Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My thoughts on The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle

I downloaded this little baby on to my phone a month or so ago to read when I didn't have a book or woke up in the night. I like to have something funny going in the background of reading things that are supposed to make me smarter or wiser. It seems to take the edge off and helps me see life through the scope of normalcy. It's easy to lose our humility in our quest for knowledge. Then we just run around trying to one up one another spiritually. That is lame.

Enter Melanie Shankle who just talks like a normal human being. She tells true to life stories and is more honest than most people I know. I think most of us want to share the truth of our struggles, but we have all fallen pray to some sort of fake stepford wife syndrome in the church. We need a good laugh. We need to say it like it is and be seen for who we truly are so that we can all love one another. I realize that some people don't let us do that. Every time we say something real, they retort that it is also awesome (!). Uh huh. Then those people get upset at us and tell us we aren't sharing. Oh dear. You guys. Grace. Let's wallow in it for each other. Let's laugh.

The other book I read of Melanie's was about friendship. I loved it. This one is about marriage. I can't tell you how much truth was in there hidden in the humor. It is good. There just isn't anything like learning something while we are laughing. No shame in this game. I loved how she spoke of the differences in she and her husband and how she came to be at peace with them. It's good to learn to just enjoy people...especially our spouse. This is a great book on marriage. If you need something light and comical, dive in. 

I think I'll order her other book now.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Review of Finding God In the Hard Times by Matt & Beth Redman

I loved this book. If you follow me on The Gospel Mom (on Facebook and Instagram), you will have seen some of the things that impacted me from it's pages. I did not pay attention to what the book was about when I selected it to review. You can read about how it hit me and took me back in time when I started reading it on Instagram.

I review books for publishers. Often I will click on a book in the queue and select it to review without diving into what it's about. I saw this new book by Matt and Beth Redman and selected it. The book is called Finding God In the Hard Times. It's largely about the testimony of Matt's song Blessed Be Your Name. You probably know these lines from it. "You give and You take away. Blessed be Your name." I wasn't expecting it, but reading this book set me straight back in time to a time of miscarriage for me and my husband. We have lost six babies (one set of twins). We just kind of quietly move forward after these things, but on the Sunday after one of our losses, my husband was leading worship at church. He had not planned it in any way, but Blessed Be Your Name was on his set list. In that moment, it hit him and he was overwhelmed with emotion. It was such a helpless feeling to be standing there in the back of the sanctuary and see him hurting. Those words kept washing over me though. "Blessed be Your name. He gives and he takes away." May we as mothers, wives, daughters, and friends always see through to bless God in tragedy and triumph. He's there. He's listening. He redeems our delightful and our painful moments for His glory. 💗 Blessed Be Your Name In the land that is plentiful Where Your streams of abundance flow Blessed be Your name Blessed Be Your name When I'm found in the desert place Though I walk through the wilderness Blessed Be Your name Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise When the darkness closes in, Lord Still I will say Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name 💗 Blessed be Your name When the sun's shining down on me When the world's 'all as it should be' Blessed be Your name Blessed be Your name On the road marked with suffering Though there's pain in the offering Blessed be Your name 💗 Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise When the darkness closes in, Lord Still I will say Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name
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I found the pages to be deep and thoughtful. Matt was talking about 9/11 and how he noticed that the church didn't have good songs of lament to help us take our hurt to God's throne for healing. The pages walk you through the Psalms (75% of which are songs of lament) and shows us how the Psalmists always takes his pain to God, but is never left without hope. It hit me like Ann Voskamp's 1,000 gifts, but in a deeper way. It makes the soul yearn to praise.

The book is a short 92 pages with a study guide after. You could easily read and reread it in a day or so. I highly recommend it.

Blessed be Your name.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Review of For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

Here is all the honesty. I have not been a big fan of Jen Hatmaker. I don't mean to say I don't like her. I just never jumped on the bandwagon. I heard her speak and could have taken it or left it. I thought Seven sounded gimmicky. I just never connected. I am only telling you this because I was given a copy of her latest book For the Love at a conference and I liked it. 

I have read some of Jen's blogs over the years and thought of how brave she is to tackle some serious topics of our day. You know people have to write her some major hate mail. This book is really no exception. It's full of good old fashioned wisdom. Much of what she said I can hear myself saying. In an age where so many Christian mom sites are about "stuff you need to do right or you don't love Jesus," this is a breath of fresh air. I can boil the whole thing down to two phrases.

Simmer down.
Be kind.

Well, Jen, I cooked the food and had the neighbor over. I made Ina Garten's Beef Bourguignon. We cooked and laughed. It's a typical scene at our house and I love that you encourage people to invite people to the table. I loved your chapter on marriage. It's the same advice I give people. Laugh, be kind, have lots of sex, & pray. It's the glue of a marriage, lovelies. 

I think she is simply telling us all to open the doors of our lives with all the grace we can muster (and lean in to Jesus for the rest). I say dive in to the book. Get prepped for some truth and some goofy laughs. 

Bonne livre!
(I think that's enjoy your book in French:)

Miscarriage | Infertility | Hope

I encountered Jesus as a young child in a church pew in the balcony of an old country church. Through a lifetime of trial, I knew he was the...