Category Archives: Books

Book: My Sister’s Keeper

This week, I’ve been ready My Sister’s Keeper.
I picked it up with no info on it, just looking for a mindless read.

Target: MISSED!

This book has knocked me on my butt, & put into narrative some really personal struggles.

Namely, how do we parent each child individually & as part of the family?
Especially, how “right” is it to assume that they each prioritize one another as you do?

As a parent of 3, with one child sandwiched between siblings with Down syndrome, I’ve formed opinions on this that were challenged and examined in this novel.

Quick summary of the family in My Sister’s Keeper:
Jesse – 18 yr old brother
Kate – 16 yr old sister with leukemia
Anna – 13 yr old sister, born by IVF to be a genetic match to Kate, so her umbilical cord blood can be used to treat Kate’s leukemia

Broad issue of book:
Is it in the best interest of Anna to be a donor to Kate?
Who gets to decide?

I’m not in this specific situation, but I am reflecting on both how decision about Holden’s life are effected by the sibling’s developmental differences…
How my attitude prioritizes each child.

Interesting, emotional read.

The questions I want to ask you… (Book: In the Land of the Blue Burqas)

My preferred reading genre is autobiographical faith-journeys… I don’t really like to hear WHAT you believe out of context, but I love to hear how you got to your beliefs.

I also kinda stink at casual conversation, since I am really hoping to discuss something meaningful… but getting there is sometimes awkward, and often doesn’t happen.

I have been reading In the Land of the Blue Burqas, an amazing model by a Christian living in Afghanistan of living out her faith in Jesus, while at the same time asking meaningful questions of her neighbors.

Her chapter titles reveal the questions she is resolving in her book:

  • Whose example do we follow?
  • Who is God?
  • How do we respond to evil done to us?
  • Who can judge?
  • Who protects us from temptation?
  • How do we learn to live our faith?
  • How should we pray?
  • How should we fast?
  • How do we live with open hands?

I have been intrigued to see how carefully she resolves these questions Biblically, so that her example is informed by her teacher, Jesus Christ.

Her respectful examination of the Afghani worldview has been a great lesson.

Here is my most challenging, but favorite section so far:

The kingdom of God is like a farmer who plants seeds. He sleeps and wakes, and the seeds grow. He doesn’t know how they grow; he only knows they do. My confidence is in this: If the seed I planted was a good seed and the soil that received it was ready, the seed grew and that gentle lady found peace.

Sometimes we imagine that all this is good in God as revealed in Christ only belongs to those who’ve adopted a complete framework of theological beliefs. We imagine that until a person understands and confesses belief that Jesus is God, that He died on the cross for our sins and rose the third day, the teachings and blessings of God remain inaccessible.¬†We sometimes make the mistake of viewing ourselves and others as either in or out, as either wearing our team’s jersey or not wearing it.

How much better to remember that we are all on a journey. Each time we see or hear or in some way grasp a teaching or revelation of Christ, we are drawn out of an area of darkness within our lives into His light and truth, into His beautiful kingdom. He invites us to walk with Him, to learn from Him, and to find in Him the healing, love, joy, and peace that our souls desperately need.

Sometimes, this is a real confusion for me. I am confused about what hope I can offer someone who does not believe in Jesus as Lord.

This passage, and the examples given, are refreshing. Because I know the design of the Kingdom of God is best no matter what. Being generous, humble, kind, forgiving, faithful to your spouse all lead to a more peaceful life on earth.

I am very thankful for this book!

Balance and finding peace

February was a huge turning point for me. It was on our 10 year anniversary trip, and I was contemplating being overextended… and I had brought along One Thousand Gifts to read.

That’s when I wrote them down:

Things to be known for:
Prayer
Motherhood
Spiritual leadership

After reading on page 66, “On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgement and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur.”

Isn’t that just me? Always in such an impatient hurry, that I never become a “pro” at anything.

Well, not anymore.
I used that list, that weekend, to help me decide if I could continue to juggle the extra job of teaching people about microboards. It was a project that just made so much sense to me that it took awhile to evaluate how it was taking AWAY from what I was working toward in the long run.

Today, I am back to that list.
For the past month, even more 2 weeks, I have lost balance. The project this time: the microboard created to be a support for Arabella and Darin.
It became the creator, using me as a tool for it’s good.
I have not read my Bible, I have not enjoyed the kids, I have neglected other things, and I almost have an ulcer.

And yesterday, I started evaluating if this tool was worth all it was costing me.
Tonight, I decided it was not.

And the confirmation: ahhhhh, that old friend, peace

Book: The Gospel according to LOST

Gospel according to LOST I haven’t been reading as much as I want to, but fit in a light read on several days at the VA with my Mimi.

My husband already wrote a much better blog on this book… but here’s my attempt.

I love LOST.
I like Chris Seay, and many of his co-authors in the Ecclesia family (namely, J Wakeham).
So I was curious to see how those 2 could go together.
I was really surprise just how well.

The Gospel according to LOST was written vignette-style, with a chapter on most of the main characters, and then chapters on the interpersonal relationships between different characters.
It was so enlightening!
The most surprising to me was the chapter on Hugo (Hurley). I didn’t realize how central and relate-ible he is.
The most accurate chapter was on Sawyer. I really like the closing ideas about how we do/do not want bad boys in our life to be redeemed.

The weirdest part of reading this book was how it influenced my viewing of the LOST Season 6 Premiere last night.
I’m not sure if I was watching the movie through my eyes, or the eyes of the book. It was definitely helpful for refreshing my memory, since I have only had time to rewatch Season’s 1-3, and didn’t recall much about the “Man in Black” who turned out to be a central character in the Season 6 premiere. If the book had not pointed this out, I would have been totally shocked by those flashbacks, and even more confused.

There are No Accidents

A letter from Judy Squier, who was born without legs, to a family with a child with a birth defect:

The first thing I would say is that all that this entails is at least one hundred times harder on the parents than the child. A birth defect by God’s grace does not rob childhood of its wonder, nor is a child burdened by high expectations. Given a supportive, creative and loving family, I know personally that I enjoyed not a less-than-average life nor an average life, but as I’ve told many, my life has been not ordinary but extraordinary.
I am convinced without a doubt that a loving Heavenly Father oversees the creative miracles in the inner sanctum of each mother’s womb [Psalm 139], and that in His sovereignty there are no accidents.
‘What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Creator calls a butterfly.’ As humanity we see only the imperfect, underside of God’s tapestry of our lives. What we judge to be ‘tragic-the most dreaded thing that could happen,’ I expect we’ll one day see as the awesome reason for the beauty and uniqueness of our life and our family. I think that’s why James 1:2 is a favorite verse of mine. Phillips’ translation put it this way; ‘When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders but welcome them as friends.’
I love Joni Eareckson Tada’s quote. When I saw it on the front of Moody Monthly, October 1982, I was convinced she’d penned the words for my epitaph. Now my husband David is aghast to hear me say I want it on my tombstone! Glory be!

People with disabilities are God’s best visual aids to demonstrate who He really is. His power shows up best in weakness. And who by the world’s standards is weaker than the mentally or physically disabled? As the world watches, these people persevere. They live, love, trust and obey Him. Eventually the world is forced to say, “How great their God must be to inspire this kind of loyalty.”

Being Christian didn’t shield my family from the pain and tears that came with my birth defect. In fact, ten years ago when David and I interviewed our parents for a Keepsake Tape, I was stunned to hear my mother’s true feelings. I asked her to tell the hardest thing in her life. Her response: ‘the day Judy Ann was born and still is…’ And yet when we as a family look back over the years, our reflections are invariably silenced by the wonder of God’s handiwork. Someday I hope to put it in a book and I know it will be to the glory of God
Getting married and becoming a mother were dreams I never dared to dream, but God, the doer of all mirables intended that my life be blessed with an incredible husband and three daughters. Emily is nine, Betsy will soon be seven, and Naphtalie Joy is four. I’ve decided that every handicapped person needs at least one child. They are fantastic helpers and so willing to let me ‘borrow their legs’ when I need help.
You as a family have been chosen in a special way to display His unique Masterwork. I pray that your roots of faith will grow deep down into the faithfulness of God’s Loving Plan, that you will exchange your inadequacy for the Adequacy of Jesus’ resurrection power, and that you will be awed as you witness the fruits of the Spirit manifested in your family.

(from Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart, pg 29-31)

Book: East of Eden

My last read was East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I wasn’t sure what to think of the characters for most of the book – they were intriguing, but not quite like people I have met.

But I ended up loving the book because it turns out most of the character development was really just background for you (the reader) to understand all the influences on a boy’s life, Caleb. Then you could see the crossroads he was at in fighting his internal demons.

I can definitely see why it was a classic.

Book: Salvador Witness-The Life and Calling of Jean Donovan

My next missionary book is Salvador Witness.

Quotes:

We have to have a far more nuanced understanding of poverty. It is a terrible tragedy to see the world powers reading as communism what is in fact nothing more than the cry of the poor for justice.
If the free West really wants to contain communism worldwide, then it must attack injustice. If the West were to declare war on poverty and eliminate poverty, communism would be dead, because no on would believe it.
Christ dealt with it in very simple terms. He said, you behave equally to all men for my sake. And he said the truth will make people free. But you see, people don’t like the truth, especially when it is a demanding truth, when it demands reform and it demands a redistribution of wealth. (Father Crowley, pg 51)

Soon, the Bible and the Gospel won’t be allowed to cross our borders. We will get only the bindings, because all of the pages are subversive. And I think that if Jesus himself came across the border at Chalatenango, they would not let him in. They would accuse the Man-God, the prototype of man, of being a rabble-rouser, a foreign Jew, one who confused the people with exotic and foreign ideas, ideas against democracy – that is, against the wealthy minority… Brothers and sisters, there is no doubt, they would crucify him again. (Father Rutilio Grande, in last mass before his martyrdom, pg 88)

[Y]ou can contribute a lot and make a big difference in the world if you realize that the world you’re talking about might be very small – maybe one person, or two people[.] (pg 96)

She became aware that the very people she had come all this way to help – the illiterate farm workers and their families, surviving day to day in their bone-poor, uncluttered houses – had something that she wanted…. She began to discover that life as it was lived by the Salvadoran poor was more real, more humane,… [they] depended for their very existence upon each other. (pg 106)

The persecution of the Church is a result of defending the poor…If all this has happened to the Church, you can guess what has happened to the ordinary Christian people…As always it has been the poor among us who have suffered most… our persecution is nothing more than sharing in the destiny of the poor. (Oscar Arnulfo Romero, pg 117 (rearranged))