Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Plain Choice - Book Review

I have always been drawn to the Amish. I think most everyone is at some level. They live a very interesting life. A life that many people crave a bit of. Slow. Less distracted. Simple. Plain.

Personally, I have written many other books on the Amish or Mennonites and what they believe. I have read articles and books about others who have grown up in the communities and left them behind. This book was the exact opposite so I thought it would be interesting to hear Ms. Gore's story

The Plain Choice, written by Sherry Gore, is a down to earth story of her and her family's journey from poverty, homelessness, a life without Christ, and living for themselves, to one of salvation and simple choices. Sherry Gore grew up in a rather dysfunctional home and after many flawed attempts to bring happiness to her life, she was befriended by a believer in Jesus Christ. After Sherry came to know Jesus in a personal way, she was very convicted on many levels from dress, to television, to music; all the choices she made for her family afterward came from wanting to please the Lord and live drastically different than what she had. After she met the Amish/Mennonite communities, she knew this was where she would land to live and rear her children. She was thrown into many trials along the way; some extremely painful, but sees Jesus as her source of strength.

As I came to the end of the book, I was rather pleased at how she processed being part of this community as a believer. She never once said, "If you aren't living this way, you are in sin." She makes it very clear that the way she chooses to live is not works based salvation and that this is the plain choice for her and her family.

I respect that.

Note: As part of the booklook blogging network, I was given a free copy of this book.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Adoption and One of Our Favorite Books

Lorilee Craker has done an amazing thing! She has written about two subjects very close to my heart. Adoption and Anne of Green Gables. Not only is she an amazing author, a writer comparable to Lucy Maud Montgomery, but she is also an adoptee who has also adopted a child herself. 

Miss Craker has taken all the amazing characteristics and personality of the Beloved Anne of Green Gables and parallels them with her own life. She does this in a most extraordinary way. Her writing brings so many pictures to life. The way in which in she shares her story is full of raw emotion; from sadness, grief, and confusion to joy, laughter and love. This is a book that will take you inside every aspect of adoption. Being an orphan is tragic and yet she opens the door to every person acknowledging that we are orphaned at one point or another in our lives. She takes us through all aspects of the adoption journey.

Personal Note: When I requested this book to review I had no idea it would impact the journey of my life over the past few months. No, the last 18 years.

Having four adopted children of my own, I get Lorilee's Momma's heart, but I had no idea she would share her own journey of being adopted herself. 

This year has brought about events in my life that I knew would happen sooner or later, but never realized the grief that would come along. Full days of weeping that wouldn't stop, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't really understand the feelings my Boy-Man was going through. Mrs. Craker voiced her emotions and life events in a way that helped me work through many things my boy probably was feeling. Good and bad.  Her words brought comfort as she expressed things that have not been voiced to me but pray were things he felt. 

I take this book as a gift from God! A gift that has brought a measure of peace to a tumultuous year of raw emotions for this mother-son relationship.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sacred Marriage - Book Review

Marriages are being fought for on the battle lines of our culture war. And sometimes marriage can seem a battle itself.

Gary Thomas, in his book, Sacred Marriage, asks many thought provoking ideas; the most important being that the ultimate purpose of marriage is "to equip you to love your God more and to help you reflect the character of His Son more precisely." This thought will eternally change your view on all aspects of marriage; from conflict resolution and divorce to how to love better and better every day.

Mr. Thomas quickly gets to the heart of every person's motives and objectives as he takes the reader back to the Gospel and how our marriages are about displaying the glory of God. He delves into the difficulties all marriages have in fighting self, because that really is one of the key to holiness and happiness.

Every single marriage can benefit from this book, no matter how bad or good you may see your own as. Gary Thomas gets right down to nitty-gritty.

Marriage is for the glory of God. It will make you cry, laugh, and definitely ponder what you can do to do this thing called marriage better. With the help of Christ.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

'Til We Meet Again - Book Review

Everyone loves a great Love Story. But I love it when there's that extra dimension of the Ultimate Love Story. One of God's saving love.

Ray and Betty Whipps have written their beautiful story down in the book, 'Til We Meet Again'. Ray was a staff sergeant in the US Army and Betty was a nurse working in France during World War II. They met due to an injury inflicted on Ray out in the fields and foxholes of war. But were separated after only a month as he needed to go back to the war zone. After a time of separation, which included being taken prisoner at the notorious POW camp, Stalag VII-A, they were reunited and were married. They are now a beautiful elderly couple having raised seven children, along with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Betty walks two miles every day at 94 years old. God has blessed them indeed.

 As I read this book, I was awestruck by a couple of things. First of all, we are losing the generation that Ray group up in, very quickly. There was a fortitude in these young men as they went off to war at a very early age that we have forgotten and have not passed down to the next generation. But, it was also very evident Ray had a strong faith in the Lord, who saw him through many life and death situations. Betty shares that strong faith from the get-go as well. Secondly, God's providence and sovereignty are seen so clearly! And it was particularly stunning to read about the truth I have so often heard, "There are no atheists in foxholes."

My gratitude to men like Ray Whipps is overwhelming. Men like these have fought courageously for the freedoms we enjoy today. I say, "Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Whipps. For your testimony. For your faith and perseverance in all the hard times you went through. Your light shone brightly."

America needs to continue to thank men and women like these two as well. I am trying to make an effort when I see someone in uniform to offer verbal thanks to their service.

(As a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network, I received a free copy of this book.)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Loneliness Cries Out!

I think one of the worst pains to a parent's heart is knowing your child is hurting and in pain themselves. We want to fix things so they don't have to feel that emptiness or loneliness. We want to fill their hearts with love and if we know that love won't fill it we give them things to make them smile. But eventually, the pain comes back.

This year has been tough for some young 'uns on the Ponderosa. New loves have left. New relationships didn't last. Life throws a curve ball. Accidents happen. The story doesn't end as lovely as one may picture, although I know the story's not over yet.

My littlest's two best friends moved away in February. God brought two new friends and they are leaving at the end of this week. For another state. Her neighbor friend is moving. So it was no wonder that the entire way home from church she cried out the window saying, "I want a puppy!" (Her love languages is obviously anything animal related.) Tears flowed hard! It is so so hard to see

Loss comes hard to this love of mine. She takes these very seriously and feels the deep separation!

(I know you are thinking how nice it would be to end this post with a picture of a cute little puppy that she has adopted!) Not so fast....


But what I can tell her that I know to be true is that Jesus is the best friend we can have. In fact, He is our Good Shepherd that promises to never leave His sheep.

My prayer is that through these losses she will feel the emptiness that only Jesus can fill. Sooner than later.

For later will bring so much more pain.

Lord, as this week begins and our friends move on and start new relationships elsewhere, I pray for your special healing touch to my little one's heart. May this be the year that the Truth, the Way and the Life become real to her. Open her eyes to your love for her, and help her to know you are always there for her and will never move away or leave her. Show her stability through this is from you. May she feel your arms around her and assurance of your acceptance of  her little life as she confesses you before others and seeks forgiveness for her sins. Thank you for being that constant to Your children."

P.S. Please give this momma patience through this too. As the meltdowns occur, give me compassion to feel as she feels.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book Review - The Printer and the Preacher

I love history! I love reading about history! I love learning about history!

So my most recent book to review was chosen mostly because of this fact. The Printer and the Preacher, written by Randy Petersen, is a beautifully woven work of the physical, spiritual and emotional lives of George Whitefield and Benjamin Franklin, two men of whom I have longed to know more. I have always loved studying the historical period of the colonial times. My husband and I just finished visiting Savannah, Georgia, where there was quite a lot history concerning Whitefield.  Mr. Petersen does an amazing job of relaying in much detail the childhood and conversion experience of Whitefield and the formative years of Franklin. This information greatly helps you understand the men they were, and why they stood for what they did.  As Mr. Petersen discusses the history of each of these men's lives, he incorporates much of the English culture from social dimensions to dramatizations to moral aspects. It was extremely informative.

I've read many historical books that lulled me to sleep. This was not one of those. It engaged me in a very thought provoking way.

Reading this book helped me immensely to examine my own relationships with those unsaved people around me and how I can develop a personal friendship despite the fact they don't embrace the Gospel. They may one day.

Reading this beautiful story also helped me to better understand the times of England and America during those first formative years. When you understand the culture, it puts peoples' lives into perspective, and we gain a better grasp on how they achieved what they did.

P.S. As part of the blogging network at Booksneeze, I received a free copy of this book.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

God is the Color of Water

Almost two weeks an event happened in America that has affected, in a small way, our lives here on the Ponderosa. So much has happened in the world around us. I have waited to write about it until I felt timing was right.

I never imagined I would be having a discussion with my children about malicious hatred and a killing because of skin color in 2015. But Charleston occurred and now it is something I have to discuss. As the girls and I sat in a doctor's waiting room with the television tuned into Fox News on that frightful day, I sat with awe at what had transpired in South Carolina. I tossed around the thought in my mind to ask to change the channel, but I knew this was something I needed to be open with my children about.

They looked at the TV wide-eyed and then looked at me.

At that moment, I tried to feel what my girls were probably wondering. They didn't talk much but I thought for sure that this was a time that fear could grip them. I wanted to dispel all fears. I wanted them to know that not all white people believe what that one boy did/does. I wanted to point them to the Savior who died for ALL people who would place their complete trust in Him. I wanted them to feel love and compassion even for this individual who did this horrific thing. He needs Jesus too.

But I also wanted them to see the sin that so easily besets all of us. Sin of thinking we are better than someone else who lives differently than we do. Or is poor. Or is living a lifestyle contrary to God's Word. Or you name it. Pride is such a slippery slope.

My children are growing up in such a difficult time. Evil is called good. Good is called evil. We must look to the standard of Christ and His Word. We must a Gospel-Centered vision. Whatever comes our way, or people come into our paths we must see it as an opportunity to proclaim truth through Jesus Christ.

As I pondered the event from two weeks ago, I reminded myself of these things. I love my children so hard. They are born of my heart.  I love their different shades. We are a family. A family put together by a God who sees no color. I am thankful that we can shine His light.

Yes, I struggled with a vengeful heart, wanting that boy to hurt just like those families do, but, quickly, realized my heart of unforgiveness was just as sinful. I want more than anything to have a world that is full of love and peace. But, am fully aware that this will never happen until Jesus comes back. So until then, we have a mandate to share to the lost world about the Prince of Peace and the God of Love who loved so hard He gave His only Son to die for those who would repent and believe.

And so many still reject!

Let's be about our mission!

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Good, The Bad, and the Grace of God

All too familiar is the scenario of getting "hooked" into a reality T.V. show. And once you get there it is difficult to see those characters through the lens of true reality.

So reading Jep and Jessica Robertson's new book, The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God, sets your sights on who the Robertsons really are. They truly seem like the real deal. They reveal their struggles, faith-lapses, and renewal of love. No marriage is perfect, and it is always encouraging to read the lives of true to life individuals who are honest about their lives, everything about their lives. It is a testimony to the grace of God.

I have watched their show a few times and always walk away with the importance of family, faith and humor. This is evident in their book as well. Family and the training Jep received as a youngster and teen comes back to life in his own life a few years later. God is the God who redeems and restores and renews.

Thank you, Jep and Jessica, for being transparent and honest and truly seeing the reality of your lives.

Note: I received a free copy of this book as part of the Booklook Bloggers Network.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Kindness Looks Like.....

A life noted by kindness. That's what a woman in the book of Acts is known for.

There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas ). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.  (Acts 9:36 NLT)

Kindness can look different in many ways, but one common theme would be sacrificing your own interests for others. Way too often I am thinking of myself: how I feel, my burdens, etc. But Galatians 5 reminds us this should be exemplary in every believer's life.

And our families are the ones who get the short end of the stick so often. I mean, isn't it easier to offer kindness in words or deeds to those who will praise you or reward you somehow? I know I tend to be much more short and snappy in my speech in my home out of impatience (oh, dear, another fruit of the Spirit) and wrong motives. After all, who wants to pick up those dirty socks after the 11millionth time! And yet, the kindness of God is what leads us to repentance. 

So today (and hopefully, every day) I am focusing on my actions and speech. This will not be easy! (I was just interrupted by a little sweetie who wanted to show me her science kit, yet has not done anything she was supposed to yet. These are the hard moments of keeping a sweet attitude and bring firm...oh boy!)

For others in my home it may look different! It may be a simple action that was not asked for. A going-out-of-my-way task to show them love. (They could care less about words right now.)

At other times it may mean overcoming evil with good. Blessing my "enemy"; not cursing! 

And this is all done through the help of the Holy Spirit.

Not alone! For I am not capable of such a thing. 

Revive our hearts (Nancy Leigh DeMoss) has put out a 30 Day Challenge called the Power of Words. It is a little booklet that can be an aid to challenge you to really think through those tiny things that come out of your mouth. 

I am taking the challenge!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Review - The Tank Man's Son

A story like no other.

Mark Bouman, author of The Tank Man's Son, endured more than most as a child of a dysfunctional father. He grew up in terror and fear, never knowing if and when the fury of his father would be unleashed! The heartache and physical pain he endured was difficult to read about, but so worth it in light of the end of the story. Tears flowed as I read about the redemption of Mark's soul, but even more tears flowed when I read how God used all the evil done against him to prepare him for the work the Lord had for him to do. Having access to great biographies like this, remind me (again) that the story is not over until death. God is still writing!

This true to life story is one of courage, faith, redemption and an amazing, accurate vision of the sovereignty of God. It is a modern day story of Joseph.

Truly, what man meant for evil, God meant for good.

An amazing story of love and forgiveness!

A must read!

Note: As part of the Tyndale Bloggers Network, I received a free copy of this book.