March 29, 2012

Chapter 2: A Word to Live...and Die By

Trying a different format for this chapter.  First I will write out the questions from the reader's guide, then I will share my notes for those questions.  

   1. A terrifying nightmare in which Ann dreams she is dying of cancer becomes a catalyst that helps her realize how much she really wants to live.  How do you generally respond to your dreams?  Do you write them down and ponder them, or do you not pay much attention to them?  If you have ever had a dream or nightmare you felt was especially significant, describe the dream and the impact it had on you.
   2.  Ann describes three ways we can experience life: as empty nothingness, as fully alive, and as a life in between (p. 27).  As you reflect back over the years, briefly describe a time you experienced life in each of these three ways.  Where do you think you are in experiencing life right now & why?  
   3. Studying the word eucharisteo helped Ann to identify "holy joy" as the "more" she had been seeking (p 32).  What do you think might be the key to unlocking your desire for a fuller life right where you are and in the midst of your ordinary days?
   4. The author recalls stories from Jesus' life that illustrate the power of eucharisteo, of thanksgiving; The Last Supper, the raising of Lazarus, the condemnation of Korazin and Bethsaida (pp 34-37).  When considering the context of these stories, we discover that Jesus is within ours of his own death, is grieved by the death of a dear friend, and is rejected by entire towns that experienced his miracles.
  • Why do you think Jesus chooses to offer thanks at such times
  • How does Jesus' use of gratitude in difficult circumstances inform or challenge your view of what it means to give thanks to God?
   5. Together, allow a moment of silence to identify a few of the difficulties you face right now.  When everyone is ready, discuss these questions:
  • What thoughts or emotions come to mind when you think about expressing thanks in the context of your difficulties?
  • "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God" (Psalm 50:23).  What would it mean for you to make a sacrificial thank offering in the midst of your current challenges?  How do you imagine God could use your sacrifice of gratitude to deliver you, to help you enter into a full life?
My Notes:
1. Dreams - reaction varies - a nightmare usually causes me to pray hard when I wake, though sometimes I also reach out for Steve if the subject of the nightmare is harm to the kids or to him.  Other dreams I sometimes ponder for meaning.  Generally I don't put a lot of weight into dreams, but see the benefit of being aware of what my brain may be focusing on in sleep - if there is something of deep concern, etc.
2.  Empty:  The years of loss due to miscarriage & infant death - terrifying nothingness.  The years of constant moving - searching for something to fill a void - would be years of in-between probably.  Now is my time of full - growing - life!  Embracing my roles of wife, mother & friend.  Finding newness in things as gifts, joys ~ even in the hard & scary things.  God is showing me how real He is in my looking, watching & seeing... and even more in my obedient following of Him daily.
3.  This was the beginning - the turning point.  Looking for the gifts.  With much reading of scripture then came a better grasp of grace (reading Grace for the Good Girl helped with that also) - living the love - as the loved.  There is amazing freedom there and that brings me such joy!  Then came the realization of the need to live my faith horizontally as well as vertically (David Platt's book Radical spoke to me here as did the book of Isaiah and Jesus' teaching from the gospels & the book of James).  There is a huge element of being a Christian - a true follower of Christ - that requires us to live our faith outwardly in a horizontal direction - first for me to my family (Steve & the kids) and then to the members of our church family and into the community & world at large.  Like ripples in a pond.  Ever widening circles of love & influence for God's glory.
4.  Re-reading these passages of scripture was eye-opening for me.  Perhaps they were meant as a demonstration for us - that in the face of the awful, the unthinkable, the unbearable pains of life - we are to thank God for whatever it is that the situation must be for His glory to manifest.  For His purpose - even if we can't know or understand right in the moment.  Perhaps if we can be truly thankful for things - we become the miracle?  Thinking here of people at funerals whose faith is steadfast and they rejoice in the gain (seeing Christ) of the loved one instead of wallowing in their own loss.  When grace is poured into us - we are filled by Jesus' love - this is the full life.
5.  I have no notes for this one... I'm not sure how to interpret the 'sacrificial' part...  Or maybe I already answered part of this is the notes for question 4.