Monday, November 30, 2009
Levi's Will, by W. Dale Cramer, is a novel about an Amish young man and his journey through life banned from everything he knows. It delves into the psychology of how our upbringing can shape our lives, and the lives of those around us, whether we know it or not.
We first meet Will at what we find out later is his father's funeral. The book jumps back and forth between the present day setting of the novel and the years leading up to that time. The author cleverly weaves his story teasing the reader with little bits and pieces that, in time, will add up to the whole, and give the reader the understanding of what events shaped his life. This was a remarkably told tale that did not let me get ahead of myself as, I confess, I am prone to do. I am always trying to "figure out" the ending, but this lead me in several different directions that kept me off balance for the majority of the book.
While it is not meant to be a whodunit book in anyway, I enjoyed trying to figure out the little bits and pieces that made Will who he was and explained the reasoning behind the choices he made. My heart ached for him as time after time he tried to reconcile with his Amish family, but every time was turned away by the patriarch.
All in all, Levi's Will was a well-crafted book that kept my imagination held the entire time. Then to read the acknowledgments at the end and know that this was, in part, his father's story, was heart-warming as well.
This book is a definite must-read for anyone, especially those who love Beverly Lewis' amish books.
This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
God was telling the character that there was something better for him if he would just let go of the past. The character told God he had let go. God told him he hadn't. The character corrected God and said he had. God told the character to let go and trust him. The character said no.
I replayed this scene in my head today and thought about one of recent my conversations with my daughter. This wound will feel better if you let me clean it out. No it won't. Yes it will. Will it hurt? It might, but it will heal faster. I don't want to be hurt. Trust me, it will help. No it won't, and she walked away until it hurt so bad she had no choice, but to let me help her.
I do this so often with God. He puts something in my heart and tells me to do it. I tell Him I'm scared. He says I'll give you grace. I say, but what if it doesn't work. He says trust Me, it will heal something in you and something in someone else. I say it's too risky, and I don't want to look stupid. (That's really important to me. I don't want to fail or look stupid. 'Cause it's all about me.) He tells me again to trust. I say, I'm sorry, I can't, and then I wonder why someone else gets my blessing.
One of the areas God has been dealing with me is my past. Hurtful things that were said and done that I took to heart and then let them lead me into an almost 18-year depression were released off me this year. The only thing is I don't think I have completely let them go. I am selfish. I enjoy the misery. I enjoy the martyrship. I enjoy rehashing everything that was said and done because it is familiar. However, God didn't call me to that.
God called me to be set free and to go forward to heal others in situations like mine. He has reiterated that word several times this year with the most recent being last week at our staff retreat. He gave me a gift that was to be employed to help release strongholds in others lives, but I tell Him it's too hard. I tell him I have released it, and He tells me I haven't, and then I am like my twelve-year-old daughter arguing with the God of the universe, who knows me better than I know myself, and I am trying to tell Him that I have released everything. Then when He calls me on my bluff, I get mad and walk away and pout.
What issue has you arguing with God? What do you keep trying to tell Him you have taken care of, when you both know you haven't let it go. There are blessings out there that you can't imagine for following His commands and directions. Don't sell yourself short, and most importantly don't sell short your God. He chose you for this particular time and place. He knows your giftings and has a destiny set aside for you. Trust Him today and move forward.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
It's easy to discern early on that there is a rift between the mother and daughter from early in the daughter's teen years. My only question was why the mother and father allowed the daughter to be downright disrespectful for 9 years. Over and over the daughter character is portrayed as a pouting, sulking, spoiled little brat, who should have been called onto the carpet way before her wedding week and by her parents and not her fiance'.
I was impressed with the author's portrayal of a family going through the affects of an affair. I especially liked the way the husband handled this with true human emotion, but was able to also see areas in his own life where he might have contributed (being too busy at work, etc.). I also liked the way they healed together, slowly, but surely.
Overall, the writing style of Jackina Stark was very good. I would be interested in trying another book of hers, but this particular book will definitely not be staying in my library. Please remember this is only one person's opinion, and while it is very strong, I know friends of mine, who did like the book.
This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
..."Who outside of God himself would have known a brilliant, deaf kid, a vegan hippie, and a toeless soldier would find themselves some sort of family?"
I was a little skeptical when I started reading this book. I usually don't like to read books where the couples are already married because the authors don't always use real solutions. The main characters struggle and struggle and then, presto!, they're back together again and God did it all without showing how they work it through. This book is definitely not one of those.
This is a story about a marriage, that maybe shouldn't have happened at all, and how two people can let life's situations carry them away from each other. Then when God throws a curve ball at them, they try to once again control the circumstances themselves and fix it. It isn't until their whole world falls apart, yet again, that they both finally realize that they can't do it on their own. They have to let God be the solution. Your heart will go out to the young boy in the book that slowly steals the book and the attention. That character was very well written and brought to life.
There were several places, especially towards the end of the book, that I made note to use when I speak on marriage topics. All in all, a well-written book that captures your imagination and takes you with the characters on their journey. It is a book that I would definitely recommend and an author I would like to read more.
This is a Bethany House Book.
Her Rescue Might Be the Miracle They Needed
Things like this don't happen in Beck County.
Deputy Benjamin Patil is the one to find the infant girl, hours old, abandoned in a field.
As police work to identify the mother, Ben and his wife, Abbi, seem like the obvious couple to serve as foster parents. But the newborn's arrival opens old wounds for Abbi and shines a harsh light on how much Ben has changed since a devastating military tour.
Their marriage teeters on the brink and now they must choose to reclaim what they once had or lose each other forever.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I am no exception. On the last Sunday of 2008, I wrote down the top 8 or 9 requests that I had for 2009. In the past I had made them somewhat generic and not necessarily measurable. Requests like that my daughters grow closer to God or my husband and I grow closer together and to God. This year, however, I asked for some distinctive requests that it would be easy for me to see a yes or a no.
Now, I confess, I forgot to write them someplace other than the card, so I have to wait another 5 weeks before I can see them, but there are a couple that I remember and. Because I work at the church office, I have the distinct pleasure of writing down prayer requests and praises that come in for our prayer team, and I hear or see that God is answering request after request in the Time Capsule. I proceeded to get a tad melancholy (just call me Eeyore) and wondered why God had not answered, but one of mine.
That's when it hit me. The fundamental truth that I have known, probably as long as I have been a Christian, some 28 years, but consistently forget. The one God had to hit me upside the head with a 2x4 to remember. He has answered. He has not forgotten me or ignored me. He has answered, but some of His answers happen to be no.
How many times do we cry and lament that God has not heard me? We tear our sackcloth and wail as though we were King David in the Psalms that the Almighty God has forgotten poor, little ol' me. When He hasn't. He answered, but for some reason we think that the only answer that is truly an answer from God is a yes. However, like any loving parent, sometimes He has to say no to protect us, to correct us, to grow us in His image.
It's so nice to know that I have not been forgotten. I am still a loved and cherished child of the King. He loves me enough to not give me things that are not good for me. He loves me so much He is willing to incur my all-knowing human temper tantrum when I don't get my way, so that He can gently shape and refine my character so I can become even more like Him. How absolutely, unequivocally awesome is that! He loves me enough to say NO!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
"It's the journey, not the destination". This saying by country music group, Diamond Rio's Jimmy Olander, is the summation of their book, Beautiful Mess. The book takes you through the formation of the group as the Tennessee River Boys, a performing group in the Opryland theme park, through 20 years of metamorphosis. Author, Tom Roland, a Nashville-based entertainment writer, introduces you to each of the Diamond Rio band members individually,and shares their history with you. He also takes you step by step through the formation of the band into where they are today.
The book, Beautiful Mess, The Story of Diamond Rio, is a well-written and thoughtfully laid out book. I do not know if it is something that will attract people who are not avid followers of the band or of the country music genre. There were parts of the book where I could feel the emotion and the pain of the band members, such as when the lead singer, Marty Roe, was having vocal difficulties and was having night after night of horrible performances. I think there were a couple of times I actually winced at the descriptions being able to picture them in my mind. Likewise, when the book talked about their song, "One More Day", and I started seeing everywhere it was used during 2001 including post 9/11, there were actually tears in my eyes.
I will admit, there were parts of this book that were extremely slow for me, not being a huge fan of biographies. However, for the country music aficionados out there, this book will show you a side of Diamond Rio that you probably have not seen before. They are a good group of guys that have worked together, played together, and served together in their community. There is a humanitarian side of them that I did not know, but was impressed to read about.
Although this is not a book that I gained great Biblical knowledge from, it was a book that I was glad to have read. I have liked Diamond Rio's songs and will continue to enjoy them even more in the future knowing what stand-up guys are behind the songs.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
My daughters came home from school and my oldest asked me what was wrong. I told her nothing, but she has learned to read me and knew that I wasn't telling the truth. I couldn't tell her what had happened earlier because I knew she wouldn't understand, so I just brushed off her inquiry jumping to a different subject.
After work I took my girls to go get hair cuts. I walked in the door, saw our children's pastor and immediately told him what happened. He let me vent and I went on my way still not feeling better. I saw his wife and though I wanted to tell her what had happened, I couldn't because my girls were in the room and I didn't want them to hear. So I sulked and mourned about the fact that I couldn't really vent to her about what was going on.
I came home and continued being melancholy in mood. Being melancholy is not a good state of mind because it is really just a selfish poor me state. So fast forward a couple of hours and I was lying in bed thinking how horrible this day had been when I got the idea I should have gotten about 8 hours ago. Pick up the Bible and read it to see what God had to say for my situation. Sometimes I really hate it when I do this because I don't always want to hear what God has to say. I wanted a good, old-fashioned, vengeance is mine, kind of scripture.
"The words of the godly encourage many..." What were my words today? Were they at all encouraging? No. I made sure the people around me knew how miserable I was. If I was living in Bible times, I would have put on my sackcloth and gone to sit in my ashes, so everyone would take pity on me.
I am resolving, right here and now, amidst such a great cloud of witnesses (okay, all 3 of you who subscribe to my blog right now), that I am going to strive to implement this verse above. The words of the godly encourage many. How can I do this? When I have a bad day I go to my source of joy and let Him turn my attitude around, painful though it might be. I choose to encourage others around me so that in turn I will be encouraged.
Another mile marker in this pryzr's journey. "The words of the godly encourage many..."
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
by Dr. Emerson Eggerich
"What if your son grew up and married someone like you?"
A wife has one driving need – to feel loved.
A husband has one driving need – to feel respect.
When either of these needs is not met, the Crazy Cycle will begin.
Love and Respect is a book by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, a former pastor, and a marriage counselor with over 30 years experience that explains a simple, but revolutionary message that will profoundly change the way you look at and respond to your mate. Backed by scientific and biblical research, Dr. Eggerichs and his wife, Sarah, have been taking this message across the country since 1999 and are changing the way spouses are reacting to each other.
I had heard Dr. Eggerichs speak at a marriage conference I attended several years ago, and I figured this book would be mainly review for me. I confess, the first few chapters were a little hard for me to get into, but the sentence above caught my attention and from there I was hooked. Love and Respect was definitely not merely a review of what I had previously heard or been taught. Dr. Eggerichs plainly explained the three cycles that every marriage can go through and how to go from Crazy to Energizing to Rewarding to make your marriage the best it's ever been. This book explains the best ways to react to your spouse (love for women/respect for men), why they work, and gives the scriptures to back it up. My favorite part of the book was during his explanation of the final cycle where Dr. Eggerichs stated that our ultimate goal in giving love and respect to our spouse is not just to please our spouse, but to be in obedience to God. This is the crucial key that is so easily forgotten.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I was talking with "Mama" yesterday and she was sharing with me about a Word she received from God for some of the women in our church. This Word (using the KC paraphrasing) was that a lot of women are needing to get ready to fight and we don't know how. They have not had to or have chosen not to stand up and fight the enemy and have relied on other people to do their fighting for them.
I confess, I didn't get this at first. I agreed with what she was saying, but I didn't really get it until about halfway through the day. Then I got it!
STAND - I love this word. Being the egghead that I am, I went to the dictionary to look up it‘s meaning. It can be a noun with the meaning "to remain stable, upright, unaltered". It can also be a verb with the definition "to engage in" or "to remain unaltered".
Ephesians 6:10-20 teaches us about the armor of God. Those of you who know it, say it with me. The helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the sword of the Spirit, the shield of faith, the belt of truth, and the shoes that are ready from the gospel of peace. And then...wait for it...here it comes...the command from the General at HQ. “…and after you have done everything to stand. STAND FIRM.”
Get ready. The fight is on! But our instructions are simple. All we have to do is stand (remain stable, upright, and unaltered). Don't back down or run away from the fight. Face it head on. It's not going to be easy, but all we are required to do is stand. He does the rest.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
My youngest daughter, who just turned the ripe old age of 10 years old, has joined the worship team for our elementary kids class, G-Force. I asked Ashley, the worship leader, how Kaitlynn was doing and was given a glowing report. (On the inside, this was a big swipe of the forehead, "Whew!!" as you never know what you're going to get sometimes with Kaitlynn.) She told me Kaitlynn was taking her responsibility as a leader very seriously and it has transferred over to another area for Kaitlynn as a teacher's aide in the 2's & 3's class. Ashley told me Kaitlynn was now stepping up even more as she helped in worship for that class also, even to the point of volunteering to pray and teaching the kids to actively participate in worship.
I have to say this absolutely floored me. I have been praying for years that my daughters would become young women with hearts for worship. I tried very hard to model this attitude for them, but a lot of times for me I have a hard time shutting my brain off and letting the worship take over. Sometimes I despaired as I watched them in our family worship times as they just didn't seem to "get into it". Maybe they just knew Mommy wasn't getting it totally either.
The Aha Moment
But on this typically hot, summer evening in Chandler, Arizona, I had an "AHA" moment. I looked around at the strong young women that surrounded my daughters, Lacie, Ashley, and others, who I have watched become great worshipers with hearts sold out for God and asked myself how they got there. I knew their parents were big worshipers, but there was more to it. It seems to me as they were slowly put into situations where they had to learn to lead others to the Father's throne and this is where they learned the most about worship. It became so real to them as they learned to lead and that's when it changed from head to heart knowledge.
So many times we try to just model the way, but we don't grow the people around us up to where they can teach others. People can and do learn by example, but the majority of people need "hands on" situations to push them over the cliff. I desperately want to become a person that is consumed by my need for God, and maybe, just maybe, as I learn to teach those around me and grow them up to teach those around them, I will become that which I most desire to be.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Adam and Eve were the first humans to experience it, except they didn't just get the Presence of God. They got the real deal, God Himself, to walk with them daily. However, the person most of us think about when we think of the presence of God is the great Israelite leader, Moses. The man who got to experience the manifestation of God's presence to such a degree that a physical radiance shone so brightly on Moses' countenance that he had to cover his face with a veil. Here is the amazing thing, about Moses that I just found out this weekend. It didn't just affect his physical demeanor, it was transferred into his writings. It says in I Corinthians 3:13-18 that God gives people a veil over their eyes whenever Moses' writings are read. God's presence is still so strong in his words that God has to shield people even to this day. How absolutely AMAZING is that!!
I grew up thinking of things like Moses' face shining as a story. It happened a long time ago, but it doesn't apply to us now. I so missed one of the greatest truths of God. He is the same YESTERDAY, TODAY, and, FOREVER. If it could happen back then it could happen now. The words we speak, the songs we write, and the stories or thoughts we pen could induce the presence of God in such a huge manifestation that God would have to veil nonbeliever's eyes to protect them.
Is this something you strive for? Do you honestly say, "I want to be in the Presence of God so long and so deep that my countenance will shine"? If not, why? For me it was because I was afraid. I am somewhat of a controlling person. It's not that I'm obsessive, (my desk will attest to that), but I like to know what is happening and why, and one truth I have learned about God is that you can't control God. He will often move you out of a comfort zone so that it is clear it is Him working and not you. The hardest part for me was taking my hands off completely and saying, "I want you God, in any form, and for however long you will let me". The amazing thing is He doesn't turn you away, and He lets you linger. He lets you soak in His Presence in such a way that you never want to leave, and it's this that makes you shine.
So go ahead, soak Him up. Linger in His presence, and may His face shine upon you so you will shine upon others. May the songs you write, the stories you pen, or the words you speak, however insignificant they might feel to you, show the Presence of God so greatly that people will say you have been in the Presence of God.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
In her story, she showed how the little pawn could not leap like knights or move anywhere on the chess board like the bishop. The pawn could only move one tiny step at a time. How many times do we look around and long to be like the grandiose knight, leaping from place to place, bounding over obstacles without a care, or like the bishops moving all over the board giving counsel to the King and Queen, or even like the rooks moving forward and back attempting to protect the kingdom. We long for someone to notice how needed we are or how much we can contribute to the furthering of the Kingdom, but instead we are relegated to one minuscule step at a time as a seemingly inconsequential pawn.
But here is the secret...if the pawn can stay by the side of the king, it can safely move, step by little step, to the other side of the board and be transformed into whatever the Master wishes. It just takes staying in the shadow of the King. Following His moves and heeding His commands.
There is another little secret to the pawn. It can never go back. It must always move forward. It doesn't matter what happened, even one move ago, it is in the past, and the little pawn must move constantly forward. So much of our lives are spent looking behind us instead of keeping our eyes focused on the goal ahead.
Father God, make me like a little pawn, weak in the eyes of others, but safe in the shadow of my King, moving constantly forward toward Your transformation.
Monday, July 20, 2009
For so long I strove to be what I thought everyone around me needed me to be. To loosely quote the apostle Paul..."all things to all people". But a week before my birthday, God got a hold of me. He told me that it didn't matter what I had tried to be for the last 18 years or more of my life. It was time to stand up and walk forward into the destiny that was predestined before my birth.
I love the stories in the Bible (no shocker there). I especially love the Old Testament books of history. Joshua is one of my favorites. From Joshua, I learned of the people who would go before the warriors. The ones who prepare the way for the conquerors to come and wage the war. I find it interesting that God sent singers before the soldiers. He sent those with hearts of praise before He sent those with warrior hearts. He wanted to make sure that the soldiers knew for whom they were fighting and Who gave them the victory. Is it any wonder that God expects the same from us today? We are expected to go forward with His praise on our lips declaring in both the natural and the supernatural that God gives us the victory.
I hope you will come with me on this journey to become a Praise Warrior. I want to be someone who shows great vigor, courage, and aggressiveness (the definition of a warrior). I want to become someone whose name becomes synonymous with praise. Not necessarily to be known for my voice (we all know that belongs to my husband), but someone who is known for an attitude of praise.
This is A Pryzr's Journey...