I know I just did a little Mid-Year Review a few weeks ago. But I recently came across Heather Gerwing's blog & she has a monthly practice that she calls "Share Four Somethings." (Here's her July post.) She includes something she loved, something she read, something special that she treasured, and something she's looking ahead to. And as I've been tending so much toward introspection these days, I thought, "Why not?"
July has had little more action to it than the previous few months. We got to take a trip to see my family & we also celebrated our oldest turning 8! Tyler said something about how he's almost halfway done with his years in our home & I quickly tuned him out. No talk like that around me - ha! Here are my "Four Somethings" for this month.
My new "Abide" hat from Well-Watered Women was my little gift to myself for our beach trip. I knew that my face & hair would need to have some type of help while we were having fun in the sun, so I started to look around for a good "mom" hat. When I saw this one, I was wrapping up a Bible study where we looked at the "I AM" statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John. I had been learning about what it means to "abide" in the True Vine & I thought it would be a great reminder for me.
Side note: did you know WWW has a page of FREE resources? Like guides to different books of the Bible & Scripture memory aids? Go take a peek!
Other side note: My unpopular opinion is that I do not like the beach. And it's so much more work now that there are little ones involved. But I can't deny the beauty of God's handiwork. It truly is humbling to sit next to the ocean & think about the greatness of the Creator.
I LOVE to read, and I read A LOT. But a book I read recently that I highly recommend is Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. I actually listened to the audio version that I borrowed through my library & the Libby App. If you've watched the movie Just Mercy, then you're familiar with the overall idea of Bryan Stevenson's organization, The Equal Justice Initiative. They help people on death row or minors who were sentenced to life prison, and they've expanded their reach to many other areas of injustice in our prison & court system. The stories he shares are so powerful & poignant.
The movie & the book have really opened my eyes to the humanity of the people who stand accused of these terrible crimes - some are guilty, some are not. Their lives will forever be defined by the worst day of their lives. When I look at these situations through the lens of the Gospel, I remember the great mercy that I've been given by God. How can I then turn around & refuse to see these men & women with anything other than the love of Jesus? It's like that parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. A servant owes more than he could ever pay to the king, but the king forgives the debt. The servant turns around & refuses to forgive a debt that is a fraction of the size.
We also know from Scripture that God doesn't have a ranking of sins. I know I tend to look down on people who commit crimes or believe differently than me. I think to myself that I can't possibly be as bad as someone who is found guilty of murder or rape. James addresses this idea of partiality in chapter 2 & in verse 10, he makes this statement: "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it." I don't know about you, but I can very confidently say that I have violated God's law more than once. And so, I am guilty of breaking every. single. part. Romans 3:10 says, "None is righteous, no, not one."
Pretty depressing, huh? Praise God that the story doesn't end right there!
"BUT GOD, being RICH IN MERCY, because of the GREAT LOVE with which HE LOVED US, even when we were DEAD in our trespasses, made us ALIVE TOGETHER WITH CHRIST - BY GRACE you have been SAVED" (Ephesians 2: 4-5 - emphasis mine)
"For our sake He made Him to be sin WHO KNEW NO SIN, so that IN HIM we might become the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD." (2 Corinthians 5: 21 - again emphasis is mine)
I may never grasp the depth of those words until I stand in His presence, but I pray that I will live my life in the reality of the mercy & grace of my incredible God!
Family time at the beach - it was definitely a special time. Since we don't live near family, we love when our kids get the opportunity to spend time with their cousin (yep, only one first cousin for my kids so far) & other family members. From the first night when fireworks went off late into the night to celebrate Independence Day, we knew it was going to be fun. The kids loved digging in the sand, collecting seashells, swimming in the pool, and learning to make some authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza. I enjoyed watching them interact in authentic, special ways with people who love them & took the time to invest in them - whether it was teaching them chess or helping them get comfortable in the pool. I am grateful that the pandemic didn't cancel this time away. And that we all have stayed healthy since!
Homeschooling! I just decided yesterday that I would start school the first week of August. Only, I didn't fully realize that August is less than 2 weeks away. We use a Charlotte Mason-based curriculum called Ambleside Online. My oldest is getting more independent, even though he will probably need a little hand holding as we get back into the swing of things. With my daughter starting first grade, I'm now getting a second chance at doing Year 1 again. I'm thinking of getting my 3-year-old son involved a little more somehow. Last year, he sat with us during our morning meeting, but I think he's capable of sitting for at least a few more minutes. Plus, he likes copying his older siblings. The baby (well, he's almost a year & a half, but he's always the baby) will be a little easier to keep busy this year. I look forward to having some extra time with him to help his language development while the others do their activities.
Feel free to share your "somethings" in the comments - is there a book you read that you think we all should read? What memory are you treasuring from these past few weeks? What are you looking forward to or planning for in the upcoming month? I'd love to hear!
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