A Blast From the Past – Love Comes Softly

lovecomessoftly Book InformationLove Comes Softly

Author – Janette Oke

Publication Information – Bethany House (1979, $13.99 paperback, $8.72 digital)

Several posts back, I mentioned that I had been gifted with several boxes packed to the brim with Christian books read and loved by my grandmother and her sisters.  It’s a treasure trove of Christian reading that’s mostly from the 1980s/90s.

I wasn’t quite sure where to start with the stash of vintage books. And honestly, I’m still not sure how the ratio of long-lost treasures to cringeworthy reads will shake out.

I decided to start with a book that I read and reread as a young teen. It’s been a while since I last revisited Love Comes Softly and I wasn’t sure if it would stand up to my happy adolescent memories.

The good news?  It certainly does.  To someone who reads a lot of current inspirational fiction, this novel might seem a touch old-fashioned. However, I find it old-fashioned in a good, nostalgic way.  Oke has a way of carrying catchphrases and motifs through her story that make not just the story itself but the memory of how the book makes one feel linger in the mind. Continue reading

A Charming Family Story – Review of The Penderwicks

penderwicks Book InformationThe Penderwicks

Author – Jeanne Birdsall

Publication Information – Dell Yearling (2005, $7.99 paperback, $7.99 digital)

Reading Challenge Book? Yes. This is a children’s book.

Growing up, I loved family stories. The various sibling groups in Noel Streatfeild’s Shoe books, the All-of-a-Kind-Family stories, Little House books, you name it.  I think I always wished I had more siblings, and so I enjoyed living vicariously through the adventures of families in fiction.

The Penderwicks is a wonderful addition to these sorts of books. In something of a nod to Little Women, Birdsall writes of four sisters – Rosalind, Jane, Skye and Elizabeth (Batty). We learn in the book that their mother died of cancer soon after four-year-old Batty’s birth and as the story opens, their professor father has taken them to stay for the summer in a cottage on the grounds of a New England estate called Arundel. Continue reading

Favorite Homemaking References

homecomforts A few weeks ago, I posted my review of The Lifegiving Home. As I touched on in the review, this wonderful book does have tips on how to implement the Clarksons’ ideas, but at its core, this book is really about the heart issues and goals of homemaking rather than a practical how-to manual. If you’re looking for encouragements and inspiration, this book is a great place to start.

However, after writing this review, I found myself thinking about the practical homemaking helps I’ve encountered over the years. For cleaning, I use the Flylady method and I’ve found a few other helpful sites out there as well.  However, many of my favorite home guides are books and I find myself returning to them again and again.  Here are some that I’ve liked:

  1. Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping HouseWeighing in at nearly 900 pages, this colossal guide isn’t the sort of book that I’d sit down to read cover to cover, but it’s a wonderful resource to have on hand for answering all of those home-based questions. I’ve consulted it for figuring out how to remove just about every kind of stain known to man, for example. There’s helpful information in here not just on cleaning, but on many facets of home maintenance in general.  Whether you own or rent, this one is a true must-have.

Continue reading

He is Alive!

easterlily I hold a very specific picture of Easter services in my mind. So many memories of being seated with my family, light streaming into our church, and the congregation rising to sing one of the most joyous hymns of the faith:

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

One can feel the excitement and wonder building in the congregation. Hands raise here and there, heads thrown back as if to see what lies above.

Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!

Even before the pastor begins to preach, even before the first passage of Scripture is read to the waiting worshippers, we celebrate one of the great miracles of our faith.

Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

I love Christmas for its promise, but I love Easter for its radiant joy. Christ is indeed alive, and on Resurrection Sunday, it feels as though the very stones will cry out from the vastness of the wonder and celebration. Christ has resurrected from the dead, we who were dead in our sins can live!

Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!

Triumphant indeed. Christ has conquered sin and death. We are alive. We are alive in Him. Now let us go forth and celebrate!
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A Trip to Modern-Day Prince Edward Island: Review of The Red Door Inn

reddoorinn Book InformationThe Red Door Inn

Author – Liz Johnson

Publication Information – Revell (March 2016, $14.99 print, $8.92 digital)

Reading Challenge book? No.

I like – or even love – a lot of the books I encounter. However, with some, the dream just doesn’t match the reality.  Unfortunately, that was the case for me with The Red Door Inn. I really wanted to enjoy this novel, but it just didn’t come together and gel well for me.

I picked this book up at first because of its Prince Edward Island setting. I love L.M. Montgomery’s books and stories, and I was curious to see the place through a modern author’s eyes.  And in this respect, Johnson did deliver. Not surprisingly, there is more to Prince Edward Island than Anne of Green Gables, and I enjoyed learning more about the traditions of the place and some of the real difficulties of life there. If I ever make it up to PEI, I’m sure I will spend plenty of time daydreaming about favorite characters, but this novel outlined some of the natural beauty, folk art and other draws of the place as well.

So, what exactly is this book all about?  Well, as the novel opens, we meet Marie Carrington. She’s completely broke but determined to get to the island. Luckily, she encounters a kindly older man named Jack Sloane who helps pay her way across. She finds herself a job decorating Mr. Sloane’s soon-to-open B&B. Continue reading

A Needed Reminder – Review of Onward

onward Book InformationOnward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel

Author – Russell Moore

Publication Information – B&H Publishing (2015, $24.99 hardback, $6.29 digital)

Reading Challenge book? Yes. This is my “Book with the word ‘gospel’ in the title.”

“The culture of the kingdom is not a projection of our lives now onto eternity, but instead the reverse: a vision of a new creation that breaks us and prepares us for our inheritance by patterning us, now, after the life of creation’s heir: Jesus himself. With a kingdom vision, we realize that the priorities of this present world system are different from those of the age to come.”
– Russell Moore

Onward won Christianity Today’s Beautiful Orthodoxy Book of the Year for 2015, and upon reading it, I could understand why. The author is Southern Baptist and I am a reformed Presbyterian, so we may disagree on nonessentials, but when it comes to the priority of the gospel message, Moore nails it. His love of Christ and the Word shines through in every chapter of this book. Continue reading

This Little Light of Mine

lightofmine This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine…
I grew up singing this song and I’ve always enjoyed it. There’s long been a bit of a disconnect, though.

We sing about letting our little lights shine, but when it comes to sharing that good news, we clam up. We’re afraid to offend, afraid to be different from the world around us.

I know that I do it, and it’s something that happens to most of my friends as well.

The fact that we have been saved from death in sin by the grace of God is the most wonderful and amazing news in the world. It should be shared. Heck, we’ve been commanded to share it in Matthew 28, among other places in the Bible.

Now, I’m not saying that all Christians should start handing out tracts on street corners or haranguing passers-by. I’m not entirely sure I’d consider that sharing anyway; that’s more forcing oneself into the lives of strangers.

However, there are so many ways we can share God’s love with the world. Simply treating those around us with love is a start. Letting folks know that you’re praying for them in times of trouble helps, too. When questions about faith and life come up, it takes courage to speak up, but I find that simply mentioning that my faith is what gives me strength has opened the door to many good conversations with friends and acquaintances.

So many discussions of evangelism that I’ve seen take the form of training folks for full-time missionary work. If you are called to be a missionary as your primary vocation, this is great. However, I would love to see more helpful(i.e. practical) instruction for the rest of us on how to share the Gospel with people we encounter day to day. After all, you never know how God might be moving in someone else’s heart!

Looking for a Regency Read? Review of The Matchmaker’s Match

matchmaker Book Information – The Matchmaker’s Match

Author – Jessica Nelson

Publication Information – Love Inspired Historical (September 2015, $5.99 print, $4.99 digital)

Reading Challenge Book? No.

As I read it, I could tell that The Matchmaker’s Match would be a standout read. I’ve encountered some Christian romances that read very much like the worst of secular romances, complete with lust and unrealistic relationships, but with a thin veneer of religiosity. This book, however, is quite different.

The lead characters have a story that many readers will find achingly romantic, but there is also a strong focus on God and His leading in their lives. The hero, after all, once had a slightly roguish reputation that is only hinted at in the text. We learn fairly early on in the book that he spent time in America and during his travels, came to repent sincerely of his earlier ways and to become a Christian. Throughout the book, it’s a calling he takes seriously, seeking the Lord’s direction in many things, but most especially in his choice of bride.

Continue reading

Start Spreading the News

news When I saw this week’s prompt of “News”, my first thought was “Extra, extra – read all about it!” Have you every heard those words uttered with anything other than excitement?

Excitement

That might be the quality sometimes missing in our news. Most of the news is my life is mundane family news – some joyful, some not. It’s the glue of daily life, though. I treasure it, but it doesn’t send me rocketing out of my chair and running down the block to share with all the neighbors.

And then there’s the national and world news. Much of this is dominated by the upcoming 2016 election. You will pardon me if I confess to you that I spend many of my days fighting the desire the build a blanket fort and hide there. This desire washes over me whenever I read election coverage. Prayer is my best way to combat it, but that’s a subject for another post.

And then there’s The News. The greatest news of all. The news that we are compelled to give voice to in Matthew 28 when Christ commands, “‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”

That reads like some pretty clear instruction to me. Yet it’s so easy to either get lost in the mundane details of daily life or simply to be afraid of giving offense. And we stay silent. And yes, I just said “we.” I’m part of that silence way too often, too.

And what is this amazing news we are to spread? Well, John 3:16 gives a very good start: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Look at that again. How amazing is that? It’s a piece of important news that I simultaneously take too much for granted and yet it also is so huge it blows my mind. This is the news we should be bursting at the seams to share, and I find myself praying more and more that God would guide me in how and when to share.
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This was written for Five Minute Fridays. It’s a wonderful free-writing community, and you should join us here sometime.

An Unexpected Treasure

treasure An unexpected gem recently came my way. For as long as I can remember, my grandmother and her sisters have been devoted readers (I wonder where I get it from?) I have many memories of them reading and discussing books.

One of my great-aunts is getting ready to move to a smaller house near her children and during the packing process, she called me. She had 3 boxes of books, and wanted me to keep what I wanted from the box and then donate the rest.

I drove out and picked up the boxes this weekend. We had company, so I only got to open them last night. Friends, it is a treasure trove!

I knew these ladies read a lot of Christian fiction, and these boxes are full to the brim with all sorts of books. There’s some non-fiction mixed in, but these are mostly fiction books.  So far, most appear to be from the 1980s and 1990s.  There are some classics I remember seeing as a child, such as Love Comes SoftlyThis Present Darkness or the House of Winslow books.

However, there are lots of new-to-me treasures to discover, too.  And that’s where readers come in.  I plan to read through the books here, and see what new treasures I discover. There’s a pretty wide selection, so if you can think of any older (pre-2000) Christian novels that you’d like to see featured on here, I’ll happily read them if I’ve got them.  Just let me know in comments.  Thanks!