Book Review: Shadow Among Sheaves

About the Book:

A Timeless, Beautiful Allegory of the Biblical Love Story of Ruth and Boaz

The Great Rebellion of 1857 was a remarkably bloody business. At a time when Britain’s imperial influence in India was sparking brutal clashes on both sides, no one could have expected Rena, an Indian woman, to marry a British officer—nor do they understand her decision to follow her mother-in-law to England after her husband’s tragic death. 

Once the two widows are in Abbotsville, the stern yet compassionate Lord Barric attempts to help them despite his better judgment. Soon he is torn between the demands of reputation and his increasing desire to capture Rena’s heart for his own.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed Shadow Among Sheaves. The re-setting of the story of Boaz and Ruth into England with an Indian widow was thought provoking. The characters were well developed and the writing was vivid. Over all I found the story engaging and would recommend it.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Unhurried Lent: Day 4

Something Gained

Welcome (God Brought You)

Love (Darling, Beloved)

God With You

If the thing that I have lost is that sense of utter belonging in any given place, then the thing that I have gained is a richer and deeper understanding of the universal church; the diversity and beauty of the way our One Body, redeemed by the blood of Christ, spans geography and culture.

I’ve gained insights and understanding as my thought processes have been challenged. I’ve learned to see things from multiple perspectives. I’ve discovered how another language can add depth and richness to expressions of worship.

I may no longer feel 100% at home anywhere, but I have gained a sense that I can find the Kingdom advancing everywhere. And that is a beautiful thing.

The other side of the world is not so far away.
The distance just dissolves into the love.

Unhurried Lent: Day 3

Something Lost

When I started thinking about something I have lost, my first thought was the sense of complete belonging I feel in any given place.

It’s that scene at the end of Lord of the Rings where Sam is once again at home in the Shire and Frodo sets his face to leave middle earth knowing that, for him, there is no going home again. It’s the realization that you have changed and you can’t just slot into place anymore. There is an innocence to complete belonging that, when lost, is hard, if not impossible, to regain.

It’s just part of the journey.

“So, here you are,
too foreign for home,
too foreign for here,
never enough for both.”
Ijeoma Umebinyuo

It’s part of the journey of an expat, but it is also part of the journey of inner transformation. As a follower of Christ I have to come to the place where I no longer define home by anything in this world. Maya Angelou once said, “You are only free when you realize you belong no place—you belong everyplace—no place at all.” And Rich Mullins sang, “I’m home anywhere if you are where I am.”

(Click here to listen)

Still, I have no idea how to capture the loss of belonging in a photo so I decided to turn my mind to the second image of something lost that came to mind, from the parable of Jesus. (See Luke 15)

So here’s my photo for the day

Something Lost
Something Lost

Unhurried Lent: Day 1

Recap: For Lent this year I am spending some time reflecting and creatively engaging with a theme each day. In an attempt to slow down I am setting aside this time, for creativity can not be rushed, and small changes to my daily pace of life can have a large impact.

Theme: A Sorrow

I started thinking about “a” sorrow to try to capture. (How can I choose just one?) Then as I cataloged all the things that are sad and broken I realized that they all track back to one great sorrow. The curse itself is the sorrow that I paused on today. The curse culminates in death. It is the curse that says nothing good can last, that loss is inevitable in this world.

St Illtyd’s Church Graveyard: Llantwit Major, Wales

It turned my thoughts to the words written by Andrew Peterson in a blog post about the Nashville floods of 2010, an image of which shows up in his song Come Back Soon. (To listen click here)

It is still one of my all time favorite blog posts as he goes on to talk about the place of art and telling the story of the Kingdom.

It resonates.

You can read the whole post at:

But as I reflect on the sorrow of the curse, I’d like to share some of Andrew’s words here:

The Great Nashville Flood of 2010 was devastating. People died. Homes were lost. We watched our neighborhood street turn into a muddy river. On one of our walks down the hill from the Warren to see the flood’s progress we spotted a family of field mice who had been forced to higher ground. Then we saw two or three moles. We and a few neighbors gathered them up and moved them to safety.

Later, in the woods, we found a drowned baby rabbit, soaked through and pitiful. Their warren had flooded and it was too small and fragile to escape in time. I imagine its mother pulled it out with the others and this was the unlucky one. I have a thing for rabbits, you see, so it gave me pause. A few minutes later I heard my son Aedan screaming through the woods. I ran. Our dog, a huge Great Pyrenees named Moondog, had found another baby rabbit, this one still alive. Before Aedan could stop him, Moondog’s instincts kicked in and he attacked. Rabbits scream like humans. Aedan saw it all–and heard it all–as Moondog bit and shook the rabbit till its back broke. When I found Aedan he was weeping in the mud with the little bloody rabbit cradled in his hands. It was awful.

Later, while the rain battered Tennessee, Aedan sat on the couch and wept. He punched the cushion and cried, “I’m sorry. I feel terrible and stupid that I’m crying over a little rabbit when there are people dying all over the world. It was just a rabbit!” I was astonished, as I often am by my children. I held him and told him to cry all he wanted. “You’re mourning the same thing,” I said. “Death is death.” He wasn’t just grieving the little animal, but the Curse itself. The rabbit in the dog’s jaws only signified the presence of the serpent in the garden of his boyhood. He was grieving the slow dusk of his own death as manhood’s shadow gathered in the east. The world, the rabbit screamed, is broken. That truth intrudes and slays the days of youth. Nature, in the words of Tennyson, is “red in tooth and claw.”

So we grieve and we rejoice, like breathing in and breathing out. The little things matter, and the big things matter, and hearts far and near need hope.”

So here it is again. The sorrow: “He wasn’t just grieving the little animal, but the Curse itself.” Death may not have the victory, but it still has a sting and that sting is witnessed everywhere I turn.

So I took my camera down to the graveyard at St. Illtyd’s church. And in the midst of the ancient stones I came across this little piece in the grass. The rest of the stone has long since perished. All that remains is loss and a call to remember.

Nothing stays the same. So as I sit with the Lord today and lean into the sorrow of Ash Wednesday I hear the words: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn from sin. Be faithful to Christ.”

An Unhurried Lent

Lent starts on Wednesday. It’s 40 days (not including Sundays). It’s a season of preparation for Easter. A time of reflection. I’ve been wondering what I was going to do this year. Every year is a bit different. Many times I give something up as a prompt for prayer. Sometimes I add things, a service that I can give as an offering or a discipline to put into practice. This year I’m joining with a group going through a book called Inhaling Grace.

The challenge is to find a way to combat the hurry and busy of our lives. I’ve been restless lately and I know that when I slow down and make space for creativity (rather than just focusing on productivity) then my whole life becomes more reflective, more prayerful and less harried. In this way I experience more grace and less striving. So I made myself this creative challenge. If anyone wants to join me I’ve love to have you share in the journey with me.

I’ll be sharing here, which will also help me get back into blogging more than book reviews, though there might be a short disruption as I’m moving hosting companies. I’ll also be sharing on Facebook.

The link to the book Inhaling Grace is here.

To learn more or join the Unhurried Lent group go here.

Book Review: Restoration Year

About the Book:

This 365-day devotional is comprised of short readings that guide you on a year-long journey of restoration. Each devotion features a Bible verse, a devotion, and a closing prayer or inspiring challenge that will equip you to pursue lasting transformation in your life and relationships.

Packaged to appeal to both men and women, the devotional will cover a variety of topics, including relating to God, understanding who God really is, sustaining friendships, deepening relationships with family members, understanding the future God has planned for us, and more.

Let this year be your restoration year.

New York Times bestselling author John Eldredge offers readers a journey into lasting transformation in their relationships, their interaction with God, and their joy in life.

My Thoughts:

I really like this devotional. I find it thought provoking. I especially like how one day might approach one aspect of an idea or issue and the next day might approach the same idea from another angle.

These are short readings. There is a verse in the heading, but it may be a loose connection to the idea rather than being foundational to what is being discussed. There is a question for prayerful reflection at the end of each section.

I’ll say again, I do like these readings, but I should also say they are in no way a substitute for Bible study. They are more supplemental readings to challenge you in the ways that you think, live and relate to the Lord. And it is for that purpose that I recommend this book.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: A Return to Devotion

About the Book:

Daphne Blakemoor was perfectly happy living in her own secluded world for twelve years. She had everything she needed–loved ones, a true home, and time to indulge her imagination. But when ownership of the estate where she works as a housekeeper passes on, and the new marquis has an undeniable connection to her past, everything she’s come to rely upon is threatened.

William, Marquis of Chemsford’s main goal in life is to be the exact opposite of his father. Starting a new life in the peace and quiet of the country sounds perfect until his housekeeper turns his life upside down.

They’ve spent their lives hiding from the past. Can they find the courage to face their deepest wounds and, perhaps, find a new path for the future together?

My Thoughts:

Return to Devotion is a compelling story of love, forgiveness and learning to live under a mantle of grace. Following a novella (A Search for Refuge) and the first book in the series (A Defense of Honor), Hunter continues to invite us in to the world of Haven Manor and her inhabitants.

The story of Daphne was compelling. Though Daphne’s character seemed so self-protected from the reality of the world, we are invited to join her on her journey from allowing her imagination to deceive her to the place of allowing her imagination to be visionary, grounded in love and truth. The prospect of finding grace and living in it, the reality that forgiveness is a new foundation for life and the truth that love pursues are all aspects of this sweet romance.

William is also key in this story as he wrestles with what it looks like to truly consider people apart from their station and what family honor truly means. I enjoyed the development of his character.

All in all A Return to Devotion was a sweet and uplifting continuation of this series.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Flights of Fancy

About the Book:

Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she’s always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania. Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely on his own merits. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner. Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when mysterious incidents on the farm and the truth of Isadora’s secret threaten those they love, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.

My Thoughts:

I always enjoy reading Jen Turano’s novels. They make me laugh and strike the imagination. In Flights of Fancy Isadora is clearly a character out of place. Her background has not prepared her to be a housekeeper, but circumstances have left her no choice except to succeed. And truly, I loved how when confronted with all the areas of her life in which she measured herself and found herself wanting she refused to wilt into a corner, but instead leaned into learning how to be a better woman.

Ian is a character backed entirely into a corner by his family’s need, a collection of orphans and some crazy antics that come with life on the farm. (The cow…oh how I laughed at the cow!) Though Isadora seems woefully unequipped for the job she is available and determined.

As circumstances build, secrets abound, and the humor and chaos I’ve come to expect from Turano fills page after page. Sparks fly and Ian and Isadora learn valuable lessons about life and love.

I adored this book and would highly recommend it if you want a lighthearted and enjoyable story to brighten your day.

I received a free digital copy of this book for review
in exchange for my honest opinion.