Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Saturday Night Widows

"Saturday Night Widows" by Becky Aikman

This book is about 6 women who suddenly find themselves widows at an early age.  They are women who don't fit the mold of a widow.  Women whose lives have taken a drastic turn and they find themselves floundering and needing help navigating their new paths.  It is an unlikely group but the loss of their husbands has brought them together, that might just be the only thing they have in common.  "There's nothing you can do.  My husband was the best thing I ever had.  When I lost him, my life changed in an instant.  But this has made me totally fearless.  Because the worst thing that could happen has already happened."  Perspective, we all need it, and sometimes it comes in the form of hardship and loss.  "I often wondered about the definition of home.  Is it the place where you live, or is it the place where the people you love reside?  And if the people you love are gone, where is home then?"  The death of someone so close turns your world upside down, so many people feel lost.  "Then there was the missing.  The bottomless missing.  Of course, I knew that I would miss Bernie, but what I didn't know until those hyperconscious nights was that grieving would be so much more than any missing I'd experienced up to now."  "How does a human being remake a life when it's shattered by loss?"  That is the question that begs to be answered.  How do you hold on to the past and remember but still press on and make a future?  "Humor is one of the strongest predictors of an eventual return to emotional equilibrium."  You've got to be able to laugh.  Loss is hard, life is hard, but when you can laugh you can be okay.  "But grief has a way of invading the simplest things, the most everyday things, the happiest things, sometimes more than the sad ones."  It comes in waves and surprises you at moments.  "Sometimes, in order to get strong, it's necessary to...face the pain."  And oh is that hard and scary, but the only way past it is through it.  "Because she's fearless to the point where she doesn't care if she fails."  That is a kind of fearlessness that we all need, to not be afraid to fail.  Big things happen when we try and do not care what others think.  Success comes from those kind of failures.  "I'm trying to come to appreciate the not knowing."  For us planners, the not knowing can be torturous.  That is where the big faith comes in.  "How safe we feel with each other.  It's sacred."  And that is something to truly be thankful for, another human being that God has graced you with that you can be yourself with.  It truly is a gift.  "Yes, I still knew, attachment can be suffering.  Attachment can be scary.  Attachment can be messy.  But attachment is life."  And life without attachment is no life at all.  I enjoyed this book and the resilliance of these women striving to make a new life from the rubble.  They embraced the fact that loss is not the end, it is hard, but it doesn't have to be the end.      

Monday, November 18, 2013

Traveling Mercies

"Traveling Mercies" by Anne Lamott

This is about the author, Anne, and how she came to have faith.  It is quirky, and colorful and not at all righteous.  Each of our journeys are different, each are our own.  "I guess it's like discovering you're on the shelf of a pawnshop, dusty and forgotten and maybe not worth very much.  But Jesus comes in and tells the pawnbroker, 'I'll take her place on the shelf.  Let her go outside again.'"  Sometimes we feel like we aren't worth very much but Jesus says we are each worth a Son.  "And that is why I have stayed so close to mine-because no matter how bad I am feeling, how lost or lonely or frightened, when I see the faces of the people at my church, and hear their tawny voices, I can always find my way home."  This is what it shoudl be like, I just don't think it always is.  But this is what God meant, for the body of Christ to be this to one another.  "We in our faith work stumble along toward where we think we're supposed to go, bumbling along, and here is what's so amazing-we end up getting exactly where we're supposed to be."  Thanks to the hand of God directing our paths.  "I always thought that was heroic of her, that it spoke of such integrity to refuse to pretend that you're doing well just to help other poeple deal with the fact that sometimes we face an impossible loss."  Refusing to pretend takes such courage especially when others around you want and need you to be ok.  "She said that the world sometimes feels like the waiting room of the emergency ward and that we who are more or less OK for now need to take the tenderest possible care of the more wounded people in the waiting room until the healer comes."  I love this word picture.  "...in which he said that he's so savoring the moments of his life right now, so acutely aware of the love and small pleasures that he no longer feels that he has a life-threatening desease: he now says he's leading a disease-threatening life."  What a change of perspective.  "But courage is fear that has said its prayers."  We can all then be courageous, all it takes is some prayer.  "And then I remembered this basic principle that God isn't there to take away our suffering or our pain but to fill it with His presence."  He doesn't promise an easy life free of hurt or pain but He does promise to be there in the midst.  "When you make friends with fear; it can't rule you."  I'm not sure how to do that but I'm willing.  This was a interesting little read with lots of good tidbits.  It was quirky, fun and enlightening.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dream New Dreams

"Dream New Dreams" by Jai Pausch

This book is written by the widow of Randy Pausch, who wrote "The Last Lecture".  That was a great book if you haven't read it, it is also on YouTube.  Randy died of pancreatic cancer.  After reading that book I wanted to read what his wife's perspective on his cancer and death.  This book is a very real book of the toll cancer takes on a whole family.  Randy and Jai have three young children.  Jai was thrown into the role of caregiver and writes how hard a job that is but how she wouldn't have traded it. She is a strong woman who has overcome and dared to dream again.  "When you are in difficult straits, identifying the areas where you need an extra hand or a smarter brain takes honesty and courage."  I think we try and do so much on our own because we are afraid to ask for help, afraid of being vulnerable and needy but that is what family and friends are for, to help each other.  That is why God gives us community.  "Please don't die, all the magic will go out of my life."  Jai said these words to her husband, fearing that when he did die there would be no life for her to live, that he would take all the good with him.  "His stories show the reader how our actions and treatment of other people have  a powerful impact on the shape of our lives."  When we give and serve others our lives are enriched and given purpose.  "Here in the safety of friends, the sadness didn't feel as heavy as when I was alone.  Perhaps that was because each of us held a little piece of grief's mantle."  I love that.  When we have community we are all sharing the good and the bad, carrying the burdens and celebrating the joys.  "I didn't have to be handcuffed to the past.  I had to learn to give myself the freedom to do what was best for my family."  "Most important, I was learning not to look at today through the lens of yesterday, which made the promise of tomorrow all the more magical."  So often we stay stuck in the past, past mistakes, past hurts, and that is not what God has for us.  Life is for the living and we need to walk in that freedom.  "At times, I still feel overwhelmed.  I think that's true for many parents-we're frightened by the fact that our children's lives are in our hands; it's a weighty responsibility."  A very weighty responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly.  Thankfully we have a God we can entrust our children to and pray to help guide them.  "I saw that the magic hadn't gone out of our lives when Randy died.  The magic was still with us, inside us.  It always had been."  "I had a wound that would heal according to no specific time line."  Grief takes many forms and takes lots of time.  Everyone deals differently and at different times.  "Randy said, 'In all likelihood, cancer is going to defeat my body, but it's not going to defeat my soul because the human spirit is much more powerful than any biological disease.'"  That is right, we can be hurt and even die but when we have Jesus we live on, free from death with Him forever.  "Life is a precious gift, and I don't intend to waste a day of it. Have I experienced tragedy? Yes, I have.  But it would be another real tragedy if I didn't recover from the sadness I have felt and thus missed the many happy moments along the way."  Most of us have experienced some sort of tragedy but we must keep living or we miss the beauty that God makes from those ashes.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Heavenly Miracles

"Heavenly Miracles" by Jamie C. Miller, Laura lewis, and Jennifer Basye Sander

This is just a short collaboration of stories about people who experienced miracles in their life.  It's a quick little read that is uplifting.  It's great to hear how God is working in others lives and that He still performs miracles today.  "In the midst of everyday stress and struggle, we want to believe and be reassured that there is a greater purpose to our lives."  Everyone wants to make sure that their is some pupose to their life, even the mundane of life.  We are all seeking greater meaning.  "Miracles that save lives are not always dramatic rescues; sometimes they are simply brought about by the guiding hand of love."  "You are special and worthy of a miracle because you are loved."  Everyone is worthy of a miracle because we are all created and loved by God.  Sometimes our eyes just need to be opened to the little every day miracles that happen and sometimes God has bigger ones in store for us.  These stories will bring a smile to your face and remind you that there is a God who cares and He is in the business of miracles.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Don't Go

"Don't Go" by Lisa Scottoline

I devoured this book, it was so good!  I'm in a time crunch because I checked out 6 books at the library and have to get them all read before they are due.  I'm feeling the pressure but thankful I can read fast.  I just grabbed this book off of the New Release shelf because the cover grabbed me.  It is about a man who goes to war (I'm a sucker for war books) and leaves behind a wife and baby daughter.  He ends up getting wounded and comes home to his life that is in shambles.  Nothing is as he left it, his medical practice is a mess, his wife dead and his baby girl a stranger.  How will he piece his life back together?  Will he ever be the father that his daugher needs?  Will he ever recover from his losses?  This book took some twists that I didn't see coming.  It turned out to be a little bit of a mystery which I don't normally read but this one caught me by surprise and I liked it.  It was very well written and engaged me every with page turn.  It again, left me thankful for all the people who serve our country, fighting for my freedom.  They sacrifice so much.  "She's only human.  Don't judge her.  Just love her."  We are all only human.  We all judge but we all need to do less judging and more loving, showing grace to each other because after all, we are only human.  "Here's what I think.  If I hadn't gone over there, I wouldn't be the father I am.  I wouldn't be the man I am.  War changes everything, and everybody.  It changed me, and the sacrifice changed me.  I've decided to live my life in a way that honors that sacrifice, and all the sacrifices."  War does change everyone involved in it and the circle is big.  The only thing is to live honoring the sacrifice that was paid.  I also see this for the sacrifice that Christ gave us on the cross.  He gave everything and I want my life to honor that sacrifice.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Yellow Birds

"The Yellow Birds" by Kevin Powers

Not a good book, not worth your time.  This is the first book for this author and I think, should be his last.  I'm not sure where I got the idea to read this book but after I finished I was just plain mad I wasted my time reading it.  It was written very strangely and thus made it hard to understand.  When I got to the end I was asking what was even the point.  It is a very detailed book which is not my kind of book at all, too tedious and boring if you ask me.  It is about two soilders going off to war in Iraq.  It is about what the war does to them and about loss.  They are both young and forced to fight a war that doesn't make sense nor were they prepared for.  "We only pay attention to rare things, and death was not rare."  Death in a war is not rare and in order to keep going and survive I believe soilders shut off their brains and move on auto pilot.  "All pain is the same.  Only the detials are different."  Pain is hard and it hurts and we all experience it in some way, just in different ways.  "I feel like I'm being eaten from the inside out and I can't tell anyone what's going on because everyone is so grateful to me all the time and I'll feel like I'm ungrateful or something.  Or like I'll give away that I don't deserve anyone's gratitide and really they should all hate me for what I've done but eveyone loves me for it and it's driving me crazy."  A soilder said this when he came home from the war.  He felt like everything he did was wrong and he didn't deserve gratitude.  He hated himself for all that he had done and couldn't understand why others didn't hate him as well.  Really this story is sad.  It it yet another glimpse of our soilders and all the pain and darkness they encounter.  How do you unsee what you've seen in war?  How do you ever undo the things you've done in battle?  How do you ever recover from that?  I'm grateful to our soilders and their families.  I pray they find Jesus to bring them peace and healing after fighting for my freedom.  And as a side note this book has a lot of swearing in it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Chance

"The Chance" by Karen Kingsbury

This is a story about a girl whose family has fallen apart.  She is forced to move and leave behind her best friend, Nolan.  The night before she is to leave town they meet in the park and write a letter to each other, bury it beneath the old oak tree and promise to come back in 11 years and read the letters.  The years go by and Ellie's life looks a lot different and she is ashamed of her choices.  She doesn't ever expect to see Nolan again but that day and her best friend stay hidden in her heart.  Nolan never forgot Ellie and he will do whatever it takes to find her again.  This story is about love conquering all and about forgiveness.  It is a powerful story about choices and how they affect those around us.  "The only right response for the rest of her life was to extend that grace to others, to forgive the way she had been forgiven."  God extends grace to us, and we are so undeserving, in turn we should extend that grace to others.  If your struggling with your choices remember that God forgives and loves you no matter what you have done.  He loves you just the way you are.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cross Roads

"Cross Roads" by WM. Paul Young

This author wrote The Shack.  Don't know if you read it but it was somewhat confusing.  Well this starts out just as confusing and lost me for a while.  I started it and didn't like it and put it down for a couple months.  When I picked it up the second time I was determinted to get through it.  I will be honest, it took till about chapter 4 or 5 till it started getting good.  But it finally did get good and then I couldn't put it down.  So you have to stick with this one.  It is about a man who is in a coma and meets Jesus.  He is told that he can heal one person, any one person.  The story goes back and forth from earth to the in-between life where the man is while in a coma.  The book is funny, has lots of truth to it and also takes some liberties.  "Hold on to Jesus, Anthony.  You can never go wrong by holding on to Jesus.  And know this, He will never stop holding on to you."  Truth, Jesus never lets us go even in our darkest or worst moments.  "There are lots of folks besides Christians who believe in me. 'Believer' is an activity, not a category."  To believe involves doing.  "Love will not condemn you for being lost, but love will not let you stay there alone, even though it will never force you to come out of your hiding place."  Love never condemns and never forces.  "The arrival of the unforseen reveals the depths of one's heart."  When life suddenly takes a turn it tends to really show whats truly inside of us.  "There is nothin' fair in a broken world full of broken people.  Justice tries to be fair, but fails at every turn.  There is never anything fair about grace or forgiveness.  Punishment never restores fair.  Confession doesn't make things fair.  Life is not about granting the fair reward for the right performance."  Just as things that happen in this world are not fair neither is the grace we receive.  "Sometimes silence speaks loudest and presence brings the most comfort."  Sometimes all we need to do is be there.  "Somehow the pain, the losses, the hurt, the bad, God is able to transform these into something they could have never been, icons and monuments of grace and love.  It is the deep mystery how wounds and scars can become precious, or a ravaging and terrifying cross the essential symbol of relentless affection."  He always turns beauty for ashes if we allow Him.  "What initally kept you safe can eventually destroy you."  Sometimes we build walls for protection and that is good but if we never tear down those walls they will be what kills us in the end.  "But I discovered that when you blame God for evil, there is no one left to trust, and I couldn't live that way."  "Prayer, it seemed, was simply a conversation inside a relationship."  It's really that simple.  There is no right or wrong way, it's just a conversation.  "One never knows if anything's a good idea.  You just make a choice and go with the flow and see what happens.  You only get one day's worth of grace, so why not spend it extravagantly." 

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Longest Ride

"The Longest Ride" by Nicholas Sparks

I got this book for my birthday.  It is his newest book published in September and I think this is the soonest I've gotten one of his books.  I was so excited to read it, he never disappoints.  I dob't know how he continues to write such good books.  This book was a change up from what I have been reading.  It was nice to read something a little lighter.  The story is about an old man at the end of his life, reliving precious memories of the years with his wife and of another young couple just starting out on this road of life.  The couples come from two different eras but soon their lives will connect in ways no one saw coming.  "You kissed me, yes, but it was not just good night.  Even then, I could feel the promise in it, the promise that you would kiss me just like that, forever."  Isn't Nicholas a great writer?  "I think that the point is that people rarely understand that nothing is ever exactly what you think it will be."  That's one of the hardest things to comes to terms with in this life.  We think we will be happily married or we will have well behaved children, or children at all.  We think we will always be healthy or strong.  Often times what we envision our lives to be is rarely what actually is.  But remembering that God has plans even when things aren't what we thought they would be, even in the hardest of times, gives us hope and a rock to stand on.  "For it is one thing to declare one's love for someone and quite another to accept that loving that person requires sacrificing one's dreams."  We say we love but when it comes to sacrificing what we want, that's when love gets real.  That's when love gets hard.  "Your heart is still beautiful.  Your eyes are still kind, and you are a good and honest man.  This is enought to keep you beautiful forever."  Doesn't matter what we look like on the outside, even the most beautiful face will age, what matters and what lasts is the beauty within.  "At night, the space between us in the bed felt like the Pacific, an ocean impossible for either of us to swim across."  Sometimes it feels that way, doesn't it?  A chasm so wide we cannot cross or a wall so big we cannot climb it?  But with God all things are possible and sometimes we just have to show up and be willing to take the first step towards the other person, even if they were in the wrong.  It's sacrificing, putting away our pride-hard love.  "A truth emerges in any long marriage, and the truth is this: Our spouses sometimes know us better than we even know ourselves."  "I know you miss me terribly.  I miss you, too.  But we still have each other, for I am-and always have been-part of you.  You carry me in your heart, just as I carried you in mine, and nothing will ever change that."  Oh I love that.  When you truly love you become a part of each other and when that person is gone a part of you is missing but they are in your heart, forever a part of you.  Another great Nicholas Sparks book, another great read.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


"Divine" by Karen Kingsbury

If you have been a follower of this blog you know that a favorite of mine is Karen Kingsbury.  Once again, she doesn't dissapoint.  This book is about a modern day Mary Magdalene.  A woman who was saved from demons by Jesus and became a part of His ministry.  A woman who witnessed the cross and was the first to see the risen Jesus.  This is a story of Mary who is lost to her sin and abuse.  A woman who needs rescuing, as we all do.  A woman who is rescued and in turn, with Christ's power, rescues others just like her.  "Women who practice abstinence are healthy women in every sense of the word.  The same is true for young men.  When they make a choice to wait, they tell the world they are worthwhile, valuable, special.  Every other action they take toward their future will fall in line with those feelings."  When we feel worth something or valuable we are less likely to cave to outside pressure, we are more likely to stand up for what we believe.  "I almost believed the lie that killing myself was the only way to find freedom.  But it isn't.  You do that, and the nightmare will continue as long as your daughers live.  Every day of their lives they'll wonder why their mama didn't love them enough to live."  I understand the desperation behind suicide, it's a hopelessness and a pain so deep you just want it to stop.  But the pain is passed on to those who are left behind.  And God offers the hope, the rescue you are looking for.  He has a plan for each one of us, even in the midst of the pain.  "Because people can't be judged by their clothes or their hair or their skin.  But only by the way they love Jesus."  Thats all that really matters, how we love Jesus.  "The horrors that come with abuse are not always expainable.  It's bondage."  Bondage that only Christ can set a person free from.  "Abuse is never fair.  It leaves its mark on everyone involved."  An indelible mark that once again only Jesus can erase.  He wants to make us new creations, not just give healing, but new creations.  "When people give their lives to Christ, He gives them His Spirit.  It breathes from the center of the soul, giving life to the heart and shining bright through the eyes of believers."  "That serving Him is all the life, all the love I could ever want, all by itself."  Now that is something to strive for.  "Telling her story was draining.  It took her back to unspeakable darkness and horror, back to the doubts and uncertainties and loneliness that had driven her into a life that should've killed her.  But she would tell it over and over again until she died, for the privilege of having a woman like Emma ask her about Jesus."  That is what makes all the pain, hurt and sorrow worth it, being able to use your story for redemption.  That is exactly how Christ turns beauty for ashes, how none of the trials or horrors that we go through are in vain.  "Jesus died to take all the pain from yesterday, to offer people a new life, a new start today.  A start that would build one tomorrow on top of another until change in that life became obvious to everyone.  It was true.  The power of Christ wasn't a one-time fix.  It would keep working in her life today and tomorrow and every day that she woke up believing the truth."  God doesn't stop working in us, as long as we hold on to His truths He continues to make us new.  This is a great story of love and redemption.  It is a story about abuse that is sometimes hard to read but most of all it is a story of God's great love for each of us.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Soul Catcher

"The Soul Catcher" by Michael White

I got this book in a pile with some others.  I'm intrigued by slavery days and all that the blacks endured.  I'm saddened by the fact that this is part of our American history.  I've read numerous slavery books but this one was more from the standpoint of the whites.  It is about a runaway slave and the slave catcher who is hired to go after her.  Cain, the slave catcher is quite good at what he does but his life has only been a life of running away himself, a life of pain.  Through his journey to find Rosetta, the runaway slave, he discovers things about himself that he has kept hidden.  "Like it or not, slavery binds us all.  Master and slave alike."  It truly does.  Unfortunately we are all slaves to something.  But that is what Jesus came to earth for, to free us from our bondage.  "If God decided to put life in me who was I to say no to it?"   Controversial I know, but I dare go there.  We aren't the ones who decide if life is given or taken away.  Often times we think we have such control but really we don't.  God is the One who gives life and takes it away.  "Lot's of folks, especially white folks, find it easier to deny their goodness than go through the trouble of doing what they know's right."  It's not always easy to do what is right, especially when we are just doing what others have done before us.  But God is asking all of us to take a stand, even when it goes against others.  This book comes with a warning as it does have cursing and graphic details of harsh treatment done to the slaves.  But I have never read a book about slavery that didn't make me wince from the brutality of it.  God did create us all equal, none better than another.  We would all be better off to remember this.  This is a good book, where in the end the reality of what our fathers have done before us is not always the right way.  

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Glass Castle

"The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls

This book will astound and amaze you.  It is a memoir about the authors childhood.  She had a drunk father and a mother who didn't want the responsibility of raising children.  They were always moving from place to place, as her father could never hold down a job.  He was not an abusive or mean drunk but he could never provide consistently for his family.  The children learned to fend for themselves, often went hungry and helped each other.  The circumstances that were endured were crazy but this family still stuck together.  The oldest sister ended up in New York and soon the other three followed.  The children were able to build their lives.  Their parents eventually followed them there and even though their children tried to help they preferred to be homeless.  This is a very eccentric family and very resourceful.  The children were determined to get out of the situation they grew up in and make better lives for themselves.  They didn't let where they came from stop them from their future.  This truly is an astounding book.  A very good read.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Kitchen House

"The Kitchen House" by Kathleen Grissom

This was a great book.  A really intense book but so, so good.  Once again I couldn't put it down.  It is about an orphaned Irish girl who becomes a slave.  She finds her "family" in the black slaves who also serve the household.  She is young and does not see the color of her skin as different from the other slaves but they know one day she will be the one in the big house.  The story is told from two viewpoints, Lavinia the Irish girl and Belle, a black slave.  The book really brings you into the story and leaves you sad at all the wrong done to slaves, appalled at the secrets in families and proud of those that stood with kindness no matter skin color.  "What the color is, who the daddy be, who the mama is don't mean nothin'.  We a family, carin' for each other.  Family make us strong in times of trouble.  We all stick together, help each other out.  That the real meanin' of family."  We are all family, all attached to one another in some way.  We all can help each other, doesn't matter where we came from, where we are going or what we look like, we are called to help others.  This book shows that clearly.  It was a heartbreakingly good book.  I'm always astounded that slavery is a part of America's history, it grieves me.  And I know forms of it still exist today.  God weeps for those that others call outcasts and He loves them just as much.  May we right the wrongs that have been done.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Flickering Light and An Absence So Great

"A Flickering Light" and "An Absence So Great" by Jane Kirkpatrick

Honestly, these weren't the best books or even great books.  After I read the first I wasn't sure I was going to read the second but I did.  The first book is about a girl named Jessie who loves photography.  She gets a job in a studio, 1907, and proves that a woman can make her way in the mans profession.  But she has a hard time controlling her passionate emotions when it comes to her married boss.  I think that I just didn't like the premise of this story.  But there is struggle with right and wrong and letting God lead.  "Faith, hope and love are the three eternities.  To look up and not down, that is Faith; to look forward and not back, that is Hope; and then to look out and not in, that is Love."  None of these are easy but I like the simplicity of the statement.  Looking up to God and not our circumstances, is having faith.  Being able to put the past behind and press on is having hope.  And serving others and looking to others interest is love in its purest form.  "Kindness and compassion, sturdiness in a storm.  These are the qualities that truly marked a man."  I love the "sturdiness in a storm".  That is what husbands should be to their wives, the one place you can count on for peace when the rest of the world is swirling around you.
The second book Jessie has gained confidence in her photography skills and moves from home to help other photographers in their studios.  She hope to put her romantic feelings behind her and pursue her dream.  But it seems no matter how far she travels she can not forget her forbidden love.  I did not like the way that this book ended.  I'm not even sure I would recommend these books.  The one thing I did like was the way Jessie pursued her dream even when she was told it was not a woman's place.  She never let anyone deter her from her passion no matter how hard the road.  "Suzanne was bound by the desire all have when faced with grave emptiness: the yearning to keep the old routines, hoping they might wash away despair.  And yet they couldn't because something-everything-had changed."  When someone we love is taken from our lives we want to keep the same routine to nothing will change but like this says, everything has changed and so we must change with it.  "Memories aren't supposed to hold us hostage.  They're meant to transform us, make us different, but in a good way.  When someone is missing from our lives, I think the memories of them ought to bring us comfort, a hopefulness that even though they're gone, we have them here.  We will know them in ways no one else ever will, so they stay a part of our lives."  Memories are supposed to be a good thing, even of one who is not longer with us.  They should bring joy of the time that we had with them.  "I only meant that it is part of human nature to grieve, and that, at some point, as God sustains us and we hear His words, we are able to move forward.  Never forgetting the loss-no, not ever that-but not allowing that absence in our lives to be so great that we no longer see the sunlight for its warmth, or fail to notice snowflakes or forget to listen to the laughter of our children who still walk this earth, who can still put their arms around our necks, seeking comfort."  I think sometimes when we lose someone we love we forget to go on living.  God says that their is a time to grieve and a time for joy.  Yes, there is a grieving period but then there is a time to move on and get on with living, never forgetting but remembering all that one still has to live for.  "How could a man reclaim his future when the past held such sway?"  If we don't let go of the past we can never look to the future.  Our past holds us back from who God wants us to be.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Forgotten Garden

"The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton

Oh my goodness people, this book was sooo good.  It was a happened upon book, a book that was in a box of books my friend let me pilfer through.  It was a dauntingly large book, 551 pages.  But let me tell you, it just might be one of my favorites.  I'm not a mystery reading girl, not into crime and who done it kinda books.  But this book involved mystery, plenty of it, left me guessing and guessing.  I love a book that I can't predict and this was one I couldn't grasp the answers to until the last few chapters.  I literally had to keep reading because I needed to know the answers, needed I tell ya.  The book is about a little girl who is found on a dock in Australia, alone.  The dockmaster takes her home and calls her his own.  When she turns 21 the truth is revealed and her search for her family begins.  She dies before all her answers are found but her granddaughter tries to finish the puzzle of the past.  The past has more questions than answers but it will finally be revealed and the granddaughters life set right again.  This is a must read.  It involves love, and pain and loss and hope.  It is a book about what we do to find where we come from and how far we will go for love.  It is a great book.  Read it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Half Broke Horses

"Half Broke Horses" by Jeannette Walls

This was a great book.  At first I wasn't too sure, thought it might be a little boring and man the writing was small, but once I started I just kept on reading.  It is a true-life novel written about the authors grandmother.  Her grandmother, Lily was tough and loving and kind and hardworking.  She was a go getter and refused to let being a woman stand in her way.  It is a great story of triumph and courage.  "It seemed to me that when you were in the middle of something, it was awful hard to figure out what part of it was God's will and what wasn't."  "Most important thing in life, is learning how to fall."  You learn how to fall you can learn to get up and try again.  "When God closes a window, He opens a door.  But it's up to you to find it."  Theres a way, He always makes a way, sometimes it just takes a little work.  "Every kid was good at something, and the trick was to find out what it was, then use it to teach him everything else."  Just need to find what a person is good at and build on that.  We all have our gifts.  "When someone's wounded, the first order of business is to stop the bleeding.  You can figure out later how best to help them heal."  First you have to meet the immediate need then you can tell them about Jesus.  If they are hungry or cold how can they really hear you?  Show them Jesus first, then tell them.  "When people kill themselves, they think they're ending the pain, but all they're doing is passing it on to those they leave behind."  "I realized that you can get so used to certain luxuries that you start to think they're necessities, but when you have to forgo them, you come to see that you don't need them after all.  There was a big difference between needing things and wanting things-though a lot of people had trouble telling the two apart."  I think we get our needs and wants mixed up a lot.  We forget how much we really do have and what really does matter.  "The problem with being attached to an anchor is it's damned hard to fly."  "She might not have turned out like you planned, but that don't mean she turned out wrong."  That's a good one for us parents to remember.  Just because our kids didn't say, do or think they way we wanted doesn't mean they said, did or thought wrong.  I bet we didn't turn our quite the way our parents thought we would either.

The Sandalwood Tree

"The Sandalwood Tree" by Elle Newmark
This book takes place in India 1947.  An English family lives there and is trying to keep their family together amidst the violence.  The wife, Evie finds some old letters in their house and discovers a story of love and war.  She seeks to find out what the letters don't say.  On this journey she finds the keys to keeping her marriage and family together.  "Wanting is suffering.  Accepting is peace."  We always want more, even when we get what we wanted.  When we find contentment I believe we find peace.  "I have an idea the only thing that makes this life bearable is the beauty we create out of chaos-music, art, poetry, but most of all, living a beautiful life, however one might define that."  Bad happens and we are all dealt some pretty rotten cards but we can make the most of it and find beauty.  God always turns beauty from ashes.  "I smiled back, and we understood each other because everyone smiles in the same language."  Doesn't matter what language you speak, every one knows a smile.  Some things are universal like a smile and hug.  "It's not that the past doesn't matter, it's that the future matters more, and the present matters most of all." Living for today, that is all that we are promised.  The past can shape us, the future can give us hope, but today is a day worth living to the fullest.  Not the greatest book but certainly not the worst.  I liked how it really gave the reader a feel for life in India. I liked the intervening of two stories from two different times and how there is always something to learn from another.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Choosing to See

"Choosing to See" by MaryBeth Chapman

Oh what a great book this was.  I say everyone needs to read it.  If you've ever lost someone or been through a trial, this book is for you.  It is about MaryBeth and Steven Curtis Chapman losing their 5 year old Maria.  It is the story of loss and grief but mostly of finding hope.  It is an honest book that will make you both laugh and cry.  MaryBeth has such great perspective in the wake of such hard loss.  It is a true testimony of how great our God is and how He always turns beauty from ashes.  "What I've found is that it's in the most unlikely times and places of hurt and chaos that God gives us a profound sense of His presence and the real light of His hope in the dark places."  God is there even in the dark. "He is the One who will cause our stories to ultimately end secure and well, right in His arms."  I think that is the most comforting thought when we are going through a tough time.  Ultimately all will end well because it is going to end with being with Jesus.  "She found that her worth was not in what she could do but in what had been done for her through Christ."  That is where we all need to find our worth, not in what the world says is worthy but in what Christ did for us on the cross.  "The years go by in a heartbeat, and then your children twirl right out of your life and into their own."  Cherish the moments.  It's hard to do in the midst of it all but we will look back and wish we had done it more, of that I am sure.  "We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."  This is a quote from C. S. Lewis and it is a good one.  God transforms us during the hard times and sometimes the pain is so painful and we just want it to end, thinking it can't possibly be for our good.  "I could see only a few feet in front of me.  If I could see any further than that, the journey ahead would be too scary.  But He was showing me all that I needed, just a few steps at a time...giving me little glimmers of grace...if I would choose to see."  Sometimes we just have to take one step and we have to choose to see the good in the midst of the mire.  "There are lots of things that don't seem to be fair, and they're so hard.  But girls, God is asked us to do hard.  It really stinks and I wish we didn't have to, but this is what our family has been called to.  If we all stick together, we can do hard."  I love the honesty in that.  Hard stinks but it's often what God is calling us to and when we do it together with Him and our families, willing to stick it out, blessings arise.  "Be blessed today as you put whatever amount of faith you can muster into the hands of the One who holds it all."  Just a little bit of faith is all that God needs to move.  "Shattered dreams are never random.  They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story.  The Holy Spirit uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for God, to help us begin dreaming the highest dream.  They are ordained opportunities for the Spirit to awaken, then to satisfy our highest dream.  This is a quote from Larry Crabb.  Dreams that don't come to pass are just a vehicle for the real dream to flourish.  Nothing is wasted, nothing is forgotten in the eyes of our Lord.  No tear, no sadness, everything is seen by God and used for His glory.  "Not that we have it all together and figured out, but that we are clinging to the only hope we have, the One who does have it all together and figured out, Jesus!"  We don't have to have it all figured out, praise the Lord.  "So as much as we can, we will use our suffering as a place where people see our hope and our faith."  I want that statement to be true of my life.  Whatever suffering I go through I want others to see Jesus through me and that is not an easy thing to exemplify in the midst of pain.  "Even the saddest things can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength for the journey that still lies ahead."  A quote by Frederick Buechner.  I want to be able to use the things that I have come through as strength.  But nothing can be a strength unless we have come to terms with it and found what God was doing.  "I know that suffering is one place where He ministers to us the most."  Oh that's a hard one but it is in our suffering we realize just how much we need Him.  


"Room" by Emma Donoghue

Alright, this might be the strangest book I've read.  Strange but captivating.  Strange but good.  Strange but really strange.  This was on my to-read list although I don't know where I heard about it.  I picked it up at the library not really knowing what it was about just that it was on my list to read.  It is a book written from a 5 year old's perspective.  A boy who's whole world is Room.  A mother who has done her best to create a life for him in the Room but who can barely breathe for having to live in it for the last 7 years.  She doesn't think she can survive much longer and is desperately trying to find a way out for her and her son.  A whole book written like you are talking to a five year old.  I told you it was strange.  But I was impressed how well it was written, I mean that couldn't have been too easy.  And the story kept me reading.  A very interesting story written from a very interesting perspective.  I would recommend it as it is like nothing I've ever read.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Kisses from Katie

"Kisses from Katie" by Katie Davis with Beth Clark

Alright, this might be one of the most amazing books I've read.  I was told about this book and told I had to read it.  Well I read it and now I'm telling you to read it.  It's amazing and convicting and sad and beautiful and amazing.  Katie Davis is a 18 year old girl who feels like God has called her to Uganda.  She takes a short trip there and finds herself.  She is now living there and has adopted 14 girls.  She is just 18!  She truly understands what it is to live out her faith.  She certainly puts my faith to shame.  "And even though I realize I cannot always mend or meet, I can enter in.  I can enter into someone's pain and sit with them and know.  This is Jesus.  Not that He apologizes for the hard and the hurt, but that He enters in, He comes with us to the hard places.  And so I continue to enter."  Sometimes coming alongside is all that we can do.  "Why do I care so much? The answer is simple: Because the Lord who created you loves you.  Because He created you for a purpose and He wants you to fulfill that purpose.  Because the God who knows every hair on your head desires to lift you out of this dust and into His glory."  We care because He cares, because every single one of us was created in His image.  "Adoption is a redemptive response to tragedy that happens in this broken world.  And every single day, it is worth it, because adoption is God's heart."  Adoption isn't easy but it is worth it because it is God's love displayed just like He adopts us.  "Frederick Beuchner writes, 'The last place God calls us to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.'" I think that is a beautiful picture of doing what God called a person to do.  "I was learning that the powerless, broken, dependent place was actually the place where the Lord was closest to me."  Funny how He finds us in our brokenness, a place where we feel along, He is with us.  "I want to give my life away for Christ.  I want to exemplify Him in my every day.  I want to live an open and expansive life, giving myself freely to all those around me for His glory.  God answers this prayer every day of my life with new opportunities.  I want to live openly and expansively, loving my neighbor as myself, until Jesus comes back."  I think this would be a great prayer for the start of every day.  I say I want this but then I question myself and think, do I really want this?  "The assurance that I must obey and be faithful only to what He has asked of me, even when tangible, earthly results or successes are not seen."  Just doing the next best thing that He asks, no matter the results, just obedience.  "God's love made known is worth it, even if only to one.  I will not save them all.  But I will keep trying.  I will say 'Yes.' I will stop for one."  If we only share His love with one other person at least that is one more soul saved. We must love, one person at a time, one heart, one soul at a time.  "Courage is not about knowing the path.  It is about taking the first step."  And that first step takes a whole lot of courage, but God is there and He will not let me falter, He will pick me up, He will guide me.  "I have learned along my journey that if I really want to follow Jesus, I will go to the hard places.  Being a Christ follower means being acquainted with sorrow.  Joy costs pain, but the pain is worth it.  After all, the murder had to take place before the resurrection."  Those are some deep and hard words.  In this life we try and avoid pain, at all cost but, we will never know true joy without that pain.  When we go to those hard places with others we can share that there is unspeakable joy after the pain.  "Suffering.  Rejoicing.  Squalor.  Beauty.  Love.  Pain.  These are the things that surround me, and all of them are from Him.  This life is beautiful and terrible and simple and difficult, and He is using it for His glory."  All of it.  All of it is for His glory.  I can endure when I know that His glory will be shown.  "They are the least of these, they are His heart, and He is coming for them and for us."   

Thursday, June 6, 2013

In Every Heartbeat

"In Every Heartbeat" by Kim Vogel Sawyer

In this book three friends that grew up in an orphanage together go off to college.  They each have their plans of what their futures will look like.  Once so bonded by their circumstances they find themselves with different hopes and opinions.  One of them finds out a shocking truth about the others family and they end up finding what true friendship is all about.  This was another book that took a few chapters to get into.  I often don't have the patience for that but I am usually glad that I persevere and I wasn't disappointed with this book.  "Temptation will plague you, so you must resist temptation.  One slip, just one time of allowing immoral thoughts or actions to seize you and you can fall into a pit of ruin."  It's a slippery slope.  And our sin affects so many others.  "Some dreams are meant to be that-only dreams, dissipating with the morning light.  But you won't know for sure until you've tasted them."  We have to take steps to try out our dreams, willing to risk.  Sometimes we find out they weren't meant to be but sometimes we find out that they were and the adventure that God had planned for you begins.  "No matter what I'm doing-whether it's throwing a baseball or working on my assignments or sitting here talking to you-God's Spirit is with me.  I represent Him.  And I want to represent Him well.  When people look at me, I want them to see God's love played out before their eyes."  What a great statement.  We all represent Him, the question is do we represent Him positively or negatively.  I yearn for God's love to be seen in my life.  "But He's here, right now, loving both of us just like He always has.  Our problem is we've been trying to find Him in the midst of our own selfish wants instead of realizing He's waiting in the middle of where He needs us to be."  Sometimes we look for God and it seems He isn't there but He is always with us.  We often look at the problem that seems so big we can't see the small details of God's hands.  This book teaches the values of friendship and how our early lives affect how we view who we are in this world.  It talks about a loving God who is always with us and pursuing us even when we are running the opposite direction.  Good messages and a good read.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Though Waters Roar

"Though Waters Roar" by Lynn Austin

It took me a couple chapters to get into this book but, once I got into it I didn't want to put it down.  It isn't a fast read and you have to keep track as the story goes from present to past back and forth a lot.  But I liked that the flow was a little different, it kept my attention.  A woman finds herself and jail and looks back on her life to figure out how she ended up in this place.  She never wanted to be like her beautiful sister and mother or join their social circles.  She loved and wanted to be just like her Grandmother Bebe. Her grandmother fought for justice and had meaning to her life.  Harriet wanted her life to mean something but she was afraid that she landed herself in jail for all the wrong reasons and would break her grandmothers heart for those very same reasons.  "But someday when you're all grown up, God is going to give you a task to do in your own time and place.  Then you'll have to put your faith in Him as you follow your conscience."  We all have a task that God has given us, each different.  What He has called me to isn't necessarily what He has called my children to.  We must help each other realize what that task is and encourage one another in it.  "When the sun comes up, we need to ask the Lord, 'What would you like me to do for you today?' That's how you'll find contentment."   We find contentment in doing the work of The Lord not in our own agendas.  "It's a wonderful thing to fall in love.  But make sure that both you and the man you marry love the Lord even more than each other."  He is what will hold you together because love ebbs and flows.  "We can't expect other people to meet all of our needs, all of the time.  Only Christ can do that perfectly.  That's why I know that if you turn to Him, you'll find contentment."  Another reason that God be the center of your marriage because we fail each other, we can't meet all of our spouses needs but God can.  "When we don't get our own way, and when our life doesn't turn out the way we think it should, we face a choice.  We can let bitterness grow or let the love of God grow."  It is so very easy to let bitterness grow, but that only hurts ourselves in the long run.  Life rarely turns out the way you thought but God can use is all.  He always turns beauty from ashes, always. "Ask God to heal your broken heart.  He can put the pieces back together the right way so you'll be able to love your husband the way God does-forgiving him seventy times seven and wanting only the best for him.  Ask God to give you Christ's love for him, not your own imperfect love."  We can only love like this with God.  We can only chose to forgive and love after hurt with God.  "There is no shame in changing direction.  In fact, once you've see the warning signs, it's always wise to turn around."  Nothing wrong in admitting you are wrong or that you took a wrong choice.  If you know its the wrong path, turn and take the right one.  "God loves her, even if I find it hard to.  And I'm responsible before God for how I treat her."  Some people are hard to love and may not be kind but we are only responsible for the way we treat them.  "Love isn't always a feeling.  Sometimes it's a decision."  Sometimes it's a very hard decision and that is why we need God.  "Harriet has to find her own happiness in life, and living to please another person is never going to accomplish that.  Living to please God is what matters.  Meanwhile, we have to trust that He'll arrange the events in Harriet's life in order to lead her to the purpose He has for her."  When we live to please others we always fall short but when we live to please God we are always enough.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Winter Dream

"A Winter Dream" by Richard Paul Evans

I've read a couple of books by this author and I really do like him.  He writes quick little books but they pack a good punch.  They always get me thinking and have great messages.  I often wonder how he can pack such powerful messages in such short books.  That takes a good writer.  This book is about a man named Joseph who dreams things that become reality.  It has a really unique take on an old story.  It is actually the modern day story of Joseph from the Bible.  This was a great read.  Another Christmas book in May.  "I think it's beautiful that you would sacrifice yourself for your brother, but I hate that your brothers used your love against you.  Love should never be used as a weapon."  I agree, but it often is, isn't it?  Love gets twisted and distorted and used against us when it isn't God's love.  "Relationships either grow or die, but they never stay the same."  If we don't take care of our relationships they die, they take work and they are always changing.  "Relationships, by nature, require trust, and trust cannot grow in the fog of secrecy."  Trust begins and ends with honesty and so do relationships.  "Is it wisdom to search out what will hurt us most?  Is painful truth better than ignorant bliss?"  I'll just let you ponder that one.  "Sometimes our cruelest acts come not from meaning to do wrong but from not trying hard enough not to."  Sometimes we hurt because we haven't tried hard enough not to hurt.  "Caution never breeds greatness.  Caution is the birthplace of mediocrity."  Nobody wants mediocre, throw caution to the wind.  "Even a broken heart can still hold love."  Sometimes in our brokenness is when we are able to love the best.  "Oftentimes it's the smallest, seemingly inconsequential acts that make the biggest differences in our lives."  And oftentimes we don't even know it. "Life's greatest lessons are often those we most wished to avoid."  Oh how very, very true.  We avoid the hard stuff, wanting to shelter ourselves from pain but in the hard stuff we find out how strong we really are, how loved we are and often, who we really are.


"Epiphany" by Paul McCusker

This book is a Christmas book and I read it in May, that's ok.  It's about an old man who dies and sees his children as they are told about his death and how they each deal with it.  In his death he sees his children more clearly and in his death they realize the depth of his love.  It is a quick read and unique in its perspective.  "I also believed that all creativity comes from the same source: the soul, our meeting-place with God."   We create out of the secret place where we each individually meet with God.  And out of this place beautiful things come, art that connects with others.  "An empty canvas is no good until it is used for the purpose it was created to serve."  That is what our lives are, empty canvases.  We were all created to serve God and until we realize this we won't find our true purpose.  "I should have said that parents don't treat their children the same; they try to adjust to their children's personalities and do what's right for them as individuals."  Parenting is no easy task and each child is different.  We do our best to train them in the way that they should go.  A quick read with a good message, a message of love of a parent and a child, no matter the age.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Horse Boy

"The Horse Boy" by Rupert Isaacson

This book is a true story about a dad with an autistic son who goes to great lengths to find help and healing for him.  All the conventional therapies were not helping his son, really only making him more frustrated and reclusive.  Nature seemed to help Rowan relax the most.  One day when Rowen was taking a walk with his dad they came upon the neighbors horse and it was clear there was an instant connection.  Rupert, the dad, was a horseman himself and decided to see what would happen if Rowan was to ride with him.  It transformed Rowen.  So Rupert decided to take his son on a journey to visit the first horse people and to visit ancient shamans.  A shaman is a person who acts as intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds, especially among certain tribal peoples.  Rupert was desperate for his son to be healed.  He took his son and literally traveled to the ends of the earth, to Siberia and Mongolia.  I certainly don't believe in spirits but I am in awe of this father's love and his willingness to do whatever it took to find healing for his son.  The story will amaze and shock you.  "Sometimes you need what's familiar to help you face what isn't."  True isn't it?  Even in an unfamiliar place if we have just one thing from home we can be ok.  "But to see a landscape that has changed not one whit from the way it looked when it came out of God's hands, that is a rare thing."  What beauty, what awe inspiring beauty.  They traveled to lands that have not been touched and it was breathtaking.  "We seemed to be pushing our planet, ourselves, further and further into ill health, unable to stop whether we wanted to or not."  I think we can stop, one small step at a time.  We can each do something, recycle, reuse, buy less, plant gardens.  We can all do something.  "All that cannot be explained by the rational is cast out as heresy.  Yet so much of our lives is governed by things we cannot hope to quantify in rational or scientific terms.  Like love, for instance.  Everybody experiences it, craves it, requires it for his or her very existence, knows it's there.  But no one can explain it, break it down into physics and chemistry."  Sometimes there just is no explanation.  Sometimes we just have to believe.

The Reluctant Journey of David Connors

"The Reluctant Journey of David Connors" by Don Locke

This book was a little strange, different from most books I read.  It is about a man who is a workaholic and is separated from his wife.  He doesn't know how to fix things and thinks about jumping off of a building.  But then his life takes a turn when he finds a carpetbag that magically creates gifts for people, gifts that people need.  David and a stranger go on a journey that will lead both of them to deal with decisions they have made in life and face what they fear the most.  I liked the book, albeit strange.  "From that day on I had stuffed those feelings of heartache and self-blame so deep within me that they appeared to be gone."  The funny thing is we stuff and stuff but one day they come out.  Sometimes we do not even realize why we are doing what we are doing but it is the emotions that we have stuffed so long ago coming out.  Stuffing is never a good idea, seems like it at the time, but it isn't.   This book spoke of redemption and showing ourselves and others grace.  I appreciated its message.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Carry On, Warrior

"Carry On, Warrior" by Glennon Doyle Melton

I stumbled upon the authors blog through another blog that I follow. Glennon is just another ordinary mom who started a blog and then it went big and a book came out of it. Glennon has such a heart of love for others. She sees or hears about a need and does something about it. She is a recovering drug addict, alcoholic and bulimic. She has been through the ringer but chooses life and love. She is honest and she is refreshing. The book is about this journey, about this beautiful, brutal-brutiful life. "Life is hard-not because we're doing it wrong, just because it's hard." I love admitting that, it's hard for all of us, all of us in different way but still hard for all of us. "People who need help sometimes look a lot like people who don't need help." No one has it all together and some just hide it better than others. "We talked about how loving one person hard and long and well is the hardest thing on earth to do." It truly is. So much gets in the way, namely selfishness. Loving others well takes a whole lot of doing and a whole lot of serving. "What else is family if not a commitment to keep showing up?" "Good friends become each others keepers. I hold your story in my mind. I carry it for you. I'm a record of your life. I know what you will do next because I know what you've done in the past." When you are blessed enough to find this kind of friend, hold on for dear life, they don't come around twice. "If you run away from the crucifixion, you just might miss the resurrection. We have to go through the hard to get to the good, that is what helps us recognize the good for what it is. The beauty is in both the crucifixion and the resurrection. "Because love is not something for which to search or wait or hope or dream. It's simply something to do." Start doing and there you will find love. "Why is it that the second a mother admits that it's hard, people feel the need to suggest that maybe she's not doing it right? Maybe the fact that it's so hard means she IS doing it right, in her own way, and she happens to be honest." There is nothing wrong in admitting motherhood or this life is hard, it is, but we must give it our best and keep going. "That heartache is called compassion, and it is God's signal to you to do something." Don't ignore it, you'll regret it but you will never regret doing something in love, never. "I'm going to quit chasing happiness long enough to notice it smiling right at me." Sometimes we miss it, we miss what blessings we have right in front of us because we are so focused on something else. "I learned that all things pass; that life is hard to endure but not impossible. I discovered that after the enduring, if you choose not to run away, there are prizes. Those prizes are wisdom and dignity." This is a great book of encouragement. A book full of honesty and love. A book that lets you know you are not alone, life is hard but it is also so beautiful and we can do this. We can do this together and most importantly, with God.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Love Does

"Love Does" by Bob Goff

I was given this book by a friend. It is such an easy read, each chapter a little book in of itself. It is a book that makes you want to go and conquer the world, change it for the better. Bob is just an ordinary man, although extraordinary in so many ways. He is full of adventure and he believes that love is an action, it does. If he wants something he goes for it, doesn't take no for an answer and doesn't always need a plan. This is what the book is about, enjoying this life for all that it has to offer. "That's because love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn't just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does." What would this world be like if all of us believed and lived this out? Instead of thinking of doing something for someone we actually do it. I know I've thought many times, I should do this or that but don't. It could revolutionize this world if we could just do a little more. "I learned that faith isn't about knowing all of the right stuff or obeying a list of rules. It's something more, something more costly because it involves being present and making a sacrifice." Love is hard and it is costly but the rewards are great. " But the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence." "Things that go wrong can shape us or scar us." It's really our choice. And I think that it's even ok if they do scar us but what will we do with that scar? Will we choose to show that scar or hide it? Use it for good or let it define us? "But I've always wondered if, when we want to do something that we know is right and good, God places that desire deep in our hearts because He wants it for us and it honors Him." "That's what love does-it pursues blindly, unflinchingly, and without end. When you go after something you love, you'll do anything it takes to get it, even if it costs everything." And that is exactly what God does for us. It cost Him everything, His very life. "You know what it is about someone that makes them a friend? A friend doesn't just say things; a friend does." That might just be my favorite sentence of all time. "I think every day God sends us an invitation to live and sometimes we forget to show up or get head-faked into thinking we haven't really been invited." He has invited us all. I am constantly having to remind myself to show up, I'm good enough, He invited me, I don't have to bring a thing, just show up. "He hopes we'll start to see ourselves as His beloved rather than think of all of the reasons that we aren't." Why is it so easy to think of all the reasons we can't be loved than just rest in the fact that we ARE loved? "But know this: when Jesus invites us on an adventure, He shapes who we become with what happens along the way." Are we willing to go on that adventure that He has just for us? "God wants us to get some skin in the game and to help make a tangible difference." "Instead, he leaked what he loved. He was leaking Jesus. And pretty soon the puddle he made swallowed us all by the lake it formed." I want to leak Jesus so much that others can't help but step in the puddle I'm making. The book challenged me to make love more of an action word. Love Does.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Creating Room To Read

"Creating Room To Read" by John Wood

It's not often that I read a just out book but I happened to be perusing the new releases at the library and found this. It is the second book for the author, "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World", is his first book. I haven't read it but am now wanting to. The author used to work at Microsoft and left to start a non-profit. He has one of the most successful non-profits in the country. His non-profit opens schools and libraries throughout the world. It is an amazing non-profit and a much needed one that is brining about hope for many nations. "Two thirds of the illiterate people in the world are girls and women." Room to Read also has a girls education program helping to right this statistic. "Once you have an education, no one can ever take that away from you." We take for granted our education here in the states while so many children wish and hope that they could go to school and learn. "If you have a good book in your hands, you will never be lonely." I love a good book. "We are too poor to afford education. But until we have education, we will always be poor." This statement led the author to start Room to Read, something needed to be done to offer hope and he was willing to be that hope. "Our team believes that by requiring the community residents to pitch in, we are saluting their inherent dignity." Room to Read only builds in places where the local community pitches in. They are not giving a hand out but a hand up. By the community investing in the project it ensures they will take pride in it and it will be successful. "The only thing we wanted our young organization to give was an opportunity." And it has given so many opportunities. "As it turns out there is an alternative to school for these girls-prostitution. It seems unfathomable that in the modern world children of such a tender age could be relegated to this deplorable choice. But this is the reality not only here but in so many other places where abject poverty and antiquated notions of a woman's place in the world force young girls into lives of sexual slavery." For just a few dollars a day these girls can go to school, just a few dollars. "Being blunt immediately cuts through the clutter, of which the world has too much." I like bluntness, with love of course. "I think to myself that the things in my life I consider problems are so trivial that I should be ashamed of ever complaining." This is so true. "In many parts of rural Zambia, four out of five girls do not make it past seventh grade. And yet again, just as with the lack of books, people act perplexed as to why hundreds of millions of people live in poverty, generation after generation." Why are we so perplexed? They can't afford book or schools which continues the cycle of poverty they so long to get out of. Who will help them?" "The world has managed to find ways to get soft drink, beer, and chocolate bars to thousands of rural villages, but not books." This is so maddening and sad to me. "Inaction in the face of tyranny is cowardice." This book is inspirational and an achievement to what can be done when one is willing to dream big and offer hope. It has challenged me to look into what I can do to offer others the value of an education and books to read. I hope that it challenges you too.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Solo: A Memoir of Hope by Hope Solo with Ann Killion

"Solo: A Memoir of Hope" by Hope Solo with Ann Killion

I found this book at the library, just passing by a shelf. I am a soccer player, I follow the game and I remember Hope Solo from the World Cup so I picked up the book. This is a book of honesty, of one girls struggle in life on and off the field. It is a story of overcoming and surviving. It is a story of hope. Hope grew up in a home with a lot of turmoil. She may not have had the most stable family environment but she did have love from her family. That love is what brought her through many trials. That love held her together in the toughest of moments. Hope is tough and she is honest. I liked the book for it's honesty but it also paints a view of soccer and the politics that I didn't necessarily want to know. I admire Hope and the things that she overcame and her hard work as an athlete. I admire her conviction and her willingness to be who she is no matter the critics. "Hope is, by definition, defiant. It is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength." Hope is defiant. I love that because when hope is at its strongest its because everything around it is saying there is no hope. Its hard to hope, it takes strength and courage. "Some things are more important than soccer." Hope lived for the game and strived to be the best but she knew what was most important, family. "Only a daughter cries like that for her father." A stranger saw Hope in an airport crying and knew she was crying for her father. I love the picture that that statement paints, that a father and a daughter have such a bond. "Memories are for you, and nobody can take them away." People may hurt us, people may leave us but no one can take our memories. That is a beautiful thing. "You've taught me so well, Dad. You have prepared me for life. You have taught me how to fight, how to love deeply, how not to get bullied, how to reach out to others, how not to judge, how to enjoy life, how to be happy no matter where I walk. You have taught me to be me, and you are such a part of me. I will carry your spirit inside me no matter where I go." That is a legacy. "Hope, you're a strong person. You're a truth-teller. People aren't comfortable with that." It's hard to be the one telling the truth. Lots of people don't want to hear it but that is what God calls us to, truth in love. "Reality has tested us, but love has saved us." Reality is hard, but love, most of all God's love, saves us.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Heaven Is Here by Stephanie Nielson

I started following this author's blog through another blog a few years ago. It wasn't long after her accident and I was inspired by this woman. The book is about her life, she had the ideal life, handsome husband, four beautiful children and her looks. One fateful day all that changed when her and her husband were in a plane crash. She was burned over 80% of her body. She woke in the hospital months later, barely alive. The book is about her struggle to survive, the pain she had and continues to have just to move each day, her determination to be a mother to her children, her husband who stood by her side and showed her what real love looks like, her faith that she has a purpose here and God spared her. (I do want to preface the rest of this entry with saying that the author is a Mormon. I've quoted the things that she said about God and used my beliefs to explain them.) It truly is an incredible story and she is a very special woman. It is a great book to give perspective on what really matters in this life, and the way we look is certainly not one of them. "How he hoped they would feel God's love in the natural world, just as he did." Stephanie and her husband both love to be in nature and wanted to instill this love in their children. That by being in God's creation they would feel His love for them. I feel this. I look at all that He created and am in such awe. Nature makes me feel closer to Him. "I don't want being physical to get in the way of getting to know the real you." Her husband said this to her when they were dating. What a great thing for a guy to say. "I saw God in those eyes. I saw reassurance. I even saw a glimpse of triumph. I was still me. Those eyes were mine. The life I saw in them came from God, and that gave me hope for the life of my body." This was the first time that she looked at herself after the accident. Oh what a hard moment that would be. She was so disfigured. But in that moment she was given strength. Her eyes were still her. Beautiful. "Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer every child's prayer? Some say that heaven is far away, but I feel it close around me as I pray. Pray, He is there. Speak, He is listening. You are His child. His love now surrounds you." A child's song, a parents response. So simple yet what we all, young or old, wonder from time to time. "When lonely, cold, hard times come, we have to endure, we have to continue, we have to persist...Keep knocking on that door. Keep pleading. In the meantime, know that God hears your cries and knows your distress. He is your Father, and you are His child." And they do always come, don't they? But this life is about enduring, continuing even when it's oh so hard. And the best part is that we are heard, He does care. "We look for Christ's scars because they are evidence of what He did for us. They'll be the first things He shows us when we see Him again. Your scars tell a story, too. Although they may not make you feel attractive, they are a witness of a miracle, that God blessed you to live, and that you have accomplished very difficult things." What a beautiful sentiment. All our scars are a testament of what we have been through, how we have overcome and how God has done great things in us. We shouldn't hide them or be ashamed of them. God uses it all for His glory and our best. He loves us so. "I have accepted myself in a world that does not accept me, because I have learned-and more than any of the lessons of my accident, this is the one I wish I could teach everybody-that our hearts matter most. Your heart matters most, so be gentler and more patient with yourself, and their hearts matter most, too, so be kinder and more compassionate to others. It's a beautiful heart, not a perfect body, that leads to a beautiful life." Good wisdom to live by.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Bird Sisters

"The Bird Sisters" by Reecca Rasmussen

I'm not sure why but this was on my to read list. After reading it I can't quite figure out why or what the point of the book is. It's not a bad read, just not a great one. It is about two sisters who help birds who have become hurt. It explains the story of how this came to be. A summer where the course of their lives would change forever. A summer when their dad was in an accident, their mother lost hope, a cousin who came to visit and a boy who fell in love. A summer when all would change and their hearts would be forever broken. A summer when they would choose to make sacrifices. "Time had a funny way of moving when you didn't want it to and standing still when you did." Isn't that the truth? Some day just drag on and you just want them to be over with already. Then you look back and a year or two has gone by already. Time is a funny thing. "Language failed to describe the simplest of phenomena; a fine sunset, for example, was more than fine." Words often fail to describe what we feel or how we see something. So often there just isn't a word for the sadness we feel when a loved one is hurting or the pride we feel in our kids or the joy in our Lord. Sometimes words are just so inadequate. "Happiness felt like freedom. Sadness felt like the opposite." Happiness and joy is so freeing. Sadness is so heavy sometimes that it literally makes you feel weighed down. "That was one of the few marvelous things about aging-Twiss could travel from here to there without having to go anywhere at all. Her memories were her suitcases, and her mind her passport..." Our minds, our memories can take us many places in the comfort of our own homes. "I know what Fruit Roll-Ups are, although she didn't know why they were sold as healthy snacks for children when they were heaped full of preservatives that were engineered in laboratories hundreds of miles from the nearest fruit tree." I just thought that was too funny and so spot on. I do like that this book is about sisters. Sisters who love each other and sacrifice for each other. Sisters who protect each other and grow old together. It is a book about love and the hurts we endure and the lengths we go to to protect those we love.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Stolen Life

"A Stolen Life" by Jaycee Dugard

This book is not for the faint of heart. I had watched a video of Jaycee being interviewed and was so intrigued by the way that she handled herself and how amazing her story was that I really wanted to read the book. It is about how she was kidnapped at the age of 11 and held for 18 years. Yes, 18 years! It truly is a crazy and amazing story. Let me warn you that she tells it all and it is detailed in some parts. The beginning is hard to read. I can't imagine the torture that she went through and am shocked and in awe of her ability to move forward with her life. She truly is inspirational. "I don't believe in hate. To me it wastes too much time. People who hate waste so much of their life hating that they miss out on all the other stuff out here. I do not choose to live my life that way. What is done is done. I'm looking to the future." Incredible right? She doesn't even hate the man that stole so much from her. She doesn't really state that she is a believer but I'm not sure how she can walk away from her ordeal, say things like this and not be. What an amazing person she is. If only more of us could stop the hate and just look for what the future has for us. "Life is not kind to all of us." No, I wouldn't say it is kind to most of us but I'm so thankful we have a God that is and makes all things work together for our good. "I'm so tired! Tired of being not in control of my life because it is my LIFE! Why do people think they have a right to my life?" She had her life controlled by this man for 18 years. She was an adult with two children and still she couldn't do what she wanted. "But love is not part time and its not conditional." A truly amazing story, a truly amazing woman.

The Last Lecture

"The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch
Alright I'm a little slow, I know this book was super popular when it first came out and I'm just getting to it. It was worth the wait though! What an inspirational and insightful book. Randy is a professor at a college and is asked to give a last lecture. Thing is he has terminal cancer and has been given only a few months to live so it really will be his last lecture. He wants to leave a legacy for his three small children. By giving the lecture he will be able to pass wisdom on to them when they will most need it. He talks about following your dreams. He had a list of his childhood dreams and he met all but one of them. "Now our lives together had to be squeezed into a few months." Hard to imagine knowing how long you have here on this earth isn't long and trying desperately to fit a lifetime into a few months. "That is what it is. We can't change it. We just have to decide how we'll respond." No matter what we are dealt, that is all we can do, decide how we are going to respond. "When you're screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they've given up on you." That is not a place I want to be but then that means I have to be willing to listen to criticism and that's not easy either. "There is only one way to teach kids self esteem: You give them something they can't do, they work hard until they find they can do it, and you just keep repeating the process." What is better than a sense of accomplishment? "Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to show how badly we want something." Will we keep reaching? Will we keep trying? If so it was worth it. "Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think." We know not when we will be called home. Say what you need to say, love those you should love and live fully. "We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won't make us happier." Good advice. "Find something nice to say, even if its a stretch. The worst ideas have silver linings if you look hard enough." Sometimes we just need to look harder. "Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer." We all have experience and every bit of it is valuable. This book is a short read but a good one.

The Bridge

"The Bridge" by Karen Kingsbury

Yup, another one by Karen. I found this at the library in large print. Wow, it was LARGE print. When I went back to a regular book the print was so small. This is another good one by Karen. It is about two young adults who fall in love in college and then their different backgrounds take them different ways. When they find out the bookstore they spent so many days together at is in trouble and the owner is fighting for his life they are reunited and the past and all it's hurts is finally put to rest. It is a good book about misunderstandings, forgiveness and second chances. It's never too late with God by our side. It's never too late.