Deane's Blog

Good Reads

Unafraid - a book review

Good Reads, FaithDeane Watters1 Comment
IMG_9312.jpg

Many years ago a friend said to me, "You have a lot of fears. You should take care of that!"

At the time I knew he was right but I had no idea how to not be afraid. 

What about you? Would you consider yourself to be a fearful person? Do you know how to not be afraid? Sometimes we think it is weak, wrong or sinful to be afraid and so we want to change...but we don't know how.

As a teenager, I was afraid I was a loser because I was so shy.  All through high school and college, I was afraid I'd never get married. After I got married and we started our family I was afraid my baby might stop breathing in the night. I was afraid that I wasn't good enough.  And let's not even talk about when our kids were playing basketball or running track or performing in violin recitals! But being afraid felt natural because I embraced it so often. The pit in my stomach stood in testimony against me. 

As I have grown in my faith, I have found myself seeking ways to better trust God. If Christ is who he says he is, then I must trust that in whatever happens he will provide what I need to get through it. I've heard many people say that it was during the hardest times in their lives that they felt closest to Christ. Their faith was strong and they sensed his care and his love.

If he has something more for me, I truly don't want to miss it. Really.

In the book, Unafraid, the author, Susie Davis, recalls the moment fear entered her life. One day a classmate came into her sixth grade classroom and shot their teacher in front of everyone. She tells how that one event changed her and how fear came in and took control. Her journey toward being unafraid and trusting God has been long and difficult. But today she knows what to do when it comes knocking on her door. 

She has some enlightening things to say about FEAR:

"Fear infects your life in weird ways when you believe in it, always think on it, worship it. You become a fear-er. Only I didn't think I was a fear-er. I thought I was c-a-r-e-f-u-l. I thought I was being a good mom. A caring wife. But really, I was afraid. I couldn't see how fear changed me - and how the Enemy took advantage of me."

"Fear makes you blind...and deaf and dumb" to what God is doing in your life. 

"I must daily walk away from fear. And the only way I can hope to do that is to think of fear the same way my Father thinks of fear. As an idol in my life. Fear is an idol that robs me of believing God can manage my life without my help."

The Bible has much to say about fear as well:

In Mark 6:50 we find that after letting his disciples get in their boat and experience difficulty due to a strong wind, Jesus walked near them on the water and nearly scared them to death! He quickly spoke to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

In Genesis 15:1 the LORD came to Abram in a vision and said," Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward."

We can read in John 14:27 where Jesus assured his disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Obviously God wants us to know that he is with us. He desires our trust and when some fear- enticing-thing comes into our lives, Christ gives us every assurance that he is near with love and affection, ready to walk through it with us.  

If you are interested in this topic and are looking for some strategies for not being afraid, I would encourage you to check out this book!

 

 

 

 

 

The Gospel Comes with a House Key - book review

Good ReadsDeane Watters2 Comments
IMG_E8432 (1).jpg

I've always said that our house has a ministry. Throughout the 24 years we have lived here, we have opened our doors to exchange students, missionaries, friends, and strangers. We've hosted book clubs, Bible studies, wedding and baby showers, graduation open houses, and even a jewelry party! It has been a place of welcome for many years. I have enjoyed feeding people, giving them a place to rest and feel cared for.  So when I saw this book, I was interested in this author's take on inviting people into her home.

I found out that The Gospel Comes with a House Key takes hospitality to a whole new level! The author, Rosaria Butterfield, calls what they do "radically ordinary hospitality" and I would have to agree with the radical part but I find it anything but ordinary! 

She defines this hospitality as "Using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God. It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed." Its purpose is "To build, focus, deepen, and strengthen the family of God, pointing others to the Bible-believing local church, and being earthly and spiritually good to everyone we know."

In the preface, Butterfield explains, "Offering radically ordinary hospitality is an everyday thing at our house. It starts early, with minestrone soup simmering on one burner and a pot of steamed rice warming on another. It ends late, with Kent (her husband) making beds on the couches and blowing up air mattresses for a traveling, stranded family. A truly hospitable heart anticipates every day, Christ-centered table fellowship and guests who are genuinely in need. Such a heart seeks opportunities to serve. Radically ordinary hospitality doesn't keep fussy lists or make a big deal about invitations. Invitations are open."

Years ago, when she was an avid atheist, she had been invited over for a meal, in the same way, by a "nice Christian" neighbor.  She found herself preparing for a battle with the "enemy" as she felt Christians to be. But, she writes, "Nothing happened in the way I expected. Not that night, or the years after...Nothing prepared me for this openness and truth. Nothing prepared me for the unstoppable gospel and for the love of Jesus made manifest by the daily practices of hospitality undertaken in this one simple Christian home."

Does this compel you to read this book? It certainly pulled me in and I read it from cover to cover in just a few days.

As a result, I am wondering about a us and our house. I'm definitely not ready to hand out our house key with an open door policy. But perhaps I could go about getting to know my neighbors better by gathering them so they can get to know each other also. It certainly starts there. I also am left thinking more about what it means to be hospitable. I define it as being a welcoming person, open and without an agenda, except to love and show kindness, in Jesus' name. 

In years past, an elderly couple who lived just up the street from us (who have now moved to a retirement facility) hosted several summer ice cream socials for families in our neighborhood. We always enjoyed these gatherings, getting to know new people each time we were able to attend. Since they are no longer able, I think it would be good for us to offer an opportunity to meet and welcome those who live around us.

If all this interests you, I suggest that you get a hold of this book and be prepared to be challenged, encouraged, and led into new ways of being hospitable in your house with a ministry to its neighbors.

Fearless Writing - a book review

Writing, Good ReadsDeane WattersComment

When I sit down to write, sometimes anxious feelings well up in me and thoughts arise, telling me that I'm really not a very good writer.  My thoughts sometimes overwhelm , at which point I stop, pray for the truth, take a deep breath and begin again. I understand this is a common difficulty even to published authors, so I don't feel alone in fighting the internal critic.

But you can imagine why, while browsing through the writing section at Barnes and Noble, this particular book title stood out to me:

IMG_7793.jpg

 Writing Fearlessly is profoundly different from any other writing book I have read.

  • He writes that it is impossible to write and be afraid. Confidence is steady and predictable as the sun. But you must choose to rest in it and write from it.
  • He advises writers to pay attention to how they feel and if they love what they are writing, those who read it will love it too. "If I were allowed to offer only one simple, practical piece of advice to every writer I knew, it would be this: Pay attention to how you feel, both when you're writing and when you're not. Nothing has been more useful to me as a writer and as a person, than paying attention to and caring about how I feel."
  • "You will find your confidence and begin to write fearlessly the moment you stop caring about what anyone else thinks...No one is looking over your shoulder, no one is reading what you have written, and no one has an opinion about it. Right now you are alone and it is time to write."

Kenower's suggestions and encouragement, borne through years of his own writing experience, are solid and easy to apply to my own work. Since reading this book I have tried to take his advice to heart. It has given me an inner strength to keep pressing forward in my writing by getting into the flow and doing my best to write what I love without unease or fearfulness.

This advice is extremely helpful. I think you will think so too.

Do you find yourself battling writing fears? I'd love to hear about them.

 

Wonder - a book review

Good ReadsDeane Watters1 Comment
IMG_7709.JPG

I saw a little boy, my brother --

whom I love and accept for what he is --

showing some young children he knew,

a beautiful weeping willow tree,

one of the wonders and beauties of nature.

 

Walking behind him, they were pointing 

and laughing, whispering and nodding --

while my brother, walking, staggering but happy,

had no knowledge, was unaware

that they were making fun of him.

 

He didn’t look back,

the children kept laughing and giggling

but he didn’t see.

They wouldn’t have cared if he did,

and he probably wouldn’t have caught on.

 

People think that if some people are different

in any way that they are like machines

that they have no feelings, need no love, 

need no friendship nor understanding.

 

But they need it even more than we,

because they are constantly being rejected, left out or put-down,

and although it may not show at the beginning,

it is wearing a hole through their hearts

and we must help them before it goes all the way through.

 

Diane Luvensky

Age 13

Lynn, Mass.

 

Many years ago, I found this poem in a newsletter. It resonated deeply in me, so much so, that I have kept it in a safe place since my college days. My oldest brother suffered through teasing and name-calling when he was in school, causing me much sadness for one so undeserving of this kind of treatment. This book powerfully brought me back to some of the feelings associated with my love for my brother and the injustice our family felt due to some people's unkindness toward him.

Wonder  starts with a boy, Auggie Pullman, heading off to school for the first time in fifth grade. Many surgeries and hospital stays due to his facial differences kept him homeschooled until this time.  In the opening paragraph he tells us that he knows how people react to his face:

"I know I'm not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an XBox. Stuff like that makes me ordinary. I guess. And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don't get stared at where ever they go."

Ordinary kids eventually have to go to school. Finally he has to face his facial differences and see if he can fit in to a rowdy classroom of fifth graders who were, up to this point, unprepared for him. A few weeks before the first day of class he and his mom go to the school, meet and talk with the principal, and take a tour led by a few of his future classmates, Julian, Jack and Charlotte. This was the start of his eventful year as a fifth grader at Beecher Prep School.

On the first day of school the children feel shocked, finding his face so different from any face they had ever seen. Their initial reaction is to totally reject Auggie, make fun of him while, at the same time,  fearing the plague if they even touch him! Later they learn more about him: his sense of humor, his intelligence, and that he has feelings, which lead to an understanding which finally enables them to accept and even like him.

At the end of the book the principal, Mr. Tushman,  gives a final speech to the graduating class of fifth graders and their families.

“Children, what I want to impart to you today is an understanding of the value of that simple thing called kindness. …. what I want you, my students, to take away from your middle-school experience, is the sure knowledge that, in the future you make for yourselves, anything is possible. If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary - the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God." 

77a495cc4389a7e910bcdb474bece9e3.jpg

 

Yes! Kindness for people who are different from us is a trait we adults are still working on.This is a lovely book and a beautiful movie. 

 

I only wish all children everywhere could experience such a happy ending.