Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Psalms for the Soul

I went shopping recently, and on impulse, bought a new Bible. I didn't need a new one but it called out to me. I have a study Bible and my well-worn Bible that automatically falls open to my favorite passages.

The teal blue book I purchased is a devotional Bible. When I got it home and opened the pages I knew why it was supposed to come home with me. In the familiar words I read the ancient message from God:

"Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path."
Psalm 119:105 NIV

Do you need a light for your path? I do.

The Psalms beckoned my attention. This was part of the description at the beginning of the book:

"The Psalms are songs and poems, but they are also prayers. In reading them we learn to pray from the heart, to lay ourselves open before God who already knows the depth of what lurks within us, who gives us freedom to bring those depths to the light..." Zondervan

Isn't that beautiful? I'm comforted knowing I can lay bare my soul to the One who already knows what I'm going to say. He's already there with His light because He is light. He will illuminate all the dark places in my life and guide my feet in the direction they need to go.

And as I go, He gives me songs and poems to encourage me along the way. He also reminds me I'm not alone when I mess up. Even David, the man after His own heart, went through painful periods of sin. His enemies pursued him and he could find no rest or peace in his soul. He penned words of lament for us to relate and understand the depth of the human condition. We also see David return to the relationship he had with his God and find forgiveness and healing because of the tender mercy and compassion he experienced.

I have wept and rejoiced with David over my own failures and found his God to be the same compassionate, tender God, full of mercy and love.

The same can be true for you. Open the Psalms and read for yourself. Whatever life hands you, there is a psalm that will speak to your heart. The words are life and they will breathe healing into your wounded soul. But you must read and apply the words and allow the One who loves you most to prove His faithfulness and trustworthiness.

Like David, and me, you'll be able to say:
The Lord is my shepherd,
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along right paths for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff,
They comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
In the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup overflows;
Surely goodness and love will follow me
All the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:1-6


Thursday, April 9, 2015

When Life Gets to Be Too Much...Find a Bookstore

As I write this post, I'm sitting in one of my favorite places, a bookstore.

My dad lived with me for a year when he was dying with cancer. When the stress got to the level of, I. AM. GOING. TO. EXPLODE., he'd give me a few dollars and send me to the local bookstore. There was a lot he didn't know about me, but he learned that one thing.

He and I spent my last birthday together, while he was alive, in a bookstore. He had a chemo treatment that day and insisted we make a stop as his gift to me. He bought me a book and a latte. I had to explain the exorbitant charge for the latte. He was accustomed to senior discounts on coffee at the local diner.

Since I was a little girl books have transported me to another time and place. They educate, inspire, transform, and challenge me.

Bookstores and libraries have a calming affect on me. Maybe they take my mind off current issues and problems and allow my brain a rest. I tend to analyze and overthink most things while moving cautiously on everything.

I browse the cookbooks, writing books, magazines, and home decorating books and let my mind create beauty. Then I venture over to the newest publications to see what is hot off the presses. My favorite genre is biographies so I check to see who's written what about whom. I prefer autobiographies unless it's written by an author with an excellent reputation. I didn't read many of the classics in my younger years so I have a goal to read one per month this year.

There are many good Christian, women authors who write with deep spiritual insight that I'm particularly interested in. Emily Freeman, at the top of my list, speaks to the soul. I've just discovered Bob Hostetler, and if you've not read any of his books you're missing a treat. Falling in Love With God is a must read. Donald Miller is another favorite of mine. His book, Scary Close, a book about intimacy, is already on the NY Times bestseller list.

As I've written before, I'd go to the book mobile every other Saturday with an arm load of books and return home with a different arm load of books. They were my escape.

Now I read because I love to read. Books have been my informal education all these years. Instead of the book mobile, I have and a credit card, a dangerous combination. One click and the package appears at my door a few days later. No lugging books anymore. Life has changed but my love of reading has not.

Read to your child or grandchild. You may have a book nerd waiting to emerge.

A world of possibilities awaits at the door of the local bookstore or library. Go check it out and relieve some stress while you're at it. I promise you won't be sorry.

Happy Reading,