God Code
July 29, 2012, 2:15 pm
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I hate it when I am halfway through a book and I realize that I should be paying better attention because the point is eluding me.  That is what has been happening with Kasey Van Norman’s book Named by God. Ms. Van Norman makes the statement that each of us is born with a God code, a strand of spiritual DNA that hardwires us to know and serve something  bigger than themselves.

She makes good points by using examples from her own life, as well as the lives of individuals from the Bible. King David, Job, Adam, and Paul are all characters that are used to bolster her point. King David did many good things, but he did not always act in his own best interest. Job was put to a test by God and Satan. Adam did not follow the Lord’s warning about the fruit tree. Paul was a loud opponent of the early Christian church. I understand the importance of using these examples, but I had a hard time following the examples from the author’s own life. I felt lost at these moments.

We push away from God when we, like Job, are working through the pain of human existence. I should clarify, of course. Very few of us can compare to Job, but we understand human pain. On p. 50, Ms. Van Norman writes, “As we press on through our hurt, [H]e bears our grief right along with us.” As I get older, I realize the truth behind this statement. I have not had an easy time with pregnancies. I lost three pregnancies before the first trimester came to an end. With the two that lasted, I had to take medicine to sustain them for the first trimester and then spend the last trimester on bed rest. I’ll admit this was not easy, not the way things are supposed to be. I was not patient at times. But now, now, I know it was worth it.

Was God there? Just like that poster of the two set of footprints with one set disappearing. God carried me through that period. Are there any certainties? Just God’s word.


God Forsaken review
July 19, 2012, 9:41 am
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I really enjoyed reading God Forsaken by Dinesh D’Souza. I thought there were a lot of good points that were raised in the debate between Christians and atheists. But I could not finish this book. I just do not have the time, or the energy, to spend reading this book. I have a three and a half year old and a one year old who demand that energy. Who deserve that energy.

I received my copy of this book from a relative who also has two children. Her daughter is older than my firstborn and her son is a year younger than him. I don’t know how she does it. We both signed up for the summer reading program through Tyndale House publishers. In the last email the company sent out, she was at the top of the list for the most books read. Eighteen at the time. At least five more since then. I salute her.

Sincere apologies to Mr. D’Souza, but I concede this book.

Almost Amish
July 12, 2012, 9:28 pm
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I read Nancy Sleeth’s book Almost Amish. Before I get started with my review, I just want to say one thing. This is NOT a novel. I don’t know why the Family Christian stores have it labeled as such on their shelves. Apparently it is the number 5 best-seller in fiction. (Okay, I may have accosted the store employee about this. I tried to be as nice as I could.) Breathe in. Breathe out.

Okay, anyway. Ms. Sleeth wishes, as many of us, to live simpler lives away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Who better to emulate than the Amish? I had the feeling throughout the book, though, that Ms. Sleeth does want to live more simply, but without giving up modern conveniences. I don’t mean things like cars or the latest device. I know she is fond of her bread machine. I also realized that, while she likes the Amish lifestyle, she did not pack up her life and move to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Ms. Sleeth divided her book into sections titled Finances, House, etc., and listed both the Amish and Almost Amish way of living under these ideas. Quite frankly, very few of us are going to give up all modern conveniences like electricity and take up wearing prayer kappes and driving buggies. But, we can live simpler lives and Ms. Sleeth gives good examples of steps that can be taken.

One good step is to declare a Sabbath from technology. Turn off the internet, cell phone, Blackberry, GPS for one day. Go outside. Take a walk. Spend time with your family. Cook a meal together. These are not new ideas, but they are good ones.

There were times when I did not like this book. I had to go back and reread those parts later. I tend to get my reading done after the kids have gone to bed, so sometimes after a long day, I mis-read something. I did from time to time feel that Ms. Sleeth was sitting on a bit of a high-horse. When I re-read the section, I did not feel as harsh towards her, but my feelings did not dissipate.

July 4, 2012, 4:37 pm
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In the end, it is all about grace. The two main characters in Finding Our Way Home by Charlene Ann Baumbich lose sight of their core selves and have to find their way home.  They learn valuable lessons about themselves and each other during this journey.

Sasha Davis was a professional ballerina until an accident sidelined her career. She is in need of an assistant at home. She finds one in Evelyn Burt, an energetic nineteen-year-old.  These two women come into each other’s lives at a time when a healing process needs to take place. Evelyn has fallen in love and has put aside her plans to attend college after becoming engaged. Her parents do not support this decision.  Evelyn decides to become self-sufficient and puts herself out for hire. She mows yards, runs errands, and delivers groceries, among other small jobs. One day she responds to an ad in the newspaper for a temporary live-in aide. Room and board are included, so, “in her usual impulsive style, without giving it another thought, she called the number.” Impulsiveness  pays off and the job is hers.

Evelyn tells her employer after a short meal-time prayer, “Grace covers it all. Easy-schmeasy and amen.” Sasha is a little surprised. After all, grace hasn’t done anything for her lately. But then the healing begins. Healing that comes into her life by way of an intelligent teenager who, like a lot of us at that age, is starting out on the road of becoming. I don’t remember much about how I acted at nineteen, but I do remember how magical an age it was at the time. Sasha is on a road of becoming, too, at the end of her career.

It took me a while to enjoy the characters. As I said, nineteen is a ways behind me now, so I had trouble getting a clear picture of Evelyn. Do nineteen year olds really talk like this? I wondered more than once. But I kept coming back to that phrase about grace. Grace leads us back home to who we really are. To quote the famous hymn, grace “has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.”

The Shadow of your Smile review
July 1, 2012, 7:49 pm
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I loved Susan May Warren’s novel  The Shadow of Your Smile. Eli and Noelle Hueston have been married for 25 years. They have faced an immeasurable loss from which they have not recovered. This loss falls aside when Noelle hits her head after falling on some black ice and lapses into a coma. When she recovers, she cannot remember the last twenty-five years. She does not remember Eli or their two sons. This allows Eli the chance to reconnect with his wife. He becomes the husband he was not following their loss.

Noelle becomes the wife Eli missed. She bakes again, discovering recipes that the family used to enjoy. She joins Eli at their youngest son’s basketball games. But she starts to have memories of what is missing. Her daughter, who was murdered during a robbery at the gas station where she worked.

Susan May Warren writes in the back section of the book, titled A Note from the Author, “What if you could reset your life?. . . . I’ve met women who have lost their children, and their wounds are deep and abiding. I myself have lost four children to miscarriage. That dark place of grief made me wonder—would it be better to start over, or would the joy of the memories be worth the pain?” I can identify with this feeling of loss. I take joy in the two children that I have, but I will always mourn the three lives that were not viable. Noelle, according to the author, moves forward from her dark space, discovering “maybe the key to going forward with her life was simply being grateful for it.”

I found the authors in this book extremely relatable. They were dealing with extreme darkness and were starting to enter the light again so that they could move on with their lives.