Saturday, June 25, 2011

Restored! - Book Review

So, just before someone handed me a 2 month old baby girl, I was also handed a book to review on my blog. The baby is nearly 4 months old now. As you can see, sometimes priorities get shifted.

The book is "Restored! God's Salvage Plan for Broken Lives" by Dan Schaeffer. This book was provided to me by Discovery House Publishers (the same folks that put out "Our Daily Bread") The book is chronicles the 3 main characters in the story, Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz, and it also hits on one of my favorite people in the book, Elimelech. It discusses being who God wants you to be even when the troubling times hit by showing how each of the characters responded (or should have responded) in their situations. It speaks of grief, hurt, fear and bitterness and shows people of good character and how they struggled through their own options. One of the statements on the back of the book says "As he guides you through the book of Ruth, the blurred vision of pain begins to clear and God's perspective of your distressing situation is revealed with purpose far beyond anything could imagine." I really liked that line - especially after having read the book.

And read the book I did.

It just took longer than usual, and after finishing it, it took longer than usual for me to get the review up.

I want the first thing I say to be this:

1. I liked the book.

I don't like reading non-fiction, but I always get something good out of it when I do. It's like eating your least favorite vegetable but instantly feeling healthier because of it. It makes it easier to want to eat it. And this book left me feeling the same way, like I was much better off for having read it.

2. I hated the book.

It made me angry all the way through, how he continually acted as though Ruth were Ms Wonderful and Naomi was Mrs Olden Bitter. It didn't matter that he was using scriptures to back it up - yeah, she was bitter - but I think there was a bit more to her than that. He painted Naomi better at the end of the book which made up for some of the frustration, but like I said, since it took me so long to read the book I was frustrated for awhile before I finally got to the better part.

3. I loved, absolutely loved, this one line:
"The truth is, unless you live extraordinarily behind the scenes, you will never act extraordinarily when you are finally and unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight."
Loved that quote.

4. I needed to read it.
When I first got it, and started reading, I was reading a lot into it. It seemed like it was going to be about a girl who sacrificed and  left what was familiar to her to follow God which meant moving to a new city. And for me, the girl who left home and moved to San Antonio, I felt for sure I was going to connect with Ruth. But what I found was that Ruth's character resonated only somewhat with me, and I felt more connected to another character in the story - Elimelech. He's the one that I really "got". And I really appreciated what the author had to say about him and how Lem attempted to provide when it seemed God wasn't providing. I don't want to say too much about him because the book is worth reading just to learn from Elimelech's issues.

As clearly as Elimelech's issues were written about, I saw myself just as clearly and had to repent of those traits in my own life. I like it when a book leads me to repent.

I hope you'll try this book, just to give it a shot and see if you find yourself in it somewhere. Maybe you'll get lucky and find yourself connecting more with Ruth, or just maybe you'll find one of the other characters that seem to read just like your life and you never connected the actions with the reasons behind them.

Despite how long it took me to read it, it's only 135 pages + a study guide with some questions if you'd like to read the book as a group. You can pick it up many places I'm sure, but the main place I'd easily link you to is Amazon. So click here if you'd like to get your own copy, or if you know me, I'll be happy to lend you mine.

*Book provided by Discovery House Publishers for free - this is not a paid endorsement and I am not obligated to give a positive review.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Changing lives...

It's 3am in the morning. I've just finished feeding foster baby #8.
Even having heard the crazy numbers of how some foster families have had 100 kids go through their home, it's still mind-blowing to me that I'm on number  8. And still more to come.

And as I've tucked, and wiped, and held little "Precious" and struggled with the stress that always is single parenting I've suddenly fallen quiet as I find myself deep in thought.

I've prayed sometimes that God would end the struggle. God, make life easier somehow. I'm tired of always struggling. It's been great, it's been a joy it's been beautiful and wonderful but hey God, it's a lot of work this whole "life" thing that you've called me to.

And I couldn't help but wonder if He was willing to do it. But it would cost me the great, the joy, the beautiful and wonderful. And as I carried insanely heavy car seats, worried about ECI visits (Early Childhood Intervention -a program that provides therapy for delayed children), and paid over-the-top prices just for diapers for Precious to poop in, I realized I never wanted to give this up. That I only wanted more.

And as I looked at other peoples well-put-together lives, I realized that I didn't want that. Yes, it appears to be struggle free, but I didn't want it. I want the outlandish life. The life that has messy floors, and diapers sitting in the corner of my kitchen floor (because the kitchen sink is our own little bathtub area). I want others to live young, single lives and wonder at my choice to live as a young single mother to other peoples children. I want others to wonder why on earth I'm considering taking in an 18 month old while I'm just now adjusted to a 2 month old.

I want to look harried, sleepless, tired, and as though I don't have the same amount of time for hygiene as I used to if it means that I successfully gave my life away to something so much greater than leisure time and hobbies and never having to watch Teletubbies. I want to live a life full of struggle if the reward for that struggle is that I held these children, I loved these children, I got to tell these children about peace and joy, and a man named Jesus.

I want my life to reach beyond me.