Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

In the Shadow of Lions - Ginger Garrett




It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!






Today's Wild Card author is:






and the book:




IN THE SHADOW OF LIONS


David C. Cook; 1st edition (September 2008)




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Ginger Garrett is the critically acclaimed author of Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, which was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA, and Dark Hour. An expert in ancient women's history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women.

On September 11, Ginger's non-fiction book, Beauty Secrets of the Bible, based on the historical research that began in her work on Chosen was released. The book explores the connections between beauty and spirituality, offering women both historical insights and scientific proofs that reveal powerful, natural beauty secrets.

A frequent radio guest on stations across the country, including NPR and Billy Graham's The Hour of Decision, Ginger is also a popular television guest. Her appearances include Harvest Television, Friends & Neighbors, and Babbie's House. Ginger frequently serves as a co-host on the inspirational cable program Deeper Living.

In 2007, Ginger was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award for her novel Dark Hour. When she's not writing, you may spy Ginger hunting for vintage jewelry at thrift stores, running (slowly) in 5k and 10k races, or just trying to chase down one of her errant sheepdogs. A native Texan, she now resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 13.99
Paperback: 311 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 1st edition (September 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781448875
ISBN-13: 978-0781448871

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:





And Job said unto God:

I admit I once lived by rumors of you;

now I have it all firsthand…

I’ll never again live

on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.

Job 42, The Message




CHAPTER ONE


Tomorrow, someone else will die in my bed.

Someone died in it last month, which is how it came to be called mine.

The infernal clock moved confidently towards 1 a.m., and I turned my head to look at the window. The window of this room is a miserly gesture from the contractors, producing more fog than visage. I watched the gold orbs—the lamps on the lawn of the hospice sputtering off and on in the darkness—that dotted the fogged glass.

That was the last moment I lived as an iver, one whose eyes are veiled.

One orb did not sputter but moved, gliding between the others, moving closer to the window, growing larger and brighter until the light consumed the entire view. I winced from the searing glare and tried to shield my eyes, but the IV line pulled taut. Wrestling with the line to get some slack, I saw the next movement out of the corner of my eye. I bit down hard on my tongue, my body jerking in reflex, and felt the warm blood run back to my throat.

Outside, a hand wiped the fog away from the glass, and I watched the water beads running down the inside of my window. There was no searing light, only this mammoth hand with deep creases in the palms wiping down the window until we both could see each other. A man’s face was against the glass, but no breath fogged his vision. He was a giant, grim man, with an earring in one ear and dark glasses, and he was staring in at me. Even through the morphine, fear snaked along my arms, biting into my stomach, constricting around my throat. I tried to scream, but I could only gulp air and heave little gasps. His expression did not change as he lifted his hands, curling them into fists. I flinched at the last moment, thinking him to be Death, expecting to receive the blow and die.

Then I grew suddenly warm, like the feeling you get stepping out from an old, dark city library into the busy street and a warm spring sun.

Death didn’t even hurt, I rejoiced. I could slip into it like I slipped onto that street, eyes down, my thoughts my own, and simply turn a corner and be gone. I lifted my fingers to beckon him. Yes, I thought. I saw the beautiful Rolex on my birdlike wrist, and saw that it had stopped. It is time.

When I looked back up, he was beside me, staring down, not speaking. I wasn’t dead. His frame was monstrously large, hitting what must be seven feet tall, with a width of muscle strapped across it that was inhuman. As he watched me, his chest didn’t move, and his nostrils didn’t flare, but heat and warm breath radiated from him. When he laid his hands across my eyes, I was too scared to move my head away. His palms covered most of my face, and a sharp buzzing drilled into every pore. He began to move his hands elsewhere, touching and bringing to life every splintered inch of my body. When he got to the cancer, with one swollen lymph node visible even through my stained blue gown, he rested his hands there until the swelling sighed and he swept it away with his hand.

“Wait!” I screamed.

I didn’t want to live. I hadn’t known that was going to be an option. I deserved to be damned. To return to my life was too much to ask of me. I was finished.

“You’ll still be dead by morning,” he reassured me. His voice was deep and clean, no tell-tale dialect or inflection. Taking off his glasses, I saw he had enormous gold eyes, with a black pinhole in the center that stayed round and cold. There was no white in them at all, and they were rimmed all the way around the outside with black. I stared at them, trying to remember where I had seen eyes like this. It was years ago, this much I remembered.

I had to shake myself back to the moment. Clearly, morphine was not setting well with me tonight. I wanted to die in peace. That’s what I paid these extravagant sums for. My hand moved to the nurses’ call button. Mariskka was just down the hall, waiting for her moment to steal my watch. I knew she’d come running.

He grabbed my hand and the shock seared like a hot iron. Crying out, I shook him off and clutched my hand between my breasts, doing my best to sit up with my atrophied stomach muscles and tangled IV.

He leaned in. “I have something for you.”

“What?”

He leaned in closer. “A second chance.”

Second chances were not my forte. As the most celebrated editor in New York City, I had made a killing. I loved the words that trembling writers slid across my desk, those little black flecks that could destroy their life’s dream or launch a career. I bled red ink over every page, slashing words, cutting lines. No one understood how beautiful they were to me, why I tormented the best writers, always pushing them to bring me more. The crueler I was to the best of them, the more they loved me, like flagellants worshipping me as the master of their order. Only at the end, lying here facing my own death, did I understand why. They embraced the pain, thinking it birthed something greater than themselves. I saw how pitifully wrong they were. There was only pain. This is why I was ready to die. When you finish the last chapter and close the book, there is nothing but pain. It would have been better never to have written. Words betrayed me. And for that, I betrayed the best writer of them all.

“Burn any manuscripts that arrive for me,” I had ordered my nurse, Marisska. “Tell them I’m already dead. Tell them anything.”

“I’ll let you write the truth,” the man whispered.

“I’m not a writer,” I replied. My fear tumbled down into the dark place of my secrets.

“No, you’re not,” he answered. “But you’ve coveted those bestsellers, didn’t you? You knew you could do better. This is your second chance.”

It caught my attention. “How?”

“I will dictate my story to you,” he said. “Then you’ll die.”

Taking dictation? My mouth fell open. “I’m in hell, aren’t I?”

He tilted his head. “Not yet.”

I pushed away from the pillows and grabbed him. Blisters sprang up on my palms and in between my fingers, but I gritted my teeth and spat out my words. “Who are you?”

“The first writer, the Scribe. My books lie open before the Throne and someday will be the only witness of your people and their time in this world. The stories are forgotten here and the Day draws close. I will tell you one of my stories. You will record it.”

“Why me?”

“I like your work.”

I started laughing, the first time I had laughed since I had been brought to this wing of the hospice, where the dying are readied for death, their papers ordered, and discreet pamphlets on “end of life options” left by quiet-soled salesmen. I laughed until I was winded. He rested his hand on my chest, and I caught my breath as he spoke.

“Let’s go find Marisska.”




Review can be found here.



Typealizer



A couple of the blogs that I follow listed this site, Typealizer, that you can go to and have your blog "analyzed" as to the kind of personality you have - after seeing it the second type I had to go try it out. Below is my personality as typealizer sees it through my blog.




INTP - The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications. They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.






Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie



Believe it or not, this was the first Agatha Christie that I have ever read - and I have read alot of books. I cannot believe that it has taken me this long to actually sit down and read one of her books. My daughter was assigned this book in her 8th grade lit class and she asked me to read it with her - so I have her (and her teacher) to thank!

I loved this book - this is what a true "whodunit" should read like. Everytime that I thought I had it all figured out - nope - I would have to start from square one. It really wasn't until the final chapter that I found out who the killer was.

About the book: Ten people are invited to Indian Island for a week's vacation - all under somewhat vague circumstances - but they all agree to come. Somewhere in each of their pasts they have all been directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of at least one person - and this is all brought to light the first evening. Shortly thereafter victim number one is poisoned. One by one the people are picked off - heightening the psychological tension of the remaining victims.

I was hooked after the first chapter. Somewhere in the past I had gotten the idea in my head that Agatha Christie's works would be hard to read/hard to understand. I am not sure where this idea came from. The book flowed very quickly and I had a hard time putting it down. I am definitely going to read more by her in the coming year!

This book also fits into the following book challenges: Unread Authors, Book to Movies, Lit Flicks, and Genre Challenge.



Teaser Tuesdays




Posting for the new weekly event, “TEASER TUESDAYS“!
Grab your current read. Let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given! Please avoid spoilers!
My teaser this week is from Drinkwater by Eric Hopkins (p157) - The message was, get out of my house. Stop freeloading. Yes, I know, Amber thought. I'm sorry. I'll leave.





And next, from In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett ( p187) - Wolsey stood, outrage on his face. "Do younot know what day it is?" Anne rose next. Jaws were flopping open all across the room. "My king, do not be angry," Anne said. "Perhaps this is a most fortunate mistake."

What are your teasers?



Where are You?




I am in England during the reign of Henry VIII. Henry is trying to make me his mistress - but I continue to refuse. It is against God to have sex before marriage, so if King Henry wants me, then he must make me his wife! - In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett.


I am in Toronto in the present day - and for the third night in a row, I am trying to find some place for my brother and I to sleep. Our uncle failed to meet our train and we have not been able to locate him. The only person I know is a college girl who gave me a tour the year before and she is no longer willing to let us crash in her dorm.




Where are you?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Assaulted by Joy

Title: Assaulted by Joy - The Redemption of a Cynic
Author: Stephen W. Simpson
Publisher: Zondervan
Copyright: 2008


Assaulted by Joy is my first ARC that I am reviewing. What an exciting book! The question that was posed when I was asked if I would review this book was "Is this the perfect gift for the man in your life?" and I must answer with a resounding "YES!" I have already asked my husband if he would read it. But let me back up a little here. The author accepted Christ at the age of seven - (I love it when he says that this is where the story begins.) "When I walked down the aisle of a Baptist church as a boy to receive Christ as my Saviour, nobody told me that being a Christian is difficult, dangerous even. . .the closer you were to God, the happier you would be. The less you sinned and the more you followed God's Word, the more your life would be meaningful, happy, and complete. In my years as a follower of Christ, however, I've discovered that the opposite is often true. Don't get me wrong - the most ecstatic, victorious moments of my life resulted from having a relationship with Jesus, but so have the most aggravating and painful ones."*



His story, about his sometimes painful high school years (can everybody relate?), to college, losing a close friend, and meeting his wife and starting a family is engaging, humorous, in many instances I caught my self shaking my head in agreement - and is full of insight and wisdom that touched my life. I would like to share two of those nuggets here.



From chapter 3: What we don't realize is that we teach one another wisdom even when we hurt each other. We learn how to love in the midst of brokenness and imperfection. Those who hurt us sometimes teach us far more than those who love us. Sometimes they're even the same person. Those we care about have the greatest capacity to hurt us. Love creates the possibility of pain like nothing else. It's just like our relationship with God.*



From chapter 6: We could only make the best decision in a situation where there was no obvious choice. He told us that either choice involved potential guilt and loss. We might have to ask forgiveness from God regardless of what we chose.*



Now -for the question about a perfect gift for my husband. I would hope that this book would bring him a little closer to accepting Christ. He has been on the journey for awhile now and I have hope that letting him see someone else's walk with Christ (other than mine..) would open his heart even more.



I highly recommend this read for where ever you are in your personal journey -




*any quotes from this book are from an Advanced Reader's Copy and may not reflect the final published version.


This book also fulfills a book for the following challenges: What's in a Name, From the Stacks, Unread Authors, Countdown Challenge.



Thursday, November 20, 2008

999 Challenge

This is a challenge from Library Thing and the blog about it can be found here.

Rules are simple: 9 books in 9 different categories, all read in 2009. For an added challenge, try completing your books by 9/9/09! You pick the categories yourself, just post here
and let us know how you're doing.

Romance/Chick Lit



  1. - Scrapping Plans - Rebeca Seitz
  2. - The Valentine Edition - Robin Shope
  3. - John's Quest - Cecelia Dowdy
  4. -Simple Wishes - Lisa Dale
  5. - Katt's in the Cradle - Ginger Kolbaba and Christy Scannell
  6. - Deadly Charm - Claudia Mair Burney
  7. - Yesterday's Embers - Deborah Raney
  8. - An Offer You Can't Refuse - Jill Mansell
  9. - The Lost Hours - Karen White

From Daring Book for Girls

  1. - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling








Award Winners

  1. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
  2. The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros
  3. Holes - Louis Sachar






From the 21st Century

  1. - The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
  2. - I Do Again - Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs
  3. -Kiss - Ted Dekker and Erin Healy
  4. - This Side of Heaven - Karen Kingsbury
  5. - The Kingmaking - Helen Hollick
  6. - The Stones - Eleanor Gustafson
  7. - Scream - Mike Dellosso
  8. - Rachel's Tears - Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott
  9. - Boneman's Daughter - Ted Dekker

Recommended by other Book Bloggers

  1. - The Girl She Used to Be - David Cristofano
  2. -
  3. -
  4. -
  5. -
  6. -
  7. -
  8. -
  9. -

YA Titles

  1. - Watcher in the Woods - Robert Liparulo
  2. - Be Strong and Curvaceous - Shelley Adina
  3. - Lost in Las Vegas - Melody Carlson
  4. - It's All About Us - Shelley Adina
  5. - The Fruit of My Lipstick - Shelley Adina
  6. - Diamonds in the Shadow - Caroline B. Cooney
  7. - So Not Happening - Jenny B. Jones
  8. - New York Debut - Melody Carlson
  9. - Always Watching - Brandilyn and Amberly Collins

ARCs or Books I have Won

  1. - Gatekeepers - Robert Liparulo
  2. - The Red Siren - M.L. Tyndall
  3. - Grace for the Afflicted - Matthew Stanford, PhD
  4. - Scream for Me - Karen Rose
  5. - For the Love of Pete - Julia Harper
  6. - Lessons From San Quentin - Bill Dallas
  7. - The Spring of Candy Apples - Debbie Viguie
  8. - Trail of Crumbs - Kim Sunee
  9. - Age Before Beauty - Virginia Smith

Books on my Shelf (that don't fit in above category)

  1. -
  2. -
  3. -
  4. -
  5. -
  6. -
  7. -
  8. -
  9. -

Paranormal/Horror

  1. Marked by Passion - Kate Perry
  2. Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark - Donna Lea Simpson
  3. Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr
  4. Wild Highland Magic - Kendra Leigh Castle
  5. Pleasure Unbound - Larissa Ione




Pure Gold



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Pure Gold

Authentic (September 15, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


PAM DAVIS is an author and motivational speaker who views her charge as bringing the timeworn truths of Scripture to life. Pams candid teaching style not only enlightens but also entertains, leaving her audiences with a refreshed desire for the living Word of God. She lives with her husband, Steven, and three children in Fort Worth, Texas.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Authentic (September 15, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934068640
ISBN-13: 978-1934068649

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Gold and Grace

I remember a time in college when I headed to the beaches in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for spring break. No, I wasn’t there for something honorable, such as being part of a missionary team doing beach evangelism. In fact, I was more like the prodigal son in the company of swine about to come to my senses.

I sat in my car, thinking, I can’t find you, God. I’ve tried everywhere, good places and bad, but I can’t find you. I’ve tried church, seminars, books, even Bible college.

Then I said out loud, “Running in circles, where to start?” And in my heart, an answer followed: “The answer lies within your heart.”

Hmmm. So I put my hands on the steering wheel and continued out loud, “Running in circles, where to begin?” And again in my heart I heard, “Quit seeking outside and seek within.”

This was such a novel thought. As a child, I had asked Jesus into my heart to save my sinful soul. So where did I expect to find him, except in my heart? As a confused college student, I suddenly realized the extent of my disorientation. Looking for God and his grace out there was like driving the wrong way on a highway. I’m doing everything right—foot on the gas, hands on the wheel, eyes on the road. And yet something’s terribly wrong—I’m causing one crash after another, and I have the dings and dents to show for it. Not to mention the fact that my anxiety is off the charts.

This reminds me of the story of a woman driving down the highway when her cell phone rings. It’s her husband, and frantically he shouts, “I just heard on the radio that a car is driving the wrong way on the highway you’re on. Please be careful!”

“Dear, it’s not one car,” the woman responds. “It’s hundreds of cars!”

We can easily be like that—disoriented. We can easily be disoriented from the truth that if we’re saved by God’s grace—through Christ Jesus—then he’s not merely out there as a transcendent reality. But he also lives immanently, within our spiritual hearts, guiding and equipping us from within. Maybe we become disoriented so easily because we live in a culture so foreign to this biblical truth of a God-within reality. So that there is no confusion as to the term God-within reality, let me quote the words of Bible teacher Arthur W. Pink: “The great mistake made by most of the Lord’s people is in the hoping to discover in themselves that which is to be found in Christ alone.”1 If you have been born again by the Spirit of God, then indeed within you is Christ’s nature, and within him is the God-within reality.

Whether you’re driving on a highway or trying to find God, disorientation can be deadly. Jesus knew this. He sent a messenger to a group of Christians to point out their disorientation and to reorient them. No wonder these believers were disoriented. Look at the foreign environment where they lived. Their society focused on freedom so much that they named their city “Rights of the People.” They built their city in honor of a woman; so if a statue stood at the edge of town, it would have been a woman. These people, richest among their neighbors, established an elaborate banking system. Their textile industry made their citizens among the most finely dressed of their era. Their sophisticated medical school boasted advanced treatments.

No, this isn’t a city in your country! It was Laodicea, the home of a church Jesus sent a messenger to. Listen to his words: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich” (Revelation 3:17–18).

Could Jesus be talking to us? Could our environment be so similar to that of the Laodicean Christians that we’ve also become disoriented, claiming we do not need a thing? His words are addressed to the “church.” Could we—the church—be in a state of spiritual bankruptcy even though we’re saved? If so, what did Jesus mean that we can buy gold from him and become rich?

Let’s find out together—just in case we’re the ones driving the wrong way.


The Commodity: Grace That Yields Life

My friend Laura2 was a worker ant, or so it seemed. When she got up each morning, she organized her day, her husband’s day, and their four children’s day. Efficient, organized, and with a mind that worked at lightning speed, she was a vital member of her church, Parent-Teacher Association, and her husband’s business. I felt tired just listening to her schedule, and I often sighed in amazement at all she seemed to accomplish every twenty-four hours.

Yet this worker ant, who was part of God’s kingdom, grew unresponsive spiritually. Instead of the once-glowing and enthusiastic woman I loved to laugh with, my friend grew uniform and almost militant in her pursuit of productivity. Her spiritual life seemed to exist in a hole that she dug deeper and deeper away from the light. I remember praying, “God, she doesn’t have to be a worker ant. You recreated her to be a queen—one who has wings and can leave the hole she’s digging herself into to visit the heavens. You’ve transformed her and made her capable of breeding spiritual life.”

An opportunity arose in God’s divine timing. One day Laura came over for coffee and noticed a sticky note on my refrigerator that reads, “If you want to make God laugh, make plans.” As she read it, she became deeply irritated and cried out, “If I don’t plan things, they won’t happen!” I countered, “Then what? You fail?”

After a moment, tears spilled from the corners of her eyes. Happiness, satisfaction, and joy had subtly been linked to productivity instead of to a relationship with Christ. That was okay for a worker ant. But not for a queen.

As we worked our way through a box of tissues together, we talked about the “have to’s” of life: have to take care of her family, have to fulfill what she felt God wanted to do through her in her church, have to be a helpmate in her husband’s business. Then the challenge surfaced: If she didn’t plan, how would she accomplish all the have to’s? What resource could she draw on?

I told Laura that God had been teaching me how his grace is a resource that yields life. We can accomplish our activities as a manifestation of that life. Each day we can experience joy instead of the slow death of a numbing routine. I knew because I had experienced it both ways. Like Laura, in my attempt to be an obedient Christian, I had somehow missed the message that we not only begin our salvation by grace but also live it out by grace. In fact, I had found a verse that said this perfectly: “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (Galatians 3:3).

It took some time, but Laura began to yield to God. As she saw him working within her each day, his grace brought excitement and childlike anticipation to her life. Somehow, she still accomplished all the necessary tasks—not always in the order or the ways she anticipated—but they got done. This new way of living surfaced another, more powerful, force behind Laura’s need for productivity: her desire to be in control. Slowly and intentionally she discovered that when she yielded her control to Christ, she experienced his divine grace—the spiritual sweat of God’s diligent work in and through us.

In addition, like a queen ant, she hatched “eggs”—eggs of life. Because Laura possessed grace, other people she came into contact with were dusted effortlessly with life. The worker received grace by faith to be a queen.


Disgustingly Lukewarm Believers

Each of us must receive from the Holy Spirit the very real spiritual commodity of grace to live Christ’s life deposited within us. Receiving this grace comes through faith—faith in God instead of faith in self. Jesus desires that we possess all his riches: “All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you” (John 16:15).

However, most of us are like Laura used to be. We get so wrapped up in getting through each day in an orderly fashion that we forget to put our faith in God. As we gradually transfer faith in him to faith in ourselves, we become lukewarm.

Jesus addressed this phenomenon in his message to the Laodicean Christians: “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:14–16).

Jesus used strong language with these followers. He said, “I am about to spit you out.” Actually, that’s a nice way of saying, “I want to vomit you out”! Why did these Christians sicken Jesus so much?

In the ancient world, the master of the feast served cold beverages to refresh and revive or hot beverages to soothe and comfort. However, a lukewarm beverage—like drinking warm salt water—can make you sick. The Laodicean Christians knew this well, because they piped their drinking water from a city a few miles to the north. So by the time it reached their city, it was often lukewarm and even sickening to drink.

Yet instead of vomiting out these apathetic believers, Jesus offered them gold! This isn’t gold as we usually think of it. It wasn’t a tangible treasure. In fact, the Laodicean Christians had that. They paid more than twenty pounds in gold to Rome for taxes each year, yet Jesus called them “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” Instead, Jesus offered gold that the Old Testament prophet Malachi described this way: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness” (Malachi 3:3).

God’s pure gold is his grace. Only this kind of gold can make us truly rich. Instead of us being wretched and afflicted, his grace enables us to endure troubles. Instead of us being pitiful, God’s grace supplies us with the power to perform. Instead of us being poor and empty in satisfaction, his grace gives us wealth of significance. Instead of us being blind, the Lord’s grace enables us to perceive eternal reality. And instead of us being naked, impoverished morally, and dishonoring of our purpose for existence, God’s grace allows us to be clothed in right standing with him and able to offer righteous acts that will revive and comfort our disoriented world. All this will happen as we buy gold from Jesus.

The word buy is interesting (Rev. 3:17–18). Isn’t God’s grace free? Should Jesus have said, “receive” instead of “buy”?

Jesus is specific and intentional, and he indeed does say, “Buy.” Why? Because when you buy instead of receive, your heart moves toward what you desire at a cost. In essence, Jesus was saying to these Christians who lived in a materially abundant society, “Don’t just desire to be rich in God’s grace; take action at a cost to yourself to receive grace.” Let’s examine what that looks like.


Physical and Spiritual Gold

Even though God’s grace is spiritual gold, we can understand it better by comparing it to physical gold. For example, we know from artifacts of ancient civilizations that physical gold has been treasured since the beginning of history.3

Grace—spiritual gold—has also been treasured since the beginning of history. Philo, a first-century Jewish philosopher asserted,

The just man seeking to understand the nature of

all existing things, makes this one most excellent

discovery, that everything which exists, does so

according to the grace of God, and that there is

nothing ever given by, just as there is nothing

possessed by, the things of creation. On which

account also it is proper to acknowledge gratitude

to the Creator alone. Accordingly, to those persons

who seek to investigate what is the origin of

creation, we may most correctly make answer, that

it is the goodness and the grace of God, which he

has bestowed on the human race; for all the things

which are in the world, and the world itself, are

the gift and benefaction and free grace of God.4

Physical gold is also rare and beautiful. Even primitive people greatly desired this precious metal. However, they didn’t value gold for its beauty alone. They thought gold was divine—the sweat of the gods.5 When the ancient Egyptians discovered gold nuggets in riverbeds, they concluded that the gods had been working in Egypt and that the nuggets of gold provided evidence of the gods’ sweat. They also believed that this rare commodity held magical power to cure illness and give knowledge.

Grace, spiritual gold, is certainly rare and beautiful—so rare that we can only find it in one source: Jesus Christ. Grace is also mystical, because we can’t explain how grace given by Jesus Christ can cure illness, give knowledge, and impart life. The apostle Paul expressed it this way: “For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! . . . For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ”

(Romans 5:15, 17).

Further, grace is truly divine. We could say that God’s grace is the spiritual sweat of his diligent work. Jesus said, “My Father has worked [even] until now, [He has never ceased working; He is still working] and I, too, must be at [divine] work” (John 5:17 amp).

I like this summary of God’s grace: inexhaustible, unmerited benefits that give us joy, pleasure, goodwill, thanksgiving, and the essential benefit—spiritual life.


A God of Grace

Almost everyone knows the Old Testament account of Noah and the ark. But in the many retellings of these events, we often miss the point. God revealed his abiding presence, provision, and authority, showing himself to be a God of grace, to Noah and his entire family and to generations that followed.

When I think about the story of Noah, I envision it like this:

In Noah’s time, lust had replaced love. The lust

for wealth led to murder. The lust for sex led to

beastly unions. Noah tried to remind his friends

and coworkers that they were fortunate to have

life in their bodies, to have food in their bellies,

and to have children in their arms. All this

provided evidence of the goodness of their God.

But they wouldn’t listen. They didn’t care. Their

evil thoughts and actions vilely betrayed the love

of their unseen God.

Alone, with his eyes toward heaven, Noah

searched for God’s formless face. Silently, he

declared his devotion to righteousness, knowing

in the pit of his being that this pleased God. And

God responded, “Noah, I’m going to put an end

to all people, for the earth is filled with violence.

All the people of earth have corrupted their ways.

I am surely going to destroy both them and the

earth.” The words sent a shock through Noah’s

body. But before Noah could respond, God

added, “But you, Noah, have found grace in my

sight.”

Of course, the rest of Noah’s story is well

known. God instructed him to build the ark,

to gather pairs of every kind of animal, and to

prepare for the flood. Noah and his wife, and

their sons and their wives, along with the animals,

were the only survivors of the flood.

After the floodwaters subsided, Noah stood

with the grass moist beneath his feet and his

sun-kissed face toward heaven. He beamed as

tears streamed down his cheeks. Birds fluttered

overhead. The jackrabbit and kangaroo seemed

to race. Horses galloped by as bears rolled in

the grass, scratching their backs. With his hands

clasped behind his back, Noah felt a fragile hand

in his own. He turned and again was enraptured

by his own mate’s eyes. “God has made a new

home for us,” she whispered tenderly.

At that moment, voices they’d heard a

thousand times registered in their ears: “Mom!

Dad! Look!” Turning toward their children, Noah

and his wife saw the heavens as a brilliant canvas

cascading with vibrant colors. A new home, a

new land, love, harmony, blessing. Fixed on the

glorious sky, Noah declared, “This rainbow is a

sign of God’s grace toward all life on the earth.”

(author’s summary of Genesis 6:9–9:17)


Eternal Drudgery or Eternal Dynasty?

Even today God testifies that he a God of grace. Yet we often fail to stake our claim on the gift of grace in Jesus Christ. Like my friend Laura, we face a choice of what we want to participate in. We might call it eternal drudgery or eternal dynasty. So often we choose the drudge—and we end up feeling lost, hopeless, useless, numb, stale, and even obsolete.

God, however, wants us to choose the dynasty and that is why Jesus warns: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

What keeps us from making the obvious choice—the lifegiving choice of God’s grace? I believe for most of us it is a fundamental misunderstanding of grace. Jerry Bridges wrote, “I suspect most of us would say we declared permanent bankruptcy. Having trusted in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation, we realized we could not add any measure of good works to what He has already done. However, I think most of us, actually declared temporary bankruptcy. Having trusted in Christ alone for our salvation, we have subtly and unconsciously reverted to a works relationship with God in our Christian lives. We recognize that even our best efforts cannot get us to Heaven, but we think they earn God’s blessings in our daily lives.”6

For most of us, just trudging through life day to day blinds us from seeing our need for God’s grace. Look at the following areas of life, and think about how each of these can challenge your need for God’s grace.


• Spiritual life: Do you feel barren or empty? Or do you sense that you’re growing and even reproducing life in others?

• Physical life: Do you constantly sense a decrease in force or energy? Or are you alive with energy provided by your relationship with the Holy Spirit?

• Mental life: Do you feel like you’re regressing from a state of stability—maybe feeling lost or even having perverse thoughts? Or do you feel vivid, charged, and stable, with your experiences creating pleasant and fulfilling memories?

• Emotional life: Do you go through most days feeling numb, lacking power to respond? Or do you feel passionate about your relationship with the Lord—having a relationship that you could describe as glowing or on fire?

• Appearance: When you look in the mirror, would you describe yourself as lacking radiance, cold, or even steely? Or would you say that you’re bright, glowing, and animated because of your relationship with Christ?

• Activities: As you go through each day, week, month, and year, do you see the things you need to accomplish as decreasing in quality or as too uniform and listlike in nature? Or do you find a variety in your activities that allows you to approach them with a sense of vigor and a satisfaction that you’re accomplishing tasks out of your love for God?

• Relationships: Do you find yourself easily offended or sense that your relationships with others are stale? Or would you describe your relationships as pure, vital, and functioning because of who you are in Christ?

If the first question in each of these areas describes you more often than the second, you might sum up your feelings by saying that your physical existence is more an experience of death than life.

But is that really what you want? Instead, most of us would rather answer yes to each area’s second question. Those questions describe true life when we embrace God’s precious treasure of grace.

How conscious are you of God’s desire to extend his grace to you each day? Maybe your image of God is one of a detached king in an air-conditioned heaven, feasting on grapes and wine. But that’s not who God is at all! Instead, he is working, creating you in Christ to be a work of grace and to do his works of grace. God is a hands-on God, who works efficiently, extending grace with his hand of Light—Christ. God touches us with the Holy Spirit, causing us to grow, have life, and bear fruit for him. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (John 15:16).

“I chose you.” Those three words alone illustrate how God actively works in our lives. Pastor and teacher Oswald Chambers commented on those three words: “That is the way the grace of God begins. It is a constraint we cannot get away from; we can disobey it, but we cannot generate it. The drawing is done by the supernatural grace of God, and we can never trace where His work begins. Salvation is not merely deliverance from sin, nor the experience of personal holiness; the salvation of God is deliverance out of self entirely into union with Himself.”7


The King’s Throne: God’s Throne of Grace

I will never forget one of the most dramatic examples of God’s grace at work that I have ever witnessed. In October 1996 Yankee Stadium was filled with people on their feet. The roar was deafening. The pitch was thrown, and the home crowd went wild as the pop-up was caught, and the New York Yankees won the World Series. John Wetteland, the thirty-year-old closing pitcher, was swept up in the air by his teammates. My husband, Steven, and I sat in front of our television set with tears streaming down our cheeks as we watched John scan the stands, searching for his wife, Michele.

I first met Michele in the spring of 1990, when both of our husbands were in major league spring training camp with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yet I’d heard of Michele much earlier. Before either of us got married, our future husbands, Steven and John, were roommates during winter ball in Puerto Rico. Apparently, the women pursuing John in his single days were notorious, and the other ballplayers teased John about his pursuers, referring to them as a harem.

Michele was busy pursuing God’s will for her life, attending college and working part-time. When John, the renowned “king of the ladies,” visited her hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, for a series of games, Michele was certainly intrigued and fascinated, but not captured. Michele already considered herself part of a harem—she was a bride of the Lord Jesus, and she resided in his court, respecting his kingdom’s rule.

This posed a problem for John, who indeed was captured by Michele. Instead of being lured by John’s gold and the prospect of more gold, Michele turned away. Like the Grinch in the Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas, John was struck with amazement: What’s this? No cards? No calls? No boxes? No bows?

Intrigued and fascinated by whatever commodity could compete with his own, John met the lover of Michele’s soul—the Lord Jesus Christ. Admitting that he’d been trying for years to fill a void in his life that he never could fill, John surrendered himself to God’s kingdom and received an overabundance of grace—the spiritual gold that really satisfies.

Steven and I watched as John stood beside Michele and their twin daughters to receive the trophy for the Most Valuable Player in the World Series. Emotion-filled words choked from his lips: “I would first like to thank Jesus Christ—my point man. Then my wife, Michele, who is my rock.” John was correct with this declaration, because the Rock of Jesus Christ is inside Michele Wetteland. Her spiritual grasp was stretched in her courtship with John, and now she’s richer in every way for choosing to possess God’s grace, instead of merely the world’s gold.


Thrones of Gold

All of us must make the same choice that Michele faced. Will we place ourselves or the world or a myriad of other things on the throne of our lives? Or will we become royal children of God, placing him on the throne to rule and make us rich with his grace? As followers of Christ, each believer becomes part of God’s royal spiritual kingdom. Since we are his royal children, God doesn’t withhold any good thing from our spiritual life. The psalmist wrote, “The Lord God . . . gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right” (Psalm 84:11 nlt).

Of course, the false thrones of the world certainly look attractive. This was true even in ancient civilizations. The pharaohs and high priests of Egypt sat on gold thrones, and their palaces and temples sparkled and gleamed with gold. They sat on hammered gold-sheathed furniture surrounded by golden statues. Gold thread shimmered in draperies, tapestries, and clothing. The very walls shone with gold. At night royalty slept on gold beds. When Queen Hatshepsut rose from her morning bath, she powdered her body with gold dust. The Egyptians buried their royalty in gold, wrapping their bodies in yards and yards of linen strips with golden jewels placed in the wrappings. The coffins that held the wrapped bodies and the jars that held their vital organs were covered in gold. We could say that a royal Egyptian’s journey through life to afterlife was a path of gold.8

In contrast, God offers us his true throne of grace. He and Jesus are seated on this throne of grace. Yet God’s grace also pervades every part of his kingdom. He purchased his royal children’s salvation with grace. We, his heirs, are covered with grace. We display his grace, and we sit with him by grace. Because we are royal children of God, our journey through life to eternity is a path of grace.

The writer of Hebrews described the Lord’s throne this way: “We have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God. . . . Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14, 16).


God’s Grace: Spiritual Wealth

You might recall the Old Testament account of Sarai and Abram. God gave this husband and wife an opportunity to exercise their faith and to increase their capacity to receive spiritual wealth—God’s grace. God initiated his grace by calling Sarai, and by faith she received grace when she obeyed God by following her husband.

Sarai was stunningly beautiful. Living in the excitement of a metropolitan city, this woman had looks, wealth, love, and servants. Even her name was a blessing: “my princess.” Yet for all the things Sarai had, she lacked one thing—a child. In her day, nothing she possessed compared with what she lacked.

Then God told Sarai, through Abram, to leave her familiar surroundings and travel with Abram to an unknown land that he would show them, promising that it would be worth their while. The land they journeyed to was occupied by another nation, and the people there were experiencing a famine. This meant that Sarai and Abram faced famine as well when they arrived. What were they to do? Trust in self-rule or God’s rule? God had placed them on the road, and they would learn that God would preserve them on the road. They would learn to follow, not lead.

Fearing for his life, due to the famine in the land, Abram decided to take an independent journey, traveling from the land of God’s choosing down to Egypt and right out of God’s perfect will. Then, fearing that the pharaoh might kill him and seize Sarai for his harem, Abram stepped further out of God’s will and hatched his own plan.

Abram said to Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you” Genesis 12:11–13).

The choice Sarai faced didn’t appear to be a grace-laden path at all. Instead, it appeared to be a dead end, where she would lose her chastity, her honor, and her promise for a happy and fulfilled life. She found herself at a crossroads of two kingdoms: not Egypt’s or her husband’s, but self-rule or God’s rule. Certainly, self-rule seemed reasonable, because Sarai thought she would lose everything. Assertiveness, as we will see later, wasn’t something she lacked. Yet God promised her what self-rule could never give her: a child.

So Sarai trusted God, yielding to her husband and obeying his wishes. This placed her right in the gold-adorned court of Pharaoh, Egypt’s ruler. The Egyptian courts at this time were lavish in golden d├ęcor. The Egyptian goldsmiths were experts at combining different colors of gold in their patterns. Adding iron gave gold a purple hue, copper made it red, and silver made the gold pale yellow.

Draped in an array of physical gold as part of the king’s harem, Sarai remained obedient to God. Although she was physically trapped in Egypt, she had not ventured spiritually from the court of the King of Kings. God rescued this royal child and, consequently, her husband and their entire entourage, sending “great plagues” on Pharaoh and his household. This all happened before Egypt’s king could violate her in any way. Abram, her husband, was shamed for his lack of faith in attempting to sustain his life apart from obedience to God.

With Sarai’s spiritual grasp stretched by exercising her faith, she possessed more grace/gold than when she arrived; she left Egypt as a wealthy woman spiritually as well as materially. Pharaoh treated Abram well for Sarai’s sake, and Abram acquired sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, and servants.


The Golden Path of Grace

Sarai chose the path of grace. This golden road leads away from trusting in self-rule toward complete reliance on God. As Christ’s followers, we all face this choice. Will we place ourselves or Jesus Christ on the throne of our lives? If we choose to let Jesus reign, God promises that we will experience the richness of his grace in our present life and in eternity. The apostle Paul eloquently described this great gift of grace: “For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]” (Ephesians 2:10 amp).

Did you catch that? God has prepared paths for us, and we should walk in them! Yet we so often stumble on the path, failing to live the abundant life God has for us. Paul addressed the reason for our stumbling: “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the ‘stumbling stone.’ As it is written: ‘See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame’” (Romans 9:30–33).

How interesting that Paul described Jesus as a stumbling stone. Think about that. You don’t stumble over a mountain or even a huge boulder. You stumble over a nugget that’s right under your nose, because you didn’t see it. That’s the way it is with God’s grace. His grace is right under our noses, there to meet our every need throughout each day. But instead of realizing it, and instead of kneeling down and receiving it, we stumble along in unbelief.

Walking the golden path of grace isn’t a scurry through the mall or a race measured by speed. It’s a deliberate, intentional climb up the jagged face of a mountain with stones mixed in with hard dirt.

When we think about the consequences of stumbling while climbing a mountain compared to stumbling on a flat terrain, we understand why the psalmist declared, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). A light on a dark and dangerous mountain, pointing out nuggets that when overlooked would become stumbling stones, would be the difference between a steady assent and a bloody heap of broken bones.

In the same way, as we travel up the golden path of grace, God’s written Word is the light that points to who Christ is and the grace we can receive. When we see and receive nuggets of truth of who he is on our individual, prearranged path and trust him completely, we are never put to shame. “I want those already wise to become the wiser and become leaders by exploring the depths of meaning in these nuggets of truth” (Proverbs 1:5–6 lb). Possessing his spiritual richness and abundance sounds better

than a bloody heap of broken bones!


—————————— Nuggets——————————

G od’s

R iches

A t

C hrist’s

E xpense

——————— A Prayer of Grace ———————


Lord God, we acknowledge we exist only because of your grace toward us. You are our Creator, and we praise you for our very existence, our planet, and all that spans beyond our universe. We acknowledge the rarity and beauty of your grace given to us in Jesus Christ, and we know that no one can come to you apart from him.

Father, we acknowledge that you are always working in and around us, pouring out your grace as you re-create us in Christ Jesus to do the very works of grace you have preplanned for us. We acknowledge that two roads exist in life. One we walk by our natural resources that lead to destruction. The other we walk intentionally as a spiritual road of grace that leads to life. Thank you for providing this golden road of grace and the gate, Jesus Christ, by which we gain access.

Help us, Lord, to slow our pace, to take our steps cautiously, so as to live the abundant life you have prearranged and made ready. Amen.


——————— Questions for Reflection ———————

• Reflect on a time when you or your family was lost. How did it make you feel?

• What were some of the reasons you lost your way?

• If walking the golden path of grace isn’t a scurry through the mall or a race measured by speed, how conducive is your lifestyle to carefully walking the golden road of grace? Is your goal to keep pace with grace or pace with the world?

• Consider a time when you have stumbled in unbelief in difficult circumstances. How did God show you he was present and there for you?


Notes

1. Arthur W. Pink, The Doctrine of Sanctification (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1955), 200.

2. Not her real name.

3. Richard B. Lyttle, The Golden Path (New York: Atheneum Books, 1983), 15.

4. Philo Judaeus, The Works of Philo (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995), CD-ROM.

5. Lyttle, Path, p. 21.

6. Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 17.

7. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1935), 73.

8. Lyttle, Path, p. 10.

My review: Every page of this book is packed with knowledge on how to receive, give, display, accept and even lead others to find God's grace. I read it much too quickly as to be ready for this review - especially after I discovered all the Bible Study resources at the back of the book.Each chapter also contains some great questions on reflection to help you apply teachings to your life! I am definitely going to try to find someone to participate in a small group study with me to more fully appreciate everything that Pam Davis has to share regarding God's grace!

Here are some things that stuck with me: Imagine a woman living in poverty, and you said, "Reach out and take this gold coin." If she couldn't see the coin, she might be skeptical that it even existed. However, if you held out the coin for her to see, she would probably reach to receive it. Here's the point: Telling people to have faith in God's grace isn't nearly as effective as allowing God to use our dependent lives as canvas for Him to display His grace.

Then there was the story she told of a girlfriend who had been attending her Bible study for two years, but had yet to accept Christ. One night (morning) after a weekend retreat as they drove home, the girlfriend was excited at the prospect of an "eternal slumber party" - but Pam told her in exhaustion that she wouldn't be there, she would be in hell (What a wake up call!) Before the morning ended, the friend had accepted Christ. - - I am currently studying Isaiah with a group of woman at my church, and after reading Isaiah 24 - the question was brought up that if we TRULY believed the destruction that is coming - why are we not out BOLDLY witnessing to friends and family. Telling someone that they would be in hell is, I think, as BOLD as you can get!

And the last quote that I would like to share from the book: Billy Graham once said, "Becoming a Christian can be the act of a moment; being a Christian is the act of a lifetime." The same is true of grace. For Christians, receiving grace is an act of a moment; continuing in grace is the act of a lifetime.

Read this book, pray for God's wisdom and understanding and fully receive God's grace! If you haven't figured it out - I highly recommend this book!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where are You?







I am in Turtle Creek at my family's newspaper office. We have just finished our Christmas celebration and the weather is starting to take a turn for the worse. I have sent up a prayer for a new editor when Joe walks in from the cold.

The Christmas Edition - by Robin Shope




Where are you?

Teaser Tuesday


Posting for the new weekly event, “TEASER TUESDAYS“!
Grab your current read. Let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given! Please avoid spoilers!
My teaser this week is from Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None - pg 51 -They had left it like that. What else was there to day? Together Armstrong and Lombard had carried the inert body of Anthony Marston to his bedroom and had laid him there covered over with a sheet.
And another from Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain - pg 117 - Inman pulled out his knife and held it point down, his arm relaxed. He said, You come to me looking for vengeance, I won't even waste a cartridge. I'll lay you open right here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Whitcoulls Challenge - Take 2

I have decided to do this challenge, as upon looking over the list for 2008, found that many of these books were already on my TBR list. To sign up for this challenge please go here.

The rules are that you just need to read a minimum of 4 books (all must be new reads) from the same year's list, between Nov 15, 2008 and Nov 15, 2009. You can find lists for 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2008.


My TBR list includes:

Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
The Lovely Bones - A Novel - Alice Sebold
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
Eragon - Christopher Paolini
H.P. and the Half-Blood Prince - JK Rowling
H.P. and the Deathly Hallows- JK Rowling

The Handmaid's Tale - by Margaret Atwood

This book was Cafe alibri's October read (yes, I am reading it a little late!) I wish that I could have read it when they did, because I think the discussion for this book would have been tremendous. It also fits in with the following reading challenges: Book to Movie Challenge, Lit Flicks Challenge, Unread Author's Challenge, and New Classics Challenge.







The book is set in the near future somewhere in the U.S., probably on the East Coast - it is now called the Republic of Gilead. It is the story of Offred (Of-fred), a woman whose sole purpose is to provide a baby for a Commander(Fred) and his wife(Serena Joy). She is only valuable as long as her eggs are still viable. Once a month she is required to have sex, under the watchful eye of Serena Joy, in the hopes of becoming pregnant. In this futuristic society, population is declining, and healthy babies are few and far between. The cruelty is that Offred (we never learn her real name) once had a husband, a child, a job - what we would consider a normal middle class life. Then seemingly over night, the government was wiped out and a new regime was begun.



My first thoughts when I began reading this book were "yeah, right" - but it made me start to think- slavery, Jews, Darfur, Afghanistan - how easily could this happen right here in the United States today?



This was a very disturbing, yet fascinating book. It jumped back and forth from what you would consider the narrator's present to her past as the story unfolded. This made me want to keep reading so I could learn how she had arrived at her present place. Warning though - if you like books that tie up all the loose ends and everyone lives happily ever after, this is not for you. I give this book 4 1/2 of 5 stars - only because I do like those happily ever afters!



I was not aware that this had been made into a movie until after I had begun the book. Now my quest is to get a hold of a copy of the movie!

Other reviews:
Things Mean a Lot

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Genre Challenge

I seem to be spending more time reading blogs and about book challenges than actually reading books - but I am going to sign up for a couple of more challenges that are starting this month. The first one is the Genre Challenge.



This challenge will run from November 1, 2008 – November 1, 2009

The goal: To read one book in the following genres:
1.crime fiction - Fatal Illusions - Adam Blumer
2. detective fiction - Scream for Me - Karen Rose
3. mystery fiction - And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

4. horror fiction - Duma Key by Stephen King
5. thriller fiction - Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

6. romance fiction -The Christmas Edition by Robin Shope
7. science fiction - Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
8. action/adventure fiction
9. fantasy fiction - Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr
10. realistic fiction - Simple Wishes by Lisa Dale
11. historical fiction - In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett
12. western fiction

Specific definitions of these genres can be found in this post.

There are three options if you want to join:
A: Read 10 books, drop the genre you read the most and one of your own choosing.
B: Read 11 books, drop the genre you read the most.
C: Read 12 books.

The rules:
You may not read more than 1 book per genre.
All books must be read within the challenge period.
No crossovers within the challenge, each genre should have a separate book.
Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
Audio books are allowed, graphic novels are not.
You may make a list of books, but that’s not mandatory and you can change your picks at any time before or during the challenge.

To join, click here.


I think that I will probably try to read all genres since I would not be able to pick one to exclude! As I decide on my list, I will post it here.

Where Are You?



Where are you?





It is May, 1995, and I am a sophomore at Fuller Theological Seminary's Graduate School of Psychology in southern California. I just found out that my girlfriend is really a lesbian and that my roommate has been dealing with the same feelings of emptiness and not belonging anywhere also. So for the second time in one night, after months of not talking with God - I am beginning the conversation again.











I am in the Republic of Gilead (which is somewhere in the U.S. in the future). The Commander has called me privately to his office - but it is illegal for us to be alone together. If anyone sees me, then I will have to suffer the punishments of the Commander's wife. My curiousity has won out though, as I am desperate for any connection to my life "before".

Tuesday Teasers


Posting for the new weekly event, “TEASER TUESDAYS“! Grab your current read.Let the book fall open to a random page.Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!Please avoid spoilers!

My first teaser is from Assaulted by Joy by Stephen W. Simpson. pg 41 -
This is especially true for Christians who fall in love with Jesus when they're young. We give our lives to something beautiful and pure, believing that it will never be tarnished.



My second teaser is from The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - pg 95 - If he were better looking would I enjoy this more? At least he's an improvement on the previous one, who smelled like a church cloakroom in the rain; like your mouth when the dentist starts picking at your teeth; like a nostril.


Cactus Cuties/Veterans Day

I saw this u-tube clip and had to share it with everyone in honor of Veteran's Day. Enjoy! You will not regret clicking on this link!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKCVS57j284

Monday, November 10, 2008

Marriage Retreat

I spent the weekend in lovely Delavan, Wisconsin with my husband of 7 1/2 years at our first marriage retreat. If you have never been on one, I highly recommend it! We had a great time. The speakers, Kurt and Kristin Sauder were humorous, insightful and very charismatic! The first night we spent talking about building our marriage bank, and what we felt were deposits and withdrawals. The best part of the meetings were after the meetings - discussion sheets were provided and you got to have some alone time with your spouse. I cannot believe how easily my husband opened up when it was someone other than me (even if it was a piece of paper) asking the questions! Even after years together, there were things that were important to him, that I didn't realize were THAT important.

As the weekend went on, there were other meetings - Respecting your husband (for the women) and How to Become a Romantic Stud (for the men) - There was also a meeting called You Are Here - which had you remember back to how it was when you first met - and what attracted you to the other person to begin with. On one of these discussion sheets it asked what you would like to change in your marriage and I wrote down - Spiritual time together. My husband asked me what I meant by that, and I said that I would like to pray together. He said - you know that is hard for me. I told him that it was hard for me, too. And we left it at that.

At the Sunday morning service, before we all left to return home - the leaders led us in a prayer by couples - First he would say - men, pray about this aloud with your wife, women, pray about this aloud with your husband... (like what you were thankful for in each other, etc) One of the women's prayers was to be about another couple who were struggling. Instantly a woman came to mind who I hadn't heard from in about 6 months. We have kids close to the same age, and occassionally got together for playdates, but just hadn't been able to connect in a while. I also knew that finances the last few years had been tough for them. That is who I chose to pray for with my husband.

Then - the best thing happened - we got to renew our vows with 50+ other couples. Talk about a moving experience. When that tear rolled out of my husband's eye, I knew that I was in the right place!

Well, we packed up and came home and as I was checking my email before bed, I almost fell out of my chair. There was an email from the woman who I had prayed about, who I hadn't heard from in 6 months. It just said that I had been on her mind a lot and she would like to try to get together and see a movie or go out for dinner. God still answers prayers! It was also wonderful to be able to share this with my husband - the one who had trouble praying out loud. I am hoping that it will get easier from here!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Duma Key by Stephen King

How do you write a review for a 600+ page book? Especially one by Stephen King!? This was a terrific book in true Stephen King style - he has a way of building the tension (or the terror) and then backing off.. only to start it up again. As I was reading, I thought I was coming to climax of the book, only to realize that I had 200 pages left - in which a lot of ground was covered! Ok - let's try to sum it up.

This is the story of a man(Edgar Freemantle) from Minnesota who lost his right arm as well as messing up his brain in a construction accident. The rage that comes with the accident causes him to lose his wife/marriage. He relocates to Duma Key after his psychologist suggests a "geographic cure".

He rents out a house which he names "Big Pink". Here he begins to draw and then to paint - many of the paintings are preceded by a burning itch in his phantom arm that can only be appeased by painting. From here I cannot explain it better without giving away too much than what is on the cover:

A visit from Ilse, the daughter he dotes on, starts his movement out of solitude. He meets a kindred spirit in Wireman, a man reluctant to reveal his own wounds, and then Elizabeth Eastlake, a sick old woman whose roots are tangled in Duma Key. Now Edgar paints, sometimes feverishly, his exploding talent both a wonder and a weapon. Many of his paintings have a power that cannot be controlled. When Elizabeth's past unfolds and the ghosts of her childhood begin to apear, the damage of which they are capable is truly devastating.

The tenacity of love, the perils of creativity, the mysteries of memory and the nature of the supernatural - Stephen King gives us a novel as fascinating as it is gripping and terrifying.


I highly recommend this book! 5/5 stars

5 Under 35 Perpetual Challenge

I joined this challenge a few weeks ago, and did not blog about it - (If I don't blog, then I don't remember ...) So here it is. Go here to sign up, and rules are below:

Perpetual Challenge beginning October 1, 2008
Beginning in 2006, the National Book Foundation has recognized five young writers in its 5 Under 35 Program. The National Book Foundation writes:
These five writers have each been selected by a previous National Book Award Finalist or Winner as someone whose work is particularly promising and exciting and is among the best of a new generation of writers.
This challenge is designed as a perpetual challenge (no end date) to read the five books selected each year by the National Book Foundation in the 5 Under 35 Program. To see the lists of books chosen, follow the links below:
2006 Winners
2007 Winners
2008 Winners

The Countdown Challenge

Here is an interesting challenge - though it does involve a lot of books, you can retroactive in back to August. That should help with some of the reading!

Go here to sign up - but rules are below.



The goal of this challenge is to read the number of books first published in a given year that corresponds to the last digit of each year in the 2000s — 9 books from 2009, 8 books from 2008, etc. The total number of books required, therefore, is 45.
This challenge lasts from 8/8/08 through 9/9/09. Yes, it is retroactive to August 8th!
Crossovers with other challenges are allowed and your lists may change at any time.

After looking at the books I have read since august - already have these books done:

2009 - Gatekeepers - Robert Liparulo
2009 - Be Strong and Curvaceous - Shelley Adina
2009 - For the Love of Pete - Julia Harper
2009 - Lost in Las Vegas - Melody Carlson
2009 - Scrapping Plans - Rebeca Seitz
2009 - Lessons From San Quentin - Bill Dallas
2009 - Simple Wishes - Lisa Dale
2009 - The Spring of Candy Apples - Debbie Viguie
2009 - Age Before Beauty - Virginia Smith
2008 - Duma Key by Stephen King
2008 - Assaulted by Joy - Stephen Simpson
2008 - In the Shadow of Lions - Ginger Garrett
2008 - Drinkwater - Eric Hopkins
2008 - The Christmas Edition - Robin Shope
2008 - House of Dark Shadows - Robert Liparulo
2008 - Watcher in the Woods - Robert Liparulo
2008 - Walking with Wolf - Kay Chornook & Wolf Guindon
2007 - A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
2007 - The Maidenstone Lighthouse by Sally Smith O'Rourke
2007 - Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill
2007 - Diamonds in the Shadow - Caroline B. Cooney
2007 - Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr
2007 -
2007 -
2006 - Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
2006 - The Road by Cormac McCarthy
2006 - Murder, Mayhem and a Fine Man - Claudia Mair Burney
2006 -
2006 -
2006 -
2005 - Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
2005 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
2005 -
2005 -
2005 -
2004 -
2004 -
2004 -
2004 -
2003 - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - JK Rowling
2003 -
2003 -
2002 - Coraline by Neil Gaiman
2002 -
2001 -

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