April 11, 2015

More Love Letters || Review

I find that the best mail is of the snail variety. Handwritten letters have always conveyed to me, the receiver, a deeper level of care and thought that's missing in the age of texts and e-mails. A handwritten note has the power to brighten anyone's day--a mission that Hannah Brencher championed in her recent book If You Find This Letter. Her story started out as a challenge: Write hundreds of letter and scatter them across the city to encourage others. Out of that challenge Hannah's organization, The World Needs More Love Letters, has been born--seeking to provide individuals facing difficult situations with bundles of love letters.

To get you started, Hannah has designed a booklet of all-in-one stationary. Each page tears out for you to write your message on, and then folds into a letter for the writer to address and then drop in the mail. There are five different designs, all in shades of green, gray, pink, and red--primarily in Aztec patterns. Inside the covers are 40 letter suggestions to spark ideas and three sheets of stickers to seal your note. This is a stationary lover's dream; you need only add your stamp and au revoir!

|| Visit The World Needs More Love Letters to join this snail mail revolution

|| Purchase the All-In-One Stationary and Envelope book here

Letter writing is the only device combining solitude with good company. ~Lord Byron

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Blogging for Books, as part of Waterbrook Multnomah‘s Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

December 30, 2014

2015 Reading List

If you're a regular here on the blog, you know the drill: Each year I compile a list of the books I plan to read throughout the year (I tend to come out around 35-40 each year; usually a book per week).  I'll cross them off as I go, and add those I randomly pick up throughout the year.

(Christian) Spiritual Growth & Living...

    For My 2015 Words...


    Novels and Stories Alike...

    Career Growth Oriented Books...
    What books are you looking forward to reading this year?

    November 8, 2014

    A Free E-Book for You!!!

    Last year I had the privilege of writing a short foreward for my friend David's e-book, Jesus Beside Me, Volume 2. He recently blogged here on adventure, and you can catch him over at Dave vs. Life and David Ramos. I'm sharing with you blog readers the foreward and a link to go download it for free! We both hope and pray it blesses you in reading it. Enjoy!
          Unapologetically, I pray for myself this earnest plea found in the beloved hymn Come Thou Fount: “Bind my wandering heart to Thee!” For the Christian there remains a deep desire to live out our days closely tied to the heart of our great, gracious King Jesus. To daily live aware of his presence, to commune with him, and to enjoy him. The paths and ways in which we draw close to Christ are innumerable, diverse, and divine, but one so sweet to the heart and soul is that of the reading and soaking in of his very own words to us through scripture.

         The act sounds too simple, sometimes even elementary for the seasoned Christian, including myself, but if the cliché holds true—that the Bible is God’s love letter written to us—why would we want to nonchalantly dismiss or put it away? After all, who’s ever heard of a lover, who upon receiving a letter from their significant other, toss it aside, never reading their words? Reading the words found in scripture illuminates who our Savior is as well as his character, wisdom, good commands, and wonderful grace. It’s through the meditation of these same words that Christ comes near to the heart of man that we may know and love him, and be known and loved by him.

           The book you’re holding does just this: Marrying the art of reading God’s word then meditating upon it. In doing so, David gets you up beside the Savior so you may know Him all the more. And it’s my hope that through this book that your heart may be tethered a bit more to Christ… that you would cry out to him, “Here’s my heart, take and seal it!” 
    You can read and download Jesus Beside Me, Volume 2, here.

    October 15, 2014

    In All Seasons

    Where I live here in the States, fall is in full swing now. Cooler temperatures make way for cozy sweaters, mugs filled to the brim with apple cider, apple dumplings, apple pie, apple crisp (in case you hadn't caught on, we're big on apples here… don't get me started on all the desserts we make with pumpkin as well), and the trees are shimmering in hues of red, orange, and yellow.

    I have this "thing" for seasons, and I don't just mean the literal weather type ones, but the various seasons of our faith, or as one pastor put it "soul seasons." Autumn in normally seen as a time of harvest; the seeds and labor put forth finally coming to an abundant fruition. We too have soul seasons kind of like autumn... but we also have seasons like spring, summer, and (the usually dreaded) winter. Maybe you're like me, and an autumnal soul season is not where you find yourself in, but in a season of barrenness; a season with little harvest.

    But I've learned that God is just as active in the times of harvest as He is in the times of dormancy--alive, but not active at the moment... temporarily slowed. In John chapter 15, Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (verses 4 & 5). Jesus is talking about remaining connected to Him, the true vine... to live near to Him in all seasons. Grapevines, and for that matter any type of fruit, have life cycles... clusters of grapes don't just appear overnight: In the winter, the vine dresser predetermines how many buds he wants on each shoot of the vine. During spring, buds come forth, turning into flowers, and then into berries. In late summer and early fall, the fruit is harvested, to be enjoyed by others. The leaves fall from the vine and the vine dresser prepares the soil for winter so that the process can start all over again. Such it is with us.

    We all have those times of barrenness, planting, swelling (slow, continual growth), and gleaning. The important thing though is to remain close to Christ... to trust in His timing and His role as THE vinedresser of our hearts, for in all, and through all He is faithful to accomplish His work in you and I. "Barrenness," as the prince of preachers, Charles H. Spurgeon said, "is the platform for his fruit-creating power." It's not permanent, but a platform to lead to greater things. 

    Let this be an encouragement to you if you find yourself in such a place. God has not forgotten you, and the dormancy will pass into vibrant, fresh fruit once again. The work in the winter is just as important as the crop gathering of autumn. But remain connected to Him, the true vine. 
    Living near to Jesus, thou art covered with the wings of God, and underneath thee are the everlasting arms. Let nothing keep thee from that hallowed intercourse, which is the choice privilege of a soul wedded to THE WELL-BELOVED. Be not content with an interview now and then, but seek always to retain his company, for only in his presence hast thou either comfort or safety. Jesus should not be unto us a friend who calls upon us now and then, but one with whom we walk evermore. ~C.H. Spurgeon

    ~This post was originally written and shared on Darling Companion, 2013, by Natalie Grimm~

    August 20, 2014

    Our Neighbor's Worth & Our Call to Love

    I've been thinking about what it really means to love others--to love my neighbor as it were--lately. 

    My natural default position is to love those who I deem are worthy or deserving by an internal checklist my mind has conjured up. I'd be willing to bet you do the same thing. If someone doesn't cut it via the list, then I don't really go to a whole lot of trouble to affirm their value and purpose here on earth. Sounds horrible, right? It is. (Fess up--you do this as well too.) It's really horrible. It calls for repentance on my part. A repentance that leads to pro-action in the reverse of this apathetic, surface-y, polite, but not-really-caring type of courteousness. 

    Loving people how Christ desires me to often doesn't look a thing like the scenes I've scripted and played in my head.

    I've been finding it increasingly more and more disturbing to not be building relationships with non-believers--who are my neighbors... or at least they're supposed to be. There's a part of me that's really uncomfortable with being constantly surrounded by people who think and act and believe the same things I do. And then there's a part of me that's terrified to actually share my faith. 


    I remember back to those preschool days when my teacher taught us songs. Songs about Noah's ark, and Jesus love a-bubblin'-over (or something like that), and another on how others would know we are Christians by our love.

    By our love. 

    I don't think that's really what Christians at large are known for by those looking in on us. You know those outsiders.

    These days it just seems that people know a person is a Christians by their politics, by their stances from the big to the infinitesimal, by their show-y success and celebrity status. But that's not how that simple, profoundly true children's song goes.

    We've given up loving people to win arguments, to win points of debate, to win fame. We lost people in that though.

    I'm tired of having to come up with reasons to justify loving a person though. Seriously, it's exhausting. I don't want to have to think too hard to extend a hand of graciousness, kindness, or sisterhood.

    Here's a dose of truth: Every. Single. Person. Has. Worth. They just do. We cannot take away or give out worth, because that's God's business alone, and he's imprinted each and every human being with his image. People we find difficult or don't particularly like... maybe even hate--still have worth in their Maker's eye. God doesn't see you and I or any other human being as we do. He sees them as his children. It's not a perspective I stand in often when looking at others.

    No. Worth is not something we give or take. But what you and I can--and as Christian should--do is affirm one another's immense value to the heavenly Father. That's loving our neighbor.


    Sometimes we have moments where we get that inner sense of God speaking to us so crystal clear: "Natalie, would you still love this person if you never got the opportunity to see them change... to know me? What if you're just a seed planter in their life, not the cultivator, nor the harvester? Would you still love them?"

    Somewhere in me grace swells, and I find myself responding, "Yes. As you have loved me I will love them, regardless of the outcome." 

    This is what it means to obligate ourselves to love. This is what loving our neighbor looks like. 

    We get caught in our Christian bubbles though. We get comfortable. But we have to start somewhere. And I had to start with the question I now pose to you...

    Do you actually know non-Christians?
    If you don't then, why?

    If we believe in a rich relationship with the Savior, shouldn't we be heeding his words to go out and make disciples? Go means action. Go means meeting, seeking, and relating to those who haven't yet heard the same sweetness you and I have in the Savior's voice. Go is not living in perpetual comfort in the church pew.
    Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age. ~Matthew 28:16-20 MSG