jueves, 31 de diciembre de 2015

Libros 2015 / 2015 Books

English
1. Phantastes, a Faerie Romance for Men and Women (George MacDonald)
2. The Legacy of a Couple: Ruth & Billy Graham (Hanspeter Nüesch)
3. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Susan Cain)*
5. Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Aproach to Intentional Living (Tsh Oxenreider)
6. 10 Gifts of Wisdom: What Every Child Must Know Before They Leave Home (Sally Clarkson)
7. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves)
8. Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life (Emily P. Freeman)
9. Night (Elie Wiesel)*
10. Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media (Phil Cooke)
12. I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith)***
14. Rediscovering the Ministry of the Evangelist (Raphael Anzenberger)
16. Totally Infatuated: Pursuing a Life-Changing Passion for God's Word (Jacqueline Pierre)
17. Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal (Nick Bilton)*
18. Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science (John C. Lennox)
19. Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art (Madeleine L'Engle)*
20. The Portrait of a Lady (Henry James)**
21. Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert)
22. Speaking Truth in Love: Counsel in Community (David Powlison)
23. Gunning for God: Why the New Atheists Are Missing the Target (John C. Lennox)*
24. At the Back of the North Wind (George MacDonald)
25. Middlemarch (George Eliot) (896 p)**
26. Peter Pan (JM Barrie)
27. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)**
28. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing) (Marie Kondo)
29. It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War (Lynsey Addario)
31. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (Timothy Keller)***
32. Four Quartets (T. S. Eliot)
35. When God Breaks In (Michael Green)
36. The Bible (mostly NLT version)***

Español
4. La Cruz del Rey (Timothy Keller)*
11. El jardín de Victoria (Keila Ochoa Harris)
13. Lágrimas de una esclava (Juan Miguel Torrero Aguilarte)
15. El retrato de Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)*
30. Los puritanos: sus orígenes y sucesores (Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones) (592 p)*
33. Diario (Anne Frank)**
34. El marciano (Andy Weir)**

Children's Chapter Books (Read Aloud)
1. The Princess and the Goblin (George MacDonald)*
2. The Lost Princess (George MacDonald)**
3. Ten Boys Who Used Their Talents (Irene Howat)
4. Ten Girls Who Used Their Talents (Irene Howat)
5. A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle)*


jueves, 21 de mayo de 2015

If you've been unfollowed

Following and unfollowing in the social media world can be capricious. Before we only got a menu at a restaurant, but now the entire Western life is one huge colorful menu, and what you ate on Monday, you don't have to necessarily digest again on a Tuesday. Every turn can be customized, every voice pressed on or off at will. 


Tight-knit communities: even while getting a tooth pulled... (Adriaen Van Ostade)
It wasn't the case before, living in tight-knit communities. The town gossip, the priest, the scoundrel, the drunk, the swains, the lord, and the relatives were there to stay for life, for the most part, barring sudden catastrophy or conscription. And you had to grow with it. 

Sometimes I wonder if our growth is somewhat stunted from being able to choose too freely, too frequently? When news content and feeds are tailored to our particular surfing and clicking patterns? When we too easily friend and unfriend, both in cyberspace and physical space? 

And do we do the same with God? Today I follow, tomorrow I unfollow? Or follow this Bible verse, unfollow the next one... 

It strikes me that the only one who doesn't do this in our lifetime is God himself, for we are told, "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life." Even when you've blocked him, he hasn't blocked you. While you have life and breath, he will never unfollow you because he doesn't deal in capricious currency. For you, he deals in his own lifeblood. 



(Five-minute Friday: Today's prompt was "follow.")

martes, 28 de abril de 2015

Esconder un vertedero: cómo intentamos ser buenos

Estamos todos en casa, recogiendo porque vienen invitados, y le digo a mi hija más pequeña que necesita despejar su escritorio.

Como todavía es pequeña, su "escritorio" es una mesita nido en un rincón del cuarto.

Me voy, pero me pregunto si me habrá entendido, y en menos de cinco minutos me llama con voz triunfal: —¡La he limpiado!

Viene corriendo al salón a por mí, me coge de la mano con urgencia y me lleva al cuarto para que lo vea yo misma.

Su mesita está, en efecto, impecable. Completamente despejada — y eso que hace unos instantes sostenía un monte precario de piezas de puzle, libros, cuerdas, muñecas, ceras, bolsos... Todo ha volado.

Sí, ha hecho el trabajo que le he pedido, pero no puedo evitar reír...porque ha conseguido meter todo lo que estaba encima de la mesa...debajo de la mesa...donde ahora no hay quien meta ni un dedo gordo del pie.

Para más inri, esta mesita nido es de esas de cristal y se ha convertido en el mirador perfecto del nuevo vertedero. Pero mi hija me está mirando con toda sinceridad y seriedad porque ha "cumplido" lo que le he pedido.

¿No es así cómo a menudo intentamos ser buenos nosotros? Barremos la superficie. Nos damos prisa por esconder esas cosas feas. Debajo de capas de sonrisas o logros donde no se puedan ver. Donde no estorben. Y no hablo solo de religiosos o de ciudadanos respetables que quieran mantener cierta buena imagen. También hablo de gente a la que supuestamente le da igual lo que puedan dictar las instituciones o las autoridades...todos queremos limpiar nuestra reputación a nuestra manera, tenemos algún código y una serie propia de faltas o fallos...o suciedad...que queremos enmascarar. Todos, en efecto, trabajamos por esconder el plumero, y en el fondo, pensamos que lo conseguimos.

Pero al igual que la mesita de mi hija, nosotros también estamos hechos de cristal — somos más frágiles de lo que nos imaginamos, y más transparentes de lo que nos imaginamos. Está todo ahí — lo puede ver Dios, y a menudo los demás también, aunque lo intentemos tapar y pensemos que hemos dejado una superficie impoluta, intacta. Jesús dijo que era imposible esconder lo que somos: "El que es bueno, de la bondad que atesora en el corazón produce el bien; pero el que es malo, de su maldad produce el mal, porque de lo que abunda en el corazón habla la boca." (Lucas 6:45)


El Viernes Santo histórico lo necesitamos porque para ser verdaderamente limpios, necesitamos que alguien sea bueno por nosotros desde los más hondo para afuera, que pueda sustituir nuestra vida imperfecta con una perfecta. Necesito al que fue perfectamente transparente — al que relucía tanto en la superficie como en el interior. Ya no tengo que esconderme porque Jesús ha cumplido todo por mí y llega al nivel de limpieza transparente que yo no puedo alcanzar.

viernes, 3 de abril de 2015

Hiding the dump: how we often try to be good

We are cleaning up for guests, and I tell my daughter she needs to clear off her desk.

Photo: Dimitris Petridis
Her "desk" is a small nesting table in a corner of the room. She is, after all, only three and a half.

Five minutes later she yells triumphantly, "I cleaned it!" She grabs my hand and leads me back to the room to see.

Her desk is effectively spotless. Completely empty. It had been piled high with puzzle pieces, books, strings, dolls, crayons, purses. All gone.

But still, I can't help laughing.

All of these same possessions are now dumped under the table, to such an extent that there is no way anyone could fit even as much as a toe under this makeshift desk.

To make the situation even more hilarious, the table has a glass top, and I am looking directly at all the junk crammed underneath. But my daughter is looking at me earnestly because she has truly cleaned the top of her desk.

Isn't that how we often try to be good? Sweep up the surface. Quickly hide the ugly. Underneath. Out of the way. Don't let anything show. Or so we think. But like the desk, we're made of glass too. It is all still there — for God to see, and often for others to see as well, for "A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart" (Luke 6:45).

Yes, we need Good Friday because to be truly clean, we need someone to be good for us from the inside out, to substitute ours with a perfect life. I need the one who was perfectly transparent — with everything shining both above and below. No more hiding because Jesus meets the standard for me.

(Five-minute Friday: Today's prompt was "good.")

martes, 31 de marzo de 2015

When it's all there and we won't take it

It's Saturday morning, and I'm waiting for my kid to take a break. He won't. He's too engrossed in what he's doing. I hear his empty stomach growl.

He's been at those toy cars and cards and books for two hours.

And the breakfast has been laid out for hours, up on the table above him, ready for the taking.

After a while he finally walks around the house moaning.

"Are you hungry?" I ask him.

"I'm starving! I haven't had breakfast!" He drapes himself over a chair, ready to die. This kid doesn't need acting school.

"It's on the table, as it always is on Saturday," I smile. "You just had to look up. Didn't you hear me calling?"

I too am always engrossed with what I have in front of my nose: relationships, work, play, life, the next thing.

Meanwhile there's this gnawing hole inside, increasingly hungry but strangely put on hold.

The banquet is laid out, ready for the taking. Will I look up? He's been calling for quite some time now, the Father. Thirst and hunger, ready to be satisfied in him. 

Won't we all just take a break and get the meal we need?

"You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy." (Psalms 63:5 NLT)

(Five-minute Friday: Today's prompt was "break.")

viernes, 20 de marzo de 2015

Running shoes, rocking chair

Photo: Erika Thorpe
I'm pausing and thanking God tonight because stress makes me real. Stress halts the pursuit of perfection. Stress shoves on the glasses and the running shoes and leaves the lipstick behind because there was no other way to get to the school on time. Stress makes me ask the three questions instead of the cocky, half-listening one because when stress runs the clock, there may not be time to repeat that conversation or hear that person again. Stress gives pride a punch in the gut and makes yes-man me learn to say no with grace for the love.

I'm always praying for stress to go away. Always looking at stress as the enemy. If only...

But today I thank God for what he knows is good for me, and because he is good, and because he is real and wants me to be real too. Reality could never be so picture perfect for long. There is a time for running in three directions at once, and there will be a time for simply rocking in the still of the night. Yet at either time, the heart has to be held up like a cup, receiving and thankful, ready and real.

(Five-minute Friday: Today's prompt was "real.")

jueves, 12 de febrero de 2015

"All I could do was embrace him and weep"

Reminded of the questions we may ask from deep suffering...and the answers we may give...but that surface instead in a tearful embrace.

From Francois Mauriac's foreword to Night after meeting Elie Wiesel as a young journalist and survivor of Auschwitz:

And I, who believe that God is love, what answer was there to give my young interlocutor whose dark eyes still held the reflection of the angelic sadness that had appeared one day on the face of a hanged child? What did I say to him? Did I speak to him of that other Jew, this crucified brother who perhaps resembled him and whose cross conquered the world? Did I explain to him that what had been a stumbling block for his faith had become a cornerstone for mine? And that the connection between the cross and human suffering remains, in my view, the key to the unfathomable mystery in which the faith of his childhood was lost? And yet, Zion has risen up again out of the crematoria and the slaughterhouses. The Jewish nation has been resurrected from among its thousands of dead. It is they who have given it new life. We do not know the worth of one single drop of blood, one single tear. All is grace. If the Almighty is the Almighty, the last word for each of us belongs to Him. This is what I should have said to the Jewish child. But all I could do was embrace him and weep.