Saturday, April 30, 2011

[The Ale Boy's Feast] Book Review

The Ale Boy's Feast by Jeffrey Overstreet

This book has all the requirements for a fantastic read: A missing king. A boy named Rescue. Brilliant colors. Mysterious stories with forgotten meanings.

Beautiful writing filled with poetry and prose.

There is only one thing that frustrated me. There are sooooo many characters. I can usually follow even complicated books but this one completely confused me a time or two.

However, for those of you who are following the Aurelia Thread it will probably be a great conclusion!

This book was sent to me free of cost by Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review.

[Unleashed] book review

Unleashed by Erwin Raphael McManus

Previously published under the title "The Barbarian Way", Unleashed is one man's look at what it means to follow God with everything.

Slightly reminisce of "The Bravehearted Gospel" with a bit of "Wild at Heart" thrown in, Unleashed takes us on a walk through the idea that God is calling us to live a life of abandonment and (yes!) sometimes even pain.

He explains at one point,
"Yet, Jesus' death wasn't to free us from dying, but to free us from the fear of death. Jesus came to liberate us so we could die up front and then live. Jesus Christ wants to take us place that only dead men and women can go." (pg. 48)
I found this book refreshing after some of the watered-down things that I've read lately. No, he wasn't the most eloquent of writers and seemed slightly repetitive at times. But he was real. And that counts for a whole lot in my book.

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.”

Sunday, April 24, 2011

[pieces] April 24, 2011

Ever feel like you're sitting there watching and someone else is living your life?

I was standing in my Sunday School classroom today, waiting for my girls to arrive and realized that I was feeling that way.

It seems like I'm in pieces. A piece here. A piece there.

Its Easter today.

And part of me is still in LaColline, singing "Christ Arose" with my husband as we drove back to the mission in the morning mist, watching the sun rise and remember the tiny baby girl that we had just delivered home with her smiling Mama and protective Daddy.

Part of me is sitting around my parents kitchen table laughing with family.

Part of me is watching the tiny little twins toddle around Mom and Dad's old house, finding eggs set out in plain sight.

Part of me is still fifteen singing "Was it a Morning like this?" with Brianna as we paraded around in our "Easter bonnets".

Yet through every piece there is a thread... the bright joy that flows and spills and swirls. That I have a Savior. One who died for me and then did something so amazing that it seems impossible. He conquered death. And now I can live.

Friday, April 15, 2011

[Acts] April 15, 2011

Every day they continued to meet together in th temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:46-47

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

[The Final Summit] book review

The Final Summit

By Andy Andrews

The Final Summit is the second story about David Ponder that Andrews has written. The first, The Traveler’s Gift begins the tale.

Mixing fiction, allegory and inspiration (though categorizing the book as “self-help”) Andrews attempts to tell an epic tale that will alter the way a reader thinks about life.

David Ponder is a self-made man who used the principles of success (given to him in the first book) to create a fortune. How he learned those principles is the key. He was selected to travel through time and meet some of the most influential people in history.

In The Final Summit David is again selected to be a part of something beyond the human’s realm of possibility. The archangel Gabriel summons him to a meeting where all the time-travelers from history will be gathered to answer a question.

What does humanity need to do, individually and collectively, to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?

Using true stories from history, the time-travelers work to come up with the two word answer.

They offer some good ones, peppered with heroic tales. Restore hope. Seek wisdom. Show courage. Exhibit self-discipline. Build character.

Yet none are correct and their time is running out.

The answer, which eventually comes (yes, beware, I am adding a spoiler!) is simple, so simple they had missed it. Just do something. (slightly reminisce of Nike?)

This book started slow. And by that I mean, s-l-o-w. I probably wouldn’t have ever made it back to it if I wasn’t required to write this review.

Once I got into it, there was much to enjoy. The historical and scientific facts are fascinating. The story-line is interesting.

However, the claims that Andrews is similar to C.S. Lewis are very, very false. There is one glaring difference between the two. C. S. Lewis wrote to acknowledge and establish what God does. This book is written to imply that we are the ones that change the world.

It actually made me want to cry.

Yes, if we “do something” then perhaps we can create a “successful civilization” in our tiny human comprehension. But God has so much more. So very much more.

I agree with the fact that we need more action. More people need to get off their butts and do something.

But there is purpose and reason behind that. And it has very little to do with “successful civilization”. It has everything to do with showing people who God is.

If I had been given this book to read by some random publishing house, I would have thought, “Hm… interesting. There’s even a little bit of faith element in there.” But I wasn’t. It’s classified as “Christian” and it is not really. It is simply the “good” view. If we’re “good” and acknowledge that there is a God up there and do something to help humanity; that is then the very greatest achievement.

It makes me cry because that is just a little itty tiny bit of what God has. Yes. We should do something. Yes, we should help humanity. But that’s only a small part.

If I was asked the same question David Ponder was, my answer would be, humble yourself. If this world would humble itself, individually and collectively, then I believe we would be amazed at the greatness of the civilization that would come out of it. With God at the very center.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson as part of the BookSneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

[writing] April 5, 2011

I've been working like crazy on my novel. This is only the second revision of what will probably be... well, a lot.

I can't explain how much I've been dreading this. Ever since I got it back from my first "editor" (i.e. Meg) its been sitting there on my desk saying, "Re-write me! Re-write me!"

However! Now that I've started, I'm having a blast! I'd forgotten how much I love the story. Its funny and sweet and I am so happy when I'm working on it.

The real problem was that I wanted to change the Prologue completely and I didn't know how. I must have started it twenty times only to erase it. Then Amos and I went out to breakfast and ran into some friends. She told us a cute little story about her daughter and whalla! I had my beginning. (Yes, it might change again before the end but at least it got me past the Prologue!)

Now I'm revising and editing and re-writing and the story is getting deeper and fuller and better. I love that.

Most authors write a ton and have to cut out. I'm different. I write the shortest version then add in... but it is so fun.

Not to mention. I know what the third book is going to be now. Which is good. Because it takes me about two years of thinking and keeping notes on something to actually be able to write it. So, its about time to get started.

Other than that. I've written another article and sent it out. We'll see. The last thing I had published was in Proverbs 31 Woman back in February so I really should get working on more articles again.

So. There's your update! Go write something. Yes, you. Not me. I'm already writing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

[The Reason Why] book review

The Reason Why

By Mark Mittelberg

The Reason Why is a hundred page look at why faith makes sense. Adapted from Robert A. Laidlaw’s book by the same name that was written almost one hundred years ago, it is short, concise and easy to read.

A bit reminisce of Josh McDowell’s More than a Carpenter this little book attempts to answer a little of often heard questions.

Is there a God?

Can the Bible be trusted?

Are we accountable to God?

Who was Jesus and what was His purpose?

Is divine forgiveness available?

Each question is addressed and with the use of stories and antidotes, Mittelberg tries to give simple but solid responses.

This book is a very easy read. I finished it in about an hour but I do read much faster than average. For readability, I would have liked to see a few more stories and less “empty words” but that is a personal opinion. (I felt the same about McDowell’s book and it was a best-seller so…)

There is some valuable information in it for anyone who has struggled with Christian apologetics. In fact, in the chapter on forgiveness there is a brilliant illustration about the need for Jesus to die for our sins.

This book was sent to me free of cost by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

[When Sparrows Fall] book review

9781601423559When Sparrows Fall

By Meg Moseley

Miranda is a widow with six children who is trapped in a toxic church.

Jack is the estranged half-brother of Miranda’s dead husband.

When Miranda’s pastor announces that the church is moving to a new county, she begins making plans to remove her family from the clutches of corrupt leadership. The first step is changing the guardianship of her children from members of the church to someone outside of it. She picks Jack.

However, when a fall makes her incapable of caring for her kids and Jack arrives to take over, things start moving out of her control.


I have to admit, I liked this book. A lot. Moseley’s style of writing is crisp and clear with just enough hint of poetry to make me smile.

“Water, water, everywhere. The stuff of miracles. Water, walked on. Turned to wine. An ark tossed about on it.

Water and earth made mud. Mud to heal a blind man’s eyes.

Earth to entomb a man, and the voice of God to call him out.” Pg. 363

There are many wonderful points to this book. The charming personalities of the six kids. The sweet romantic spark. The hint of mystery. The carefully woven story line. All excellent.

I do have one little thing to complain about though. (I hate complaining about well written books…but, here goes…) Jack is divorced. And that bothers me.

Now, I figure part of the reason the author did that was to give him depth and give him a sense of realness. Lots of men today are divorced. And that’s fine.

However! My irritation with it? This book takes a deep look at legalism. There are things said about wearing dresses and not using microwaves, having long hair, not reading fiction and not using birth control.

And those things are all just that… things. People may find “biblical” backing for them but for the truth is that nothing in scripture DIRECTLY speaks to those things. (For example: women are told to dress modestly and not dress like men. They are not instructed on the length or style of clothing.)

Divorce, on the other hand, is spoken directly to. It bothers me that it seemed to be grouped together with all those other things. It’s different.

That said, let me tell you a secret: I don’t know exactly where I stand on the whole divorce/remarriage issue. It is one of those things that hit a bit close to home as I have a sister-in-law who is divorced and re-married to my brother.

Still, while I don’t know exactly where I stand on it, I know it’s an issue. So, as I was reading When Sparrows Fall the fact that he was divorced and that wasn’t a big deal really irritated me.

It was fine to have that be part of the story. I just wanted her to show the conflict with it… and she didn’t.

In the end though, my conclusion is the same: It’s a well written book worth reading.

This book was sent to me for review purposes from Multnomah Publishers. I received the book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, April 1, 2011

[quote] April 1, 2011

[moments] March 29, 2011

Moments that Should Never Be

Yesterday I spent part of my day helping at a private funeral for an infant. With only three weeks left in her pregnancy, a friend of mine was induced so she could deliver her stillborn son.

From the moment I heard the news until even now… my mind kept saying, “No. No. It’s not supposed to happen that way.” Mamas should never have to bury babies. Dads should never have to watch their legacy be laid to rest. That’s just not how it works.

But it happens. All the time. Children die. Babies die.

Brilliant hope for the future crumbles into a pile of broken dreams.

I wish… no, I long for some way to explain things. Some secret hidden key to unlock the horror of situations like this. A Bible verse. A principle of discipleship. Something. Someway to prove that God has a “happy” thing to counter this depth of sadness.

But guess what? There’s not.

We don’t have a God who says, in the middle of horrible pain, “I did this because…” There is no explanation. It’s not because someone was good or bad or deserved it or didn’t deserve it…

It just is.

And there is no “happy” thing to fix it. Not another child. Not another dream. Nothing actually replaces what is lost. Everyone else might forget about that little plot with the marker that has the same date of birth and death… but not them. Whenever they say the number of children they have- this one will always be there, even if they don’t speak it.

Yet, even in the middle of that raw grating pain… We do have a God. One who does say something. No, it’s not an explanation. It’s something completely different.

He says, “I know.”

I have never lived through a death like this one… still, I’ve experienced my own tastes of death. I’ve looked at the horrible and haven’t known what to do.

I’ve raged and ranted and screamed at my God- asking why or why not- then crumbled into a heap at his feet, longing for an explanation… and I’ve felt his tears and I’ve heard his voice.

Truth is, in the middle of pain, the most healing thing to hear is that God knows. And while I may be angry that He didn’t protect me or them or whoever… I also have the knowledge that He didn’t protect Himself either.

My ideal may be protection from pain but God can’t actually be molded into my ideal. He is what he is.

When Moses asked God who to say had sent him, God said, I AM.

He hasn’t changed since then.

And for some reason, this God who IS, the one who created us and loves us, is not afraid of pain. He faces it and He lets us face it.

So those moments that should never be… are.

They were for Adam and Eve, for Abraham, for Job, for David, for every generation since and even for God Himself. So, it makes sense that I will face them and my friends will face them.

Still. It hurts.

So I will cling to the truth. The only truth I have. That my God, the one who IS, the one who created us all, who loves us all… knows.