April 30, 2013

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking

If you are an introvert like me, this book will encourage you, and if you are an extrovert it may help you understand us introverts a little better.


Here are 20 questions to see if you are introverted or not. The more yes's you answer the more of an introvert you are.

1. I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.

2. I often prefer to express myself in writing.

3. I enjoy solitude.

4. I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame, and status.

5. I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me.

6. People tell me that I'm a good listener.

7. I'm not a big risk-taker.

8. I enjoy work that allows me to 'dive in' with few interruptions.

9. I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members.

10. People describe me as 'soft-spoken' or 'mellow.'

11. I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it's finished.

12. I dislike conflict.

13. I do my best work on my own.

14. I tend to think before I speak.

15. I feel drained after being out and about, even if I've enjoyed myself.

16. I often let calls go though to voice mail.

17. If I had to choose, I'd prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled. 

18. I don't enjoy multitasking.

19. I can concentrate easily.

20. In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars. 

Here are 4 points from the book I'd like to share about introverts. Hopefully they will help extroverts to understand us introverts a bit better.

Four Important Points

Firstly, we are not hermits. : )

The author says here:

"A few things introverts are not: The word introvert is not a synonym for hermit or misanthrope. Introverts can be these things, but most are perfectly friendly...Nor or introverts necessarily shy. Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful, introversion is not."

As an introvert I can become overwhelmed in a large crowd of people and retreat, but this doesn't mean I'm shy. If someone approaches me to talk I'm very happy to interact. I love one-on-one dialog. I feel I can listen better and that I'm heard better.

Secondly, introverts express themselves well through writing.

The author states here:

"Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read, to say that they can express the 'real me' online, and to spend more time in certain kinds of online discussions. They welcome the chance to communicate digitally. The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall to two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships into the real world."

I can relate to this. I feel I can express my true self better in writing than in speech. I think that may be because introverts need to process what they say before saying it, it's easier to think it over and then write it down.

Thirdly, introverts need alone time to recharge.

We really enjoy our alone time.

At one point in the book, Susan interviews a little 8 year old girl who is an introvert. I loved this so much, because I was that little girl so long ago. The little girl says here:

"I need a break after school,' she told me later. 'School is hard because a lot of people are in the room, so you get tired. I freak out if my mom plans a play date without telling me, because I don't want to hurt my friend's feelings. But I'd rather stay home. At a friend's house you have to do things other people want to do. I like hanging out with my mom after school because I can learn from her. She's been alive longer than me. We have thoughtful conversations. I like having thoughtful conversations because they make people happy."

If you think you may have an introverted child please listen to them. They just need some quiet time at home after school to recharge and they just want to be with you one on one.

Fourthly, the effect of being raised in the Evangelical church as an introvert

I was happy to read her interview with introverted pastor, Adam McHugh, which is the author of the book, Introverts in the Church: Finding our Place in an Extroverted Culture

Susan quotes McHugh here:

"The evangelical culture ties together faithfulness with extroversion," McHugh explains. "The emphasis is on community, on participating in more and more programs and events, on meeting more and more people. It's a constant tension for many introverts that they're not living that out. And in a religious world, there's more at stake when you feel that tension. It doesn't feel like 'I'm not doing as well as I'd like', It feels like 'God isn't pleased with me."

This interview really got to me. I was raised in a very extroverted large charismatic church and all my siblings and my mother are extroverts. I was surrounded! : ) (Thank the Lord my dad is an introvert too) I can't emphasize enough how growing up in this environment affected me, I still struggle with it. Is God happy with me if I'm not so involved and always meeting and greeting new people? Where do quiet people fit into a world of loud evangelism?

As a quiet person in a world of endless chatter this verse has always brought comfort to me:

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward--arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel, rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God." 
                                                                                1 Peter 3:3-4



These are just bits and pieces that spoke to me while reading this book. There is so much more to it and I recommend reading it. Some of this book did drag on with endless statistics and experiments, but I loved the stories she shared. Stories from introverts like Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt. These I could relate to. These stories were encouraging.

If anything this book will help you embrace who you are, introvert or extrovert. Both these groups are full of great people who have something wonderful to offer the world.

Buy it HERE on Amazon




April 26, 2013

if

something I am asked to do for
        another feels burdensome;
if, yielding to an inward unwillingness,
        I avoid doing it,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
                                    
                                          Amy Carmichael


April 25, 2013

The Value of Fiction

I read this article by Russell D. Moore, a few days ago and thought I'd share the link here today.

It's a post about the value of reading fiction.


I loved how he explained how important story telling is and how Jesus told stories to get his message across.

Good fiction does this also.

Hop on over to his blog and then, if you like, let me know what you think.

Link:  Why Christians should read fiction 

April 22, 2013

The Power of Scripture

I love hearing how people have come to Christ, and more often than not I find God brings Scripture alive to do it.


These four stories I'm about to share are of:

-Augustine of Hippo
-Josiah Henson
-A.W. Tozer
-Mosab Hassan Yousef

Each of their stories moved me as I read about the power of Scripture that moved them.


                                                         Augustine of Hippo (354AD-430AD)


Augustine of Hippo was born in Africa over 1600 years ago and yet his story is so relatable to today.

A man self absorbed and mixed up in a cult of self indulgence and philosophy, he lived a life very similar to many today. He loved the theater, he loved music and he loved sex. They were his idols. Immorality was art to him. He self-indulged himself into these things and lived a life that looked cool and hip on the outside but sinful and destructive on the inside.

...But Augustine had a praying mother. She prayed for over 30 years for her son to lay down his life and receive the love of Christ.

I loved reading Augustine's Confessions A book written like a love letter to God . It's was so beautiful.

When God first begins to stir a heart there is always a struggle with the flesh. Augustine was no different. As God stirred his heart he fought with all he had to put Him off.

Augustine had been closely studying the Scriptures at this time, trying to get what he could out of it, but unwilling to give up his lifestyle, unwilling to give himself fully to God. One day he and a friend visited with another who was a Christian. This man shared his story and Augustine's heart was stirred.

He says here:

"While Pontician was telling this story, you, Lord, used his words to wrench me around to front myself, dragging me out from behind my back, where I had cowered to avoid seeing myself, and 'planting me in front of my own face,' where I could see the foul me, how distorted and dirty, how spotted, how ulcerous. The sight revolted me, but there was no escaping it - each time I tried to turn my gaze away from me, he went on with his story; and you kept holding me there, thrusting me into my own face, so I might 'look on my sinfulness and learn to hate it.' I had known of it before, but I kept obscuring, giving in, not remembering."

His inner turmoil carried him into the garden. and he later writes:

...I, in my hesitation over whether to serve the Lord at last, as I had long been disposed to do, was the same man willing as was nilling, both were me. For my willing was as halfhearted as my nilling. I was at war within, was exiled from myself. My exile was unwelcome to me, caused not by a second nature in me but by the cost of sin. For it was 'no longer I that acted but the sin within me,' my lot as Adam's son, and the price of his freely sinning."

He began to cry and says here:

"I was carrying on so, crying acrid tears of 'heart's contrition,' when I heard from a nearby house the voice of a boy - or perhaps a girl, I could not tell - chanting in repeated singsong: 'Lift! Look!' My features relaxed immediately while I studied hard as I could whether children use such a chant in any of their games. But I could not remember ever having heard it. No longer crying, I leap up, not doubting that it was by divine prompting that I should open the book and read what first I hit on."

Here is what he turned to and read:

"Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh."  Romans 13:13-14

He then writes:

"The very instant I finished that sentence, light was flooding my heart with assurance, and all my shadowy reluctance evanesced."

He went to share with his friend who pointed out the next verse in Romans 14:1

"Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters." 

Many people struggle with their faith. God says accept them, encourage them, love them. And that is what happened to Augustine.

He then went straight to his mother and she rejoice with him.


                                                                Josiah Henson (1789-1881)


Josiah Henson was the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's book, 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' He was born a slave and lived as a slave until he escaped to Canada in his 40's. His story is extraordinary, he shares it in his autobiography simply called, Autobiography of Josiah Henson; An Inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom

Growing up his mother often spoke of God, but it wasn't until she encouraged him to go listen to Mr. McKenny preach, that God spoke to his heart. He was 18.

He says here:

"Well I went to the meeting, I heard the preacher, but I could not see him. 

They would not let Negros go into the meeting. I went all round the house; I could hear him, and at last I got in front of the door. I saw him with his hands raised, looking up to heaven, and he said, with emphasis: 'Jesus Christ, the Son of God, tasted death for every man; for the high, for the low, for the rich, for the poor, the bond, the free, the negro in his chains, the man in gold and diamonds.' 

His heart was filled with the love of Christ, and by the power of the Spirit of God he preached a universal salvation through Jesus Christ. I stood and heard it. It touched my heart, and I cried out: 'I wonder if Jesus Christ died for me.' And then I wondered what could have induced Him to die for me. 

I was then eighteen years old, I had never heard a sermon, nor any conversation whatever, upon religious topics, except what I had heard from my mother, on the responsibility of all to a Supreme Being. This was Hebrews 2:9, the first text of the Bible to which I had ever listened, knowing it to be such, I have never forgotten it, and scarcely a day has passed since, in which I have not recalled it, and the sermon that was preached from it."

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone" Hebrews 2:9

He goes on to say after hearing this and realizing that salvation was a gift to all:

"Oh, the blessedness and sweetness of feeling that I was loved! I would have died that moment with joy, and I kept repeating it to myself, 'The compassionate Savior about whom I have heard 'loves me,' He looks down in compassion from heaven on me,' 'He died to save my soul,' and 'He'll welcome me to the skies...'"

And then:

"...In sharp contrast with the experience I had felt of the contempt and brutality of my earthly master, I basked as it were, in the benign smiles of this Heavenly Being. I thought, 'He'll be my dear refuge - He'll wipe away all tears from my eyes.' 'Now I can bear all things; nothing will seem hard after this.' I felt sure that if 'Massa Riley' only knew Him, he would not live such a coarse, wicked, cruel life. Swallowed up in the beauty of the divine love, I 'loved my enemies, and prayed for them that did despitefully use and entreat me."

On his way home that day Josiah was so excited he went off the road into the woods and he says:

"...prayed to God for light and for aid with an earnestness, which, however unenlightened, was at least sincere and heartfelt; and which the subsequent course of my life had led me to imagine was acceptable to Him who heareth my prayer."

Hebrew 2:9 was preached that day and it changed Josiah Henson's life.


                                                                  A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)


There are all kinds of people in this world. Some are outspoken, some quiet, some carry burdens, some are light-hearted. I believe God can use them all. Here is a man who was quoted as saying...'I've lived a lonely life' and yet he shone the light of Christ into millions of peoples lives.

Aiden was not raised in a Christian home and when he gave his life to the Lord at the age of 17, he struggled in his faith because of this. But God had a plan and in His time he grew Aiden into who He created him to be.

God used a street preacher to first speak to Tozer.

I know street preachers are looked down upon these days, a popular pastor even made a video a few years ago mocking them. But where would so many be without them? Without men like John the Baptist, Paul of Taurus, George Whitefield, the Westley brothers and Billy Graham? They all preached the gospel in fields, along the road side and on the streets. Wherever they could find people who would listen.

In Lyle Dorsett's biography of Tozer, A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer  he says:

"He (Tozer) was walking alone and heard a street preacher proclaiming the Word of God. This encounter nudged him to wander into a nearby church. There, as Tozer remembered it, 'I heard a man quoting from a text:  

'Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.'   Matthew 11:28-29

'Actually,' he continued, 'I was little better than a pagan but with only that kind of skimpy biblical background, I became greatly disturbed, for I began to feel and sense and acknowledge God's gracious Presence. I heard His Voice - ever so faintly. I discerned that there was a Light - ever so dimly."

This stirred his heart, but it wasn't until a few days later when Tozer explains:

"Once again, walking on the street, I stopped to hear a man preaching at the corner, and he said to those listening: 'If you do not know how to pray, go home and get down and ask, 'God, have mercy on me a sinner.' That's exactly what I did."

Tozer went on to become a preacher himself and write many classic Christian books, one of my absolute favorites is 'The Pursuit of God' which I would recommend to everyone seeking a deeper relationship with God.


                                                       Mosab Hassan Yousef (1978-present ) 


Mosab is the son of a Hamas leader.

When I read his book, Son of Hamas I was taken aback by the love he and his father share for each other. I was expecting something totally different.

I instead read a story of a son who loves his father and whose father loves him. A father who Mosab says:

"...had always taught us to be open-minded and loving towards everyone, even those who didn't believe as we did."

Being taught this was what allowed Mosab to be open-minded about Christianity.

Moah started his Christian journey with an invitation to a Bible study. He was given a gift of a New Testament and he says...'Because gifts are honored and respected in Arab culture, I decided the least I could do was to read it."

Many things had happened to Moab up until this point, which you need to read his book to understand, but at this point in his life God began to reveal Himself to him through Scripture.

He says here of  reading the New Testament:

"I began at the beginning, and when I got to the Sermon on the Mount, I thought, Wow, this guy Jesus is really impressive! Everything he says is beautiful. I couldn't put the book down. Every verse seemed to touch a deep wound in my life. It was a very simple message, but somehow it had the power to heal my soul and give me hope. Then I read this:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 

that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.' Matthew 5:43-45

That's it! I was thunderstruck by these words. Never before had I heard anything like this, but I knew that this was the message I had been searching for all my life.

For years I had struggled to know who my enemy was, and I had looked for enemies outside of Islam and Palestine. But I suddenly realized that the Israelis were not my enemies. Neither was Hamas nor my uncle Ibrahim nor the kid who beat me with the butt of his M16 nor the apelike guard in the detention center. I saw that enemies were not defined by nationality, religion, or color. I understood that we all share the same common enemies: greed, pride, and all the bad ideas and the darkness of the devil that lives inside us.

That meant I could love anyone. The only real enemy was the enemy inside me."

He continues here:

"Five years earlier, I would have read the words of Jesus and thought, What an idiot! and thrown away the Bible. But my experiences with my crazy butcher neighbor, the family members and religious leaders who beat me when my father was in prison, and my own time at Megiddo had all combined to prepare me for the power and beauty of this truth. All I could think in response was, Wow! What wisdom this man had!

Jesus said,  'Do not judge, or you will be judged'   Matthew 7:1

What a difference between him and Allah! Islam's god was very judgmental, and Arab society followed Allah's lead...

...Everything Jesus said on the pages of this book made perfect sense to me. Overwhelmed, I started to cry.

God used the Shin Bet to show me that Israel was not my enemy, and now he put the answers to the rest of my questions right in my hands in the little New Testament..."

April 19, 2013

if

I say, "Yes, I forgive, but I cannot
        forget,"
as though the God,
    who twice a day washes all the
        sands on all the shores of all the
        world,
    could not wash such memories
        from my mind,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
                                      Amy Carmichael


April 17, 2013

5 books on my future reading list

An Accidental Life

When I read what this book was about, it really intrigued me, but I have a feeling it may be a little disturbing.  

Abortion is such a delicate subject.  

This story is based on true life events, which is sure to start many new conversations about the abortion process.

Goodreads says here:

"In a 1982 New Orleans courtroom the best kept secret in the world is about to unravel, and a young couple's jet set lives are about to change. Senior district attorney Peter Jacobs is facing the trial of a lifetime, a passionate, spiritual battle against an evil with far reaching consequences. His beloved wife Rebecca, a glamorous and driven partner at a major law firm, suddenly finds her life spun out of control and her new faith tested while facing a once in a lifetime choice.

New from lawyer-turned-novelist Pamela Binnings Ewen, An Accidental Life is fiction based on fact: the testimony of registered nurse Jill Stanek before a U.S. Congressional Committee confirming that it was routine for doctors in Chicago's Christ Hospital to have nurses take infants born alive during abortions down to a "soiled utility room" and leave them to die.

Stanek's testimony led Congress to enact the Born Alive Infant Protection Act of 2001, a federal-only law that still does not bind state run hospitals or private clinics. The fact remains that what happens to abortion survivors is one of the best kept secrets in the world."


This book comes out September 2013.



Pilgrimage: My Journey to Deeper Faith in the Land where Jesus Walked

Lynn Austin is an excellent fiction writer whose books are some of my favorites.

When I saw this personal autobiographic story was coming out, I just had to add it to my TBR pile.

Lynn says of what propped her to write this book:

"The opportunity to tour Israel came at a good time. For months, my life has been a mindless plodding through necessary routine, as monotonous as an all-night shift on an assembly line. Life gets that way sometimes, when nothing specific is wrong but the world around us seems drained of color. Even my weekly worship experiences and daily quiet times with God have felt dry and stale. I'm ashamed to confess the malaise I've felt. I have been given so much. Shouldn't a Christian's life be an abundant one, as exciting as Christmas morning, as joyful as Easter Sunday?"

How often do we feel this same way, but pretend we don't?

Goodreads describes the book here:

"With gripping honesty, Lynn Austin shares with readers a private and intimate look at her own struggles with spiritual dryness in a season of loss and unwanted change. As she journeys through Israel, Austin turns to Scripture at each site she visits. Then with a fiction writer's eye for detail, she seamlessly weaves events and insights from the Word as she finds hope, renewed faith, and a sense of direction for the future."

This book comes out in November of 2013. 
 


Love's Awakening

It's no secret I love Laura Frantz's lyrical writing and wonderful story-telling. 

This is the second book in her 'Ballantyne Legacy Series' and I can't wait to continue with this family's story.

Amazon describes it here:

"Ellie Ballantyne, youngest child of Silas and Eden, has left finishing school. But back at her family home in Pittsburgh, Ellie finds that her parents are away on a long trip and her siblings don't seem to want her to stay. When she opens a day school for young ladies, she begins tutoring the incorrigible daughter of the enemy Turlock clan. 

The Turlocks are slaveholders and whiskey magnates, envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly tangled with the Turlocks, she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future--and Jack Turlock, a young man striving to free himself from his family's violent legacy. How can she betray her family and side with the enemy? And will Jack ever allow her into his world?"

This book comes out in September of 2013.



The Power of Prayer in a Believer's Life

I love Charles Spurgeon.  I've read a couple of his books and was pleasantly surprised at how relevant they were since he wrote them back in the 19th century!

Prayer is something I deeply believe in as a Christian. There is power in prayer, not because of the act but because of the One we pray too.

Amazon describes this book here:

"While many factors have been highlighted that help explain the effectiveness of Spurgeon's preaching, the foremost secret that empowered Charles Spurgeon was his devotion to prayer. When people would walk through the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Spurgeon would take them to the basement prayer room where people were always on their knees interceding for the church. Then Spurgeon would declare, "Here is the powerhouse of this church. 

That statement is backed by the amazing number of sermons that Spurgeon preached on prayer. Spurgeon was a great believer and teacher in passionate, Holy Spirit-directed prayer. His word pictures of the majestic throne of grace that God calls believers to be privileged to come before is well worth the price of the book alone. You will be inspired and challenged in your prayer life, especially if you experience struggles in prayer."



Love is a Broken Vessel

This novel is a retelling of the Biblical story of Hosea and Gomer. Sound familiar? Yes, Francine Rivers did a retelling years ago in her novel Redeeming Love, but this novel is different in that it is actually set in the Biblical time period.

I love this story and can't wait to read Mesu's version. I've heard so many great things about it! If you are not familiar with this story here is Goodreads description:

"Hosea has been charged by God with a difficult task--marry a prostitute in order to show God's people the nature and depth of his love for Israel. When Hosea goes to Israel to proclaim God's message, the prostitute God tells him to marry turns out to be his childhood friend Gomer. He finds her broken and abused, unwilling to trust Hosea or his God. But when marrying Hosea becomes her only choice, Gomer does what she's good at--she survives. Can Hosea's love for God and God's love for Israel heal Gomer's broken spirit? 

With her potent combination of in-depth research and masterful storytelling, Mesu Andrews brings to life a complex and fascinating biblical story of the power of love and forgiveness in the face of utter betrayal."


April 15, 2013

Edenbrooke

If you are a romantic who loves Jane Austen then this post is for you. : )

I saw that author Julie Klassen had recommended this book on her Facebook page, so I decided to pick it up...I had no idea how much I would love it.


Instead of a traditional post, I thought I'd share ten things about this book instead. Ten things that won't spoil the story for you, but may make you want to run out and get it!

So here goes:

1. If you love Jane Austen, you'll love it too. : )

2.It only took me two days to read, I couldn't put it down.

3. The characters are wonderful. They were fun, witty, romantic and had a sense of humor. (I laughed out loud several times and teared up at other times.)

4. The scenery is descriptive and drew me in. I felt like I was in England.

5. It's set in one of my favorite time periods...early 1800's

6. It had just the right touch of adventure, mystery and intrigue.

7. A clean read with a loveable heroine and hero, who were true to themselves.

8. It was full of the beauty of the English countryside and the charm of a 17 year old girl.

9. The language is true to the time period without being overwhelming or hard to understand. (I admit I've used my dictionary a few times while reading Jane Austen.) 

10. I'm sad it's over, but if they make this into a movie...I think I may be the first in line. : )

Here's the first paragraph which drew me into the story right away...

Bath, England, 1816

"It was the oak tree that distracted me. I happened to glance up as I walked beneath its full, green canopy. The wind was tossing its leaves so that they twirled upon their stems, and at the sight I was struck by the realization that it had been much too long since I had twirled. I paused under the branches and tried to remember the last time I had felt the least need to twirl..."

Oh and one more thing...for some reason after reading this book, I feel like I could twirl. : )

Buy it HERE on Amazon or HERE for your Kindle


April 12, 2013

if

in the fellowship of service I seek to
      attach a friend to myself,
   so that others are caused to feel
      unwanted;
if my friendships do not draw others
     deeper in, but are ungenerous
     (i.e., to myself, for myself),
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

                                       Amy Carmichael

April 7, 2013

Compassion Sunday and Paulina

Paulina is a sweet six year old, who lives in Columbia, and needs a sponsor.

As part of the upcoming April 21 Compassion Sunday, I am happy to introduce you to Paulina and ask if you would like the opportunity to change her life by sponsoring her.

If you are interested, you can visit my Compassion page HERE where I share my Compassion story.

There you can also learn how to sponsor Paulina
Learn more about sponsoring a child.

 *COMPASSION'S MISSION: Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible fulfilled Christian adults.


I thought I'd leave you with a quote from J.R. Miller.

My 16 year old daughter bought his book 'Come Ye Apart' at a flea market a few years ago because it looked 'really cool' being over a hundred years old. She's been reading this devotional and told me she thought this guy was pretty wise. : )

For some reason last night she asked me if she could read one of the devotions to me. She chose April 6th. The devotion was called 'Faith seen in our works.'

Here's the quote from the end of the devotion:

"Praying for missions is right, but it is no acceptable substitute for giving if we are holding the Lord's money in our hands. God wants to see our faith."
                                                                                        J.R. Miller

April 6, 2013

Rescued: An Allegory

This was a very deep and meaningful short story. It reminded me a little of Pilgrim's Progress, with a twist...the main character is a girl. I found I could really relate to her and her struggles.

Very well done.

I randomly found this short e-book by Tracy L. Higley while searching books on my e-reader. Tracy is one of my favorite fiction authors so it was a no-brainier to download this one... and it was free!

It's described this way on Kobo:

"In an adventure reminiscent of the Christian life, one girl struggles to find her way out of the dungeon, beyond the perils of the journey, to the Kingdom that awaits. This short story, written as an allegory, includes six short chapters, with discussion questions for each section..."

This free e-book also includes the first three chapters of her new book, 'So Shines the Night.'

Here's a link... Kobo Books 

Since reading 'Pompeii' and 'Petra' which were both excellent, I've been eager to read more of Tracy's books. They are sitting on my bookshelf just asking to be read. The problem is I can't decide which one to read first! I've heard they are all so good!

Have you read Tracy's books? Which one was your favorite? Which one should I read next?

April 5, 2013

if

I feel bitterly towards those who
        condemn me,
      as it seems to me, unjustly,
forgetting that if they knew me
        as I know myself
     they would condemn me much more,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

                                     Amy Carmichael


April 2, 2013

Call the Midwife

I loved watching this BBC program and so decided to pick up the book.

What a great storyteller Jennifer Worth is. Having watched the show and been introduced to many of the characters in her life, the book came alive for me.

The stories are both heart-warming and heart-breaking. I also loved Jennifer's honesty about herself and how she grew as a person through her experiences as a midwife in the East End of London.

I found the love and care for each baby born, a beautiful thing to read.

One story in particular was of a premature baby, who Jennifer thinks is dead on delivery, thus placing him into a kidney dish and leaving him on the dresser. A short time later someone notices he's moving! The love and care taken to assure this baby's survival is extraordinary. Jennifer worries she may have drown the baby and feels, in her words,

"I felt desperately guilty. The cord should have been clamped five minutes earlier. If he dies now, it will be all my fault, I thought. I had discarded this tiny living soul to drown in a dish of blood and water. I should have looked more closely. I should have thought.

But wallowing in self-reproach gets us nowhere..."

She continues by clamping and cutting the cord, and wrapping him in a cloth. So small, like a doll. His head the size of a ping pong ball, yet everything was in place, his tiny hands and feet, tiny ears and eyes and nose.  This little boy was the 25th child (yes you read that right!) for his mother and father and they treated him as if he was their first. I just keep thinking as I read this story...God makes beautiful things.

Jennifer as a young midwife
Jennifer also shares stories of others at the convent where the midwives lived. Nuns, fellow midwives, the handyman, the cook and so on. One midwife is my favorite, her name was Camilla Fortescue-Cholmeley-Browne, but she insisted everyone just call her Chummy. Jennifer describes her on first meeting her:

"I thought it was a bloke in drag. Six foot two inches tall, with shoulders like a front-row forward and size eleven feet, her parents had spent a fortune trying to make her more feminine, but to no effect."

Chummy turned out to be the sweetest, most kind girl and everyone who knew her, loved her.

Bike riding was essential for a midwife, as this was the way they got around to their patients.Chummy didn't know how to ride a bike, so they had to teach her.

Because of her size many of the children in the streets would laugh, taunt and make fun of her. On the outside Chummy was brave and kind, but on the inside it hurt her.

One boy, about 13 years old, who was known as one who was "accustomed to fighting for his rights" took a liking to Chummy and her kind and sweet ways. He forever stood up for her and often "dispersed the little kids; a few blows, a few kicks, and they were gone." He would say to her, "you gets any more trouble from that lot, Miss, jes' call me. Jack. I'll take care of 'em."

Jack helped teach Chummy to ride. Often... "out early and late, running, pushing, helping her in every way." Jack often ran along Chummy on her outings as she rode her bike to her patients, a sort of bodyguard if you will.

Chummy was so moved by him she asked her father if he would purchase a bike for him and he did.

This new bike... "meant a new life for Jack. Very few boys had such a possession in those days. For him, it meant more than status. It meant freedom. He was an adventurous boy, and went miles beyond the East End on his bike. He joined the Dagenham Cycling Club and competed in time trails and road races. He went camping alone in the Essex countryside. He went as far as the coast, and saw the sea for the first time."

And this is my favorite part of this story:

"Twenty-five years later, a shy young girl called Lady Diana Spencer became engaged to marry Prince Charles, heir to the throne. I saw several film clips of her arriving at various engagements. Each time when the car stopped, the front nearside door would open, and her bodyguard would step out and open the rear door for Lady Diana. Then he would stand, jaw thrust forward, legs slightly apart, and look coolly around him at the crowds, a mature Jack, still practicing the skills he had acquired in childhood, looking after his lady."

I must warn you of a few chapters. In these chapters Jennifer meets up with a young girl, about 14, who has been prostituting herself and finds herself pregnant. In these chapters the young girl, Mary, shares her heart-breaking story in detail. A story of a young girl who desperately wanted to be loved. Her story is quite explicit and enters you into the world of prostitution. I don't recommend these chapters to those under the age of 18, especially one passage in particular which I wish I hadn't read myself.

It is so sad, the way some men prey on young girls, promising them love they have no intentions of giving, and sadder still that this goes on everyday, even today.

Jennifer Worth passed away in 2011 at the age of 75

As I said before, I loved reading about Jennifer's journey. She came into the convent, as a midwife who was agnostic, but through her experiences she came to believe in God. I loved the last chapter of this book. Sitting with the old senile nun, Sister Monica Joan, who she grew to love, she is given some wise advice.

After Jennifer has been asking many questions about her faith, Sister Monica Joan answers with this:

"Questions, questions - you wear me out with your questions, child. Find out for yourself - we all have to in the end. No one can give you faith. It is a gift from God alone. Seek and ye shall find. Read the Gospels. There is no other way. Do not pester me with everlasting questions. Go with God, child; just go with God."

This reminded me so much of my experience as a child asking my dad a hundred questions about God! He would get tired and say basically the same thing, 'you need to search for yourself, seek God on your own.'

Like Sister Monica Joan said..."Go with God."

Other than the one passage I mentioned earlier, I highly recommend this book. The heart-warming stories are beautifully written and I enjoyed learning quite a bit about midwifery and the East End life of the1950's.

Buy it HERE on Amazon




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