You would never know from the confident look of the woman sitting at the bookstore table signing books for her fans, that Sage Bush was still trapped in her traumatic childhood. But she was. In Behind Her Name, author Eunice Cooper-Matchett explores, with wonderful story telling, the secretive world of bullying and its devastating effects.
The familiar Canadian setting (small town Alberta), a cast of complex and interesting characters, combined with the author’s exploration of serious themes like bullying, forgiveness, trust, and how to answer the age-old question, why does God allow evil in our lives, are aspects of this well-written book that make it more than just another entertaining tale. Oh, and I loved the unique way the author had Sage handle times of stress and overwhelm—with poetry!
Fans of Christian contemporary romance won’t want to miss this special offering!
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Psalm 91 has been one of my favourite Bible chapters since I started choosing favourites. I especially love the part about being hidden under the feathers of the Most High—as if God is a parent bird sheltering us from whatever harm or danger is around. So when Rebekah Jones picked this chapter for her Original Bible Art Journaling Challenge (Week 25), along with a beautiful download to use, I was in!
I love the wing graphic she made available to us. I traced it, then tinted it with pencil crayons, trying to keep the look soft … for isn’t that how God cares for us—softly, tenderly, carefully.
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge” – Psalm 91:1,4
Keep trusting as you’re sheltered under His wings today.
As I contemplate “finding joy” (our Spiritual Journey Thursday topic this month), it occurs to me how little it takes for me to lose mine. A stretch of bad weather, a cold that hangs on, misplacing my things, upcoming obligations that worry and stress me… These and many more easily grab my attention and, if I let them, steal my joy.
On the weekend I visited a friend who, a week ago, had a heart attack. Now mending from bypass surgery, her attitude of noticing all the positive things and being grateful for them is, I think, a template for retaining joy through bad times or good.
She was perfectly peaceful about relinquishing her classroom to a substitute for the rest of the year. Her husband was laid off from work a while ago, but because of that he was free to be with her in this distant city through this time. Her doctor happened to come by her room as her heart was misbehaving, witnessed what was happening, and pushed up her surgery. Her daughter, passing through on holidays visited the night before surgery and calmed her mother’s jitters using her doula skills. My friend has a strong faith and interpreted these things as evidences of the care of a loving heavenly Father.
For all of us—my friend navigating through her life-and-death health challenge to me with my petty annoyances, I believe finding joy comes in seeing and focusing on the good in the situation and being grateful for what is, rather than wishing for something that isn’t.
I leave you with a short prayer that I wrote some years ago but still need to pray:
the sweet leisureliness
of being a lily
the implicit trust
of my child-hand
the unlikely joy
that sings sparrow-songs
even when I’m on the ground
© 2007 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)
This post is linked to Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday, hosted this week by Margaret Simon at her blog Reflections on the Teche.
One of the most fun parts of this April has been following the projects of various Poetry Friday friends. Donna, at Mainely Write, for example, has been posting vanity license plates she has photographed, a day for each letter of the alphabet, and using one of the day’s plates as a poem prompt.
When Adele Kenny’s blog (one of the places I check daily for poem-writing ideas) linked the poem “Which Way is Up?”—the thoughts of poet Tony Gruenewald on seeing a vanity plate flash by him on the road—I thought immediately of Donna’s project.
I surfed over to her website and on browsing through the variety of plates, a semblance of order began to suggest itself to me and, voila—a found poem! Donna has generously allowed me to use plate photos from her blog for ICSPOTS. (Thanks Donna!)
© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly, Photos by Donna Smith (All rights reserved)
In case you didn’t get the message via the plate lingo, here it is, in translation (with my additions in parentheses):
Are you salt?
You are loved.
We (are) grateful
You be brave,
Überkül (Extra cool)
This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Buffy Silverman at Buffy’s Blog.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Overload by Joyce Meyer is a book on how to handle stress. In fifteen chapters, Meyer discusses:
– what stress is and what causes it;
– how putting God in charge of life eases stress;
– how to handle unavoidable stressful situations;
– how to control thoughts to minimize stress;
– advice about decision-making;
– how humor can ease stress;
– warnings against stress-producing activities like comparing ourselves with others, speaking negatively, and tolerating constant low-level dread. The book ends with several chapters of practical advice for how to deal with and eliminate stress from our lives.
Overload is easy to understand and encouraging. If you’ve listened to or watched Meyer’s Enjoying Everyday Life show, you’ll recognize her no-nonsense, with-God-you-can-do-it tone coming through the written word.
I like how Meyer includes lots of examples from her life and concludes each chapter with a brief summary of the points made and an interesting fact about stress. Typical of all of her teaching, Meyer emphasizes the spiritual aspect of stress management.
If you’re at a place where life is too busy, overwhelming, and stressful to be enjoyed, give this book a read!
I received Overload as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.
Many of us have chosen one-word themes for the year.
Holly Mueller our Spiritual Journey Thursday hostess has invited us Thursday pilgrims to share the thoughts and spiritual aspects of each others 2016 one-word choices each week until we’ve covered them all—a process that will take us into mid-February.
Our word this week is BELIEVE, the word chosen by Carol.
I’ve decided to put my thoughts into poetry. I was surprised at how the word BELIEVE had me digging deep and asking myself, what things do I believe in, and why?
Belief is the string between hand and balloon,
rush of wind between platform and diver,
arc of fork from plate to mouth,
that extra effort because you know you can,
ordering your life by the words of a Man.
To believe is to have confidence in
consider honest, regard as true
trustworthy and acceptable.
When you believe you suppose and assume
surmise and conclude
set store by, reckon
deduce, approve of, cling to.
Whether you are a wise or foolish believer
depends on your belief’s object…
the buoyancy of helium and the strength of the string.
the law-pull of gravity, the water’s depth
and its way of cork-popping you to the surface.
the accuracy of your aim and absence of arsenic in your food.
confidence in yourself because you know you have more in you.
faith in a Creator, a promise, a Son
a broken relationship and a buy-back plan.
© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)
This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted each week by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning.
“Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven…'” Matthew 18:2,3.
When Holly, host of Spiritual Journey Thursday, mentioned that she was intending to write about CHILDLIKENESS in her SJT post today, I immediately thought of what Jesus said in Matthew 18. I also remembered a poem I wrote a few years ago. “Converting to Childhood” has some of my ideas of what Jesus may have meant when he talked to his disciples about being converted and becoming as little children. What do you think He meant?
Converting to Childhood
Jesus: “… unless you are converted and become as little children
you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3
You lose sophistication and veneer
and become clear
sing, skip and play
easily laugh and cry
then fall asleep without a care
for Daddy is nearby.
No longer do you worry
about whether there will be
food to eat, clothes to wear
how to get from here to there.
You’re malleable clay again
learning your family’s ways and graces.
And once again you fit
into small places.
© 2007 by V. Nesdoly
This poem is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Carol Daniels has moved with her 16-year-old son Paul from Calgary to Toronto at the beginning of Secrets and Lies, Janet Sketchley’s second book in the Redemption Edge Series. It wasn’t a move of choice but of necessity, to get away from the terrifying lowlife associates that had begun threatening her in her western home—characters that were seemingly connected to her brother (the convicted killer Harry Silver from Heaven’s Prey – Redemption’s Edge 1).
Her hopes of hiding from the thugs are dashed when disturbing anonymous phone calls start again. Not only is the voice in the calls creepy but the threats are terrifying and the character behind them far too aware of her whereabouts and movements for comfort. His demand is for money that her brother has apparently salted away. The detective on the case suggests Carol will eventually have to get in touch with the brother she despises and has disowned.
Those calls aren’t her only worry. There’s Paul too—a good kid but too much like Skip, his egotistical musician father. At least Paul’s not into drugs—the most loathsome of substances that killed her other son, Keith. And she’s determined to keep him safe from the present danger and from following in the footsteps of his musical father.
When nightmares awaken her or worries about her son or the spooky calls keep her from sleep, she makes mint tea and phones the oldies station to talk to the DJ, Joey. He always has a sympathetic ear and a repertoire of Billy Joel tunes to serenade her out of any mood. It turns out that Joey, in person, is just as nice as on-air—and then she discovers he too is hiding secrets.
Sketchley’s skill at merging the believeable and homey details of a modern single mom’s life with criminal threats and shadowy danger makes her main character relatable and in a situation that seems real and plausible. More than once I found myself gripping my e-reader muttering: Don’t answer the stupid phone … don’t trust him … don’t go with him!
But the story is more than a well-plotted tale of romantic suspense. For in it Sketchley wades through all kinds of waters: a mother’s attempts to control her son, a son’s attempts to find his own way while not hurting his mom, trust: how we earn it and find courage to place it, forgiveness: God’s for us and ours for each other, and more.
In the faith department I appreciated the way Sketchley’s Christian characters don’t have all the answers but wrestle with their beliefs like we all do. Several characters have a strong faith and through them we hear good reasons why God is worth putting our faith in even if it seems He’s let us down in the past.
This second book in the Redemption ‘s Edge series is gentler than Heaven’s Prey but with moments just as nailbitingly tense. Sketchley’s sense of timing and ability to lull us with sweet ordinariness, only to fling us in the next page into the arms of cold, unscrupulous evil, makes this a must-read for lovers of Christian suspense. Believable, complex characters and a keen eye for telling details make Sketchley’s writing a pleasure to read for anyone. And there are bonus treats. For the music savvy, this book is a sentimental stroll down memory lane. For the reader with the munchies, all those good smells coming from the Sticky Fingers café and Carol’s own kitchen are enough to drive a person to brownies—with mint tea, of course.
A set of discussion questions at the end of the book makes this a perfect choice for book clubs.
Readers who can’t get enough fiction delivered with doses of tension and danger will want to keep an eye on Sketchley’s lengthening list of books. No Safe Place, Redemption’s Edge 3 is due out in 2015.
This excellent read launches TODAY, November 5th, 2014. Check it out.
Spend a sentimental afternoon with this Secrets and Lies oldies playlist.