Friday, July 31, 2009

The Noticer by Andy Andrews

I have finished up reading yet another book this week. I just finished up the 156 page Fiction/Non fictional Novel, The Noticer by Andy Andrews. You may be wondering why the confusion.. I guess because some stuff in the book is true. But then again I have heard it called fiction by the author himself. So I guess it would be safe to say it is fiction based on a true story maybe? Anyways here is what the back of the book cover has:

Poverty. A failing marriage. Old Age. Lost dreams. A failing business. An unsure future. To the residents of Orange Beach, Alabama, these desperations are dead ends. Hopeless, barren places with no chance of change. But to an old drifter names Jones with a gift for seeing what others miss, there is no such thing as a dead end. It only takes a little "perspective," he says, to recognize the miracles in our moments, the seeds of greatness tucked into our struggles. As Jones mysteriously makes his way through this coastal town and into the searching hearts of its residents, he offers simple wisdom and sound hope. "My contention is that you are right where you are supposed to be. This may look like barren sand to you, but nothing could be further from the truth. I say to you that as you lay your head down tonight, you are sleeping on fertile ground. Think, learn, pray, plan, dream. For soon... you will become." (End quote)

I read one of Andrews other books a few weeks ago and wrote about it here. This book was out just not available from the library at the time so I had decided to read the other first which I'm glad I did. You don't have to know about The Traveler's Gift to read this one but it does reference back to it in the very beginning so I thought it was nice already knowing what the other book was about. I read this book in just a few hours as it was a very easy read. The Jones character gives us lots of great advice through the characters he counsels in the book and perspectives that many need in their lives.

I had a few people who referred me to this book for my book club since it is by a local author and he sets the story locally too. I found myself recognizing lots of names and places throughout the book so that is always interesting. I think it will probably be a book club selection maybe in 2010 but I guess we will just see where God calls us. I think the fact that we all need a little different perspective at times is very true. I recommend reading it for all the nuggets of wisdom that are in the book. If you have or decide to read it, share your opinions with me. Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Screwtape Letters By C.S. Lewis

I recently finished up reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. This is a fictional book that is about 209 pages with Screwtape Proposes a Toast at the end. Here is what the back of the book tells you:

A timeless classic on "Hell's latest novelties and Heaven's unanswerable answer." A masterpiece of satire, this classic has entertained and enlightened readers the world over with its sly and ironic portrayal of a human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to "Our Father Below." At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis gives us the correspondence of the worldly-wise old devil to his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation-and triumph over it-ever written.(End quote)

In the beginning of the book the author gives you a preface for the reader that these letters happened to come into his possession and he is merely sharing them with us. He tells us we must remember how big a liar the devil is and will be in these letters. I thought it was nice for him to add this in the beginning to warn those deciding to take the plunge into this devilish correspondence. I have to say it wasn't my favorite but I was entertained by some of it and definitely don't think this book is for everyone. It certainly does speak the truth, I believe that the devil isn't just trying to get us to sin but rather be complacent with what's going on in our lives so that we don't think we need God. This book reminds us that it is a win for the devil when he convinces a person that he's a "good" person and doesn't need God or believes he better than others. I do believe that what the back of the book says is correct in that this book is timeless and transcends generations. The setting of this book is back from 1942 when WWII was taking place and the truths in it are still today. I don't want to get into politics but something that struck me in this book, I want to share with you that is in the news often during this day and time. I marked to reference a spot where Screwtape is writing to Wormwood,

"About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate. Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their politic life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything-even to social justice."

See any connections with the way today's politics and attempts at the silence of Christians is going? Just food for thought. Or there is another part where Screwtape is giving his toast but it is a little bit to long for me to type. It is talking about democracy and communism and the devil's "take" on it all. Pretty interesting stuff when you think about today's political/government climate. I have to say that this will probably not be a book club selection as I am in agreement with some others who have read it at the church and don't feel that it would be a good one for most people. I would recommend it personally though as it can open your eyes to some things that you may have felt yourself doing or others doing without noticing. Maybe cause you to snap back awake to what's going on in the physical/spiritual world around you. If you have any thoughts or decide to read it and want to share, as always please let me know. Happy Reading!

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Drills & Raid at the Beje

Chapter 7 in the Beje, Corrie tells us how the system of "God's underground" works and how they are involved. She introduces us with little stories of how they come about each of their "permanent" guests and those that come and go. I enjoyed reading about all the different personalities that came and went. I loved how no matter what people said, the Ten Booms never cowered or grew silent but fought back and stood up for what they believed. Corrie tells us how they would practice their drills to be sure everyone could hide properly in the secret room.

Looking at the wall to where the Secret room was in Corrie's room - (Picture Source)

In chapter 8 we read how different people are caught and released or some caught for good. They continue to practice the drills especially with Corrie as they learn more and more people around them know about their secret. Corrie starts to find out she has some sources in high places and if they know about what's going on in the Beje than how easy would it be for others too. Corrie reminds us that the hardest part of all this back and forth with secrets and jobs in the underground was the never knowing. More often than not they didn't know what happened to people. And they didn't who knew about their secrets or what the future held for them and those they were helping. Most importantly Corrie reminds us though of what they did know. Ultimately God was with them and would take care of them. Corrie tells us how she slowly adds to a prison bag for her to take with her in the event the gestapo does come to get her, which sadly isn't far off from this point.

In chapter 9 Corrie is sick and the raid they have been dreading comes. Luckily all 6 people make it into the hiding place unnoticed and undetected by the gestapo. Corrie leaves her prison bag behind because it is in front of where the door leads to the secret room and she doesn't want to draw attention to it. They take the family down for questioning as they search the house. They find the stash behind the cabinets, the phone and catch someone who comes to the door. But we give thanks to God that they didn't find the hiding place in all their searching.

A picture taken from inside the hiding place showing how small it was and what those six people had to be in for so long. (Picture Source)

As I read through Corrie's retelling of what happens during the raid I find it ironic that one of the men searching says, "If there's a secret room here, the devil himself built it." I'm sure the Ten Booms were sending silent thanks up to Heaven as well as quietly laughing to themselves, that no really my friend....God built the room. I hate reading about them being beaten for information. I can't imagine what I would do in a situation like that. Can you for a second imagine the strength and resolve of these women? And Betsie? How after she comes back from being beat she says, "I feel so sorry for him." speaking of the solider who just abused her. I pray I have the faith and heart like these women one day. At the police station they still have their prayers and her father recites verses from memory. How fitting it was that at this time God gave him the words to remember to speak, "Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word... Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe..." I can't imagine what this experience must have been like for those who did not know that Jesus is our ultimate hiding place much more so than the secret room. I'm sure the ten booms touched many lives everywhere they went. As the ninth chapter closes out and the Ten Booms, friends and family are taken away on a bus. Corrie remembers her vision of riding away out of Harlaam and is saddened about the truth from the dream unfolding before her.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Southern Women Know about Faith by Ronda Rich

I just finished up another book called What Southern Women know about Faith by Ronda Rich. This book was about 211 pages of reading. It is a non-fiction collection of inspiring stories on different topics told by Ronda Rich. Here is what the book flap says:

God, Grits, and Grace... Ronda Rich knows all three. Come, sip a glass of sweet tea and sit for a spell with Ronda on the porch swing as she tells you stories of happiness and heartache, friends and family, and a faith that's strong enough to handle anything life throws your way. As Ronda shares, Southerners don't just talk about God, they have a "kitchen-table faith," that feels like a comfortable, trusted neighbor who sits down and stays for a good, long visit. It's a faith you live and breathe, day-in, day-out, whether it's praying to the good Lord as you sit on the porch swing or finding joy in a delicious pan of cornbread. As Ronda says, Southern faith "is a faith that is plain, simples, and sturdy, that is utilitarian in practice and that fits as comfortably in the hands of Southern women as a baby, an iron skillet, a hair brush, a telephone or a broom." From stories of moonshine and revivals, Sunday dinners and new Easter outfits, prayers answered and griefs shared, you'll discover a faith that supports you when the trials and heartaches of life cause you to stumble, a faith that grabs you by the elbow and steadies you on the path. (end quote)

I enjoyed reading it even if it did take me a little bit longer to get through than most books. The author seems to write naturally the way she would talk if you really were sitting down with her. I believe it makes for a very comforting tone for the book. I enjoyed reading through her stories and different testimonies of faith. I was reminded of several scriptures and the truths they hold that I seem to forget at times and I needed those reminders. I do not think that it will be a book club selection at this time. I can see how those who are not from the deep south would have a hard time connecting with the book and the stories. Which in fact at times I did not meet the connection which may also be because of the age difference between the author and I. If you have read it or plan to and wish to offer your opinion, please do so! I would love to hear it. Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Invasion of Holland and changes at the Beje

In chapter 4 we begin to see the life of those in the Beje change as the war comes closer to Holland. Corrie tells us of the passing of her mother and other family and how Corrie started to take a more active role in the Watch Shop. Her Father has to fire someone in the shop because the worker didn’t like the Jewish people and it’s a first for the Watch Shop.

In chapter 5 the invasion begins in Holland and Holland ends up surrendering. Corrie shares with us a kind of dream/vision she has about her and others on a wagon being pulled by black horses leaving her town. She ends up seeing this dream more than once and we learn later that this dream was a form of foreshadowing for things to come. Corrie describes for us how the occupation of Holland begins to occur and more persecution of the Jewish take place. During this time, The Ten Boom’s realize they are closer to the action than they would have thought. One night after Corrie receives the dream, a piece of shrapnel almost gets Corrie in her bed but she was up with Betsie getting coffee. Betsie tells Corrie not to talk about what if she had been in the bed when the shrapnel hit. Betsie is wise and says, "There are no 'ifs' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety-Oh Corrie, let us pray that we may always know it!" God is guiding Betsie telling Corrie this to prepare them for what is to come and they don't even know it yet. This brings us to the beginning of where we see the Ten Boom’s helping those in need who need a safe place. Corrie describes to us the hateful acts against the Jewish People that begin to take place in their town. It is amazing to read through all the testimonies of faith that she mentions. Take a minute just to think of all those she might not have even mentioned in the book. What a number!

In Chapter 6 Corrie gets deeper into the underground of hiding Jews. She is taken to a secret meeting where she meets many more sources and the decision is made for the Beje to have a secret room. Corrie is beginning to notice things about herself that she never thought would be possible. She lies to the Germans about a radio, figures out how to get counterfeit ration cards and keeps her cool around those who might tell on her. It is amazing how we can do things we never thought possible when we are relying on God alone. Has your strength in Christ ever prompted you to do things you would never have thought possible?

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Between Sundays by Karen Kingsbury

I know you never saw the fact that I was reading this on my sidebar but let's just say there are several books I don't always get a chance to add over there. If I did add all the books I stay in the middle of, it would be very long and annoying. Anyways I have been reading like 5 books trying to figure out one for our August Book Club selection and this is one I read in my research this past week. It is Between Sundays by Karen Kingsbury. Here is what the inside book flap says:

Aaron Hill has it all, athletic, good looks and the many privileges of a star quarterback. His Sundays are spent playing NFL football in front of a televised audience of millions. But Aaron's about to receive an unexpected hand off, one that will give him a whole new view of his self-centered life.

Derrick Anderson is a family man who volunteers his time with foster kids while sustaining a long career as a pro football player. But now he's looking for a miracle. He must act as team mentor while still striving for the one thing that matters most this season-keeping a promise he made years ago.

Megan Gunn works two jobs and spends her spare time helping at the youth center. Much of what she does, she does for the one boy for whom she is everything-a foster child whose dying mother left him in Megan's care. Now she wants to adopt him, but one obstacle stands in the way. Her foster son, Cory, is convinced that 49ers quarterback Aaron Hill is his father.

Two men and the game they love. A women with a heart for the lonely and lost, and a boy who believes the impossible. Thrown together in a season of self-discovery, they're about to learn lessons in character and grace, love and sacrifice. Because in the end, life isn't defined by what takes place on the first day of the week, but by how we live it between Sundays. (end quote)

This book is inspirational fiction and 298 pages long and the first book I have ever read by Karen Kingsbury. I have seen her talk twice now at past Ewomen Conferences and have always wanted to start reading her books but just never had the time. I hear her series are great but I was trying to find one of her stand alone novels to use for the book club. I read this one and liked it. I have to be honest, when I first read through the Prologue of the book, it took everything I had not to cry at my desk. Usually you work up to the intense parts in books but this threw it out there right away. After reading the Prologue, I almost didn't want to go on because of how sad it was but then I reminded myself that it's an inspirational novel so it can only get better from here.

I enjoyed the story and the lessons the characters learned about themselves, others and God. I really like the message of the book and think it is something we all need to remember and hold true to. It's not what we do on Sundays but rather what we do in between those Sundays. When we are in between Sundays many of us are lights out in the world and we may be the only bit of Jesus someone sees all week. It's important to remember this when you aren't at church and as you go about your daily lives at work, in the supermarket, in the drive thru, etc. I am undecided as to whether it will be a book club selection for us in the future. But I would definitely recommend it for some light reading. I look forward to reading more of Karen's books. If you have any that you recommend of Karen's, let me know and why you recommend them. Happy Reading to you!

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Monday, July 20, 2009

August Book Club Selection

Our August selection for the book club will be, The five people you meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom!!!! I know several who have enjoyed this book and I especially did too. There is a also a movie that came out after the book and it is amazing as well. I want to tell you that this is a fictional novel purely for inspiration and reading pleasure. Here is what is on the book flap:

Eddie is a grizzled war veteran who feels trapped in the toil of his father before him, fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. As the park has changed over the years - from the Loop-the-Loop to the Pipeline Plunge-so, too, has Eddie changed, from optimistic youth to embittered old age. His days are a dull routine of work, loneliness, and regret. Then on his 83rd birthday, Eddie dies in a tragic accident, trying to save a little girl from a falling cart. With his final breath, he feels two small hands in his-and then nothing. He awakens in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a lush Garden of Eden, but a place where your earthly life is explained to you by five people who were in it. These people may have been loved ones or distant strangers. Yet each of them changed your path forever. One by one, Eddie's five people illuminate the unseen connections of his earthly life. As the story builds to its stunning conclusion, Eddie desperately seeks redemption in the still-unknown last act of his life: Was it a heroic success or a devastating failure? The answer, which comes from the most unlikely of sources, is as magical and inspirational as a glimpse of heaven itself.

This book is 196 pages long with no study guide or discussion questions. I really want to be clear on this that there is no gospel present in this book. It is just an inspiring fictional novel that is a good read. Please keep this in mind when reading the selection and that none of us can truly know what heaven will be like in this earthly life. If you are interested in a Pre-order please contact Kathy. She will send out an e-mail with the information for a possible Pre-order soon. 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. Our July meeting is coming up on July 25th and our August meeting will be August 29th. Happy Reading!!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Pre-War Beje life chapter 3

In chapter 3 I enjoy reading about Karel and of Corrie's love for him. I don't like the way things work out with Karel and Corrie, but before I skip ahead lets look at Tante Jan wisdom from the middle of the chapter. We read the story of Tante Jan's illness and Corrie's duties with it. The time comes when the family knows that Tante Jan is dying and they gather together to speak to her about it. They all offer words of comfort but she still has some fight in her. I love what her response is to them at the idea of her hands being empty when she goes to see Christ,

"Empty! Empty! How can we bring anything to God? What does He care for our little tricks and trinkets?" And then her prayer, "Dear Jesus, I thank You that we must come with empty hands. I thank You that You have done all-all-on the cross, and that all we need in life or death is to be sure of this."

Doesn't it just amaze you and wish that you would be able to answer someone like that!!?? It does me anyway. And I love how she finishes it all up to end the uncomfortable conversation, "If I had a moment's privacy I might get some work accomplished." "Not that work matters Casper. Not that it matters at all. But, I'm not going to leave an untidy desk behind for someone else to clean up." I hope that I have that kind of wit and wisdom to carry on with age and to encourage my family who will be the ones trying to encourage me when I am older.

Back to the story with Karel. It saddens me that Corrie did not get to be with her true love because of circumstance and what was proper for the time. When Corrie meets Karel's fiance and her heart is crushed the conversation she has at the end of Chapter 3 with her father is so special. I'm not going to retype that whole part because you can just go back and read it at the end of Chapter 3 but I will quote what her father said to her. "God loves Karel (fill in your persons name here)-even more than you do- and if you ask him, He will give you His love for this man, a love nothing can prevent, nothing destroy. Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way, Corrie, God can give us the perfect way." Corrie says in the book that she didn't realize it at the time but this was the key to life later when she was in a dark place with nothing to love at all. Have you ever thought about asking God to help you have the kind of love He has for all people? Whether it be old lovers, friends, family members, enemies?

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pre-War Beje life chapters 1 & 2

We begin the Hiding Place at the One Hundredth Birthday Party at the Ten Boom’s home and shop. I like getting a glimpse into what life was like before the War came to this family and what life was like at the Beje. It gives you a good background and a chance to get to know these people better. In this first chapter the Ten Boom's get their first taste of the War when the old Jewish man is brought to them by Willem. It is interesting to learn the perspective of what some of the Dutch thought of what was going on in Germany at this time. I wonder if some things could have been prevented if the world had realized what was happening to the Jewish people sooner rather than brushing things off?
In chapter two Corrie talks about how upset she was as a child when she sees a baby that has died. She is overcome with sadness and scared of death for her Papa and family. The advice and wisdom of her father at this moment stays with her for life. Not that they would have ever known at the time but it was like a foreshadowing in the book of what Corrie would need strength for in the future. I think what he tells her is something we all need to slow down and remember sometimes. Allow the words to comfort you, "Our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run out ahead of him, Corrie (insert your name here). When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need-just in time." What do you think of what he tells Corrie, do you find that you to often try to run out ahead of God? Do you believe that God will give us the strength we need but not until it's needed sometimes? It is easy to get impatient! I pray we remember the strength that Corrie will continue to show in the book and be reminded that God will provide what is needed.

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Still deciding the August Book

I have a few more days before my "deadline" to decide on the August Selection. I have been reading books like crazy as much I can even with having been so busy. I have to say I am really struggling here. Nothing is jumping out at me like it usually does. If you have any suggestions please give them to me! Anything is helpful! I will in the future update you on the many books I am reading through trying to find the right one. And I'm sorry about my lack of talk on The Hiding Place. Every chance I have that I should be writing something about it I am trying to read in one of the books I am looking at for August. I will try to post something on The Hiding Place today. If you have anything you would like to say or would like to write up a post, as always you are welcome to! Just shoot me an e-mail at And don't forget! Give me some book suggestions and why you love the book you are suggesting! Thank you!

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy Endings

Well we have finished The Red Tent and had our meeting. Our turnout was pretty low but I have received lots of feedback from those who were unable to attend the meeting and they have told me how much they really enjoyed the book.

Well in blogging we left off at the last part of the book as Dinah's journey takes us to Egypt. Here she goes to Egypt with the mother of her dead lover. She is pregnant. Things don't turn out quite like Dinah would have liked it to with her son but she accepts what is to be and begins the job as a midwife with a good friend. She eventually meets a man and she realizes the love he has for her and her for him. They marry but bits of her past creep back up thankfully not damaging the relationship. I think that this is my favorite part of the book where we get to learn about how she eventually found love, happiness and contentment. So as the past creeps back in, Dinah's son happens to work for Joseph in Egypt. None of them know the connections to each other until Dinah is at the home of Joseph and all is revealed through some conversations. It is not a happy reunion between the two and they part ways so that Dinah can go home. She finally feels free to tell her story and is better having told her son the truth of her story. This part is of course left out of the bible. We do see a little bit of the reunion of Joseph with his brothers from his point of view that he gives Dinah but Dinah is never mentioned in this part of the bible. Dinah travels with Joseph back to see Jacob before he dies and learns what becomes of the rest of her family and receives closure. She returns to her husband and as I like to say lives happily ever after, free from her past.

Overall I liked the story pretty well but wish some things that didn't need to be changed from the bible hadn't been. I think that story of Dinah in Egypt is my favorite part because I like the fact that she found love later and had a so called happy ending. In talking with the gals at the book club we were trying to decide the following question, "Why do you think Dinah's story (however brief) was shared with us in the Bible?" None of us seemed to have a real clear opinion, Do you know or have a thought you can add to that question? I would love to hear your thoughts. One of our gals made a great point in the reason for the book, LC mentioned how(correct me if I get it wrong), "The book reminds us how important time spent in the red tent is for women even today. We must remember how important bonding time with women is for mothers-daughters, sisters and friends."

I thought the point LC made was great for an overall point to make when recommending the book. Again I encourage you to go back and read Genesis starting at chapter 29 till the end of Genesis to get the real story. We had some discussion questions that we talked about at the meeting that I have posted a few below in case you want to share any of your thoughts. I got them from this source and this source if you want to go to those pages. I look forward to reading The Hiding Place with you and hope that you enjoyed The Red Tent. I apologize that the commentary was low on this book but that may happen from time to time. Please bare with me and keep on reading!

Discussion Questions:
1. How The Red Tent changes your perspective on Dinah’s story and also on the story of Joseph that follows. Does The Red Tent raise questions about other women in the Bible? Discuss the marital dynamics of Jacob’s family. He has four wives; compare his relationship with each woman? What do you make of the relationships among the four wives?
2. Female relationships figure largely in The Red Tent. Discuss the importance of Inna, Tabea, Werenro, and Meryt.
3. Each month the women go to the red tent. What is the significance of the red tent? What activities take place there? "Every woman is a creature of the red tent ... we are all born of the same mother." Is the women's isolation in the tent a positive experience?
4. Why do you think Diamant changed the rape of Dinah in Genesis 34 to a love affair in The Red Tent?
5. In The Red Tent, we see Dinah grow from childhood to old age. Discuss how she changes and matures. What lessons does she learn from life? If you had to pick a single word to describe the sum of her life, what word would you choose? How would Dinah describe her own life experience?

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