Tag Archives: peace

Book Review: A Good & Perfect Gift by Amy Julia Becker

I typically have two reading speeds. 0 or 160.

After I read the first chapter of a book, I choose my setting. I either put the book down, never pick it back up, and return it to the library before the due date (which my $10 in late fees should tell you I really didn’t care for that book.)

Or I devour the book in two helpings.

My husband will tell you we had to stop trying to read books “as a couple” because I would speed ahead and finish the book in a day, leaving him in the dust, or I’d completely lose interest and come home with a pile of new library books later that afternoon. (Patience isn’t my best virtue. He’ll tell you that, too.)

After reading the first chapter of Amy Julia Becker’s memoir A Good & Perfect Gift, I had immediately set my cruise control to 200. I’m pretty sure I was late back to work on my lunch break because I couldn’t put the thing down.

But then, as I started to notice that my right hand left clutching only a thin section of pages, I halted to a park, and haven’t gotten back in since. 200 to 0.

I just don’t want it to be over.

I don’t want to finish the book. I don’t want to give it back to the library. So, I’m just not reading it anymore. It’s tucked away, perfectly snug, in my little green bag. I take it with me wherever I go, but it hasn’t been touched in over a week. I only have one renew left until the library will force me to return it. I have to finish it in the next 2 weeks, or else it gets sent back to the other side of the state from where it was sent.

My days are filled reading articles and books that argue back and forth over the harshness of the Church. They are hijacked by regret an hour after sharing a post about the LGBT community and Christianity, as I read the thread of angry comments under the post. They are failed attempts at kindness toward the crummy customers at work. My days are a striving effort to be better, kinder and smarter, to do more and succeed, and say and write and be all the right things at all the right times.

And then there’s this book.

This book!

It just had this way of slowing me down.

As Amy Julia Becker describes loving her daughter for everything she is, I can’t help but know and experience the way God loves me for who I am.

As she notes the way her fear and worry over all the things Penny can’t or won’t be able to do begin to dissipate, and her joy over everything Penny is and does and embodies begins to blossom, I feel lighter. I feel better. I feel really, really loved. If parents have the capacity to love their children so thoroughly this way, Our Father in Heaven must be able to love me as perfectly, too.

I guess that explains why I couldn’t put the book down. And why now, I can’t pick it back up. We only get small moments to know, little glimpses to see, just how good the Kingdom is. We only get little tastes of God’s great feast for us. I devoured my latest one in two helpings, and now I don’t want it to end!

Luckily, she wrote a second book.

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God is a Perfect October Morning

It’s one of those unbelievably perfect morning moments. The rain is tapping above our back porch where Eric sits and taps rhythmically between each chord he plays on the old Gibson that never stays in tune. The one whom my soul loves so sweetly, and the three kitties who sometimes decide to let us love them that way too, are enjoying what are the very final breaths of the passing summer air. It’s now late October, and smoke blows through the kitchen window that we keep open for the cats who miss the back porch they had in Eric’s old apartment. It lets in the smell of Nag Champa that’s hot and clammy on my face and hands. My phone buzzes up on the counter, but I look past and beyond it, through the window at the canvas of red brick, city neon, telephone wire, golden leaves and grey sky. Eric’s fingers and voice are finally committing to a tune they like outside, and we wait apprehensively for the alarm to declare we need to get a move on with the day. I finished another book that tore through me as quickly as I tore through its pages this morning, and before I come to write, I search each prologue and acknowledgement for more information, more joy, more of the same reliability in hearing some new words I need to keep hearing. I don’t want to be bothered with baby showers, birthday cards, quotes for car parts or traffic today. If I could stay here forever, surrounded by finished wood, Nag Champa, the breath of the Gibson, and fresh language, I’m positive I would. It’s moments like these that can evaporate everything with the rain. Because it’s these morning moments that show me how loved I am, despite my own decision-making, will-powered self. No level of assurance on any matter could replace the beautiful grey shawl that falls around our home as the rain picks up. No amount of money given to another new mother can gift her with a moment like this. I pray for our cousin and her new baby to know the peace and serenity of these mornings. How can you fight through traffic to all of your appointments, and still feel the calm of a wet fall day, tucked away at home sipping coffee? I hear the honking horns beyond Eric’s new song, the sniffing of his nose, the buzzing of the alarm, and I wonder how to carry these fleeting feelings into what will certainly become a busy day like all the others. I am in the Temple this morning, the Holy of Holies, and I remember Jesus tells us we can stay here through it all. Through the turmoil, through the harshness, through the busy buzzing, He is surely here inviting us into this peace every hour of our day. I wonder how it’s possible – that a God can be so loud – and yet quiet enough – to create serenity in the middle of the city, in the middle of a day filled with chores and obligation. I wonder how I can continue to reach out to a Father who sends rain to our roofs just to help us sleep, while boxes of cardboard sit on the street and crumble into wet mush. I wonder if there’s a way to summon a warm, rainy morning to live inside of my frustration and pain and disagreement and personal traffic jams. I wonder if that’s who God really is, if that’s what He is inviting us into, every morning, afternoon and evening of our lives.