Sunday, March 27, 2011

One Thousand and MORE! and GIVEAWAY…

{New to this space?  Have a look around and enter the giveaway of the book, Half the Church, by leaving a comment below.  Thanks for stopping bySmile}

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{from our overnight getaway…sunset on the beach…PRAISE YOU!}

I’ve missed being here.  Has it really only been a week?  Though I vowed to take a break from the blogging world, in general, I did visit a few and comment a little.  It amazes how much a part of what is happening in my heart these days finds wings on this blog.  The blogging Sabbath is good and necessary.  The missing, and the realizing it is good that is missing, is very affirming.  And the sense of this all—these days, Click to see a larger image of Half the Church by Carolyn Custis Jamesthe ability to have a blog—being the gift that it is, is acute.

The mission coming clearer and the original inspiration to name this place ‘Fan the Flame’ is turning out to have deeper and deeper meaning both in me and I pray those who find it.  Wanting to lift up the Only Worthy One…Jesus and to be a part of His plan in these days is the passion that guides and brings life to what I do here.  What a gift that I live in a day and age where the things on my heart can truly be written for myself, my journey, but also for others.  And a Triune God whose Spirit finds those to touch…who lights darkness through this tiny part played here…and promises to do ‘exceeding immeasurably BEYOND ALL THAT CAN BE ASKED OR IMAGINED’??  Grace upon Grace.

“Lord of all that is and was and is to come, I consecrate this space to You afresh to do with as You will and to fan the flame of Your Glory that only Eternity will show. Amen.”

So, on this note, as I’ve been promising, THIS WEEK WILL INCLUDE A GIVEAWAY OF CAROLYN CUSTIS JAMES’ BOOK, “HALF THE CHURCH: Recapturing GOD’S GLOBAL VISION for Women”.

I pray this book makes in-roads into so many places in the hearts of women who have been hurt by the church and women AND MEN who long for something fresh to embrace as His Bride, The Church, sees in new ways the prophecies of Joel 2 quoted later at Pentecost in Acts 2.

In the introduction James cites the work of Amy CarmichaelI have heard Amy Carmichael quoted for a long time and it has been related to her devotional works as a prolific writer.  However, in writing this book, as James reviewed Carmichael’s work, she found, a ‘Half the Sky’ book written 100 years ago by a Christian missionary woman (Carmichael) entitled, ‘Things as They Are: Mission Work in Southern India’ {I just saw that there is a Kindle $0.99 edition of this—I just downloaded it to my PC with Kindle for PC}

Here are some quotes in “Half the Church” that James takes directly from Amy’s book where she details her rescue of little girls who were going to be ‘dedicated to the temple gods’ {sex trafficked}:

“(this is) a battle-book written from a battle-field where the fighting is not pretty play but stern reality.” p.22

James further details how these accounts (of the girls and other atrocities such as honor killings and the abuse of widows) were first received by Amy’s supporters:

“At one point, her supporters contemplated recalling her from the field. She was exasperated and dumb-struck when she was told to edit her reports and to focus on successes instead of upsetting everyone with harsh realities that her supporters didn’t want to hear.  She was unbending to the pressure and prayed instead that her words…would be “fire-words”. “We are so afraid to offend, so afraid of stark truth, that we write delicately, not honestly.  Our smoothness glides over souls.  It does not spur them to action, even though they be Christians to whom the thought of the glory of the Lord being given to another ought to be unendurable.” p.23

These words cut deep into my heart about what I invest all of myself in, especially this blog and writing.  

Half the Church” is continuing the work the Lord has been doing in me to peel back the layers of fear, self-protection, longing for comfort.  The pleasant things the prophet Isaiah de-cry’s, are simply not what brings Him the Glory He deserves and not what truly satisfies this deepest writing upon my heart, soul, life to bear His image in this world. Carolyn Custis James writes:

“God’s vision compels us to look beyond ourselves, to ponder a picture of how things were meant to be that leaves us aching for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and to look for ways to participate in moving the world toward that goal.” p.25

Carolyn Custis James is learned, passionate, sincere, caring, compassionate in relaying the message of God’s heart for His daughters. The desire is palpable and transferable for His vision to be re-captured for the advance of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus and this One Triune God’s reflection seen through ALL of His image-bearers, men and women:

“…when a global perspective is injected, women’s stories (in the Bible) become far more than inspirational fodder for women’s Bible studies and soothing devotional books…moments when a woman steps out to occupy center stage of the biblical narrative are countercultural events, for patriarchy’s interest in men and what the men are achieving.  The Bible doesn’t maintain the monolithic focus but repeatedly draws women into the action as unflinching heroines of the faith, stalwart kingdom builders, and valiant rescuers of the royal line of Christ.” p.33

I’m certain this is not the way I learned to view myself as a woman of faith growing up in the church.  At best, I received conflicted messages about what it meant for me to live passionately for the God I love and want to honor as a member of His Church.  I probably have a book’s worth of material from my own life that may poke through in upcoming posts…suffice it to say, “Half the Church” is a balm that touches deep wounds and is healing and fanning this heart’s flame and spurring me on to have this ONE LIFE count for His Kingdom.

I HOPE AND PRAY I’VE WHETTED YOUR APPETITE A BIT AND YOU ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY…

Since two things from the sermon resonated with this post:

1) Find your ONE THING and do it well (FAN THE FLAME is my ONE {BLOG} THING)

2) We are made to reflect His heart

I am sharing with Michelle @ Graceful’s 

Use it on Monday

And, THIS WILL ALSO BE MY GIFT RECORDING…PASSING 1000!!!

Living, Loving Lord, Thank You!

  • for a vision for this blog
  • for your promise to take care of the results
  • for fanning my own heart’s flame through words here
  • for knowing Your Spirit is doing the same in those You bring here
  • for how You receive All the Glory…
  • for the plea to give me a heart for Your Glory Alone
  • for how Your heart for the Whole Church is so poorly reflected so often
  • for the tremendous opportunity to live a life that changes that
  • for the promise YOU ARE THE ONE WHO DOES EXCEEDING IMMEASURABLY BEYOND ALL WE CAN ASK OR IMAGINE
  • for the truth that THIS 1000TH gift is a teeny tiny bit of ALL OF YOUR GIFTS TO ME IN THESE MONTHS RECORDING
  • for the chance to talk with Kelly, dear Kelly, this week
    • for her prayers to uphold me in all that presses hard in these immense life changes
    • for the invitation to call often as we continue to journey
    • for her thankfulness for the best possible outcome to her initial cancer diagnosis
    • for her next breath words that You would be thanked if it had been a far different outcome
    • for how she is an amazing testament of a woman who loves You and bears Your image mightily
    • for the sweet encouragement whenever we talk with her or Dan that we are so thankful You have called us to be under their mentoring
  • for how Jared is ‘going hard’ in this support process

‘Go Hard’ by Lecrae has become our family’s theme song

  • for being in a place where I NEED YOU to live this life…I CANNOT DO IT WITHOUT YOU!
  • for a wonderful overnight getaway
  • for wonderful grandparents for our kids who are so fun, playful, young and inspiring
  • for MiMi’s reminder of what a fun age Susie is at
  • for all of the little things
    • for a wonderful field trip to a children’s museum
    • for picnics in the park afterwards
    • for kicking feet in the water—me with the 5 little ones—getting soaked!
    • for JOY so huge it bubbles over us all
    • for YOU the giver of such good gifts
    • for cherry-on-top trains going by to mesmerize little boys (and a girl)
  • for the need to stop but MANY MORE in this heart to write
  • for how this thankfulness thing is not an emotional wave
  • for the discipline that keeps it
  • for faithful friends who read such a long postWinking smile
  • for, ALL OF US, the BEST being ever YET TO COME!

#991-1025

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10 comments:

  1. Dakota said you have good taste in music:) we listened to the song together...Go Hard...yes my heart aches...I am praying for you guys...often you are on my heart. aches for the church...I am going to have to get this book. There aren't many I just have to get but this is one that has me curious. I haven't ever shared my heart about the church and my experience yet but it is a burden i carry and I so believe God is stirring and moving within the church...changing somehow...anyway. Love you..grateful for our sisterhood..very much. Glad you had a time of refreshing and a renewed vision..
    xo

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  2. I just have to say, that I think you really live up to your blog title. You do fan. You do whet. You do follow so well. And you give it all back to Him.

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  3. Loved reading this, Abby ... and welcome back from your refreshing time away with Jared, and also break from this blog. And exciting to see how God has refreshed your vision ... thanks for all the passion for Him that you share here. And thanks for alerting us to the messages in these books ... I need to watch for them and read ...

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  4. Thanks, Abby. I'm glad you enjoyed your week away!

    I've been thinking a lot about women's official and unofficial roles in the church (and Church). I've never felt I fit the image of a "church woman," but, then, I'm not sure that image is even biblical. I'm looking forward to more of your story "peeking through."

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  5. I went on a blogging fast (on the advice of my pastor!) last year for the six weeks of Lent. I still wrote my posts, but I didn't visit or comment or tweet or facebook. It nearly killed me at first...but then some quiet space opened up for connection and community -- I didn't expect that.

    And you...passing 1000 on the gift list -- you go, girl! I am barely over 100...but you inspire!

    Thanks, Abby, for your inspiration and encouragement -- I so agree with Jen...you fan the flame! [and thanks for linking up, too!]

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  6. God is working by leading me to these pages on the computer. I don't understand all the technology but I do know when the Lord is working. He is ALIVE here. How do I fit in - I look forward to His leading. Blessings.

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  7. I've just recently passed the 1000-gift mark as well. Isn't it a delightful practice?

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  8. Abby,
    How wonderful to see you back and with refreshed vision from the Lord. You are right, blogging sabbaticals are good. :)

    I am intrigued about this book and that it quotes Amy Carmichael. My truth is that I am all over the place when I think of women in the church. Since coming to the Lord, I have usually found myself in churches that have very defined ways of looking at and dealing with women. Sometimes that it feels like dealing with women is dealing with a problem. I'm sure I have issues about this and frankly, I try not to think much about any of it. That's pathetic sounding I'm sure, it is to me even as a write this, but it is what it is.

    I'm really proud of you Abby for being a voice of challenge and yet in such a loving way. Not very many can pull that off!
    Good to see you back friend! And 1,000!!!!! Hoorrrrrayyyyy! And I love how you said it's not an emotional wave, but a discipline. So true.

    Blessings,
    Kara

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  9. Oh Abby, I'm sure you are in company with most of believing women who did not grow up hearing this beautiful message of God's good intentions and desires for His daughters! I hope millions read Half the Church!

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  10. First off, I want to tell you that "Fan the Flame" really spoke to me as a title for your blog, and also the picture that goes with it. Somehow, for some reason known to God, that flame has been fanned within me. I think it had gotten down to a bare spark, if even that! Secondly, I LOVE Amy Carmichael. Her little book called "IF" is life changing. I've loved her poetry and her writing for years. Thank you for mentioning this book of hers, as I have not heard of it. and $.99 sounds like a really good thing!

    Loved your list of gratitudes this week. Nothing more wonderful and life changing than a grateful heart that sees all the blessings God sends. Thank you for your post today. It was just jammed packed full of good flame-fanning stuff!!!!

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