Posts

Showing posts from 2018

The Greatest Gift

Image
   He shattered the space between heaven and earth and came naked and breakable for you in a creche. Then He lay naked and broken by you on a Cross. If He gave you His Son to save you, will He not give anything?    Many of you will recognize Ann Voskamp's name in connection to her books The Broken Way and one of my all time favourite reads, One Thousand Gifts . This book, The Greatest Gift , is her invitation to a deep and meaningful Advent season. Ann's poetic and lyrical prose lends itself beautifully to this hope-filled time of year. Her daily readings follow the Jesse Tree tradition of exploring Jesus' genealogy, after the prophecy of Isaiah 11, and she includes a link to download and print Jesse Tree ornaments for the tree to follow the readings.     There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,      and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.     And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,      the Spirit of wisdom and understanding

Silencing Insecurity

Image
   This is a beautiful, deeply personal book, because it’s about you. I will warn you, as Donna Gibbs does, that this book will poke and prod at some of the most sensitive parts of your heart. That’s the point: silencing insecurity by exploring insecurity.    The book is divided into 3 sections: identity (which includes comparison, success, failure, background and more), unnecessary problems (namely mental, emotional, and relational), and lastly "The Necessary Secret" (how to overcome insecurity and move towards wholeness and dependence on God). Each chapter contains questions for journaling titled "Freedom Q & A".    Some example questions are: How has the enemy caused you to doubt God and to doubt yourself? Have the dynamics of growing up in a single-parent home or a blended family impacted your view of yourself? How have insecurities robbed you of spiritual development? Where would you like to be in relation to God?    As you can see, these questio

In His Image

Image
   I'll be honest, I first picked this one off the shelf because it's such a beautiful book. In this case, you can judge a book by its cover! This is one of my favourite books of this year, and I'll be coming back to it again and again.    In His Image is a follow up to Jen Wilkin's None Like Him. In her previous book she outlined 10 different attributes of God that show how different He is from us. In this book, she goes through 10 attributes of God - holiness, love, goodness, justice, mercy, grace, faithfulness, patience, truth, and wisdom - and illustrates from a Biblical perspective how we as Christians can reflect God's character in these ways to the world, while getting to know Him better.    Also, in this book, discovering God's will becomes asking the question "Who should I be?" rather than the paralyzing "What should I do?" Wilkin outlines this in the following excerpt :    "Our inclination is to discer

Gay Girl, Good God

Image
"I used to be a lesbian."  I picked this book up not really knowing what to expect. My first thought was "Ooooh! What a pretty cover!" Then, "Oh wow, I need to know more." And then I began reading, which didn't take me long because it's not even 200 pages. But what is in here is so good and raw and honest and beautiful and chalk FULL of God's goodness and mercy and grace. Jackie Hill Perry's gets to the nitty-gritty right away in her introduction saying, "A gay girl once? Yes. Now? I am what God's goodness will do to a soul once grace gets to it. In saying that, I know I've already offended someone. I don't assume that every hand that holds this book will agree with every black letter on the pages. There are many who, while reading, won't understand gayness as something possible of being past tense. It is either who you are, or what you have never been. To this, I disagree. The only constant in this world is God.&

The Crescent Stone

Image
    A girl with a deadly lung disease . . . A boy with a tragic past . . . A land where the sun never sets but darkness still creeps in . . . That premise hooked me immediately. I was sucked into the reading vortex. We open with Madeline Oliver; she is desperate to be a normal teenager who is able to breathe on her own. Her life changes when a random, oddly dressed stranger, named Hanali makes her an offer she can’t refuse: a year of breathing in exchange for service to his people, the Elenil who are fighting against the evil Scim. Are you intrigued yet?  Well you should be, because this was an amazing read! It features honest logic, hilarious one-liners, twists and turns, and ridiculous rules of living, such as magical self-cleaning toilets (which leads to one asking where does it disappear to?). For fans of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, this trilogy is sure to interest those who cannot say no to an adventure. Whilst in this magical

Becoming Mrs. Lewis

Image
I am in love with the United Kingdom. After I graduated from college (which was a miracle considering I was a lot more social than studious...much like my father), my dad took me on a 10 day trip to London. And WOW! What a haven for the history/literary nerds! My dad and I had the best time. From Westminster to the Tower of London to Hyde Park, we explored as much as we could and ate fish and chips to our hearts' content in many of the pubs located in London and everywhere. The British love their pubs. One of the days (I think my dad and I both say it was our favorite day), we traveled to Oxford. The only thing either of us had planned for that day was to explore and find the pub that C. S. Lewis and Tolkien and the other Inklings visited regularly to talk about their writings. When we found The Eagle and Child, both of us could not contain our excitement. We sat down at a random table and ordered. And while we were waiting for our food, as we looked around, we noticed all the plaq

Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved

Image
    Rarely have I seen something so real, raw, and honest as this. When there is no rhyme or reason--God doesn't heal you, and those perfectly formulated formulas of life, love, and the divine don't add up, where does that leave you?    When Kate Bowler was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, it tore at the seams of the prosperity-gospel theology she had surrounded herself with. Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved tells her story, "offering up irreverent, hard-won observations on dying and the ways it has taught her to live", and it's what I affectionately call a "bleeding heart". Every chapter, every page, every word is chock-full of so much full, sorrowful, beautiful emotion that I felt like crying every time I sat down with it, just as a way to release the feelings building and twisting inside of me as I read.    There is no end to Kate Bowler's wisdom, truth, and sheer, raw honesty that I didn't even know I

Touch of Gold

Image
"Once upon a time..." Any story that starts this way with those four little words, it is guaranteed that I'll love it or at least like it a lot. I grew up watching Disney movies and reading out of all of our fairy-tale books over and over again till the pages started falling out. I don't know what it is about them, but I love them. I love the adventure, the princesses and princes and frogs, and pirates and treasures and all of it. So when I picked up this book and it started with those four little words I love so much, I knew I had to keep reading to see if it was actually any good.......it was! If you know anything about King Midas then you're good to go in reading this story. If you don't, then basically its a myth about a king who wishes that he could turn anything he wants to gold. But Dionysus, the god who gave him this "gift", or curse, tricked him: literally everything he touches turns to gold. That's the gist. Our story begins right

Salt to the Sea

Image
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys was truly a heart-breaker. I keep telling myself that I need to take a break from the historical fiction and read a simple light fiction or fantasy book; read something that can't possibly be real, because my heart can't handle what the last few books I've read have made me feel. But I'm addicted. So, oh well .  Salt to the Sea takes place in winter 1945 and follows four characters whose lives are crossed in the desperate attempt to flee to the coast from Stalin and his soldiers: Joana from Lithuania, Florian from Prussia, Emilia from Poland, and Alfred from Germany. All four fight for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff , a ship that will transport them to safety and freedom...maybe. And that's all I'm telling you because I don't want to give anything away. Most WWII books I've read have been about people running or hiding or fighting the Germans and from Hitler. This is the first book I've read that has been

The Librarian of Auschwitz

Image
'"Running the library requires a brave person..." Dita blushed. The more she tried to stay still, the wilder her trembling became. Her hands began to shake, too, and she feared the director might think her too weak for the job. "S-s-so you're not counting on me, then?" "You seem like a brave girl to me." "But I'm trembling!" she replied, devastated. Then Hirsch smiled in his particular way. "That's why you're brave. Brave people are not the ones who aren't afraid. Those are reckless people who ignore the risk; they put themselves and others in danger. That's not the sort of person I want on my team. I need the ones who know the risk-- whose legs shake, but who carry on." As she listened, Dita's legs began to tremble less.' (Chapter 2) I'm just going to jump right in and say that this book is not for the faint of heart. This book is technically a youth fiction novel (based on real events

The Meaning of Marriage

Image
   The Meaning of Marriage was recommended to me and my husband by someone older and wiser than either of us. Timothy Keller endeavors to show the reader a picture of what marriage could and should be according to the Bible. I believe I will hang on to this book and the wisdom Tim Keller shares, as I grow and learn in love for my spouse.    With the help of Kathy, his wife of thirty-years, Tim presents biblical arguments and foundations for a healthy marriage, comparing and contrasting his own views with the views of the popular modern culture of the Western world. The Meaning of Marriage is a powerful argument for longevity and commitment; for love and covenant; for Christ-like community in an individualistic world.    I think my favourite chapter was the one titled "Loving the Stranger". Keller started the chapter off with this quote:     "We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and h

Fawkes

Image
   I've always had an odd sort of fascination with masquerade masks. I judged this book by its cover, snatched it up, and delighted in the concept. The masks are used to signify an individual who has a level of control over a certain colour, and each colour is used to manipulate different parts of the world around them. It's called Color Power and it leaves a divide so strong between two schools of thought--the Keepers and the Igniters--that a silent war breaks out. Each side blaming the other for the mysterious Stone Plague destroying England's people and beyond, this war is carried out in dark alleys behind masks, with hidden knives. The Igniter king of England, King James, calls for the death of the Keepers--that they should hang by the neck until dead.    Thomas Fawkes is a young man on the cusp of coming-of-age to receive his mask-- if he can pass his Color Test at St. Peter's Color School, and if his father shows up to give him his mask. Unbeknownst to his te

Finding Jesus in Israel

Image
This book is a treasure. I am one of those people who only dreams about traveling to the Holy Land, walking the streets Jesus walked and seeing the setting of His ministry years. While my opportunity to hop a plane and find myself knee-deep in Biblical history has not yet arrived, this book both satisfied and renewed my longing for Israel. Buck Storm, self-admittedly neither a theologian or historian, uses his skills as a novelist and songwriter to paint a beautiful picture of modern day Israel, with all its contradictions. He shares stories of his many travels through Israel, usually off the beaten path, with vibrant locations and even more vibrant people. Often, his stories of visiting sites from Jesus' ministry are poignant and breathtaking, as is his trip to Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus took his disciples in Matthew 16:13-20: "My group and I sat for a while, lingering in the shade and the echo of His voice, reluctant to move on. Sometimes it's

Edge of Oblivion

Image
“Over the admiral’s display, a hollow, flat voice spoke. ‘...has come...Malum has come...Malum has come… Malum has come...’ On the screen, another pale beam lanced out from the sphere and pored over a Ritican militia vessel. The beam receded as quickly as it had come, the militia vessel vanished. ‘Malum has come...Malum has come…”     As a lover of science, I find it easy to lose time reading a good science fiction novel and Edge of Oblivion by Joshua Johnston definitely makes that list. Not only is the story line engaging but, with a good basis in the Christian worldview, Johnston has created a world that is so well established within itself you can’t help but believe it could be real. He includes alien races that each have their own distinctive culture and history and yet also have their own messianic figure that taught a very similar message and were persecuted to the same degree. With Earth’s history lost in what is known as the Dark Ages, the “Christ” figure spoken of

The Lost Castle

Image
The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron, summed up in one word: AMAZING! I loved this book immediately, and therefore tried to read it at a normal person’s pace… BUT It pulled me in fast and well…. 5 hours was all it took. Time seemed to whirl past me as I furiously read this novel. To be Honest, any historical fiction works have me itching to read them, but I am rather picky about the ones I read. Thankfully Kristy Cambron’s tale did not disappoint! Bridging the past to the present in three time periods- the French Revolution, World World II, and present day- The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and of an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through generations. The three different stories all focus on a strong female- Aveline, an aristocrat in hiding during the French Revolution, Vi, who is on a mission and also hiding in Nazi-occupied France, and Ellie, our modern-day her

If I Live

Image
If I Live is the third book in Terri Blackstock's If I Run Series. This series is a shoe-in for sucking you into a reading vortex, since I read the first two books in 8 hours. I paused life completely. Literally did nothing but read, I think I barely ate that day because that would mean I’d have to stop reading and clearly that would have been the end of life as we know it. So it’s a big deal, folks. Because us millennials love our food, especially all the hipster trends like avocado toast. Book 2 ended on cliffhanger and I gut-wrenchingly waited 12 WHOLE MONTHS for this last book to finally come out, so if you haven’t read this series yet, you are surely blessed because you won’t have to endure that pain & suffering. All I can say is WOOWOWOWOWOW. This was an amazing close to an incredible trilogy. The suspense did not let up and I was left gasping for breath at a couple of points, dying to skip ahead and find out what had happened… But I behaved.

Searching for Sunday

Image
   I think Rachel Held Evans' goal with her book, Searching for Sunday , is to help the reader fall back in love with the church--that is, the universal/international/global church; as in the body of believers that makes up Christ's bride.    I don't know if it helped me in that at all. I think it was meant to show me the beauty of the church, and there were definite glimpses. But Rachel described to me the indescribable: the mysterious beauty of Jesus Christ and the person he could be to me. She made me want to love Jesus again.    Searching for Sunday is formatted into seven parts--seven sacraments:  Baptism: the church tells us we are beloved Confession: the church tells us we are broken Holy Orders: the church tells us we are commissioned Communion: the church feeds us Confirmation: the church welcomes us Anointing the Sick: the church anoints us Marriage: the church unites us (Evans, Rachel Held. Searching for Sunday . Nelson Books: Nashville. 2015. p.

The Heart Between Us

Image
The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel opens with this: "That's why she had me write a bucket list... twenty-five things that will make my future brighter, that will stop giving my memories so much power over my life. I've been in therapy for seven years, but I still struggle. Not every day--like at the beginning. But sometimes still, the memories sneak up on me when I least expect them. They drag me down and pull me under like a riptide. And even though I long to fight them, my arms and legs gets tired. I grow weak. In those moments, I'm maybe kind of okay with letting and drifting away, allowing the sea to carry me wherever it wants to go. But now when that happens, I have a new tool. I can try and focus on the dreams, the plans, the goals I have. And say, "Not today. I won't let you rip them from me." It's not necessarily about avoidance or forgetting. There are some things you never forget. Instead it's about learning to sw

The 49th Mystic

Image
   When Ted Dekker released the final title, Green , in his four-part series called The Circle , I thought that would be it for Thomas Hunter and his dreaming dance between worlds. I devoured that series like the book-monster that I am, and the subsequent parallel series of seven called The Lost Books . That he would release yet another book tied into this dream-world wasn't anywhere in my horizon of hopes or daydreams, and yet here we are:    The 49th Mystic .    This is book one in a two-part series called Beyond the Circle , and the second book is supposed to release this Fall, 2018. I snatched up The 49th Mystic and finished it in two days, and while it did start slow, the signature breakneck-pace that I've come to expect from Ted Dekker shone through. At about the 1/3 mark, the story really picked up and didn't stop again until the very last, exquisite, jaw-dropping, cliff-hanging page.    The 49th Mystic follows a young blind woman named Rachelle who dreams of

Everybody Always

Image
I had the privilege about five years ago to meet Bob Goff. If you are familiar with Bob and his book Love Does , he talks about his lodge that he and his family built up in an inlet on the Sunshine Coast of B.C. It so happens, there is a Young Life camp maybe a mile away from his lodge. While working up there as a Summer Staffer, on one of our days off we got to go to his lodge and sit in his living room and hear him tell his amazing, and often crazy, stories. I think we got this opportunity because Bob's son Adam was on my Summer Staff team. It's one of my absolute favorite memories from one of my favorite summers. If you've ever wondered what Bob is actually like, stop wondering. If you've read either Love Does or Everybody Always he is exactly the same. He writes exactly how he talks. And he's the most hilarious, loving, excited-about-life guy I think I've ever met. Reading Everybody Always is like sitting at a table in a coffee shop with Bob while h

Knife

Image
   Definitely a new kind of "fairy" tale--quite literally! Knife , by R. J. Anderson is the first installment in a three-part series about a race of faeries that make their home in a monstrous oak tree, and the way their lives intermingle with the human society around them.     The young faery in this tale is a fierce, independent soul with an unquenchable thirst for adventure. She goes by several different names in the story, but Knife is the name that she holds most dear. As the youngest faery in the Oakenwyld, the area of the humans' backyard the Oakenfolk call their home, Knife is at the mercy of every other faery in her home. Bargaining is the only way to make anything happen in this culture, and she must bargain the worst of the chores around the Oak for anything and everything she needs or wants.     When the Queen calls her to ceremony to receive her lifelong task or career, she's completely surprised--and eventually delighted--to be named Queen's Hunt

The Gospel of Trees: A Memoir

Image
   There is a note of heaviness to this book. The Gospel of Trees is a memoir written by a woman named Apricot Iriving, eldest daughter of missionary parents to Haiti. She weaves heartbreak through the story of how she grew up, moved to Haiti and back, and back and away again. She falls in and out of love with the home of her childhood, the prison of her teenage years; the best and worst things that could have happened to her when her parents decided to upend her world.    There's an overall tone of hopelessness to this story, and yet by reading it, I feel as though I have been freed of questions and anguishes that have plagued me since I donned the mantle of missionary kid when I was seven years old. How do we respond in the face of such blatant, crushing, impossible poverty? How do we respond to our own privilege? Am I lording my white privilege over the other races of the world? Have I grown up believing I was better because I was born into more money? And whether stated,