Monday, December 1, 2014

Compassion Without Compromise: A Review

"Compassion Without Compromise" by Adam T. Barr and Ron Citlau is the best book on current events in the church and culture I have read in a very long time.  It is the conversation that needs to
happen and is captured perfectly by the subtitle:  How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing the Truth.  This book beautifully walks the line of walking in Truth in both grace and love.  Not only does it dig deeper into Scriptures used to show that Truth remains despite cultural trends, but it also does so in a way that is filled with relational understanding as one of the authors has battled with same-sex attraction most of his life, including full immersion in the sin itself. 

This book has a wonderful Q/A section that I think is important to get into the hands of every Pastor and church leader.  It addressed some issues I had never even considered before, and it also showed the sin of the attitudes so prevalent in many churches to the point of abusing and degrading another human being.  This is a perfect reminder that while we in no way change Scripture to suit our own personal experiences and desires, we do not disregard the real conflict, temptation, and struggles that anyone facing such things experiences.

This is a timely resource for a much needed conversation in today's church.  I highly recommend this book to every demographic in the church.  In fact, I had regular discussions with friends, my husband, as well as my children ranging in age from Junior High through High School.  It was excellently written, and I will be passing this along to my Pastor.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Brickmaker's Bride: A Review

One of the most annoying traits I find in many Christian fiction books involving a female as the
central character is the fact that the female is typically portrayed as weak, overly shy/quiet, and unable to make her own sound decisions.  "The Brickmaker's Bride" by Judith Miller is not such a book!  Laura Woodfield personifies the ideal female:  intelligent, witty, wise, yet feminine.  She doesn't live a pampered life without conflict, but she rises to the occasion time after time.  Both mother and daughter in this book are both strong female characters. 

Along with the strength of the women comes the strength of the main male character, Ewan McKay.  His love and dedication to God and family keep him focused on helping build a business that seems doomed to fail.  With a little help along the way, he is able to build the life he dreams of with the ones he loves most.

A book filled with romance, historical information, and depth of characters, as well as intrigue, suspense, and mystery, this is a book to be read.  It lacks the shallowness many books in this genre can't seem to avoid.  This was a beautifully woven tale that doesn't quickly leave one's imagination after the closing of the last sentences. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

With Every Breath - A Review

What can I say?  I really enjoy fiction, most especially historical fiction.  I stumbled upon Elizabeth
Camden several years ago, and I have devoured every book she has written since.  I couldn't wait for this newest release, and I was not disappointed.  "With Every Breath" follows the lives of Kate and Trevor, dipping back into their earliest of friendships (or, rather, betrayal) leading to present day mixed with a myriad of emotions.

The book is centered around discovering a cure for Tuberculosis. The historical information, trials and errors in treating the disease, and the misery of those afflicted brought the pages to life.  Honestly, I had no idea the horrific magnitude of this disease until reading this novel.  It isn't often that I read the Historical Note in the back of the book, but I wanted to learn more.

This book was filled with Camden's trademarks:  characters with real depth, complexities in everyday life, no simple solutions, yet hopeful.  It was a beautiful novel, I learned a lot, and it touched me deeply.  I'm not sure what else one can hope for when picking up a novel.  Beautiful.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Interrupted: A Review

There is nothing I more enjoy than reading a book that forces me to step outside of myself and re-evaluate what I think (and feel) about certain ideas.  I love reading books that strengthen my faith
while challenging me to take the next step on my journey with Christ, and propel me into real action.  Yes, the Bible alone is certainly sufficient to spur such change, and only with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  However, he did place prophets (and prophetesses) in our path to give us a good kick in the pants when we seem to completely miss the point or disobey in general.  "Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity" by Jen Hatmaker was that book for me.  She was the prophetess the Holy Spirit sent to give me a swift kick in the pants, AND to confirm all the wrestlings/longings/desires I had been trying to grapple with as a follower of Jesus as well.

This is one book I do not want to spoil for you by giving you too much "play-by-play" action, so let me just hit on a few things.  First, the title alone should pique one's curiosity.  Some of you may be in the camp that thinks, "I've never been comfortable," while the other group may be in the category that thinks, "there is not a thing wrong with my being comfortable."  I fall into a third group, and one I believe Jen is speaking directly to (though she really is speaking to all 3). I once was comfortable, but now not so much.  My camp is the one that says, "There has GOT to be more to this Jesus walk than this.  Why do we look so rich while the communities around us are struggling so much?  Why does 'church' look so different in America than just about anywhere else?  Am I obeying Jesus??" 

I am not comfortable, and I haven't been for a long, long time.  In all transparency, that has led to me wandering a bit through the desert--which just ended up being time spent in different denominations trying to figure this all out.  So, my second point would be that this book brings us to a point in which we have to honestly answer that tension-causing question, "Is this really it??  Are we doing what we were called to do?"  Again, Jen helps us to see, through her prophetic reasoning, that we really might be missing the big picture.  You know, the one in which Jesus really did say to us (and in which he meant so in the most literal sense):  Feed my sheep, feed the poor, take care of the orphans, and widows, love your enemy, pray for your enemy, love your neighbor as much as you love yourself, visit me in prison, stand up for the oppressed, etc.  He didn't just say those things because they sounded pretty nice.  He died for them.  He meant it, and he meant for us to listen and do.  One verse Jen points out in Ezekiel has penetrated my heart so deeply.  It comes from Ezekiel 16:49:  "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom; She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."  If this doesn't sound like the American/Western church in general, I don't know what does. 

Another reference Jen makes to herself is that of a "recovering legalist".  Oh, boy.  This is so true of me, and while I struggle as she does in the area of always trying to get the law of the letter just right (and in my OCD way of thinking, I mean that . . . to the very last jot and tittle), I so often miss the application part.  You know, the part where Jesus tells you to do it, and instead of trying to exegete the death out of that passage, "just to be sure you don't get it wrong," you JUST DO WHAT IT SAYS.  Novel concept, I know.  And this is my third point:  Jen shares the struggle, but she also shares the beauty of the discovery (and might I add simplicity) of simply obeying Jesus command to "Go".  Go to the least among you and show them Jesus.  Don't wait on them to come to your pretty church building, with your pretty music, and pretty programs.  Take Jesus TO them.  We are literally surrounded by sick, hungry, dying, unloved, uncared for human beings that just need Jesus--not our stipulations and man-made rules.

This is the reason, I believe (and Jen speaks of), that many of us followers of Jesus feel less than satisfied "doing church" each week.  We are ignoring the most basic commands Jesus himself gave us.  The consequences are grave.  People are dying because we are the sisters in Sodom.  We are those who were overfed while the rest of the world is starving to death, arrogant about our model of church and how "right" we have it, because after all!  Look how blessed we are!  We are those who are unconcerned--we can't see it, so it isn't real to us.  But it is real.  And the most basic??  Are we helping the poor and needy?  Are we giving up of ourselves for someone else? 

Many of us cut our teeth on Jen with her work, "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess".  If you felt more than convicted by it, you really MUST read Interrupted.  I hope it speaks to your heart and settles some of that dust in your mind.  If you aren't sure about the whole poverty thing, you need to read it simply to be informed.  The statistics alone were enough to bring me to my knees.  And I mean that.  I cried.  A lot.  And that was just the first few chapters. 

I feel very passionate about this book being the catalyst needed to kick you in the pants, get you diving back into your Bible, and making a big difference in your communities--both locally and globally.  It may help you, as it did me, by simply putting out there that many of us feel a real disconnect between the church and God's Word.

I WANT you to read this.  You will need to grab your Bible too when doing so.  I want to offer one lucky (immensely blessed) reader, due to the generosity of Tyndale House Publishers, a free copy of this book.  In order to enter the contest, you must leave a comment with your name and email so I can contact you directly once I pick a winner. The winner will be chosen at 8:00 p.m. on 8/8/14.  Please feel free to leave a comment about any other books you may have read by Jen.  I would love to read them!  Also, now through August 10th, you may go to www.navpress.com and receive a copy of "Interrupted" for 20% off!!  Again, this is a special deal offered just for reading this review, so grab it, and grab a bunch more for your friends.  There is no code necessary.

Thanks for reading my review, and be sure to enter today for your chance to win a copy of "Interrupted:  When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity" by Jen Hatmaker.  Then, go start some fun reading groups with your friends, and start LIVING!



Monday, July 28, 2014

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Project Linus . . .

I have been making blankets for Project Linus, and I am ready to whip stitch these squares together and add the border!  I love the way it turned out!!!  I also finished a vintage granny square blanket. 


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer on the Hook . . .

A few summer projects . . . a pretty cotton coaster, kitchen nylon scrubbies, a sweet summer set for a new Florida baby, AND a granny square afghan for Stitching Hope . . .



Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Moment In Time: A Review

I recently finished reading the 2nd book in Tracie Peterson's "Lone Star Brides" series--"A Moment
in Time".  This was another excellently written book in the Texas series that not only entertained, but it also informed as it was filled with many historical references. 

The book started off quickly picking up where the 1st in the series left off, but it was very informative as it filled in the blanks for the reader of what had previously transpired.  The plot line wasn't as fast-paced and "dangerous" as the previous, though there were a couple moments.  However, there were some important familial reckonings that needed to take place. 

As is typical of Tracie Peterson's novel, and most especially the bloodline of Marty (namely Hannah), there were very strong female characters throughout who weren't intimidated by danger.  These were women who fully embraced the strength they possessed from God and acted accordingly. 

I love clean romances that are brimming over with high virtues and morals, and this one did not disappoint.  There were common struggles to be sure, but beautiful triumphs throughout.  Books such as these help one to grown in faith as well.  I can't wait for the next book in this series!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Be Still My Soul . . .

Sometimes I need a redo.  I just need to take a step back, get some wise counsel, and then be still.  I
am at a place like this in my life right now.  Nothing--absolutely nothing--grounds me better than spending time in God's Word surrounded by the beauty of nature.  My soul quiets, my busy thoughts disappear, and I can hear His voice again--whispering His love, reassurance, and grace into my parched soul.  I write.  I pour out my heart to Him with pen and paper.  It is healing.  Most importantly, I finally listen . . . I shut out the busy thoughts crowding out His Spirit--the arguments that rage on in my mind, casting doubt, distrust, anxiety, chaos into my soul.  I just sit, surrounded by these beautiful trees; breathe in, breathe out . . . be still.  Listen.  Be filled. 

"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;"  Ps. 37:7a

"Be still, and know that I am God . . . "  Ps. 46:10a

"Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling."  Zech. 2:13

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."  Ex. 14:14

Be still . . . Be still . . . Be still . . .

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

What I do . . .

I pattern test and have published a few patterns, but nothing excites me more in the crafting world then crafting for others.  So, enjoy the chaos!