August 23, 2012

"The Truth about Forgiveness" by John MacArthur

Does anyone really want to forgive? Or admit that we need forgiveness? Whether we’re giving or receiving, forgiveness is hard. It seems unfair. It feels unnatural. And as best-selling author and pastor John MacArthur demonstrates, forgiveness apart from Christ is unnatural. It is only as we understand our need, Christ’s power and example, and what it really means to love that we can embrace two of the most liberating acts of love: forgiving and being forgiven.

I have always enjoyed listening to John MacArthur's sermons and reading his books because he always tackles the issues at hand head-on.  He doesn't mince words. Every sentence he writes seems very well thought out and is filled with Biblical truth. His take on the prodigal son story is very touching and could be life-changing for many people. I'm sure many of us have heard a lot of sermons about the prodigal son.  John MacArthur delves into the details of the story and brings to the surface a portion that I had always skipped over without realizing it.  The prodigal son's father had been keeping an eye out for him ever since he had left. And when he spotted him coming home, he ran to him to embrace him and forgive him before his son had the chance to even say a word. MacArthur explains that the very act of running was something that would be very out of place in the Middle Eastern culture of that time.  It actually would have been shocking to the Pharisees who were chomping at the bit to hear about how the prodigal son had been punished. MacArthur draws a wonderful parallel to the forgiveness offered to us in the gospel and challenges us to remember that it's not because of anything we have done that we are forgiven.  He writes "God does not love us for what we are. He loves us in spite of what we are. He does not love us because we are special. Rather, it is only His love and grace that give our lives any significance at all ... God loves us because He is love; love is essential to who He is. Rather than viewing His love as proof of something worthy in us, we ought to be humbled by it."

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to learn more about God's forgiveness and what a truly amazing gift it is to us.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. 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 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

August 6, 2012

The Quilting Olympics

I may have gotten a bit carried away in titling this blog post. But doesn't it sound exciting?  In reality, I was just trying to figure out a way to combine into one blog post my trip to the Long Beach quilt show, and all of the Olympic fun that has been going on. You may think that makes me lazy, but I prefer to call myself "efficient". So here goes.
About a week ago my mom and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Long Beach Convention Center for the International Quilt Festival. The show never disappoints and we always leave feeling exhausted and happy from hours and hours of shopping and quilt viewing.  I kept myself to a budget this year and didn't leave with many packages.  So instead of pictures of loot, I'm going to share a picture of my favorite quilt at the show. It is titled "Spring Blossoms" and was machine pieced and free-motion quilted by Terry Aske of British Columbia, Canada. Isn't it beautiful?

In case you haven't heard, wink wink ,  The Olympics also started that weekend.  To say that I am a big fan of the Olympics, is quite an understatement. I grew up in a family that was a little bit obsessed with the Olympics.  So I have an ingrained appreciation for the millions of hours of  Olympic coverage that is available to us.  I was so excited for the Opening Ceremonies, I decided to turn our date night into a mini Olympics party. My husband isn't quite as Olympic obsessed but he kindly obliged and participated in my party plans. 
I decided that we should have Greek food in honor of the first Olympics. So we got take-out. (I'm not Greek and won't pretend that my Greek food cooking skills could ever surpass that of the oh-so-tasty restaurant "Daphne's".)  Here is a photo of our Olympic Falafel deliciousness:

We also had a torch lighting ceremony which coincided with the West Coast replay of the actual Olympic Torch lighting. Ours wasn't quite as dramatic but was definitely just as heart felt. Plus, ours had the added bonus of smelling really good. Here is our "torch".
When you think about it, quilting and The Olympics really do have a lot in common. It takes training and many hours of hard work to perfect your skills.  Some quilt "training" even results in blood (pin pricks), sweat and tears (think seam ripping).  And in the end, you can be proud of what you've done, even if you never win one of those fancy ribbons at a quilt show.