March 26, 2012

War Horse

My daughter saw this movie last Christmas and loved it. Recently, she reserved this YA book at the library, read it, then passed it on to me. Or should I say...kept putting it places around the house where I would see it. I think she really wanted me to read it. :)

Well I just finished it and have to say I loved it too.

It's a heart-wrenching story that takes place during WW1 between a horse and all who come to love him. It's a story told from the point of view of the horse, Joey, who relays conversations heard and expresses how he feels throughout his journey of friendships and war.

War is a tragically ugly thing and many become ugly in it, but there are also many, on both sides, who are just doing their duty and have no desire to kill another. The author portrays this well and gives the reader a sense of respect for our fellow man.

This book also gave me a greater appreciation for the horses who served in war. They played a very important part and were relied on greatly. I hadn't realized how much men depended on them during this war and how many suffered and died along side their riders.

This story was also very touching and I teared up several times, especially during the ending of the book. I highly recommend it, even if you aren't a YA reader. :)

Buy it HERE on Amazon

March 22, 2012

Sixty Acres and a Bride

I love the beauty of the Biblical story of Ruth and Boaz, with it's richness in love and redemption.

In John MacArthur's book "Twelve Extraordinary Women," his chapter on 'Ruth' explains it this way:

"The Old Testament book of Ruth is a flawless love story in a compact format. It's not an epic tale, but a short story. (eighty five verses) Still, it runs the full range of human emotions, from the most gut-wrenching kind of grief to the very height of glad-hearted triumph. 

Ruth's life was the true, historical experience of one genuinely extraordinary woman. It was also a perfect depiction of the story of redemption told with living, breathing symbols."

Regina Jennings book "Sixty Acres and a Bride" is not so much a retelling of the book of Ruth, but a similar story, with elements of Ruth throughout. Set in 1878 Texas, Rosa and Weston's story is filled with grief, mixed emotions and eventually love.

Rosa is a young Mexican woman, who like Ruth has lost her husband and father-in-law. Her and her mother-in-law, Louise, decide to leave Mexico and return to Texas. There they come home to a dying farm and struggle to pay 'back taxes' that have accumulated since they have been gone. Rosa is a hard worker and this does not go unnoticed by Weston Garner, who like Boaz is a wealthy relative.

Ruth was a real woman with hopes and dreams, fears and struggles, who God saw though. Rosa's story is very similar as she tries to fit in to this new place called Texas. If you are familiar with the story of Ruth, you know Boaz becomes her 'kinsman-redeemer' and marries her. This is a intricate part of the novel, which the author intertwines throughout, but with a few different twists. She does this through the character of Weston, who never gives up on Rosa even as he works out his own doubts and struggles.

A kinsman-redeemer was a very important role during the time of Ruth and Boaz. John MacArthur explains it here:

"A goel (kinsman-redeemer) was usually a prominent male in one's extended family. He was the official guardian of the family's honor. If the occasion arose, he would be the one to avenge the blood of a murdered relative (Josh. 20;2-9). He could buy back family lands sold in times of hardship (Lev. 25:23-28). He could pay the redemption-price for family members sold into slavery (Lev. 25:47-49). Or (if he were a single man or widower and thus eligible to marry) he could revive the family lineage when someone died without an heir by marrying the widow and fathering offspring who would inherit the name and the property of the one who had died...."

"Every kinsman-redeemer was, in effect, a living illustration of the position and work of Christ with respect to His people: He is our true Kinsman-Redeemer, who becomes our human Brother, buys us back from our bondage to evil, redeems our lives from death, and ultimately returns to us everything we lost because of our sin."

The author does a great job for her first novel. I loved the setting of the Texan ranch, with its sheep, cattle and horses. But I really loved the romantic tension between the two main characters which I thought, brought the story to life. It was realistic and respectful. I highly recommend it to christian fiction fans and I look forward to this author's next book!

And if you can, try to find some time to read or re-read the book of Ruth. In my opinion, its one of the most beautiful love stories of all time. :)

March 19, 2012

Quote of the Week

"O people of God, be great believers! Little faith will bring your souls to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your souls."                                                   Charles H. Spurgeon

March 14, 2012

Grace for the Good Girl: letting go of the try-hard life

This book is an invitation to lay down your try-hard good girl life and come to Jesus just as you are, rest in Him and let Him do the work in you.

I've always had a strong faith in God. Who He is and what He has done. I never doubted He parted the Red Sea, took Elijah in a chariot of fire or healed the blind. But it's not always easy to believe the things He says about me. He says I'm his chosen and precious adopted one (Eph. 1:3-6), he says that I'm the righteousness of God (1Cor. 5:21) and he says I am accepted (Rom. 15:7) and free (Col. 1:22).

These are hard things to grasp. This means I have to let go and trust Him. Let go of what others think of me and most of all let go of what I think of myself.

Christian girls are raised to be good, to do the right thing and we often do this in fear. Fear of what others will say or how we may be perceived if we fail. This book deals with these fears and the false masks of perfection we put on.

I can't tell you how much I loved this book. I could relate to so much of what the author talked about. She says here:

"As good girls, we subconsciously label ourselves as the strong ones, the responsible ones, the sweet ones, or the right ones. We try to stand tall and capable as the good Christian, the good wife, the good mom, and the good one. But Jesus is calling us to a deeper, truer, freer identity. All he wants is simply you--minus your good works, minus your perfect attendance, minus your politeness. When you really believe that, you may discover that all you want is Jesus, simply Jesus. Not just to get to heaven or to help you be a good person or do the right thing, but to simply love and be loved by Him."

"Jesus is calling us to a deeper, truer, freer identity"...isn't that what we all really want?

As good christian girls we are taught to do what Jesus did. But because we aren't capable of it, we try to cover our faults with good deeds. Emily talks about the difference between the girl who is always trying to do the right thing and the girl who is freed by grace:

"From the outside, you may not be able to tell the difference between a girl ridden with guilt and a girl freed by grace. But there is an overwhelming difference between the two. Good girls see Jesus as someone to copy. Free women listen to the voice of his Spirit who dwells inside them. "

 She also says:

"Are you trying to be who Jesus wants you to be? Or do you trust him to bring out who he had already created you to be? It is vital to recognize the difference between these two questions because one leads to death, the other leads to life."

My favorite chapter in this book was chapter 10 'hide and seek.' In this chapter she goes back to the garden with Adam and Eve. She does a thorough job explaining  how sin entered the world. All the way back to the lie Satan told and how many still hang on to that lie today. She says here:

"Satan told the woman, 'You will be like God' (Gen. 3:5). But God had already covered that. In Genesis 1:27, God made man and woman in his own image. so what does that mean? 
It means they were like God, made in his likeness, bearing his image. Satan was promising something to them that God had already graciously and lovingly provided. Satan convinced them to forget God's gift and try to work for it instead."

She goes on to say:

"But they didn't remember (the gift). Not only that, the gift was subtly twisted, and the holy, image-bearing truth of Genesis 1:27 was no longer enough. They didn't just want to be like God, bearing his image. They wanted to be God, self-sufficient and independent."

God could have just left them there to self-destruct. But he didn't. She goes on to say:

And so, God killed an innocent animal right there in the garden, the first sacrifice for sin that pointed to the future sacrifice of Christ. Because of his great love and compassion, God provided an escape for humankind by holding back the wrath they actually deserved. We call this mercy.

But simply providing escape isn't enough. Mercy, as beautiful as it is, is only protection. And so God made garments of skin for them from the sacrificed animal. In doing so, he gave them something they did not deserve. We call this grace."

I had to take a break after reading this because God's true character overwhelmed me. He is a Father who is merciful, who is loving, who is compassionate, who is gracious, and who is faithful.

She goes on to share the gospel of Jesus Christ:

"And a few thousand years later, he would send the Second Adam, one who lived a full human life and ate only from the Tree of Life, depending entirely on his Father in ways the first Adam failed to do."

 "For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ."  Romans 5:17 

Fear is a big part of the 'good girl' life and fear comes from unbelief. It comes from believing lies. Emily shares some common lies good girls fall for and God's truth in contrast:

"The soul screams, but the Spirit whispers.
 Fear shouts for me to run.
 The Spirit beckons me, Come.
 Fear pushes me to hide, take cover, and protect myself.
The Spirit whispers, I have already overcome.
 Fear hurls insults, chaos, and anxiety.
 The spirit lavishes love, steadfastness, and peace."

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom..." Colossians 3:15-16

We as women are often ruled by our emotions, but God wants us to trust what we sometimes can't feel. It is so important to put our trust in God's Word and not in our own feelings and emotions. Emily says here:

"Setting our minds on the truth of God's Word will ensure that we don't stay captive behind those tattered, tired-out masks...When the truth doesn't feel true is when we begin to believe it isn't. Satan's biggest, most effective weapon against good girls may not be lust or slander or adultery or addiction. It is forgetfulness."

We forget we have been set free.

I love this quote from Samuel Rutherford:

"Trust God's Word and His power more than you trust your own feelings and experiences. Remember, your Rock is Christ, and it is the sea that ebbs and flows with the tides, not Him." 

These next quotes had a lot of meaning for me as I continue to learn to trust in God's truth and not in my own emotions or experiences:

"One of the hardest times to remember God's truth is in the midst of strong emotion. Fear, worry, or even excitement can cloud our perception of truth. If it doesn't feel true, it's hard to believe it is true."

"To experience victory, you absolutely positively cannot wait until you feel safe. Emotions don't have a brain. They are reactors. They may respond to truth, but they may also respond to lies with the same passion and conviction, sometimes more so. You must decide if you will trust the feeling or if you will trust the Truth."

"Along with the psalmist I can sing of stillness and of knowing that the Lord, he is God. (see Psalms 46). God does not say 'be still and feel like I am God." He says be still, cease striving, make space...and know. Know it as sure as oxygen and gravity. We have a fortress, a refuge, a safe place. His name is Jesus."

Emotions flounder and change, but Jesus is our Rock. We can trust him always, he never changes. He alone is enough.

I also love this quote from Matthew Henry:

"When I cannot feel the faith of assurance, I live by the fact of God's faithfulness."

If you get anything out of this book I hope it would be that you really believe, in the depth of your soul, that you are FREE in Christ. That He paid the price in full on the cross and you can rest in Him. Emily says here:

"I could pray for five minutes or for two days and I would still be as righteous as I would be had I not prayed at all. But the amazing reality is that now that I know I am righteous in Christ, there is new motivation to spend time in intimate communion. You and I can now go to Him in freedom and joy, not to gain favor but because we already have it."

I am thankful I was able to read this book and thankful to the Lord for using Emily Freeman to speak to my heart. :)

There were so many powerful quotes in this book. I thought I'd end this post sharing a few of them:

"It isn't me doing work for God, but it is me trusting God to do the work in me."

"If I am trying to please God, it is difficult to trust God. But when I trust God, pleasing him is automatic."

"The law says obey. Grace says believe and obedience will follow."

"There is no other hope but the truth of Christ in you."

Further reading: This book reminded me of a couple of books I've recently read. One being Mark Hall's 'The Well' which talks about coming to Jesus as our source of life. 
You can read my thoughts here: The Well

And Andrew Murray's book 'The True Vine' which goes into depth on John chapter 15 where Jesus teaches he is the vine and we are the branches and that all life comes from Him.

"You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 

Abide in Me, and I in you. 

As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

 I am the vine, you are the branches. 

He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."           John 15:3-5

Buy it HERE on Amazon

March 11, 2012

Mosaic: Pieces of My Life so Far

Amy Grant has always had a special place in my heart. Her records were the first ones I bought as a teen. While most teenagers were listening to the top 40 on the radio, I was listening to Amy's songs on my record player. Listening to them over and over and over. Songs like 'Old Man Rubble,' 'What a difference you made in my life,' 'My Father's eyes,' 'In a Little While' and 'El Shaddai.' I still know every song by heart. :)

This autobiography is filled with short stories from her life, poems she has written and lyrics of her songs. Some chapters explain how a song came to be, others about her experiences with her children, friends, family and also her journey with the Lord.

I love that Amy writes her own songs. In one chapter she writes about the sweet innocence of her little ones and the precise things they have said. (That's the one thing I miss the most about my kids now that they are grown...those precious and silly things they would say that seemed to come out of nowhere.)

Her children inspired her to write this song. It's one of my favorites.

Baby Baby

Baby baby
I'm taken with the notion

To love you with the sweetest of devotion

Baby baby
My tender love will flow from
The bluest sky to the deepest ocean

Stop for a minute
Baby, I'm so glad you're mine,
You're mine

Baby baby
The stars are shining for you
And just like me I'm sure that they adore you

Baby baby
Go walking through the forest
The birds above a' singing you a chorus

Stop for a minute
Baby, they're so glad you're mine
And ever since the day you put my heart in motion
Baby I realized that there's just no getting over you

Baby baby
In any kind of weather
I'm here for you always and forever

Baby baby
No muscle man could sever
My love for you is true and it will never

Stop for a minute
Baby, I'm so glad you're mine
And ever since the day you but my heart in motion
Baby, I realize that there's just no getting over you

In another chapter she talks about restlessness and how we sometimes just need to be alone with God. She says here:

"Sometimes I crave a kind of connection with nature, with myself, with God that I don't know how to achieve. The absence of it makes me feel caged up inside I can't sit still. I can't listen well."

She goes on to talk about an evening she went up to their cabin with her daughters to get away and try to find some peace, but she continued to feel antsy. She decided to go for a walk, then looked up and there she saw the beauty of God's creation lighting up the sky. She began to feel it's calming effect. Gratitude filled her and she started to dance in her bare feet, silently thanking God for everything in her life.

                            "Let them praise his name 
                             with dancing 
                             and make music to him 
                             with tambourine and 
                             For the Lord takes delight
                             in his people
                             He crowns the humble with
                             salvation"  Psalm 149:3-4

I thought this was beautiful. Sometimes we just need to be somewhere quiet and give ourselves completely to the Lord in thankfulness and praise. And there's no better place then outside surrounded by His creation. She ends the chapter with this:

"Later, walking back to the cabin, it occurred to me that I should do a little more stretching to stay limber so I can pray wordlessly in the moonlight when I'm ninety." :)

I really enjoyed getting to know Amy Grant a little bit through her book. If you are a fan of her music I think you may enjoy it too.

March 7, 2012

I've Been Tagged!

I've been tagged by Faye over at labor not in vain and also by Holly from Shelf Life Thanks for including me Faye and Holly!

The rules are simple. If you are tagged, post 11 random things about yourself. Answer the questions I (the tagger) asked you, then create 11 new questions for the people you tag.

I'm going to skip the 11 things about myself this time and just answer Faye and Holly's questions. 

Here are the 11 questions Faye asked me and my answers:

1. If you had one superpower what would it be? And how would you use it? For good or awesome?

Not sure, maybe have the power to produce food and clean water from nothing. Then feed the hungry.

2. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

ENGLAND...My mom was born in England and came to Canada when she was sixteen. So I'm 50% English! I've read alot of books on England and would love to someday visit those places I've read about.

3. Facebook or a real book?

A real book for sure!

4.  Ever eaten a Turducken?

Never heard of it, so no. :)

5. What book do you love, but wouldn't want made into a movie?

I loved Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I heard that it was in the works to be made into a movie, but I'm a little skeptical. It was such a powerful and moving novel. I would hate to see it's depth not captured.

6. What traditional Christian Hymn is your favorite?

I grew up on hymns so that's a hard one! I'd say Amazing Grace, The Old Rugged Cross, Great is thy Faithfulness and It is Well with my Soul are some favorites of mine. As a kid, I always loved it when we sang these songs in church  acappella. But I also love this remake of It is Well with my Soul  by Kutless:

7. If you could bring one person, one book, and one snack food to a deserted island, who and what would you bring?

Well I'm not sure who I'd bring, depends on my mood. :) Do I want to go to relax, or to explore the island or to just be silly and have fun? This would be three different people! The book I'd bring would probably be "Pride and Prejudice" because it's my favorite novel and I've been meaning to read it again. And snack food would have to be chocolate!

8.  What is your favorite pastime? 


9. If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be? 

 Unkind words spoken in haste

10. If you could see one inspirational speaker live this year, who would it be?

I would love to hear Francis Chan speak. I loved his books, Crazy Love, Forgotten God and Erasing Hell. He seems like such a genuine and sincere person who loves the Lord.

11. And if you could have either a bar of chocolate or a cup of coffee, which one would you choose?

Since I don't like coffee, this question is easy, I'd choose chocolate.  :)

Here are the 11 questions Holly asked me and my answers: 

1. What is the number one place you want to visit more than any other?


2. If you could live in any era, what time period would you live in, and why?

I love the simplicity of life during the late 1800's, the life Laura Ingalls Wilder lived. But I'd miss my washer and dryer!

3. What book would you love to see become a movie?

I love period dramas so any of Julie Klassen's books would be lovely to watch as a movie.

4. Do you prefer to travel by plane, car, ship, or train?

Car, you get to see so much more. 

5. What is your favorite memory?

Some of my favorite memories would have to be from our family's trip to Disneyland  seven years ago. Our kids were so excited and we had so much fun!

6. Do you prefer the city or the country?

COUNTRY! I don't like crowds, prefer the solitude of God's creation. :) 

7. What are the top three songs on your iPod or mp3 player?

The Way by Jeremy Camp
Wedding Day by Casting Crowns
Your Hands are Cold from the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack  

8. Is there a movie or book you will never get tired of reading or watching?

Pride and Prejudice...hands down 

9. Who is your all-time favorite character, and why?

Mr. Darcy...I've always related to him because I'm an introvert and a quiet person and often been misread because of it.

10.  What was your favorite required reading novel in school?

To kill a mockingbird..awesome book 

11. Who was your favorite teacher?

I took 'Latin' for three years in high school and that teacher was my favorite. He also taught me 'Western Civilization.' He really loved what he taught and I think that makes a huge difference.

My 11 Questions:

Would you rather go for a run or a walk?
What is your favorite movie?
Do you have a pet?
What book in the Bible has moved you the most?
What is your favorite meal?
If you could go back in time to live, what period would you choose and why?
Do you enjoy watching sports? If so whats your favorite?
Country or City Girl?
What kind of music do you enjoy the most?
Beach or Mountain Vacation?
What author has influenced you the most in your christian walk and why?

Ladies I've Tagged:

Jessica at Bookingit
Cheryl at The Power of Story
Kara at My Thoughts and Book Reviews
Robin at Laughtershock
Michelle at Sweet Treats and Inspiration
Mom to 8 at momto8blog
Susan at Steps
Jessica at Jessica R. Patch
Marji at Faith-Driven Fiction
Brooke at i blog for books
Anne at Stuff & Nonsense