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It’s time for change.  The old year ends, a new year begins.  We reflect on the past 365 days—highlights and lowlights, choices made, dreams pursued or lost, rejoicing or regrets.  And we ponder the coming year:  expectations, resolutions, hopes, dreams. 

I wrote this a couple of years ago—about an ending and a beginning.  As I reread it, it was a good reminder about the pain and hope in ending one chapter and beginning a new one.  May it help you as you prepare to say good-bye to 2012 and good morning to 2013.

book pages

Finishing a good book is bittersweet for me.  I love being in the story, knowing the people, being a part of the action.  But when I turn the last page, I feel sad.  It’s over.  My life will go on, but those brief relationships will end.

Yesterday was such a bittersweet day.   (more…)

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I love gifting.  To most anyone, but especially to my grandkids.

You won’t, however, usually find me giving the latest toy or “must have” item.

I want my four grandboys and one grandgirl to enjoy and appreciate the gifts they receive for me.  But I also want them to have real value for their lives.  So my presents to them usually fall in one of these six categories:

Books

My first gifts—new babies, showers, every birthday and every Christmas—are always books.  I offer variety—old favorites, classics, new releases.   Board books, picture books, beginning readers.  Topics change:  trucks, tractors and Star Wars always win with the boys.  Grandgirl Madison has moved from princesses to horses.

I love reading to my grandkids, then letting them read to me, and finally just watching them reading on their own.  Books provide amazing adventures, take them to exotic places, introduce them to real heroes.

Imagination

This is a broad category.  The boys love building and constructing; recent gifts have included Star Wars Legos and Lincoln Logs.  Jewelry kits and cooking always please Maddy.  Music of every kind is a hit. And I give art supplies galore—appropriate for every age, using every medium. The boys especially love painting dragons and cars and dinosaurs they can then play with.

Hand puppets play a key role in our frequent storytelling—lions and kangaroos and mice and koalas—and the all-time favorite is a realistic alligator.  Costumes allow them to be superheroes or knights or ninjas or cowboys, or the latest pre-teen idol.  A sand and water table has given the grandboys hours of wet fun on hot days.

Action

One of my best gifts was the backyard playset—swings, a glider, a slide, a climbing wall, a fort–in my backyard. They have spent hours playing together there.  Our own bounce house has been a favorite, plus a slip-n-slide, bikes, a spring horse, even a pogo stick.

And sports equipment.  So many balls of every kind, shoes and practice shorts for soccer, soccer goals, a punching bag.  They burn up some of that incessant energy, strengthen their bodies and grow their skills.

Experiences

I love to take my grandkids on fun outings.  Books stores and pet stores are always fun, the zoo is amazing—except I can’t keep up with them—and any place with a train or a carousel delights.   Science museum, children’s museum, even Chuck E. Cheese—we do it all together.  And the beach—can’t forget the beach.

I used to teach horseback riding, and a friend has been willing to give some lessons to all of my grands.  This is Maddy’s favorite—at 10 she is getting pretty good.

Living in Orlando provides so many attractions.  Gatorland was a big hit—we have pictures of them on an alligator and draped in a python for a real memory.  One year’s Christmas gift was an annual pass to Sea World for all the local family members.  This past year the Indiana group got passes to a climbing gym, which the boys love.

Time

Any of these gifts can fall under the Time topic—if I do the different activities with them.  But sometimes Time means a trip to Chick-fil-A or watching a movie together, or playing games on my I-pad.  I love to just be with them.

I also give them Time they don’t really know about:  I pray for them all the time.

Giving

This last category is one I did with my children, and am now beginning to do with the grandkids:  Giving.  I love to help them choose toys or clothes to give to someone else who can use them.  I also give to Angel Tree in their names—providing gifts for children whose parents are in prison. Maddy and I together support a Haitian girl through Compassion—she loves writing to her.  I hope to expand this category more as the kids are old enough to understand their own giving.

Do I ever give a gift just because they want something?  Sure.  And I buy little trinkets and snacks when I go to visit them.  But most of the time I seek to give life-expanding presents that keep on giving.

And so far they all still love their Jeedoo (which is what they call me).

What about you?  What are your favorite gifts for the children in your life?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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So it’s been awhile since I’ve added any books to Transforming Reads.  The past few months have been full, including extensive travel.  Which means time to read.  So here are quite a number of new books for you.

Strengthening My Soul

A Praying Life:  Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller—a call to a childlike living out of a relationship and conversation with God

The Grace of God  by Andy Stanley—a beautiful unfolding of God’s grace through stories and people, first in the Old Testament, then in the new.  Really helpful.

What’s So Amazing about Grace? by Philip Yancey-Phil’s usual in-depth research, truthful consideration of hard stuff—and amazing insights into the grace of God

All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir  by Brennan Manning—a powerful  (probably) last book in which Brennan tells the story of his ongoing battle with alcohol and God’s ongoing grace to him

Making Me Think

Junia Is Not Alone  by Scot McKnighta look at Junia and other women Paul worked with and commended, especially in Romans 16

How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals by Alan F. Johnson, General Editor—Numerous Christian leaders recount their journey to believing God is delighted to have women lead in His church.

Making Me Laugh and Think

Imaginary Jesus:  A not-quite-true story by Matt Mikalatos –A funny and profound uncovering of our imaginary versions of Jesus in search of the real Jesus

Night of the Living Dead Christian: One Man’s Ferociously Funny Quest to Discover What It Means to Be Truly Transformed  by Matt Mikalatos—Are you really alive as a Christian?  Matt again applies his really weird humor, along with zombies, werewolves, vampires and a mad scientist to expose the reality of too many living dead Christians.

Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me:  A Memoir…of sorts  by Ian Morgan Cron—a sad and funny story of a difficult life and finding God

She’s Got Issues: Seriously Good News for Stressed-Out, Secretly Scared Control Freaks Like Us by Nicole Unice—an open and honest look at issues we all might have—control, insecurity, comparisons, fear, anger—with practical helps for working on them

Fiction

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson—this novel is a beautifully written reflection on life and meaning by an old minister for his young son.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey—magical realism set in Alaska—filled with beauty, mystery, joy and sadness

Reinventing Rachel by Alison Strobel –Rachel is a good Christian young woman—and then life falls apart and God seems to have abandoned her.  So she abandons him.

My New Books

Secrets of Success: Letters to My ChildrenPractical realities for succeeding in life: 30 minutes to read, a lifetime to live

Loving a Prodigal: Learning to Restliving with prodigals, or difficult people or circumstances, can be exhausting.  God repeatedly promises rest. This is a FREE E-Book.

What about you?  What have you been reading lately?

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I’ve been traveling—I actually just finished a trip that took me around the world.  One of the best things about long flights (like 17 hours) is that I can read.  My Kindle makes it possible for me to take many books to choose from without extra weight.  Love it!!

So here is some of my reading for the past several months, though I have several I’m still working on.  These will all be added under the Transforming Reads tab.

Strengthening My Soul

Windows of the Soul:  Experiencing God in New Ways by Ken Gire– Ken Gire is one of my favorite writers—his writing is beautiful and his spiritual insights are incisive. His Intimate Moments with the Savior series was life-changing.  And he has done it again.  Windows of the Soul are just that—openings to let God into every crevice of my life.

Making Me Think

Nice Girls Don’t Change the World by Lynne Hybels—A journey from Nice Girl to Good Woman to Dangerous Woman.  Every woman should take such a journey.

The Missional Mom:  Living with Purpose at Home and in the World by Helen Lee—A homeschooling mother of boys, Helen describes embracing her call as a mom and as a missional Christian and becoming—for herself and her family—a culture rebel committed to making a difference in her world.

Widening My World

A Heart for Freedom:  The Remarkable Journey of a Young Dissident, Her Daring Escape and Her Quest to Free China’s Daughters by Chai Ling—From a simple Chinese village to Tiananmen Square to running for her life to a successful business in the U S, Chai Ling tells the true details of the the student uprising and her path to becoming a voice for the millions of baby girls aborted, killed or abandoned in China.

Love You More:  The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter by Jennifer Grant—A heart yearning and a word from God assured Jennifer that God had chosen a baby girl to add to their family.  The journey from that assurance to finding, meeting and bringing home a Guatemalan child is sweet, challenging, long and beautiful.

Fiction

Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery by Dorothy L Sayers—I’ve read several of Sayers’ Peter Wimsey mysteries, and this is my favorite.  I love the perfect writing, the amazing characters, the suspense, the adventure, the surprises.  But, I did figure out whodunit about halfway through.

What have you been reading?  What impact has it had on you?

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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I wrote this more than a year ago.  But now is a new beginning for many, and I thought it would be a good reminder about ending one chapter and beginning a new one.  And I am glad to report that the new team is doing so well, and the rest of us are well into God’s new chapters for us.

Finishing a good book is bittersweet for me.  I love being in the story, knowing the people, being a part of the action.  But when I turn the last page, I feel sad.  It’s over.  My life will go on, but those brief relationships will end.

Yesterday was such a bittersweet day.

It was the last day of a leadership team I have been a part of for almost nine years.  A smaller, different group, including a number of the previous members, will go forward as a new team.
But this day was the last page for the old team.  We spent it reminiscing and reflecting:
Times of fellowship and fun:  segway races, croquet, sailing, airboat rides, some great meals, visiting in homes.
Feasting around the Word of God:  learning from each other, applying Scripture to our work and our lives.
On our knees:  for personal needs—health, births, weddings, deaths, decisions– and ministry needs—wisdom, finances, resources, ideas.
Lots of hard work:  defining our mission, vision, values and priorities, working through differences, believing the best when we haven’t agreed, pushing through to reach our goals.
Celebrating milestones:  passage of change initiatives, a major student conference,  breakthrough strategies, the right new person.

Honoring each member of the team:  words of affirmation and appreciation, gifts to remind us of what God accomplished through us, humble, inadequate, unworthy servants that we are.
The turning of that page brings loss.  For all of us, but more strongly felt for some.
Today those of the new team are busy forming, defining, anticipating, exploring:  How do we move forward into the future God is leading us to?
But for those transitioning to other opportunities, probably the sense of emptiness is stronger:  “I’m not with them anymore.  This group I have been connected to for many years is no longer mine.  Still friends.  Still working toward the same vision.  But not together.”
Grieving is appropriate.
Then God reminds us that, though “weeping may last for the night, joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
For God’s good plans are for a lifetime.  Closing a chapter doesn’t mean the end, but rather a new chapter begins.  Finishing one task prepares us for the next one.  God made us who we are, for good works He wants us to do.  And at every season of our lives He has a plan for our part in building His Kingdom.
So I turn the page.

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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I just came off a 2-week personal rest/prayer/reading/writing retreat.  Here are a few books I was able to read, plus some I’ve read previously.  All of these have been added in the Transforming Reads tab.

Strengthening My Soul

The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning—a love story for the broken-hearted, of God’s fierce love for us

Hungry for God: Hearing God’s Voice in the Ordinary and Everyday by Margaret Feinberg—pursuing a divine appetite for a deepening relationship with God

Invitations from God: Accepting God’s Offer to Rest, Weep, Forgive, Wait, Remember… by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun—a study of the healing and restoring God gives so graciously

Grumble Hallalujah: Learning to Love Your Life Even When It Lets You Down by Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira—a serious, humorous look at the reality and results of grumbling with some helpful responses

From the Past

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire:  What Happens When God’s Spirit Invades the Heart of His People by Jim Cymbala—now is the moment to ask God to ignite His fire in your soul

Witnessing Without Fear by Bill Bright—the secrets that turned a shy businessman into a confident, caring witness for Christ

 

Widening My World

The Stoning of Soraya M: A Story of Injustice in Iran by Freidoune Sahebjam—an horrific tale of the madness people are capable of

 

Lives that Inspire

Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot—the amazing story of 5 young men who gave their lives for the gospel of Christ in the jungle of Ecuador

A Little Help

The 11 Secrets of Getting Published by Mary DeMuth—an e-book that will get you on your way to being a published writer

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I don’t get to read nearly as much as I would like to, but here are three more books that have touched me deeply.  I hope they will you as well.

Lives that Inspire

Unbroken:  A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Lauren Hillenbrand—An amazing story of an Olympic runner who spent almost 3 months floating on the Pacific, then two years of torture and deprivation in Japanese prison camps.

Making Me Think

One.Life:  Jesus Calls, We Follow by Scot McKnight—a powerful call to follow Jesus in the life he modeled and taught, to consider how doing so will change how we live?

Strengthening My Soul

Souvenirs of Solitude:  Finding Rest in Abba’s Embrace by Brennan Manning—beautiful reflections on God’s gentle, insistent tug on our hearts.

en español: Más Lecturas Transformadoras 2

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