Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wisdom for Wednesdays

“It is not a person’s place to say who is committed to Christ and who is not. . . . Therefore, it is our duty to gather in all who will come and not to judge and not to separate, but to leave the final judgment to God who alone can judge.”
-William Barclay

Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer Book Reviews: Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Two girlfriends and I were gabbing in my bedroom after a successful morning of garage saling on Saturday. K. looked at the mile-high stack of books on my nightstand and commented, “that looks like my stack!”

I’m really reading them all. Honest. I wish I could talk a week off of everything else and  simply read all day long on my backyard swing…with my dog bringing me glasses of iced tea and lemonade…(okay, coming out of daydream).
Here are reviews for a couple books from my stack. One I enjoyed…the other not so much. Bad news first, shall we?
Sisters of the Quilt, by Cindy Woodsmall
I just couldn't get into this one. Normally I'm a fan of Amish fiction. I love their simple lifestyles, and the descriptions of the beautiful scenery as well as their home-making activities of canning, baking, and such. This book was a trilogy of three books, chronicling the journey of Hannah Lapp, an Amish teenager, after an unexpected pregnancy, shunning, and leaving the Amish faith. I'm not one to sugar-coat life or ignore the traumatic realities that occur so often in a broken world...but neither do I care to read about them in a fiction book, Christian or otherwise. I realize it can be a beautiful thing to read about the redemption of suffering in fiction, but this one just had too much of a negative slant to draw me in. The heavy topics of rape, an unexpected pregnancy, and the negative responses from the Amish community really turned me off from this book. Truthfully, I didn't even finish it. Sadly, I don't recommend this one.
On to a brighter review...
Blue Moon Bay, by Lisa Wingate
This was a cozy mystery with a hint of romance. Strong heroine, character growth, beautiful scenery descriptions, and an interesting plot— it contained all the ingredients for a book that captures my attention. It had been awhile since I’d read fiction, so I really enjoyed being swept into a story as well as the mind and heart of the main character, Heather. It’s somewhat of a predictable plot— a city girl going home to a tiny town in Texas to sell her family’s home. Upon arrival, she realizes there are not only barriers to the sale but also barriers to making peace with her eccentric family and the townspeople. Memories of her awkward and insecure time as a teenager there surface and push her to work through relationships as well as heart struggles. I love the last few sentences in the last chapter (don’t worry! No spoilers!): Our lives come as a blank canvas only because we cannot see as He sees. Before we can conceive our stories, He has watched them in His mind’s eye, and not the stroke of a pen happens at random. Above the book, the Architect watches with a broader eye, a greater plan. He knows what is to be written on every page.

[These books were provided to me at no cost in exchange for a review. These are my original and honest comments.]

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different..."

-C. S. Lewis

(We build our lives with the building blocks of individual days. Let's not underestimate them or misuse them...God is in the ordinary day, my friends.)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mind Running, Feet Running

I tossed the groceries onto the counter, slipped into some running shorts, and headed out the door. My mind had been running a mile a minute this week...maybe if my feet started running, my mind would stop.

The whirlwind of planning for the fall had me stressed and worried. Too many committments. Church, volunteering, relationships, responsibilities, pets. I had been there before...did I really want to try it again? Would my attempt to serve the Lord finding me focusing more on the service than on the Lord? Would my family see less of me? Would I have time for my boyfriend, time for strangers, time for...well, me? How do I find what it means to lay down my life, to pour out my life for God and others...without getting burnt out? Where does my strength end and His begin? Do I even need to know the answers to these questions?

Hot sunshine. Summer evening crickets. The sweet rhythm of my feet on the pavement. My heart was beating faster and my mind was slowing down.

I looked up to the heavens and met His gaze. Soft, beautiful clouds stretched across the blue sky, covering me. Sunlight peeked through the openings, reaching for me.

Instinctively I reached back, praising the One who created it. Hushed by His majesty, my focus remained on the sky above as I ran. Constant, unchanging blue as the rest of the world passed by in the blur of peripheral vision. Worries and fears began to release their hold.

Once again, creation was teaching me about the Creator (Romans 1:20). The One who is constant, unchanging. The One who covers me with grace and strength and mercy and love. The One who waits for me to look up and let my burdens fall as I seek Him alone. The questions in my mind dropped one by one along my path as I ran home.

I didn't need to know the answers--I knew Him.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."

-Maria Robinson

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them." -Psalm 145:18-19