Monday, June 17, 2019

Book Review: A Song of Joy

A Song of Joy. Lauraine Snelling. 2019. Bethany House. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Life in America certainly wasn't like Nilda had dreamed.

Premise/plot: A Song of Joy is the fourth book in Lauraine Snelling's Under Northern Skies series. Though one could certainly start the series at any point, you'll get more enjoyment and satisfaction if you read the series in order.

Though there are many, many characters in A Song of Joy, the main character is Nilda Carlson. She's still working for Mrs. Gertrude Schoenleber as her assistant and secretary. She hasn't forgotten the traumatic event(s) of previous books--nor should she have.

Jeffrey Schmitz is pursuing a relationship with Nilda at the insistence of his father, Heinrik. Nilda can see through Jeffrey's advances. He's a self-centered snob who thinks Nilda should be grateful if Jeffrey stoops to say hello to her. He only talks of himself, and he's dismissive of just about anything and everything Nilda has to say. He's not too observant, or he'd never have proposed at a public ball! He reminds me a bit of Disney's Gaston.

Fritz Larsson is a teacher and a musician. He's known Nilda for several books now. She's been taking piano lessons from him. She's always liked him. Perhaps she's always liked-liked him. But does he like-like her? Does he love her? Does he want to marry her?

This one isn't just a romance. It's also a novel about compassion and giving back. Nilda and her employer are hard at work on a new project that will help new immigrants that arrive in Blackduck.

My thoughts: I had my issues with the third book, I won't lie. But I thoroughly enjoyed this latest book in the series. I'm so glad that I've read it. I don't know why I assumed they'd just be three books in the series!!!

I love Lauraine Snelling's novels. It's always a treat to spend time with her well-developed characters.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Week in Review: June 9-15

Bible Reading

Did I read Revelation this week? Which translation? Yes. NKJV.

Have I started my 30 Days of Psalms, Psalms 120-150? Which translations have I read this week? Yes. NKJV. NASB 1977. NIV 1984. ESV. NASB 1995. KJV. NKJV.

Am I keeping up with the Daily Chronological Bible Reading Plan for the Growing 4 Life reading group? What have I read so far? Yes. 

What have I read in the Old Testament this week?

NASB 1977

  • Job
  • Psalm 1-41
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Solomon

ESV Prayer Bible

  • Psalm 1-54

KJV Life Application

  • Joel

What have I read in the New Testament this week?

KJV Life Application

  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • Jude

NASB 1977

  • Luke 4-9

Other Reading

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Berean Playlist #8 Never Once

See my blog post: On Being Berean, Part 2 for context on this series. It's been almost eight months since my last "Berean" post. This week's song is Matt Redman's "Never Once." You can listen to it on his official YouTube channel here

Standing on this mountain top
Looking just how far we've come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You've done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You've done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we'll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are, You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Here are the Scripture verses/passages that I've chosen that fit with the lyrics and verses of this song. 

  • And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20
  • You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4
  • He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11
  • Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31
  • I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28
  • You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5
  • Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. Psalm 138:7
  • The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. Psalm 138:8
  • But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15
  • O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all your works. Isaiah 26:12
  • The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
  • But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. Psalm 73:28
  • We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds. Psalm 75:1
  • But you are near, O LORD, and all your commandments are true. Psalm 119:151
  • The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18
  • Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25
  • Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8
  • The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:1-6
  • O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. Isaiah 25:1
  • It will be said on that day, "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation." Isaiah 25:9
  • My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23
  • Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble. Psalm 107:2
  • Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. Psalm 31:5
  • Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Psalm 36:5
  • He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness. Psalm 57:3
  • But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. Psalm 69:13
  • Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Psalm 85:10
  • He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Isaiah 42:2-4
  • In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. Psalm 120:1
  • The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121:8
  • The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. Psalm 121:5
  • My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2
  • He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126:6
  • I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6
  • On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. Psalm 138:3
  • I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Psalm 143:5-6
  • One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. Psalm 145:4-7
  • I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Psalm 146:2
  • And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3
  • What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39
  • But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. Psalm 3:3-4

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, June 14, 2019

Book Review: Because of Winn Dixie

Because of Winn Dixie. Kate DiCamillo. 2000. Candlewick. 182 pages. [Source: Book I bought]

First sentence: My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.

Because of Winn Dixie is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite books. I love, love, love this one! Opal Buloni, our young heroine, has recently moved with her father, a preacher, to a small town in Florida. He is the new preacher at a small church, a church held in an old convenient store building, a church with no pews but lawn chairs. The novel is set during the summer. Opal, when the novel opens, is still adjusting. She misses her mother tremendously. Her mother's leaving is not recent, but, as Opal grows up, she is beginning to realize more and more how much she misses her mother. (Opal is now ten). Her curiosity and longing has changed. She feels her father ignores her, not because he doesn't love her, not because he doesn't want her or need her, but simply because he's always busy and quiet. Opal needs friends. Find friends she will and all because of Winn Dixie, the dog she finds at the grocery store. Winn Dixie, the dog with an irresistible smile, needs Opal just as much as she needs him. And with a little love from Opal and her Dad, Winn Dixie sets out to charm EVERYONE in town, even people who don't "like" dogs.

I love, love, love the characters in this one. I love Opal. I do. I love her dad. I love that he listens to his daughter and shares with her ten things about her mother. I love Gloria Dump, Miss Franny, Otis, and Sweetie Pie. And, of course, I love Winn Dixie. I also love Opal coming up with a ten things list for Winn Dixie.

I love the writing. This is one of those novels that is just so easy to quote!!!

Favorite quotes:
“Thinking about her was the same as the hole you keep on feeling with your tongue after you lose a tooth. Time after time, my mind kept going to that empty spot, the spot where I felt like she should be.”
“You can't always judge people by the things they done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now.”
“Do you think everybody misses somebody? Like I miss my mama?” “Mmmm-hmmm,” said Gloria. She closed her eyes. “I believe, sometimes, that the whole world has an aching heart.” 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Book Review: Soaring Through the Bible

Soaring Through the Bible: A Travel Guide from Genesis to Revelation for Kids. Skip Heitzig. 2019. Harvest House. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Do you know how special the Bible is? It’s the only book in the world that tells us who God really is and how we can know Him. There’s no other book like it!

Soaring Through the Bible is an overview of the whole Bible written specifically for (older) children or teens. I believe families could read it together--go through it together--as part of their family devotionals. It is NOT a bible story book. It blends summaries of books of the Bible with faith-and-doctrine instruction.

This one is well-organized. There are features that are to be found in each and every chapter. There are features that pop up now and again throughout the book. Not every chapter features a "tour guide" for example. Not every chapter focuses on exploring specific words and what they mean and how they are used in Scripture. Many chapters do include a "where's the Gospel?" feature to point readers to Christ.

Where's The Gospel? in NUMBERS
The bronze snake on a pole is a symbol of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man [Jesus] must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). Jesus was lifted up off the ground on the cross. And whoever looks to Him and believes in Him will be saved from the bite of sin and death.

Learn the Language in Ruth
Redeem is an important word in the Bible. It means to buy something back that used to belong to you. Boaz bought back land that used to belong to Naomi’s family so they could have a home (Ruth 4:4-12). Jesus bought you back from being a slave to sin, so you could have a home with Him.

Pack Smart in Jeremiah
Jeremiah’s life reminds us that we need to tell others what God says in His Word, the Bible—no matter how hard it is. In fact, we should expect it to be hard. Many people don’t like to hear about God’s truth, but when you rely on God for help, you can do anything He tells you to do! So stand up for the truth. God has got your back.

I definitely liked this one. I liked the focus on the gospel, on Jesus Christ. I liked that it was written simply--but it wasn't dumbed down theology.

One of my favorite quotes is from the chapter on 2 John.

Christians should be known for the way we love. But your love needs boundaries, like a fence around your yard. Having boundaries means you have to speak up when you see sin in someone’s life. You need to find the kindest, gentlest way to do it, but you should still do it. The world usually believes that loving someone means you never speak out against their choices or beliefs. But sometimes you have to, especially as a Christian! If you don’t, then that person might never learn the truth of the gospel. Love and truth should always go hand in hand. In this letter, John was worried that some Christians weren’t sticking to the truth. If they weren’t, false teachers could sneak into the church and teach whatever they wanted. So John said that if a preacher didn’t preach the truth of Christ, believers shouldn’t welcome him. They needed to keep false teachers from spreading their lies.
Where’s the Gospel? Jesus loved everyone, but He also told everyone the truth. A lot of people didn’t like that. He laid down His life in love so that we could be saved from our sin. But that sacrifice was necessary in the first place because we are sinful beings! So there are two sides to the gospel, truth and love: (1) The truth is that we sin and need to be saved, and (2) Jesus loved us enough to die for our sins and save us.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Week in Review: June 2-8

Bible Reading

Did I read Revelation this week? Which translation? NIV 2011.

Have I started my 30 Days of Psalms, Psalms 120-150? Which translations have I read this week?

Yes. NIV 2011. MEV. ERV. NLT. New English Bible. Revised English Bible. Third Millennium Bible.

Am I keeping up with the Daily Chronological Bible Reading Plan for the Growing 4 Life reading group? What have I read so far? Yes. Some history and some wisdom books

What have I read in the Old Testament this week?
ESV Prayer Bible-- 2 Kings 14-25, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job

What have I read in the New Testament this week?
NASB 1977 -- Galatians, Ephesians, Luke 1-3

Other Reading

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Turning Eleven!

Eleven years ago today I started Operation Actually Read Bible. My first post was called THE MISSION.

My goal--obvious as it may be--is to actually read the Bible. You might think that I've not read it. But that wouldn't be the case. I've read it a dozen or so times over the past twenty years. However, I've not been in the habit of reading it lately. For the past three or four years, my reading of the Bible has been pitiful to nil. I know--rationally speaking--that I NEED to read the Bible...that I NEED to study and read and pray. But it's not a part of my daily routine. Hence why I'm challenging myself to ACTUALLY read the Bible instead of just talking about how I need to start one day soon.

Most years--if not all--I "celebrate" the occasion by choosing some of my favorite posts from the past year.

Ten favorite posts from June 9, 2018 to June 8, 2019.

Psalm 146:2, Thoughts and Psalm 104:33-34
Observations on the Early Chapters of Job
Words on Unity
On Humility and Pride
On Being Berean part one, On Being Berean part two
Berean Playlist #1 Trading My Sorrows, #2 Awesome God, #3 I Could Sing of Your Love Forever, #4 Happy Song, #5 We Need Jesus, #6 Blessed Be Your Name, #7 Gracefully Broken,
Vain Imaginations 
"Not a Plan" Bible Reading Plan 
Book Review: A Book of Comfort and For Those In Sickness 
Book Review: Together: United Methodists of Temple, Tabernacle and Table PLUS Additional thoughts on Together.
Bible review: My Creative Bible 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible