Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Voice that Calls you Home

Book:  The Voice that Calls you Home
Author:  Andrea Raynor

As a hospice chaplain, cancer survivor & a chaplain at Ground Zero following September 11, Andrea Raynor has gained a keen perspective on the meaning of life & death, comfort & grief.  Through her own experiences, Raynor reminds readers that even in the most dire of circumstances, we still have the opportunity to recognize beauty, to be inspired by the tenancity of the human spirit, & to feel connected to something greater. 

Raynor acknowledges that we may not be able to prevent the difficulties that come in life, but we can always choose the way in which we face them.  She urges us not to "live with our heads down, our eyes closed, & our hands in our pockets".  Instead, she prompts us to remain open to the blessings that are all around us & to face life's challenges head on - "to increase our courage, renew our hope, & unite us in teh knowledge that we are not alone"
The wonderful publisher of this book send me a copy to look at.  I am always interested in life stories - especially a story of a chaplain.  I was looking into becoming a chaplain in hospitals or hospice envirnoments years ago, so this piqued my interest from the beginning.

This book has some amazing stories of people in hospice.  Stories of mothers loosing their children, wives loosing their husbands - stories of people who are ready to leave this world while doing it with the knowledge of knowing life doesnt end at the last breath of this world.

There are many chapters of Andrea's life during the weeks at Ground Zero.  I cant imagine the things she actually experiences hands on.  The stories are hard enough to read....

And the story of her diagnosis & battle with breast cancer herself is an inspiration.

I think that this book would be really appreciated by someone that has just lost a loved one, is dealing with grief, wondering about the last stages of death, just needs comfort & insight from someone who has seen death touch so many.

The one con of this book for me - for a chaplain, Andrea does seem to have many "New age" beliefs... & while that may not bother some people, some of her views may be edgy for others.  That is not saying the book is not good.  The point I keep getting throughout her book is still an amazing point - we need to be PRESENT... we need to be there for those who need someone. 

here are two parts of the book that really hit me:
As he (ElieWisel) was forced to watch a young boy hang from the gallows of a concentration camp, dying a slow, torturous death, a prisoner in the crowd cried out: "Where is God now?" Wiesel writes, "And I heard a voice within me answer him:  "where is He? Here He is - He is hanging here from the gallows"

Why do terrible things happen?  Perhaps they happen not because God refuses to act in human history but because we refuse to act humanely.  We are children running with expensive watches, with scissors, with the power to break & to hurt, to squander & to maim.  We have the freedom to make terrible choices or to aspire toward holiness.  And if we continue to point to the absence of God in the presence of evil, we will never take responsbility for our own actions, nor will we discover the God-ever-present, whose heart continues to break with ours.
(This part of the book really touched me - a story of a pastor's wife who never had children due to infertility.  She was so amazing with children, Andrea assumed she has children, grandchildren... here's what she said about it)
"Well", she began, "It was hard in the beginning, certainly.  But when I look back at all the children I have mothered, all the little ones who needed love, I realize that I could never have been there for them in the same way if I had had my own children.  You see," she continued her face aglow, "I am really the mother of more children than I ever could have imagined.  God has truly blessed me"
How do I rate this book?  I think this book will touch those who are in need of these words at the right moment.  It definitely hit home for me in those words above... I'm sure certain stories & words would hit someone else going through a loss of some sort...

My rating:  3 skeins

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Sound of Sleigh Bells & GIVEAWAY!!!

Book: The Sound of Sleigh Bells
Author: Cindy Woodsmall

Beth Hertzler works alongside her beloved Aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store & serves as a contact between Amish craftsmen & Englischer retailers. But remorse & lonliness still echo in her heart every day, & she still wears dark dresses to indicate her mourning of her fiance. When she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow in an Englischer store, something deep inside Beth's soul responds & she wants to help the unknown artist find homes for his work.

Lizzy sees the changes in her niece when Beth shows her the woodworking & after meeting Jonah, the artist, she is determined that Beth come to know this man whose hands create healing art. But it's not that simple - Beth has cut herself from any possibility of romance. Will Lizzy's elaborate plan to reintroduce her niece to love work? Will Jonah be able to offer Beth new hope & a second change at real love - or just more heartbreak?

I have to start off immediately by saying I could not put this book down. The writing in this story was great - easy enough to be able to digest it & complex enough where you feel you know the characters so well by the end. I read this book in just a day - didnt want to put it down.

The story of Beth & the life she has lived & the reason she is mourning so deeply is just interesting to unfold. And the story of Jonah & the sufferings he too has dealt with in his life is just as intriguing. The "scheme" that Aunt Lizzy pulls is sneaky & risky...I dont want to give anything away about the story... but its a story that I think anyone could really appreciate. The under lying story of God's forgiveness & how someone handles regret & guilt is also so relevant. Wonderfully done!

Of course, for me - I love a good story that involves family, love & God as the center of everything so this was a home run for me.

You can buy the book right HERE or you can be the lucky winner!! I have an extra copy & am excited about giving this away to someone who loves a great read!

All you have to do is comment!!! Simple enough! If you want to "follow" this blog, I'll throw in another entry.... I'll do the giveaway on Oct 16 - Friday... so act quick!

This book is a perfect read too with winter coming & the Christmas season... Good luck!!!!

My Rating: 5 skeins!!!!

*This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

***UPDATE:  THE WINNER OF THE BOOK WAS DAWN'S COTTAGE CORNER!!!! Thanks for participating everyone... another book give away will be coming soon!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Catching Fireflies

Book: Catching Fireflies
Author: Patsy Clairmont

Patsy weaves stories & scripture between lasers, lighthouses, & lamps to illuminate the heart & enliven the spirit. Whether you're bored with the routine, struggling with a crsis, or just ready for a good word, Patsy meets you there with vulnerability, inspiration & an infectious grin. As a daily devotional or a weekend read, Catching Fireflies will light up your day even as it brightens your smile.

I LOVE Patsy Clairmont. If you've never seen her in person, you cant fully appreciate her! She can tell a story about poop that was keep me on the edge of my seat - I guarantee it! So I picked this book up at the latest Women of Faith conference. Mainly because she was talking about her best friend who passed away with cancer & how she was the light in her life - she gave off sparks of light like a firefly. It made me just have to pick this book up.

It didnt disappoint. It was an easy read that I would be laughing about a story Patsy would tell & then find she had woven it back to a story or scripture in the Bible. I love when people can do that.... makes the Bible come to life!

The story of the man who created the Nobel Peace Prize really touched me - I'll be doing a story on that on my Home many small stories that make an impact!!!

My rating: 4 skeins... would totally recommend it to anyone... especially those who like to laugh!