June 30, 2011, 2:50 pm
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I really enjoyed reading Craving Grace by Lisa Velthouse. Lisa decided to give up processed sugar for six months in an attempt to get closer to God. She admits that she faltered a few times, but kept her promise.
I liked the idea of going without to let God in. I have found myself in the spot where Lisa was. The feeling of “Why now, why me?”
Lisa gave up sweets in an attempt to draw closer to God. She found that she was not alone. As she shared her journey with those around her, she was able to open up to others in a more effective manner. Lisa thought she was living the good life by living God’s word.
Lisa wrote, “Then I began fasting from sweets, and suddenly I started having trouble being good. I started having a lot of trouble being good. Wherever I turned, I was making mistakes, hurting people, being misunderstood, and making a mess of things. This didn’t make sense, because I was still trying to behave in the same careful way I had always behaved.”
I think it is this change in awareness that allowed Lisa to enhance her relationship with God, as she was able to understand what it meant to be humble. I don’t intend to indicate that Lisa was self-righteous. I just think that she was able to examine her life once she stepped out of a comfort zone.


Civil RIghts Era Memoir–While the World Watched
June 27, 2011, 7:10 pm
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This is the third book I have read for the Tyndale Summer Reading program. I must say that I think it was my favorite. Don’t tell my husband, though. He thinks all I like to read are, in his words, “romance novels” or books with salacious love scenes. I would refute this further, but I can see two prominent titles on the bookcase near my side of the bed. Bride of Pendarric and Heir of Kiloran. Not Harelquins, mind you, but not scholarly titles either.

Back to the book in question. “While the World Watched” is a memoir from the 1960s. Carolyn Maull McKinstry was fifteen years old when her church, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed. When Carolyn, who assisted in the church office, arrived at the church that morning, she is told that the telephone has been ringing all morning. The callers tell whoever answers that the church will be bombed that morning. Carolyn considers the lady who has been answering the telephone to be a little high-strung and dismisses what has been shared.

At 10:20 a.m., Carolyn, collecting the attendance records for the childrens’ and adults’ Sunday School classes, stops by the girls’ restroom to say hello to four of her close friends. When she returns to the church office, she answers the ringing telephone. The caller says “Three minutes,” and hangs up. Carolyn does not know what to make of this and shrugs it off. As she enters the Sanctuary of the church at 10:22 a.m., an explosion shakes the church. The church has been bombed.

There were four casualties. The four girls that Carolyn had just visited with in the girls’ bathroom.

I admire Carolyn for her strength over the next four decades. She does deal with depression which she tries to combat with drinking. Once she realizes that she must quit drinking, she realizes what she must do. Forgive. Forgive those who bombed the church. Forgive those who cannot see past the color of skin.

June 26, 2011, 3:54 pm
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I finished reading Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers last night. This is the second book I have read for the Tyndale Publishers Summer Reading program. Once you read five books and review them, you will receive a free book from the company.

I was uncomfortable with the way Marta treated her eldest daughter. I wished several things for their relationship, mainly that Marta be a different role model in certain ways. I read the discussion guide at the back of the book to collect my thoughts overnight. Proverbs 31:10-31 was referenced. This chapter of the Bible lists the virtues of a wife of noble character.

Marta has characteristics that are similar to those listed. She provides for her family, making sure that they are not taken for fools. This causes some contention between her and her husband. She second-guesses his decisions on more than one occasion. I can identify with this, having committed the same in my marriage. Sometimes a woman just knows things.

Marta is not overly warm to her daughter. At the end of the book, Marta realizes that she did put a distance between herself and her daughter. In a letter to a childhood friend, Marta writes that she will do what is necessary to win her daughter back. I see her standing up with a straight spine and heading off once she has taken care that those she will leave behind are taken care of.

As said, I did not care for the way Marta treated her eldest daughter. Looking at her behavior through the lens of Proverbs 31, I can see in retrospect that all she wished was to show her daughter the strength of a woman.

Future Arrival
June 25, 2011, 3:54 pm
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In three weeks the fourth member of our family will arrive in this world.

His or her two-and-a-half year old brother is the joy of my life. I can’t imagine a life without hugs and a “tiss too,” a life without Bob the Builder or pink buses outside (you’ll have to ask him about that one).

There are so many worries, fears, and confusion about motherhood. So many joys and wonder. I am already preparing myself for the girl that will fall in love someday with my little blue eyed monkey.

I don’t know if I am ready to open my heart up more for this second child. I know it will happen. I will love both for who they are. I will fall on my knees too many times to count. I will err. I will regret. I will watch both children sleep and pray for them. I will embrace all of this.

This may be the best stage of my life thus far. The stage where I will grow the most.

Beneath the Night Tree review
June 23, 2011, 7:08 pm
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Julia DeSmit is a young woman living in Iowa. She is juggling raising two boys (her five-year-old son and her ten-year-old half-brother), working as an assistant store manager at the local grocery store, and taking classes in early childhood development at a technical school.

She is mature enough to feel grateful for her life the way it is, “for Daniel, for Simon, for my grandmother, who still slipped from bed not long after I turned on the shower to whisk pancake batter or fold blueberries into muffins for breakfast. . . . for the four corners of our family and the way that we folded into each other like one of my grandma’s quilts. Edges coming together, softening.”

As a single mom, Julia worries, however, that she can never do enough or be enough for the two boys. Shortly after her boyfriend of five years suggests that she and her son move six hours away from the farm to share a leased home with him while he finishes a semester of medical school, Julia receives an email from a former boyfriend, her son’s father. This contact causes Julia to examine her life.

She says, “Instead of bemoaning the particulars of my life, for five years, I had done everything in my power to rise to the occasion, to be an exemplary mother, sister, and granddaughter. After all, the circumstances of my existence were born of my own choosing. My mistakes–and the mistakes of others– had charted a path for me that I never imagined or hoped for.” Julia picks up contact with her son’s father, letting him of Daniel’s existence. He enters her life to engage a relationship with their son and also becomes acquainted with her half-brother and grandmother. Michael, the boyfriend of five years, unaware of this relationship, proposes to Julia in the meantime.

To her surprise, Julia has shortcomings to the proposal. She lists her reasons: ” Because I hadn’t expected Michael to propose. Because I was tired. Because it meant I would have to make a lot of tough decisions.” She encounters further confusion while selecting a wedding dress. While struggling with the changes soon to take place, she finds a note her Grandmother had tucked inside the family Bible. ” I don’t want Julia to be happy. I don’t expect her life to be easy. I don’t insist that it be painless. But I do want her to be content. I want her to love and be loved. I want her to be holy.”

Julia keeps these statements in her mind for the rest of the story. They help her make a decision as to which path she will take and what influences will take her there.