I feel ya – the empathetic heart of Christ 

I shared last week that my daughter started a blog, Divinesixght.

Her latest post is about the empathetic heart of Christ.

One of the greatest things about life is that you get to do it with other people. I love people and I love reading about how much Jesus loved people. When it comes to loving on anyone and everyone, Jesus lead the way. Lately, I have felt God putting the word empathy on my heart.

Read the entire post here: I feel ya – the empathetic heart of Christ 

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Cheryl’s Blog Post About Valentines Day @DaytonMomsBlog

8-waysCheryl’s second post went live a couple of days ago on the Dayton Moms Blog just in time for Valentine’s Day.  She writes about 8 ideas for your kids on Valentine’s Day.

And it’s true!  Each year she does something for the kids on Valentine’s Day.  It’s a simple way to show love to your kids on a day when everyone is thinking about love.

Read the post or check out the ideas below.

For almost 10 years I was a single mom of two little boys. Instead of feeling sad or lonely on Valentine’s Day, I decided it was a great opportunity to show my boys how much I loved them and teach them how to show love to others. t became a tradition that I looked forward to. I thought that someday (many years away) when they had a special someone, they would benefit from this “training”. We started each Valentine’s Day off with a box of chocolates, and a card and then after school or our events for the day, ended our evening off with a delicious Italian dinner, equal to that of scene from Lady and the Tramp. Each year the boys looked forward to this and I was always on the lookout for another way to show them how much I love THEM. Here are a few ideas to add to your own list. Valentine’s Day may be silly to some, a greeting card holiday to others, however I always love the opportunity to tell my kids how much I love them.

  1. Prepare a candle lit dinner for your kids.
  2. Write your child a letter or a poem and tell them why you love them.
  3. Plan a scavenger hunt for your kids, ending with a box of chocolates.
  4. Make individual books on Shutterfly or another picture loving site for each child, listing what you love about them.
  5. Have a home-made card for your child to open up everyday leading up to Valentine’s Day- with a quality you love about them in each note.
  6. Buy a Valentine puzzle, put it together and write why you love your child on the back, take puzzle a part and give them a piece each day until complete.
  7. Spend some time at the dinner table or in the family room, pass out conversation heart candies and talk about what you love about each member of your family, you get a heart to munch on after each time you share.
  8. Have a Valentine picnic (in Ohio this is indoors), enjoy heart-shaped food and end the evening with a box of sweets.

What do you do to make Valentine’s Day fun for your kiddos?

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

For The Love Jen HatmakerWhen I was looking around the Book Look Bloggers website for a book to read, I came across For the Love. I recognized the name Jen Hatmaker, but don’t remember reading anything by her in the past or hearing her speak. As I trolled around the social media world, I saw a lot of people posting and tweeting about the release of her new book. Some of them were authors I had read before or speakers I enjoyed, so I was drawn to it by their recommendations.

I had hesitated at first because it was a female author and thought it might be geared for the female population. Then I remembered my same hesitation in reading Michele Cushatt’s book Undone. I ended up reading it and enjoying it, so I thought I would check out For the Love.

I got through the introduction and right away I noticed Hatmaker’s sense of humor, so I thought it was a good pick. Then, as I’m reading through the first chapter, I come upon this phrase: “Here is part of the problem, girls: we’ve been sold a bill of goods.” So, at that point, I made the brilliant observation that this particular book was directed toward women.

That being said, I think the message is helpful for any reader. The tag line of the book says “fighting for grace in a world of impossible standards.” I’m pretty sure that all followers of Jesus have experienced that and Hatmaker spells out how that struggle plays out in how we see ourselves, as well as in our home, our neighborhood and even in the church.

Right before I realized this book was geared for ladies, I read Hatmaker’s observation that because we don’t accept God’s grace for ourselves, we have a hard time showing that grace to others. The self-critical become others-critical. If we don’t see ourselves as good enough, we won’t see others that way either.

So, for any females, who might read this post, you should check out For the Love. Hatmaker points to that fact that Jesus came to set us free. We all could benefit by living out of that freedom.

Fatherless to Fatherfull

Last night my wife saw this video in a post on Facebook.  Since we have become involved with adoption, we feel like we are a part of a growing adoption community.  This video is such a great description of what adoption is.  The kids couldn’t be any cuter and their delivery is certainly on point.

As Father’s Day approaches, it is a great reminder of how God wants to be our “really” Dad.  Enjoy and share!

Life Is _____________

life isI had the opportunity to read Jesus Is ____________ about a year ago. Judah Smith’s follow-up Life Is _____________ was a good continuation of what he shared in his previous offering.

Smith uses solid insights, personal stories and doses of humor to reveal from various passages of scripture that Jesus is life. In one chapter he writes these words: “Jesus is always more. More than what? I’ll let you fill in the blank . . . He’s more than bankruptcy. More than sickness. More than sin. More than murder. More than divorce. More than tragedies, tsunamis, wars or famines . . . What are you facing? He’s more.”

Most of the Biblical accounts that Smith uses are probably not new to those who have grown up in church. He brings a new perspective that is refreshing for those who have familiarity with the passages, but writes in a way that communicates with a reader who might be new to these verses. Smith also writes with a practicality that is helpful to the reader. He brings the person of Jesus into our current culture and context.

As an example, he writes about one of the most well-known verses in scripture – John 3:16. Then he asks this question that puts that verse in a new light: “God loves the whole world? This doesn’t make sense. This is crazy. What about bad people? What about indifferent people? What about those who mock him to his face, who flaunt evil and flout his commands?” It gives a new filter through which to think about God’s love.

Probably one of the most powerful moments of the book for me was what Smith shared about his daughter’s birth. He writes about his dad’s battle with cancer and how one day God told him that Smith and his wife would have a third child, a girl, who they were to name Grace. When she was just a day old, they took Grace to church. Smith felt a strong urge to go hold his newborn daughter and took her to a room off stage. That moment, as he looked at his little girl, it was a reminder to him that even though life doesn’t always go the way we want (his dad lost his battle with cancer), God is good and loving and sustains us. He gives us grace to sustain us.

Life Is __________ is an encouraging book that points people to the love of God and how it has the power to change our lives. This book would be a good resource for personal reading and for small group discussion.

Blue Like Jazz

Blue-Like-JazzA couple of weeks ago I posted after reading the book Scary Close written by Donald Miller. After enjoying Scary Close, I picked up the paperback copy of Blue Like Jazz I had sitting on my dresser.

Some characterize Miller’s writing as “a stream of consciousness,” where he writes a book like a journal entry or simply carrying on a conversation. There are times where he will finish one thought in a chapter and jump to another. It makes for a very readable style.

One thing that I appreciated in both books is his dry sense of humor. For example, near the end of the book he makes this statement: Television drives me crazy sometimes because everybody is so good-looking, and yet you walk through the aisles of the grocery stores, and nobody looks like that. I’ve had that same thought as I’ve watched TV. Who looks like that all the time? Doesn’t seem like reality.

There were two parts of the book that lodged themselves in my memory. One was a cartoon illustration of an astronaut who wore a suit that kept him alive without food or oxygen. The space station the astronaut was on exploded and it sent the astronaut into orbit around the earth. He could see the planet yet couldn’t get to it. No one came to rescue him. His space suit kept him alive and he simple orbited the earth day after day after day. Miller shared how he would lie in bed and think about what life would be like to be cut off from all relationships, to simply be in orbit totally alone. As Miller thought about it, it scared him to think of life like that. It is a disturbing thought. Seriously, imagine it for just a bit. Disconnected from every relationship. Frightening.

The second was a realization Miller came to while listening to a speaker. As he looked at Christian culture, he said we treat love as a commodity. When people act like we want and do what we want, they receive our love and acceptance. If someone is acting opposite of what we like or even rubs us the wrong way, we withhold love from them. Miller admitted that he used love like money. He would give it out or withhold it based on the response and actions of other people.

I realized, at times, I do that, too. While I know that God wants me to love all people, some people get a greater share of my love and affirmation. As I read that chapter (#18), it challenged me to look at how I treat those around me.

Blue Like Jazz was a good read, filled with humor, interesting stories and challenging thoughts. I’m glad that Scary Close moved me to pick it up.

Gotcha! 04/22/14

10171918_1417043165228998_7744076981488006083_nYesterday – April 22, 2014 – was a pretty big day for our family. It will be known as Max’s Gotcha Day. Gotcha Day is the day we celebrate Max’s official entrance into our family. We know several adoptive families that celebrate their children’s Gotcha Day.

Max was born September 27 and was placed in our home October 1, but yesterday was the day the judge finalized his adoption. While we can’t imagine our family without him, yesterday was the day he legally became a Brackemyre.

It was great to celebrate the day with his four siblings, three of his grandparents, an uncle and several friends who were able to sit in the courtroom. We also had a friend who is a photographer attend to capture some pictures of the day. The photo of Max and his brothers and sister on this page was taken by her. Only a few of the other pictures have a been posted, but more are to come. You can check them out (along with other photos by the photographer) on her Facebook page – Susan Marie Photography

When Max was just weeks old, Cheryl and I gave a quick recap of how Max became part of our family. It was originally used in the worship services at CrossView Christian Church and then was shown at the Wilmington Church of Christ. It just gives the backdrop to how we got to meet and pursue the adoption of Max.

We are so grateful to have Max as part of our family and look forward to helping him grow to be a man of God.