Book Review: My Soul To Keep

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I learned to be happy with the small triumph of a good day. –pg 44

My brother took one look at the front cover of this book and decided it must fit into the sappy category of novels. While it did remind me of Kingsbury’s Firstborn Series in a lot of ways, it wasn’t the sappy sort of love story you’d expect from a novel about a down-and-out movie star cautiously re-entering the world of film. Bunn chose to focus on the nuts and bolts of movie making, the cutthroat world of Hollywood, and the personal journey of people learning to trust God with the scars from their pasts.

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Book Review: The Best Yes

Never is a woman so fulfilled as when she chooses to underwhelm her schedule so she can let God overwhelm her soul.

I’m the type of person that thrives on busy. I enjoy organizing events, knowing that my days won’t be boring, and making sure there are no long stretches of time that are unpeopled. I’ve even been known to get an adrenaline rush from the stress of looming deadlines. (Yeah, I know I’m crazy.) All that to say, this wasn’t a book I actively sought out. I was making another purchase and decided to pick a random title from the discount section.

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Never Walk Alone: A Novel Devotion from Dare

Have you ever felt alone? Unwanted? Like the effort you put into life barely keeps your head above water and true fulfillment is an unreachable ideal?

Reading the beginning of Dare makes my heart ache for a character who has spent his life serving a master with many demands and no love. Like many people, this character spends his life serving a master who rules through fear but doesn’t realize he is lonely and and unwanted and wants something more.

Never Walk Alone

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Abigail: There is a God

On October 26, 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before a group of students in Philadelphia and gave a speech that became known as “The Street Sweeper Speech.” He encouraged the young people to tackle their life’s work with gusto.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. —What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?

In Lois T. Henderson’s novel Abigail, the young heroine takes MLK’s message a step further. Faced with an inescapable betrothal to drunken Nabal, Abigail resolves to be a good wife but not with the goal of earning respect for herself. Instead she tells herself,

“I will be a good wife that all the earth will know there is a God in Israel.”

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4 Non-Fiction Books to Read Before a Missions Trip

Have you ever considered going on a missions trip? The opportunity to travel for missions usually presents itself to Christin youth sooner or later. Sometimes it involves a flight that crosses continents. Sometimes it’s a road trip to a location in your own country. Often there are a lot of questions you ask yourself before making a commitment to a missions trip. What can I really do? I’m not an evangelist, how am I supposed to tell strangers about God? I’ve lived a sheltered life and don’t even understand the issues a missions trip might address. Will my participation really help?

4 Missions Trips Books

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Leith: Loved by the Father

“My own father didn’t want me. What makes you think God would be any different?”

Though only eighteen, Leith has seen more of the world’s darkness than most grandfathers. When pinpricks of light begin to seep into his world, he reacts the only way he knows how–disbelief.

Loved by the Father

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Glow Stick Gospel Project

Hello everyone! I’m still planning more Blades of Acktar posts, but I’ve been busy with a few other projects this week. My brother and I have a tradition of handing out Bible tracts before 4th of July fireworks each year. This year we discussed getting a little more creative with our firework evangelism and this is what we came up with!

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Here’s the website to go along with the postcard track shown above.

If you like the idea, feel free to print copies of the tract for your own use. (And let me know if you find any typos!)

How to Help the Hurting (Lessons from Samara’s Peril)

The Hurting Hero

It’s no secret that I’m a complete pushover when it comes to mistreated people (real and fictional). My brother read Resistance before me. When I started it, he told me he already knew who my favorite character would be–Jace. He was right.

Help the Hurting

The sympathy that fictional characters stir in me has played a large role in shaping my passions. As a twelve-year-old who spent the majority of the summer with her nose in a book, my thoughts and pretend games often revolved around how I would help the characters in my latest story–the lonely orphan, the bullied school kid, the frightened immigrant, the ill-treated slave.

Imagination Grows Up

People often think their imaginations dry up as they transition to adulthood, but maybe they just mature with us. Obviously my brain hasn’t stopped fantasizing over helping fictional people (it’s an author thing). However, I can now use abstract thinking to move that inspiration into the real world.

Jace spends much of Samara’s Peril hurting. He sinks into depression. He battles loneliness. His past haunts him. Jace is fictional, but his struggles are not.

Fictional Spark. Real Action.

I love how persistent Kyrin and Rayad are in loving Jace. Even when he pushes them away and causes them pain, they refuse to let him struggle alone. I love them as characters because of the way they care for others.

What can we do when we close the last page, return to our bedroom from a land of fantasy, and think with a happy sigh, “I want to hug Jace. I want to be like Kyrin and Rayad.”? Just ask yourself, “Who do I know who is depressed, anxious, lonely, scared? How can I love that person?

A Few Ideas

Kyrin nodded and wiped her cheeks as she rose. “Come on. I know it’s hard, but you must eat. You need the strength.” She held out her hand.

Jace gazed at it a moment, and then took it, the warmth and connection like a lifeline to his battered heart. She helped him up and did not let go for a long moment before turning and leading the way downstairs.

Loving doesn’t have to be extravagant or difficult. It doesn’t have to achieve want we want it to (more on that in a moment). It’s all about being aware, attentive, and genuine. Love tells people, “You are not invisible. You are not just part of the crowd. I see you as a unique individual–made in the image of God–and it is my joy to invest moments of my life into yours.”

If you’re at a loss for how to reach out, here are some quick ideas.

  • Send a note. Handwritten letters are always special (especially to older people), but if penmanship is not your forte or your schedule barely allows you to breathe, don’t despair. A quick email to say, “I’m thinking of you” or to ask, “How can I pray for you?” is sure to brighten anyone’s day.
  • Listen. At a missionary conference I recently attended, one missionary lady said that missionary kids and their families crave for people to listen to them. She said that the lack of shared commonality makes many people uncomfortable with simply listening, but their quickness to interrupt can make missionary families keenly aware of their own struggle to fit in. The art of listening is a wonderful way to show you care.
  • Spend Time Together. Nothing reinforces loneliness like watching other people rush around with “things to do and people to see,” while not having anyone to rush with or to. Sometimes the best gift is a phone call, an invitation to come over to play board games, or an hour spent hovering over two cups of coffee that would have been cheaper to make at home.
  • Send a Package. This is one of my favorite things (both to send and receive). There’s something about receiving a random package full of goodies that creates a sense of wonder. Several friends and I once figured out how many love languages a letter or packages speaks to. A package obviously touches a person who feels loved through receiving gifts. The time put into into preparing it speaks to a person who is loved through quality time. The servant’s heart behind (and perhaps practical items in) the package can warm the heart of a person who is loved through acts of service. The words in a note and the personalization of the package shows affection to the person loved through words of affirmation. If you want to stretch it to include all five love languages, you could even say that the tangible nature of a letter and package is the closest thing you can get to physical touch without being there in person.

Only God Can

One of Kyrin’s deepest pains is that she can’t get through to Jace. She doesn’t want him to hurt, but her love can’t penetrate his despair. In the same way, we may not be able to help our hurting friends to the extent we want to. One of my friends wrote the following quote into a book she’s working on…

As I mentioned above, love doesn’t have to achieve what we want it to. Results shouldn’t determine our behavior. Our role is to be obedient to God‘s calling–which includes courageously loving those around us. He is the only one with the power to heal souls, and He is mighty to save. Which brings me to a final way to help.

  • Pray.  God is the only one who can give true healing, so bring the lonely, depressed, and anxious to Him in prayer.

Can you think of anyone you know who has needs similar to those of a fictional character you wish you could help? Can you add more practical ways to show love to my list?

P.S. The graphic for this post has subtle relevance for readers very familiar with Jace’s story. Any idea what it is?