RSS Feed

Category Archives: Christian

Raw Faith…

Posted on

A Black Cat Book Review

dollybook_thumb.jpg

Raw Faith by Kasey Van Norman

Thirty something Kasey, is happily married with two children.  She and her family have just moved to a new town, joined a new church, are making new friends.  She has a thriving ministry, and a book about faith.  Her life is good.  Then the phone call comes. She has an aggressive form of cancer.

Now there are questions, lots of questions. Not just about the cancer and treatment but about faith, about Kasey’s faith.  What is faithraw and what is her faith. She has taught bible studies and wrote a book about faith.  She has told others that in crisis there is nowhere to go but to God.  Now she wonders; can she, will she, live what she has taught.

After the diagnosis there is chemo.

This shows Kasey that sometimes God does give us more than we can bear to prove we cannot handle things on our own.  We need Him when there is nowhere else to turn.  She tells of her doubts and learning that Satan uses doubt to separate us from God.  She tells of knowing that the power of Satan cannot beat God’s power.  She tells of drifting and depression. Drifting and not trusting God fully but going her own way.  Depression that makes her draw into herself and learns that when there is nowhere else to go then she draws closer to God.

Through her cancer treatment she finds that the true foundation of faith is not what we experience of faith but in the person of Jesus Christ.  We choose what to believe; God does not  force us one way or the other.  We choose where to place our confidence; in our emotions or God.

There are no “weak” or “strong” chapters but I found the one about prayer had the greatest impact on me.  Kasey emphasizes that prayer is more than the spoken word. It is  conversation with One we have a relationship with.  There are two parts to prayer: speaking and listening.   Both are important.

There are many personal moments shared in her book and many stories from the Bible.  Everything she writes she reinforces with scripture.  The book is one that can be read quickly, which I did.  But if you to go back and read it more slowly and let the lessons Kasey learned speak to you, which I did, you will find depth and encouragement for your struggles.  You may not have cancer but everyone at some time will find themselves in a fight that only God  can win.  This book is a good starting point to help you focus on the Victor.

As Kasey says, “Raw faith is not based on what God does but on who God is.”

75px-The-black-cat1_thumb.jpg

This book was sent to me free of charge by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in exchange for this review.

tyndale_thumb.gif

Monday, a gift out of injustice…

Black Cat Book Review

dollybook_thumb.jpg

Every Waking Moment by Chris Fabry

Treha Langsam takes other people’s memories and makes them her own.  There are few things she remembers from her past and accepts this as another thing that is different about her.  And she is very different;  she not only looks different she  thinks differently.

Treha works at Desert Gardens, an assisted living facility for the elderly.  She does menial labor but the soon to be retired director of Desert Gardens knows that Treha is gifted in an extraordinary way.  Treha can help those with dementia to come back to a full life…notbook forever but for a while they can be a part of everyday activities and enjoy their last days or months. The residents appreciate her and enjoy her visits and do not think anything of her differences, she is simply Treha, their friend.

One resident, Dr. Crenshaw, seems to have a special interest in Treha but no one thinks anything of it. But he has a very good reason for wanting to know everything about her.  Then there is the team that is recording and filming some of the resident’s, including Dr. Crenshaw,  stories for a documentary.  The interviewer learns of Treha and is intrigued by her and wants to know more about her…who she is, where she came from, her gift.

With Treha’s permission and the help of Miriam, the facilities director, they begin to find some answers to the questions of Treha’s life.  The truth they find is not easy and raises more questions then are answered.  There has been terrible injustice done, not only to Treha but to many others.  The what and why of the injustice is easily answered but what will or can be done for the victims is not so easily answered.  The unfolding of the story is in some ways encouraging but in the end it leaves everyone wondering, can life be better than it is now and if not how to come to terms with it and carry on?

I found it hard to get into the story at first but about a third of the way in I was intrigued and thoroughly enjoyed the story.  Treha is a difficult central character.  For me it was hard to understand her thinking and how she is so accepting of her lot in life. But as the story unfolds she begins to make sense and is a wonder of courage.75px-The-black-cat1_thumb.jpg

This book was sent to me, without cost, by Tyndale House Publishers,Inc in exchange for this review.

tyndale.gif

Tuesday, testimony…

This is my Two Shoes Tuesday post.
The prompts for this week are over and always.

the_thinking_cat_large.jpg

I am a quiet person and always have been.
But my spirit has not always been quiet.

When I was a child I had a temper and it flared often.
I learned to control it when I was a teenager.
It was then I realized anger had other outlets.

My anger was quiet…rarely loud.
But it was mean and spiteful.
I hurt many people.
I hurt myself.

People who didn’t know me then…and some who did…
don’t believe me when I tell them I was a hellion extraordinaire.
They just always see me as this quiet person and think that’s who I was always.

But you can be rebellious, angry, bitter, hateful, unkind, just bad
without being loud or boisterous.
You can be quietly sugar sweet and be the most ugly of persons.
I know this because that was me for a long time.

Life was hell.
No other way to put it.

Then one day all that was over and done.

I was given a great gift…a gentle and quiet spirit.
I did nothing to deserve it, I didn’t ask for it, didn’t expect it.
It was simply given.

I am, and will always be, thankful that God waited for me,
forgave me, and welcomed me into the family.

The past is over forever and always.
Hallelujah

hallelujah_cat_thumb.jpg

Thursday, more than a simple love story…

Posted on

Black Cat Book Review

dollybook_thumb.jpg

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Angel was sold into prostitution as a child.  Prostitution and hate are all she knows and she has resigned herself to the life she has as the only one she will ever know.  Michael Hosea, a farmer who strives in all he does to please the Lord, knows there someone special meant to be his wife.   When he sees Angel walking down the street Michael knows she is the one God has chosen for him.  And their story begins.

No one agrees with Michael, not his brother-in-law, Paul, not Duchess, the madam of the brothel where Angel works, not even Angel.  Butlove Michael, knowing God has planned for him to meet and marry Angel is determined and does marry her.  Loving his wife unconditionally and wanting her to be happy Michael patiently waits for her heart to soften and for her to love and trust him…and God.

Angel becomes a farmer’s wife.  She learns to cook and clean and do laundry.  She learns to plant seeds and harvest the crop.  They have neighbors, John and Elizabeth and their children, who she begins to care for, especially the young Miriam and toddler Ruthie.  Yet, Angel is unable to let herself love or be loved, not by the neighbors and certainly not by Michael.

Because of her distrust of everyone, even herself, she leaves Michael more than once.  Michael always pursues and finds her and brings her home.  Except the last time she runs away.  Michael does not go after her. Staying on their farm, he waits, as God directs, for her to come home on her own.

Francine Rivers wrote this book twenty years ago.  I read it then and liked it.  Rereading it now with twenty years of life having been lived I liked the book for different reasons.  This time I again saw the love story of the man and woman but I also saw the deeper love story of a man for his God and the love of God for His children.

You can read this as a simple story and enjoy it.  However, if you read it thoughtfully and carefully you will not only enjoy it you will learn about the good, and not so good, of men and women perhaps understanding them a little better.  You will also learn a bit about the always good God.

That this book is in its twentieth year and still being published and should tell you that it is worth reading.  75px-The-black-cat1_thumb.jpg

Blogging (120x60)

Redeeming Love was sent to me without charge by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing in exchange for this review.

Monday, one family’s journey…

Posted on

A Black Cat Book Review

dollybook_thumb.jpg

Road Trip to Redemption by Brad Mathias

The Mathias family are a normal family with the usual problems…and some not so usual ones.  This is the story of how they came apart and what they did to put the family back together again.  Brad Mathias tells their story with transparency and honesty; and sometimes  it is painful to read.

There was an “almost divorce” that caused some problems but it seemed that was behind them and life was good.  There weretrip some rough patches with the kids, Jessica, Bethany, and Caleb but nothing serious…or so parents Brad and Paige thought.  It did seem that the outgoing friendly Bethany was changing.  Dressing differently, argumentative, secretive, rarely smiling; but this was all normal teenage stuff.  Right?  Wrong!

When Brad and Paige learned of what happened to Bethany, how she was trying to deal with it, and how it was affecting the family they knew their family needed help.  As Christians their first step was to go to the Lord and follow His leading.  There were no overnight revelations or cures.  It was a time of reflection, prayer, talking, seeking.  Brad knew he needed to make some changes in himself to help the family heal.

It took some time but Brad came to believe they needed to have dedicated time together as a family to reconnect with each other and with God.  Brad planned a road trip from Nashville to Western Canada to Colorado and then back to Nashville.  June of 2010 saw them packed and on their way.  Five people, luggage, snacks, cell phones, ipads, and problems all loaded into the family SUV for a two-week road trip.

The trip was not without its difficulties but it healed minds and hearts and brought them to a place of renewal and restoration as individuals and as a family.  This is a book for parents with troubled kids but all of us can learn from it.  My heart ached for all three of the Mathias kids and their parents.  They each were dealing with some heavy stuff and each in their own way.  It is a remarkable book in how it takes some complicated relationship issues, meeting them head on and just doing the best they can, all the while relying on God to show the way.75px-The-black-cat1_thumb.jpg

Tyndale House Publishers,Inc.,sent this book to me at no charge in exchange for this review.

tyndale_thumb.gif

Monday, no secondhand faith…

Posted on

A Black Cat Book Review

dollybook_thumb.jpg

Firsthand by Ryan and Josh Shook

Brothers Ryan and Josh Shook were raised in the Church, sons of a preacher.  All they knew was their family’s Christian faith.  Somewhere in their teens they began to question the authenticity of their personal beliefs.  Did they really believe or were they simply worshipping  God with their parents faith, a secondhand faith?

What followed was a time of searching, doubting, drifting, and lots of questions.  They tell some stories about themselves duringfirsthand the time they were sort of wandering in the wilderness that are open and honest.  They  realized they were not going to be satisfied with anything but firsthand faith.  Not just the faith of their father but faith they owned, firsthand faith.

The book is written primarily for teens and young adults that are Christian but questioning the validity of their beliefs and the basis of their faith.  The book asks the questions young people, and many older folks, are asking themselves and gives insight on how to find the answers.  With personal reflection and comments from other young people the brothers don’t  answer the questions directly.  They do point the reader in the direction of the answers with “Think about It” and “Might Try This” sections of the book.

This is a good book for anyone looking for faith that is not just a mask but one that is real from the inside out.   Personally, I liked chapter 5, “Trashing the Checklist” and chapter 6, “Question Everything” the best.  The Shook brothers make what may seem to some  like radical suggestions.  But if read to the end none of it is really radical but it is really solid.  The key is to not stop reading; you must read the whole to understand the parts.

I think this would be a good book for a teen group study.  It is written in an easy conversational style that will lead to discussion.  It has good honest feedback from young people who looked for answers to their questions and doubts and found what they needed.  Overall a book worth reading.

75px-The-black-cat1_thumb.jpg

This book was sent to me by WaterBrook Multnomah, as a gift, for participating 
in an online survey before the book was published.

Sunday, based on a true story…

Posted on

A Black Cat Book Review

dollybook_thumb.jpg

A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick

Emma Warner was a young woman raised in the small German religious community of Bethel, Missouri, in the mid 1800’s.  The community was somewhat isolated from others in the belief that their way of life was better protected if outsiders were kept at a distance.   The only people to join the group were those who were “evangelized” usually by scouts who were sent out to find new places to settle.

Emma married Christian Giesy, a man close to her father’s age, when she was a teenager.  That they loved each other is clear but the marriage was not without its difficulties.  Christian was a scout for the group and was away most of the first couple of years of their marriage.  Though the members believedclear that women were to be submissive and follow the men Emma was rather out-spoken and impetuous.  Christian liked her forth-rightness but it was frowned upon by the leadership at Bethel.

When her husband is selected to lead a group of scouts west to the Washington territory Emma convinces the community’s leader that she should go with them.  Unheard of, both that she approached leadership and that she was permitted to go.  The journey to Washington was not easy for the pregnant woman but it was nothing compared to what she would endure once they arrived in Washington and began to prepare for those who would come to join the new settlement in a year or two.

Christian and Emma face many challenges.  Not only in their marriage but, like all the scouts, in simply staying alive.  At one point Emma leaves Christian and the scouts and sets out alone, with her young son, to the place she thinks is better suited as a site for the community of believers.  Of course, as she knew they would, Christian and the other men search for and find her.  She makes her argument and there is compromise.

When those from the Bethel community arrive all is not as hoped.  There is disappointment and dissension among them and a split is inevitable.  Through it all Emma becomes more confident of herself and of Christian.  Her faith grows and sustains her when all else fails. They lose much in the journey but they gain even more.

Based on the life of Emma Wagner Giesy, Jane Kirkpatrick’s story is one of determination, courage, and faith.  I found the book interesting if only for the fact of the incredible hardships these people faced and overcame.  As always Kirkpatrick did much research for her novel and shows us the tenacity, strength, and faith of the women who contributed to society in remarkable ways.

dollycat.gifBlogging (120x60)  This book was sent to me without charge by WaterBrook Multnomah
in exchange for this review. 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 171 other followers

%d bloggers like this: