I am not a huge fiction fan...
I don't sit around reading tons of fiction books for many reasons. Two of those reasons:
1) My time for reading is limited. If I am going to use my limited time for reading, I want it to be spent on things that are going to be helpful to me!
2) I hate to read things labelled "Christian" fiction that turn out to be carnal, flesh-filled, worldly... I am NOT filling my head with that junk.
So when I come across a Christian fiction book that is worth reading, I like to pass it on. Beyond the Gathering Storm by Janette Oke was such a book.
The book was given to me along with several others by the same author. It started out slow, and there were points where I was concerned where the book might go, but I am glad I stuck around and finished it.
It's about a brother and a sister who pursue relationships.
Now let's park right there and let me explain how picky I am. I don't do "romance" books. You know... those books about wooing and flirting and emotions out of control. Not interested. They aren't about love. They are about self-serving and gratification with no moral benefit to the reader. Yep. I am picky.
But I enjoy relationship books that keep things clean, God-honoring, and have good moral lessons.
So, with that said, this brother and sister pursue very different relationships in very different ways. Both are professing Christians who start out with standards, but one allows those standards to be chipped away in temptation. Compromises here and there. Before you know it, one sibling is snared into a relationship that causes great inner (and outer) conflict. You watch... um, read... the consequences and see the downward spiral. You see the steps that lead to the consequences.
The moral lesson of the book?
2 Corinthians 6:14 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"
The book does a great job displaying this truth and the stumbling block of thinking that "we can change them."
Things I loved about the book:
The book kept the "physical" side VERY clean... clean enough that I plan on letting my daughter read it. Literally, when there was kissing, it just said, "They kissed." No details about planting a wet sloppy one. Gag. So nothing there to incite passions that don't need to be awakened.
It showed both sides of the coin... the sibling who looked for the godly character as well as the sibling whose eye was swayed by the glitter of the world.
The ending was exactly what I had hoped for.
It wasn't sappy or chick-flicky!
The book is a great launching point for discussion with teens on what to look for in a potential mate. It is also a great starter for discussing having your standards firmly in place before temptation confronts you!
Things I didn't like about the book:
The Gospel was not clearly presented. It was a social "Go with God" presentation at best.
There was a serious issue with two people being unchaperoned in nonpublic places frequently, AND there was kissing frequently between two unmarried characters. Nothing blatant and gross, but they were not married. If you have a standard against those things, you might want to discuss it with any children who plan on reading the book. I recommend 12 years and older.
I didn't agree much with the decisions of the parents where the daughter was concerned... but that's a whole other story.
The book is definitely a great read and the lesson it teaches made it worth the time.
I love women's ministry. It's one of my passions. I love teaching. I love learning. I just love getting together with women and growing in the Lord through fellowship around His Word!
So it's no wonder I love reading books along those lines. One book I had been meaning to read for years (but never seemed to get around to it) was A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George.
Here's the blunt, short version...
There are practical tips in here that give great ideas.
It is presented in an organized layout.
It has a lot of great truths in it.
Covers the main priorities of women.
Redundancy! I think the book could have been reduced by at least 25% if you take out the repetition.
It isn't KJV... several versions used.
Not really much in the way of meat for those who have been growing for a while, but good reminders...
I am giving kind of a mediocre review on this one. I think the redundancy was the most distracting part of the book. I felt like saying, "OK. I get it already. Move on." And then in the next section... right back to it. Ugh! My time is very limited and I found myself skimming instead of reading because I hate redundancy.
The book wasn't a waste of time. There was still things to glean. This book just isn't at the top of my list of books for women.
Living overseas, there is no lack for adventure. Some adventures are memorable. Some adventures you just pray to forget.
Well, on the day I met Bruno, I thought it was an adventure to forget. But now I look back on Bruno with a fond, humorous affection. He truly was unforgettable.
It was a day like any other. I scurried to and fro getting my motherly and wifely duties accomplished.
See? Boring, normal day, right? I should have known my life was about to change, because never ever do we have a normal day on the field.
Anyway, it was time to check on the situation with the laundry. Now let me set up the scene. Our laundry room is actually a tiny bathroom. It is about a 4'x5' tiled room that includes a small sink, an Asian squatty potty toilet, and a shower corner (no stall... just a corner and a drain.) We set the washing machine over the squatty potty and use it for the water to drain out. This tiny room is prone to rats (not mice) coming up through the potty drain. Because of that, we keep a rat cage set and ready near the base of the potty for any unexpected hairy visitors. Traditional rat snap traps are very rare to find because the people of our country worship rats... therefore, the cage is the preferred method by the country... not by me. Either way, I am quite thankful to have some form of containment for the pesky critters.
Now, I know your next question. "When you actually catch a rat, what do you do with it?" I am glad you asked. We kindly take these caged critters outside to be released back into freedom. We have conveniently placed two canines outside to help them with this transition back into freedom. The canines have been specially trained to play fun games with any form of rodent.
Ok, back to my "normal" day...
I went into the laundry room to discover the rat cage was occupied. Inside this metal fortress was the largest rat I had ever seen. He wore sunglasses and a spiked collar. A cigarette dangled rebelliously out of his mouth. On his bulging, muscular arm was a tattoo of a heart that read "I love Mom." His abs were like rocks.
I grinned. This creature was rendered harmless by his jail cell, and in my mind I gloated about his transition back into freedom mere minutes from that moment. Immediately he was given the name Bruno. Tough, large, vicious Bruno. But he was in the cage and I was out. Peace, joy, contentment. I envisioned his upcoming "release into freedom," and I smiled. Until...
Suddenly, Bruno flexed his muscles. I kid you not, he grabbed the door of the cage like the Incredible Hulk and twisted the door out of his way. A look of horror avalanched down my face. I was alone in this tiny room with an escaping Bruno. I turned to run out the door, but before I could flee, Bruno (who also had the same idea of escaping his prison through that same door) ran through my feet. In the tangle of panic, I kicked Bruno into the air like a soccer ball. It felt like I had kicked a full grown cat. Bruno flew gracefully through air. I screamed. My son came running to see the commotion and began laughing hysterically. Bruno landed with a massive thud and trotted away.
I will never forget the day I met Bruno. It was my brush with death.
I will also never forget the next morning as our loving canines, with joy and smiles, let me know that they had also met Bruno and played games with him.
I am very patriotic. I love the land where I was born. The United States of America will always be precious to me even though I live in a foreign country. But I must admit, there is a country I love more than America.
One of my absolute favorite books, My People by Mike Patterson, has one of my all-time favorite quotes:
Dwelling on Heaven this morning because of Philippians 3:20-21.
Philippians 3:20-21 "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."
I am a firm believer that an American citizen should be a good, faithful citizen... involved in his or her country and investing in it, sacrificing if necessary.
But I am first and foremost a citizen of Heaven. How much more should my loyalties be! How much greater should my investment be!
Heaven... my Father's country.
Heaven... the home of my blood bought family.
Heaven... it isn't just my final destination. It's HOME!!!
As a citizen of that Country, I want to represent my country well.
I hate to admit it, but when we have American tourists here in this country, they don't always leave a good impression. Arrogance, slothful lifestyles, complaining, unwise decisions, attitudes, even the clothes they wear often do not leave a good representation of The United States of America. It sometimes makes me blush. I want to represent my country well. But even greater than representing USA well...
I want to represent Heaven well! I want to make my Father look good! I want to leave a good impression behind everywhere I go for future fellow countrymen who come behind me. How I dress, the attitudes I have, the habits I have, the decisions I make... I want them to think highly of my Country of Heaven, my Father, and my brothers and sisters.
And I want to invest in my Heavenly country. If need be, sacrifice even unto death for my Country. I want to carry into battle the flag... the bloodstained banner of my Country. So how about you? Where do your loyalties rest? Do you have an allegiance greater than earthly patriotism? Would you be willing to give up the land of your nativity for your Heavenly country? Are you representing that Country well? Are you carrying the bloodstained banner... the Gospel... holding it high so that all may see?