Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Review - Levi's Will

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

I Know Better Than You

My husband and I have two daughters. One is ten, the other twelve. We have entered a new face in our relationship with our twelve-year-old. As a person of the advanced age of twelve she knows more about everything than we do. I'm not sure where she gets the idea that she's always right. It's certainly not from me. Just because I am right most of the time, but I digress. :-) I have disagreed with her over how many times she has cut her hair in a certain style or whether 420*2=840 or whether or not she has actually done something she was told to do. Driving home today from dropping the girls off at school, I was thinking about a passage in a book where the character was arguing with God.

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

Book Review - Things Worth Remembering

It's been a long time since I read a book where I really just wanted to reach in the book and slap one of the main characters. Unfortunately, Things Worth Remembering by Jackina Stark, was such a book. The book takes place during a five day time span leading up to the wedding of one of the main characters, and is told in first person from both the mother and daughter's point of view. This is probably another reason that I'm not thrilled with the book. I don't usually like first-person stories as it makes it harder for me to identify with the character.

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.