Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
In seventy years we can develop a host of ideas about how indifferent God appears to be about suffering. But is it reasonable to judge God and his plans for the universe by the swatch of time we spend on earth? Have we missed the perspective of the timelessness of the universe?Who would complain if God allowed one hour of suffering in an entire lifetime of comfort? Yet we bitterly complain about a lifetime that includes suffering when that lifetime is a mere hour of eternity.In the Christian scheme of things, this world and the time spent here are not all there is. (28, 29)
God is heaven-bent on inviting me to share in his joy, peace, and power. But there's a catch. God only shares his joy on his terms, and those terms call for us, in some measure, to suffer as his beloved Son did while on earth. (33)
Without doubt we of this generation have become too soft to scale great spiritual heights. Salvation has come to mean deliverance from unpleasant things. Our hymns and sermons create for us a religion of consolations and pleasantness. We overlook the place of the thorns, the cross, and the blood. We ignore the function of the hammer and the file. (89)
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Once upon a time not so long ago in a land not so far away
Right and wrong were not quite so hard to know
And black and white were not so gray
Times have changed and now it seems
Conscience has gone the way of the dinosaur
But I believe it's still alive and well today
In the hearts of those who will stand up and say
I'm dancing with the dinosaur
Living my life with conscience and conviction
I don't want to see the truth ignored
So I've gotta keep on dancing
I've gotta keep on dancing with the dinosaur
There's a banner waving saying tolerance will set you free, it's the latest thing
While the consequences it leaves behind are like a ball and chain
But there's a voice in everyone called conscience
That's been around since God created man
And as we learn to listen to its whispering
We'll find the greater freedom when we stand up and sing
Right is right and wrong is wrong just like it has been along
We cannot sit by and see conscience become history
So come on, get up and dance
Dance this dance with me
(Gonna keep on dancing, gonna keep on dancing with the dinosaur
Gonna keep on dancing, gonna keep on dancing with the dinosaur)
(Gonna keep on dancing, gonna keep on dancing with the dinosaur
Gonna keep on dancing, gonna keep on dancing with the dinosaur)
Saturday, March 27, 2010
So, you might have noticed the blog has gone through a few changes the past week.
All things bright and beautiful,All creatures great and small,All things wise and wonderful:The Lord God made them all.
I can't promise you that you'll love all the spreads equally, but I think you'll find it an interesting read all the same!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Heart of Stone. Jill Marie Landis. 2010. [February 2010] Zondervan. 320 pages.
Eleven-year-old Lovie Lane would never be certain what actually woke her the night she learned her life was to become a living hell.
After losing both parents, Lovie and her younger sister, Megan, meet the harshest of fates. A fate far worse than being sent to an orphanage. Their aunt and uncle, seeing a money-making opportunity, decide to sell the girls into prostitution, sell the girls into a brothel house. Lovie being just eleven, and Megan, even younger than that. After that first night, when Megan was actually sold to the highest bidder, the two sisters have not seen one another.
No doubt about it, Lovie's life was a living hell. But it was a hell she was determined to escape from.
Years later, Lovie, now living as Laura Foster, hopes that her past stays just that her past. She's moved to a small town in Texas. She's hoping that the folks in Glory, Texas, will never hear about her past. Because how can any woman overcome the prejudice, the hate, the shame if the truth were to become known?
No, living as Mrs. Laura Foster, a wealthy widow, is her only way to cling to respectability. She has rules for how to live her life. Rules that keep her safe. Her boardinghouse only accepts families, women, and children. No single men, ever. NO exceptions to the rule. She doesn't want any person to get the wrong idea about her.
Laura doesn't have room for love in her life. So she won't let any gentlemen come calling. Even if they're respectable. Because she knows that no man would ever want her if the truth was known.
Brand McCormick is the preacher in town. And he finds himself falling fast for this beautiful widow woman. Can he find a way to woo Laura? Find a way to win her heart?
Both Brand and Laura have things in their past that they're keeping hidden. Not only from each other, but from everyone in their lives. When these secrets come to light, will anything ever be the same again?
Historical fiction set in Texas in the 1870s.
I found this to be a quick and compelling read. A book about grace and forgiveness and unconditional love.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Here Burns My Candle. Liz Curtis Higgs. 2010. March 2010. WaterBrook Multnomah. 480 pages.
Lady Marjory Kerr heard a frantic tapping at the bedchamber door, then her name, spoken with marked urgency.
Maybe this book isn't for everyone. Maybe you have to have a weakness for all things Scottish. Maybe you have to have a genuine love for historical fiction. But oh, if you're the right kind of reader, this book is oh-so-satisfying!
Set in Scotland in 1745, it follows the Kerr family as it struggles with matters of the heart and mind. Should the Kerr family side with Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart), or remain loyal to King George II (a Hanover).
This one is told mainly through two characters: Elisabeth and Marjory. (Though we get other perspectives occasionally).
Lady Marjory Kerr has two sons and two daughters-in-law that live with her in Edinburgh. Donald, her oldest, and his wife, Elisabeth. And Andrew, her youngest, and his wife, Janet. Both of her sons have joined the army of the side they believe is on the right. Both are willing to die for the cause. But is any cause worth dying for? Lady Marjory would do anything--give anything--to keep her two sons safe, out of harm's way. But what can a mother do when her sons have felt called to go to war, to take up arms? Is there anything anyone could have said to keep them at home?
Elisabeth loves her husband dearly. Her Donald is her everything. But she can't help being disquieted by the rumors she hears about her husband. He claims to love her, but how can she be sure of that love? Especially as his secrets start coming to light?!
Can these three women live peaceably together under one roof when the whole world seems to be turning topsy turvy?
I have read and loved three other Liz Curtis Higgs books: Thorn In My Heart, Fair is the Rose, and Whence Came A Prince. There is a fourth as well called Grace In Thine Eyes. But I haven't read that one yet. So I can't honestly say that I loved it. At least not yet! All are historical fiction set in Scotland. All are amazingly rich and satisfying. All are ones I'd recommend!
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Today I'd like to talk about YA fiction for Christian teens. The Christian fiction market for YA is still quite small and not varied. It seems heavy on fantasy or girly books. Let's be honest.
But that doesn't mean there's not a wealth of great books published in the general market for Christian teens. Today's challenge is to compile a list of recommended books, Christian or general market for Christians teens.
"My daddy lets me watch three sheepBeside the mill; and if I keepThem safe, and make them fat, he saidThat next year I'd get five instead.'If you can keep your three in line,Then you can handle five at nine.'My daddy's always making rhymes.But they're not very good -- sometimes."His grampa laughed. "You're pretty sharpFor being eight. And how's your harpThese days? I'd like to hear you playSometime. I heard your daddy sayYou've gotten really good. Let's goSit beside the sheep, and showMe what you've learned." So David tookHis grampa down beside the brookAnd mill, beneath the carob tree,And cradled, like a lamb, the C-Shaped kinnor in his lap and playedA ballad Jews had sung and prayedFor centuries. The old man laidHis head back on the tree and swayed,As if the music made the treeA ship mast on the rolling sea. (10-11)
"Grampa, I'd love it, if you can,To have you tell me all aboutGreat-grandma Ruth. Can you stay outWith me and tell me how she cameTo live in Bethlehem? Her nameStill makes the people smile and singDown by the barley fields. They ringA bell at harvest time, and allThe grown-ups go down every fallTo watch some actors do a playAbout Great-grandma Ruth. But theyWon't let the kids go down. It's gotSome parts that Daddy says are notFor kids. Grampa, I am a youth,But tell me 'bout Great-grandma Ruth." (14)
"O barley field! O barley field!When you were bent with heads,I feasted on your ample yieldAnd ate your simple breads.O barley field! O barley field!All scorched with desert breath,You starved the one I would have healedAnd stole my love in death.O barley field! O barley field!A paradise in truth,You kept for me a better yieldAnd brought to me my Ruth." (59)
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The Bible is most of all a Story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne -- everything -- to rescue the one he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!
You see, the best thing about this Story is -- it's true. There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.
It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle -- the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.
And this is no ordinary baby. This is the Child upon whom everything would depend. This is the Child who would one day -- but wait. Our story starts where all good stories start. Right at the very beginning...
So Moses went to Pharaoh."Pharaoh," Moses began, "God says -- ""God?" said Pharaoh. "Never heard of him."Moses kept going. "God says, let his people go free.""Why should I?" Pharaoh said. "Don't want to. WON'T!" So he didn't.But God gave Pharaoh ten warnings called plagues. (86)
God's people would always remember this great rescue and call it "Passover." But an even Greater Rescue was coming.Many years later, God was going to do it again. He was going to come down once more to rescue his people. But this time God was going to set them free forever and ever. (91)
God had a job for Jonah. But Jonah didn't want it."Go to Nineveh," God said, "And tell your worst enemies that I love them.""No!" said Jonah. "Those are bad people doing bad things!""Exactly," said God. "They have run far away from me. But I can't stop loving them. I will give them a new start. I will forgive them.""NO!" said Jonah. "They don't deserve it!" (160)
Many years later, God was going to send another Messenger with the same wonderful message. Like Jonah, he would spend three days in utter darkness.But this messenger would be God's Own Son. He would be called "The Word" because he himself would be God's Message. God's Message translated into our own language. Everything God wanted to say to the whole world -- in a Person. (169)
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
Hearts Awakening. Delia Parr. 2010. [March 2010] Bethany House. 352 pages.
While other women her age were busy preparing a hearty breakfast for their families in snug, warm homes that crowded the city or dotted the outlying farms, Elvira Kilmer was hurrying down an unfamiliar roadway, hugging the woods along the eastern shoreline of Dillon's Island to meet a total stranger.
Ellie is a 'spinster' who is dependent on her cousins. It is Cousin Mark who has arranged for Ellie to keep house for widower, Jackson Smith. He has two children, two young boys Daniel and Ethan. And he sure could use some help around the house, in the kitchen especially. His house has been one big mess since his wife, Rebecca, died. (He's too busy in the orchards to keep up with it all.)
Ellie was expecting to work for Mr. Smith for two weeks. Long enough to get a good reference letter, but that's all. She wasn't looking for anything long term. And marriage was about the last thing on her mind. But when Jackson proposes...despite how he proposes...it gives her something to think about.
This would be a marriage of convenience, a marriage in name only. He needs help raising his two young boys. And he needs help around the house. And whether he'd admit it or not, he does needs a companion, a friend. But he's not looking for more, he's not looking for love. He's been hurt a few too many times. And besides this spinster is so very plain, so very unattractive, he reckons that he'd never fall in love with her.
She says yes. Not without giving it good thought. And not without being offended first in how he proposes. And even why he proposes. But at the end of the day, she has come to care for those little boys. And they do need a mother. And why couldn't that mother be her? After all, she's always wanted children of her own.
Will this marriage turn into a love match? Or will secrets keep love from blossoming?
I liked this one. At times I even loved it.
Ellie is a woman that I appreciated. She was a lot more patient than I would have been! And she was a bit more forgiving too! Was she too perfect, too good to be true? Well, that's something each reader will have to decide.
Jackson, well, I had mixed thoughts on him. There were places where I could see how Ellie would feel the way she does. He was easy to like in some ways. But in other places, I got really angry. Super angry even. He's definitely a flawed man. A man with some baggage, some issues that need working out. But he had his good qualities too.
I did love the story. I never tire of this premise. Yes, I know it's been done dozens of times. But. It still works for me.
Historical Fiction/Romance. Set in the 1840s in Pennsylvania.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
You can take any direction you want with this. You can share what you feel about covers in general and then point out some good examples and bad examples or you can design your own cover...whatever you want to do. The truth is that whether we like it or not, people do judge books by their covers!
Somewhere to Belong. Judith Miller. 2010. [March 2010] Bethany House. 368 pages.
Rigid as a barn pole, I stood planted in the parlor doorway with my gaze fixed upon the pink feather-and-plum bedecked hat. Sparkling pins held it atop wavy dark tresses that crimped and coiled. The girl's hair reminded me of the curly leaf lettuce we forced to early growth in our hotbeds each spring. An artificial rose peeked from beneath the curvy brim like a vigilant watchman.
Two young women are struggling to find somewhere to belong in Judith Miller's latest historical novel. Johanna Ilg has grown up in Main Amana, one of seven Amana villages in Iowa, and for the past few years she's dreamed of seeing the outside world. Not to live in forever. She wouldn't want to break her parents' hearts any further. Her older brother, Wilhelm, left for Chicago several years before and settled down there marrying a nice girl, a rich girl. But just to see once before she herself settles down. And her would-be-suitor, Carl, agrees that she should have this opportunity before settling down, before considering marriage.
Johanna finds an unlikely friend in the new girl, Berta Schumacher. This seemingly rich spoiled girl is in for the ultimate shock when her parents surprise her with their plans after the fact. By the way, we're not visiting Main Amana on our way to see relatives. No, we've decided to move here permanently. She'll be expected to take her place--her proper place--in this communal living village. Working in the communal kitchens, no doubt. (Though any work assignment would have come as a shock to her!) Working all day, praying each night. Forced to give up her colorful wardrobe. To dress in plain clothes like all the other women in the village. How much fight does this spirited girl have within her?! Where does she truly belong? And why did her parents decide to move here to begin with? Why the sudden need to leave Chicago?
Somewhere To Belong is narrated by both Berta and Johanna. The setting is Amana Colonies, Iowa. 1877. Life isn't perfect within Main Amana. The people aren't perfect. A few have secrets that are true burdens. It is the very fact that these are flawed individuals that made me connect with the book, the story. I enjoyed this one very much.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
The Reader's Bill of Rights
1. The right to not read.
2. The right to skip pages.
3. The right to not finish.
4. The right to reread.
5. The right to read anything.
6. The right to escapism.
7. The right to read anywhere.
8. The right to browse.
9. The right to read out loud.
10. The right not to defend your tastes.
—Pennac, Daniel, Better Than Life, Coach House Press, 1996.