Monday, April 21, 2014

Lost and Found

This book was given me by Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reading and writing a review about it.

Lost and Found by Sarah Jakes

This book is the story of Sarah Jakes daughter of Bishop T. D Jakes.  She got in with the wrong group, had her first baby at 14 and then wound up marrying a man she was determined to love and also sure that he would give up his womanizing ways and be devoted to her even though he had showed no signs of faithfulness.  She is 25 years old at the time of the writing--divorced with 2 children and she tells the story of her journey.

I don't normally quote from books in my reviews, but for this book, I just want to pick out some of the quotes that stuck with me when I was reading the book.  I don't really like when they put quotes in bigger letters on the same page that it is written on because I feel like I am reading stuff twice, but it is nice for later on.

"Time, like life, isn't about how much we have; it's about what we do with it."
"How do we show the world the power of God's love when we, as Christians, fail so often to show love to one another?"
"If we discuss only our victories and not our struggles, we allow others to believe that you can win a war without engaging in battle."
"Perhaps our biggest issue is not that we can't see ourselves; it's that we can't accept that even when we're broken, His love for us has not been distorted."
"So often we look for Him to calm the storms of our lives.  But there are times when the storm can't go away because we need the rain."
"Could it be that our sin is not in being ruined, but in not letting Him find the glory in our pieces?"

These were a few of the quotes I really liked.  I didn't necessarily agree with everything she said in her book. I don't believe in eternal security.  As I was reading the book, I wanted to say, "Really, you couldn't grasp what was going on?  What were you thinking to marry Robert knowing he hadn't been faithful to you up to that point?"  I also recognize that when you are in the heat of the moment you don't have the benefit of perspective, either.

I would recommend this book--it was an interesting read and it was a beautiful story of God being able to take what was broken and use it for good.  My hope would be that people who read this book would be able to learn from Sarah's mistakes and avoid going down the same path she went down.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Three Months

The fake flowers lay on the ground, their petals definitely dirty and shabbier, but still there.  Still giving a little life to the otherwise brown and muddy ground.  Obviously they do not make good deer food as the deer pellets laying all around would indicate they may have been sampled.

The tiny little mound indicates that life has moved elsewhere. There is only a shell in the cold, muddy ground, the real life, the real beauty is up above singing with the angels.  Maybe in some way this is like a seed.  For a seed to produce a beautiful flower of lovely fragrance, it must lay in the cold, harsh earth.

Nicole's life is so much better than it would have been had she lived.  She is now living the life she was made for--eternity with Jesus.  No heartaches, no longing for something more, no grappling with the questions of life.

I have to keep this in perspective--it helps a little, I think. From the words of a song I have really come to love:
"Waiting here right now, Lord, it seems so hard to do.
Longing just to hold her as other mothers do...."

That is pretty much where it is at right now.  Knowing that the time is coming closer to when I could have wrapped her in my arms and held a screaming, squally red-faced baby the ache grows deeper and the longings stronger.  But I know my little girl is being held in the arms of Jesus and His arms are the best of all and I need to rest in that fact.

Love Comes Calling

This book was given me by Bethany House Publishers for the express purpose of reviewing it and stating my opinion on it.

Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell

I was really excited to read this book as Siri is one of my friends' favorite authors.  I'm not sure if I got all the apostrophes where they are supposed to go, but anyway.

I will be honest, I was a little disappointed.  Siri painted Ellis as a girl with ADHD back in the 1920's when nobody understood how the brain worked in a case like that.  Ellis definitely couldn't stay on task, but it almost made her out to be a dimwit--alway being reproved and corrected and always disappointing everyone, except of course Griffin, who she was trying to avoid because he actually liked her for who she was.

I do realize that this might have been exactly how a well-to-do person back in the 1920's would have been treated--the oldest daughter had been a disappointment to Ellis' mother and now Ellis was unable to stay on task in a day and age when appearance and performance were all that really mattered to the wealthy.

I would like to read some more books by Siri Mitchell before I decide on whether or not I like her as an author, but this book is not one I would highly recommend for high quality reading.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Sensible Arrangement

This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers for the exclusive reason to read and write a review about.

A Sensible Arrangement by Tracie Peterson

This is your typical relaxing fiction.  I have always been intrigued by mail-order bride stories.  Of course, in the fiction books, the couple always falls in love, but I wonder how many couples ended up splitting.  It would seem to me without a solid foundation of God and trust, it would be hard to make a marriage work if personalities varied too widely.

Anyway, this book was a very interesting read.  It took Marty from Texas, the land she hated, to Colorado. It took her from working cattle, cooking, and taking care of herself into a life of opulence, maids and fancy tea parties with prim and proper and completely surface level rich women.  It took her to a man who couldn't wait to get back to Texas and ranching and the life she wanted nothing to do with.

So, to prevent the return to Texas from happening, she withheld the truth that she owned a ranch in Texas.  But once, she restored her relationship with God and felt her love growing for her husband, she realized she needed to tell him the truth.  This nearly broke up their relationship, but both were able to forgive.

That is the thing that stuck out to me as a spiritual application:  lies will get you nowhere. Lies breed distrust and hatred.  It is always best to tell the truth.  Peace with God is more important than always pleasing the ones around you.

I really enjoyed this book--light reading is just perfect for me right now.  I like Tracie's style of writing.  The only thing lacking is she failed to say if the really did end up in Texas or not.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Visitor from Heaven

Visitor From Heaven Lyrics

             by Twila Paris

A visitor from heaven
If only for a while
A gift of love to be returned
We think of you and smile

A visitor from Heaven
Accompanied by grace
Reminding of a better love
And of a better place
With aching hearts and empty arms
We send you with a name
It hurts so much to let you go
But we're so glad you came
We're so glad you came

A visitor from Heaven
If only for a day
We thank Him for the time He gave
And now its time to say
We trust you to the Fathers love
And to His tender care
Held in the everlasting arms
And we're so glad you're there
We're so glad you're there

With breaking hearts and open hands
We send you with a name
It hurts so much to let you go
But we're so glad you came
We're so glad you came

My sister had sent me the link to this song right after Nicole died and now my sis-in-law borrowed it from the library.  I have listened to it twice so far in the last 24 hours.  Such a lovely song.  

And yes, it is true.  While the grief is a hard process, I am so glad she came.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

11 weeks or 39 weeks or a Lifetime?

She pauses, tears glistening in her eyes.  She looks at the calendar and the tears become streams.  This was it--this weekend was supposed to be the triumph, the culmination of all those weeks of laying around, of waiting and wondering; hoping and praying.  Instead? Her heart is heavy with a grief greater than anything she has ever known.  10 weeks 4 days since she held her precious daughter in her arms and realized with a mind-numbing certainty that she would never watch her child grow up--never know the joy of the first smile, the first words, the first steps, the first everything.  Instead she got to lay her first daughter in a cold, dark grave, see the first flowers placed on that grave, see the first flowers eaten by the ravenous deer, survive the first church service, the first month, and on and on and on it goes.

This week-it's been so hard.  She has fought the tears.  Life feels so empty; her job has no meaning.  She is only putting in time.  She sits down and looks at the pictures and her heart breaks some more.  How could God ask this of her? How can she go on?  Life was supposed to get easier--the grief less poignant and piercing.  But this emptiness, this aching, it's very real.  She focuses her attention on the scrapbook because it feels good to be this close to her daughter--it's the little she has left, and yet it produces a searing pain that feels like it could potentially heal.

She talks to another mother who has gone through something similar and is left with a greater grief--a grief for the other mother and her lack of memories.  She walks away grateful for all the memories she has of her little girl and grieves for the lack of memories for the other mother. She longs for the personal connection she was expecting--the sharing of griefs and fears, but it remains that-only a longing; another longing unfulfilled.

People say it's too bad--someone who has helped with so many babies being born--as though it would somehow insulate her from any losses.  If only.

That's a little of how it feels--this weekend was supposed to be a triumph--it was what I was living for that morning of January 13, 2014.  If only I could make it to this weekend, how much better of a chance would Nicole have had.  But that was not God's will.  My sister shared the following verse with me this week from Isaiah 35:  The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom, it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy" The desert and the wilderness are parched,dry places, but somehow there is joy there yet.  That describes it--except I think my desert and wilderness should have lots of flowers by now for all the watering it has gotten over the last 2 months.  Maybe 6 months or a year or three, I will look back and recognize the pain as a quiet ache in the Nicole shaped part of my heart.  I will never regret having grieved Nicole,  I will never regret having loved Nicole and so I will continue to grapple my way through this unknown maze that lies ahead of me.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

At Peace in the Storm by Ken Gire

This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reading and writing a review.

This was an amazing book--partly because it was so timely for this place in my life right now.  When I requested this book from Bethany House as the one I wanted to review, I thought it might be applicable and it certainly was.

He has 13 chapter dealing with different places to find peace:
Peace through Perspective
Peace through Prayer
Peace in the Hospitable Art of Listening
Peace through Friends and Strangers
Peace from God's Word
Peace in and through Music
Peace through Deep Rest
Peace through the Body of Christ
Peace from a Balanced Brain
Peace from Insightful Books and Movies
Peace Through Serving Others
Peace in God's Creation
Peace through Recreation

Some of the places to find peace seem obvious and some might raise the question of Really?  I can find peace there?  Strangers--how can I find peace when I am surrounded by people I don't know? But I think I can say that I have witnessed this in my own life.  Surrounded by caring hospital staff, there is a peace that knows you are in good hands even if the hands are unfamiliar ones.

Peace has also come through prayer--not even prayers I have prayed, but prayers that have been and continue to be prayed for me by others.

Peace, of course, through God's Word.  Just a simple one-liner can stick with you and bring great comfort. One of those one-liners for me lately has been from Isaiah.  This isn't verbatim, but goes like this:  He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart"  This verse blessed me so much.  Now, it's verses about God holding me in his arms and being my refuge.

Peace through a Balanced Brain was a new one for me, but Ken explained the theory of ADD or depression, etc where the brain is not working properly and how it can be very upsetting to the rest of life.  That really makes a lot of sense.

So many of the things Ken talked about made so much sense and I can really relate to and yet so often we would discount them as being Un-Christian to find peace in those places.  Peace through recreation?  Really?Absolutely!!!  I can feel rested and at peace when I take the time to sit down and do something I enjoy or after going on a walk.  Is it an "I'm saved and I'm a Christian because of this" kind of peace? Not necessarily, but neither do I think it should be discounted as an invalid way of maintaining peace.  If your mind and soul is not at peace, you will not be able to function in a profitable and fitting manner.

What I am trying to say is that you should be very slow to discredit this book by looking at the chapters and thinking that he is off on his teachings.  I would highly recommend this book--it blessed me in so many ways and there was so much truth to the things he had to share.