Monday, September 30, 2019

Be the Bridge by LaTasha Morrison

Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have never in my life understood the racial divide in our country. I was always asking questions about why there was clearly a spot of town where black people lived. It was on the other side of the tracks, down where the river floods. The houses were different from the houses on our side of the tracks. I would hear people say words and be worried about how it might look to mix races in any way. There has always been a part of me that wanted to fix this. That is why I was drawn to read this book. I want everyone to feel fully human.

I will admit, some of this was hard to read. I cannot wrap my head around torture and murder. I most definitely cannot understand it when it is done with the blessing of the church. It has made me sick to read these stories recounted. It goes beyond ignorance. How on earth is there so much willful hate inside of us and how do we get it out of the collective us.


LaTasha has done an amazing job breaking down and explaining things that we might not understand. She lays it on the line. Family does not leave family in bondage. If there are things that cause divide in the body of Christ, we in the body should labor to fix them. We do not have to personally have done them to repent and pray for healing. We can get to know one person. We can ask questions and we can be the bridge to healing. Going through this book with a few people would be an excellent way to begin learning. There were several things that I was not aware of that people find hurtful or offensive. There are ways that we can advocate for others. There are prayers we can pray and actions we can take. This is a great place to begin being educated and take the first step toward healing the great racial divide in our nation and world.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book made my heart stop beating a time or two. The author did a powerful job giving these characters humanity. Her years spent working with refugees and her careful study of people is clearly reflected throughout these pages. This gut wrenching story gave me a view into a world I would never want to see. It cultivated a mercy that will never leave me. My eyes are open to the tragedy that is swept away from public view. The story is so well told that I feel like I know the people in it. I wanted the beekeeper to find his way and his wife to be healed. I grieved with them. I cried. I was in shock. 
This is a powerful story.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Love Changes Everything by Micah Berteau

Love Changes Everything: Finding What's Real in a World Full of FakeLove Changes Everything: Finding What's Real in a World Full of Fake by Micah Berteau
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this book. My husband and I named our 105 year old house after Hosea’s wife because of the lengths he went to in order to restore her. I love the story.

This felt like a poorly retold sermon filled with Christian clichΓ©s. I raised an eyebrow at some of the points given and how he was relating the story to Gomer. It felt like a cheap observation of the story.

I wanted to like it. I looked past the title and the fact that I did not know the author hoping to love the story because I love the original story, but sadly did not. It was hard to read and felt scattered. There are some good points in the book, but it was hard to follow.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Before & After by Judy Christie

Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children's Home SocietyBefore and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children's Home Society by Judy Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After I read Before We Were Yours, I was moved by the tales of the orphans that went through the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. The thought of thousands of children kidnapped in a modern society in the middle of America with the help of corrupt politicians is bewildering. They estimated number of children that died there is grievous. After Lisa’s novel was published, so many of the people who were stolen from their families began reaching out to her. She formed a reunion and documented many of their stories. These stories are equally beautiful and devastating. There are lives that turned out well and those that have suffered for generations because of torment.

There was one story that spoke to my heart. A couple had been offered a perfect boy and when they went to pick him up, they heard a baby whimpering in the corner of the room. The couple pushed past the operator of the orphanage to the baby. She lay there tongue tied and covered in a rash. They took that baby home against the wishes of the orphanage. This baby would grow up and later find out how Georgia Tann would place ugly or sick babies in the corner and let them starve to death. The estimates are that around 500 babies died there. This couple that refused the perfect child and chose the baby in need of care spoke volumes to my heart. The is beauty amidst the brokenness. Great read.

This book was graciously provided by the publisher for my review.

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Monday, September 16, 2019

Blessed Broken Given by Glenn Packiam

Blessed Broken Given: How Your Story Becomes Sacred in the Hands of JesusBlessed Broken Given: How Your Story Becomes Sacred in the Hands of Jesus by Glenn Packiam
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is powerful and beautifully written. The author has a wonderful gift of story and eloquence. I was moved many times while reading. His words on church hurt, lament, and being given out are some of the best I have read. If you are wondering how God could ever use the wreck that is your life, this is a healing balm. I loved it.

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Something Needs To Change by David Platt

Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent NeedSomething Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need by David Platt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that makes you wonder if you could do more with your life. Following David through a trek up the Himalayas gives a perspective on a life we cannot imagine. The terrifying death rituals, the sex trafficking of little girls, & the awful medical conditions there make your heart want to stop beating.

This book reminds me of my trips to Haiti. It is impossible to come home and not think about what people are doing to get by in a population that is 85% unemployed. People turn to all sorts of false religions (sprinkled with Christianity) to beg a demon for help. People are starving and dying because of preventable issues. The question David poses to us is what we will do with what we know.

I felt like there was more to say that was left unsaid, but the book spoke to me.

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This book was graciously provided by the publisher for review.

Friday, September 06, 2019

The Boho Table

A little over ten years ago, I lost my second brother to liver related illness. Mike's death propelled me to begin searching beyond my shyness in order to help the drug addict, the lonely, and those looking to love them. We sold our perfect little home in a white picket fenced neighborhood and waited for almost an entire year for God to show us what to do next. I was in no way prepared for the 3 story, 100 year old mansion that we settled in. It had sat empty for over twenty years. There was no insulation, no heat or a/c, no kitchen, etc. I really can't wrap my mind around that. We lived in Texas with no air conditioning for five years. I was pregnant a few of those years as well. God has cultivated a plethora of things in our waiting. We have seen rivers in the desert. In all humility, we are still waiting on some things. We are waiting on our balcony to be replaced, our house to be painted, a new oven, and more.

One of the great things about God is how he gives us kingdom things in our waiting that we could not receive in plenty. He never stops working on our hearts. I don't have any blood siblings left, but God has taken the pain of my heart and turned it into something beautiful. At first, it was just the boldness to invite around 1,400 people to eat at our table. That grew into a deep love of feeding, serving, and listening to homeless people.
A group of my girlfriends started our journey at Mission Waco serving at Church Under the Bridge. Every time we went, we were asked what church we represented. Truth be told, none of us attended the same church, belonged to the same denomination, or even lived in the same city. They told us we needed a name, so we came up with one. Kingdom Gypsies. We have since also become part of a homeless small group of about 60 people, volunteer regularly at the Trinity Center in Austin, and distribute clothing downtown in Austin.

If you know me, you know that I have also fallen madly in love with Haiti. My friend Christy is the Executive Director of an orphanage in Port-au-Prince. I never really had a desire to go there or be part of foreign missions, but God had other plans for me. I had the distinct impression that if I wanted to pray for my friend Christy and her husband effectively, that I needed to get on a plane. That was three years ago. I've been going to Haiti ever since. This December will be my third trip there in 2019. I have come to love a young homeless woman there and my hope is to help fund her to have employment at the orphanage.

Through the years, all the ministries we provided have functioned separately. In this past year, we have been feeling the need to put them all together. As we tried to come up with a common theme, I saw the table in everything we do. It was as if our table grew right out the front door and went into other cities and another country. Even worship is partaking in the table communion of God. What do you name a traveling table? I was not sure. All I knew was that I wanted it to not be too churchy, so that people who had been hurt by the church would eat at our table and that it would be fun. When I thought of our group of women that serve, the Kingdom Gypsies, the word Boho came into my head. The Boho Table. I thought it was too crazy, but my husband convinced me that it was perfect. He reminded me repeatedly what an outside-the-box thinker I am. Here I am...not getting in the conventional box that wasn't meant for me.

I wrote a blog about having a dream about a house and it coming true. When I went to that house and sat at that table, God birthed something. He birthed this table. He opened up my heart to be willing to tell my story and diligently search for other people's stories.
He showed me how much I need people around me to make this all work. It's in women's refreshing getaways. It's leading a Bible study. It might be in a women's night at the table or on a podcast. It might be worshipping under a bridge. I am trusting God to do whatever he wants at the table. Come sit with me.

Step into the story:

I was recently on a podcast. Redemption's Table: Click here to listen.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Raising Successful Teens by Jeffrey Dean

Raising children has been one of the hardest things I have ever attempted to do. I have never felt so ill equipped and so needy before the Lord. I pray and I pray to pray more over these people I have been entrusted with. Their hearts, minds, emotions, and sexuality are incredibly sacred. This book reminded me that I am in a battle. It has given me tools and equipped my heart for much of the journey. I highly recommend it.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I feel like I only survived adolescence. I was exposed to every bad thing you would never want your child to encounter. It came from teachers, peers, parents, and church members. It was horrible. I was in therapy. I went to church. The problem was that my parents were in no way invested in my life, they took no responsibility for their own actions, and I had no one to lovingly direct me toward truth. I collapsed.

As a parent, I have desperately sought to know how to love and guide my kids in truth. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. The more you care, the harder it is. The enemy hates family. Our kids come in with this broken DNA. We have broken DNA. What we need is the DNA of Heaven. It’s complicated and confusing to navigate the waters of biblical parenting. So many voices are coming at you telling you that you are wrong.

Then this. This book comes alongside you and resonates what you know to be true. It speaks life to everything the enemy wants to steal from us and our kids. There is beauty and hope to be had. The enemy wants to cripple our children so that they can never experience it. This is war.

Jeffrey tackled some tough subjects. Sex, homosexuality, lying, friendships, school, & mental illness to name a few. It was encouraged me to keep my head and my heart in the fight. Pray for your kids. You haven’t come this far to give up. Read the book. Take notes. Ask hard questions. Speak life.

This book was graciously given to me by Multnomah Publishing for review.

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...