Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Story of Dinah: fact vs. fiction

In this next part of the book we are learning Dinah’s Story, or some of it anyway. Some of part 2 is what we learn in the Bible about her and the rest is fiction, lots of fiction. In this section of the book particularly starting at chapter 3 of Part 2 we begin to recognize some of the story. Chapter 3 is where Jacob has decided to leave Laban and go to Canaan. Of course this story is a lot more dragged out in this chapter than it actually is in the Bible. We read about Jacob and his family leaving, Laban catching up to them and searching for his idols, Jacob preparing to meet Esau and the night he wrestles with God. This part where Jacob wrestles with God is just as brief as it is in the Bible but we have a different perspective. Because it is Dinah telling the story in the book, she doesn’t share with us what we know from the Bible about how Jacob wrestled with God. All she shares is how he stayed alone that night across the river and they found him later hurt. So in this part I can see why the author may have left out some details because Joseph might not have shared with Dinah what really happened. Then at the very end of chapter 3, Dinah mentions the dreams that her brother Joseph begins to dream which is a foreshadowing for what we learn later about Joseph in the Bible. I strongly encourage you after you read Genesis:29 from before, to continue reading all the way through Genesis:32 for this chapter of the book. This way you can have your head straight on fiction vs. non-fiction.

In chapter 4 Jacob and Esau reunite and much more is described than what actually happens in the Bible. Go back and read Genesis 33 to refresh your memory. Chapters 5 & 6 fill us in on some of what could have been of the life of Dinah as a midwife. Chapter 6, Dinah become a woman. I did not care so much for this part of the book nor the description of the rituals. Again another part of the book I could have shut or had left out and been just fine. In chapter 7 though we come to the part where Dinah goes to Shechem and the part that she is known for in the Bible. Again, the way the story goes in the book is different from our short version we get in Genesis:34. The story in the book is of romance and love until it comes to the part where the men of Shechem are murdered. In the Bible it does not quite paint the same picture. It is a interesting thought to imagine that Dinah's life was filled with love and not rape but we only know what the Bible tells us. And it is here that the story of Dinah ends in the Bible. In chapter 8 we have a bit of what was in the Bible which is when Rachel died, it’s just not told quite the way we are told originally.

This all brings us to part three which is when Dinah makes her way to Egypt and is a part of the book that isn’t in the Bible at all. I know this post has alot of back and forth between what is in the Bible and what is not. I don't feel inspired to write about anything that touched me in the story. If you have any input please share! If you feel you have the means to write a post e-mail me at Thanks for reading and don't forget to go back and get that Bible out!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright

I just recently finished up reading The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright. When I heard what the book was about, the idea of Wednesday letters intrigued me. Here is what the book flap states:

They died in each other’s arms. But their secret – the letters – did not die with them. True love keeps no secrets. Jack and Laurel have been married for 39 years. They’ve lived a good life and appear to have had the perfect marriage. With his wife cradled in his arms, and before Jack takes his final breath, he scribbles his last “Wednesday Letter.” When their adult children arrive to arrange the funeral, they discover boxes and boxes full of love letters that their father wrote to their mother each week on Wednesday. As they begin to open and read the letters, the children uncover the shocking truth about their past. In addition, each one must deal with present-day challenges. Matthew has a troubled marriage, Samantha is a single mother, and Malcolm is the black sheep of the family who has returned home after a mysterious two-year absence. The Wednesday Letters has a powerful message about forgiveness and quietly beckons for readers to start writing their own “Wednesday Letters.” (End quote)

The book is not particularly long (library sent me large print and it was about 342 pgs so smaller print would be shorter) and is fairly an easy read if you can keep up with it all. I felt like it was a little all over the place and that it jumped around between characters far to fast. It does all come together at the end but I wouldn’t say it was an effortless read trying to keep straight who’s who and what’s what. The main theme of forgiveness, renewal and the whole idea of the Wednesday letters are inspiring. I think it can inspire others to write their own letters to each other and renew a tradition that has long since been left in the dust. Or if letters aren’t your thing then maybe even an e-mail. I can imagine how much that could probably strengthen the bond between two people. The setting in the book is in parts of Virginia that I grew up near and still have family living there today. So this made it kinda cool to sit and read about all these towns and know what they were talking about. At this time I don’t feel that this will be a book club selection but to grasp the idea of the letters I would definitely recommend it. I have read so many rave reviews on it that I hope that I don’t detract you from reading it. I think it gives inspiration to people that you can make it through anything together with Christ as your Savior. I have heard rave reviews about this authors other book, The Christmas Jars, and do plan to read it sometime in the future. When I do I will of course let you know how it turns out. Happy Reading!

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Dinah's Background

I know I haven’t been the best blogger this month. I have barely written anything about this Month’s selection, The Red Tent. My problem is I don’t feel particularly called or inspired by much in the book to write about. Don’t get me wrong I did enjoy reading the book for the most part but it’s just not one that I have lots to write about. In chapter one, we come across a couple of those brief moments where I want to slam the book and shut it. If you have read through it you know what I’m talking about. Dinah is giving us the run down on all her “mothers” and their stories. There is a lot of talk about gods and goddesses but I’m not familiar with what other gods they believe at this time in History and I did not enjoy reading about them. It was confusing for me to read about these other idols and gods that they were constantly sacrificing to. As we read through Chapter two, the author tells us a story of what could have happened between Rachel and Leah and the marriage switch up with Jacob. Of course the majority of these details are not in the Bible so this is something that we just won’t ever know. I don’t particularly care for this part of the story of what could have been or the fact that some of the details are changed from what we are given in the Bible. In Chapter three we get into even more detail of the struggles of the women and the birth of all of Jacob’s children. Dinah is telling all of this background to prepare us for “her story,” as the author calls it. If I were you I would go back to Genesis and freshen up on this story of Jacob and his wives. You can start about Genesis Chapter 29 when Jacob arrives at the well and meets Rachel or you back up even a little farther to the story of Jacob and his brother. Because so much of this is not found in the Bible, I would not want anyone to get confused with the fact vs. fiction.

If you feel like you would like to write an opinion on this book or about a part that particularly spoke to you, please let me know! I would love to have some other opinions since I can’t find much to write about. Just drop me an e-mail at

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Monday, June 15, 2009

July Book Club Selection

Our July selection for the book club will be, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom! I have talked to many people that have read this book and they really enjoyed it. I decided that it was time I read it and really enjoyed it too! Here is a bit about the book:

Corrie ten Boom was a woman admired the world over for her courage, her forgiveness, and her memorable faith. In World War II, she and her family risked their lives to help Jews escape the Nazis, and their reward was a trip to Hitler's concentration camps. But she survived and was released--as a result of a clerical error--and now shares the story of how faith triumphs over evil. For thirty-five years Corrie's dramatic life story, full of timeless virtues, has prepared readers to face their own futures with faith, relying on God's love to overcome, heal, and restore. Now releasing in a thirty-fifth anniversary edition for a new generation of readers, The Hiding Place tells the riveting story of how a middle-aged Dutch watchmaker became a heroine of the Resistance, a survivor of Hitler's death camps, and one of the most remarkable evangelists of the twentieth century. (end quote)

This book is non-fiction and about 219 pages of reading with no study guide or discussion questions. If you are interested in a Pre-order please contact Kathy. In the next couple of days she will send out information for a pre-order. And as always local libraries and bookstores have some copies available. Sometimes you can even find our monthly book at the $5.00 bookstore in the outlet mall but it's not a guarantee they will have it.

We will no longer be raffling off the book at the meetings due to costs but we will still have door prizes. Remember our June meeting is coming up on June 27th and our July meeting will be July 25th. Hope you all enjoy and can't wait to see you again! Happy Reading!

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews

This week I read The Traveler's Gift: Seven decisions that determine personal success by Andy Andrews. Andy is a local from Orange Beach, AL whose books have received national attention. His most recent book out is The Noticer but I haven't gotten around to reading it just yet. The Traveler's Gift is a fictional novel about 206 pages of reading material and it was quite an interesting story. Here is what the book flap states:

What makes the difference between failure and success? Forty-six year-old David Ponder feels like a total failure. Once a high-flying executive in a Fortune 500 Company,he now works part-time, minimum wage job. His wife makes more money than he does by cleaning houses, and he drives an old car with a mismatched fender and a heater that no longer works. Then an even greater crisis hits: his daughter becomes ill, and he can't afford to get her the medical help she needs. When his car skids on an icy road, he wonders if he even cares to survive the crash. But an extraordinary experience awaits David Ponder. He finds himself traveling back in time, meeting leaders and heroes at crucial moments in their lives. From the European theater of World War II to an ancient Middle Eastern King's throne room, from a Civil War battlefield to a warehouse in heaven, David encounters some of the wisest people who ever lived. Abraham Lincoln, King Solomon, Anne Frank, Harry Truman, and others teach him unforgettable life lessons. By the time his amazing journey is over, he has received seven secrets for success- and a second chance to create a life worth living, no matter what opposition or obstacles he might face. The Traveler's Gift offers a modern day parable of one man's choices-and the attitudes that make the difference between success and failure. (end quote)

I was intrigued by this story because of the mix of the historical figures into an inspirational fiction novel. I really enjoyed traveling with the main character as he meets all these people and it definitely gives you some life lessons and concepts to think about. I didn't particularly care for the ending but I think I may just be being picky. While there is no real representation of the Gospel present, it is an inspirational novel that can help shed some light on our lives. I liked how the seven decisions helped me gain some perspective on my situations and attitudes. I am undecided as to when this will be a book club selection in the future so I will wait to see where God leads me. In the meantime I do recommend reading it, even if you don't like the main story the truths of the seven decisions are worth it. And here is a quick little video off YouTube from the author advertising his book. OH and today when I ran in the $5 book store in the outlet mall they had a few copies for only $5.00! Happy Reading!

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza

As you know I am constantly reading and trying to find books that will be good for our book club. I recently finished up Left to Tell:Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza. A good friend recommended it to me at AEW's birthday party. This is a non-fiction novel about 210 pages of reading and let me just say it was pretty amazing. Here is what the book flap states:

Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Her family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans. Miraculously, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor's home while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them. It was during those endless hours of unspeakable terror that Immaculee discovered the power of prayer, eventually shedding her fear of death and forging a profound and lasting relationship with God. She emerged from her bathroom hideout having truly discovered the meaning of unconditional love-a love so strong that she was able to seek out and forgive her family's killers. The triumphant story of this remarkable woman's journey through the darkness of genocide will inspire anyone whose life has been touched by fear, suffering and loss. (end quote)

I really enjoyed reading about her story. This was one of those books that is really hard to put down and you feel like you have to keep reading to see what happens. I would definitely recommend it and I actually picked up her second book, Led by Faith, that goes along with it but I'm not done reading it yet. I really want to choose Left to Tell for the book club but there are some parts that are graphic because we are dealing with real truthful history. I am going to read the second book soon to see if it would be better for the club and then it just be an option if people want to go back and read the first book with a warning. If I do go with the second book it won't be till at least September when the paperback version is available for purchase. Here is a link to where you can see an interview of Immaculee from 60 Minutes that is on her website. Scroll down and it is on the bottom left. As always if you decided to read this book, share with us what you thought! Happy Reading!

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Available Red Tent Book

The church has one more paperback copy of The Red Tent available for purchase for $9.50. Leave me a comment, e-mail or contact Kathy in the church office if you are interested. Hurry act fast before it is gone!

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stories to be told

As we start out with The Red Tent, please be warned that you may come across some content that is PG-13. Please do not let this discourage you from reading but press on to read this story of what could have been. When I was reading it the first time, I almost stopped reading when I would come to these parts but I decided to persevere to see why everyone loved this book. I am glad I did. In the Prologue we have Dinah speaking directly to us, the readers. She is prepping us for the story she is about to tell from her point of view. Her name is a mere blip compared to the whole Bible, but we are getting ready to read “her story.” I don’t believe God includes “blips” in the Bible for nothing and that everything has a purpose and something that can be learned from it. I know that only a fraction of the story about to be told is actually in the Bible and the rest is fiction. But I feel like the people that I read about in the Bible all the time, now have a little more life to them and are easier to grasp. In the prologue Dinah informs us that she is going to start with the stories of her 4 mothers in chapter 1. I look forward to reading along with you as we get to learn about the stories that “Dinah” has to tell to us.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June Ewomen Night

Our Extraordinary Women Night for June will be this upcoming Friday the 5th at 6:00 pm. Our lesson will be “A Woman and Her God: Prayer, Devotion and the Spiritual Life” with Beth Moore. A brief description of the DVD is as follows:

"A woman's relationship with God is meant to be a love relationship, hopefully intimate, and deeply satisfying. Do you long for such a love life? Beth shares truths that will rekindle your love relationship with God, giving it new spark. She speaks from her heart and a well-spring of God's word, showing you how to change dry devotions into a personal devotion to the One you love. She'll show you how routine times with God can become intimate encounters that will satisfy your soul and spirit."

We will be watching the DVD at Jody Beth's house followed by discussion with coffee and desserts. Please note this is so that the griller's (6:00) and ewomen gals can car pool to maybe make it easier. I hope you can join us! Feel free to bring a friend. If you are interested in bringing a dessert or need directions let me know!!

I hope to see you there!

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Don't give up on the process

Well this past Saturday was our May meeting and we had a small turnout but had great conversation! Thank you to those who could come and those of you who read the book and just weren’t able to make it. I know that if we had everyone come to the meeting that actually was reading along we probably wouldn’t have enough seats! As we finish up our May selection, I really like how the author shares with us her personal struggle in writing the book during this last chapter. Through many examples the author continues to remind us that our journey is a process. It can be a long, hard process but worth it. I like how the author uses a quote from Claire Cloninger who describes the process in our lives as kaleidoscopes, “I don’t always get to see how the bits and pieces of who I am fit into the big picture of God’s plan. And yet I know I am called, as God’s child, to believe by faith that they do add up. That in some way every single scrap of my life, every step and every struggle, is in the process of being fitted together into God’s huge and perfect pattern for good.” What a neat perspective to think of everything that we do fits into a beautiful kaleidoscope of God's plan. As I finish up the book I have to say that my favorite part here at the end is Henrietta Mears. The author tells us how in spite of Henrietta's busy schedule of helping others she always took the time to open her Bible and spend time with God. When she passed away, some remarked about her that, “It was nothing new to meet her Lord alone, for she has often done so. This time she just went with him.” Oh to have others say that about us when we are gone! How wonderful to live that kind of truth and balance. I’m sure if she were here today she would tell us it is a process that has to be worked at everyday and to not lose hope or heart. The author closes out our book with a message from Paul in 2 Corinthians, “Therefore we do not lose heart,” “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” The author reminds us not to give up on the process because in the end it will all be worth it. Praise God! I hope this book helped you in some way and that you will continue to go back to it and pick up sections to help you when the time is right. So what do you think, Do you think you have a different perspective on Mary and Martha than you did when you first started? I know I do!

Just in case you are interested in further reading, Joanna Weaver has another similar book available called, “Having a Mary spirit.” I have heard lots of great reviews on it as well. I hope you will join me as we start June’s selection, The red tent by Anita Diamant. Happy reading!

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I think these last chapters make the biggest point at what we need to remember with this book. Balance is a process and always will be. We can achieve balance but the teeter totter is still going to go one way or the other at some point and we just have to be ready with the Holy Spirit living inside us to know what to do. Chapter 11 is about balancing work and worship. The author states that, “As long as my heart is set toward both service and worship; I don’t have to feel guilty when my life seems to settle longer on one side because I know I’ll eventually push off from that spot and spend some time on the other.” I really like the Balance checklist that the author gives us in shaded boxes. If we ever feel one way or the other we can come back to this and see what needs to be done to maybe even ourselves out a little bit. The author shares different techniques that she has learned at achieving balance which we can use as jumping off points if we are having trouble. One big thing I struggle with that she talks about in this chapter is receiving the gift of rest on the Sabbath. We are to relax and not do work. I have to admit that most Sunday’s I do work. I do laundry, I have to run to the grocery store, this and that, and it’s definitely a struggle for me. I really like the story about the African tribe that takes a break of rest to allow their souls to catch up. I need to remember to put aside the “kitchen duties” and spend time in the “living room.” The author goes on to give us some helpful advice on how to be hospitable in the kitchen without overdoing it or tiring ourselves out. But most of all in this chapter, I like the point the author makes with balance. It’s just like on a real teeter-totter where you have to move in towards the middle to make it balance better and not get “bumpsies." We have to move closer to Jesus in order to achieve balance on our teeter-totters of life.

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Nothing held back

As we finish up this book we progress through chapters 9 & 10 and learn two more stories about Mary and Martha. In chapter 9 we look at Martha’s teachable heart and how we all need to have one. If we don’t have a teachable heart, how will we come to know the love of Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to reside in us? As the author talks about having a teachable heart and how Jesus chose those whom were teachable it makes so much sense. Especially eye-opening was the example of the Wall Street Corporation, whom wanted workers fresh out of college ready to train. Of course, Why would you want someone that was “A know and it all” and refused to learn? The author even has a shaded box for us to try to figure out if we have a teachable heart and what maybe we need to do to work on turning ours into one. I enjoyed the author including the story about Martha running out to Jesus from chapter 8 so that we can see the transformation in Martha’s heart that took place. If we want to have a change like Martha did, the author tells us that we must have three things in our relationship with Jesus: be willing to listen, act on what we hear and respond to discipline. I pray that we all can find ourselves with a teachable heart that’s willing to make changes just like the story of the butterfly at the end of Chapter 9.

Chapter 10 shows us the woman that Mary has changed into as well. The author tells us that no longer is she just sitting at His feet but now she is devoted to giving Him all she has. The author gives us some perspective on the story of how Mary poured the perfume on Jesus feet and dried it off with her hair. I had no idea about the significance for Mary to use the expensive perfume. I enjoyed that background because it helped me to understand the story and how Mary really loved Jesus with her whole heart. She was willing to jump out there and give Him all of her no matter what the cost. The author has a shaded box that gives ways for us to make Jesus our Lord if this is something we struggle with. We are not perfect and we want it all and want to do it all, so sometimes we may need a little help in jumping out there. I think this book is a great tool to help. I know for me, coming away from these two chapters I want both, the teachable hart and the extravagant love with nothing held back. As we wrap up the book we will see that all this can be achieved with balance and will always be a work in progress.

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