Book Review Time

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing-Benjamin Franklin

So I have been in a season of reading lately. Mostly because of the hours spent on airplanes, in cars, or kept inside due to torrential spring storms. Can I just digress to say that there is something magnificent about thunderstorms? Do they not give us a brief glimpse of Father God’s power and might? There is something comforting about being wrapped up in a quilt on the couch, reading your favorite book, while the rain beats against the windows.

1 of 7 bookshelves in my office
1 of 7 bookshelves in my office

Anyway, back to the real reason I sat down to write. Books. Lots and lots of books. It is a bit of an addiction I must confess. Just yesterday I went to drop off stuff at the women’s shelter store and next thing you know I was elbow deep in the book section. But, in my defense, they had me hooked with the big sign outside the door that said “all books 50% off”. They must have known I was coming. Sweetheart swears I buy more than I donate. He is probably right but I will never admit that.

As I closed the cover of the last book I devoured, my first thought was “I have to share this with my wonderful readers!”. It is just that good. I also read two other books that reached into my soul to remind me of some empty spaces that needed to be filled. In addition, because I am a great fan of history, the last book I want to tell you about is a must read, especially if you have kids or homeschool.

  The Shepherd’s Song: A Story of Second Chances is a story of one mother’s love for her son. How could she have known a love note she wrote to him would change everyone it touched? Twelve individual lives are impacted when Kate McConnell takes a moment to pen the words to Psalm 23 on a scrap piece of paper and shoves it into Matt’s pocket. This short, easy to read book needs to be in everyone’s summertime “by the pool” bag. I read it straight through and will probably read it again this weekend. Yes. It’s that good.

Your Legacy: The Greatest Gift by James Dobson opened up some long closed spaces in my heart. Because of wrong choices made throughout my life, I regularly wrestle with my ability to change the lives of the next generation. Will they believe me when I share my faith? Will I be able to break the chains that hold our family down? Dr. Dobson has written this book to help each of us leave a lasting impact with this one life that God has given us. Whether you have been blessed with spiritual giants or prodigals, this book will guide you towards the understanding of how important it is to never give up your attempts to leave a legacy. What you do affects the next generation, whether you want it to or not. Why not be an active part of positive change?

Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom by Lisa-Jo Baker had me with the first two lines. “I guess most people who write books about motherhood start out by telling you how much they always wanted to be a mom. That is not my story.” Wow. A very real, raw book about the struggle between what God wanted her to do and what she thought she should do, this book shares Lisa-Jo’s journey from child to woman to mom. I loved every chapter, wept with her during the rough times, and cheered each time she found another blessing along the way. I met Lisa-Jo at the Declare Conference in Dallas last year. She is such a joy to be around. Every mom who feels like she just can’t do it right needs this book.

Dreamers and Deceivers: True Stories of the Heroes and Villains Who Made America by Glenn Beck is a fantastic work of historical fiction. No matter what you think of his politics, this book is a great read for those history buffs like me. As always with stories of the past, there are equal measures of truth and fiction in the retelling of those stories. It is so much fun to learn the truth behind so many of the legends. I recommend this book to families especially as it is a great book for students. In audio form, this book will be a wonderful way to use on a road trip with a car full of kids. Even the least likely child will be mesmerized by the fascinating details they will learn about some famous as well as should be famous people. They will especially love the truth behind one of their favorite movie makers, Pixar.

This is the first of what I hope to be a weekly list of book reviews. I love to read almost as much as I love to eat chocolate and drink coffee. Poor sweetheart can attest to

Even the playroom has books for grandkids
Even the playroom has books for grandkids

that. Five years ago we gave over 600 books to the local library. I promised him I would control my book buying. Sadly (or not so much) I must admit that I have failed at that promise. By recent count I am well over that number of books on the shelves again. (Need a book? Send me a comment with the book you are looking for and I just might have it!!!!) I at least try to spend equal time on both fiction and non-fiction which makes me able to rationalize that at least I am learning. That makes sense in my mind at least!

I hope your spring is heading towards a wonderful summer. Let me know what you are reading. I am always looking for new titles. But sssshhhhhhhhh. Don’t tell my sweetheart.

Much love and thanks for being along for the journey,

Michelle_sig

 

 

©2015MichelleWelch, team member of Breath Of Life Women’s Ministries and Single Matters Magazine

Hands In The Dirt

 

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul”-Alfred Austin (English Poet 1835-1913)

There is an old saying that people can be born with a “green” thumb meaning they can, and do, have success at growing plants. Let’s just lay it all on the line here and admit that I was not born with that appendage. Well I do have a thumb but it most definitely is not green. I have written before about my “loving” family kidding me about the fact that I bring plants home to die. Sweetheart even made little gravestones once for a particularly large plant I sent to the plant side of heaven. I know. Sad right?rodeo-4024

That being said I never have been one to admit defeat. Each year I faithfully spend the family grocery budget buying and planting all manner of seeds, seedlings, and trees with the hopes of creating my own little garden of Eden here on earth. I dig, I fertilize, I water with a diligent fervor usually reserved for more important things like eating chocolate or reading a new novel. I love the feel of the dirt in my hands, forgoing gloves to push each seed, each plant deep into the warm, fragrant soil.

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This year has been no different. Each day sweetheart kindly reserved his eye rolling to those moments when I wasn’t looking. (or so he thought). Bags of dirt, flats of plants, and a fresh pair of pink gardening gloves joined the emptied pots of last year along the concrete edge of the deck. As I sat contemplating where to start I thought of Genesis 1:11-12 where God looked out at the land and then said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.  The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” I pondered the fact that God has allowed me to feel that same sense of creating beauty where there was once just the plainness of brown dirt.

So we shall see how this season goes. Already I have had one crisis. A late spring hail storm wiped out my lettuce and radishes. I mean really. I listened carefully to see if I could hear Him laughing from Heaven. With me. Not at me. Because I could only laugh at the crushed little emerald leaves mixed with dirt that had only the day before held the promise of a salad by the weekend. I was tempted to make a little gravestone but instead I raked it all under and planted more seeds. Because that’s what you do when your garden fails.

You plant again.

What are you replanting this year? Can I pray with you for God’s covering on your endeavors?

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

Blessings,

Michelle_sig

©2015MichelleWelch, team member of Breath Of Life Women’s Ministries and Single Matters Magazine

photography by Michelle Welch, all rights reserved

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When Nothing Is Something

“So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.” Nehemiah 4:6

“The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you heart the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us! So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.” Nehemiah 4:19-21

First, let me say that if there are any mistakes in this blog post…I have switched my blogging platform to WordPress and I have yet to receive my training on how to use it. Between sickness at my house (I know right???) along with sickness at my blog diva’s house, there just hasn’t been a time when we could take an hour together. Since I do most of my writing in the middle of the night, I figured having her walk me through this first post at zero dark thirty would make her my ex blog diva! So let’s muddle through this together.

If you have been a follower of my blog-which by the way turns 5 this year!!!!-you know that chaos is the name of the game in my life. Every new plan, every first step, every start over has led to what some would call epic failures. For me, in the stillness of my office, when everyone is gone to bed and the glow of the computer is all that lights my world, there have been more nights than I want to remember where all I did was weep for what I perceived was the loss of my dream. I have, more often than not, spent more time fighting for what I had decided He wanted me to do than I have actually doing what He wanted me to do. And when things didn’t go as planned I struggled to rejoice in the failures.

When I started this journey of being a christian I knew it would not be easy. If I learned nothing from my years of sin and rebellion, it is that the closer I get to God, the harder the adversary works on me. I have not, for the most part, been one who shakes my fist at God to blame Him for the things that go wrong in my life. I just learned over time that if I didn’t get involved in the messiness that is community, I wouldn’t have to be involved with people who would hurt me, my family included. So if I stayed hidden away or if I didn’t ask Him for direction, I could just muddle along, reading my Bible, doing a little sharing, writing a check to cover the work of those ministries that I didn’t want to get involved in.

But this place called Church Project that has become our home has changed all that. Our pastor has taken a stand that I have rarely seen in my visits to many, MANY other churches. As he so often reminds us, we are not called to warm the pews on Sunday. We are not called to sing a few songs, throw a few dollars on the plate, give 20 minutes of our time (and DON’T GO OVER BECAUSE I HAVE PLACES TO GO, PEOPLE TO SEE, FOOD TO EAT)  to hear a sugar coated message and then head out to live the “other life” for the other 6 days of our week. On a regular basis the pastor reminds us that if we aren’t going to become a part of the church, he would rather us find another church.

Ouch.

But the truth is that we are called to get messy, to get our hands dirty in the work of the Lord. We are called to be in community with other believers. To share life with them. To know their hurts, their sorrows, their joys, and the life behind their smiles. We are called to be a part of something bigger than our own living room. We are called to bring people to Christ. To make disciples. To be a living witness to everyone we come in contact with.

EVERYONE.

Recently, when I was once again broken down by the weight of what goes on in my life, I came to Him in tears. (Sometimes I think He wonders what I would look like if I smiled because I seem to always be weeping when I turn my face to Him.) I laid out my plans to Him, reminding Him (in my arrogance) of the dream that He had put in my heart. “See God? See how well I have planned to do all the things that will make you happy? Why is everything going wrong again? Why can’t I have what you promised me?” The words came tumbling out, mixed with the tears that flowed down my face. “I just don’t understand” I wept, repeating the words over and over again. As if me saying them would make Him change His mind about what He was asking of me.

So here is the truth behind my tears. I would rather do anything but be in community. There. It’s out. Now you know.

Why? Because in my life community was about judgement. About pain. About being trampled by those in a rush to be first in line.

Yet I have come to realize that I never really lived in true community. I kept thinking it’s about others loving me when really it’s about me loving others. It’s as simple as that. God, in His infinite wisdom, has not called me to try to BE loved. He has just called me to love.

We are studying the book of Nehemiah at church. An oft overlooked book where God’s people are working in the harshest of conditions to rebuild what was lost through pride and sin. They must work together, constantly guarding against the enemy, constantly giving all that they have to rebuild God’s Kingdom. They often worked with one hand on the work and the other hand on their sword. Now that is some true opposition! As the pastor was reading chapter 8 (yes we read the Bible word for word at our church) last week, a particular scripture reached deep into my heart.

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Neh 8:10

There it was. In black and white. And being spoken out loud in front of me. As if the pastor could read my mind (doesn’t it always seem like that?), his next words pierced even deeper. “If you don’t know what to do, go back and do the last thing God told you to do.” I wept silently in the darkness of the church.

Why do I always want to tell God what my next step is going to be? He must get so tired of seeing me run ahead only to come crawling back, tired and worn out from running a race when He only wanted me to take one step forward.

God brought you to this specific time and place. “Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you.” 1 Cor 7:17 God will move you forward when He is ready and not a moment before. You may think that you are doing nothing but if you are in God’s will then He is working a mighty something right where you are. He doesn’t say He will leave you where you are forever. But He does say that where He put you right now is right where He wants you to be.

My joy is in Him. He has placed me where He wants me. Only in Him will I find the strength I need to continue.

Where has He placed you and what can you do to build His Kingdom right where you are?

With love and thanks for being along for the journey,