Upcoming Reviews

Looks like I will be off my feet for a while, facing some unexpected surgery. My “vacation” could be anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks, depending on how complicated the procedure is. So I’ve decided that I will spend that time reading and writing! I have a reviews all set to share with my faithful readers. Some of these books are AWESOME! One in particular has made me think and brought me closer to God. Love it! Mixed in with the reviews will be some guest posts and interviews from the authors. I sure hope you enjoy them!

June Reviews–
Inside Story by Susan Paige Davis
Love Starts with Elle by Rachel Hauck
Why God Matters by Karina Lumbert Fabian and Deacon Steven Lumbert
Returning Injury by Becky Due

July Reviews–
When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton is Empty by Jackie M. Johnson
Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer

Have you written a book you need to have reviewed? Please let me know! I’d be happy to add you onto my schedule!

Lukewarm? NOT ME!

Lord, you know what is on my heart right now and the questions that I have in my mind. Please help me to say what I need to say, what You want me to say about this. Let my words reach the ears and hearts of those who need to hear them. I pray that what I write this evening will be a blessing to You above all else. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

In May 2008, Clay and Renee Crosse came to my church. Clay did a Friday night concert, mostly in the dark because of a blackout in the area that started about the time he began warming up. The next day, he and his wife led a Holy Homes Marriage Conference. It’s been two years, and that experience is something that is still in my mind. It was so nice, so freeing to be able to share with other couples who were going through some of the same struggles my husband and I faced.

One thing that I remember Renee saying, though I am sure I will not get the words exactly right, had to do with the way she dressed. She said she is always careful to wear tops that were not too low-cut and bottoms that were not too tight. She avoids clothing that is too reveling because she doesn’t want the way she dresses to cause someone else to sin. I don’t think she was saying that she is responsible for what someone else does. Rather, she wanted to be sure that she was influencing others in positive ways in every aspect of her life.

That has been on my mind a lot lately. In recent weeks and months, I’ve seen a lot of conflicting messages from Christians. While I don’t want to make any judgment on the relationship others have with Christ, I’ve not been able to help wondering if they understand how they appear to others.

These conflicts especially come up in the area of sex before marriage. In this day and age, it’s not at all an uncommon thing. But does that make it right?

I grew up knowing that sex was a sacred event, something to be shared only between a husband and his wife. Not that I always lived that. I always felt guilty about it, though. I knew that what I was doing was wrong, so I avoided God. For a while, I didn’t go to church at all. I felt like a hypocrite, standing there, singing praises and worshiping God, when I knew that I was not living a life He approved of.

Not everyone is like that, though. The attitude seems to be, “Hey, at least we are in love. The wedding is just a formality.” Recently, I’ve even heard the excuse, “We are engaged, so it is OK.” That comment led me to the story of the Birth of Christ. Mary was pregnant before her marriage, and it was such a disgraceful thing that Joseph was willing to leave her. It doesn’t make sense, at least not in my mind, that engagement would be “close enough” to marriage that God would be OK with the sex.

I don’t know. It’s late, and maybe I am not making any sense at all. It seems to me, though, that if we claim to be Christians, we need to act like it. Picking and choosing which parts of the Bible to obey and which to ignore is not Christianity. It is hypocrisy. It is lukewarm at best. Why that would be “best”, I don’t know. Jesus says He will spit out those who are lukewarm. I can’t speak for you, but I don’t like the idea of being spit out into the lakes of Hell. I want to burn up—with the love of CHRIST! I want to be so consumed by Him that everyone around me sees it.

Oh Lord, stoke the fire within me! Help me keep that fire burning bright. Let me be a light in this world for YOU. Father, I want those who see me to see You. I am not ashamed of You. I am not ashamed to share my love for You. Help me never to give off conflicting messages. Help my actions only bring others to you. Help me to never cause another to stumble by my words or actions.

Leaving Yesterday, by Kathryn Cushman

Leaving Yesterday

Alisa Stewart is living every mother’s worst nightmare.  Her oldest son, Nick, is dead.  Her middle child, Kurt, has become addicted to drugs.  Her husband has moved out of the family home.  She is now left alone to raise her youngest child, a pre-teen girls who doesn’t quite understand what is happening in her life.  When Kurt enters rehab, Alisa is sure God has answered her prayers and is bringing healing into the family.  Only a detective has started poking around, asking questions about a man in Kurt’s past.  He is soon showing up in unexpected places, always asking questions Alisa doesn’t want to answer.  She is determined to believe the best about her child.  When something incriminating is found in Kurt’s belongings, Alisa takes matters into her own hands.  But has her desperate act helped her son, or made things worse for him?

I her book Leaving Yesterday, Kathryn Cushman paints a beautiful picture of a mother’s inner struggle between the truth and protecting her young.  I was moved by Alisa situation, admiring her dedication and loathing her methods all at the same time.  There is a right way and a wrong way to handle every situation in life.  As a Christian, Alisa knew in her heart the right thing to do.  In her head, she was not convinced.  I love the way her struggles seem so real and the way that nothing is glossed over.

Cushman’s story made me consider my own life, my own children.  Would I risk everything for them—even if they did not deserve my sacrifice?  I don’t know.  But any book that makes the reader think is worth a second look.  And this one definitely gave me a lot to think about.

Happy Birthday, Sis!!

Yesterday, May 16, 2010, was the ??th birthday of a very important woman in my life, my sister Jennifer Anderson. Now, I don’t want you to think that I have a bad memory. I know what year she was born and I know how much older she is than I am. However, I don’t know how she would feel if I told the whole world her age. So in order to protect the innocent (or not so innocent, depending on what she remembers me doing to her when we were growing up!), I am using question marks for her age instead of numbers.

In all honesty, I have very few memories of Jen and I living under the same roof. I remember riding in the back of Dad’s blue truck, heading down to visit Grandma Marilene on her farm. The wind did some strange things to Jen’s hair, and she looked like she had a bird’s nest growing on her head. This annoyed me, for some reason, so I decided that I would “fix” it. Only when I went to hit her hair, I missed and slapped the eyeglasses right off her face. I remember that she worked at Meijer and would sometimes buy things that I thought were odd. Like a table and chair set. Why would she need something like that when she didn’t have her own home yet? And I remember when she bought her own TV and how special I felt when she would let me go into her bedroom to watch something.

I was probably a very annoying little sister to live with. I am sure there were times—likely a LOT of times—when she got tired of me hanging around and just being in her hair. Back then, I was doing it to annoy her. How could I be a good little sister if I wasn’t constantly trying to annoy my big sister? Looking back, though, I am glad for those times when I was able to “spy” on Jen. I learned a lot from her. And I have to say, my big sister is one very admirable woman.

From Jen, I learned how to be completely committed to my husband. Kevin is, well, he’s Kevin! I was 12 or so when they started dating, and I honestly don’t know what all the “problems” were. But I do remember Mom and Dad not being overly thrilled with the relationship. Seems like there were some arguments about it, but Jen never wavered. Was it love? Stubbornness? Probably a bit of both! But she knew what she wanted, and she knew that Kevin Anderson was the man God created for her to spend her life with. She didn’t let anything that anyone said keep them apart.

I’ve learned how to be a good parent from watching Jen. Oh, I don’t think I have her patience. Or if she isn’t patient, than I didn’t get the acting gene that she did! I’ve heard her lose her temper with her kids, but she’s never backed down. She and Kevin have high standards for their kids. They expect a lot out of them. More than that, though, they have an unending amount of love for those kids. (It has to be love—after having three sons, they went on to have a daughter. I have three sons and can’t imagine anything short of love for children that would cause me to add to the chaos of the house!) My nephews and my niece are not perfect, but they are good kids (gosh, I hope it is OK to call a 6-foot-5-inch tall 20-year-old a kid) who love each other, love their parents, and love God. Really, what more could a parent asked for?

As the mother of four, Jen has had her share of crisis moments in life. Between broken bones and stitches, there was a family joke that when the Andersons moved out of Jackson, the local hospital would go out of business. (Come to think of it, the hospital did recently undergo a name change. Coincidence???) Jen’s second son was once hit by a car while riding his bike—his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles helmet was cracked nearly in two. While pregnant with her third son, Jen slipped on the ice and broke her leg—the break required that pins and screws be inserted into her leg to hold it together. If my math is right, she had a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old to take care of, but was unable to be on her feet at all for quite some time. Probably the most trying crisis came when her 6-year-old daughter was dropped off at the wrong corner after school—when my niece crossed a much busier street than she was used to, she was hit by a van. Not only hit, but her leg was run over. Over the years, she has had more surgeries than I can count to repair the damage done to her leg that day. Through it all, though, Jen didn’t complain. I would have handled it all by curling up in a ball and allowing depression to take over. Not Jen. She stayed strong—for her kids, for her husband, and even for her parents. I know she relied on God and on her strong faith in His son to get her through those times. Another great lesson to learn from my sister.

Jen has also taught me about forgiveness, about generosity, and the importance of following a dream. If I keep telling all of the wonderful things Jen has taught me, I’ll never get anything else written!

Happy birthday, Jen. Wish I could reach from Michigan to Indiana to give you a hug. I love you. Thanks for being such an awesome sister.

Jennifer AndersonKevin Anderson

Faith and Forgiveness

Katrina L. Wampler's ON BUTTERFLY FAITH

The simple faith of a child—sometimes that is all that anyone has to cling to. After the disappearance of their three-year-old son and the collapse of their marriage, even that faith seems to flip away for Kevin and Marcia Johnson. Between the sadness, the anger, and the guilt, they forget even about the “butterfly faith” Kody often talked about: “a caterpillar goes in a dark place for a long time so he can be a beautiful butterfly one day. The caterpillar don’t know he’s gonna be a butterfly so he jus’ has to trust Jesus to take care of him. Dat’s butterfly faith” (page 200). The void in their hearts is so deep that they forget that, even in this difficult time, God is working out a plan for their lives. Can Kevin and Marcia remember their love for God—and for each other—before it is too late?

In her novel, On Butterfly Faith, Katrina L. Wampler paints a vivid picture of love and loss, of anger and redemption. Most of all, this story shows the amazing gift of forgiveness—when we learn to forgive ourselves, we can relate better to those around us.

This is the second of Ms. Wampler’s books that I have read. I must say, that it is also my favorite! This is a must read, in my opinion, especially if you are struggling with forgiveness in your life.

Highest Paid Moms

I turned on the computer this morning and a headline on Yahoo! News caught my attention. It was an article about the richest moms in the world, those who have attained—either from marriage, inheritance, or their own hard work and dedication—billionaire status. Not surprisingly, my name was not on the list. But when I looked at the dining room table, I realized something—my name should be counted among the richest Moms in the world.

OK, so my net-worth is unlikely to ever end in 6 or more zeroes. But there is more than one way to measure wealth.

My wealth shows itself in the ever-fresh vase of dandelions on the dining room table, in the hugs and kisses I am covered in before the boys walk out the door for school and then again as soon as they are home, and in the Kool-Aid-stained smiles flashed at me throughout the day and into the evening. It’s hard to deny my riches when I hear the sweet voice of my nearly three-year-old say, “I love you, o my Mommy” or when my six-year-old asks if he can read to me. Even my nine-year-old, who would probably be embarrassed beyond all measure to show his love for me in public, makes me feel like royalty when he sits beside me, resting his head on my shoulder, as we watch Jeopardy each night.

In the eyes of the world, am I a rich woman? Nah. Not that I care. The ladies in that article can keep their billions of dollars. I’d rather bask in the wealth of adoration these three little men in my home shower me with every day.

The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

The Apothecary's Daughter

Life in 18th century England offered very few opportunities for women, even for women as intelligent and capable as Lilly Haswell.  With her incredible memory and years growing up in her father’s shop, Lilly knows she could become a talented apothecary on her own.  If only society allowed women to hold such a position.  Instead, she helps her father as best as she can while taking care of a mentally challenged younger brother, dreaming about finding true love, and searching for the mother who abandoned the family years ago.

The Apothecary’s Daughter is full of drama and love, all set against a very realistic historical background.  Julie Klassen shows an amazing grasp of life in this time period.  I have to say that my favorite character throughout the book was Mary Mimpurse, Lilly’s best friend.  Hers was a tough life, and the way her story is told is brilliant.  While I had trouble getting into this story at first, I found the book was well worth reading.  It is very well-written and thought-provoking.