Book Review -Homegoing

I just finished reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.  Five star book.

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Homegoing is Historical Fiction that traces the family lines of two half-sisters who never met, but at one point were both in the same “castle” – a slave castle in Ghana.  One sister was a slave in the dungeon, soon to board a ship and travel to the United States.  The other sister lived above, married to one of the men who ran the castle and sold the slaves.

(These slave “castles” still exist on the Coast of Ghana.  A picture of a slave cell is below, from the article Ghana’s Slave Castles: The Shocking Story of the Ghanaian Cape Coast)

Interior of Slave Cells - St. George's Castle - Elmina - Ghana © Adam Jones Interior of Slave Cells – St. George’s Castle – Elmina – Ghana © Adam Jones

Each chapter tells the story of one of the characters in the family line.  On one side the family tree travels in the United States from the cotton fields and coal mines in the South to jazz in Harlem in the North. The other side of the family experiences the turmoil of slavery, tribal wars and colonization in Africa.

The scars of slavery and loss run deep through both sides of the family tree, leaving a lasting imprint on each of the limbs.

Beautifully written.  Each character is fully developed in only one chapter and themes of scars, fire, water, fear and trees run through the books.

Reading the book made me long for Africa and cringe at the pain that humans have inflicted on other humans through all of humanity.

My favorite take away from the book is the name of the book that the character Yaw Agyekum wrote:  “The Ruin of a Nation Begins in the Homes of Its People,” which was based on an Asante proverb.

There is great truth in those words.

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Do Bad Things Happen?

I am hoping to take a family trip to California this summer and have started researching locations to visit, places to stay and things to do.  In the midst of researching stops along the Pacific Coast Highway, one of the travel videos mentioned Reality Church, which peaked my interest and I started following a Google, YouTube and Vimeo trail which eventually led to blogs and videos about Daisy Love Merrick.

And then I found this video by her dad:  When Sparrows Fall.

Wow.  So beautiful and such a powerful message; not about the question of why there is suffering in the world, but about who is with us in our suffering.

For anyone questioning suffering, for anyone battling depression or anyone searching for God in the midst of pain, I highly recommend this sermon.  And also recommend watching Daisy’s memorial service (though keep a box of tissues close by).

Daisy, thank you for your faith and for keeping your eyes on Jesus.  I look forward to meeting you someday and seeing the awesome things you are now experiencing.

Britt, thank you for your transparency and the reminder of the questions we should be asking when faced with difficult circumstances.

And God, thank you for grace.  And for your presence.

 

 

Resolutions

Dear Readers,

Happy 2017!

 

This year we did resolutions following this tip I had seen on CNBC:  A career coach suggested drawing/mapping your goals rather than writing a list.

My children, husband and I sat day on New Year’s day with big sheets of paper, markers, crayons and pens and went to work.

It was a fun project – especially to see what our kids said.  Everything from improving grades to making new friends to being nice.  And our youngest had some great artwork to add as well.

Some of my resolutions:

  • Put our House on the Market (Minimize and Cut Spending)
  • Monthly Date Night (Marriage)
  • Read a Nightly Devotional with my Girls (Parenting)
  • Explore Guest Blogging
  • Read Through the Bible in 2017 (Time with Jesus)

What are you resolutions?  Or do you have any creative ways to creating goals and tracking them?

 

 

 

Reading Through the Bible – 2017

In 2016 I read through the Bible in a year.  And I highly recommend it.  Without a goal and direction I find myself aimlessness reading random verses . . . which often leads me to get out of the habit of reading.  With a challenge of finishing in the year I have motivation to stay on track because I know what happens if I miss too many days.

Last year I used the Life Journal Reading Plan on YouVersion app or Bible.com.

This year I’m using the same platform, but using the BIBLE in a year plan.  So far it seems like a little less reading than last year.  The daily reading includes passages from the Old Testament and New Testament everyday and a chapter from Psalms or Proverbs every second day.

In addition to reading the Bible, I use the SOAP method:

  • Scripture Reading
  • Observation
  • Application
  • Prayer

Without using the SOAP method I tend to read . . . and then quickly forget what I read.  The SOAP method helps me to retain and think on a deeper level about what I read.

I’ll also be using this blog to track some of my Observations and Applications.

And of course, if you would be willing to join me in this challenge it will help keep me motivated and we can discuss what we are learning together!

 

I kept my 2016 Resolutions . . .

I kept my 2016 resolutions . . . but the results weren’t quite what I expected.

I had very high hopes for 2016.  For the first time ever, I was being extremely intentional with my life and I was making massive changes.  My main resolutions at the beginning of 2016 were to:

  • Make a career change
  • Read through the Bible in the year
  • Minimize my personal belongings
  • Cut out things that waste time and focus on what matters most

And for the first time ever, I really stuck to my resolutions.

I quit my company that I had had for years – I let all my clients go by the end of May.  I walked away from a large source of revenue in order to cut down on stress and give myself a less crazy schedule.

I read through the Bible and used the SOAP method to journal (most days) outlined in the Divine Mentor.  I just finished Revelation yesterday morning!

I did a massive purge following Marie Kondo’s supposedly Life-Changing Magic.

By the end of the year I was finally off Facebook after many attempts.

And I really thought 2016 was going to be amazing.  That with these massive changes I thought I would start 2017 a new person with a completely new life.

It’s been a little like our trip to the Dominican Republic – lots of planning but the outcome wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for.

I’m still trying to figure out my job – and how to use my strengths in my job.  I’m not used to not being the boss.  I’m used to calling the shots and making my own schedule.  The adjustment it much harder than I imagined.  And where I thought I was going to be changing the world on a daily basis, mostly I’m still trying to figure out how to maneuver the organization’s database.

And for all the purging and the massive garage sale we held in June, my house is still a mess.  This was my kitchen when I went downstairs to reheat my day-old coffee.  I am sure Marie Kondo would be appalled.  This wasn’t her vision when she said everything should have its place . . . and the magic didn’t seem to work on me.

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I still struggle as a parent and a wife.  It is a daily struggle.  I fail and get back up.  Fail and get back up.

So what did I learn in 2016 . . . and what I am still learning?

  • The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.  And regardless of the color of the grass – whether it is green or brown – I’m what ultimately needs to change.  A change in circumstance can be a good thing.  But an internal change in me is what is going to make the difference in how I see and experience the grass, regardless of the color.
  • Having less stuff is freeing in ways, but it is also time-consuming and a never-ending process.  If you think my kitchen is bad you should see the pile of crap in my bedroom.  The lack of stuff or the accumulation of stuff won’t make or break me.  It is more about how I view my material possessions.  Am I living for stuff (whether it is the accumulation or the minimization)?  Or am I living for what really matters – God, People, Loving Others, etc?
  • Does God care about what I do for a living?  Yes, I think he does.  He cares about if I am doing my work (regardless of what it is) for his glory and that I am putting him first.  He cares if I am seeking his will and following it.  He cares about my priorities and what is in my heart.

Colossians 3:23 (NIV): Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV): Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 16:9 (NIV): In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

So do I regret making very intentional changes in 2016 and sticking to my resolutions?  Absolutely not.  Reading through the Bible in 2016 was the most serious spiritual discipline I’ve ever accomplished, and I hope it is just the beginning of a life-long dedication to daily Bible reading and application.

And for all the other changes – only time will tell how they shape my future and future generations.  I’d rather be intentional than not, but I also need to keep in mind that results might not be apparent for years to come.  And some actions won’t have the results I hoped for at all.

And as I kicked of 2017 with my morning devotions I read:

Philippians 1:6 (NIV):  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

A very comforting thought as I begin to prepare to write my 2017 Resolutions.  And even more so a reminder, that whatever I plan to do, I need to make sure the Lord is the one establishing my steps.