Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Embrace Me by Lisa Samson

This is an out of the ordinary read. The characters are an interesting bunch - a tattooed monk, a scarred woman, a woman born with no limbs, a high power politician and many others. Little by little you learn about the losses and heartaches of these quirky individuals. They each have valuable lessons to learn and teach throughout the book about forgiveness, love, and reconciliation. The chapters alternate presenting information from different perspectives and time frames. It sounds confusing, but its really easy to follow since each chapter is marked telling the reader who is speaking and in what year.

One thing I enjoyed about this book was "knowing" a few of the minor characters from reading Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson. The material shared in Will and Lisa Samson's book - Justice in the Burbs is also presented in this novel. If you haven't read either of those books, I highly recommend them.

As the lessons of Embrace Me became plain I couldn't help but think of a dear friend of mine who gave up the luxuries of this world to serve others. She and her husband have traveled to third world countries and now live in the inner city of Chicago learning, loving, and sharing with their neighbors. They are an inspiration.

Who can you love and/or forgive today?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

This is a painful novel - a retelling of the biblical story of Hosea and Gomer. It was challenging to read because it's my story and it's your story. The details may vary from person to person, but we are all: Sarah, Angel, Mara, Amanda…, etc. We have all suffered pain as a result of sin and we have all made choices that have ultimately hurt ourselves, others, or both. Many times the pain we have endured has tried to block out the light of God's love, but HIS love is unconditional and unstoppable - nothing can take away the reality of HIS love - NOTHING. God sent HIS only Son, Jesus to pay the penalty for my sins and your sins and then He lovingly welcomes us in HIS embrace. Even though we reject HIM he rescues and loves us. Read this book and experience HIS amazing love anew.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright

Yesterday, my friend, Cheryl loaned me a short, inspirational novel that has the potential to change lives.

The back cover says:

"Hope Jensen is a young, single woman and an aspiring newspaper writer, and when she receives a much-needed by anonymous Christmas gift, she's determined to find her benefactor. That search leads her to an unusual family with a longstanding Christmas tradition. Sensing a front-page feature article, Hope desperately wants to publish their story, but doing so would be a breach of trust. What she decides to do will change her life forever."

Everything falls together with ease unlike it does in the lives of those around me, but it is a tender story of love at close to its finest. This story gives the reader an opportunity to continue the tradition shared thereby continuing to change lives. Learn about Christmas miracles at the book's website.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Christian Acts of Kindness

This book is a quick read that is full of simple acts of kindness. The stories shared show that kindness doesn't have to be random, but can be a way of life. As Christians we want to do what Christ would do... would HE take the time to help a person in need? of course HE would. Sometimes in this busy world that we are traveling through we can get preoccupied with our own goals and forget about the needs of others. We must remember that our time here is temporary, but the compassion we show to others can have eternal dividends. This book encourages the reader to treat all people with kindness - not just those we determine are deserving of our kindness and love. Helen Keller once said: "I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do." What can you do? What will you do to bring glory to our Heavenly Father by loving HIS children?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker

I thought I'd be silly and share a book, my son and I read last night with enthusiasm. Bear goes to great extremes to discourage visitors. The book jacket describes it a "slapstick comedy of manners." It is a cute book that parents and children alike will enjoy. Repetition is used which is helpful to early or pre-readers. If you are looking for a fun book to enjoy with your little one check your local library for this amusing book.

If your child is up for some discussion you could talk about how the characters might have felt at different times during the story. You could also ask your child what he or she might have done differently if they were bear or mouse. Reading is incredible even at this level :)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

50 Days of Heaven by Randy Alcorn

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11

50 Days of Heaven by Randy Alcorn is a small taste of his book Heaven. His website describes it this way:

“If you've always thought of Heaven as a realm of disembodied spirits, clouds, and eternal harp strumming, you're in for a wonderful surprise! God has put eternity in our hearts. Now Randy Alcorn brings eternity to light in 50 inspiring and thought-provoking mediations that will forever change the way you think about the spectacular new universe that awaits us!”

It’s written in a daily dose format, which makes it easy to read or discuss in a small group setting. Randy gives a beautiful glimpse of what heaven could be. We don’t know for sure if all the things we hope for will be in heaven, but we do know that Jesus promised to go and prepare a place for us and it will definitely be more incredible than the best place on earth.

Randy pointed out, “Tragically, many Christians store up most of their treasures on Earth. So every day that moves them closer to death moves them farther from their treasures. They end up backing into eternity, heading away from their treasures, clinging to a fallen world that hasn’t been especially kind to them.”

Last summer I took the book with me when I went to visit my family and my grandmother read the book during my week visit. She loved it and said that it gave her a hunger for heaven. I must agree. Randy shared this: “Do you ever feel like you have passed your peak? That your best days are behind you, and what’s ahead is all in decline? If you know Jesus, you are not past your peak. In fact, the further you drop from your earthly peak, the closer you get to Heaven. Death is the doorway to see Christ, who has defeated death and will swallow it up. Therefore, paradoxically, to be headed toward death is to be headed in the right direction.”

If we spend time thinking of the promise of heaven it will encourage us to become more like Jesus and to let go of some of our earthly endeavors. In his book Randy said, “When I meditate on Jesus and my future in Heaven, sin is unappealing. It’s when my mind drifts from that person and that place that sin seems attractive. Thinking of Heaven leads inevitably to pursuing holiness. Our high tolerance for sin testifies to our failure to prepare for Heaven.”

I encourage you to read this book or if you have more time read Heaven. Don’t forget to stop by Randy’s blog and leave a comment on his post regarding the Heaven book giveaway and you will and have a chance to win the book. The deadline to enter the Heaven giveaway is Friday, April 25, and three randomly drawn winners will be announced in a blog post on Monday, April 28.

"Heaven should affect our activities and ambitions, our recreations and friendships, and the way we spend our money and time. If I believe I'll spend eternity in a world of unending beauty and adventure, will I be content to spend all my evenings playing video games or staring at games shows, sitcoms, and ball games? Even if I keep my eyes away from impurities, how much time will I want to invest in what ultimately doesn't matter?"

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Book Giveaway - Running on Empty and Looking for the Nearest Exit by Annie Chapman

Digging for Pearls recently stopped by my reading room to announce that she is doing a book giveaway - Running On Empty And Looking For The Nearest Exit by Annie Chapman. I’ve never heard of the book, but the title sounds intriguing. If you would like to chance win the book, leave a comment on her blog sharing the top ten struggles you face as a Christian woman and list your age. If you are uncomfortable sharing this information via her blog you can email your answers to her at

I'd also be interested in reading what your top struggles are as a Christian woman. I have a feeling we share many of the same issues. Feel free to leave comments here too.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Kay's Booklist from Books and Starbucks

Mel from Books and Starbucks has started a new reading blog and is co-authoring it with Kay from Loopdeloops. Kay has a list of 36 books that she would like to know whether you have read, if it's on your list to read, or if you need to know more about the book. Go to Mel's blog to read Kay's description of each of the books, see below to read my description or to find out that I know absolutely nothing about the book. I've decided not to add to her list (with a couple of exceptions where I mentioned a book that was similar to one she listed) at the moment, but probably will in both Mel's comments section and my comments later.

I bolded the books that I've read and italicized the books that I'd like to read, was too lazy to put the books I don't know about in all CAPS.

I'd love to know which books you think are must reads regardless of whether or not they are listed below - please share those with me on my blog.

1. In His Steps – Charles M. Sheldon – Excellent book I read as a teenager and later read the modern retelling, What Would Jesus Do? by Charles Sheldon’s great-grandson, Garrett W. Sheldon. The second was easier to read

2. The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom – I either read the book or watched the movie, can’t remember when I was a teenager.

3. Mere Christianity – C. S. Lewis – haven’t read it, but its on my list.

4. Pilgrim’s Progress -- John Bunyan – I think I read it as a teenager and have the children’s version for my kids.

5. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs – John Foxe – haven’t read it, not sure I will – maybe. A similar type book that wasn’t too difficult to read was Tortured for Christ by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of Voice of the Martyrs. I posted about this book on this blog.

6. The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis – Excellent book I read while in college. In the last year I read two similar books set in the modern day by Randy Alcorn - Lord Foulgrin’s Letters and The Ishbane Conspiracy. If the Screwtape Letters are too difficult for you to get into because of the time era, I think you will find Randy Alcorn’s work much easier to read. All three books are excellent. I made a mini post about Lord Foulgrin’s letters on this blog.

7. Christy -- Catherine Marshall – I’ve seen the tv series, but haven’t read the book.

8. Through Gates of Splendor – Elisabeth Elliot – haven’t read this one and don’t know anything about it.

9. Run Baby Run –Nicky Cruz -- I think I saw the movie when I was a teenager and may have read it too.

10. Hind’s Feet in High Places – Hannah Hurnard -- I thought it was a beautiful story.

11. Redeeming LoveFrancine Rivers -- Haven't read this one yet, but it’s on my list of books to read

12. The Debt – Angela Hunt -- I've read several of Angela Hunts and enjoyed them, but this one is still on my list of books to read.

13. The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis – I haven’t read them yet, but plan to with my children. I’ve seen two different versions of the movie.

14. Get Out of that Pit – Beth Moore – haven’t read this one, but its also on my list.

15. The Purpose Driven Life – Rick Warren -- I read this with my church, didn’t find anything profound, but I’m sure it can help people who need to know what the author is sharing. Its always good to be reminded of the basics. I read a similar book also with my church called The Power to Be Free: Discovering Life in the Spirit of Christ by Frank Moore. I liked the second one better, but it too was a lot of review.

16. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire – Jim Cymbala – Awesome books, I also read the second and third books in this series. Fresh Faith and Fresh Power. All INCREDIBLE!

17. The Prayer of Jabez – Bruce Wilkinson – I’ve read it.

18. The Pursuit of Holiness – Jerry Bridges – I haven’t read it but would like to know more, the title sounds good.

19. Phantastes – George MacDonald – Kay your description sounds interesting, I may look for it at my library.

20. Any biography of George Mueller – haven’t read any of his bios.

21. Any biography of D.L. Moody – haven’t read any, but I just might.

22. Any biography of Amy Carmichael – I’ve heard great things about her, but haven’t read her biography. Will put her books on my list.

23. A Severe Mercy – Sheldon Vanauken – I’ve never heard of the author or the book.

24. Heaven – Randy Alcorn – I haven’t read it, but it is definitely on my list. I’m hoping to read the children’s version with my kids if my library ever purchases it. I also read the condensed version – 50 Days of Heaven and really appreciated and enjoyed it.

25. The Practice of the Presence of God –Brother Lawrence – haven’t read this and don’t know anything about it.

26. Any biography of William Tyndale – haven’t read any.

27. Evidence That Demands a Verdict – Josh McDowell – Title sounds great, but I haven’t read it.

28. The Knowledge of the Holy – A.W. Tozer – I enjoy Tozer quotes – sounds like a good book.

29. This Present Darkness – Frank Peretti – I listened to this book while alone in a huge house in the woods with open windows when I was 22 years old– scared me to death, but I think I could handle it now better.

30. Twelve Hours One Friday – Max Lucado – I may have read it – not sure I’ve read many of Max’s books and enjoyed them.

31. The Bondage Breaker -- Neil T. Anderson – I have skimmed it and will probably read it someday.

32. The Case For Christ – Lee Strobel – I may own this book? Not sure, but if not I will most likely read it.

33. Left Behind – Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins – I read the entire series. I enjoyed the prequels best and the very last book. I also read the teen series.

34. The Jesus I Never Knew – Phillip Yancy – I haven’t read this one, but most likely will at some point.

35. The Book of God –Walter Wangerin Jr. – haven’t read it – need more info.

36. At Home in Mitford, (or any of the series) – Jan Karon – I haven’t read these books, but several women have told me how much they love the series.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Book Giveaway - Heaven by Randy Alcorn

Today Randy Alcorn announced the winners to March's book giveaway Heaven for Kids. See his blog to find out if you are a lucky winner.

April's giveaway is Randy’s comprehensive Heaven book. During April, Heaven will also be on sale at the EPM website for $14.99 (retail price is $24.99) and in honor of Mother’s Day, $7 from every copy sold will be specifically designated to a World Relief project for moms in Mozambique.

If you would like a chance to win a free copy of Randy's book Heaven, go to Randy’s blog on April 7 for more details.