Monday, December 8, 2014

And Then Came the Angels

"And Then Came the Angels" by Beth Gayle

If you haven't noticed, I love an inspiring book, a book with tragedy turned to triumph.  This is such a story.  The author is the mother of a young man who was shot in the head with a shotgun in a hunting accident.  This book tells the long and hard journey of recovery and the faith it took to get through.  It is an amazing story of strength and God's divine hand of healing.  I appreciated the mothers honesty of the emotions that she experienced and how she clung to Jesus in her desperate times.  An amazing recovery happened that was nothing short of a miracle.  Gip, the son, overcame huge hurdles, pushed through great struggles and had the faith to move mountains.  If you need an inspiring book to read or need to be reminded that prayer works, read this book.  

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Promise of a Pencil

"The Promise of a Pencil" by Adam Braun

This was a motivational and great book.  If you think you can't accomplish something or you're too young, you need to read this.  The author knew since he was very young that he wanted to work in finances and his whole life was a clear path in that direction.  Then he did a semester at sea and he began to wonder if thee was more to life than what he had been chasing.  He backbacked around the world and would ask a child in whichever country he was in if they could have one thing what would it be.  One little boy said he wanted a pencil.  Adam had a pencil and he gave it to the little boy and this is when he realized that something as small as a pencil could change a childs life.  Adam realized that giving was better than receiving and he decided that he wanted to fund a school in a third world country.  He quit his job at the prestigious finance company and started a non-profit.  He has now opened many schools and his non-profit has received numerous awards.  Truly when we mix our passion with determination it is amazing the impact we can make.  "I believe that where you start in life should not dictate where you finish."  Because not everyone gets a fair start but I think everyone deserves a fair shot.  "We fear leaving those familiar surroundings, which is natural, but through exploration of the unfamiliar we stop focusing on the labels that define what we are and discover who  we are."  "In moments of uncertainty, when you must choose between two paths, allowing yourself to be overcome by either the fear of failure or the dimly lit light of possibility, immerse yourself in the life you would be most proud to live."  So good, so, so good.  Live the life you would be most proud to live.  What a great statement.  The first school Adam built was dedicated to his grandma who was a concentration camp survivor.  When he told her why he was building these schools and helping others she responded, "It feels like this is why I survived.  I survived for this.  It feels like it's all coming back to me, everything I suffered for is coming back to me, but in good ways.  All the bad things I went through were for these good things to happen."  God sees the suffering and He always turns beauty for ashes. "...that the biggest opportunities for growth are not found in the midst of success, but in the methods through which we address failure."  Growth occurs when we fail and get back up again, willling to try again.  We can't reach success until we've failed.  "Here's my best advice: make the little decisions with your head and the big ones with your heart."  "Certain people help you see a future that you could never have envisioned without their influence.  They make you a better version of yourself."  Surround yourself with these people.  " can't keep saying, 'I'll get started tomorrow.'  The world has far too many problems, and you are way too smart and capable to not help tackle them.  Your time is now."  Take that first step towards what you've always wanted to do and start living the life you've always wanted to live.  "I'll tell them that the most direct route to happiness is through creating joy for someone else, and that change doesn't happen through hard work alone."  I highly recommend this book.  Read it and be inspired.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Now You See Me

"Now You See Me" by Kathy Sanders

This was a great and amazingly powerful book.  The author is the grandmother of two little boys who were killed in the Oklahoma bombing.  She was one of the very first on the scene and she became the spokeperson for the victims.  Kathy struggled to go on with life after her grandsons were killed.  She struggled with her faith and she was determined to find out why this happened.  In her search for answers she finds forgiveness towards those that committed the crime.  She even befriends the perpetrators and their family.  This is an amazing story of forgiveness that can only come from God.  No one would forgive and be friends with the person that killed their loved one unless God was at work.  And the healing that Kathy received from opening her heart and listening to God was a healing beyond what she expected.  "Clearly His blessings come with bonuses."  What a great statement, God really does desire to bless us beyond what we could ever imagine.  "Our uncommon pain became our common denominator."  When you suffer through something with others there is a bond that is unbreakable.  "His invisibility need not diminish His power to comfort."  Just because we can not see Him doesn't mean He isn't there and that He can't bring comfort.  'It's the constant push and pressure of everyday life that forms character ever so slowly-so slowly that we do not even notice it happening." when we look back on a year or a month we see the challenges we have faced and how we have grown.  "God has given each one of us a little chunk of eternity called time.  Each one of us is the steward of what time we are given.  These precious moments of opportunity are given to us for our benefit and God's glory."  

Friday, November 7, 2014

Special Heart

"Special Heart" by Bret Baier

The author Bret Baier is a big time Fox News correspondent and had a thriving carrer when his first son was born with multiple heart defects.  Bret realized what really mattered in life was family, love and faith.  His son underwent three life saving surgeries and Bret's faith was challenged.  This book is full of love for his son and all the strength it takes to believe all is going to turn out the way God has planned. "Like it or not, this was exactly what God had given us to deal with, so we were on the job."  When we find ourselves in circumstances we can't change instead of fighting it we need to rest in the fact that God is in the struggle with us.  "...and one day we'll look at the scar on his chest and consider it the most beautiful thing in the world."  All of our scars, physical of emotional, are beautiful, they make us who we are, they have made us stronger and they remind us that God has brought us through.  Celebrate those scars, they are beautiful.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What I Know For Sure

"What I Know For Sure" by Oprah Winfrey

I used to be a big fan of Oprah's, I still like her but am not over the moon about her any more.  This book caught my eye at the library.  It's a book about things Oprah knows for sure, as the name states.  Things that she has learned throughout her life.  For the most part I agree with her although she does have a few askewed thoughts when it comes to God.  This is just a quick little book of a collection of good nuggets to keep in mind when you are walking this journey called life.  "Sometimes we get so focused on the difficulty of our climb that we lose sight of being grateful for simply having a mountain to climb."  There is always something to be grateful for.  "When you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it."  Where our focus lies is what becomes magnified so if our focus is on the good in our lives that is what becomes the greatest.  "You are built not to shrink down to less but to blossom into more."  I love that.  We are to be more, keep growing and learning and loving.  "If I know nothing else for sure, I know that the big miracles we're waiting on are happening right in front of us, at every moment, with every breath."  It is just a matter of looking for them, of being open and aware and taking the time to notice.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Lost Boy

"The Lost Boy" by Mike Rossman

My friends husband wrote this book.  I've been waiting a while for its release.  First I'm so proud of this couple for sharing their story.  It's not an easy story and it took courage.  God is woven throughout their story though and they believe, as do I, that their story will be used to encourage others.  Mike is a testimony that God relentlessly pursues His children.  Mike was abused as a child and because of this lead a life of drinking to cover the pain.  He was determined to drink himself to death to end the pain he could not escape from.  After many years and many losses Mike finally found freedom in Jesus.  This story is hard and sad but our God is a good God and I have seen firsthand the blessings He has given Mike and his beautiful family.  "I wanted to be free, but I was convinced freedom would not be mine."  I have felt this, thought maybe healing was not for me in this life.  This is such a hopeless place to be.  "He reminded me of what my childhood should have been but never was."  Mike had a son and he desperatly wanted to be a good father but had too much pain to be able to be the father he wanted to be. His son was a reminder of all that he had lost.  "The dysfunction resulting from sexual abuse was consistent-shattered lives made worse through addiction, broken relationships, job loss, and incarceration."  Sexual abuse severs the soul and only God can repair it.  "Now I know when I find Jesus in it, He can use my story to bring freedom to others."  And Jesus is in all of our stories and He wants to use our hard stories to grow us and to bless others.  I can accept things in my life if I know that they will be used, don't let my struggles and pain be for none.  This is an amazing book of redemption and of God being faithful.  It is encouraging to those of us who have struggled from the pain of abuse.  God is there and He does care and He will take our pain and turn it for our God if we let Him.

Ragamuffin Gospel

"Ragamuffin Gospel" by Brennan Manning

I know I'm about a decade behind in reading this book.  To me it wasn't as life changing as others have said but it was a good book.  The author writes about God's grace and how if we really believe in His grace, really believe it to our core, it will change how we do life.  We are but poor sinners and yet God loves us, loves us so much He died.  It is a truth that will transform you if you let it.  That someone could love us that much when we have failed and blown it too many times to count.  "When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes.  I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty.  I am trusting and suspicious.  I am honest and I am still playing games.  To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark."  Christ died for the whole of you, not just the good parts.  "God intended for us to discover His loving presence in the world around us."  His creation is designed to remind us how much He loves us.  I liked the reminder in this book that I can not do anything to make God love me more.  He loves me just the way that I am.  That can bring a lot of relief to a perfectionist.  If you are having a hard time grasping how much God loves you or understanding His grace this is a great book to pick up.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

"A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller

The author realizes that his life is very meaningful but that he has the power to change his story.  He figures out what makes a story powerful and uses that to edit his life to make it powerful.  We all have the power to make change happen.  We all have one beautiful life to live.  "These polar charges, these happy and sad things in life, are like colors God uses to draw the world."  "We get robbed of the glory of life because we aren't capable of remembering how we got here.  What I'm saying is I think life is staggering and we're just used to it.  We are all like spoiled children no longer impressed with the gifts we're given-it's just another sunset, just another rainstorm moving in over the mountain, just another child being born, just another funeral."  How true, the things that are truly amazing, truly miraculous, become mundane.  The sun rising every morning is truly spectacular but it does it every morning so it looses it's coolness factor.  When we stop and actually think about these wonders they become wondrous to us again.  Stop and savor, stop taking for granted.  "People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen.  But joy costs pain."  Because it does take work and the work is hard and long but in the end it is worth it.  "But fear isn't only a guide to keep us safe; it's also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life."  Fear stops us from really living.  "It made me think about the hard lives so many people have had, the sacrifices they've endured, and how those people will see heaven differently from those of us who have had easier lives."  The pain makes the beauty that much more beautiful.  "There is no conflict that man can endure that will not produce a blessing."  That is so encouraging, what we are going through has a reason, a blessing.  "After a tragedy, I think God gives us a period of numbing as a kind of grace."  "When we look back on our lives, what we will remember are the crazy things we did, the times we worked harder to make a day stand out."  Being willing to risk is what makes life worth living.  We can find beauty in the everyday but I think the memories are in the extraordinary.  "We don't know how much we are capable of loving until the people we love are being taken away, until a beautiful story is ending."  This book was an encouraging book to make your life matter, that we all with God's help can make our life meaningful.  It is when we give of ourselves that life finds meaning.

The Waiting

"The Waiting" by Cathy LaGrow with Cindy Coloma

This book is so good.  It is a must read.  It is an incredible story of a teenager who becomes pregnant due to being raped.  A teenager whose parents decide that the baby needs to be given up for adoption.  As the years pass that teenager, Minka, longs for her baby, never forgetting the few days they had together.  Minka feels like she has lost a part of herself and never stops praying for her baby girl.  When Minka is in her 90's an amazing gift is given to her, a miacle that she never gave up hoping for, she is reunited with her daughter.  This is such an inspiring and incredible story.  A story of never giving up hope.  An amazing story of redemption and the power of faith and love.  I highly reccomend it.  "She'd left her true home behind, in an upstairs room, in a bassinet, in the soft bundle she'd never hold again."  As the saying goes, home is where our heart is, and Minka's heart was with her child.  "They were children, after all, and children had to be encouraged toward good character-it didn't come without guidance."  Goodness isn't just in us, we have to be guided and encouraged to goodness.  "Minka had missed every second of it but she had waited, she had waited forever and she had kept her promise, she had never forgotten-and now, impossibly, her Betty Jane had been given back to her."  Never give up, never, ever give up on what the Lord can do.  "'The power of God...' Minka said, thinking of the decades of prayer that had led to this very moment."  She was so faithful, I am inspired by her faith.  "How could she understand it then-that one of her greatest blessings would come only through her greatest wound?  In her own life, the Lord had taken first.  And then, a lifetime later, the Lord had given back.  Blessed is the name of the Lord."   It is amazing how God turns our hurts into blessings.  He is faithful and always has a good plan.  It is so hard to see when we are in the midst of the pain but He turns our ashes into something beautiful.  

The Living Room

"The Living Room" by Robert Whitlow

Amy has vivid dreams at night, dreams that are starting to come true.  Her dreams begin to tell what is going to happen.  Amy doesn't want the responsibility that comes with this knowledge but she must take action.  Can she interpret them correctly?  What is God asking her to do?  Things start to get interesting when she starts having dreams regarding her work as a legal secretary.  I enjoyed reading this book.  It has a lot of twists that keep you on your toes.  The mix of dreams and reality keep the reader intrigued.  It is a good book that involves listening to God and having enough faith to follow what He is asking us to do.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Autobiography of an Execution

"The Autobiography of an Execution" by David R. Dow

The author is a lawyer for inmates on death row in Texas.  This book is about why he fights for these inmates.  The author does a good job of geting the reader to think about where they stand regarding the death penalty.  It is easy to think of a person that committed brutal crimes as not human at all but in this book we see that they have families, they are someones father, son, brother.  "Belief is a decision; it doesn't just happen."  We chose to believe, we make efforts to understand what and why we believe something.  "There are beutiful things about her I know about that you don't, because you are too judgmental to see them.  If you have a friend, you have to take them as they are."  Just like a spouse, or a child, good and bad we love them for who God made them to be.  "After you kill the bad guys, you're just as angry as you were before, but there ain't no one left to hate."  So does killing really solve the problem?  "If we are going to execute people in our society becasue we believe that it is an appropriate punishment for people who callously and irresponsibly take another's life, then the people with the power not to execute ought to take responsibility themselves for imposing the punishment, or at least not negating it.  It's easier to kill somebody if it's someone else's decision, and if somebody else does the killing.  Our death-penalty regime depends for its functionality on moral cowardice."  A good book to get one to think about why you believe what you believe.  A good insight to how the system works and what really happens to those sitting on death row.

The Peach Keeper

"The Peach Keeper" by Sarah Addison Allen

Another good read by this author.  I enjoy the wimsy she intertwines in the everyday of real life.  This book is about 30 year old Willa who is trying to get out from under her past.  Living in the same town where her family came to financial ruin many decades ago has proven harder than she thought.  Soon her past literally gets dug up to be dealt with.  Willa finds love and friendship who those she least expects.  "She'd padded her life with so much calm that she didn't think anything could penetrate it."  No matter how much we try and plan, life will creep up and get in the way.  "Superstitions are man's way of trying to control things he has no control over."  We try and explain things that only God knows the answers to.  "How could someone with a life this full feel this empty?  When we fill our lives with things we find in the end that we really had nothing of importance at all.  "Because we're connected, as women.  It's like a spiderweb.  If one part of that web vibrates, if there's trouble, we all know it.  But most of the time we're just too scared or selfish or insecure to help.  But if we don't help each other, who will?"  I think this is ture for all people, not just women.  We are all connected and most of the time, all too scared or selfish to intervene.  God calls us to help one another.  "When you're a teenager, your friends are your life.  When you grow up, friendships seem to get pushed further and further back, until it seems like a luxury, a frivolity, like a bubble bath."  I think this is sad.  We need friends, we need each other.  Life is hard, we need someone to help carry the load and make us laugh when all we want to do is cry.  "Happiness is a risk.  If you're not a little scared, then you're not doing it right."  Happiness takes a little courage.  "All we have is our deep and abiding love for each other.  We can't lose that or we lose ourselves."  "Fate never promises to tell you everything up front.  You aren't always shown the path in life you're supposed to take.  But...when you're really lucky, you meet someone with a map."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Garden Spells

"Garden Spells" by Sarah Addison Allen

I have been enjoying this author so much.  Her writing is magical and fun.  She writes about deep issues but in a light hearted way.  She intertwines funny, mystical, and serious very well.  The Waverleys are a curious family who have a magical garden with an apple tree whose fruit is said to be prophetic.  Claire Waverley has magical dishes she serves when she caters.  Claire likes her life just the way it is, she likes her routine.  Evanelle, her cousin, has gifts for people before they even know that they need them.  All of the sudden Claire's wandering sister, Sydney, returns with her young daughter.  Claire's life is turned upside down.  Claire begins to deal with the hurts of the past as Sydney opens up to her life after leaving home.  Can these sisters find common ground?  "Sydney was family.  Claire had learned the hard way that you weren't supposed to take them for granted."  It's so easy to take family for granted.  They will always be there, their family, right?  Of anyone, family should be who we apprecatie the most.  "This woman had been abandoned too many times to let anyone in again."  It's a sad state when someone has been so hurt that they can't bear to have anyone else enter in.  Foster kids tend to be like this.  They act tough, like they don't need anyone because they are tired of loving and being left.  "You are who you are, whether you like it or not, so why not like it?"  We can change some things about ourselves that we don't like but accepting ourselves is a good step to loving ourselves.  "When you tell a secret to someone, embarrassing or not, it forms a connection.  The person means something to you simply by virture of what he knows."  So be careful who you share your secrets with. "When you're happy for yourself, it fills you.  When you're happy for someone else, it pours over."  That's the truth.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

"The Girl Who Chased the Moon" by Sarah Addison Allen

Enchanting would be the word I would use to describe this book, also magical.  A teenage girl comes back to her mother's hometown to live with a grandfather she never knew in a town that isn't readily accepting.  Emily comes to find answers to a life her mother never told her about.  Julia bakes cakes that everyone in town loves but no one knows the reason that she cant stop making them.  Julia is calling out to a love that was lost, hoping her cakes will bring that love back.  It's a quirky little town where mystical things happen.  "We get to choose what defines us."  Events happen in our lives that we have no say over but we do get to say what will define us.  "Let them live their lives without our baggage."  I found this profound.  So many times we put our stuff on others instead of letting them live the lives they were meant to.  Family traditions, family curses, our worries and fears, not all of it is bad, but we need to let our children blaze the trail that was meant with them and it is so much easier when they aren't carrying extra baggage.  I enjoyed this free spirited book.  It was light with some good messages and just fun to read.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Things I've Learned from Dying

"Things I've Learned from Dying" by David R. Dow

The author says this is really a book about life.  You learn a lot about how to live life in the face of death.  David is a death row laywer.  In this book he talks about a case he is working on.  While he is working on this case, trying to save an inmates life, his father in law is dying of cancer.  He learns many lessons from his father in law and from the inmate, many of these lessons are about letting go and just being there.  I liked this book and am intruiged to read his previous book.  "I can either spend the rest of my life trying to exted my life, or I can spend the rest of my life living my life."  Sometimes life is extended only to endure more suffering.  Sometimes life is just worth living the rest you have to the fullest.  "No matter how much you change who you are, you cain't change what you done."  Even if we aren't the same person anymore, we still have to pay for our mistakes.  "Sometimes one's imagination sees what it wants to see."  "One thing I've learned is that in the face of tragedy you are powerless to prevent, there's no greater empathy than quiet."  Sometimes all we have to offer someone is our quiet, there are no words to make it better but sitting with someone in their pain is powerful.  "All you can change is yourself and your own small corner of this earth.  That, and you can help other people change theirs."  And change is a powerful thing, it's also contagious.  "The reason it's easier to be bad than good is that being good takes awareness and effort.  You can't just sit there.  But all you have to do to be bad is coast."  I think this is a genius statement and so very true.  Being bad is easy, it comes naturally.  Being good takes effort and a lot of people don't want to take that effort.  "Time does not heal all wounds.  Some pain becomes part of who you are."

Lost Lake

"Lost Lake" by Sarah Addison Allen

This was a really great book, really great.  I now want to read all the books this author has written.  Kate spent the summer at Lost Lake when she was 12.  It was the last best summer she had.  Now she is grown up, coming out of the fog of losing her husband.  She has a daughter to raise and her mother in law has taken over in her fog of grief.  On a whim Kate decides to give her daughter one last best summer at Lost Lake.  Will it still be there?  Will her great aunt still be running the place?  Eby, her great aunt, has decided to sell Lost Lake.  She is old and so are the cabins.  People come to say their goodbyes, but can Lost Lake be saved before it's too late?  "Children always know when their mothers are crazy-they just never admit it, not out loud, to anyone."  Children know more than we give them credit for.  "She wanted to say that waking up is the most important part of grieving, that so many women in their family failed to do it, and she was proud of Kate for fighting her way back."  Coming back from, or out of grief really is the hardest thing.  It takes being willing to live again and after you've lost someone you love so much living is the hardest thing to do, it takes the most courage.  "If we measured life in the things that almost happened, we wouldn't get anywhere."  We can't live in the almost.  "No amount of love and no amount of money would change people who didn't want to change." Amen to that.  Prayer and God is what changes things.  "When your cup is empty, you do not mourn what is gone.  Because if you do, you will miss the opportunity to fill it again."   A good book filled with laughable moments and moments that will make you think.  A funny book with depth.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Everybody's Got Something

"Everybody's Got Something" by Robin Roberts

This was such an inspirational story.  Robin is a very upbeat, positive thinker.  We can all learn a lesson from her about how to face challenges in our lives.  Robin was diagnosed with breast cancer and then a few years later was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder that she needed a bone marrow transplant for.  She is an anchor on Good Morning America and a very well known TV personality.  She faced these health battles publicly and many rallied for her.  She credits her family, friends, and faith for bringing her through.  "Make your mess your message."  I really like that, it means whatever you are going through use it to be your message.  Use your trial for good.  Robin really exempified this by talking about bone marrow donors and showing peopel what it is like to go through cancer and survive.  What is the point of going through hard things if you can't use it for good?  That is how good God is, He always turns the bad for our good.  "When you are down and you don't know how to pick yourself up, start where you are."  It just takes one step, and the first is always the hardest.  "Why is my something any worse or more significant than anyone elses?  It's not.  It's just not."  We all have hard things and mine isn't any worse than someones elses.  We need to have compassion for all that are going through something, it's all hard.  "Why not be the one to start the kind of family you've always wanted to be part of?"  Robin has an amazing support system in her family.  She had strong bonds with her two older sister and brother.  Not all of us come from great families but we can all be the ones to start what we desire a family to be.  Dare to begin the cycle of building that loving family.  Look to others who have those bonds for guidance.  "Focus on the fight, not the fright."  It is so easy when we are going through a trial to focus on the bad and how scared we are but that will not get us anywhere except more scared and frustrated.  Focus on the good, what you can do and the scary will become less.  "Life provides losses and heartbreak for all of us-but the greatest tragedy is to have the experience and miss the meaning."  Every trial has a lesson, don't miss it or you may get to redo the trial.  "What a gift it is to have friends who really know you.  What a gift you give someone when you listen with your whole head and your whole heart."  It really is a priceless gift.  Be that gift to others.  "I've often said when fear knocks, let faith answer the door.  Sometimes when fear knocks, faith shows itself through a friend who stands by the door, squeezes your hand and answers it with you."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hands Free Mama

"Hands Free Mama" by Rachel Macy Stafford

This book has some amazing truths and tools to help us mamas to be less distracted and remember and focus on what really matters.  The author found herself missing out on her life with her two children because she was distracted by technology and over commitment.  She decided that she was tired of living this way.  Rachel started to write about her journey on a blog and many readers felt the same and the book was born.  The book offers helpful tools and insightful questions to help the reader on the journey of being hands free.  In this day there are so many things that require our time we loose sight of who and what really matters.  "The answers were not easy-because grasping what really matters means going to the tender places in one's soul."  We have to take a hard look at ourselves and there we will find healing.  "Because I'm in it for the long haul, which means investing time, focus, energy, and love into the man I'm crazy about."  We can't expect our relationships to thrive and flourish if we don't invest in them.  It takes investing if we want it to last.  It's not easy but it is worth it.  "Today my child stands before me wanting, needing, and hoping to be chosen."  You can't get back today.  No phone call, text, email or app is worth it.  What you choose today will make a difference in shaping your children.  "For it is in the everyday moments, doing routine activities, that we create the past."  What we do today, what we choose, will be our children's past.  "The only thing that really matters is this: I am a loving mother to my children, and I am raising them to be kind and loving people.  And that is enough.  In fact, it's everything."  "Isn't it when we open the doors to our messy souls that the joy, laughter, and love can find its way in?  Isn't it when we show each other our scars that we love each other more?"  Being vulnerable isn't easy but it is when we can truly feel heard and close to a person.  I find the most connection with people who are real and who have gone through similar things.  It is so important to be our true selves, I believe it helps others be their true selves.  "Waiting for the perfect time and perfect conditions means waiting to live."  I don't want to wait to live, there isn't that much time.  Perfect isn't going to happen in this lifetime so we might as well begin.  "You are a good mom.  So you aren't perfect.  You make mistakes and even some poor choices.  Some days your patience is too thin...some days you allow negative thoughts to silence thoughts of gratitude...some days you aren't the mom you want to be.  But hear this, and remember it: When your children need defending, you defend.  When your children need comfort, you comfort.  When your children hurt, you hurt too.  So stop berating yourself.  Stop questioning yourself.  Stop shaming yourself.  And for God's sake, stop critizing yourself.  Stop wondering if you are enough.  Because you are."  I think every mom needs to paste this where it can remind them daily, you are enough.  We all make mistakes but we are good moms, we love our kids.  I found this book to be encouraging, insightful, and helpful.  It is a recommended read for all of us struggling to find balance in our lives.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Almost Heaven

"Almost Heaven" by Chris Fabry

Great author, great book.  This book took me a little to get into and I didn't think at first is was going to be as great as his other two but towards the middle I changed my mind.  The way this book was written with first person story telling and also a view from an angel was unique and entertaining.  It seemed to me a little confusing at first but once I figured out the characters it began to flow.  Billy is a bit odd but has an amazing heart for his God.  He is destined for great things but bad always seems to get in the way.  He is a genius when it comes to fixing things and plays the mandolin like nobody else.  Malachi is an angel that is watching over Billy and has his work cut out for him.  But despite the trials Billy never wavers from his faith and because of that God will use him to touch the hearts of many.  "God has seemed massively indifferent to my devotion, if he has even heard my cries."  Oh boy, have I felt like this at times.  Crying out to God over and over and wondering why He isn't doing anything.  "Sometimes, when you know the right thing to do, you simply have to do it, even though it breaks your heart."  I've had to do this numorous times in my life, it's never easy.  "...the struggle of our lives was not a sign that we were failing or losing.  The struggle was a sign that there was still life.  If you stopped struggling, that's when you needed to be worried.  The fight meant God was helping you keep going one more day even if you did't think you could make it."  I read this book when there was a struggle in my life and this spoke to me.  I tell you I know that God gave me this book at just the time I needed it, it wasn't just happenstance.  God is there in the struggle, He hasn't left you.  "For the human followers, it is in losing that they finally discover.  It is in failing that they see.  It is in the abandonment of the trail they believed would lead them to lasting joy that they set out on a new path.  It is much narrower and overgrown, but in the journey through this wilderness of the soul, they discover more about themselves and Him than if every prayer of their wayward hearts had been answered in the affirmative."  Such good words.  We have to let go of the path we thought our lives would take, stop fighting against the struggles and hold on to the One who will deepen our faith and make us more like Him and bring us into glory.  "Some of you may be shaking this morning...from a lack of knowing God loves you and has some kind of plan in the middle of what you call a life.  It can get cloudy and misty at times, so thick you aren't able to see much of the field he has planted you in.  and if that's where you are, I'm here to tell you that you're in a good place.  It probably doesn't feel that way.  But God has you right where you need to be.  Because it's not where you're strong that he will use you; it's where you're weak."  I needed this when I read it and it speaks profoundly to me.  When we are in the midst of a trial it often feels like we have been abandoned by God.  It has helped me to remember and speak truths about who my God is.  He is good and He is love so even in my trials He is good and He is love.  I am strongest when I am weak because that is when He can work the most in me.  "But then there are people like me, who think they are doing exactly what God wants them to do, and they plow through everything that is thrown at them and in the end they're nowhere closer to God than when they started."  It's so hard to keep the path, to keep plowing through the muck and mire but don't give up, God's got a plan even when it is so hard.  "Music has a way of filling in the missing places. It is a gift from God above, who didn't have to provide it, but he did anyway and I half think he decided life just wouldn't be as good without it."  I agree, music lifts my soul and can bring me encouragement and peace.  "When trouble comes, where does help come from?  It comes from The Lord who made heaven and earch.  He is the one who keeps me.  he's the one who won't let my foot slip.  He doesn't nod off during the troubles of my life.  If he really does care, he already knew this was going to happen and had prepared an angel to protect us."  I found such peace in this, such truth.  God already knows all that is going to happen to me and he will protect me, I need not be afraid.  "Success, sometimes, is just loving somebody with a love that doesn't come back the way you want it."  This book spoke to me so profoundly when I was going through a hard trial.  It changed my perspectives on the trials in my life.  There was no mistake I was supossed to read this book at this time in my life.  If you are going through something hard I recommend reading this book.  Hopefully it will bring the encouragement you need to keep walking that path that God has for you no matter the hardship.  God loves you and hasn't forsaken you.

June Bug

"June Bug" by Chris Fabry

If this author's first book was good this, his second, is amazing.  I was captivated by this book, it is so well written.  His books are full of God but not full in your face.  He interveaves faith so well throughout the story.  I think they would be great books for a non believer to read.  June Bug has traveled in an RV with her father and parked at Walmarts her whole life.  It's not your typical life but she is happy.  Then one day she sees a picture of herself on the missing children poster at Walmart.  Everything has changed and she must search for the truth of who she really is.  Soon the past will catch up to them and their lives will be forever changed.  This book is so compelling, you won't want to put it down.  "I try not to be religious.  That sounds stuck-up.  LIke you just follow rules.  I read somebody once who said religion is man's way to God.  We make a list to follow that makes us good people in our own eyes, but we don't take into account what God wants."  It's about a relationship not rules, we can never be good enough to follow the rules.  "My dad once said that if you have somebody who loves you in the world, you don't need a whole lot more."  Ain't that the truth.  Having somebody that loves you will get you far in life.  "I suppose if you want to hear God talking to you he'll do it in a way that you can hear eventually."  He speaks to us all in different ways because we are all unique.  He wants us all to hear His voice, sometimes it just means being still.  "I nodded because I knew he was right, but sometimes your heart and the rest of you don't go in the same direction."  We know in our heart what's right but that doesn't always make the choice an easy one.  I recommend you read this book, it is so good.  It will teach you that love doesn't always look like we think it will.


"Dogwood" by Chris Fabry

This author might be a new favorite.  This is his first novel for adults and it is a good one.  Will is determined to start his life over after getting out of prison in the only place he calls home but the town isn't forgiving.  He is also determined to persue the only woman he has ever loved but Karin is determined to be faithful to her emotionally distant husband.  Ruthie is an old woman who decides that the past shall not lay in the past but all shall be brought to the light so that Will and Karin can have a future.  This book will surprise you, it has a twist I never saw coming.  "Life isn't pretty, so you've got to hug the ugly out of it."  It takes a lot sometimes to find the good in life and its troubles, but it's there if your willing to try.  "Good things can come from pain."  Healing comes from pain and strength you might have never known.  "Most people think the struggle means failure.  It's actually the best thing that could happen.  That struggle will pull you out on the other side a lot stronger, a lot deeper."  It's hard and it's good.  I'm currently learning this.  Don't struggle against the trial but sit in it, learn what God is teaching you and thank Him for the beauty you do find in the midst of it.  The struggle is important, it shapes us.  "When you surround yourself with good people, it doesn't really matter where you are."  The people matter not the place, that is why home is where our heart is, with the people we love.  I highly recommend this book.  It will surprise, encourage and entertain you.  The ending is the best.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Amity & Sorrow

"Amity & Sorrow" by Peggy Riley

I'm not sure about this book, it was definitely interesting.  It is about a mother and her two girls who flee from a polygamous compound.  The girls know nothing of the world outside and are scared and confused why they have been taken from all they have ever known.  Amity finds freedom and joy in her knew life but Sorrow wants nothing more than to return to what she has known.  It is about a mothers struglle to justify her choices and undo what has been done.  "You either made a vow or your didn't."  We try and complicate things, we either said I do or we didn't.  Sometimes we just need to break it down and keep it simple.  Life is complex, especially relationships but it comes down to the fact that we either made a vow or we didn't.  "They say God is knocking on your heart, all the time, and you only have to open it for Him."  God pursues everyone of us, we just have to be willing to hear His knock.  "Life is just seeds.  You know, you plant in the dirt you're given.  It's all you've got.  You water, you tend, and sometimes seeds don't take.  Sometimes it all goes away from you."  We do the best we can with what we have, that's all we can do.  That's hard to accept sometimes.  We do what we can and ask God to do the rest.  This book was an interesting and informative read.  

The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe

"The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe" by Mary Simses

This was a fun summer read.  Light and funny but with depth.   A beloved grandmother dies and her dying wish is for her granddaughter to deliver a letter.  The granddaughter, Ellen, discovers things she never knew of her grandmother and in turn finds truths about herself.  A little town where her grandmother grew up is where she feels her again and she will not leave until her task is done but  what else might she discover.  I really enjoyed this book.  It had just a touch of humor sprinkled throughout its pages.  "Sometimes people don't realize they can slow down until they do it."  We live in such a fast paced, instant world that we don't even know how to slow down.  Someitmes we have to leave it all behind and just enjoy the breeze, or a simple sunset to remember to slow down and enjoy whats right in front of us.  This was a fun feel good story that I really enjoyed.

The Priority List

"The Priority List" by David Menasche

This was a great book.  I recommned teachers and anyone who deals with teens to read this book.  It was inspirational and informative.  It is a true story about a high school teacher who inspires his students to learn.  He earns their respect and respects them in return.  He finds out he has a brain tumor and continues to teach through his treatment.  When he can no longer teach he decides to take a cross country trip to visit his past students.  He finds out what they have gone on to accomplish and what he meant to them.  "'The mediocre teacher tells.  The good teacher explains.  The superior teacher demonstrates.  The great teacher insires,' the author and scholar William Arthur Ward wrote. I wanted to be a great teacher.  The best they'd ever had."  David wanted to be the best and he strove for it and many lives were changed because of him.  We should all strive to inspire those around us, to not just teach but inspire.  It's a rare person that can do that.  "Cancer had taken my past and would take my future, but it wouldn't take my present."  Cancer had started to affect his memories and it would eventually take his life but he was determined that he would live and enjoy what he had right now.  Living in the present is something we all need to do more of.  We live in the past and the hurts that have happened or look to what will come in the future for us and forget that right now is a gift, a gift that won't come again.  "But when you really know you're going to die, when you're prepared for death, that's when you learn how to live.  It's a bittersweet lesson.  Just when you learn how to live, you die.  But there's so much beauty in it.  All of a sudden, the sun in the sky is a reason to rejoice, flowers come alive, a gentle breeze on your face feels almost spiritual.  Who you are is defined no longer by what you do but by what you give and how you love.  To me, that felt like a good death."  And it's a good life too.  Learning to appreciate the little things of the every day.  "For my entire life, I had been so intent on never needing anyone that I'd never learned to trust people enough to allow myself to depend on them."  We are here for each other, we need each other.  We can't do this thing called life alone, God designed us for community.  "If I can rejoice in your victories, I have to share in your defeats."  It is easy to rejoice with others but it is often hard to share in their sorrow or defeats but this is what real relationships look like.  We can't just be there in the good, we need to share the sadness too.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Last Best Cure

"The Last Best Cure-My Quest to Awaken the Healing Parts of My Brain and Get Back My Body, My Joy, and My Life" by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

I am always looking to learn something.  This book was a more difficult read as it has a lot of medical science in it but it was a good read and I learned a lot.  The author was very sick with numerous chronic diseases.  She had tried every medical drug and procedure but was still feeling terrible and in turn emotionally drained.  She was in her thirties with two teenage children and did not want to continue to live with the chronic pain and fear and emotional stuff she was dealing with.  She decided to take a totally different route and was completly surprised by the results.  She sought out yoga, meditation, and acupuncture.  She learned that with being able to change your mind you become healthier emotionally and then your body starts to heal, that there is a connection between our minds and our bodies.  It was intruging information.  Her father died suddenly when she was 12 and she learned how that early childhood trauma affected her body and may have played a part in why she was chronically sick.  I really found the information fascinating.  If you have chronic pain or childhood trauma this is a good book to read.  I have gained some tools to help me calm my breathing when anxious, and things to put on repeat in my brain to retrain it.  I also like that the author is skeptical every step of the way but is often surprised at her results.  And since she is a medical science writer she always explains everything which I appreciate.  "I don't want my Pain Channel to become the childhood pain that keeps them from the Life Channel-now, or twenty years from today.  There has to be a better way."  Donna knew that her illness was having a profound effect on her children and she didn't want to continue the path that they were on.  "A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind."  Meaning we spend so much time not being present, we think about the past or what is to come.  If we could spend more time just being in the moment we would find more joy.  "We don't have to react to the thoughts and feelings inside our mind as if they are true."  Emotions come and go and instead of spending precious thoughts on what we are feeling it is better to name the emotion and move on and find truth.  "It's as if we're all just waiting for everyone else to smile first."  A smile can change your day, be the first to smile at others and you might be surprised at the uplifing it will bring to your day.  "...that by healing women one by one she'll help each to become more influential and powerful in her family and community-and from there, more women's healing energy will help to heal the world."  Sometimes it just takes one, one healthy person to change the world.  "It's never too late, as long as you're willing to ask the question of what might be getting in the way of creating the joyful life you want to live now."  Healing and wholeness are never too late to achieve.  God is the one who brings the complete healing but He does give us means to acheieving it.

Fifteen Minutes

"Fifteen Minutes" by Karen Kingsbury

This book is taken from modern day.  A young boy having grown up on a horse ranch loves to sing.  He decides to try out on a reality tv show.  His family is struggling finacially and he hopes that if he wins he can help save the ranch.  His long time girlfriend and also his grandfather worry how fame might change him but he insists that his faith is grounded and nothing will ever change that.  He believes that what he is doing is for the glory of God but he encounters fame quickly and looses sight of his One true love.  Will he be able to hold on to his faith or will he loose everything he once loved?  This is another great read by Karen Kingsbury.  Her books always captivate me and keep me reading.  "Good Lord gave me another day.  Got nothing to complain about."  That right there is a gift, waking up to another day.  Sometimes we forget that and find too much to complain about.  "The person you are-the one you really are inside-is lost right now.  But God is chasing you, Kelly.  I've prayed that the world you're choosing will let you down.  And once it does that you will see that God never has."  Sometimes we lose who we are amidst the trials of this life but God is always after us.  The world doesn't have what we are looking for, our wholeness, our peace can only come from the One who created us.  "Sometimes God's voice is hard to hear over the world."  We listen to teachers, parents, spouses, friends but sometimes we just need to listen to what God is trying to tell us.  A good book of the testing of faith and holding strong to what you believe in.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Invisible Girls

"The Invisible Girls" by Sarah Thebarge

This was such a good book.  Sarah, the author, had her life planned until she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of twenty seven.  All her plans came to a screeching halt.  She came very near death and decided to start new across the country.  She was going to take a year to get her life together and then move back and pick up where she left off.  God had other plans and one day she ran into a a Somali refugee woman and her five girls.  Sarah's heart was broken for them and she decided to help.  This memoir is about Sarah's journey through her cancer and how God put her back together when she gave to another broken person.  Sarah felt invisible in a world of breast cancer and hospitals and the Somali family was also invisible to the people around them.  She knew what it felt like to be lost and she was determined to help this family.  Through her giving spirit she found new meaning for her life and wholeness again.  It is a powerful story of how when we reach out to others, even in our darkest moments, God redeems.  We find God when we are willing to open our hearts to others.  "I began to see God as both my Father and the Great Physician.  He was the infinitely loving, infinitely wise parent standing against the Procedure Room wall of life, watching me suffer as tears wellled up in His eyes.  He was waiting for the moment when the trial had finished its work in my life, ready to pick me up the second it was done and carry me home."  That last sentence is so powerful to me.  It helps put trials and pain on this earth into perspective.  God hasn't left us when we go through hard times, not at all.  He is there right beside us, hurting with us.  Just like a parent watches their child struggle, wanting to step in but knowing we can't because a lesson is being learned.  God wants us to grow and we can't do that without a trail or two.  "God, I always thought I was going to be the beautiful, fragrant rose that bloomed for You in the middle of a prominent centerpiece.  But now I see that I may only ever be a crocus in the corner of Your garden.  And I just want to tell You if that's what You have planned for me, if I am meant to be an obscure flower in the corner of the expansive garden, I will live there and I will love You and I will bloom just for You-only, always, ever."  Our lives rarely pan out the way we thought, they often take turns we never saw coming.  But God has us right where He wants us, all we have to do is bask in that and bloom, bloom right where He planted us because it is right where we need to be.  I highly recommend this book.

The Duet

"The Duet" by Robert Elmer

If you know Dutch people then this is the book for you.  I grew up with many Dutch kids at my school, two of whom are still my bestest friends.  I didn't know when I got the book that it was going to be about a Dutch town but when I was reading I had to laugh at all the Dutch talk.  The book took a while to get into and wasn't the best but it was a fun read with a good ending.  It is about a widowed dairy farmer and a widowed city piano instructor who find a very unlikely attraction. The story is told from their perspectives and the Dutch dairy farmer is quite funny.  This is a fun book with a story of love in unlikely places and second chances.  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Love Lifted Me

"Love Lifted Me" by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck

Sara Evans is a favorite country singer of mine so this book caught my eye.  I'm not sure how much she contributed to this book but I liked it.  Max and Jade have a marraige that has been tested by infidelity, drugs and a blended family.  They decide to take a risk and have a fresh start in a new town.  Believing that the trouble is behind them and they are stronger for it.  They didn't know that there was one more test coming.  Will they be able to sustian their love and faith in God through yet another trial?  
I really did enjoy this book.  It is real with the trials of this life but has a happy ending.  Don't we all want a happy ending?  I love a book that shows God's faithfulness through trials.  We all have them and we all need to be reminded that He is with us and will see us through, exchanging beauty for ashes.  

The Opposite of Loneliness

"The Opposite of Loneliness" by Marina Keegan

This book is essays and stories from a college graduate that was aspiring to be a writer but just days after her graduation was killed in a car accident.  Her last article that she wrote for the school paper went viral after her death.  She was likable and fiercly determined to be a writer.  This book was put together by her parents, friends and teachers.  It is a book to honor the aspiring writer that Marina was to become.  It has some interesting stories.  The fiction stories aren't my favorite, they have a little crudness to them but I did like her nonfiction.  "I worry sometimes that humans are afraid of helping humans.  There's less risk associated with animals, less fear of failure, fear of getting too involved."  Why do we pass the homeless man on the street by cry out for the beached whale?  We need to push aside the fear and take the risk to care for the humans around us.  
This isn't necessarily a book that I would recommend.  I was drawn to the tragedy of the authors death but was not overly impressed by her words.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hope Conquers All

"Hope Conquers All" by Sona Mehring

This is a great and inspiring read.  It is written by the founder of CaringBridge.  It is a website that is used for people that have a life threatening illness or have been in an accident.  It is a way to update families and friends about how a person is doing.  I wish that it was around when a close friend of mine was in a car accident.  I was so overwhelmed by phone calls and after spending a whole day in the hospital I was too tired to answer them all.  CaringBridge lets you update when you have the time and reach lots of people at once.  In this book is stories from the people who have used the site.  The stories are touching and sad and hopeful.  The stories are about humans caring for humans in the hardest of times.  It is about bringing joy and hope where there is only darkness.  "You might think that you can't handle something emotionally or physically, but you're a lot stronger than you think you are.  You'll just never know that strength until you need it.  Just because you don't use it or because you don't recognize it doesn't mean that you don't have it."  When something unexpected and hard happens we find the strength we need at just the right moment, strength we didn't even know we had.  We do what has to be done.  We are all stronger than we realize.  "We could have power over the cancer as long as we didn't let it terrify us."  Fear has the power to immobilize us but when we decide to take action and not let fear control us is when we find courage.  "I needed to direct and control myself, because everything I did and said would have a tidal-wave effect on the people who surrounded me and whom I needed the most to help me get back to the new normal."  We all need the people around us and our attitude towards a situation will help to determine the attitudes of those willing to help.  "You grieve what you've lost every day, but you also have to treasure all you have."  It's ok to grieve what's been taken from you but never let that diminish all that you do have.  We have to choose to look at the blessings in the hard times, that is what will bring us out of the darkness.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A House in the Sky

"A House In The Sky" by Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett

I saw an interview with the author, Amanda, and was intrigued by her story and had to read her book.  Amanda was in Somalia when she was kidnapped and held captive for over a year.  The book is about her captivity and the efforts to rescue her.  This is an amazing story of survival and determination.  Amanda endured such unimaginable cruelty and yet survived and made it her mission to help the women of Somolia.  It is an incredible story of the human spirit.  "Something happens when you are alone most of the time, when there are no distractions.  You mind grows more powerful-muscular, even.  It takes over and starts to carry you."  Amanda used her mind to take her out of her captivity, it helped her to survive for over a year.  She used the power of imagination to dream of other places, outside the walls and darkness that surrounded her.  "It's only your body that's suffering, and you are not your body.  The rest of you is fine."  When she was being tortured she would say this to herself, helping her to endure.  "By concentrating on what I was grateful for, I managed to stave off despair.  Each time my captors threw me into that hole, I found another way to climb out.  It wasn't easy-not ever, not once-but this way of thinking became my ladder, my doorway." Amanda showed such strength in the midst of her horrible reality.  She chose to be grateful for any and every little thing.  This gratefulness enabled her to keep from falling into complete despair.  Gratefulness is a powerful tool.  "I choose to forgive the people who took my freedom from me and abused me, despite the fact that what they were doing was absolutely wrong.  Forgiving is not an easy thing to do.  Some days it's no more than a distant spot on the horizon.  I look toward it.  I point my feet in its direction.  Some days I get there and other days I don't.  More than anything else though, it's what has helped me move forward with my life."  Often we can't imagine forgiving someone who has deeply wronged us and yet in not doing so we hold oursleves captive with that hurt.  Forgiveness frees us.  Amanda faced some of the harshest cruelty and yet she has chosen to forgive and said that this alone is the greatest thing that has helped her move past what was done to her.  If there is unforgiveness you can not move forward, the past is still shackled to you.  She chose forgiveness and through that has been able to go back to Somolia and help the people there.  

Friday, April 25, 2014


"Her" by Christa Parravani

This book was a little strange, a little hard to get through, but overall interesting.  A warning that there is swearing and some crude language.  The author is an identical twin whose twin died.  The twin was raped and never emotionally healed from that rape and destoryed herself with drugs.  After losing her twin she too begins to spiral downward.  He whole life she has been attached and linked with her twin, she doesn't know how to live life without her.  In the end, through writing this memoir, she finds hope.  She finds that she has been given a gift, life and many days to live it.  This is a story of brokenness, heartache, despair, but hope and love.  "I was one of the insensitive people whose only power in a powerless situation is to deny it away, to ignore it, to hope the truth will fade."  She tried so many times to help her sister but she couldn't save her and sometimes we feel so powerless to help those we love.  In the end we love and do the best we can and leave the rest up to God.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Taylor's Gift

"Taylor's Gift" by Todd and Tara Storch with Jennifer Schuchmann

This book tells an amazing and heart wrenching story.  A 13 year old girl was killed in a skiing accident and her family is devestated.  They decide to donate their daughters organs and hope blossoms out of the despair.  It is a tragic story that will take your breath away.  The first chapter had me in tears and overwhelmed me so much that I had to put it down for a while.  But when I finished I went to my computer and looked up anything I could find on this story and watched numerous interviews of the parents.  This story is one of God's amazing hope and how He never fails to be with us, heal our brokenness and turn what was meant to harm us into good.  "I cried for us, for them, and for the fallen world we lived in that let things like this happen."  That's truly it, our heart and soul cry out when bad happens as we know that we were not meant for this world.  "...if you deny people the opportunity to help, you're taking away their blessing.  You're taking away a gift they want to give you."  We think we can do it ourselves or we don't want to burden others but we were designed to help others, we are the body of Christ.  Being able to help those in need is what we are called to do and it blesses us.  "Grieving people are hard to be around.  Grief can get ugly.  It's messy.  Some people don't want any part of it.  Others choose to get involved.  They enter your story without concern as to the sacrifices they'll have to make to love you."  Grieving is such a hard process and we often don't think people are doing it right because it looks so different to everyone.  Being willing to step in and love someone through the messiness is a gift.  "You're going to have to crack before you can find your gold."  Hardship and loss refine us and can make us shine if we choose.  We don't know what we are made up and where are faith really lies until we have gone through the fire.  This family found the only way to make it through this tragedy was to hang on to their rock, God.  He pulled them through and showed them beauty from ashes.  

The Middle Place

"The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan

I really enjoyed this book a lot.  The author, Kelly, was born into a very close family, she was the only girl with two brothers.  She was adored by her father who was a very positive, outgoing man.  She never doubted what she could do because she had the constant encouragement from her father.  She grows up and gets married and has two little girls of her own and is told that she has breast cancer.  She wants to be a grown up and be strong but she feels so small and needs to be taken care of by her family.  It is a story of triumph, love and strength.  It is the story of being someones child, mother, wife and friend.  "When you're a mother and your kid's in pain and you can't stop it-it's hell.  Absolute hell." Such a true statement and one that is hard to accept.  We can't shield our children from every pain, life is full of it.  We must guide them through it and help them to be stronger because of it.  This story is also full of pain but the triumph that comes with enduring and the importance of fiercely loving those around us.

Knocking on Heaven's Door

"Knocking on Heaven's Door" By Katy Butler

The subtitile of this book is, "The Path to a Better Way of Death".  I was intrigued by the title.  It's not an easy book to get through but I did find it very interesting.  The author writes about her father's illness of dementia and how today our doctors do everything to postpone death for as long as possible.  We have become so afraid of death, taking great measures to prolong it but at what cost.  Gone are the days where people die at home amongst family and friends in the comfort of the place they know and love.  Most people die in a facility amongst wires and tubes and beeping and sterile environments.  There is a time and a place most definitley for life saving means but when is it become almost cruel?  This subject has so many facets to it with religion, morals, science, technology and love intertwined.  "How greateful are we for the gift of life and what are we willing to undergo for more of it?"  Often times in older people one life saving means or device leads to additional complications and the need for more life saving means.  I think we allow these things beccause we, the living, aren't ready to let go of the person dying.  "After the mid-1950s, the attitudes of many doctors and patients shifted from faith in God and acceptance of death to faith in medicine and resistance of death."  As we do more research and technology gets better our faith in medicine and what things it can do for us begins to deepen.  "Dying can be postponed, but aging cannot be cured."  Inevitable we all must die and we all age and with that comes the loss of many things.  Aging is just as inevitable as death.  "My father could no longer strive and do.  He could only love and be loved.  The race was run."  I think that is a beautiful picture of what the end of our lives should look like.  "...that as we all one by one quit this earth we may one by one re-form the family circle in Heaven."  Our ties are not severed when we leave this earth if we believe in Jesus, we will be reunited again and there is great comfort in that.  "Dying is hard on the dying.  Death is hard on the living."  The author is not a believer so this book isn't written from that perspective and has lots of medical history giving background to how we got to where we are today.  I don't agree with all of her thinking but I was intrigued and it got me thinking about the end stages of life and what that should perhaps look like.  I would be interested to hear your feedback and take on this book if you read it.  I'd love to have a discussion on it.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk

"How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

This might be the book that has the longest title ever but it is a great resource.  I think the information in the book is a lot of common sense but as parents we get so exasperated with our children that common sense tends to go out the window.  There are many great steps to not yell, to keeping your cool, and to giving your child choices.  The main point is to see our children as humans with valid feelings and capabilities.  We often don't give our children enough credit or we think what they are feeling is silly.  I know that when someone overlooks my feelings it makes me feel not heard or that I don't matter, this is not what I want to portray to my children.  The book has lots of examples, lots of different situations and exercises that you can do.  I thought the book was very helpful and had tangible things I can say with my children when a problem arises.  "It's a bittersweet road we parents travel.  We start with total commitment to a small, helpless human being.  Over the years we worry, plan, comfort, and try to understand.  We give our love, our labor, our knowledge and our experience-so that one day he or she will have the inner strength and confidence to leave us."  I recommend reading this book if you have children in your life in any fashion, as a parent, a grandparent, a foster parent, an aunt or uncle, a teacher or even as a neighbor.  It will encourage you and give you tools to better communicate.  

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Wind is Not a River

"The Wind is Not a River" by Brian Payton

This book was intriguing.  It is a novel but it does tell about an actual little known battle of WWII.  John is a journalist who has lost his brother in the war and is determined to write about what is actually happening.  John leaves his wife behind and go to Alaska's Aleutian Islands and his plane is shot down.  He survives the crash only to have to survive being undettected by the enemy and surviving the elements.  His wife is determined to find out what has happened to her husband after not hearing from him for three months.  Will love be able to bring them back together?  Will she be strong enough to find her answers, no matter what they are?  This is a story of sacrifice, love and courage.  "The sacrifices made on our behalf must be known before they can be remembered, he said."  We can not be thankful to those who have sacrificed for us if we do not know what was sacrificed.  We all have a story to tell and as I get older I am wishing more and more that I had heard the stories of those who went before me.  "We're walking through life in the present, changing along the way.  The past is something somebody else did long ago.  What happens tomorrow is someone else's problem.  All that's real is the here and now."  Hopefully we are changing, adapting and makes adjustments along this journey we call life.  The past is done, and we are different for it.  We can't control tomorrow and it's not our job to.  What we have is today, that's all we are guaranteed and we need to do the best we can. "How many millions of lives have been diverted by this war?  Unlike the tally of ships, dollars, or casualties, there is no math for personal losses, losses quiet and unseen.  No restitution for what could have been."  Wars losses are great.  Many lives are changed, never to be on the path they once were.  "There are enough hard facts to confront each day without letting our imaginations get the better of us-without letting worry drain our real lives away."   I would recommend this book.  It has a touch of history, a lot of courage and love and faith in humanity restored.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dinner with the Smileys

"Dinner with the Smileys" by Sarah Smiley

This story is about a military family whose dad/husband is deployed for a year.  The wife and three sons are home to endure a year without their dad/husband.  They decide to have someone over for dinner every week to mark the weeks.  Dinner can be a lonely time as they can physically see the empty chair.  The dinners turned into so much more than they could have imagined.  They had teachers, senators, athletes, musicians, neighbors and many others over for dinner.  The boys got to learn about many things and meet lots of people.  Many people rallied around this family and showed support when they needed it most.  I'm so proud of those who serve in our military and the families that also sacrifice so much for our freedoms.  "I believe parents always have one child who keeps them in a state of suspended, uncertain emotion."  I know I do.  "I don't want to be the mom who thinks things are impossible.  I don't want to teach my kids that doing less is better.  I don't want them to think that anything stands in their way."  Sarah had to go it alone and be both mom and dad for a year. She had to think about what her husband would say or do in many different circumstances with the boys.  She had to be willing to take some risks, willing to see that the lesson learned was worth it.  We all want our children to soar and that always involves some risk.  I know I want my children to know that they can face hard things and do them with the help of their community around them and with God.  I enjoyed this book as it gives an inside look on military families and the hardship they endure when a parent is deployed.  I liked that the community and friends joined with this family.  It made me grateful to our military and their families and grateful for my family.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Wake the Dawn

"Wake the Dawn" by Lauraine Snelling

I just happened to pick this book up at the library.  Most of the time I am not dissapointed when I am just looking through the shelves and grab a book.  This book did not dissapoint and in fact kept me turning pages.  The story is about a small town that gets hit by a big storm.  Ben is a border patrolman who lost his wife and turned to the bottle.  Esther is the only physician in town and has an emotional battle she is hiding.  Both are forced to work together during the storm under stressful circumstances and with little supplies.  An abandoned baby might just turn Ben from the bottle and his heart might just heal Esther.  A story of the force of love and friendship.  "I can't help you walk if I'm still crippled.  I want to help you."  When we become healthy, whole people, it is our turn to help others find that same healing.  This was a quick and rewarding read.  

The Kite Runner

"The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini

Alright, now I've read all of this authors books, this being his first book.  I really like this author and how he has brought a face and people to all that has gone on in Afghanistan.  My heart has been burdened for the people their after reading his books.  This book is definitely a difficult read in that it is heavy and is somewhat expilicit.  It is about two boys born in Kabul, Afghanistan who shared the same wet nurse and are friends but grew up in two different worlds.  One boy, Amir, is the  son of a wealthy man.  The other boy, Hassan, is the son of Amir's father's servant.  Amir and his father eventually flee the country but Amir can not leave behind his past and his friend Hassan.  There is heartache, betrayal and eventual hope in this story.  It is a story of a past that will haunt until it is reckoned with and made right.  "Children aren't coloring books.  You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors."  Nope, children come with their own sense of who they want to be.  As parents we don't get to choose for them, thats already decided by the One who made them.  We just get to gently direct with Gods help.  "...but time can be a greedy thing-sometimes it steals all the details for itself."  "And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, when guilt leads to good."  Guilt from the right source should always prompt us to change.  And that is what this book is about, being prompted to change and make the past right.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

I Speak For This Child

"I Speak for This Child" by Gay Courter

I was given this book to read as I am going through some training for a volunteer position.  It is a heavy read but a very good and eye opening book.  The author is a volunteer that works with foster children.  The book is stories of children that she has worked with in that system.  Most people will tell you that our social service system is a very broken system and while I agree, there are many, many people that work within that system that are good and doing their best to bring about help.  These are heartbreaking stories of children who need someone to stand up for them, willling to listen and fight for them, and that is just what the author has done.  Something must be done to help these kids and we can all have a part in making a difference.  The back of the book has many different resources for getting involved.  This book has urged me to get involved, to not be on the sidelines any longer.  It has also opened my eyes to the hurt these children are facing and how that affects all of us in the long run. Our society can not sit by any longer, these children need someone to care or we will continue to live in a world where violence is an every day occurrence, where suicide continues to skyrocket, and where drugs and alcohol are abused more frequently.  I encourage you to not only read this book but after you are done to take a step of action, our future is depending on us all.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Thousand Splendid Suns

"A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled is becoming a favorite of mine.  His writings about Afghanistan have intruiged me.  Iv'e yet to read The Kite Runner, his most famous work, but it's on my list.  This story tells of the turmoil and devastation Afghanistan and its people have endured from all of its wars.  It gives faces to those who have suffered.  I'll admit it was a bit hard to read as the reality of what has gone on in this country is hard for this American to swallow.  But it tells a tale of great sacrifice, of love and of friendship.  This was a great book, heart wrenchingly good. I would highly recommend reading it.  I honestly don't know a lot about the culture or the history of Afghanistan except what is portrayed in the news, and I think this book, and his others, tell a more personal story of it all.  It is a powerful book.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Long Time Coming

"Long Time Coming" by Vanessa Miller

Deidre is a teacher with no children to call her own, her life long dream.  Kenisha has three kids, each with different fathers.  Kenisha has been handed hardship her whole life and being diagnosed with cancer is just one more thing to add to that list.  Both woman feel abandoned by a God they thought they knew.   When their paths cross neither could have known what God was up to.  "Deidre had certainly learned that some of life's journeys were simply too great for her, and she needed to lean on the Lord to get through them."  I've been there, life can hand out some doozies and the only way to muster the strength to keep on is with the Lord by my side.  "I do believe that God answers prayers.  Whether He answers mine or not does not change the fact that God is good and that He is well able to do anything we need Him to do."  This is a truth that I am learning.  He does answer every prayer, just not how or when we want, but He does answer.  And His answers are always the best answers even when I had other plans.  I enjoyed this book as a quick read full of God's grace and surprises.  It was a book I just randomly picked up at the library.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

And the Mountains Echoed

"And the Mountains Echoed" by Khaled Hosseini

This was a long book and took a little while to get into but it was a good one.  The story is set in Afghanistan and tells of the bonds we have as family.  A brother and a sister without a mother are separated and live their lives with an absence.   A child who lives with a mother who looks to her daughter to fill the holes of loss in her life.  A daughter whose father holds tightly to her, afraid of losing what is most precious.  One event is tied to the others.  Ones loss is a whole generations loss.  "But, sometimes, it is only after you have lived that you recognize your life had a purpose, and likely one you never had in mind."  We all have these great plans of what our lives will look like but really it is only when we surrender those plans to God will the greatest plans take place.  "I learned that the world didn't see the inside of you, that it didn't care a whit about the hopes and dreams, and sorrows, that lay masked by skin and bone."  The world can be a cruel place, judging on only the outward, but then we miss the amazing beauty of the soul.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Saving Each Other

"Saving Each Other" by Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy

I found this book while watching an Ellen clip on YouTube, she had the authors on the show.  It is the story of a teen girl who becomes suddenly very ill and when she is taken to the doctor for tests they discover that she has a very rare and deadly disease, NMO.  The disease is like MS but attacks at a much faster rate and with worse symptoms.  Doctors knew little about the disease or how to treat it.  There were no foundations to help and so little information.  So the mother, Victoria Jackson, took it upon herself to get her daughter help.  She started a foundation, connected with other people with the disease and started connecting doctors.  It is a moving story, written from both the mother and daughters perspectives.  It is about the fierce love of a mother and a strong will of the daughter, Ali.  "Maybe I can't be saved from being a mom.  My consolation is knowing that I'm not so alone in my incurable condition."  All of us mothers live with our hearts outside our chests, we have babies of all ages that we will never stop worrying over or loving, but we are not alone.  "Be happy for what you've accomplished today, and be grateful, hopeful, and positive about the things you will do tomorrow."  One day at a time, one grateful, hopeful moment to the next.  I enjoyed the lessons this mother and daughter learned from each other in their trial.  Ali learned just how strong and tough her mother is.  She learned that her mother would never give up and would fight and stay with her through all of life's ups and downs.  Victoria learned that her daughter has quiet strength and amazing perspective in the midst of the worst of times.  The worst you can imagine may happen but we are not alone and we can choose what we will do, lay down or get up and fight.  

Tell My Sons

"Tell My Sons' by Lt. Col. Mark M. Weber

The author served in the U.S. Army and found out he had stage IV intestinal cancer.  This book is about that fight and also it is a letter to his three sons about life and death and the lessons he learned.  Mark is a man with great courage and amazing perspective.  He was a fighter, a hero and most of all humble.  "I am proposing that 'can do' is often just one or two short steps beyond 'can't do,' and the territory in between is fertile ground for personal growth and professional achievement."  We have to push ourselves just a bit further, just a little bit beyond what we think we can, just a little outside our comfort zones and we find we really can.  "And success with humility comes (and will come) not by trying to be the best but by doing your best every time and letting the results speak for themselves-to others and to you."  When we do our best all the time it speaks of character, of not settling for less than what we are called to.  "In the end, laughing and crying are more like cousins than strangers.  They're how honest human beings respond to a life they allow themselves to love, and my hope is that you have plenty of tears in your lives-of all kinds."  This book was well written and had some good lessons in it.  It isn't easy to face ones early death and continue to be courageous, humorous, positive and uplifting but that is exactly what Mark did.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Circle Maker

"The Circle Maker" by Mark Batterson

I was given this book to read by my dad.  It sat on my shelf for quite a few months.  Then my pastor said that we would be doing the devotional that goes along with this book for a sermon series on 40 days of prayer.  So I decided I should read the book.  It is based on the legend of the circle maker who is a man that drew a circle in the sand and said that he would not leave that circle till God sent rain, they were in a severe drought.  He dropped to his knees and prayed for rain and it began to rain.  The author uses this as an example that we need to draw circles around our prayers and keep praying till God answers, which come in many different forms and not always the yes we are looking for.  I liked the book, it challenged me to not stop praying when it seems there isn't an answer.  It challenged me to pray through and that God wants me to be persistant.  The book stretched my faith.  "We quit praying right before the miracle happens."  We give up but maybe just one more prayer and we would see His answer.  "You are always only one prayer away from a miracle."  I like that, that keeps me praying.  "Too often we let how get in the way of what God wants us to do.  We can't figure out how to do what God has called us to do, so we don't do it at all."  I think we need to leave the how up to God.  We need to have "vision beyond our resources."  "God can do anything through anyone who circles their big dreams with bold prayers."  It takes all kinds of people, willing people, and He can and will use anyone willing.  "With God, it's never an issue of 'Can He?'  It's only a questio of 'Will He?'  And while you don't always know if He will, you know He can.  And because you know He can, you can pray with holy confidence."  I know I don't always pray with hold confidence.  "Sometimes the power of prayer is the power to carry on.  It doesn't always change your circumstances, but it gives you the strength to walk through them.  When you pray through, the burden is taken off of your shoulders and put on the shoulders of Him who carried the cross to Calvary."  "When you know you are praying the promises of God, you can pray with holy confidence."  His promises are right in the Bible, we can take those promises and pray them for ourselves.  "We pray as if God's cheif objective is our personal comfort.  It's not.  God's chief objective is His glory.  And sometimes His gain involves a little pain."  Our prayers shouldn't be for our comfort but for His glory.  "You can't pray for open doors if you aren't willing to accept closed doors, because one leads to the other."  Well alright then, we have to accept the closed doors as open doors somewhere else.  "One reason God does miracles is to stretch our faith so we can draw bigger circles so He can do bigger and better miracles."  This gives us bigger faith, willing to believe for more so that He can be glorified.  "The good news is that you're only one defining decision away from a totally different life. That defining decision will lead to a daily decisioin, and together, these defining decisions and daily decisions will lead to a different destiny."  That is empowering.  Just one decision, one prayer can change everything, pray through, don't give up.  

Under The Overpass

"Under the Overpass" by Mike Yankoski

I found out about this book from a friend and she let me borrow it.  She told me it was a good book but wouldn't be life changing.  I think it was a great book and it challenged me a lot.  It has some hard truths in it.  The author and a friend choose to become homeless for five months in five different cities.  The author, Mike, was convicted one day that he wasn't really living out his faith, that his life looked no different really than a non-believer.  He got this radical idea to put his faith to the test and see if he really believed what he said he did.  He decided to leave his world behind and live a life with the homeless.  It is a fascination story which will cause you, hopefully, to look at people on the streets differently.  The message of the book is a challenge, a challenge to be the hands of Jesus and get out of our comfortable lives.  "Be the Christian you say you are."  That was the title of the sermon that caused Mike to question the life that he was living.  That is a very good statment to evaluate your life and what you are doing with it.  That was on page 4 and I could have stopped reading there.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  "More forgotten, ruined, beautiful people than we ever imagined existed, and more reason to hope in their redemption."  "Psalm 34:18 says 'The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.'  I wondered if pretending you're not broken keeps God at a distance."  We are all broken and the sooner we admit and are honest with others about that the sooner God can step in and redeem.  "If we are the body of Christ-and Christ came not for the healthy but the sick-we need to be fully present in the places where people are most broken.  And it has to be more than just a financial presence.  That helps, of course.  But too often money is insulation-it conveniently keeps us from ever having to come face-to-face with a man or woman whose life is in tatters."  Being fullly present in the places where people are most broken is scary and hard but my bet is it will be the place where we feel fully alive and see more of God.  "Begging is hard.  It's something you expect hungry dogs to do, but not men and women made in God's image."  The people on the streets, God's image bearers, they are having to lower their standards just to eat.  Why do we pass them by?  Why do we pretend that we don't even see them?  It's because we don't see Christ in them, we forget that they were created by God.  We see dirt, and stench and bad choices but we don't see God because if we did our lives would look a whole lot different.  "What's worse?  To do dope or to not love your brother?  Why do we kick drug users out of the church while quietly overlooking those who are ignoring their own different but equally destructive sins?  Why do we reject the loving, self-sacrificing, giving, encourageing, Jesus-pursuing drug addict but recruit the clean, self-interested, gossiping, loveless churchgoer?"  "If we as believers choose to forget that everyone-even the shrunken soul lying in the doorway-is made in the image of God, can we say we know our Creator?  If we respond to others based on their outward appearance, haven't we entirely missed the point of the gospel?"  Jesus hung out with the sinners, outcasts, lepers and sick.  Who do we choose to hang out with?  "I do this becasue my faith tells me to.  The Bible clearly says, if you see someone hungry, feed them; if you see someone naked, clothe them.  Those words weren't written for us to make books and sermons about.  They're written so people don't go hungry and naked.  And they require action from all folllowers of Christ..."  "Whenever we close our eyes to the real needs of the real people of our world, we force them to survive via whatever options are available to them, dehumanizing though they may be."  Each of us has the ability to meet someone elses needs to give where we have so much.  "Again and again it seemed that the culture we had returned to knew how to enjoy God's material blessings, but had forgotten-or didn't care to know-how to use those blessing to help others in Jesus' name."  We are blessed not so we can keep the blessings to ourselves but so we can share.  "Sometimes it's easy to walk by because we know we can't change someone's whole life in a single afternoon.  But what we fail to realize is that simple kindness can go a long way toward encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place."  We don't have to change someones life, that is Gods business, we just have to do the one things that He called us to do.  I hope you read this book, not just read it but do something, make a change, be willing to risk your comfort for Jesus.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Packing Light

"Packing Light" by Allison Vesterfelt

I got this book from my best friend who knows the author.  It's a quick read about a twenty something gal, the author, and a trip she takes to all 50 states to find what she has been missing in her daily life.  She thought when she got a career she would find satisfaction or when she got married but she wasn't finding that what she longed for.  When she took this trip she found out what life was like to pack light.  "If you try to figure out how to do everything, all at once, you'll get overwhelmed.  But if you just focus on one task at a time, and keep walking in the same direction, all those little steps add up over time."  We set these lofty goals for ourselves and burn out before we even begin.  Big tasks, goals or journeys begin with one step.  Just do the next best thing and the next best thing and then the next best thing.  "Sometimes we make problems so much more difficult than they need to be."  "Maybe what I needed wasn't fewer expectations, or lower expectations, but the ability to adjust them in the middle of my trip."  I'll admit, I oftentimes set my expectations pretty low or not at all so that I am not dissapointed.  But I think what I really need to do is to allow myself to have expecations but be willing to adjust them.  "When you're doing what you were made to do, hurting people will come to you.  That's what Jesus did.  He just acted like Himself, and weeks after the start of His ministry, hurting people began to flock to Him."  Such a good example.  When we do what God has designed us for, He will bring the people to us that need what we have. "Fear is a self-fulfilling prophecy in this way.  We're afraid so we act out of fear, and because we act out of fear, our fears tend to come true."  Fear is a hard cycle to break and fear tends to breed more fear.  Sometimes doing what you are afraid of is the only way to break the cycle.  "Numbing pain will only make it worse.  The only way out is through."  Ugh.  So hard and so true.  We try and numb pain but we find its still there and we have to do more and more to numb it.  Through it is no fun but it is what finally eases the pain.  "If anyone tells you they have the answers, they're lying.  There are no guarantees.  You just have to take the information you have, and make the best decisions you know how.  Then, if it doesn't work the way you thought it would, you have to admit your mistake and get up and try again."  Life isn't easy and nope, there aren't any guarantees.  We just have to do the next best thing and when we fail, get up and try again.  "Open hands to receive gifts that come, enjoy them while they last, and give freely when it's required."  When we are open to receive gifts we are blessed and then can turn that blessing around and give it away.  "Because when stuff becomes the point of our life, we miss out on the greatest blessing of all: the freedom we feel when we're fully engaged in the push-pull of life, the letting go, and the holding on."      Stuff doesn't last and will always dissapoint.  There is freedom in letting go.  "I think sometimes when things get hard, too many of us assume we're moving the wrong direction.  Like if we're doing life right, it's supposed to be easy."  I want life to be easy but I'm learning that life isn't supposed to be easy and when life is hard I lean on God more and God never dissapoints.  I really liked this book.  It taught me a lot of lessons.  I hope that I am able to pack lighter as I go and that I am not afraid to look for the next adventure.