Monday, October 26, 2015

"The Plans I Have For You" prompts kids to think about God's plan for their lives

During our Sunday morning devotional time, after some raucous worship in the basement, the boys and I sat down to read The Plans I Have For You by Amy Parker and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. The title seems to come from Jeremiah 29:11, in which God promises a future and a hope and has plans to prosper and not to harm the the Jews exiled in Babylon. It's an oft quoted verse among Christians, perhaps so much so that the authors didn't feel the need to mention the scripture anywhere. Instead, the book is written in the voice of God, speaking both to readers and to the cute, multicultural children depicted in the lively illustrations. A visual metaphor of the "You Factory" runs through the pages, as God creates children destined to be firefighters, chefs, nurses, mountain climbers and ballerinas.  I appreciate the message of this book, which encourages children to not only dream about their futures, but to rest in the thought that God has formed them with a specific talents and gifts to accomplish a specific task on the earth.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Metaxas' "Seven Women" leaves many secrets to greatness a bit of a mystery

After reading best-selling evangelical biographer Eric Metaxas' 7 Men, I was so happy to see an excerpted chapter about Corrie Ten Boom for his then-upcoming 7 Women and the Secret of Their Greatness. Overall, this book has introduced me to the remarkable, difficult, impacting lives of seven women, some of whom I knew very little about. And, as with any book that includes stories of far-flung missionaries, holocaust survivors and martyrs, I was left pondering my own life's work.

And I was left with questions. Lots of them. Like, what is greatness, exactly? Is it maintaining your convictions to the end, like Joan of Arc? Is it a general measure of one's faithfulness, skill, or impact on others? Or is greatness something specific, like ministering to hundreds of thousands like Mother Teresa? Or like using one's God-given gifts to turn the tide of public opinion against institutionalized evil like Hannah More? Or simply learning to forgive staggering wrongs, like Corrie Ten Boom? Or is it all of these, in the form of doing what you alone can do in your unique situation in time and place with your unique set of characteristics and abilities and weaknesses? If you're familiar with my approach to life, you'll know I prefer the latter, open-ended possibility. I think in many ways, since Metaxas never really tries to synthesize all seven stories into one central "secret of womanly greatness," he might agree with or at least permit my foggy conclusion. For this reason, I found the book a worthwhile read.