What I’m Reading: The Sister Circle

womenI’m the youngest of three children and the only girl. It almost goes without saying that I was a little bit of a tomboy. I had a dollhouse, but the G.I. Joe’s would often invade the house during war time. Sure, I watched My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake cartoons. I also loved B.J. and the Bear, The A-Team, and Air Wolf. I liked to wear makeup occasionally, but I had no idea how to make my hair look good like the other girls in class. To be honest, that’s something I still don’t get!

I was always curious about what it would be like to have a sister. I’m not sure why. I had female friends, but I tended to get along better with the guys. I had little patience for the manipulation games that girls tend to play. Besides, it worked out just fine for me to have guy friends. At least it did until I hit the age that I wanted to be more than “one of the guys”. Then, I was stuck without hope of escape.

I never got a sister, and I was okay with that. I think I realized it would have been a disaster, especially if she’d been more girly than me. But God did bless me with girl friends throughout my life. I never had more than one at a time. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have handled more than that. And they were usually very different from me. One was very girly. One seemed to know how to talk to guys in ways I didn’t get that got them to see her as more than one of the guys. Some were definitely extroverts. I’ve rarely had girl friends similar to me, even in adulthood.  Of course, we had some things in common or we never would’ve become friends, but the similarities were more superficial like similar music tastes or favorite television shows.

These differences could cause issues, but they could also be exactly what I needed. It’s a lesson the women of The Sister Circle by Nancy Moser and Vonette Bright learned as they lived together in Peerbaugh Place. Some would say fate or fortune threw them together. Others in the group would say it was God at work. At first their differences seemed trivial, but it quickly became apparent that these ladies had extreme differences in personality, experience, and beliefs.

It’s the differences that threaten to tear the tenants of the boardinghouse apart. But it’s also the differences that open up the avenues God wants to use to bond these women together as a family. Together they learn about themselves and grow in faith and love. Despite their differences these women become sisters who would do anything for the others in the group.

Like the women of Peerbaugh Place, women, even Christian women, can hold at arm’s length those who are different from us. Instead of getting to know each other and trying to understand one another, we push others away. God didn’t intend this. While scripture is specific about not engaging in sinful behaviors and beliefs, God never wanted us to use this as a reason to segregate ourselves from the people in our lives.

Scripture tells us repeatedly to love one another. The story of the Good Samaritan was used to teach us we are to show practical love to everyone, even those who our differences would encourage us to walk past without a second thought.  We are to be the image of Christ to the world around us, not just in the church pews with like-minded people. We are to reach beyond the doors of the church, and there are great differences when we decide to step outside the circle of believers.

The women in The Sister Circle worked together despite their differences. They faced challenges for sure, and we will too. But the end result of learning to look past differences and care for the people we come in contact with is the world seeing God’s love in action. And experiencing God’s love will change the world for the better.

What I’m Reading: Blue Columbine

blue columbine flowerWe try to teach our children that actions have consequences, but society tells them otherwise. Actions have consequences if you’re not rich or famous. Actions have consequences unless you choose to get rid of that consequence. Actions have consequences unless you’re willing to strike a deal to get out of them. We make decisions every day, and whether we like it or not the natural order of things is for our actions to lead to reactions.  Nothing can be done or said without leaving its mark on the people and things around it, no matter what we tell ourselves.

When those choices are fueled by addictions, the consequences created are often devastating for those closest to us.  Jamie Carson and Andrew Harris learn this painful lesson in Blue Columbine by Jennifer Rodewald. Similar circumstances in their teenage years forced these best friends apart until they are well into adulthood. Though their circumstances mirrored each other, their reactions to the events in their lives couldn’t have been more different.

Jamie’s faith is deeply rooted in her life when a chance meeting puts Andrew back into her life. Andrew’s faith has been discarded for pursuits that allowed him to rebel without the guilt. Though Jamie sees the spark of the boy she loved deep inside, the man he has become is a stranger to her. With patience and love, she hopes to point him back to the God he walked away from.

Andrew knows his life is a mess, but he can’t see his part in it. His choices have been perfectly fine, and he should not have to face consequences for them. They’ve led him to an addiction he denies. They’ve put a wall between him and his family. And he keeps disappointing and hurting the one person who still seems to believe in him. As Andrew comes to accept there are things in his life that need to change, he believes Jamie is who he needs to help him do it. When his actions bring consequences she can’t stomach, he may lose her and his reason to be a better man.

Jamie knows what Andrew needs is God’s redemption. She simply doesn’t know how to help him see it. Even when things seem to get better, Jamie can’t escape the fear his actions have caused in her heart. Redemption or no, Andrew may have to live with losing Jamie for good as a consequence of his behaviors.

My thoughts on the book: Jennifer Rodewald is a new author to me. I found Blue Columbine while scrolling through Kindle Unlimited’s Christian Romance selections. The cover and title peaked my interest, and I began reading it immediately. I didn’t want to put it down. The ups and downs in Jamie and Andrew’s relationship kept me turning the pages. The author handles addiction in a real way. The addict isn’t treated as a monster. The author does a wonderful job of showing the struggle, the failures, and the successes of one dealing with addiction. She also does a great job of showing how the addiction affects those who love the addict. Helping and enabling, trusting and being realistic, loving them through and leaving for their best are all subjects the story doesn’t turn away from.  Jennifer Rodewald is now on my “keep reading” list. In fact, I downloaded two more of her books as soon as I finished this one.

By the Book: No matter what society tells us, our actions do have consequences. And we become known by the actions we make part of our lives on a regular basis. That’s where our character comes from. Proverbs 20:11 tells us, “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.” You can’t lie habitually without becoming untrustworthy. You can’t steal without being known as a thief. An attitude of entitlement will label us as lazy and arrogant.

This isn’t God’s plan for His children. He tells us we are to have the mind of Christ. Our actions and their consequences should point others to Him. What do your actions say about you? Are the consequences of your actions a world that knows more of God’s truth and love?

Main Character Monday: Levi Prince

Welcome to Main Character Monday. Today’s interview is a special one because today’s guest is from a YA fantasy book. Let’s welcome Levi Prince from The Fay’s Apprentice by Amy C. Blake. Thank you for joining me.

If you could choose only one thing to buy without money being an issue, what would you buy?

An airplane or a helicopter to transport me between my home in Ohio and Castle Island on Lake Superior. That way I can more easily spend time with my family and with Sara and her parents.

The New Testament tells the story of two sisters who react to Jesus visiting in very different ways. Mary chooses to spend her time with him, while Martha chooses to see to the physical details of his visit. Are you more a Mary or Martha?

As a teenage boy, I can’t say I’ve ever really thought about identifying with either woman, but I suppose I’m more of a Martha trying to become a Mary. I spent the previous two years of my life trying to physically force things to work out as I thought best. This year, I’m trying to live in obedience to God and simply trust Him to work everything out for His glory.

I find that’s always the best choice. And maybe I should re-work some of my questions to better fit the men I interview! Thanks for rolling with it.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27 – Do you think this verse, lived out would have made a difference in your life? If so, how?

It certainly would’ve made a difference in the lives of two of my friends. My best friend Trevor lost his mom when he was a little kid, and his family has never been the same. His relationship with his dad is wretched, and his older brother is just plain mean. My dad has tried to be somewhat of a father to Trevor, but it’s hard since we live more than two hours apart.

My other friend Morgan is a mess because of her mom’s drug addictions and her step-dad’s nastiness. Sara, Lizzie, and Monica try to help her, but she’s so mixed up from all the hard times she’s been through. If somebody in her family, like maybe her aunt and uncle—Hunter’s parents—were Christians who lived out this verse to her, I think she’d be a lot better off.

It sounds like your friends are lucky to have a friend like you in their corner. 

What scripture verse would you claim as a life verse?

Psalm 20:7: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” In a place like Terracaelum where mormos, monsters, and demon sorcerers are a very real threat, trusting God is crucial.

I think I may have to ask you back for another interview. I’d like to find out more about Terracaelum and your time there. Of course, my readers and I can enjoy your story too, even if we’re a tiny bit over the YA cut-off.

If there was one message you could give those reading this interview, what would that be?

No matter your situation, trust in the Lord for strength. Don’t rely on yourself. He is the only omnipotent one.

That’s a great truth to remember whether you’re in another world or trying to live a God-honoring Christian life wherever you are. 

Just for Fun:

Indoors or outdoors: Outdoors because Terracaelum is awesome!

Reading or writing: Reading

Apples or pears: Pears

Early bird or night owl: Night owl

Describe Amy in three words:

Motherly: because she loves and cares for her children.

Imaginative: because have you read the situations she puts me into?

Growing: because she learns more about God every day, just as she has me doing.

Thank you for joining me Levi. And thank you Amy C. Blake for allowing me to interview him.

Keep reading for more information on The Fay’s Apprentice and Amy C. Blake.

FaysApprentice_FlatThe Fay’s Apprentice (book 3)

On Levi’s third summer at Camp Classic, he’s torn between two responsibilities. On the one hand, his parents expect him to watch over his little sister Abby, who has no clue their summer camp is a haven for mythical creatures. On the other hand, Mr. Dominic wants him to train at Fort Terra, a full day’s hike away from his sister, because of Levi’s previous encounters with the demon sorcerer Deceptor. Although he enjoys training with his friends, Levi finds life at Fort Terra difficult thanks to the ongoing tension between him and Hunter and the stress of having his former kidnapper Regin as his chaperone. When the woman Regin claims to be the evil sorceress Anna appears, Levi faces a whole new challenge.

 

SONY DSCAward-winning author Amy C. Blake is a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has an M.A. in English from Mississippi College and has written articles, devotionals, and short stories for a number of publications. She’s also writing two series for the Christian market, her Levi Prince YA fantasy series and her On the Brink Christian suspense trilogy.

WhitewashedColorblind, and Tie-Dyed, featuring three homeschooled girls on the brink of adulthood…and danger, are available in paperback and Kindle. The Trojan Horse TraitorThe Fall of Thor’s Hammer, and The Fay’s Apprentice, about homeschooled pastor’s kid Levi Prince and his adventures in Terracaelum, are also available in paperback and Kindle. She’d love for you to visit her website at amycblake.com.

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What I’m Reading: All Made Up

television.pngYou can keep Survivor, though I watched the earliest seasons. I have no desire to watch The Voice or American Idol and never have. And I will definitely pass on The Bachelor. Don’t even get me started on everything that’s wrong with that one! I will admit to a brief fling with King of the Nerds, The Mole, and Full Metal Jousting. I would probably still watch those if their ratings had been high enough to continue the shows.

They weren’t, and so my foray into the world of reality television runs along the lines of The Worst Cooks in America and the Great British Bake-off. Zumbo’s Just Desserts was a really fun one too. But my personal favorite, now only available in reruns, was Cupcake Wars.

I loved the set of Cupcake Wars. I loved the themes the contestants had to work with. The creativity and seeing the giant displays come together at the end were inspiring to this amateur cupcake baker. The unique flavors and even the failures caught my interest and inspired me. I loved everything about the show except that it had to end.

No matter how much I enjoyed it, I know Cupcake Wars, along with all the other reality shows are less than real. The outcomes may not be rigged from the start, but there are plenty of other scenarios played up for the viewers. Drama equals ratings and ratings equal sponsors. Every disaster, argument, and failure are highlighted for the cameras. Time is warped. Planning periods are non-existent making the feats of contestants seem next to impossible. All of it works to draw the audience in, but it should leave us questioning the moniker of “reality” television.

These issues become part if the drama in All Made Up by Kara Isaac. It’s challenging enough to give this contemporary Christian romance its needed conflict when producers of a romantic reality show cast a down-to-earth, faithful farmer as it’s bachelor looking for love. Caleb Murphy is a last minute replacement, and his morals and personality aren’t exactly the stuff of exciting television.

When make-up artist Katriona McLeod is drafted to stand-in for a sick contestant, the drama is raised a notch or two. Katriona’s past with Caleb creates equal part romantic sparks and tension on the set. It’s the only thing producers can consistently count on, and her walk-on appearance doesn’t walk-off after the first episode as originally planned.

Katriona and Caleb have enough confusion and hurt to work through on their own. But determining what’s real and what’s made for television isn’t easy with lights and cameras following your every move. The question is whether or not they can be real enough with each other to deal with their past and have a second chance at love once the cameras stop rolling.

The superficial setting of All Made Up doesn’t keep Kara Isaac from diving into heartfelt conversations between Katriona and Caleb. What results is a fun, encouraging story about being real and finding love.

By the Book: While entertaining, reality television is less than real. Every conversation and situation is engineered to create the perfect picture for the viewers. That’s fine or television, but it’s damaging when the same attitudes are adopted in our faith. We want to be examples of Christ-like living to those we come in contact with. That’s kind of the point of being labeled “Christian”. But we are also called to be real, honest, and humble. While we don’t want to flaunt our sins, failures, and struggles like a badge of honor, we also don’t want give an image of perfection in our walk. We aren’t perfect. We know it. Those around us know it. When we hide our flaws, even with the good intent of showing God’s love and power in our lives, we end up doing the opposite. Not only do people know we’re being less than honest, they also end up believing God is less than He says He is. If He wasn’t, why would His people have to protect Him in this way? I don’t know about you, but I connect more with the believers in my life who are honest with me about the things they’ve been through. Their testimonies of how God has worked in and through the circumstances of their lives speak to me and encourage me because I know I’m not the only one. Romans 12:15 instructs us to rejoice with those who are in a good place and weep with those who are hurting. God’s desire is for believers to be family for each other, helping each other. We can only do this when we put aside made for television Christianity and embrace Christianity in real life with all it’s ups and downs.

Main Character Monday

I’m excited to have a new Main Character Monday interview to share with you today. It’s been a while. I think I need to work on my building my list of authors (and their characters) who are open to doing interviews. I love these interviews, and I’ve heard from some of you that you enjoy them too. So, welcome to Main Character Monday!

Today’s guest is Faith from Faith & Hope by Amy Anguish. Thank you for joining me.

If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?

Honestly, I’d love to go to Europe, especially Scotland and Ireland. My husband teaches at a private Christian high school, and their seniors go to Europe each year. We’re hoping to be able to chaperone in the future so we can tag along!

A woman after my own heart. Ireland and Scotland are my dream vacations. I’m saving my change and one day I’ll make it there!

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Which of these traits do you find easiest to display in your life? Which of them is the hardest to display?

Love and kindness are what I always strive towards, although when my sister is around, those are harder to bring forth.

Patience is something I think everyone is working on. Although you’d think as much waiting as my husband Sam and I have done through the last four years of infertility treatments that it would be a lesson I’d learned by now.

I think there’s someone in everyone’s life that make love and kindness more of a conscious effort. As for patience, they seem to test that one too! I’m sorry to hear about your infertility issues. I imagine the waiting and wondering if it’s ever going to happen can really be a struggle. 

What is your favorite story from the Old Testament?

The story of Hannah praying for and getting her baby Samuel.

Considering what you’ve told us, I’m guessing that one gives you a great deal of hope. 

What is your favorite book in the New Testament?

James

If you could leave us with one message, what would you want us to know?

Before you try to comfort someone, make sure that your words can’t be construed in a way that might actually hurt more than help. If you aren’t sure about that, just make sure they know you’re there for them and leave it at that, without saying anything else. Sometimes that means more than an overused saying.

I’ve always found it hard to comfort people for that reason. It’s not natural to me I guess. And when you find that what comforts one causes pain to another in the same situation, I find listening to the Holy Spirit’s leading becomes really important. 

Now, just for fun:

Sunrise or sunset? Sunset

Pie or Cake? Cake

Tulip or Iris? Iris

Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate

What three words would your  use to describe Amy Anguish?

Southern, Exhausting, Conflicted

Thank you Faith for taking the time for this interview. I believe you’ve got a great story, and I can’t wait for readers to take the time to get to know you better through Amy’s book, Faith & Hope. And now, I’d like to give them the opportunity to find out a little more about your story and Amy Anguish. 

Faith & Hope by Amy Anguish:

faithTwo sisters. One summer. Multiple problems.

Younger sister Hope has lost her job, her car, and her boyfriend all in one day. Her well-laid plans for life have gone sideways, as has her hope in God.

Older sister Faith is finally getting her dream-come-true after years of struggles and prayers. But when her mom talks her into letting Hope move in for the summer, will the stress turn her dream into a nightmare? Is her faith in God strong enough to handle everything?

For two sisters who haven’t gotten along in years, this summer together could be a disaster … or it could lead them to a closer relationship with each other and God. Can they overcome all life is throwing at them? Or is this going to destroy their relationship for good?

And a little about Amy:

Amy R Anguish

IMG_5853Author of An Unexpected Legacy, Faith & Hope

Amy R Anguish grew up a preacher’s kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a bossy cat or two. Amy has an English degree from Freed-Hardeman University that she intends to use to glorify God, and she wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.

 

Follow her at http://abitofanguish.weebly.com or http://www.facebook.com/amyanguishauthor

What I’m Reading: Delicate Balance

man bunThe man bun. It’s one of those things in life that most people have a definite opinion of and no hesitation in sharing those opinions. Think about the pineapple on pizza debate, only with hair styles. (By the way, pineapple most definitely belongs on pizza.) You want to get a conversation, and quite possibly an argument, started? Show up with a photo of any one of the popular male celebrities sporting the hairstyle and make comment on it. The opinions will fly in seconds, only they’ll be worded as if they’re fact.

Honestly, I’m not a fan. But I’m also one of the odd ones out that doesn’t fall solidly into the “no man bun” camp. Most people can’t pull it off well. Almost all of them should probably stop trying. But there are exceptions to the rule. I can think of a few celebrities whose looks are not diminished by a well-done man bun.

As I was scrolling through the blogs I follow the other day, it was a man bun that caught my attention. I paused. It was a book review by The Christian Fiction Girl. (In case I haven’t said it before, you should check out her blog. I’ve found several new authors through her reviews.) I don’t think I’d ever seen a Christian or clean reads book with a cover like that before. I clicked the link and read the review. Then, I bought the book.

Delicate Balance . . .a romance (The Blair Brothers Book 1) by Brooke St. James turned out to be a fun, quick read. Henry and Aiden have known of each other for years. Everyone who’s lived in Astoria long knows of Henry’s family. But when his family is seated in her section to waitress at work, Aiden finds herself with the chance to get to know him for real.

Acquaintances turn to friends turn to . . .maybe more? Who’s to say for sure? The signals are there, unless they aren’t. Maybe it’s all wishful thinking. Aiden and Henry second guess each other’s feelings while trying to put the lid on their own. It doesn’t work for either of them. But it’s not a smooth road to romance.

Family drama, self-doubt, and misunderstanding all play a part in keeping this couple from realizing what they are to each other. They also play key roles, along with the chemistry between Aiden and Henry, in making Delicate Balance an entertaining story. And it all started with that man bun.

By the Book: The conversations started when opposite sides discuss hair styles and pizza toppings can be a fun way to pass the time. But there are times when opinions have no place in the conversations. The topics of sin, salvation, and who God is are spelled out clearly in scripture. When we try to apply human opinion to a matter already decided by our Creator, we make a mess of everything. That’s why it’s important to take to heart the direction in 2 Timothy 2:15. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” It’s through getting to know God through His word that we are able to understand what’s already been decided by God and learn how to live inside His will.

What I’m Reading -Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

macaronsSometimes it’s the name of the author or the back cover copy. This time it was the cover. The title is written in a fun, laid back script. The woman is blurry, but her hands are not. And those hands are holding colorful macarons.

Before Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe, I’d heard of Carla Laureano. You can’t follow authors on social media without hearing about her. The Saturday Night Supper Club was everywhere I looked for a while. Now, this second installment is taking it’s place in all the posts. I’ve still not read the first book. I considered it, but this one was on sale. It made my decision easy. My only concern was whether or not I would be lost reading stories out of order. I didn’t need to worry. I had no trouble keeping up, and I don’t think you would either.

Anyway, back to the colorful macarons. I’ve never had a macaron. In all my amateur baking, I’ve never had occasion to make them. But they definitely caught my attention and convinced me to check out the blurb on back. Finding out the story centered on a baker pushed me over the line from curiosity to “buy this now”. With the button successfully pushed, I began the story.

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe follows Melody Johansson, a dreamer that feels locked into her life. Her hopes of owning a bakery seem impossible. Her desire for a love life where she’s good enough is an even bigger impossibility. Her track record is awful, and she’s decided she can’t trust her heart to lead her to the guy God has for her.

This is where Justin Keller enters the story. Their attraction is immediate, but he decided long ago that lasting love and the pilot’s life can’t coexist. He won’t go for anything more than a casual date, and he won’t go after any woman who might want more. And Melody definitely projects wanting more.

Circumstances throw them together, and against their better judgment they both seek more time together. As they come to the place of hoping for a future with each other, Melody finds the pieces of her life coming together in unexpected ways. A cutting loss allows her the opportunity to follow her dream and open a bakery with her best friend. Her roots are quickly becoming firmly planted in Colorado.

But Justin’s are taking him to Florida. He’s agreed to go in business with his brother-in-law for the sake of his sister’s health. It’s the roadblock he’s ignored as he and Melody get to know each other. As his plans force him to consider a swift end to their relationship, Justin knows neither heart will escape unscathed.

The bitter and the sweet events of the past have shaped both their lives and outlooks. They’ve also worked together to bring Melody and Justin together, whether for a time or forever.

Isn’t it the same for us? Bitter and sweet mingling together to create the story of lives. And isn’t it encouraging to know the One who is working to create that life knows exactly how much of each is needed to create the most beautiful story possible?

What I’m Reading: My Stubborn Heart

You know THOSE moments. You can’t tell me you don’t. They’re the moments when the guy, like Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You, have opened themselves up to loving only to have the girl turn away because they did something stupid. You feel it deep in your being when he stands on the balcony, crushed as she runs away from him. It’s when the characters in your favorite Hallmark movies look at each other with longing, finally admitting to themselves that something bigger than friendship is going on, but they can’t admit it to each other yet. Your chest tightens with the tension of love that won’t be admitted. It’s that desperation that rises to the surface as you watch Jack walk away from Lucy in While You Were Sleeping because Lucy is in love with his brother.

With those feelings, in those moments, you react as if those characters are real, as if those characters were you. You can feel what they’re feeling. It’s scenes that evoke these kinds of feelings that Becky Wade peppers throughout her book, My Stubborn Heart.

The prologue sets the reader up for what is going to happen in the story. To those who would say she gives away the ending, I’d remind them the journey is half the fun. Everyone knows from the first five minutes who is going to end up together in a Hallmark movie, but it makes the movie no less enjoyable. Besides, the prologue reads like the beginning of a fantastic fairy tale. It reminded me of the opening scenes of the movie Ever After, not because of the content but because of the feeling it gives.

While the prologue drew me in, those special feeling moments in the story kept me engaged. There were moments of attraction, loss, and jealousy that rivaled any from the movies. I ached with the characters and felt the excitement of their growing attraction.

Kate is a caring and spirited woman who wants to heal the hurts of the world. Matt is a man with enough hurts for the entire world. As Matt works to renovate the home of Kate’s grandmother, friendship is slow to grow between them. It’s one step forward two steps back, but Kate is determined.

Even as friendship gives way to unwanted attraction, the path refuses to become easy. These two have a lot to work through, and it’s these challenges that provide the moments that reach deep into the heart of the reader. It’s these moments that keep the reader engaged from prologue until the end.

Write Stuff Wednesday: Max and the Prodigal

wild“’Now stop!’ Max said and sent the wild things off to bed without their supper. And Max the king of all wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.” – Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

My husband and daughter love this book. He read it to her when she was little. Surprisingly, I never read it as a child. We didn’t own it when our sons were small, and they never had the chance to read it as children. I couldn’t tell you if they’ve read it now or not. I kind of hope they have.

As I read this quote tonight, it made me think about the story in a new way. I’m sure Mr. Sendak didn’t mean it as such, but I see a lot of the prodigal in Max. Stick with me for a moment.

Max is a spirited young boy. He has a good home and a loving parent. But sometimes his strong will gets him into a little bit of trouble. He doesn’t always like his mother’s rules fails to exercise good judgement. This tendency lands him in his room without his supper.

But Max is an imaginative little boy. He’s not going to let a little thing like his parent’s rules stop him from having the life of fun and adventure he wants.  Not a chance. Max decides to run away, if only in his imagination. He leaves his parent’s home and sails for a faraway land full of creatures that should be scary to a small boy. These are creatures with wild ways that love to party. They are capable of ending Max’s life with a single swat of their giant claws. But they don’t. They make him their king. He leads them in their rumpus.

Eventually, the rumpus comes to an end. The monsters sleep, and Max is left to consider what he’s really accomplished by running away. He has the monsters. They may fear him, but they don’t have the one thing he wants more than playmates and freedom to do only what he desires. They don’t have unconditional love for Max. Knowing this leaves Max feeling completely alone. He always had love at his parent’s home. His mother always loved him, even when he was wild and rude. She loved him when he was unlovable. She loved him even when she had to give him consequences for his choices.

Realizing this, Max is left with one choice. He boards his boat and heads home with the wild things begging him to stay. That isn’t the life he wants. He wants a life of love. He wants a life with his mother. But will she have him? Yes. Max knows even after all he’s done, his mother loves him still. He knows because she left his dinner for him.

What an awesome picture of the biblical story of the prodigal son. What a great reminder for each of us. Sometimes we are Max. Sometimes we are the prodigal. We fight to go our own way.  We tire of God’s expectations and grow frustrated with situations that don’t work out the way we believe they should. We fool ourselves into thinking we can do better on our own. We storm off in our boats and join the wild things. But soon, reality hits and we realize we are alone. The things that we gained by joining the rumpus are empty. We are alone in our tent while the wild things sleep around us. Or if you prefer, we are in the pen with the pigs.

The joys we experienced with God come back to us. We’re reminded of the peace, strength, and direction He provided. Most of all, we remember His love. It draws us into the boat and across the waves. It brings us with a repentant heart back to Him. And we find He has already prepared for our return. His arms are open wide to receive us, and our supper is waiting.

By the Book: If you aren’t familiar with it (and even if you are) take a moment to read the story of the prodigal son. You can find it in Luke 15.

What I’m Reading – A Bound Heart

Ever read a book that’s so well written you come away from it thinking it was a simply beautiful story to read? That’s what I experienced reading A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz.

The cover caught my attention first. It has a very Scottish or Irish look to it. If that wasn’t enough to tempt me into buying the book, (and really why wouldn’t it be? I’m fascinated with anything Irish or Scottish) I realized the author was Laura Frantz. I’ve only read one other book by this author, but A Moonbow Night was a wonderful book.  The author’s style was impressive. I hoped it would be the same with A Bound Heart.

I was not disappointed. The story, which takes place in Scotland in the 1700s, drew me in immediately. Lark’s life on the Isle of Kerrera is simple and sweet. Raised with Magnus, the laird of Kerrera, Lark has known privileges others of her station did not. Her friendship with him changed when he married, but Lark still serves faithfully raising and preparing the herbs for the castles medicinal and culinary needs.

Rory is a ship’s captain, smuggler, and friend. Though questioning how it fits with her Christian beliefs, Lark helps him avoid capture when he brings his ship to the island. Can it be all bad when he’s taking from those who have much in order to feed those who would otherwise have little? This struggle is one issue holding Lark back from giving him her heart, though she believes it would be easy to do so.

When circumstances land all three in legal troubles, they find themselves indentured and sailing for the colonies and Jamaica. Each struggle to adapt to new surroundings and ways of life while fighting homesickness for the land and people they love.  It’s especially hard for Lark as one of the men she cares about seems bent on choices that could lead to his end and the other is in an unknown land with a reputation for putting the indentured servants in an early grave due to illness.

Lark’s faith remains throughout these trials. She turns to God for answers and strength. She trusts He has a plan for her future, but what will that future look like?