Thursday, September 27, 2012

Coming Home

"Coming Home" by Karen Kingsbury

This is the last book in the Baxter series.  And it was such a sad book.  I am a tragedy junkie but this one had me in tears and I think I'm good with tragedies for at least three months now.  But the book was oh so good.  Karen does such a good job of interweaving faith in her books.  Not just faith we speak but real faith, faith played out in the midst of tragedy.  The whole Baxter family is getting together for their dads 70th birthday.  But before they can celebrate tragedy strikes.  It will take all their faith and prayers to get them through the darkness.  Will their love be stronger than their heartache?  Will they be able to remember God's promises?  I'm tearing up just writing this.  So forewarning, you will cry, you might even have to put down the book for a breather.  But it is worth it.  Karen did good.  She ended the Baxter family well.  "Love between two hearts, two souls was never the same from one person to the next."  Love looks different between all of us.  God designed us all different so our love looks different.  Read this book, it will give you faith.  If you are in the middle of a trial, of your own dark time, this book will bring hope and renew your faith.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Miles To Go

"Miles To Go" by Richard Paul Evans

This is the second book in the Journal of the Walk Series. It continues the journey of Alan who began his walk across the country after his wife dies and he loses everything. But his walk comes to an abrupt stop after he is stabbed. Where will he turn? To an Angel. "I have found that the people who shout their opinion the loudest are usually the ones most insecure in their position." When we know that we are right we don't have to shout. "How do you live when you don't want to live anymore? One day at a time." And one day at a time God will meet you there. "I guess sometimes we are lucky to have someone to miss so much." Yes it hurts to lose someone we love but its even worse to not have loved them at all. "When a man loses his vision of the future he dies. There's a lot of talk these days about living in the now, but if you don't have a future, there is no now." Being thankful for today is important. We aren't guaranteed tomorrow but if we don't look to tomorrow what will we live for? "Worst thing you can give a man is what he wants. The lookin's the thing. When a man gets what he been lookin' for, the road ends, don't it." And usually whatever we are looking for doesn't satisfy.

The Walk

"The Walk" by Richard Paul Evans

Alright remember the book The Road to Grace? Funny thing happened. I picked that book up at the library without knowing it was the last book in a three book series. I found this out after I finished it. That weekend my parents came up for a visit and my dad brought the whole series for me to read. He didn't even know I had read the last one! So I read the last one then the first and second one but it didn't really spoil anything. The last book could have stood on it's own. So this book is about a man whose wife is killed and he looses her and his job, his house, his cars, everything. So he packs a bag and starts walking. Walking as far away from Seattle as he can. Key West, Florida is his destination. The journey is what matter though. The author delivers and there is so much good stuff in this book. "In each of us, there is something that, for better or worse, wants the world to know we existed." We all want to be remembered. We all want to leave our mark, do something good. You know what the best thing to be remembered by is? Love, the love of Jesus. Now that is something you take with you when you go. "It's a shame that humans don't come with reset buttons." Oh how I wish we did! "How can you hurt a person you love more than yourself? It's like punching yourself in the head." "We can deny reality, but we can't deny the consequences of denying reality." Sure we can deny what is happening but the doesn't change the consequences, they still happen. "When your mother died, I felt as if half my body had been amputated. The half with the heart. At first I wasn't sure if I could keep going on. Frankly, I wasn't sure why I would want to." It hurts so much when someone we love dies. But we must live. "The only way to remove pain from death is to remove love from life." No thanks, guess I will take pain if it means I get to love and be loved. "It is in the dark times that the light of friendship shines brightest." We all need friends and no better time to know who they are then when the darkness closes in. "You can tell a lot about a man by watching how he treats those he doesn't have to be nice to." So true. What are they like when they think no one is looking? "I just wonder why it is that we blame God for everything except the good." Sometimes we forget to give credit for the good but are quick to pass judgement when the bad happens. "That's all that death requires of us, to give up living. The thing is, the only real sign of life is growth. And growth requires pain. So to choose life is to accept pain. Some people go to such lengths to avoid pain that they give up on life. They bury their hearts, or they drug or drink themselves numb until they don't feel anything anymore. The irony is, in the end their escape becomes more painful than what they're avoiding." We have to accept the the rain because there is always a rainbow to follow. "You know, she's not really gone. She's still a part of you. What part of you is your choice. She can be a spring of gratitude and joy, or she can be a fountain of bitterness and pain." The people who pass from this life that we love would want us to live and remember them with joy not sadness. "Some people in this world have stopped looking for beauty, then wonder why their lives are so ugly. Don't be like them. The ability to appreciate beauty is of God. Especially in one another. Look for beauty in everyone you meet, and you'll find it. Everyone carries divinity within them. And everyone has something to impart." Always look for the good, for beauty. It is there, sometimes it is just hidden.

Ever After

"Ever After" by Karen Kingsbury

This is the second and last book in the Lost Love series. It's another good one by Karen. I don't think she ever fails to deliver. She has a gift I tell you. Emily finds a man who changes everything for her. Their relationship is built on Jesus. Emily's parents who are recently reunited after many years are struggling to over come their differences. Tragedy strikes and the question is can they over come? "Whenever people are praying there is always hope." Prayer storms the gates of heaven and with God there is always hope, even in the darkest of nights. "The cost was high, and too often the cost had a face, a name, a history." This is talking about the cost of war. There is a cost to defending our freedoms and people are paying those costs with their lives every day. "The Bible had much to say about peace. But almost always the picture Scripture presented wasn't one of God calming the storm. Rather He calmed the person caught in the storm." Trouble is going to come, guaranteed but with God there is hope and peace. "Sometimes life is so hard you can only do the next thing. Whatever that is, just do the next thing. God will meet you there." Sometimes that is all we can do, take one step. And when we do God meets us there to hold us up and light our next step. Somehow they were going to survive without him. And deep inside, Emily knew they would. They would survive, but without Justin, how were they ever going to live?" When someone we love dies its hard to even breathe. You know you have to keep going but you don't know how. You don't know how to live without that person you love so much. Again, God meets us there. He knows our pain, our sorrow and our deepest hurts. He is there to comfort. "Love never has enough time." When you love someone there is never enough time to be with that person, to show them how much you love them. "Love and sacrifice. It is impossible to have one without the other." Love is sacrifice. Sacrifice is love. The greatest example of this is Jesus dying on the cross for us, for you. "Most of all, I promise to lean on God through life's trials and tragedies and triumphs. Because if I lean on Him, you can always lean on me." I love that. If we are leaning on God then those around us can lean on us because our strength is from Him.

Even Now

"Even Now" by Karen Kingsbury

I've been in a reading frenzy lately. And you know how much I love a Karen Kingsbury book. There is two in this series. My dad gave me these books to read and as always they delivered. Shane is ready to get married but does his heart really still belong to a long ago lost love? Lauren doesn't believe in happy endings after the blows that life has dealt her. Emily was raised by her grandparents and won't give up her search to find the mother she never knew. Three lives that were torn apart are about to find meaning again. But can they find ever after? Oh what a good book this was. Lives torn apart by good intentions and tragic mistakes. Things that make up who we all are. "It was just one year blended into the next, and pretty soon the road home was so overgrown with blame and hurt she couldn't find her way back." The hurt becomes to big, the blame so large we forget that love was there once too. "God made it clear to me a long time ago that we can't go back. We can only be glad for today." We can't go back and change things that happened but we can move forward and be thankful for the road we are now on and for the gifts today, that God has provided.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Home Front

"Home Front" by Kristin Hannah

I just happened to pick this book up at the Library. I loved this book. Of course it had a bit of tragedy, you know I am a sucker for that, real life struggle but best of all(*spoiler*) it all ends well. Michael and Jolene's marriage is starting to unravel. But they must hold on for dear life when Jolene is deployed. Michael must be a single parent to their two girls. War changes Jolene and Michael. Now they must fight for everything that matters. "In the army, she'd found herself; in the air, she'd found her passion. But it wasn't until she met Michael that the missing part of her began slowly, cautiously to fill back in." "I don't love you anymore. Five words to change a world, to dissolve the ground beneath a woman's feet. It was a tidal wave, that sentence, whooshing in without warning, undermining foundations, leaving homes crumbled in the aftermath." Words are so powerful, they build up or destroy. How careless we are with them. "Here's what you need to know: some cliches are true, and war is definitely hell. It's being afraid all the time, and when you're not afraid it's because you're so pumped full of adrenaline you could literally burst. It's watching people who you love-really profoundly love-get blown to pieces right next to you. It's seeing a leg lying in the ditch and picking it up to put it in a bag because no man-or part of a man, your friend-can be left behind. It's the dark night of the soul, Michael. There's no front line over there. The war is all around them, every day, everywhere they go. Some handle it better than others. We don't know why, but we do know this: the human mind can't safely or healthily process that kind of carnage and uncertainty and horror. It just can't. No one comes back from war the same." Powerful words, powerful description. I believe it, no one comes back from war the same. How could they? "He'd lived with her, slept with her, and still somehow had forgotten the woman he'd married." We all take for granted to people we live with, the people we love, our families. They will always be there we say. We will hug them tomorrow, tell them that we love them later. But what if later doesn't come? Right now, right now is the moment we need to appreciate and show our family we love them. Right now. "We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us." Oh those journeys, I so wish someone could walk it for me oftentimes. "Heroes. They are heroes, our soldiers, the men and women who go into harms way to protect us, our way of life. It doesn't matter what you think of the war, you have to be grateful to the warriors, of whom we ask so much. To whom we sometimes give too little. How do you help someone deal with horrors you can't imagine? And how does a soldier come home from war, really? As a nation, these are questions we need to ask ourselves." A really good read. I highly recommend. It makes me appreciate what our soldiers do, what they sacrifice, and their families. I think our nation needs to do so much more to help them when they come back from war. We do so much to prepare them for the war but they come back changed and unprepared.

The Road to Grace

"The Road to Grace" by Richard Paul Evans

Alan lost everything, his wife, his business, his home. So he left and decided to walk from Seattle to Florida. A journey he wouldn't soon forget. A journey of healing and revelation. The people he meets are what makes his journey meaningful. "I may be a closet homebody, but life has taught me that home was never a place. Home was her. The day McKale died, I lost my home." Home is the people we love and the places we live. "I'm looking for hope. Hope that life might still be worth living, and hope for the grace to accept what I must live without." We all need grace to accept those things that we must live without. That may just be what we need the most grace for. "When you have an affair with someone, the affair itself becomes the core of the relationship. The secret of the affair fuels the passion and the excitement. But once it's legitimized, it's just reality like everything else." I thought that was a good explanation of an affair. The excitement of it lies in the secret and when it comes to light all that you have is reality. "As we walk our individual life journeys, we pick up resentments and hurts, which attach themselves to our souls like burrs clinging to a hiker's socks. These stowaways may seem insignificant at first, but, over time, if we do not occasionally stop and shake them free, the accumulation becomes a burden to our souls." If we don't deal with our hurts they just pile on top of each other becoming so heavy. Deal with them as they come, it hurts but so much less then dealing with a pile of hurts. "A man's words say more about a man than his clothes." Who cares what you are wearing, it's your words that make the most impact. "The things we do to others become our world. To the thief, everyone in the world is a thief. To the cheater, everyone is thinking to cheat him." This is how we look at the world, through the eyes of the things that we have done. I want my world to consist of love so that is what I must give. "We chain ourselves to what we do not forgive. Should a Holocaust survivor chain himself forever to Hitler and his crimes? Or should he forgive and be free?" Forgiveness is so much more about us than the person who wronged us. Unforgiveness forever keeps you chained to the person who wronged you. Why would anyone want that? I want to be free of that person and so I must forgive. I've read a few books by this author before and I haven't been disappointed. This was a good read. Gets you thinking. I gathered that this was the third and last book in a series. I didn't read the first two but I wasn't lost reading the last. I wasn't left feeling like I had missed something, although now I would like to read the first two.