Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Radical by David Platt

Radical by David Platt

Do not read this book if you don't want to be uncomfortable or challenged.
If you want your world to rock a little bit (or a lot), then by all means read this book.

David Platt tackles a tough topic: the American Dream vs. the true Gospel. And I'm afraid the American Dream ends up sorely lacking. Actually, that doesn't quite cut it. Our deeply-embedded entitlement worldview (disguised as a "dream") is most often the exact opposite of Jesus' Gospel. Our culture praises ideas, goals and qualities that are in conflict with our Christian mission. Mr. Platt is not afraid to step on some toes. He writes: "Jesus actually spurned things that my church culture said were most important. So what was I to do? I found myself faced with two big questions. . . . Was I going to believe Jesus? . . . Was I going to obey Jesus?" (pg 2-3) Consider yourself forewarned: you will be challenged to ask yourself those very same questions (and most likely your toes will hurt a little in the process).

Here are a few quotes from the book that stood out to me:

Chapter 1: laying the groundwork and we've definitely got some work to do

". . . somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable.  We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves." (pg 7)

Chapter 2: rediscovering a passion for God's Word

"Fundamentally, the gospel is the revelation of who God is, who we are, and how we can be reconciled to him. Yet in the American dream, where self reigns as king (or queen), we have a dangerous tendency to misunderstand, minimize, and even manipulate the gospel in order to accommodate our assumptions and our desires." (pg 28)

Chapter 3: His power is enough

"In direct contradiction to the American dream, God actually delights in exalting our inability. He intentionally puts his people in situations where they come face to face with their need for him. In the process he powerfully demonstrates his ability to provide everything his people need in ways they could never have mustered up or imagined. And in the end, he makes much of his own name." (pg 47)

Chapter 4: His glory is the end goal, not my salvation or happiness

"The message of biblical Christianity is not 'God loves me, period," as if we were the object of our own faith. The message of biblical Christianity is "God loves me so that I might make him--his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness--known among all nations.' Now God is the object of our faith, and Christianity centers around him. We are not the end of the gospel; God is." (pg 71)

Chapter 5: about making disciples

"Making disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching people the Word of Christ and then enabling them to do the same thing in other people's lives--this is the plan God has for each of us to impact nations for the glory of Christ." (pg 103)

Chapter 6: giving away monetary possessions and gaining eternal treasure

"Are you and I looking to Jesus for advice that seems fiscally responsible according to the standards of the world around us? Or are we looking to Jesus for total leadership in our lives, even if that means going against everything our affluent culture and maybe even our affluent religious neighbors might tell us to do?
"Jesus never intended to be one voice among many counseling us on how to lead our lives and use our money. He always intends to be the voice that guides whatever decisions we make in our lives and with our money." (pg 121)

Chapter 7: we are God's plan to help save the world (ouch! my toes!)

". . . the implications for our lives are huge. If more than a billion people today are headed to a Christless eternity and have not even heard the gospel, then we don't have time to waste our lives on an American dream. Not if we have all been commanded to take this gospel to them. . . .
"This is a cause worth living for. It is a cause worth dying for. It is a cause worthy of moving urgently on. We have the gospel of Christ in us, and we do not have time to waste. Some wonder if it is unfair for God to allow so many to have no knowledge of the gospel. But there is no injustice in God. The injustice lies in Christians who possess the gospel and refuse to give their lives to making it known among those who haven't heard. That is unfair." (pg 157, 159)

Chapter 8: risk now, reward later (and now, in the form of His presence & peace)

"Radical obedience to Christ is not easy; it is dangerous. It is not smooth sailing aboard a luxury liner; it is sacrificial duty aboard a troop carrier. It's not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us." (pg 181)

Chapter 9: the official challenge

"I dare you to test the claims contained in the gospel, maybe in a way you have never done before. I invite you to see if radical obedience to the commands of Christ is more meaningful, more fulfilling, and more gratifying than the American dream. And I guarantee that if you complete this experiment, you will possess an insatiable desire to spend the rest of your life in radical abandonment to Christ for his glory in all the world." (pg 184)

Points of impact for me personally:

  • Suddenly, redoing the kitchen or buying home decor at Target isn't so high on the priority list. Don't think that I've changed overnight - a big part of me still wants that. But the God-focused voice inside of me is a bit louder these days. "Is that really necessary? Will that really matter in the long run? What is of eternal significance here?"
  • The business/accounting classes at college drilled into my head: prepare for the future, invest wisely & often, etc. Nothing is wrong with those goals but my perspective is shifting. How can I invest the money He provides in such a way as to impact the Kingdom, and not necessarily my future security? How can I give away more and live on less?
  • The challenges in this book make me wonder about God's plan for my little family. How would He have us live radically, truly following Jesus' Gospel and not the American dream? What does this look like for me personally, but also in my marriage and with my child(ren)?

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Top 8 Design Blogs

I currently read 25 design blogs (and this doesn't include the 32 other random blogs that I follow). My dear friend, Holly, asked me to post about my favorite blogs, so I thought today I would share my top 8 design blogs and later I'll post about my favorite random blogs. :-) (You can click on the blog titles to take you directly to the blog.)

  1. Young House Love -- I know. I know. Basically everyone who reads design/DIY blogs reads this blog. But it really is the best one out there (in my humble opinion). John & Sherry post twice a day about their DIY-passion-turned-real-life-job and it's the first blog I read every morning. (Check out their recent kitchen redo: a-mazing!)
  2. Bower Power -- yes, Katie is a little crazy. And yes, she can be a little inappropriate (in a totally funny way) at times. But this blog is pretty addicting. She makes me laugh, her son is adorable, and she also has some great home projects.
  3. Decor Chick, Thrifty Decor Chick, and View Along the Way -- okay, so that's three blogs. But, honestly, they seem very similar to me. The ladies are hilarious and creative. Do you see a theme here? I seem to like the witty writers who also do cool house projects.
  4. Dream Book Design -- this blog is by a couple in Arizona. I enjoy their design aesthetic. Check out their kitchen/dining/laundry room redo. A plus: she's currently pregnant with her first, a boy. 
  5. Jones Design Company -- This lady has lovely printables, lovely pictures, her home is creative and she used to be a ballerina. What more can I say.
  6. Jeanne Oliver Designs -- Yes, Jeanne has her own clothing/textiles shop. And, yes, it's pretty amazing (her camera bags are gorgeous...unfortunately pretty expensive). She also takes lovely pictures and is a wonderful writer.
  7. Our Fifth House -- This lady isn't afraid to do what she loves. Proof? The walls in her living room are dark red. Definitely not "in" right now but it's what she likes! My favorite is the stenciled wall in her dining room.
  8. KFD Designs  -- This gal makes her living by doing custom paint jobs and posts about her projects on her blog. She's amazing. Furniture, kitchen cabinets, wall stencils, wall murals, custom canvases - I love looking at her work.
Honorable mentions:
4 men 1 lady - amazing designer
kara pasley designs - husband/wife design team
Nesting Place - lovely musings on life
Perfectly Imperfect - great furniture redos
Ten June - definitely doable house projects
Thirtyeight 20 - gutting & rebuilding an old log house

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Justus at 6 weeks

Justus Daniel . . .
. . . memories from his 6th week:

He loves to be snuggled upright on our chest.
We are getting little smiles now - love it!
And now he's looking straight into our eyes for longer periods of time.
Current nicknames: Buster Brown, Buga-buga-boo, Buddy (stuck on the "B"s).
Just when you think his eyes can't open any wider, they do!
His cheeks are getting bigger and his thighs are so smooshy.
Did I mention his cute, cute cheeks? So kissable.
He likes to grunt a lot. And wiggle. So much wiggling.
He likes car rides and usually falls sleep right away.
The falling reflex is kind of fading away....and I miss it.
The "o" month is so precious - love those little lips.
His neck is pretty strong for his age.....loves to try to hold his head up.
It looks like his eyes are turning brown but it could be 5 more months until we know for sure.
He's found his fist and enjoys sucking it like crazy.

There's so much I want to remember.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Justus' Birth Story (Condensed Version)

(Trust me. You don't want to read the four page version that I typed up over the past few weeks. This one will do just fine to fill you in on the main points of Justus' birth.)

February 3: last day of work – I made it!
February 4: shopping and pedicure with Chris
February 5: church and Super Bowl party with the family at Brad & Lori’s house
February 6: first Monday off of work! . . . relax on the couch all day and small group in the evening

February 7 - it all begins
  • Woke up abruptly at 1:30 a.m. with painful contractions in my lower back, 7-8 minutes apart
  • Contractions were 3-7 minutes apart by 5:30 a.m. - Bryce called the doctor and we left for the hospital at 6:20 a.m.
  • Admitted to the hospital at 7 a.m. - I was 3-4 cm dilated at this point
  • Settled in my room and took a few (painfully slow) laps around the labor and delivery unit
  • Contractions were becoming unbearable so I asked for the epidural at 9 a.m. and by 10:30 a.m. I was feeling wonderful (what contractions?)
  • Water broke at 1:37 p.m. - I was dilated 6 cm and contractions were consistently 2 minutes apart
  • Took brief, restless naps, ate ice chips, played around on Facebook, texted people, listened to music, chatted with my parents
  • Let's speed this up: 2:30 p.m. dilated 7 cm, 3:30 p.m. dilated 8 cm, 6 p.m. dilated 9 cm!
  • But then I got stuck
  • 9 p.m. still at 9-10 cm dilated so they started Pitocin (to strengthen the contractions)
  • It worked! 11 p.m. time to start pushing!
Bryce half-seriously suggested that we wait a bit longer so that the baby would be born on Justin’s (his brother's) birthday, February 8. I looked at him with astonishment – are you serious? Here we are finally ready to do something and you want to wait longer! I said – no way. If they say I can push, I’m pushing!

February 8, 2012

Good thing we didn't wait. I pushed for two hours, the toughest and most exhilarating work I've ever done.

12:51 a.m. - Justus Daniel was born. All 8 pounds, 3 ounces and 22.5 inches of him. It was/is such a blur. I remember crying when they put him on my chest and crying when Bryce held him for the first time. Such a beautiful moment. My son. He was screaming but it sounded like "hallelujahs" to me.

My "laboring" passage:

Hear, O LORD, and answer me . . .
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant,
   for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
You are forgiving and good, O Lord,
   abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, O LORD; listen to my cry for mercy.
In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.
Psalm 86:1-7

And He did indeed answer, bringing me great joy. Welcome, Justus Daniel.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

tiredness and other thoughts

My baby is 5 weeks old today. Sometimes his cuteness is more than I can handle.

Over the last week, JD has developed a bit of colic in the evenings. How do I have a feeling that we're on a long road with this one? An inconsolable baby is never fun. He's asleep on me right now and I really want to go to bed but I really do not want to move the baby who is finally asleep. Thus the reason I'm blogging at midnight.

JD weighs about 10 pounds now. He's in the 50th percentile for weight and almost off the charts for length (long and skinny!). Growing right on target from his first checkup.

How can such a small person steal so much sleep? I feel this deep tiredness behind my eyes and no amount of napping will help (when I do get a nap, uninterrupted by a crying baby). What sleep I do get comes in 2-3 hour snatches. This is hard work. I long for the night when I can get 5-6 hours in a row.

I'm still in some pain from the birth and it's starting to be frustrating. I can't stand comfortably for more than 3-5 minutes. Even just walking around the house or sitting too long on the couch is painful. Hopefully they have some answers for me at my postpartum appointment tomorrow. I really wanted to take a walk today but couldn't because it would be too painful.

Speaking of walks, the weather is super crazy! 70 degrees in March in Indiana? What? I am a winter-loving girl so the lack of blizzard conditions and below-0 degrees temperatures is quite disappointing for me (for real!) but I must admit that the smell of spring that I smelled today was pretty amazing. I'm looking forward to doing some work in our yard and going on walks with Justus and just sitting outside on our deck. 

JD is starting to lose some of his infant hair. And it's very sad. I miss it already. The fast changes that come with a baby are not very easy for this super-sentimental girl.

Okay.....time to very carefully swaddle the baby and put him in the cradle. Hopefully he'll keep sleeping!

Monday, March 5, 2012

our family

Our little family.
The Bryce Langebartels family.
Does it get any better than this?
I submit that it does not.

February 25, 2012

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lent - doing, not giving up

Justus usually eats twice during the night. At first, I just sat there on the bed and zoned while he ate but it was so incredibly boring. So, I decided to read. (Might as well be semi-productive. You know me.) During the second week of his life, I read Misty of Chincoteague, Black Stallion, Heidi, and Till We Have Faces - averaging about one book a night.

Then earlier this week, Bryce and I were discussing Lent and what we could possibly "give up" during this season to focus more on Jesus. He thought that I should maybe take a break from Facebook but it's one of my main forms of entertainment / connection at the moment. So, instead, I decided to "do" instead of "give up" and tackle some of the non-fiction reading that I've been meaning to do but keep putting off. Right now, I'm working on Radical by David Platt. Next I plan to finish Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright (which I started almost 2 years ago and have yet to finish!). I'm liking this new plan and hope to get through quite a bit of my I'll-get-to-it stack of books by the time Easter rolls around.

These night feedings could actually be enjoyable and a time of growth for me!
I'll keep you posted...

Friday, March 2, 2012

3 Weeks In

Various observations from three weeks of motherhood. I apologize in advance for the quite-possible lengthiness of this post.

  • I never knew that I would take to it - motherhood - so easily. Not that it's easy. But it's natural, somehow. This little boy is such a natural part of my life now. Like we were always meant to be mother and son.
  • JD will actually stop crying when I hold him. Prior to having this child, I didn't think that I could ever comfort a baby (I was just terrible at it before). But I can now. And it's such an amazing feeling.
  • Bryce was off for a week after the birth and then my mom visited for a few days - Tuesday to a Sunday. Mothers are wonderful. She cooked and cleaned and made sure I was drinking enough water. She even came to my rescue at 2 am one night because Justus wouldn't stop crying and I was so tired I was about ready to cry myself.
  • Justus has so many faces. The poop face. The gearing up for a sneeze face. The I can't decide whether or not to cry face. The grunting face. The almost smiling face. I love them all.
  • Our first outing was to the doctor a week after Justus was born, February 16. He passed with flying colors. He lost 9% of his birth weight at the hospital. Usually they give newborns two weeks to get back to their birth weight but JD was back up to 8 pounds, 4 ounces at one week. Way to go, little man! He's a good little eater, obviously.
  • Our second outing was to church on February 19. We sat in the "baby section" in the back and were bombarded with people wanting to meet Justus. So overwhelmingly wonderful. It was a bit of a long day for me since we went to my in-laws afterwards for the afternoon, but definitely nice to get out of the house and see friends & family again.
  • Our third outing was to a wedding on February 25 - 3.5 hours away. Yes, we're a little bit crazy. Bryce's cousin was getting married near Lexington, KY so we made the trek. Justus did wonderfully; it was me that had a harder time - but it was worth it to be there with the family. Bryce and I held JD during the wedding ceremony but then he was passed around so much for the rest of the day that I only saw him when it was feeding time. He sure is a content little baby, didn't mind at all being held by so many aunts and uncles and cousins.
  • My favorite is watching Bryce with Justus. I think this father pretty much adores his son and I love to watch them together.
  • The number one question we get asked is how the dog is doing with the baby. There have been no problems so far! Parson doesn't seem to mind him. Every once in a while he'll get a little closer and sniff JD a bit but that's the extent of his interest. Thank goodness.
  • We have been overwhelmed with food generosity - I haven't had to cook a dinner yet. And we've even used some of the meals for lunches. Such a blessing. I'm feeling better about the schedule and lack of sleep now, but at first there was no way I could have even thought about putting a dinner together. Such a big thank you to the friends and family who have blessed us and still are blessing us!
  • Can I just say that I have no idea how one little body can generate so much laundry?!? I used to do 2-3 large loads per week and now we average about 1 large load per day. It's crazy. Burp clothes, blankets, bibs, little outfits, cradle sheets . . . sometimes I can hardly keep up with the turnaround needed to keep our little man dry and clean.
That should catch you up on the state of things in our abode.
We are blessed indeed.

Obligatory cute picture: