Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Dear God,Thank you for animals,big and small.Heavenly Father,you made them all!
Third, do not be afraid to upset your child by telling him he can’t read something he really wants to. As I have told ours about movies they want to see but can’t: you will never be harmed by something you didn’t see. I have also told them that I have seen movies I now profoundly wish I hadn’t, because some images never leave you.Fourth, read to your child as much as you can. Read good books and books slightly too old for him. Use the books as a way to explore certain issues and questions with him as they come up in the books themselves.Fifth, immerse your child in the worship of the Church and every other activity that can shape his imagination as Christian because he acts it out. The greatest prophylactic against cultural infection is not a shield but his love for something better and greater and more heroic.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
The kingdom of God is not here yet, and so we know it is our task to contribute whatever we are able, with God's help, to bring it about for both the present and the future. If, as Nava suggested, Jesus died to put God's kingdom among us, the least we can do is make our modest contributions to its creation. (153)
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Maid to Match. Deeanne Gist. 2010. June 2010. Bethany House. 368 pages.
Near Asheville, North Carolina
Like a butterfly breaking free from its confining cocoon, Tillie Reese emerged from the barren, tan-colored servants' hall into the opulence of Biltmore's main level. These predawn hours were her favorite. All was dark, no one stirred, and she had the entire floor--easily a half acre in size--all to herself.
Tillie, our heroine, has trained to be in service for most of her life. When the novel opens, she is head parlormaid. But there's a chance, a good chance, Tillie is about to be promoted to being a lady's maid.
Lady's maid to Mrs. Vanderbilt. The thought of it alone brings a smile to Tillie's face. This is what she's been hoping and praying for.
Next to housekeeper, the highest ranking position for a woman. The servant who had morning tea brought to her by the first housemaid while the second housemaid made up a fire in her room. The servant who was free to take a bath as often as she liked. Who traveled with Mrs. Vanderbilt. Who read books--books!--aloud to Mrs. Vanderbilt. Best of all, a lady's maid earned quite a bit more money, so she could help her family and others in the community who were in need. (13)Of course, it's a job that will require some sacrifice on her part. No marriage. No children. No home of her own. But Tillie, for better or worse, hasn't met a man who could even slightly tempt her away from her dreams. No man who would make her feel that the job would require any sacrifice on her part. That is until she meets Mack Danvers.
Our hero, Mack, does not want to be in service. He does not want to be a useful man or a footman. (Though if he had to pick between the two, he'd pick being a useful man.) But he desperately needs to earn money. Why? Well, since his parents died, he's had to divide his brothers and sisters up. His sister, Ora Lou, is in an orphanage. And when he learns that she's being mistreated--that all the children are being mistreated--well, he's got to do something with that anger, that frustration. Working for the Vanderbilts, like his twin brother, Earl, will be the best way to make enough money to get his sister out of the orphanage. He never expected to meet someone like Tillie while he was there.
From the start Tillie and Mack are drawn to one another. Their chemistry is undeniable. Can Mack convince Tillie that a life with him would be better than a life in service?
I loved this one. I loved the characters. I loved the romance between Tillie and Mack.
Other Deeanne Gist titles I've enjoyed: A Bride in the Bargain (2009), Courting Trouble (2007), Deep in the Heart of Trouble (2008), The Measure of a Lady (2006), A Bride Most Begrudging (2005).
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
What is the gospel of Jesus Christ?You'd think that would be an easy question to answer, especially for Christians. In fact, you'd think that writing a book like this--one asking Christians to think carefully about the question, What is the gospel of Jesus?--would be completely unnecessary. It's like asking carpenters to sit around and ponder the question, What is a hammer?
The Bible is the story of God's counteroffensive against sin. It is the grand narrative of how God made it right, of how he is making it right, and how he will one day make it right finally and forever. (61)
- Who made us, and to whom are we accountable?
- What is our problem? In other words, are we in trouble and why?
- What is God's solution to that problem? How has he acted to save us from it?
- How do I--myself, right here, right now--how do I come to be included in that salvation? What makes this good news for me ant just for someone else?
Let me introduce you to god. (Note the lowercase g.)You might want to lower your voice a little before we go in. He might be sleeping now. He's old, you know, and doesn't much understand or like this "newfangled" modern world. His golden days--the ones he talks about when you really get him going--were a long time ago, before most of us were even born. That was back when people cared what he thought about things, and considered him pretty important in their lives.Of course all that's changed now, though, and god--poor fellow--just never adjusted very well. Life's moved on and passed him by. Now, he spends most of his time just hanging in the garden out back. I go there sometimes to see him, and there we tarry, walking and talking softly and tenderly among the roses...Anyway, a lot of people still like him, it seems--or at least he manages to keep his poll numbers pretty high. And you'd be surprised how many people even drop by to visit and ask for things every once in a while. But of course that's alright with him. He's here to help.Thank goodness, all the crankiness you read about sometimes in his old books--you know, having the earth swallow people up, raining fire down on cities, that sort of thing--all that seems to have faded in his old age. Now he's just a good-natured, low-maintenance friend who's really easy to talk to--especially since he almost never talks back, and when he does it's usually to tell me through some slightly weird "sign" that what I want to do regardless is alright by him. That really is the best kind of friend, isn't it?You know, the best thing about him, though? He doesn't judge me. Ever, for anything. Oh sure, I know that deep down he wishes I'd be better--more loving, less selfish, and all that--but he's realistic. He knows that I'm human and nobody's perfect. And I'm totally sure he's fine with that. Besides, forgiving people is his job. It's what he does. After all, he's love, right? And I like to think of love as "never judging, only forgiving." That's the god I know. And I wouldn't have him any other way.Alright, hold on a second....Okay, we can go in now. And don't worry, we don't have to stay long. Really. He's thankful for any time he can get. (37-38)
End Date September 21, 2010
Host: A Southern Daydreamer Reads
Monday, June 21, 2010
This week’s musing asks:
Name your top 2-3 favorite genres (the ones you read most from).
I read a lot. I read 'secular' (aka mainstream, or general) books and christian books.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
Sunday, June 20, 2010
- Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson
- Heart Of Stone by Jill Marie Landis
- As Young As We Feel by Melody Carlson
- Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson
- She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell
- Be Still My Soul: Embracing God's Purpose & Provision in Suffering. Edited by Nancy Guthrie
- Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God's Word by Nigel Beynon & Andrew Sach
- Scandolous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D.A. Carson
- The Kingdom of God by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
- Raised With Christ: How The Resurrection Changes Everythingby Adrian Warnock
Did you stick to your original goals or did you change your list as you went along?
What was your favorite book that you read this spring?
Did you learn something new because of Spring Reading Thing 2010 — something about reading, or yourself, or a topic you read about?
What was your favorite thing about the challenge?
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
Saturday, June 19, 2010
The unburdened life isn't so much about avoiding burdens as it is about carrying them with the strength of Another. The former leads to a life of purposelessness the latter builds an eternal Kingdom. The first approach is a choice to be weak; the other is a choice to be supernaturally empowered. This isn't a matter simply of living with abandonment, but of living with abandonment to God. (12)
In many ways, worship is where heaven and earth meet. And the things of earth--the concerns and worries and fears that burden us--can hardly survive the encounter. (169)
Joy is the climate of heaven, and that's where we want our hearts to live. (185)
Friday, June 18, 2010
Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico by Lena Nelson Dooley. 2010. May 2010. Summerside Press. 320 pages.
"Are you plumb crazy?" Jeremiah Dennison's loud retort bounced around the main room of the adobe house and returned to mock him. "Where did you get such a harebrained idea?"
Historical fiction. 1890. Golden, NM & Boston, MA.
Jeremiah thinks his old friend Philip Smith is crazy. It's bad enough--in Jeremiah's opinion--that Philip is "crazy" enough to believe in God. But now Philip has gotten the notion that God is telling him to place an advertisement for a wife in a Boston newspaper. He feels God telling him that some woman desperately needs his help. And though he doesn't admit this to Jeremiah right away, he feels this woman may have a child. So before he even gets one response to his letter, he begins adding two rooms onto his home. (Jeremiah thinks this is crazy too.)
So who is this would-be damsel in distress? Madeline Mercer is grieving the loss of her father. She takes comfort in her work with the poor. She has taken under her wing, a poor widow woman named Loraine, a woman cut off from her parents because they didn't approve of the marriage. She's pregnant. She's starving. She's about to lose her home because she can't pay her rent. But she is not alone in her troubles. Madeline is right there with her. Though Madeline has some troubles of her own. Madeline's support comes--in part--from Frank and Sarah Sneed, the ever-faithful servants that have worked for her family for decades.
The "threat" to Maddy comes in the form of her father's business partner. And he is a poorly fleshed villain. (And that's a bit of an understatement.) Oh, the villain talks big--makes threats, stomps around, shouts and bullies and whatnot. But why? The reader is clueless to his motivation. We're just expected to see Horace Johnstone as the biggest threat ever. (When one of the reasons for his behavior does come out, it's laughable.)
Maddy flees her home because Mr. Johnstone is threatening her. Marry me, or else. So Maddy sets off (and not alone) to find this Mr. Philip Smith. She doesn't have time to wait for his response. So their arrival surprises some. No one more than Jeremiah.
This is his response.
This was the woman he and Philip had sent a letter to yesterday. And here she was. On the way to Golden. Right now.And that's only the beginning. Jeremiah goes to the sheriff to tell him about the "criminal" woman and her "gang" that arrived in town. Begging him to find out the truth about these "evil" newcomers before it's too late. Luckily, the sheriff isn't quite as stupid as Jeremiah.
He stared at the faint road ahead. If it hadn't been for the other people in the wagon, he wouldn't try to miss the worst of the rocks and ruts. He'd just as soon shake the stiffness right out of Miss Madeline Mercer.
Why hadn't he pegged her right off? With her rose-scented letter and her fancy clothes, she'd slipped under his defenses. But he had her number now. She had to be a gold digger. Probably living off some other man's wealth she'd stolen and looking for a way to finance her high standard of living, as evidenced by her clothing and luggage, when that ran out. Well, it wouldn't be Philip's gold. He'd see to it.
Talking about God the way Philip did, she had to be a hypocrite. Evidently, this was just her way of playing on emotions to get what she wanted. It wouldn't take long to have the retired miner eating out of her hand. He had to think of something fast to keep her from meeting him. A single woman with a baby shouted immorality. She was more suited to work in one of the saloons than to marry a decent man. (118)
Most in the community do welcome these newcomers. And Philip welcomes Maddy, baby Pearl, Sarah and Frank. He knows that these are the people God wanted him to help. Of course, there is no convincing Jeremiah just how wrong, just how stupid he is. Is there hope for Jeremiah yet? Will this man see the light, fall to his knees, and become a believer? Will Maddy get her happily ever after yet?
I didn't like this one. I've been trying to figure out why. Did Jeremiah and Horace lack in character development? Horace certainly did. But what about Jeremiah? Is he underdeveloped? Or did I just not like him? There was something so hostile, so vicious about his character--and this one trait defined him for most of the novel. So is my dislike of Jeremiah because of his hostility towards God? Towards Christians? Or do I dislike him because of his hostility and mistrust of women?
If Jeremiah was developed as a character--and for whatever reason I just didn't like him--then the fault is mine. Would Jeremiah be able to make me this angry if he wasn't developed? Just because I didn't like him doesn't mean that there aren't readers out there who will. There may be some who find Jeremiah a good love interest even.
Now, I'd like to focus on what I did like. I liked Philip. I liked his faith. I liked seeing his devotion to God. His willingness to act on faith. How God spoke to him and he listened. Even though it didn't exactly make sense, he believed that God was going to use him. I also loved his tenderness with Maddy and Pearl. I liked Maddy. She was a good woman with a big heart. I did find her a bit too-good-to-be-true at times. I would have liked to see her struggle a bit more. (Would I really have been so quick, so eager to forgive?) But overall, I did like her as a heroine. I liked Sarah and Frank too.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer. 2010. June 2010. Bethany House. 352 pages.
"Red? Have you no shame, Auntie Vic? You can't be buried in a scarlet gown."
A Tailor-Made Bride is set in 1881.
Our heroine, Hannah Richards, is a seamstress, a dressmaker, who has been given a unique opportunity--she couldn't have dreamed of a better opportunity. One of her crankier patrons has left a piece of property to her, along with money to set up a dress shop of her own. This property is located in a small Texas town. Her arrival in town upsets a few folks--most especially Jericho "J.T." Tucker, who had hopes of buying this property.
Tucker has no use--at all--for those interested (even slightly) in fashion and finery. He is carrying a great big grudge--associating all women with his mother. To his reckoning, a woman can't be genuine, can't be kind, can't be godly, if she cares about her wardrobe at all. A well-dressed woman, in his opinion, is a deceptive one. Though J.T. is cranky, he does his duty by her. He helps her when she needs help. (He introduces her to his sister, Cordelia, a young woman who is in need of a friend, in need of some female advice too.) Though neither has a good impression of the other--these two, J.T. and Hannah--can't seem to help being drawn together time and time again. Slowly, J.T. sees that everything he's been thinking about women is wrong, wrong, wrong. Perhaps he doesn't know everything after all. Can Hannah and J.T. make a match of it?
First, I'd like to start with what I liked about the novel. I really did enjoy the romance between J.T. and Hannah. I liked the tension between them. How it took some time to get over misconceptions and prejudices. I liked that their relationship had to develop. I also appreciated many of the minor characters in this one. I liked this community, for the most part.
I had a two main issues with A Tailor-Made Bride. Both dealing with the inclusion of Warren, a "villainous" character with a birthmark. This one-dimensional character is perpetually angry and frustrated and lonely. What we do know about Warren is filtered through J.T's long held prejudices and Hannah's new-to-town observations. J.T. certainly puts the blame all on him--that it is Warren's own fault for not being more likeable, for not making an effort to fit in and be a part of the community. That if Warren would just "be a man" then his problems would be solved. Is it Warren's fault that he's friendless? Is it Warren's fault that he lacks the social skills needed to interact with the community? I'm not convinced it is.
Unless you *know* what it feels like to have a birthmark, unless you've lived your life with people looking at you, staring at you, pointing at you, unless you know what it feels like to be teased or ignored, unless you know what it feels like to be an outcast, to be the one always left out, then you have no idea at all. Even though the boys and girls that grew up with Warren are all grown now, memories aren't so easily forgiven and forgotten. Think about it, most of us have people we'd rather not see from our past--from our school days. Aren't there a few people that can make us feel small and insignificant no matter how much time has passed?
Not that I'm excusing Warren's behavior--he's presented as a creep, a villain, and he does in fact live up to this. He says things, he does things that are wrong, wrong, wrong. So I don't "like" Warren either. But still I think he was misused as a character. Which brings me to my second point. I do think his character is entirely unnecessary to the novel. (And unnecessary villains are a pet peeve of mine. As are unnecessary floods, fires, hurricanes and the like. Acts of nature designed to bring the stubborn hero and heroine together.) This novel has plenty of tension on its own. Plenty of conflicts without him. So in conclusion, if you're going to have a pointless villain, a one-dimensional villain, why give him a birthmark?
Sunday, June 13, 2010
"Do you find that you cannot live without a relationship with God? To the degree that you do, you will serve him. We all serve whatever it is we think we cannot live without." (41)
There's an old play on the word justified: "just-as-if-I'd never sinned." But here's another way of saying it: "just-as-if-I'd always obeyed." Both are true. The first refers to the transfer of our moral debt to Christ so we're left with a "clean" ledger, just as if we'd never sinned. The second tells us our ledger is now filled with the perfect righteousness of Christ, so it's just as if we'd always obeyed. That's why we can come confidently into the very presence of God (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19) even though we're still sinners--saved sinners to be sure, but still practicing sinners, every day in thought, word, deed, and motive.The perfect righteousness of Christ, which is credited to us, is the first bookend of the Christian life. The news of this righteousness is the gospel. Christ's righteousness is given to us by God when we genuinely trust in Christ as our Savior. From that moment on, from God's point of view, the first bookend is permanently in place. We're justified; we're credited with his righteousness. Or to say it differently, we're clothed with his righteousness (Isaiah 61:10) so that as God looks at us in union with Christ, he always sees us to be as righteous as Christ himself. And that changes everything. (26-27)
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
We don't hear the word purity much today except in descriptions of cleaning agents and snow-covered landscapes. We do hear the word spoken more frequently in the Christian community, but usually only as it applies to sexual purity. We have lost sight of all it means to be pure as God intended. So what does it mean? Purity is much more than moral behavior. Purity is first and foremost a matter of the heart. To be pure is to be single-minded. It is to have a single goal, a single focus, and a single purpose for ourselves and our lives. That is biblical purity, and from it springs moral behavior--the good we do with our bodies. At its core, purity is having a heart for the Lord that isn't watered down or polluted by lesser things.
- A Pure Woman is Clear-Sighted
- A Pure Woman Has One Desire
- A Pure Woman is Single-Minded
- A Pure Woman Is Perceptive
- A Pure Woman Treasures God's Word
- A Pure Woman Abides in Christ
- A Pure Woman Loves the Lord
- A Pure Woman is Discerning
- A Pure Woman Esteems Christ
- A Pure Woman Hopes
- A Pure Woman Chooses the Narrow Way
- A Pure Woman is Wholehearted
- A Pure Woman Is a Cross-Carrier
A Hopeful Heart. Kim Vogel Sawyer. 2010. June 2010. Bethany House. 352 pages.
Curling her fingers around the leather handle of the battered carpetbag that held her carefully selected belongings, Tressa Neill fell in line behind the tittering row of young women disembarking the train. She didn't mind being last. In the homespun dress and outdated straw hat acquired by Aunt Gretchen, she felt dowdy and conspicuous. No matter that her attire closely matched that of her traveling companions--with the exception of Evelyn. She still harbored an intense desire to hide.
Mrs Wyatt (aka "Aunt Hattie") has decided to open up a small school to teach eligible young women (from the East) the skills they'd need to be a proper help-meet to their potential rancher husbands. The skills include milking cows, branding calves, cooking, etc. She thinks these young women need to learn how to manage a ranch before they start socializing with all the young ranchers. That way they know what to expect before they fall in love, before they say I do.
This historical fiction novel is set in Kansas in the 1880s. It's narrated by Tressa, one of the young women who have come to the school for a "second best" chance at life, and Abel Samms, one of the ranchers who is determined not to take a wife. (How long do you think that resolution will last once he meets Tressa?) What Tressa finds is anything but second-best. For she finds some of the best friends she could ever have. Aunt Hattie also introduces her to Jesus. Tressa realizes that it is part of God's plan for her to be in Kansas, but is that oh-so-handsome Abel part of the good Lord's plan? She hopes so!
There are a handful of conflicts in A Hopeful Heart--some a bit predictable for the genre--but all in all, A Hopeful Heart is more than enjoyable. It is a good, clean, romantic read just right for historical fiction fans.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010
The collapse all began with the friendly exchange of a papaya for a photograph.
Chapter One: The lone man deep in the woods of the Beyond knew a good sword could make the difference between life and death.