Posted in Book Review

The Hiding Place

“Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.” 

Corrie ten Boom lived a life devoted to God in spite of her rough and often life-threatening situations. In her book, The Hiding Place, she tells the story of opening her home to Jews needing a place to hide. After being caught and arrested, she describes the horrors of jail then prison then prison camp. At times the prison camp closely resembled the concentration camps. Through all of the insecurity, pain, and misery, her faith in God rings loud and clear. Just as she said, she allowed God to work in her life, and he prepared her for every step, even at times protecting her supernaturally.

“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.”

Her story left me speechless in ways. She continually trusted that God would provide despite all around her signs of failure. She did his work until she died. I’m not currently in a place where I am in pain or in need of anything, but I still want to be in God’s will. It’s only there that I can work and rest in peace.

“But even kalte kost (bread ration alone) would be a small price to pay… for the precious books I clutched between my hands.”

Finally, Ms. ten Boom’s devotion to God is the most admirable thing about her. In this instance, she’s risking losing food in order to keep her copy of the Bible. Later she risks losing her life to smuggle a Bible into the prison camp. It makes me ponder how I would react if I was told I couldn’t own a Bible anymore. 

I’d highly recommend everyone to read this story.

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Posted in Bible Study, Blogging for Books, Book Review

God Loves

I don’t have much, if any, experience in the romantic love department, so I’ve often just skimmed over Song of Songs as I’ve read the Bible. Dee Brestin’s He Calls You  Beautiful helped bring out the metaphor of the book. It’s not just a physical romance between a man and a woman; it’s the image of us as the dark-skinned scorned woman being wooed and falling in love with our King, God. Here are some truths I derived from reading this book.

  • God desires to have a relationship with each of us in spite of our sin.
  • Our eyes are to be like dove’s eyes: focused forward, avoiding distraction.
  • Just like in a marriage, God asks us to love him in sickness and in health. God never gets sick, but it may feel at times as if he’s not present or a little crazy. We still love him.
  • Just like the groom leaves the bride after she refuses to leave her mother and marry him, sometimes God leaves us to the consequences of our sins. Just like the groom though, God comes back to call us to him again.
  • In the bigger context, the bride in Solomon’s story represents the day when Jesus’ followers will be reunited. In her name you can literally find peace and in many instances she represents the new Jerusalem. You’ll have to read the book to get a better understanding of this metaphor.
  • At times my faith may become lukewarm, but just like the lover in the poem, God will stand at the door of my heart and knock until I open back up to him. Similarly he also leaves us with his word just as the groom left myrrh in the door to remind us of his love and push us to run back to him.

Though my earthly heart longs for marriage so much that it hurts at times, I am thankful that this book reminded me of my position as a bride of Christ. He has wooed me, chosen me, and continues to express his love for me. Someday we’ll be joined together for eternity in heaven, and it will be more sweet than any earthly marriage. For now I’ll keep preparing myself to meet my King, and maybe an earthly husband will be in God’s will as well.

Many waters cannot quench love, nor floods drown it. (Song 8:7)

I received this book from Blogging for Books.

Posted in Blogging for Books, Book Review

Gearing up for School

School is right around the corner. While at some points, I feel as if summer just began, in other ways I am ready to have a purpose for each day. There are so many ideas floating through my head (and hopefully all going into my notebook so they will be remembered) about how to make this school year better than last year. In order to keep myself fresh and restore my motivation, I’ve been reading some teacher books (I know…nerdy). One of these books was Positive Discipline: Tools for Teachers by Jane Nelson and Kelly Gfroerer.

When I first came across this book, I was interested because discipline and classroom management is one of my self-identified growth areas. Sure I can write detentions and write-ups, but that was only effective with some students. As I read this book, I also identified instances where I know I could have responded to a situation with more grace. Mainly this book was a refresher of many concepts I remember being told in teacher training, but those concepts got lost in the stress of being a new teacher. Some of those concepts include giving students the power to make good decisions by asking rather than demanding, having a plan for when students make bad decisions, and allowing myself to cool off before taking action.

One very helpful tool was the Mistaken Goal chart. It identifies four reasons why a student might be misbehaving: undue attention, misguided power, revenge, and assumed inadequacy. The chart identifies how teachers might feel and normally react and then some empowering behaviors to try instead. I think this tool might be on that I post next to my desk as a tool of reflection and growth.

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The book itself is broken into very short chapters with a short tool, some real-life stories, and research to back it up. This makes the book easy to read in short segments which is probably better for reflection and action. Personally, as a high school teacher, I wish more of the examples had been from a high school classroom because I couldn’t picture using many of the tools in a 50 minute period with teenagers. I also wish the writers had provided more clarification about the tools because I often didn’t understand the tool until I read the stories.

Coming in a paperback format and having coloring-book style pages, I think the book does contain useful information and is well-organized. I would definitely recommend it to elementary teachers. I hope that the authors will make an updated version for secondary teachers because teenagers are treated and taught differently than elementary students.

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

Posted in Book Review

A Reading Dilemma

I’m packing up to leave for a trip very soon, and I’m going to be gone a couple weeks. I have a slight problem (besides the fact that I’m going to miss my Scout like crazy).

I don’t know which books I should bring on the trip! Okay so this is sort of a first world problem and probably not worth stressing about, but book lovers will understand. I’m not sure right now what mood I’ll be in. One time I went away for just a weekend and brought a book to read, but when I found time to read it wasn’t appealing to me (I also haven’t read it since because of that bad taste).

Some smart person will probably tell me that I should use a Kindle or an app, so I have a whole collection of books to choose from. No. No. No. It’s just not the same. Sorry. Not happening.

Alas I must make a decision, so I selected one teacher book, an Elie Wiesel collection, a Robin Jones Gunn book I haven’t read, and a Ted Dekker. Hopefully the wide variety in addition to the Bronte I’m currently reading will suffice me if I can’t find a bookstore.

Happy reading!

Posted in Book Review, Gratefulness, Life

25 Things

On this morning of the completion of my 25th birthday, I would like to make a list of 25 things for which I am thankful God has given me.

  1. A God who shows clemency
  2. The promise of Heaven
  3. A family that supports and loves
  4. Friends who are real when needed and spoil me when needed.
  5. Churches who help me grow closer to God
  6. A cat who adores me
  7. A job that encourages my faith
  8. Students who push me to be better
  9. Books that entertain me
  10. A healthy body
  11. Tea to warm me to my toes
  12. A shelter from the world
  13. An always full belly
  14. Clean water
  15. Electricity (I am blessed)
  16. Blankets (I really hate being cold)
  17. Opportunities
  18. A car that runs (most of the time)
  19. Clothes appropriate for every season
  20. A conscience
  21. Past mistakes and diversions from more fatal mistakes
  22. Discipline
  23. Numerous Bibles
  24. An intelligent mind
  25. 25 years of life
Posted in Bible Study, Book Review

This post is a bit premature considering I haven’t finished the book series yet, but the heart message that God is teaching me is ready to share. It’s not a new lesson, but it’s one I need reminding of often. So many times I ask God what he has planned. I want to know the details of when and how events in my life will play out. Specifically now with my 25th birthday coming up, I wonder if marriage is in my future or if I’m better equipped to serve as a single person. I also wonder if this physical place is where I’ll be for a while or if it’s only a short stop. Through the Above the Line series by Karen Kingsbury, music, and scripture, God is reminding me of his promises.

There are several plot lines within the series’s four books, but one key idea is woven through them all. Bailey Flannigan, the young college student stuck between two guys, wonders if her dream of going to New York to act is really what God has planned for her. Keith and Chase, the movie producer team who take Hollywood by story, wonder many times if the trials thrown at them are a sign that the movie is not God’s plan. Andi, the former missionary kid, wonders if God is really even part of her life at all. Each one of them come to a key verse from Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Recently another verse keeps popping up in numerous places of my life. In Romans 8:28, Paul writes, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” I know that I love God, and I know that he has called me to be in the place I am in right now. Just the other day, I was talking with a friend about his current situation in life and the part of Ecclesiastes about there being seasons came into the conversation. I am in a season right now where I feel both content and anxiously awaiting. The thing that God keeps reminding me though is that He has a plan that is perfect. I don’t want to step too far ahead of his plan with my wanderings or wonderings; instead I want to wait right here no matter how anxious I may feel about waiting and no matter how often I want to force some action to take place.

Finally, a song was played this morning at church that sealed the deal about my questions and anxieties. In her song “Trust in You”, Lauren Daigle sings about how even when things don’t work out the way she thinks they should, she still trusts God. She trusts that he “know[s] what tomorrow brings” and that “There’s not a day ahead [he has] not seen”. In fact she opens the song with these lines which to me are extremely bold: “Letting go of every single dream/ I lay each one down at your feet”. It’s so true; in order to see God work the most in my life, I have to focus on the season I’m currently living and stop wondering about the future. He has it all under control.

 

 

Posted in Book Review

“Guardian angels” and “angels fighting for you” are platitudes often spoken to make us feel better, but I rarely give angels much serious thought aside from the Christmas and Easter story. In Karen Kingsbury’s Angels Walking series, angels become a very real reality.

I just finished the third book of the series where a team of angels is sent to complete missions in order to ensure God’s plan is enacted. There’s always the possibility that the mission will fail and several moments when the mission is derailed in some way, but God’s plan always succeeds. In this particular novel, the angels are trying to ensure the birth and protection of an infant who will grow up to be a great missionary. It takes a while to discover through whom the baby will be born, but the reader knows that all of the main characters are necessary.

The Bible talks in several places about angels. In Psalm 91:11 the psalmist writes that God “will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” In Hebrews 13:2, we are reminded that by entertaining strangers we might be unknowingly entertaining angels. Other verses talk about ministering spirits, and of course there are the actual appearances of angels scattered throughout the Bible.

Maybe I’ve just been unaware, but I can’t think of any instances where I’ve felt the presence of an angel. It’s possible I have and don’t account for it because it’s not portrayed like the angels in movies and books. In Kingsbury’s novels, the characters are never actually aware that they are interacting with angels, but they do get strange feelings about the angels in disguise. The closest I’ve come to thinking about an angel are the moments when I realize that God worked something out. I attribute it to God, which is probably fine with the angels and God, but maybe God has used angels in those moments to accomplish his purpose.

The only take-away I can take from this is to be kind to everyone because, just like the writer of Hebrews says, we never know when we might be interacting with an angel.

If you want to check out Karen Kingsbury’s books, head on over to her website or your local library. I haven’t found one I haven’t enjoyed. They also make great audio books because they’re usually easy-to-read story lines.