Apparently my blog is turning 3 years old today. Woohoo!
Apparently my blog is turning 3 years old today. Woohoo!
Wanna be a writer? Find a different way to say “I’m going to the store” every single time you say it. Come up with nicknames for all of your friends. Ask people questions, welcome conversation from an outside perspective, do not drop a topic until you are satisfied. For every different room in which you find yourself on every single day, point out at least one thing that is there, but shouldn’t be there, and why it shouldn’t be there. Then take maybe ten minutes a week to get it down on the page. Writing only takes a long time when the only time you think about writing is when you are writing.
Last month I had to deliver magazines for work. That job is very unfortunate in the blaze of the August heat. I finished 15 minutes early though, and I found myself just a block away from the Central Library. It was Friday, I had nothing planned for the evening, so I decided to make an impromptu trip into the newly remodeled paradise.
I had no agenda, no books picked out, no authors to explore. I was simply browsing. It was glorious.
Once I reached six books, I decided to cut myself off. I still have two that I haven’t finished yet. But I’m working on it!
The books I did finish in August were all good. Not one of them was necessarily a stand-out winner. So I’ll briefly share a bit about each one I read.
The Debt: The Story of a Past Redeemed by Angela Hunt
This story is about a pastor’s wife named Emma Rose. (I’m always a sucker for those for some reason. Maybe because I remember being told as a youth I would make a “good pastor’s wife,” so I feel like I need to read about what I’m missing out on.) She and her husband have built a mega-church with national television broadcasts and a mission to bring America back to its moral heritage. Emma reunites with someone from her past who does ministry in a completely different way, and she’s compelled to rethink her own purpose and ministry.
I enjoyed reading this and exploring the tension between following our own traditional ways versus following the Spirit and abandoning your own will.
Covenant Child by Terri Blackstock
This story was a wild ride. Starting with a very happy beginning, things quickly get out of control, and twin three-year-olds, heiresses to a fortune, get taken from a loving home to live with horrible family members. The test comes when they turn 18. How will they react to the news that they can freely have all that was left for them?
What resonated with me in this novel was the underlying issue of hope. I can get stuck in the “It’s too good to be true” mentality, but that can be detrimental when it really is true! So, it was hard at times to read the decisions that were being made, but I also felt like I related to them at the same time.
All She Ever Wanted by Lynn Austin
Oh, Lynn Austin, you know my reading love language. Yet again, Austin scores big with a multigenerational storyline. The main struggle in this book is mother-daughter relationships. After a counselor suggests to Kathleen that she needs open up about her past with her daughter, the duo takes a trip back to Kathleen’s hometown to see the family that she’s cut herself off from. Kathleen shares her painful past with her daughter and along the way finds out the full story of her own mother and grandmother. Each woman faced a great deal of pain and rejection. Yet through the unraveling yarn of their family history, both Kathleen and her daughter find healing.
I could recommend Lynn Austin novels all day long. This one might have been my favorite, but since I just wrote about another of her books I wanted to pull in some other authors.
Well that wraps up August. I’m currently reading the last non-children’s book from my library excursion. It was a completely random pick and totally different than anything I’ve read in a long time. I’m excited to write about it next month.
Until then, happy reading!
Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.
I’m pretty sure July just whizzed by me. While it hasn’t been particularly busy, I still can hardly believe August is just a few days away. I did manage to squeeze in a few books though. This month I’m reviewing a novel I read by one of my favorite authors, Lynn Austin.
Though Waters Roar
Although I have loved every Lynn Austin book I’ve read, this particular book took me several tries before I actually finished it. It wasn’t because the beginning is boring either; I probably read the first 10 pages standing in front of the library shelf the first time I picked it up. If I had to choose a culprit, I’d probably say that I consistently check out too many books from the library and just don’t finish them all in time.
In a bittersweet turn of events, I became the owner of this book at the store-closing sale of our local Books-A-Million. Farewell, dear BAM. I will miss you!
But back to business. Though Waters Roar is the story of four generations of women who fight for causes bigger than themselves and learn to trust God in the midst of them. Teenaged Harriet, recalls the stories of her great-grandmother Hannah, her Grandma Bebe and her own mother who each became key players in the movements of their days — Underground Railroad, prohibition, women’s suffrage. As she sits in a jail cell, Harriet grapples with her family history and what her part is in this family of heroines.
I must admit I’m a sucker for historical fiction, and this one hits THREE different time periods. So it was sure to be a hit for me. At times it can be a bit confusing. I had to stop myself a couple times to remember which mother-daughter relationship I was reading about.
Grandma Bebe was an excellent character: spunky, passionate and dynamic. It was amusing to see how she would surprise Harriet by acting seemingly out of character based on the stories Harriet had been told. In reality, she had just gained several years of wisdom since the days of her youth. Hannah was perhaps my favorite. Living a quiet life, yet full of wisdom and experience of walking with the Lord, she was ready to step up to a challenge when it came for her time to be brave.
Lynn Austin scored another win with Though Waters Roar. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for one last book to squeeze in before the summer ends.
This morning I got “lost in a reverie” much like Anne Shirley would do while performing mundane tasks. As I got ready for work in the quiet of the house, I began to gather the “God Moments” of my life, times when I knew God was at work or that I could look back and point out something God was bringing about in that situation.
This seemed like a worthwhile pastime, and I decided to break up my endless book reviews on the blog with some of my God Moments. Hopefully this breaks up the monotony for you and allows me to practice some of part two of my mission statement. (See Ben Franklin quote to the right)
God Moments Part 1: Divine Appointments
I remember the first time I met Tom.* Our group of volunteers flooded from the back room where we had just prayed over the evening and had been commissioned to go out and love on people. Having one of my bolder moments, I departed from the crowd and walked straight to a table at the front where a single man sat.
He had long hair going down his back, loosely held together with a hair tie. His face was a little scruffy. His hands shook a little when he talked. He didn’t look like any of the people I interacted with on a daily basis on my college campus, but he was here and he was alone, so I started to talk to him.
I found out that this was his first time, too, at The Community Feast — a weekly service our church holds for the community with a mission to provide “food for the body and nourishment for the soul.” Tom had moved to our city recently, trying to leave behind a lifestyle of bad choices and get a fresh start.
It hadn’t been going so well.
We sang a few worship songs and someone stood up on the stage to preach. A lot of the details remain fuzzy, but what I do remember is my new friend asked for prayer at the end of the service. He said that he used to follow God but he’d drifted away. He wanted to follow him again and leave behind his life of addictions, wanted to worship passionately and genuinely raise his hands in praise like he had seen others do that night.
In other words, he had just been surrounded by the salt of the earth and realized he was desperately thirsty for more of his Savior.
Two of my fellow college group members and I prayed for God to come, to bring freedom and a fresh start in Tom’s life. It was a blessing to be a part of that moment and to witness the heartfelt cry for more of God.
The reason this is a God Moment is because it marks a beginning.
I had never been to The Community Feast before, and I didn’t return until years later. My small group leader had announced we were going to serve together that week by volunteering at The Feast, and I was just following suit. But the week I went was the week Tom went, and from that moment our lives seemed to intersect over and over again in the tapestry of God’s big story.
I was driving down the road and saw Tom standing alongside the street almost directly across from my boyfriend’s house. He was waiting for a spot at the Salvation Army house. I rolled down my window, and we exchanged greetings. I encouraged him to keep going to church and went on my way.
A couple months later I was visiting the library for work and ran into Tom yet again. We had a similar encounter, and I went on my way. Occasionally my boyfriend-turned-fiance-turned-husband and I would see him walking down the road and give him a ride or take him to the store to get groceries.
He still struggled for a while with finances and living situations and bad friends popping up in his life. But he knew God was the answer, and he started going to The Feast consistently and then the Sunday services.
Eventually we saw him more at church than we did on the streets. He went from a Feast attendee to a volunteer. He got help with his finances and moved into the garage apartment of a family from the church.
Last summer Tom went on a mission trip for the first time. Recently he shared with us that he’s being trained to be a lifegroup leader at church.
Every time I hear about one of these milestones it just fills my heart with joy, to have seen this man at one of his lowest points and to see how God’s mercy and grace and love have covered over all the bad and brought life and growth and purpose through it all.
To this day, Tom will thank me for coming up to talk to him and pray for him at that first meeting, but honestly it’s been just as much a blessing for me to see God’s hand mightily at work in one of His children.
What all would I have missed out on if I had stayed home that night to watch a movie or in my insecurity had hidden in the kitchen instead? (God bless the faithful servants in the kitchen! But that would have been a cop-out for me at that time.)
I’m so thankful that God uses His children to bless one another, whether it’s through the act of praying over another or being a living testimony of the answer of that prayer.
So there you have it. The first of many God Moments in my life. Stay tuned for more.
A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.
In preparation for the discipleship school my husband and I will be attending this fall, this month I read The Church Can Change The World by Jimmy Seibert, our senior pastor.
The book chronicles the history of our church by giving stories of God’s glory along the journey. From two visionaries following Jesus, to a handful of students enrolled in a discipleship school, to thousands gathering weekly at our church Sunday mornings and even more among the nations, the goal of this book is to show that by following three simple commands, the church can truly change communities and the world at large. [Spoiler Alert: The three simple commands are to love God, love each other and love those who don’t know Jesus.]
While I’ve heard many of these accounts from the Sunday sermons, some were unfamiliar, and even the ones I’d heard before are still faith-stirring a second or third time around. I love hearing testimonies like these from followers of Jesus because it reminds me that we’re living for something so much bigger than ourselves. Not every moment may be a BIG moment of God, but if we remain faithful in our day-to-day living, the big moments and glorious testimonies will come.
I’d heartily recommend reading this if you’re looking to get your faith stirred. The real life accounts of simple people living to obey Jesus are encouraging and inspiring.
Your life only becomes a tapestry if it ties itself to other lives.
Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.