May 30, 2012

My Hair & God's Mercies...NEW EVERY MORNING

From the moment I opened the cover of this book...there was a connection with Yvette Maher.  I have a facebook page called Life Worth Serving and the motto of sorts is 'Life is messy!'  One of the statements Yvette wrote in her book that stood out to me the most was...

Some parts of life are just messy.  And I believe that God is in the midst of messy, gray areas and unfinished business.

There are very...and I mean VERY few non-fiction Authors who captivate my attention, bring me to a place of relating to their story, and causes me to continue to finish their book.  Yvette Maher has done all three.  

The story of her life is so incredibly moving...not because it's a far out there, can't seem to be reached by the rest of us life.  It's a life that we all, at one point, on one level or another have lived and possibly are still living. 

A country girl at heart and in wear...Yvette, "Tootie" takes us on a journey of a life that is filled with shocking heartbreak, utter despair, gut-busting laughter, and lots of food.  In the midst of her messy life...from childhood to womanhood...are the remnants of a gracious God who didn't leave her in the mess she was in. Yvette shares such dark secrets with us, which not only causes us to be able to relate to her, but to examine our own hidden secrets. 

I loved reading her story...not because she wrote it so eloquently or with such descriptive narrative...but because she was real.  She shared her heart and it felt as if she hid nothing.  As I read her story, it was like I was reading my own.  Our stories are not similar in shape or fashion...but the pain, the loss, the tragedy is all the same.  Not only that...but as I read of the grace that covered her life that could only come from Christ Himself....I was reading of the same grace that has covered my own mess many times over.

As I read 'My Hair & God's Mercies...NEW EVERY MORNING' I got a glimpse of what Yvette finds value in.  First and foremost is Christ...and then family and tradition.  Food is also a big part of her life...not the glutton, closet food addict type.  The tradition and memory type.  Many of her greatest memories with her family is surrounded by events where there is food.  I loved how at the end of each chapter she splashed a few recipes in from her childhood.

I can't encourage you enough to go out and buy this book, or download it to your favorite e-reader!  You will cry, you will laugh (the LOL kind of laugh!), you will feel hope, encouragement, and most of all you will walk away with a deep need and sense to pray and spend time with your Savior.

I received this book from Tyndale House publishers in exchange for my honest review as part of their blogger program.  The opinions and statements are all my own.

Feb 6, 2012

RECLAIMING LILY BY Patti Lacy

I was introduced to Patti Lacy through an online book club giveaway.  I was the winner of her book Reclaiming Lily.  Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down.  The story line was easy to follow and the themes jumped out at you with pain, compassion, and heart-wrenching love.  Although I haven't read any other novels that Patti wrote...she has done an incredible job in this novel.

The story begins with the adoption of Lily, renamed Joy after her adoption.  Lily was born during the Cultural Revolution in China and the Chang family's only option was to put Lily in an orphanage.   The story moves on to Texas, where the adoptive parents, the Powell's live.  However, the cute little girl Andrew and Gloria adopted in China 7 years ago has given up her cuteness for purple hair, and grunge wear.  As Joy's emotional problems unfold and she finds herself in a youth detention center, her past...that she longs to know...meets her face to face.

Kai, the Second Daughter in the Chang family has returned to China from America.  She made a vow to her mother to reclaim Fourth Daughter...and when she sees the Americans whisking her away from the orphanage into the van, her passion and pain grow stronger.  Kai then sets out on a journey to find and reclaim this Fourth Sister.

Patti Lacy has definitely done her homework with this book.  I was raised in a Japanese home (my step-dad was Japanese) and I am familiar with many of the Asian customs, mind-set, and ways.  Patti did an incredible job of making the customs and mind-sets of the Chinese people known through the character Kai. 

The story was an absolutely moving story of the hardships of adoption, not just with those who are adopting the child, but of those who are giving the child up for adoption, as well as the one being adopted.  Lacy touches on some real deep issues that many teenagers face. Cutting, rebellion, finding oneself, and faith. 

Reclaiming Lily is a must read this year.  You will yourself not being able to put it down!

Jan 15, 2012

The Search Committee by Tim Owens

If any of you have ever attended a church long enough, you will discover there are times when a Pastor must move on to bigger or better things.  For whatever reason God calls them to move on and with moving on it leaves a congregation searching.  In The Search Committee Tim Owens pairs up seven of the most diverse group of characters to search for a new pastor for their Presbyterian church.  This diverse group of characters represent the people groups of the church.

We are introduced to Travis who represents the young married professionals of the church.  We also see Bill who is a retiree. and Frankie who is about 70 yrs. old...and the leader of the pact.  We find Matt, who is in his early 30's, unemployed, with a PhD living with his dad.  We are also introduced to Dot, a middle-aged housewife and gossip.  Then there is Joyce, a widowed 60 yr old misplaced from NY.  Last but not least, we find a 30 something divorcee who is raising a teenaged son.

At the beginning of each chapter Tim Owens scribes either a scripture from the Bible or an excerpt from the Book of Confessions or  the Book of Order from the Presbyterian Church which leads his readers into what the chapter will focus on.  I found this tidbit of info to be helpful simply because I have never attended a Presbyterian church and know nothing of this denomination or its beliefs.  I was able to more fully understand the beliefs and ideologies of the church.  


What I loved most about the book as a whole is that Tim didn't try to create over-spiritual characters that we couldn't relate to.  They each represented what we would, as mere humans, experience in our own lives.  I could relate to many of the "issues" that this small group of people had, which makes it a good read in and of itself.  


"If you believe just a little, itty-bitty bit, you can say to the mountain, 'Move', and the mountain has to move."  ~Mrs. Bryant (a small but powerful character)

As this search committee heads out across three states in search of a new pastor for their church, they find themselves on some of the most hilarious adventures as they enter different restaurants and churches.  As they drive along, the committee takes notice of the different church signs along the way...in which Travis writes them all down.  As the search unfolds, so do the issues of their own lives.  Will this group of rag-tag characters find the right pastor that will lead them into a more Christ-like life?  Or will the itty-bitty bit of faith be the moving force of the mountains in their lives?  Each member of the group is searching for something...will that searching truly be found through finding a pastor or will they bond as a group and find what they are truly longing for?  


I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has ever had to deal with lust, gossip, loss, divorce, love, or searching for God while feeling like their faith is too small.  (Which I think would be everyone).


I received this book free to review from Tyndale House.  The review and opinions are my own. 

Jan 10, 2012

Delivery By Diane Prusik

I downloaded this book onto my nook several months ago and planned on reading it in 2012 as part of my reading goal.  I had no idea that this novel was Diana Prusik's debut novel which was Tyndale House Publisher's Digital First initiative fiction titles.  Delivery was also the 2008 finalist, 2009 semi-finalist, and 2010 finalist of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel.  Diana Prusik's inspiration for her novel came from her first place of employment at a small-town florist...that she still works at part-time as a floral designer to this day.

Since I didn't read the excerpt about what this book was about, I went into reading this novel with absolutely no expectation whatsoever as to what to expect or what the story line would be.

As I walked through the pages of this story, I followed Livi (the main character of the book) through her journey of finding healing and hope through a smalll town floral shop and the characters who entered.  The story starts out in the Wilson family floral shop during 1988 with the death of a close family friend.  Through the death of Bink Carter, Livi's old wounds have surfaced and she is faced with the pain that she has tried to cover up for the last 20 years with alcohol.

Diana takes us on the journey of Livi's life, love, heart break, and alcohol addiction.  Through Livi's story we find God's grace being shown through some of the most intricate character's that walk through the back door of the Wilson Floral Shop.  We meet Mom Robinson who through casual conversation plants spiritual seeds of love and hope and never keeps a gift to herself.  We are also introduced to Miss Ellie, who works at the shop.  In her old age, she has learned to not care what others think about her, but what God thinks. 

Livi's story can be many of our stories.  There are issues and heartache that we run away from and find comfort in other things rather than turning to God.  We question God about why He would allow such heartache to happen. We get angry with God for allowing situations and circumstances to happen in our lives that we think are too much for us to bear. 

Will Livi find peace and healing from her past?  More importantly, will Livi find peace and healing with Christ? 

As you journey through Livi's story, and the intertwining lives of the community around her...you might very well end up finding a new hope and healing for the issues that you may be running from.  Grab your tissues because Livi's story will touch your heart in a way that it hasn't been touched before.