Blue stained wood with crimson carnations

Monday, July 7, 2014

Missionary Acres Bound

Hello! I'm working on my write up of my Missionary Acres trip and suddenly realized that I could have (and probably should have) posted it here as well! 
So, posting this here now for reference! 

Dear Friends and Family,
     Hello! I wanted to take a minute here to tell you all what I’ll be up to this coming week! As many of you know last year I planned to go on a missions trip to a place in Missouri called Missionary Acres which is a retirement community for missionaries.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Book Review: Truth Be Told

 Today I have a book from an author new to me! I've been wanting to catch a book from author Carol Cox for a while now after I was intrigued by the title and subject of her last work so I was eager to snap up a copy of "Truth Be Told" when it appeared!

The story revolves around Amelia Wagner. Amelia is more then ready for a change of pace when, fresh off the train from Denver and the fast paced high life it offers, she sets foot back in her father's newspaper office in Granite Springs, Arizona. She expects to spend a pleasant summer catching up with her father and once again being in her true home but best laid plans are often thwarted and Amelia finds herself saying goodbye to her dying father and trying to fill the large shoes he's left behind in his beloved profession.

Amelia finds in the wake of her father's death that the paper in is a delicate position due to his inability to pound the pavement in the months during his decline and she will be the doing or undoing of all of her father's years of hard work. She also is puzzled by the biggest story in her father's bulls eye- an expose on a local mining company that never fully came to light. As Amelia beings to track down the full story she finds help in the most unlikely of sources- an employee of the very mining company that her father railed against publicly before his death. Soon Amelia and Ben find themselves in deeper than they ever expected with a story that may be the undoing of both of them!

There was a few quirks with the book that I noticed and wanted to point out. One of them was that Amelia is a really good girl. I mean really, aside from being rather innocent and over trusting she practically has no flaws. Every time she reacts to something in a normal human way (anger, disappointment, confusion, etc.) she, in the very next moment corrects herself and immediately thinks Biblically about the situation in question, always seeing the situation for what it must be and not what it actually appears at the moment. I don't know about you but I just have a hard time liking someone who is always good, who can always change on the drop of a dime and be...perfect. It makes me wonder- 'can a character be too good?'
Another thing was that the mining described as taking place sounds a awfully like today's fracking. It is a pet peeve of mine to see people dragging modern issues into the past for soap box purposes and although Cox never carries through with fully disclosing the ins and outs of the mining operation she has enough of a soap box to make sure that the characters fully disapprove of what is being done in their community. It just isn't appropriate for this setting without providing some explanation in an author's note.  

This book was in all honesty a quick read, the storyline was pretty basic and I'm sad to say predictable. There was nothing terribly exciting in the plot for me- but the thing is that there was nothing particularly wrong with the plot either... As I continued to read and analyze this and try to make sense of it I came to the realization that this is a book that I would have really enjoyed- when I was 14 or 15 years old... And this is the fact that frustrates me. For me it just doesn't deliver on the 'grown up' fiction I was expecting to read. I want characters to be flawed, I need situations to be real, and I think that putting things right doesn't come at the wave of a magic wand. For me this story had more relationship fantasy than realistic fiction.

If you like your fiction on the light side and don't want to think too much about logic and loopholes then this book is for you,  but next time I think I'll be skipping the sugary  fluff and finding something a little more my speed.

Final Rating: 3

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Book Review: Spoken For: Embracing Who You Are and Whose You Are

Being "spoken for", its a beautiful thought isn't it?

Knowing that someone loves you, wants to take care of you, that someone doesn't want you to belong to anyone else, and wants to identify themselves with you is a truly powerful thought. It's a thought that easily drives a person. When you think about it you find yourself easily picturing a happy couple and the way that they cherish each other and show their devotion to each other. 

Well that is what this book is all about. "Spoken For: Embracing Who You Are and Whose You Are", written by the team of Robin Jones Gunn (from the Sisterchicks devo) and Alyssa Joy Bethke is all about the greatest romance, and the greatest love, the love of Christ, and His relentless pursuit of you His bride. 

This book bounces back and forth between each writers voice and story and unfolds each woman's personal love story as they discuss the way that God loves each one of us and how He, as the lover of our souls, peruses a relationship with us- even when we are unlovely or unfaithful to Him and His highest desires for us. Though 95% of it is 'something I've heard before' the style that Gunn writes and communicates those eternal truths in is refreshingly honest, and poignant. The truth of God's love is one that I think is difficult to write about because how do you quantify something for human imagining and understanding that is so completely  incomprehensible to us here on earth? Gunn and Bethke do a fine job of this though as they take hold of something we can grasp- a love story- and parallel that with our spiritual love story as Christians. 

Many parts of the book were really encouraging to me and really touched me deeply. Chapter six especially was challenging as the authors deal with the topic of "You Are of Great Value". In this chapter one thing that really stood out was the thought of God not needing puppets to do things for Him- we can't do anything for God in and of ourselves- but that we are of great value to Him and there is a difference between the two, and important one, and a striking one. To put it into simple terms it is the need to remember that we are God's treasure and it isn't a position we got by our own effort but by His paid price and not to be trapped by the world. 

The one issue that I had with this book that I don't know whether to call a big one or a small one is with how it treated dating. Alyssa Joy Bethke (as you find upon reading) is someone who obviously from my generation of Christian young women, and while I am well aware that everybody and their life story is different I was surprised and a bit concerned at the casual breakup/makeup attitude modeled by Bethke as she tells the story about how she found and ended up with her husband. In today's Christian culture this may exist more prevalently than I am aware but just because it does does't mean it should. God calls us to higher standards in our relationships- especially our deepest personal ones and although all worked out for Bethke in the end as she established what sounds like a very happy marriage that doesn't mean that God's highest standard for getting them to that point was followed. Today, I believe there are many more wise and Biblical ways of bring two people to the marriage alter.  

This book is a very manageable paperback coming in at 182 pages divided over eleven chapters. The end of each chapter is set up with comprehensive study questions and will make for good personal or group study. Initially I thought that this book was directed towards adult women, and though I still feel that it is entirely appropriate for that market, I found myself really thinking that some of the young teen girls that I disciple would really benefit and enjoy this devotional. I also really like the cover for the book; it is light filled, warm and inviting as well as embracing bright spunky colors for the overall scheme. In short, its a book that makes you want to pick it up! And I do hope that you do just that, it was a good breezy read with the kind of substance that a heart needs to hear sometimes in this difficult Christian walk. I will be looking forward to reading more devotionals from Gunn and be looking forward to seeing what Bethke does next! 

Final Rating: 4.5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.