Book Review: The Heist

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The Heist: How Grace Robs Us Of Our Shame by Chris Durso (author bio here) is a brand new release.  Since grace has been a huge factor of my spiritual growth lately, I looked forward to reading it.

Unfortunately, I was left rather disappointed.

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The book was so full of anecdotes and illustrations that I frequently lost sight of the main points he was trying to make.  In addition, he frequently added artistic flair to Bible passages and came to applications that best case are not accepted by mainstream Christianity, and worst case are actually adding to Scripture’s words.  As a writer, I am all for trying to get into the reality of Scripture by imagining myself in the story, but it can be taken too far.

While the author did reference hell, there were also several points where I was wondering if he was alluding to a belief in universalism.

His main analogy was that of a heist…how Jesus stole our guilt, shame, and sin, paid our price, and now can receive all the glory that He deserves.  The author was so committed to this analogy, and referred to it so frequently, that it often felt as if he was trying to force his points to fit the analogy, rather than using the analogy to occasionally amplify a point.

While overall I had mostly critiques, there were definitely some parts that were encouraging and my heart needed to hear.  I appreciated the quote on page 132, “God isn’t waiting for you to finish punishing yourself before He restores you.”

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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From Mother to Mother – Miscarriage Book

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A few months ago I came across some books by Emily Long.  I purchased her book You are Not Alone: Love Letters From Loss Mom to Loss Mom and I have read through several portions.

Emily compiled letters written by moms who have had miscarriages.  It is beautiful and heart-felt.  Emily also has a book of letters from and to Dads, a book of her own journey through loss, and a journal to go through while processing loss.

I was browsing her web site and discovered that she was writing a second book of letters from and to mothers who have had losses. I wrote a letter to submit and found out last month that my letter was accepted for final publication.

The new book, From Mother to Mother, will be published on September 12 of this year!

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It will be a compilation of letters from woman who have lost children in early pregnancy, late pregnancy, or after birth.  I am excited to be a part of this and I hope that God will use our story to bring comfort to others and showcase His love.

There’s Nothing to See Here (Or – How I’ve Changed)

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I have been really wanting to get back into blogging.  I frequently have ideas for topics to explore in a post and I have a huge file with such a list.

Every time I sit down to write though, something stops me.  I think it’s mostly fear.

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Fear of what people will think.  Fear that I will disappoint people or shock people or hurt people.  Fear that people will think that I am a different person on my blog than I am in real life.  Fear that people will think I’m too vulnerable.  Fear that people will think that I am sinfully stuck in grief.  Fear that people will assume rude or untrue things about my parents or upbringing.

It’s a hard bondage to be in.  But I’m tired of being in that bondage to fear.  I just want to be me, a twenty something woman who is pursuing the Lord, and who doesn’t shy away from the bumps, bruises, questions, and doubts along the way.

So here is an attempt to do that.

I came across this blog post recently and loved it.  I was somewhat a follower of hers back in the day and I was excited to discover her current blog.  The part that stood out to me the most though was when she said, “There’s nothing to see here.”

I have changed a lot over the years.  It’s true.  I have asked questions and re-evaluated what I believe on so many issues….how I dress, the music I listen to, parenting, marriage, divorce, gender, tattoos, vaccinations, healthy living, legalism, 4 letter words, homeschooling, hair color, body piercings, body image, the Bible itself, the character of God, homosexuality, dating/courting, etc.

On some of those issues, I have changed completely from what I used to believe.  On some I have changed slightly.  On some I haven’t changed at all.  I think you would be hard pressed to find any person who has not changed quite a bit over the last decade or more.

I know some probably look at me and see a completely different person than I was 10, 15 years ago.  And I have a lot of fear of man there.  I fear that people will think I’m just running as far away as I can from what I used to believe.  I fear that people will think that I am discarding the Bible and cherry-picking Bible verses to fit what I want to believe.

What people can’t see, though, is the years and years that literally went into each one of those issues.  I can’t think of a single issue that I didn’t pour hours and hours and years and years of thought, prayer, tears, and Bible searching into.  I haven’t changed willy-nilly.  I am not discarding the Bible, and I am taking care to hold my questions and beliefs (changing or unchanging) up to the light of God’s word.  I read from scholars, authors, and bloggers, on both sides of issues, to make sure I am grasping fully different “sides.”

There’s nothing to see here.  I am just a person who is trying to follow hard after God.  I am just a person who has learned that I would much rather be someone who has doubts and questions and takes them to God than a person who is comfortable with her beliefs and doesn’t continually hold them to Scripture. I am learning to hold many of my beliefs lightly, willing to see if I am in error.

And I feel awake!  Awake to God’s grace, His glory, His joy, His fullness.  I didn’t know if the light would ever shine this way again and I am continually thankful for the work He has done in my life.

I am currently going through Beth Moore’s Children of the Day devotional with a friend, and one of the sections this week was on the topic of being awake.  She was discussing 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6, and the part about being awake as children of the day.  She proceeded to describe what being awake is like.

“Then, blessed be the Name of the Lord, something wakes us up.  Maybe we’ll never be thankful for what shook us out of our slumber, but we can be thankful at least to feel wide-awake.

“Awake to the activity of God around us.

“Awake to His Word on the surface of that page.

“Awake to the lightning before before we hear the thunder.

“Awake to our present season.  Awake to our people.  Awake even to our pain lest it end up meaning nothing…..

“To be awake is to still have questions and not just tidy summations….

“To be awake is to still grapple with mystery….This is the paradox of the crucified life: to lose ourselves in Christ is to find our very lives.”

It is an incredible thing to be awake.  To be alive.  To be walking in dynamic movement in the power of God.  It is sobering.  And humbling.  And sometimes scary.  But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

So there’s no crazy story here.  The only thing here to see is the working of God and that is a pretty powerful thing to see.

 

Book Review: High as the Heavens

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It has been a while since I was this invested in a book!  I have stated before that I am a hard sell when it comes to fiction, but I must say this one definitely surpassed my expectations.

High as the Heavens, by Kate Breslin, is WWII historical fiction.  It follows the story of Evelyn Marche, a Red Cross nurse in Germany-occupied Brussels.  However, she also is an Allied spy.  With that comes missions, dangers, encrypted messages, etc.

I felt like I could barely put the book down.  It truly kept me on the edge of my seat.  While most books feel predictable and I can see the plot twists coming a mile away, this book kept surprising me.  I don’t think I accurately predicted any of the twists.  (Ok, I’ll give myself credit…I got one twist half right. 😉 )

The other thing I appreciated is how the author didn’t make the main character just a sweet, nice, perfect little main character.  Eve had some very troubling things in her background that she had to work through.  It was very sobering but it kept the book real.

My only complaint is that the last several chapters as the author wrapped everything up did seem to fly by too quickly.  After being so invested for so long, it would have been nice to have more of a wrap-up.

However, all in all, I loved this book and I will definitely be recommending it to others!

Note: I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for this review.

Book List – April through June

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These months have not been so great as far as reading!  April was awesome, since our library had a adult reading program that I participated in.  But May and June slowed down drastically.  I am currently in the middle of four books and about to start another, however, so hopefully I can pick up the pace again in July. 🙂

-April-

Is the Bible Good for Women? by Wendy Alsup

Feelings Buried Alive Never Die by Karol K. Truman

The Shoe Box by Francine Rivers

The Red Geranium by Janette Oke

The Journal of C.J. Jackson: A Dust Bowl Migrant by William Durbin

Unashamed by Francine Rivers

Hope for the Same-Sex Attracted by Ron Citlau

Unspoken by Francine Rivers

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

-May-

Talking with God by Adam Weber

Black by Ted Dekker

June

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Book Review: Talking with God

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Talking with God is an easy-to-read book about prayer.  Written by Adam Weber (author bio here), it is comprised of short chapters and chatty, colloquial language.  While that might make it difficult for some readers to get through it, that does not lessen the meaning or message.

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The first half of the book discusses how to talk with God and acknowledges that most likely all people, laymen and pastors alike, have struggled with prayer at some point or even for a lengthy period of time.  Couched in that framework of “we’re all in this together,” the first few chapters discuss praying as to a friend, honest conversation with God, trusting in God’s love, etc.

Those chapters were very basic and I was tempted to dismiss them.  But then I remembered the importance of those truths, and I kept reading.  And I’m glad I did.  The second half of the book went into how to pray during various life situations.  For example, the author discussed how to pray when you face storms, when you’re discouraged, when you’re exhausted, when you want to be used by God, etc.

In those chapters, I found some nuggets that I really needed to hear.  Again, it was written simply, but sometimes I think simple is better.  There were no fancy words, no deep theological treatises.  Just simple unvarnished truth.

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

When Mother’s Day Hurts

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Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I had been debating all week whether or not I would post anything.  Better bloggers than I have written so many great posts the past couple weeks.

I wanted to share a few quick thoughts before leaving you with a couple of the best posts I saw this week.

You know the main reason I didn’t post anything?  Because in my mind I already heard the negative push-back.  “Just trust God that this is His plan for you.”  “At least you have a son!  Why are you sad today?” etc.  Those comments are really hard to hear and deal with, and I imagine I might be blogging about that in the future.  But then I thought about my readers who are hurting right now.  Who had a hard time yesterday on Mother’s Day.

I want you to know that I see you.  That I thought of you yesterday and today and all my tomorrows.

I thought of you…..the woman with no living children but with one or two or eleven children in heaven.

I thought of you…the woman with one or more living children but grieving the unique individuals who are gone forever but are living in heaven.

I thought of you…the woman who is fostering or adopting.

I thought of you…the woman who has one or all of her children married and away from home.

I thought of you…the woman who is strained or estranged from her mother.

I thought of you…the woman who has a child who is in a dark place and walking far from safe paths.

I thought of you…the woman who is struggling with primary or secondary infertility.

I thought of you…the woman who is a single mom and never catches a break.

I thought of you…the woman with lots of littles who feels like she is running herself ragged.

I thought of you…the woman who, if you are anything like me, experienced about a thousand different emotions yesterday and probably went from being thankful to being angry to being resigned to grieving and back to thankful….and then repeating that process multiple times throughout the day.

And you know what?  There is a tension there that I cannot describe.

It is possible to have unspeakable joy in one hand and unbearable pain in the other hand.  It is possible to join those hands together, to clasp them, to hold them at once.  You can be, at the same time, exquisitely thankful and yet feeling like your heart is being ripped out of your chest.

The tension in that is a strange one.  And I don’t fully understand how it works.  But it does.  And sometimes, instead of beating myself up over supposedly not trusting God enough, I need to recognize and rest in the fact that it is a tension.  Life is amazing and awful at the same time.  God did not create us to only have good feelings, to only feel joy and peace, the “spiritual” feelings.  Sometimes the spiritual feelings are pain and anguish and wrestling.  (See David, Hannah, Jeremiah, etc)

If you’re in the middle of that tension…I get it.  Your heart will always be in two places at once.  Joy and sorrow are not mutually exclusive.  When they intertwine, it is just a reminder to take those things to the lap of Jesus and rest.

And if you made it through all of that, here are those blog posts I was telling you about.  It’s called Helping Women Hold Both Joy and Sorrow on Mother’s Day.  Another great one is When Mother’s Day Feels Like A Minefield.