Tuesday, July 22, 2014

All for a Sister (Book Review)

Since I'd read and thoroughly enjoyed another book by Allison Pittman, I jumped at the opportunity to review All for a Sister (at no cost to me).  I was not disappointed.

From the publisher:
In Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties, Celeste DuFrane has it all. Her father’s work with color movie film opens doors that lead to the stardom she’s always aspired to. But after losing her mother, she discovers that half the estate has been left to a woman accused of killing Celeste’s baby sister before Celeste was even born.

Dana Lundgren arrives on the steps of the DuFrane mansion having spent most of her life imprisoned for a crime that never happened. After accusing her of murder so many years ago, why did Marguerite DuFrane leave her a sizable inheritance? 

As Celeste and Dana learn each other’s stories, they come up with more questions than answers. Then a surprising discovery begins to fill in the missing pieces: Marguerite DuFrane’s written confession, penned shortly before her death. Uncovering the treachery and deceit that changed the course of countless lives—most of all, their own—the two women find more than they ever dreamed of.
One interesting aspect of All for a Sister is that the story isn't told sequentially.  We read about the time before Celeste was born; Dana's story; Celeste's childhood; and the meeting of Dana and Celeste in 1925.  We also read the written confession of Celeste's mother, Marguerite.  These stories are told in interspersed chapters, so the overall story unfolds in a logical way.

This is a story about deceit, set in a time period that I found interesting.  Because Celeste is a movie star, we go behind the scenes in the business.  Because Dana was in prison, we can read about her experience.

I'm not much into mysteries or suspense, but this is primarily a story about relationships.  The anticipation of finding out what happened next was delicious.  I couldn't put All for a Sister down!  If you enjoy historical fiction and the Roaring Twenties, I recommend this book.

Links for more information:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bloom Where You're Planted #FMFParty

It's Five Minute Friday!  Click through the link for the details, but the basic idea is this:  Write for five minutes, then click Publish.  No major editing, no perfectionism.

Today's writing prompt is BLOOM.


Probably everyone has heard the expression, "Bloom where you are planted."  I think this is a wonderful approach to life.  Even the apostle Paul thought so:
Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. ... Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. (1 Corinthians 17a, 24)
Flickr user jeansophie
I'm a stay-at-home mom in suburban New Jersey.  That doesn't seem like much of a place to bloom for the Lord.  I've heard people here say, "I want to be a missionary," and hear, in response, "Do you think you have to go far away to do that?"

We live in a mission field.  We are surrounded by a diverse community which includes many who don't believe in Jesus as Savior.  They're everywhere.  We have witnessing opportunities at the grocery store, the post office, and in our own neighborhoods.

I just mentioned to my friend Meri that one of our neighbors is observing Ramadan.  She said, "I smell a witnessing opportunity ...."  (Whether I'm bold enough to take that challenge is a topic for another day!)

Our church serves the community in important ways, by providing meals for the hungry, clothes for the needy, and support for those in challenging situations.  This allows us to show the love of Christ to people who may not know Him.

Finding ministry opportunities within the church is a beautiful thing, but we have other options.  We can smile at, chat with, and help people in the grocery store.  (Ever had someone ask, "Can you reach that for me?")  We can serve with community organizations or we can donate to charitable organizations.  In those settings we may not be able to talk openly about Jesus, but we can show His love.

So bloom where you are planted!  Wherever you are, opportunities abound.


Click through the link at the top of this post for more Five Minute Friday.  Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Trust His Heart #SpiritualWhitespace

Last week I wrote about the return of my depression, and how getting lost in God calmed that storm.  The calm was short-lived (although I'm happy to say that the last few days have been much better!).

I kept going back to Psalm 77, which is the one I mentioned last week.  I was leaving my Bible open to that page so I could find it as quickly as possible.  Then one of those times I happened to come across Psalm 69, which opens this way (v. 1-3):

Save me, O God,
    for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the miry depths,
    where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
    the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
    my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
    looking for my God.

The middle part of the psalm doesn't apply to me:  I am not surrounded by "those who seek to destroy me."  However, in verses 29-30 David writes,
But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
    may your salvation, God, protect me.

I will praise God’s name in song

    and glorify him with thanksgiving.
Over and over we see this pattern in the psalms:
"Life stinks ... but I will pray and praise God anyway, because I know He is good."
Recently my pastor preached on Psalm 73, which was written by Asaph.  Again, his specific problems are different from mine.  But I can still learn from his example.

Asaph starts (v. 1) by stating that God is good, but then (v. 2-14) he pours out his heart about how life stinks.  By verses 15-17 he recognizes that his attitude does not honor God.  Instead of looking at the Now, he takes a longer view.  He lists specific ways (v. 18-20) that the Lord helps with his problems.

What struck me, though, was the way he describes his frustration and anger in the past tense (v. 21-22):

When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;

    I was a brute beast before you.

Verses 23-28 reaffirm what he knows about God.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever. (v. 26)

But as for me, it is good to be near God.
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;

    I will tell of all your deeds. (v. 28)

As I wrote last week, I often have a wide gap between what I feel and what I know.  I am continually trying to bridge that gap, but in the storms, I am often unsuccessful.  It's at those times that I most need to lean on what I know and set aside my emotions.  When I can immerse myself in the Lord, He is faithful to help me do that!

I often don't know why He allows me to go through certain trials.  But as someone has said, If you can't trace His hand, Trust His heart.

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