!

My Dream to Lose Weight

             My dream is to lose weight. The main reason I want to lose weight and gain some muscle is because it’s been along time since I’ve been at a standard or better weight. Another reason is because there’s many things I’ve wanted or want to do but my weight has been slowing me down. If I were to become healthy and lose weight, I could become more active in my life.

The way I plan to lose weight is by doing regular exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and walking daily, but pacing the exercises. I don’t want to hurt or pull a muscle, which could make me have to take time off from exercises. Another way is by having a steady diet and not eating so much junk food. Also by eating at regular times, instead of eating at anytime, so my digestive system can settle better and faster. Another way is by getting more motivated to do exercise. I’m going to listen to music that can help me focus more and block out any stress related situations.

The reason why I’ve always wanted to be healthy and in good shape is because it will help me accomplish what I’ve always wanted to do. And also because I can do more active things and better myself. The whole reason why I want to lose weight is because I’ve always hated looking at myself being fat and having dreams of being fit and healthy. And mostly, I’ve hated looking at myself in the mirror and all I see is fat and not seeing the fit side of me.

The way that being healthy and gaining muscle will help me in the future and how it would change my life is that I would be able to do more fun things and work easier. I would be able to do more outdoor activities with friends, family, or just by myself. Also another reason is I would be able to find a good job where I can be active and get paid at the same time. Finally, I wouldn’t always have to be indoors all the time and feel embarrassed. I would be able to prove to my family, friends, and those who have always made fun of me that I can lose weight and be the healthier person I want to be.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

I didn't forget about Sunday Sentence today, but didn't have time to put anything up between last night and this morning. But I found a book of poetry by an author, Tyler Knott Gregson, whom a friend of mine loves. Gregson's poetry is different in both format and appearance, so if you have a moment, Google images and take a look. My friend posted one today that I thought was quite relevant, so I figured, better late than never.

Oh what we
could be if we
stopped carrying
the remains 
of who we were.

Tyler Knott Gregson

Friday, November 14, 2014

#BookishThanks November 8-14

I am participating in a most wonderful bookish Thanksgiving meme, #BookishThanks, put together by Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. This time I was able to place the graphic above for your iPad was having a good day, I guess. For #BookishThanks, a category is given for every day in November, to which you can apply the book of your choice, posting it on your social media. It has been so much fun, I figured I'd post them on my blog weekly! Feel free to leave your choices for any categories in the comments.

8. Recommended by a friend - Stones From the River, Ursula Hegi

9. Would read over and over - The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

10. Boosted my vocabulary - Anything Shakespeare

11. Love the voice - This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper

12. Favorite reading accessory - fleece blanket and my dog AND 14. Favorite reading spot - bed

13. Must read author's backlist - David Mitchell (read Cloud Atlas)