Monday, February 16, 2009

All You Need is Love

Yeah, I know. A little late for Valentine's Day. But I got a belated Valentine's Day gift on Sunday. It was kind of "ah-HA!" moment after weeks/months of nagging thoughts and half-hearted attempts at change.

All you need is love. Hmm. And if it's not there, man, do you know it! I'm not talking about husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, family, friend... don't get me wrong, all that is important! But the one Love I can't do without is God's love. Time for a little honesty. I never lost faith in God or loved Him. But I had lost my love for Him a little. If that make sense. My passion. My first Love. I still saw Him at work in my life and I desired more of Him, but there was still this something missing.

At times, I thought it was because I'm too busy. And I still am. But I also realized that simply taking things off my plate... only to fill them with other things or nothing substantial... was useless. I wasn't using much of the time I gained by removing things for more time with God. I still had my quiet times and was learning. But I was still just missing the point. It's so easy to do in the busyness of life.

So this little feeling deep down and realizing I want more than this... led me to yesterday. Sunday morning. I have to say, I am SO lucky to have found a church family that is family. I look forward to going, am sad to miss a Sunday, and feel so energized after worshipping and fellowshipping with my family there. I'm usually one of the last handful of people to leave, and most Sundays go by without having had a chance to talk to everyone I wish I could. So yesterday was like many other Sundays, but something... more. Sunday School was great. Not because of anything in particular, but I did see something new about a familiar story. My Sunday School teacher is one of the best I've had and just knows how to open up discussion, make it a safe environment, and push you to see things you didn't see before. Then, our new youth pastor gave a great message on family discipleship; it left me wanting to dig deeper in the Word, always a good response. One thing he said stuck out... God's plan for our lives is something we stumble upon while on the path of obedience. For any of us wondering God's plan for our lives, wow, does that help. And I got to talk to many friends and laugh and catch up and see how their lives were going. Just a good morning. I remember seriously wishing that every morning could start like that!

Then, when I got home, I had a good conversation with my parents, got to go on a walk, and read a book that had been neglected for a few weeks... but surprise, surprise... it was just the moment I was ready to hear what the author had to say. It's called The Most Loving Place in Town by Ken Blanchard, and it's about a local church elder who realizes he's become so focused on doing he's forgotten his first Love. It hit home. And so this long post is drawing to an end.

All you need is love. As much as I hadn't turned from God and still loved Him, my heart had grown complacent. And for me to love anyone else... close relationships or not-so-close (like some patrons who make me want to turn and run)... I have to be grounded in my love for God. If I'm not filled to over-flowing with His love, how can I possibly love others well? I will never love everyone perfectly... don't expect miracles! But keeping my heart filled with Him is a start. I can't even explain the difference. As I said, it's not like I had turned my back on God, but I did know I wasn't where I wanted to be. So while it may not look like anything changes, for me, it feels like night and day.

Monday, February 9, 2009

It's Just Like Christmas!!!

After a couple months of no new books, seeing the (not-so-thrilled) UPS man enter the library with 15 boxes from Baker & Taylor a few days ago was like Christmas. Seriously. It's one of the perks of the job to get to order a couple thousand dollars in books every month... none of which you have to pay for, but all of which you get to see before anyone else! But that means my to-read list has once again grown in size! Even worse, I already have a couple I'm in the middle of (the Newbery winner, The Graveyard Book, is doing nothing for me a third of the way in)... but I want to take more home. I have to be good and not hoard the books though. Having also just sent an order into Amazon for the Erin Free Library, I thought I'd share some authors/illustrators/titles that I'm loving in this gluttony of new books.

Anything illustrated by David Catrow! (Particularly if written by Karen Beaumont.) We just got Doggone Dogs in, but I Ain't Gonna Paint No More is one of the biggest crowd-pleasers during storytime. The Silly Dilly songs books (by Alan Katz), I Like Myself and Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon are also great!

New series of picture books by Polly Dunbar called Tilly and Friends, featuring Tilly, who lives in a yellow house with her best friends. The first book is Hello Tilly, and Happy Hector and Pretty Pru are the next. Sounds. Words. Simple but beautiful illustrations that both kids and grownups will like. They'll probably appeal most to girls, but with the strong imagery with simple words, I'm planning on using them during storytimes. The best word to describe Tilly and Friends... whimsical.

I'm also loving a series of picture books by Jan Thomas about some animal friends. The Doghouse, What Will the Fat Cat Sit On, and A Birthday for Cow all made my non-children book loving coworkers laugh! Bright bold illustrations and humor preschoolers and grownups alike will appreciate. Definitely using for storytime!

Finally, a young adult book. Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. For Shannon Hale fans (who, me?) this might be for you. I'll have to post a review when I've actually read it. But I've liked George's other books and she writes the same teen take-offs of fairy tales that Shannon Hale does so well. This one is based on the Twelve Dancing Princesses.

And finally finally... a shot in the dark. A first time author. One I hadn't even had on my radar until I saw it and decided to buy it right away (which I normally don't do.) One I hope to be surprised by... One I ordered for myself. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, by Francis Chan. I'd seen two friends mention him and say he "kicked their butt" (a compliment) and this came up in a "you might also like" and it just seems... my heart and what God's trying to teach me, so I'm hoping to be pleasantly suprised.
So I don't know if you're looking for anything in any of these categories, but I'm excited... new books!!! New ideas, new stories, new stretching... it makes me happy!