Saturday, November 17, 2012

Her Daughter's Dream

"Her Daughter's Dream" by Francine Rivers

This is the second and last book in the series Marta's Legacy.  I enjoyed this book more than the first although they were both very good.  As I said of the first book, they are long, more than 500 pages, but they read easily.  I finished both in less than two weeks.  This book carries on the struggles between mothers and daughters.  How we have the best of intentions and yet are misunderstood.  The past has a tendency to repeat it self when not dealt with and talked about.  In this book it took the faith of a daughter to mend all the mother daughter relationships in her family.  It took realizing that life is fleeting to remember relationships are worth mending and fighting for.  "Love people for who they are, pray, and leave them in God's hands."  Good words to take to heart.  We all want to be loved for who we are not who others want us to be.  "Life isn't easy.  We do the best we can with what God gives us.  I've made a complete mess of everything.  It's not about what you've done.  It's about what you're going to do now."  Let the past be the past, it's not what matters.  What matters is what you are going to choose to do with that past.  "In this life, we will not love perfectly.  In the next, God promises we will.  I hold on to that hope.  I cling to that dream."  We are in a fallen world, we can not love perfectly, but God does.  With Him we can love better.  And in the next life all love will be perfect love.  What a wonderful thing to look forward to.  "Man might plan, but God will prevail."  God has the best plans for us, we just need to let go and let God.  Let Him take our lives, trusting He has what is best for us.  "May the Lord bless you and keep you.  He goes ahead of you.  He stands at your side.  He dwells within you.  He is your rear guard."  I love that.  I think it would be a great prayer to say every time your children go out the door.  It is so reassuring.  "God won't take you where His love won't protect you."

Her Mother's Hope

"Her Mother's Hope" by Francine Rivers

This is the first in a two book series.  They are long books, over 500 pages, but good reads.  The book is about a daughter whose father belittles her and a mother who encourages her to fly.  It is about the relationship of mothers and daughters.  Marta, the daughter, grows up and longs for a better life.  She strives for a better life for her children.  But she has found that only the strong survive and so her tough love is often misunderstood.  Marta's daughter, Hildie, feels the rebuff the most.  When she has a family of her own she vows to do it differently.  Tragedy strikes and mother daughter relationships are pushed to the breaking point.  We all have moms who loved us, who did their best.  And as moms we vow to do one better.  We are fallen people and so our relationships mirror that.  "We grieve for those we've lost, but it's the living that cause us the most pain."  Relationships are hard and they can hurt.  But what is life without them? Life not worth living.  God created us to live in community.  "Sometimes all you need is one true friend, just one you can depend upon to love you no matter what."  That one friend, who loves you through it all, is priceless.  If you have a friend like that hold on for dear life.  If you don't, find one, your life will be better for it.  "You are not going to let that man turn you into a prisoner to your fears."  Let go of the past, those who have hurt you.  Forgive so that you can be set free, don't let them have any more say in your life.  "Brian belongs to You, Lord, not me.  I give him into Your mighty, healing hands.  Your will, not mine, be done..."  A good prayer to remember to pray for those we love.  They are just on loan to us, they belong to the Lord and He is the one watching over them.  "They're afraid.  Fear makes people mean.  Fear makes people act stupid."  This was a good book, a book that made me think about my relationship with my two daughters.  It made me think about why I do things and how often we misunderstand each other.

Sacred Marriage

"Sacred Marriage" by Gary Thomas

I put off reading this book for probably over a year.  My mom gave it to me.  I read every other book I had and when I finally ran out I picked it up.  This book rocked my world!  God knew when I needed to read it, it was the perfect time.  He is so good!  So I give a fair warning, you will not read this book and continue with the status quo in your marriage, at least you shouldn't.  The premise of the book is that marriage is not for our happiness but for holiness.  (Did you just read that and think What?!)  Oh this book was so hard to read, so hard to swallow, I was convicted on every page.  I think everyone needs to read this because who doesn't want their marriage to be better?  I'm blessed to be in a marriage with an amazing man but there is always, always room for growth.  This book pointed out how much room there is.  "Romantic love has no elasticity to it.  It can never be stretched; it simply shatters.  Mature love, the kind demanded of a good marriage, must stretch, as the sinful human condition is such that all of us bear conflicting emotions."  Good marriages must have some give in them to last, they can not be rigid or they will break.  "If the purpose of marriage was simply to enjoy an infatuation and make me 'happy,' then I'd have to get a 'new' marriage every two or three years.  But if I really wanted to see God transform me from the inside out, I'd need to concentrate on changing myself rather than on changing my spouse.  In fact, you might even say, the more difficult my spouse proved to be, the more opportunity I'd have to grow."  How many people leave a marriage because their spouse is just not making them happy? We hear this all the time.  What if they decided to let God work on them instead of how their spouse needed to change?  "As long as a couple is married, they continue to display-however imperfectly-the ongoing commitment between Christ and His church."  "How can I tell my children that God's promise of reconciliation is secure when they see that my own promise doesn't mean a thing?  They may get over it, but in that case I will have presented a roadblock rather than a stepping-stone to the gospel."  Ouch, right?  "The first reason I keep my marriage together is because it is my Christian duty.  If my life is based on proclaiming God's message to the world, I don't want to do anything that would challenge that message.  And how can I proclaim reconciliation when I seek dissolution?"  I tell you, there are some powerful words in this book.  "In a society where relationships are discarded with a frightening regularity, Christians can command attention simply by staying married."  That in itself speaks volumes!  "We show our love for God in part by loving our spouses well."  "My wife was created by God Himself!  How dare I dishonor her?  In fact, shouldn't it even give me pause before I reach out to touch her?  She is the Creator's daughter, after all!"  Powerful!  This goes for our husbands too.  We are all His children.  How can I treat His child less than I would want to be treated?  Makes you see your spouse differently doesn't it?  "Husbands, you are married to a fallen woman in a broken world.  Wives, you are married to a sinful man in a sinful world."  This really stuck with me.  I can't have a perfect marriage this side of heaven because we live in a fallen world.  That helps ease the pressure I put on myself and the expectations I have for my husband.  "Godliness is selflessness, and when a man and a woman marry, they are pledging to stop viewing themselves as individuals and start viewing themselves as a unit, as a couple."  So what I want isn't what matters anymore, it is what we want, together that matters.  "What marriage had done for me is hold up a mirror to my sin."  Yuck.  "We don't like what we've done or become; we've let selfish and sinful attitudes poison our thoughts and lead us into shameful behaviors, and suddenly all we want is out.  The mature response, however, is not to leave; it's to change-ourselves."  Oh boy, tough stuff.  "Sin is a reality in this fallen world.  It's how we respond to it that will determine whether our marriages become a casualty statistic or a crown of success.  I want mine to be a crown of success, I don't want to be another statistic.  "How hard does a heart have to be to not be moved by the suffering of someone you once loved?"  "Don't abort your history with the spouse whom God has called you to love."  "When you entered this relationship of marriage, you committed to keep moving toward your spouse.  Any step back, any pause, any retreat, is an act of fraud."  This is another one that really hit me.  If we aren't stepping toward our spouse we aren't helping our marriage.  Sometimes I just don't step.  I didn't see that as wrong but in reality it is.  Doing nothing, not moving towards is not moving and then it's not for my marriage.  "All of us face struggles, and each one of us is currently facing a struggle that we're having less than one hundred percent success overcoming.  If we're married, the fact is we're also married to someone who is failing in some way."  "What are we doing each day for our spouse that involves sacrifice?  What are you doing each day for your spouse that is costing you something?"  Such good questions, such hard questions.  Questions that make me uncomfortable.  "Marital dissatisfaction, on whatever level, is best met with the prayer, 'That's why I need you, O God.'"  Our spouse can't be everything to us, only God can.  "A spiritually alive marriage will remain a marriage of two individuals in pursuit of a common vision outside themselves."  There's that selflessness again.  There is so much in this book.  Sorry this is so long.  I think everyone, everyone, should read this, and read it again.  I plan on reading it a second time with someone else so that we can discuss it together.  I want to buy a boxful of these books and pass them on.  It will change you.  It needs to change us, our marriages need changing.

The Girls From Ames

"The Girls From Ames" by Jeffrey Zaslow

I was staying at a B&B in Portland, OR and the owner recommended this book to me.  It is a book about 11 girls who met in grade school and have remained friends throughout their lives.  The author wrote a column in the New York Times about women's friendships and received a ton of responses.  He decided to take one of the responses and make it into a book.  So he interviewed and spent time with them.  It is intriguing that it is written by a man about women.  These 11 girls go through life together, all the ups and downs.  To this day they still continue to get together once a year for a reunion and now they live all over the U.S.  "We root each other to the core of who we are, rather than what defines us as adults-by careers or spouses or kids.  There's a young girl in each of us who is still full of life.  When we're together, I try to remember that."  There is something comforting about a friend who knows you before all your responsibilities name you.  I have two friends that have known me since first grade and I love that we are still friends, that we have shared so much of our lives.  "But in that moment, all ten of them later realized, they saw clearly that true friendship means a willingness to share both joy and complete despair."  Life isn't always good and being a true friend means sticking with a person through all that life hands out.  "Sometimes the only thing keeping a woman from falling over is the girlfriend right beside her."  Oh how true this is.  I've had my moments where I didn't think I could walk on but I did, and I did because I had a friend beside me.  Those friends mean the world to me, I couldn't get through life without them.  Also, the best friend you could have, a friend that will never fail you, is Jesus.  He is a true friend who will be with you always, through every step of your life.  He is the best friend a person could have because others may fail you but He never will.  "Having these women in my world has meant not only acceptance, but radiant joy and laughter that knocks me right out of my chair.  Through our darkest moments, we have lifted each other up.  In every moment of grief we've shared, our laughter is a life vest, a secure promise that we will not go under."  Oh I love that.  I love that analogy that laughter is a life vest holding us up so we will not sink.  We all need more laughter in our lives, I know I do. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

In My Hands

"In My Hands-Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer" by Irene Gut Opdyke

 I'm not sure where I heard about this book but I am named after Corrie Ten Boom so it seems that anything to do with the holocaust interests me.  I bought a used book and to my surprise it is signed by the author!  This book was simply amazing.  It is about a women who protects numerous Jews during the holocaust.  She works for a general in the army and hides 10 Jews in his cellar!  The courage this one woman had is simply beautiful.  "It is a terrible irony of war, that nature itself does not rebel when man turns against his brother.  I have seen nightmares take place on beautiful spring days.  The birds can hop from one branch to another, tipping their heads and honing their small beaks against the bark while a child dies in the mud below."  "We did not speak of what we had seen.  At the time, to speak of it seemed worse than sacrilege: We had witnessed a things so terrible that it acquired a dreadful holiness.  It was a miracle of evil.  It was not possible to say with words what we had witnessed, and so we kept it safely guarded until the time when we could bring it out, and show it to others, and say, 'Behold.  This is the worst thing man can do.'"  The horrible things that this woman and others saw is really beyond comprehension.  When I read of the holocaust I always find myself asking, how could people be so cruel?  How could the killing of millions be allowed?  And always the hardest question, what would I have done had I lived at that time?  I would highly recommend this book although it is not for the faint of heart.  But it does tell of the courage of one woman who refused to believe anything other than the fact that ALL are created equal.