Permission Pages #BibleJournaling

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A while ago I came across blog post: “Permission Pages: the perfectionist’s approach to the journaling Bible.” Lauren, the creator of that post, explains well what “Permission Pages” are and why one might want to create one, or several, in a journaling Bible.

I loved the idea and added two as tip-ins at the front of my Bible. If you view Lauren’s original post, you’ll see that I included many of her ideas on my pages and added a few more of my own.

The pages are parchment paper, attached to the inside of the front cover pages with washi tape. The lettering was done with Pigma Micron pens, the coloring with pencil crayons.

Permission1

“This Bible is for…” permission page 1 (V. Nesdoly)

Permission2

“This Bible is not for …” and “These pages may …” permission page 2 (V. Nesdoly)

Creating these pages was a good way for me to revisit why I’m doing this, and my expectations of myself and what the process of Bible art journaling will do for me. If you’re a Bible journaler, you might want to create permission pages for your journaling Bible.

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The Price of Freedom (review)

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The Price Of Freedom (A Story Of Courage And Faith, In The Face Of Danger.)The Price Of Freedom by Simon Ivascu

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every young man between the ages of eighteen and twenty knew from early childhood that they would be required to go into the army to give one year of their lives in military service. … it was the young men with strong Christian beliefs who faced the worst danger in army life. Many gave up their faith in order to make it through their term of service.

Those who clung to their beliefs, like Simon’s brother Stefan, were regularly ridiculed, mistreated and beaten, sometimes fatally. Stefan had landed in the army hospital after one of his beatings. While still recovering from his injuries he had chosen to escape from Romania. He’d paid the dangerous price of freedom, risking prison and death, rather than return to his duties in the army” – The Price of Freedom, p. 16,17.

The Price of Freedom begins with 18-year-old Simon, Stefan’s younger brother, having recently received a conscription notice himself, running away from home in order to avoid the same fate as his brother. We follow him as he jogs, walks, hides, watches, waits, sneaks, crawls, even crosses a river on the underside of a bridge. In this way he makes his way through Romania, Hungary, and Austria, finally reuniting with Stefan in Italy five weeks after he sets out.

A short time later Simon’s younger acquaintance Wesley Pop also sneaks away to Italy to avoid conscription. The young men meet in Italy and renew their friendship.

But life in the free world is not at all what they expect. Because they are both in Italy illegally it’s nearly impossible for them to find work, landlords don’t want to rent to them, and the attitude of the Italian people is cold and suspicious. Eventually both receive notices that they must leave the country within 15 days or face jail and deportation. Desperate to leave but not back home, they consider all means of escape and end up in a shipping container. A story that is harsh to this point, now becomes deadly.

The events are told alternately from Simon’s and Wesley’s points of view. Co-writer Bev Ellen Clarke’s use of creative non-fiction techniques makes the book read like a gripping adventure. I found it both hard to put down and hard to read because its descriptive style had me right there in that dark, airless container on those bundles of ceramic tile with Simon and Wesley, facing lack of oxygen, heat, thirst, sea-sickness, and starvation while heading to who knows where?

However, the inclusion of wonderful coincidences and amazing answers to prayer transform this book from a story about the resilience, tenacity and courage of the human spirit (which it is) to more—a story about prayer, faith in God, and miracles.

Obviously the young men survived. Simon and his brother currently live in Kelowna B.C. and are part of the singing group Freedom Singers (I enjoyed their singing this summer at the Gospel Music Celebration in Red Deer, Alberta).

This true story did more for me than just than illustrate God’s care for His children and entertain. It also opened my eyes to the plight of refugees giving me worthwhile insights for these refugee-filled times. Highly recommended.

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Unafraid (review)

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Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe WorldUnafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World by Susie Davis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Already a fearful child, the sight of an eighth grade classmate—a neighbor boy—gunning down a favorite teacher in May of 1978 proved to be too much for Susie Davis. As a result, she developed irrational routines like hiding in her closet when she was home alone and later in life checking the whole house for intruders before taking her children inside. For years she functioned this way, covering her coping mechanisms well.

She did eventually break down and that led to a season of God peeling the layers off the fears that held her in their power. With the help of her husband, friends, and especially God she was able to break fear’s chains. Unafraid is the story of her journey from fear to wholeness and her message of hope to other fearful people.

Davis’s writing voice is friendly and encouraging, though she does sometimes lapse into lecture mode. She uses a lot of sentence fragments which I found distracting as they drew my attention away from content and to the writing itself.

The book does contain sound advice about how to counter fear. However, two flies in the ointment spoiled my enjoyment of this memoir.

In a chapter where she likens the trauma of a bad event to Good Friday and recovery from it to Easter Sunday, she calls the time between these things Saturday, writing these words:

“Saturday is the ‘What the holy heck just happened?’ kind of feeling” – Kindle Location 854.

After seeing the word “holy” used often in this book in reference to God, I found its use here as a minced oath puzzling and disappointing. It cast a shadow over the whole book for me.

In another chapter describing her “dark night of the soul” she waits to get one of God’s “love notes” to her—perceived communication from Him through circumstances or His voice coming through her thoughts. However, not once in that section does she mention the possibility of hearing from Him by reading the Bible—the place most Christians would go first to get a message from God.

These quibbles aside, there is also lots of wisdom and good advice for the fearful in this book, wisdom like:

“So many of the giants I face are in my head. Fear whispers unspeakable things and I flinch. … This is when it’s time for me to take captive, cast down, and throw those thoughts in prison. And I do that by worshiping Jesus. Just as the wise men worshiped Jesus, I lay prostrate fore God and not before my fears” – KL 1504.

and

“… I must daily walk away from fear. And the only way I can hope to do that is to think of fear the same way my Father things of fear. As an idol in my life” – KL 1726.

The book concludes with a set of Discussion Questions and a Study Guide, making it useful for book clubs as well as group and personal study.

I received Unafraid as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.

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Happy Birthday Canada!

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Canadian flags line walk

Canadian flags line the walk of the Arboretum – Langley, B.C.

Today we Canadians celebrate Canada’s 147th birthday!

I love Canada and am proud to be Canadian. However, some things in our culture cause me concern. The rise of political correctness and the marginalization of people who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs is one.

In our Sunday church service we spent some time commemorating Canada. A moving part of the program was the recitation, by about eight children (7-10 years-ish) of the preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights, together with a list of our fundamental freedoms (though they did the latter part in words that simplified the legalese).

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Preamble: Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.   Read entire…

In this day and age when some of these freedoms are appearing more and more like a fiction (e.g. a conference simulcast is denied use of a public building in Nanaimo B.C. because its arms-length affiliation with sponsor Chik-Fil-A was deemed offensive to the LGBT community, and Christians who are against abortion are not allowed to run for the federal Liberal party as new candidates, existing candidates are not allowed to vote their conscience on abortion), it’s nice to be reminded that the rights of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion, expression, and peaceful assembly are still officially and legally and rightfully ours as Canadian citizens.

We also sang O Canada, verses 1 and verse 4—another reminder of Canada’s faith foundation.

 

O Canada

1.
O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land, glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee;
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

All ” O Canada” lyrics including stanzas 2. & 3.

4.
Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our Dominion, in thy loving care.
Help us to find, O God, in thee,
A lasting rich reward.
As waiting for the better day,
We ever stand on guard.
God keep our land, glorious and free.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

Persecuted (review)

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Persecuted: I Will Not Be SilentPersecuted: I Will Not Be Silent by Robin Parrish

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Freedom is fragile and costly. It must be constantly protected and defended by work and by faith … and by blood” (Kindle Location 103).

Rev. John Luther knows these words, uttered during a TV interview, could get him into trouble—especially given the pressure being put on him and Truth Ministries by his old friend Senator Donald Harrison.

Harrison’s baby is the Faith and Fairness Act—a piece of legislation he is determined to get passed whatever it takes. But so far, Luther has resisted bringing his popular and influential ministry on board. After all, it is an act that would bind Luther and his TV show “… to publicly declare your religious beliefs in a way that permits equal time and respect to other faiths.”

Big mistake. At last that’s what some consider it. Luther’s steadfast refusal to buckle to the forces of compromise, even after a personal visit from Harrison, puts in motion a chain of events that is the gripping political suspense tale Persecuted by Robin Parrish.

An ominous man in a gray suit, a distraught wife and innocent child, an intuitive and loyal father (also a man of the cloth), and two gutsy investigators make up the cast of characters.

It’s a David and Goliath fight all the way as John soon finds himself pitted against ruthless, shadowy figures who will stop at seemingly nothing. And they are getting their orders from whom? Could it be the highest power in the land?

The themes of freedom of religion and conscience, the relationship of fathers and sons, and the importance of family play out before us in scenes that go from palm-sweatingly tense to tender. John Luther’s checkered past plays a large part in convincing the public and even those close to him that he might be capable of the acts pinned on him. His backstory, told as flashback scenes between current incidents, helps us understand the gravity of his situation even as these episodes provide a break from suspenseful action of the here-and-now.

A set of nine “Questions for Conversation” completes the book’s offering.

The writing is strong with nothing to distract from the story’s spell and I found the book hard to put down (though John’s success at avoiding his pursuers did stretch my credulity from time to time). The book’s message of warning is timely as we see the political climate of western countries warm towards tolerance as the highest value, no matter what the cost to personal conscience and freedom. I also loved the portrayal of Charles Luther, John’s father—a rock John could always depend on no matter what. The way Charles fathered John reminds me of how God fathers us. The questions at the book’s end make this a good choice for book clubs to read and discuss.

I received Persecuted as a gift from publisher Bethany House for the purpose of writing a review. The quality of the NetGalley Kindle download was, as usual, abysmal with inconsistent formatting and letters missing within words. I only hope the ebook offered for sale is better quality!

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