Last week I took a couple of days off from work for a trip to the beach with my parents. For the past several years, we’ve scheduled a fall beach trip and it’s become my favorite time of the year to go. It’s usually less crowded, the weather’s turning cooler but still warm enough to swim, and overall it just seems more peaceful.
October has become a hectic month for me, particularly work-wise, and this getaway came at a great time because I was definitely in need of some R&R. It was a wonderful break from my routine to be able to sleep as late as I wanted, read and swim to my heart’s content and not have much of a schedule. When your biggest concern of the day is deciding where to go for dinner, you know you’re having a pretty stress-free vacation.
My favorite part of our beach trips is always sitting out on the balcony of the condo we usually rent and taking in the majestic beauty of the ocean below. We were blessed with absolutely perfect weather throughout our trip and the water was so calm, especially in the mornings. We even had a few dolphin sightings, which is always a thrill. I was able to take some photos that offer just a glimpse of the glorious beauty that God designed.
When sitting on the balcony watching the waves roll in and listening to the seagulls fly about, so many Bible verses, particularly from the Psalms, come to mind that describe the glory of what I’m witnessing.
The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.
God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
The sun rises at one end of the heavens
and follows its course to the other end.
Nothing can hide from its heat. (Psalm 19:1-6)
O Lord, what a variety of things you have made!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the ocean, vast and wide,
teeming with life of every kind,
both large and small. (Psalm 104:24-25)
The Lord merely spoke,
and the heavens were created.
He breathed the word,
and all the stars were born.
He assigned the sea its boundaries
and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. (Psalm 33:6-7)
I suppose it’s possible that, if I lived at the beach, I’d one day tire of this view or fail to be thrilled by the majesty of it all. I’d like to think, though, that I’d always be awestruck by this beauty.
The last month has been particularly busy, not only at work but also in my personal life, as I’ve had the opportunity to take not one but two wonderful vacations. I’ll be sharing tidbits from each of those trips here soon, but in the meantime I wanted to give you a peek at some of the books that have been occupying a place on my nightstand recently.
• Shaken by Tim Tebow: I was invited to be part of the launch team for Tebow’s latest book, in which the Heisman-winning quarterback shares his perspectives on the highs and lows of his NFL career and how his faith has grown through it. You can read my review of it here.
• Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty: As I’ve mentioned before, Moriarty has in short order become one of my favorite fiction authors, and I was delighted when a co-worker loaned me her copy of Moriarty’s latest release in time for me to take to the beach. While it wasn’t my favorite of Moriarty’s works, it did keep me guessing throughout and was a good page-turner.
• My Conference Can Beat Your Conference by Paul Finebaum: This book is essentially a love letter to the SEC football conference, a love letter which even this die-hard Bama fan found a tad over the top, so I can only imagine that fans of others conferences would probably find it pretty obnoxious. Since Finebaum focuses mainly on the 2013 season, it was interesting to read it from today’s perspective and reflect on the many changes that have taken place since, particularly coaching changes.
• The Woman in Cabin Ten by Ruth Ware (not pictured): I found this mystery/thriller to be on par with The Girl on the Train–entertaining, to be sure, but a bit depressing, although perhaps not as violent as The Girl. I’m not sold yet on Ware but would like to read another book by her.
• Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes: I am loving this book by Rimes, who is perhaps best known as the creator of such blockbuster TV shows as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder”. A self-confessed introvert who long shunned the spotlight out of fear, Rimes decided to overcome her fears by agreeing to spend a year saying yes to virtually every opportunity that came her way. That included not only saying yes to social and promotional events, but also saying yes to taking care of her health, to playing with her children, to accepting compliments rather than apologizing for them, etc. Rimes is giving me much to ponder as I, too, often shy away from opportunities to step outside my comfort zone. I have a feeling this will be a book that I hang onto and come back to repeatedly.
• The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee: I recently joined a small group women’s Bible study at church that is based on this book. So far it’s been an interesting look at why and how we should engage in a holy pursuit of happiness and joy. Although I consider myself a pretty happy person most of the time, there are times when I do struggle to remain positive in negative circumstances (and when surrounded by negative people), so this book is offering some practical ways to seek happiness in spite of what’s going on around me.
About to read:
• Broken Harbor by Tana French: I’m looking forward to diving into this thriller about a crime that seems like an open and shut murder case but ends up being far more complicated than the lead detective bargained for.
And now it’s your turn–what have you been reading lately? I’m always on the lookout for books to add to my Goodreads list, so let’s hear your recommendations!
Confession time: When he first appeared on the college football scene, I was not the biggest Tim Tebow fan. It miiiiiight have had something to do with the fact that he turned down offers to play at my beloved Alabama and instead chose the Florida Gators, where he was having tremendous success. Like winning two national championships and the Heisman. And I miiiiiight have taken some tiny pleasure in seeing him cry when Bama beat the Gators in the 2009 SEC championship game, avenging its loss at the hand of Tebow in the 2008 game. (The Tide went on to win the 2009 BCS National Championship, but I digress.)
Since his graduation and the end to his SEC dominance, however, I’ve taken much more of a liking to Tebow. I admire his outspoken faith, for which he has been equally lauded and ridiculed by fans and the press alike. That’s why I was delighted to be chosen to be part of the launch team for his new book, Shaken.
In the book, Tebow chronicles the ups and downs of his NFL career, which has been a rocky journey compared to the overwhelming success he had in college. Being traded and released from multiple teams, facing sharp criticism and intense media scrutiny have been recipes for disappointment. Tebow draws on those experiences to show what he’s learned throughout the process, namely a renewed sense of reliance on God and finding his identity not on the playing field but in his relationship with God.
Tebow also shares stories from inspiring people he’s met who have battled serious illness and other adversities and have achieved joy and peace despite the burdens they’ve faced.
While the vast majority of us will never know the disappointment of being rejected by NFL teams like Tebow has, we can identify with having dreams that get derailed or dealing with people who let us down. Overall, I found Shaken to be an enjoyable and encouraging read, one that I think will be used to reach many who have followed Tebow throughout his playing days as well as those who, like me, admire his faith and want to know about his life off the playing field.
Want to win a signed copy of Shaken? Click here to enter Penguin Random House’s giveaway by October 14, 2016.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Penguin Random House as part of the Shaken launch team. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
[Note: This post first ran on August 27, 2014. Two years later, not much has changed as far as regarding the world as a pretty big mess. Rather than be discouraged by that realization, I continue to take heart in remembering that it’s not up to me to fix the problems of this world, tempting as that may be.]
You don’t have to be an avid newshound to recognize that the world’s in a pretty big mess. Terror groups running amok. Nations at war. Racial discord. Economic crises. Earthquakes and other disasters, natural and man-made. It’s easy for me to read or watch news reports and play armchair quarterback for a while, ruminating on ways that I’d solve the world’s problems, but I’m usually pretty quick to give up trying.
Closer to home, when a friend or family member is going through turmoil, it’s a bit harder for me to not try to fix things. I don’t want to see those I love hurting. I want to do whatever I can to alleviate the pain, to make things better. And it’s tough sometimes to realize that, despite my best efforts, I can’t fix things. In fact, if I’m not careful, my good intentions to help can even become a hindrance–something my ego doesn’t like to readily admit.
When I’ve got loved ones dealing with messes in their lives, here are a few reminders I try to take to heart when I’m trying to play handyman (or handywoman).
• Remember that God is in control. Oh, this is so hard to do sometimes, isn’t it? Especially when it seems like a troubling situation isn’t getting any better (or is getting worse by the day). Not only do I try to remind myself that God is in control of the situation and nothing is happening without His notice and allowance of it, but also that, as much as I love my friends and family, God loves them and cares about them even more.
• Do what I can… First and foremost, I need to pray for my loved ones and their situations. I hate to admit it but sometimes I subconsciously view prayer as a last resort rather than an immediate response. Although it may seem passive, praying for someone is one of the most powerful actions we can take:
“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16b)
Even if I don’t know what to pray for regarding particular situations, that doesn’t make my prayers ineffective. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, we have an interpreter who can pray for exactly what’s needed at that time:
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26)
In addition to prayer (which we can ALL do), there are certain gifts and abilities that God’s given me to help others. One of those is the gift of encouragement–He often prompts me to send cards or emails to check on those who I know could use some encouragement, and I am thankful for being used by Him in that way.
• …but accept the fact that I am not equipped to do everything. Although I’m trying to let God use me in whatever ways He sees fit to help those in my life, there are times when I’m frustrated with the realization that I can’t be there for my loved ones in all the ways that I want to be there. Sometimes I can’t be physically there for them, when we live in different cities; I can’t be there in the flesh to give a shoulder to cry on or a comforting hug, and that is tough.
In other cases, my loved ones may be dealing with situations that I have not myself experienced and am therefore not able to offer the wise counsel that they need. Again, that’s a tough pill for my enlarged ego to swallow sometimes. But I’m learning to trust that God does not expect me to do everything; He brings other people into my loved ones’ lives to also walk alongside them and offer help in ways for which they are uniquely equipped. It is a beautiful thing to see God bring people from all kinds of backgrounds and experiences together to minister to and comfort one another. When I stop trying to be the sole provider of everything that I think my loved ones need, I can take a step back and see how God’s providing many sources of help and support.
Do you, too, struggle with trying to be Mr. or Ms. Fix-It? What are some reminders that you lean on to rein yourself in when you’re tempted to strap on the old tool belt?