Sarah Thebarge's new book Well made me mad. And happy. It made me think and it made me want to take Ms. Thebarge aside and explain a few things. It made me shocked at my own excess. This book frustrated the heck out of me and I loved parts of it enough to reread it again.
The book is tag lined "Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa". It is a retelling of Sarah Thebarge's three month medical mission trip to Hospital of Hope in Togo, West Africa. Sarah is a gifted writer. She is able to describe people and medical prognoses to make the reader understand. Sarah is also a deeply passionate and expressive person. I am quite positive she's a joy to have as a friend.
I loved the book though because Sarah captured perfectly the culture shock and anger at American excess when children in Africa die of preventable diseases. She stated at one point she has quit asking why God allows suffering and now she's asking why WE allow suffering. When I got home from my ten days in Africa (pitiful compared to her 3 months and nothing compared with the people who work and serve and love continuously) I was quite simply ticked. My husband had to haul me out of a Peet's Coffee before I caused a scene in confronting a spoiled mom who was returning her iced mocha because she said it was "icky". Icky is not the luxury of $5 coffee. Icky is water which is full of live parasites and having no other option to bathe your children. This book is a challenge to choose to invest in giving live, hope, love and a future to the most improvised communities. It is easy to look the other way. This book is a gorgeous invitation to look closely and then to get involved.
I was also frustrated with this book. Ms. Thebarge made it clear she did not agree with the management of the mission or with the approach of many of the life time missionaries in the area. My concern comes from a commitment to striving for unity across the Christian faith. I cringed at how Ms. Thebarge described people who had given their entire lives to this hospital, people she had judged almost immediately. While Ms. Thebarge may very well have some valid points of contention I wondered if she had shared these with her hosts prior to including the sections in her book. I think perhaps Sarah has not yet come to peace with some of her trip and I wish those chapters had been healed a bit before throwing the story to the world. I think we in the faith do better when we work out our differences and are able to show grace and love to each other despite disagreement. I completely understand disagreement. My hope though is there is more to this story - a chapter where Sarah and others wrestled through hard conversations and had relationship at the end.
Well is a book which grapples with deep pain. It faces questions of disparity, of disease, of loss and sacrifice. It also contained clear calls to love deeply and to watch for opportunities to make a difference. I loved scenes where simple songs or staying present made a difference. Most importantly, it paints a picture of a Creator who loves His people. This book made me want to know God better. The book offers no easy answers and acknowledges brokenness but it also taught the lesson of love well. Love isn't trite. But it is powerful. And perhaps powerful is the best word to describe Sarah's book. Messy and painful but powerful. It was not an easy read. But I recognized myself in the pages and it made me want to go back to Africa.
I went to the Bridge the Gap fundraiser today. Oh my goodness. I successfully avoided hauling home an autographed football and signed jersey of Russell Wilson because I thought my husband might be surprised if I had decided to donate our children's college fund to the cause. However - I did bring home a renewed vision for why we decided to use some of the proceeds from The Scramble for the Kids (a charity golf tournament I help with every year) for this amazing organization. Bridge the Gap helps by providing funding for foster kids to do the "extras" in life - they pay for art classes, rent band instruments, pay for tutors, sports fees and even purchase yearbooks and prom tickets. Last year, Bridge the Gap helped 1602 foster kids in Clark and Skamania counties. Today one of the speakers was a stunning student who is about to graduate. When this brave soul shared her story the entire room sat in rapt attention and then gave her a standing ovation. And then the paddle raise. Goodness me. If you need to renew your hope in the world go check out Bridge the Gap and get involved.
I spent the afternoon reading one of the books in my stack. The stack has grown to ridiculous levels and I have a goal this month to power through and get caught up. This afternoon's read was a fantastic thoughtful and engrossing book by Christina Baker Kline called The Orphan Train. The book traces the relationship between a modern day foster child and a 92 year old woman who find friendship through sharing their similar childhood experiences. The book made me want to be kinder to everyone I meet. People carry such pain and kindness makes a difference.
Book Review: Whisper by Mark Patterson
I've been thinking a bit about hearing from God. The idea was on various twitter and Facebook pages because of some negative remarks on the tv show The View about Vice President Pence perhaps being crazy because he "hears Jesus speak". Apologies were given and the VP didn't seem to mind. But it got me thinking people outside the faith community clearly have questions about what believers mean when they say they hear from God.
Frankly - people inside church have questions too. I've talked to confused kids and concerned adults who were worried their faith was suspect because they didn't have audible conversations with the Almighty. Conversations usually include talking about how God speaks when you read the Bible, when you pay attention to your conscience, when circumstances bend together in serendipitous ways. And sometimes there are miraculous stories where God did in fact make it clear through sound or situation what He was trying to communicate.
From now on, when I talk to someone who is wondering about listening for the action of God I'm going to encourage them to read Mark Batterson's new book Whisper. Batterson's book works through the seven ways God speaks and left me encouraged. One of Batterson's contentions is that our society is too busy, too loud, too distracted and this is why people can't seem to hear the voice of God. His advice to take a break, shut everything off and be quiet enough to listen is refreshing. Whisper contains practical steps to take to settle your soul and stories of people who have found God's voice to be the very thing which filled up the silence.
Bottom line? You want to hear God? Shut up long enough to let Him speak.
Francine Rivers has again written a book I couldn’t put down. My family was thrilled when I finished and emerged from my book coma. The Masterpiece is a deep story of brokenness and redemption, of joy and laughter and of the great glorious grace of Jesus. River’s characters display believable reactions to crisis and I cheered for their breakthroughs. If you are looking for a weekend read to encourage your faith pick up a copy.
Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review.
New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.
A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want—money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist—an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.
Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship—and both their lives—forever.
Click on the Amazon link to purchase the book. I've also included a link to an interview with the author.
Michele Phoenix has written a compelling, gentle and persuasive novel. The Space Between Words explores the beautiful glory of life against the confusing horror of terror. It asks the oft repeated question about how a good God can allow tragedy and evil. The setting in France, the believable nuanced characters and the apt dialogue blend with a history lesson in the French Huguenot martyrs to create a story I couldn't put down. If you have lingering questions about the redemptive power of healing and God's ability to work all things together for good this is the book to add to your library. I'd like to take the author out for coffee.
Most self improvement books preach a similar them "More More More". How to do more, earn more, pack more in. This book was a refreshing change. It's a practical book, full of tips to help you figure out what's most important in your life and how to thin out the excess. It made a difference in my life. Overwhelmed? Try this book and get more done. Just kidding. Less is more.
What makes you feel most overwhelmed? What helps?
Brilliant. Obviously, it won a Pulitzer. But its not high brow in the way you tilt your head and wonder why it won an award. This book is lovely. It's sit and ponder, soak into your soul, write the words on your heart kind of lovely.
"Love is holy because it is like grace 0 the worthiness of its object is never really what matters".
Have you read it? What's your favorite quotation?
Gah! Christmas can be a stressful, breathless, list driven and exhausting time. Or. You can purposefully slow down, reflect and embrace the joy.
Louise Richards’ book A Christmas Story A Day is a thoughtful tool to choose joy this season. This clever book provides a story a day to read through each day in December. It’s a fiction lovers advent!
I was drawn in to this treasure trove of believable characters and stories. Each story calls the reader to ponder the meaning of Christmas. Available on amazon for Kindle or print copy this is a fun way to slow down this Christmas season.
The best part is I have a copy to give away! And the winner is Reta H. You win!
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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