Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: If God is Good by Randy Alcorn

When I received If God is Good:  Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil by Randy Alcorn, I was surprised by the length of this book.  At almost five hundred pages, Alcorn deals with almost every aspect of suffering and evil and how it all fits with God's sovereignty.  This book is long, but it is worth reading.  However, I do not recommend that you give this book to someone who is going through suffering; rather, you should read it now before suffering comes...because we know that it is coming; Jesus promised.  Being prepared before suffering comes makes the suffering that much more bearable because the truth is already stored in your heart and mind.

I have to admit that I thought it would take me a very long time to read this book, but I was amazed at how quickly I read it.  I couldn't get enough of the truth contained in this book; it nourished my soul like water to a dry and thirsty land.  I cannot recommend this book enough and that you read it now before you need it.

For more of my thoughts on this book, you can go here and here.

I want to thank Blogging for Books for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Suffering: What God Wants vs. What He Knows We Need

I wonder if you wish that God were a genie in a bottle as much as I do sometimes, that He would give me what I want when I want it, so that my life would go just the way I desire.  But He isn't, and He doesn't.  He has a better purpose for my life than my ease and comfort.  As Randy Alcorn says in If God is Good:
We want deliverance from suffering.  We don't want our loved ones to die.  We don't want economic crises, job losses, car accidents, or cancer.  Our prayers and often our expectations boil down to this:  Jesus should make our lives go smoothly.  That's what we want in a Messiah. 
But it is not what God wants.  Jesus is not our personal assistant charged with granting our wishes.  While He sometimes does not give us what we want, He always gives us what we need. 
Only when we regard suffering servanthood as our calling, as Jesus did, will we have the ability to face it as He did:  "Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart"  (Hebrews 12:3).  "To this [suffering] you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps"  (1 Peter 2:21).  (p. 443)
This is how I can say, "Losing my baby was better for me than having him," even though I don't understand why, cannot fathom why.  But God knows, and that's enough, again while tears pour from my eyes.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Book Review: Revolutionary by Krista McGee

In the third installment of the Anomaly trilogy, Dr. Loudin has taken Thalli back to the underground State where he is attempting to recreate the world, which was destroyed by nuclear weapons, according to his own designs.  Not only does Thalli have to figure out out to save her friends from the evil genius, but she also needs to figure out why God doesn't seem to be answering her prayers.

Having read Hunger Games and Divergent, this dystopian series is better by far.  (You can read my review of Anomaly here and Luminary here.)  Since it takes in the near future (about forty years), the world McGee creates is much more believable.  And the fact that the author takes pains to make sure to preserve a Christian remnant reminds us that God will always, always, do the same.  Thalli makes a wonderful protagonist in that she just tries to do what is best for her friends and the world.  Sometimes, she makes mistakes, loses her temper, and things like that, but the author does not make her into some kind of extraordinary person in order to save the world.  Thalli does what she can and follows the direction of her Designer which is something that we should all strive for.

I want to thank BookLook Bloggers for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Back to School

We started back to school on Monday.  With everything that happened last week and being away at the beach the week before, I wasn't mentally prepared.  I felt like I needed to start, though, because we begin Classical Conversations next week, and I wanted to get a good week of school in first before adding that on top.

I wasn't physically prepared, either, considering that we ran out of printer ink on Sunday and Daniel's math workbook still hasn't come in.  (So much for two day shipping with Amazon Prime!  :) )

But one of the beauties of homeschooling is being able to take it slow when needed, and that's what we did this week.  We eased our way back into school on Monday and Tuesday, and we're still enjoying the review that comes at the beginning of the school year.

My children and I have all gone from not wanting to do school to looking forward to it.  As a matter of fact, when Sarah Beth gets bored, she pulls out one of her math worksheets and works the problems I didn't require of her during school time.  That's my girl!

Have you started school yet?  When will you?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thankful Thursday: An Unexpected Blessing...Taken Away

A few weeks ago, I discovered that I was pregnant.  It was a complete surprise, but we were thrilled by the addition to our family.  Since we were meeting my parents and siblings at the beach, we decided to wait and tell them in person.

We drove home on Saturday, and I lost the baby on Sunday.

I was devastated; I am devastated.  But I was in the middle of reading If God is Good by Randy Alcorn, and I know that isn't a coincidence.  No matter what I think or feel, my mind is filled with the truth contained in that book which, of course, all comes from Scripture.

So, what is there to be thankful for in this situation, in losing a baby?  Here are a few small ones:
  • The trip home on Saturday took almost thirteen and a half hours because of an errand that we had to run on the way.  Since I had to drive, I'm so glad that I wasn't dealing with a miscarriage.  I couldn't have done it.
  • I felt amazingly good for this pregnancy.  Usually, I'm almost incapacitated with nausea.
  • We hadn't started telling everyone yet, so there aren't a lot of people to un-tell.
  • Lots of people (friends and family) are praying for us.
  • Last week was unusually busy for me with social engagements to help take my mind off things.
And now for the big things:  
  • God is sovereign; He knew this would happen.  This miscarriage is a reminder of that.
  • God has a plan for this situation.  As a matter of fact, what He has planned is better than my having this baby.  How is that?  I don't know.  How can anything be better than having a baby?  I don't know.  I may not know until Heaven, but I do know that it's true.  "For we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are the called according to His purpose."  (Romans 8:28)  Somehow what will come from my losing this baby is better than my having this baby.  I may not find out how until Heaven, but I trust God that it is.  
Having said all of this, it's still extremely hard to lose a baby, even one that was only seven weeks old.  As the tears stream down my face, I can say with Job, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord."  (Job 1:21b)

Have you experienced God's goodness in the midst of suffering?  How?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Our Trip to the Beach

We took a trip to the beach a couple of weeks ago.  My parents, my younger brother with his family, and my sister with two of her children met us at Ono Island in Alabama.  Several people have asked me about Rachel, and you see how covered up she is.  We think she did fine with the sun.

Mary loved being at the beach, playing in the sand and in the water.  The house we rented also had a boat dock.  I just knew that Mary was going to fall in at some point.  But she didn't!  That's when I realized that, while she is fearless, she isn't foolish.

All of the cousins. 

Daniel catching a ride from John who was pulling him along from another kayak.

Sarah Beth got to paddle her own kayak, but it was securely tied to her daddy's...just in case.

We played so many games and had so much fun!!  All of the other cousins are older than my children, but they were very sweet with them.  We're looking forward to doing this again!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Review: The Berenstain Bears: God Shows the Way

The Berenstain Bears:  God Shows the Way by Stan and Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain contains three books in this one volume.  The first two stories deal with fear and the unknown, and the last one deals with money.

Since we enjoy (most of) the Berenstain Bears books, I was excited about reviewing this one, and my children were very excited when it arrived in the mail.  Once we started reading the books, our appreciation rose because the stories are well told and filled with Scripture verses.  I'm careful about the books I read my children that deal with fears because I don't want them to develop new ones, e.g. they are not afraid of the dark so I don't want to read books that deal with that.  The fears in this book are not ones that children will assume.  What I enjoyed most about these books were all of the Scriptures they contained.  It seemed like almost every page had one bear or another quoting Bible verses, and it was wonderful!  I definitely recommend this book for young readers.

I want to thank BookLook Bloggers for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.