Book Review: These is My Words

I asked for some book recommendations on facebook recently and ‘These is my Words’ came with rave reviews.

These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.)

 

I devoured it after it came in at the library. The book had action, adventure, romance, and realness. There is something for everyone, so I am guessing you would like it, too. As was the case in ‘The Help’, I had to get past the incorrect grammar, but it was well worth it. Besides you read this blog, so you probably have already adjusted to poor grammar.

I loved the heroine!  She was brave, independent, spunky, opinionated and yet tender-hearted. (You can see how I would relate to such a character.) I didn’t want the book to end and I’m secretly hoping maybe they’ll make it into a tv series or movie (in my mind this would be a better idea than in reality, as such things tend to kill a good story).

The added benefit of reading this book is it will make your life look like cake. I mean, seriously, my life is incredibly easy compared to the time period. I read the book wrapped up in my electric blanket sipping my hot tea in my cozy home. Yet, some things stay the same through all ages…

“Children are a burden to a mother, but not the way a heavy box is to a mule. Our children weigh hard on my heart, and thinking about them growing up honest and healthy, or just living to grow up at all, makes a load in my chest that is bigger than the safe at the bank, and more valuable to me than all the gold inside it.” (pg 303)

 

Oh are my children a wonderful burden. A burden I thank God for every day. In fact, I pray that he would increase that burden, if you know what I mean.

Book Review: Cold Tangerines

I’m late to the party, but I finally read Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. Her writing is really more of a series of short stories/excerpts. It took me awhile to get over the fact that the chapters may or may not happen in chronological order or follow a specific pattern. The result is that some chapters I loved and others I skimmed, but as a whole the book was sweet and uplifting.

I specifically loved the chapter titled ‘puppies’ in which she describes her leading a small group of teenagers at her church’s youth group. It could have been me writing! I have loved, loved, loved serving with our church’s youth ministry and I have learned and laughed so much with the girls there. They mean more to me then they will ever know.

Shauna ended the book talking about wanting to live a life full of joy.

I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing… and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift, who will use it up and wring it out and drag it around like a favorite sweater.

I, too, want a life that sizzles and pops and most days I feel like that is just the life I have.

PS and if you need a break from all my adoption talk this book is completely void of that.

Book Review: Anything

Anything: The prayer that unlocked my God and my Soul

Is God real?

How do we know God or grow in him? Prayer, reading the bible, church, worship, experiences, suffering, confession, community, etc.

But, a lot of people do those things and may never really know God.

“The only exercise that works 100 percent of the time to draw one close to the real God is risk.”

“To risk is to willing place your life in the hand of an unseen God and an unknown future, then to watch him come through. He starts to get real when you live like that.” pg 9

 

Jennie Allen and her husband decided to risk it all and pray to God that he could have Anything and do Anything with their lives. This is a dangerous prayer to pray because the follow up to it is obedience.

Jennie takes us through her journey of searching for God, finding her ‘need’ for God, and then allowing God to have and do anything with her life.

“Sitting in the counselor’s office whining and crying after years of chasing things that were supposed to work for me, that were supposed to make me happy here, that God was supposed to do, I see that my ache was actually his mercy showing me that everything I loved other than him was never going to work. It was never supposed to work.” pg. 71

In giving God everything, Jennie and her husband were led to pursue adoption. Even though they felt this call, they still doubted (just as we still fight off doubts and mainly, worries).

She asked a friend if they were 100 percent positive when they adopted.

“She said, ‘of course we weren’t sure. At some point you just jump, doubting, all the way down’ ” pg. 144

Friends and family tried to discourage them from becoming too extreme, too radical. But, in the end, they chose to obey God.

Jennie described a moment in Rwanda after adopting their son,

“It had only been 24 hours since he had become ours, and yet I knew that no matter what challenges lay ahead, this could be the most beautiful story of my life.

 

Tears came as I felt God whispering, what if you had been too afraid to obey me? Look at what you would have missed.” pg 153

 

This book was beautifully written and this review doesn’t do it justice.

I resonated with Jennie’s doubts, insecurities, and her willingness to risk it all.

I acknowledge that more often than not I am afraid to obey God. But, I know and believe that a life lived for him is better than anything I could accomplish living for myself. I take that risk.

Book Review: The Vow

A few weeks ago we watched the movie, The Vow. I was all ready to love it because I knew it was based on a true story. But, instead I felt confused and disappointed.

*Spoiler Alert * I couldn’t believe he divorced her and how the story ended with them just sorta kinda dating again. It all left me wanting something more. A story with more depth.

Some of you know I really don’t like to buy books, but I just had to know how the real life version was different from this less than satisfying movie version. So, I plunked down the change with an audible gasp and came home with The Vow tucked in my purse.

I am happy to report that the book is way better. It makes significantly more sense and *spoiler alert* of course he doesn’t divorce her! Faith in God was a vital part of their dating, short marriage, accident, recovery, and re-newed marriage.

Do you want to borrow it? That would validate me for purchasing it in the first place :)

 

Book Review: Barefoot Church

Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker (husband to one of my favorite bloggers, Jen Hatmaker) is a book about  engaging the church in social renewal and serving the least.

I am all on board with this topic but often struggle with what to do with my knowledge, passion, and burden. It has resulted in a lot of tension in my life.

I was so relieved to read these words.

“Tension is not a sign of God’s absence. In fact, it’s the opposite. Tension is most likely the evidence of his presence. Only when we recognize his presence do we grow in his presence” (p. 125)

I think it is fair to say that I am NOT a complacent person. I am always searching, seeking, and striving. I have been told, and rightly so, that I live with a lot more tension than the average person.  I would be tempted to take that as an insult, but I see how tension has produced change in my life; making me a better wife, mom, friend, and follower of Christ.

“There is a tendency in American Christianity to think we can choose a path without tension. Most of us would prefer to chart our journey that way. But God has called us to a join a journey – one that is more amazing, wonderful, scary, awesome, engaging, dangerous, passionate, and rewarding than anything we could ever dream of.” (p. 127)

So, I embrace the path of tension that is indeed scary and dangerous, but full of wonderful adventures!

Do you live with tension in regards to faith and action? What do you do about it?

Here is Brandon’s advice for moving forward.

“Make each right next decision. Take it one step at a time and be faithful in the moment. Here’s a guarantee: It will begin to create tension in your life. But as we discussed earlier, tension is good.” (p. 178)

Adoption Enthusiasm – Part Two, The Local Church

We are really excited about expanding our family through adoption. We are also excited about expanding our local church through adoption.

There have been so many Sundays where I have sat wondering what in the world is the purpose of church.

And yes, I know what Hebrews 10:25 says.

But, seriously, is there more to church than singing three songs, shaking three hands, and listening to a thirty minute sermon?

Than I read The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns (CEO of worldvision).  Sidenote – the story of how he left corporate America to work at Worldvision is incredible and inspirational.

It reiterated what I had been feeling.

I loved it so much I made my husband read it.

He loved it so much he wanted to buy a box-full and pass them out.

Being part of a local church is a great experience and one that I would not give up.

Our pastor preaches from the bible, challenging our faith. Our youth pastor has been a dear friend and one of our family’s biggest supporters. We love our small group and the opportunity to study the word of God together. The children’s program is wonderful and thriving!

But, somewhere along the line church attendance/participation got elevated to being really important and caring for orphans and widows (James 1:27) was not so high up on the list.

We would love to see the church (the one we attend and the others in our area) rise up and embrace the movement to care for orphans and children within the foster care system. We are also prayerful about what our role in that would be.

This encouraging article said, “smaller churches are often more effective in caring for orphans before a watching world than larger churches are.”

I love what Russel Moore (author of Adopted For Life) had to say about what happens when a church embraces an adoption culture.

 

 

Russell Moore from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

 

more to come…