Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Father's Day has had mixed feelings for me for the last many years.  I've struggled with knowing how to honor my dad while being extremely angry at my parents divorce.  Not having children ourselves has kept me from focusing on any other than my own Dad.

This year God has worked on my heart.  My fabulous Bible Study group and I have been going through Experiencing God, and recently have been discussing the love relationship with our Heavenly Father.  I have discovered that this is not necessarily an easy concept to grasp.  I had no idea.  I didn't quite realize that having an earthly father who was hard, abusive, or mean could have such implications on our adult perceptions of God as our Father.  I discovered that fear is a major component of many people's obedience to God, because that is what they learned from their earthly fathers.

My dad was not like that with me.  Don't get me wrong, I have an enormous dad who stands 6'3" tall and to a child, that is giant.  He isn't large on the width factor, but being a farmer, he was (and is) plenty strong.  In fact, I think my dad is one of the strongest men I've ever known.  Anyway, he was a formidable force when I disobeyed, and he was our ultimate threat when we were kids:  "Oh yeah?  Well, I'll go tell Dad!"  And yet, I have many memories of having him come up to bed and read us our bedtime Bible stories, teaching us how to pray, slathering Vicks Vapor-rub on our ticklish necks if we were sick, and being our bucking bronco until we were faint with giggles.  I remember being unafraid to ask him hard spiritual questions even very young, and he never made me feel like I was silly as he tried to lead me to find answers.

My dad taught me what a love relationship with my Father could look like, if only in a human glimpse.  Dad is not a perfect example, but he showed me how a father can be loving and demand obedience all at the same time.  I feared my discipline when I disobeyed, but I never feared my dad.  I knew he loved me.  I have easily come to understand what a love relationship with my Father can be because of my dad's love for me.  This is not a small gift.  This is what every dad is responsible for in their children.  That is a huge responsibility.  It won't be done perfectly, but it can be done to our human extent!

I'm so thankful this Father's Day that I have a Dad who showed me a portion of God's love.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Beaded Hope ~ by Cathy Liggett

"When four women embark on a mission trip to South Africa, they all have selfish reasons for going.  What none of them expects is how profoundly their lives will be transformed by those they meet."

Four distinct women with four very different reasons for joining this trip are all moved beyond the momentary heart pangs we often feel when we hear the statistics that mean death for real people.  These women are not different than most that I've met or even me.  These are relatable women with lives that are less than perfect.  They all join to go on this mission trip to help women of South Africa begin a sustainable source of income, but invariably are served more than they serve.  Though the characters are fiction, one can certainly imagine the real circumstances that they face and imagine the faces of the previously known only by statistics.

One thing that I appreciated was that the author was able to bring perspective to the women's issues in comparing them with the women in S.A., but the women were still pressed to solve their problems.  The strength of the women in Africa gave the American women the realization that God was bigger than they realized, and He is their strength.

The story was well put together and had an easy flow that made me want to keep reading.  There was some predictability, but not so much as to feel like it was unrealistic.  It had a clear sense of the Spirit, but was not over-the-top, and even exposed some of the feelings those of us who grow up in church often have.  Again, it was very realistic.  It was not a "happily-ever-after" tale and shared the heartache of different levels of pain and how God leads them through it.  It is not heavy on theology or doctrine, so it's a light easy read.

I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.  One of the things that I particularly enjoyed was that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the novel will go to support the very real organization, Beaded Hope in South Africa.  I plan to donate to the organization since I received this book without cost from Tyndale Publishers.  A story that supports a worthy cause is definitely one to buy.  Please learn more at

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Scared ~ by Tom Davis

If you want to read a fun, lighthearted story put this book on the back burner.  If you want to feel good about your life and the way you live in it, don't open a single page.  If you want to feel like you are doing enough and don't want a challenge or you enjoy your ignorance of what is going on to people in this world, don't even - wait; I dare you to read this book and remain as you are.

Tom Davis brings to life a fictional story that is all too real for far too many.  Seen through the eyes of a photojournalist, the horrors of poverty in Africa are revealed.  It's not a fairytale story where everyone gets everything they want, but it's a glimpse of truth set with the hope of God's salvation for the "least of these" as well as those with plenty.  The reality of what the character sees while on his assignment have an impact on him, as well as with me.  I felt as he did with eyes newly opened to see the real people, children with names, instead of statistical numbers representing those dying of starvation and AIDS every day.  It was heartbreaking and challenging.  It was a difficult book to read, not literally, but emotionally.  I couldn't put it down, but it wrenched my soul.

It is a call to those who have been given much.  In as much as I have been given financially, I could also use some of the complete faith and trust in Jesus that they have to share with me.  If you choose to read this book, realize that you will be challenged in the way you live your comfortable, safe life.

Scared is certainly a great book that I would recommend.  Just be ready for Jesus to speak to you!