Monday, May 23, 2016

Every Bride Has Her Day

“Yeah, but that’s the problem. Every time I hear a great idea, it sounds, well, great. And when I’m the bride – which I am – not every great-sounding idea is really all that great. I mean, they all sound great, but they’re not really great for you and me. I think the problem is there are way too many great ideas out there… only, none of them leave me feeling… great.”

Book: Every Bride Has Her Day by Janice Thompson, Revell Publishers, 2016
Genre: Modern Realistic Fiction/Comedy-Romance
Target Audience: Adult Women
Subjects: Prayer, Friendship, Love, Romance, Trust in God
Summary: The Baptist Church in Fairfield. The Presbyterian Church in Fairfield. The Gaylord Hotel in Dallas. A Hawaiian theme. A Texas cowboy theme. Mother, Future Mother-in-Law, Aunt, Co-Workers. The Fairfield Women of Prayer group. Everyone has an idea about what Katie and Brady’s wedding should look like – everyone except Katie that is. With all the ideas being tossed around, and not just tossed out as suggestions but almost demanded, Katie doesn’t know what to think anymore! Watching her brother’s fiancée go through the fire of trying to express her desires makes her think Brady’s idea of eloping to Hawaii isn’t such a bad idea after all! Just when she thinks it can’t get any worse, a huge portion of those offering suggestions back off… a little too much. A misunderstood comment has the entire town of Fairfield picking sides and refusing to speak to each other. The prayer group isn’t praying, the committees are not serving and the town is literally divided in half!
Notes: Every Bride Has Her Day is the third in the Brides With Style series. The series focuses on a small town girl who enters an essay contest for a dream wedding dress only to lose the man she thought would be her groom right before she wins it. She winds up with a job in the bridal shop and a new fiancée. In this third and final book, she has to figure out how to actually make it to the altar. She has the groom and the dress, but can not figure out how to pull off the actual event without offending any of the many people who give her suggestions and expectations. The spiritual emphasis is on the importance of both prayer and relationships. When a comment is misunderstood and the town falls apart, an accident shows everyone what really matters. There is also an element of learning to trust in God. One character is bitter and angry that she is still single when everyone around her is pairing up. She has to accept that God does love and care for her even though He has not given her a groom.
Personal Note: My only criticism is the amount of focus on how important it is for the bride to have exactly what she wants on her wedding day. One bride is wanting to make sure to not hurt anyone’s feelings and rather than being commended, it is implied that she needs to make sure she gets what she wants. However, a wedding is one day, one event. Relationships are even more important than getting what you want for one day – even if it is the biggest day of your life. I’m all for the bride having her day be the way she dreamed. I fought hard for my day to be the way I dreamed. However, looking back, I strongly believe that the focus needs to be on relationships more than the single day. Even a wedding is not an excuse for a selfish attitude. If there is a choice between it being the way the bride wants and a relationship, the relationship should be given priority.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Philippians 2:3-5 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I enjoyed it!

God in the Rearview Mirror

It was the best job I’d ever had. I had enjoyed the last year so much! My class of 21 first and second grade students at the private Christian school was what I thought my goal was. I thought I had achieved the best a Christian teacher could ask for! And apparently the administration thought I was a pretty good one for the job because at the end of the year, they not only renewed my contract, they gave me a raise! The next school year came and I was even more ready this time! Since it was a combined classroom, I already knew half the students and boy was I prepared! Until Friday on the very first week of school when I was called into the office at noon at told I was fired! WHAT?!? I was shocked, confused, horrified, devastated. I pleaded for another chance (not even sure what I had done wrong or what I could change) but the administrator refused to budge. The board had met on Tuesday and voted I would lose my job. Reasons given were: Not using the curriculum correctly (in the first 2 days of school?), and not being “unified” with the staff and administration (huh?). So much for a dream job! Oh the doubts and questions that came. How could I have done enough in two days of school to lose my job? With the help of others connected to the school I put together the pieces and realized it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with money. With a master’s degree I was the highest paid of the teachers hired the year before. A new teacher wasn’t hired, instead one of the two preschool teachers was forced to either quit or move up to my classroom and teach and all the preschool students were shoved into one classroom. But what on earth was God doing? Why did this have to happen? I knew I would never get a job that good again. My days of teaching from a Biblical perspective were over. I’d probably have to go back to being a para-professional in public school again.
Those were my Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday thoughts.
By Tuesday everything exploded. Parents arrived after Labor Day to drop off their students and found their children’s teacher gone with no explanation. Getting no answers from the school, they frantically called me wanting to know what was going on. I explained I had been fired and cited the excuses I had been given – excuses that made no sense to the parents (or me). Upset, one of the parents blurted out, “I wish we could just pay you to teach our kids!”. Hmm… actually… that IS legal in Nebraska. All of a sudden I had another classroom, one with six students – in my own home! Not only could I teach from a Biblical perspective, I could even teach using differentiated instruction the way I had been taught! No restrictions on curriculum, no rules about keeping students at a certain pace. I could teach each and every kid exactly what they needed to learn, when they were ready to learn it and in a way that worked for them! And I could make the Biblical education a huge focus! Soon we were learning to rollerblade in my driveway or taking bike rides to the ice-cream shop as a reward for good behavior or laying under a table painting like Michelangelo! We visited the local library once a week. And students from unchurched homes were memorizing whole passages of Scripture, identifying a summary of all 66 books of the Bible, attending Awana, getting exposure to popular Christian children’s music and reading Christian literature! Our “reading instruction center” was my couch. No more getting up early to make a 30-45 minute trip. No more hauling heavy teacher guide textbooks back and forth every day.

Why this long story on a blog that is supposed to be book reviews?

Because that’s what this book is about. Not my story specifically, but about looking back and seeing “God in the Rearview Mirror”. Losing my job was the worst thing that could have happened to my career… for 4 days. Then it became the absolute best thing that could happen to my career. I can look back and see how God paved the way for an incredible experience for me. What I thought was going to ruin my life actually enriched it and made it more wonderful than I could have imagined! If I continued the story, you could see how that one horrid moment has continued to lead to some amazing experiences.
LaVila Henry has experienced that too. Many a time. She shares in her book how over and over again in her life, things don’t make sense at a certain moment. Sometimes they are merely confusing. Sometimes they are frustrating. Sometimes they seem downright horrible or disastrous. Yet, when she looks back in the “rearview mirror” she can see how God was at work, using the situations to accomplish His will!
Not every event in our life leads to us getting to see how God is working in the midst of it. Some things we may never know until Heaven. And sometimes, the results of sin rear their ugly head and life-altering tragedies happen. We don’t always get to look back in a rearview mirror and see how bad led to good. But those times we can help strengthen our faith and remind us that even in the most horrific of situations, God is still in control. He’s still good and is still completing the work He began in us.

Reading God in the Rearview Mirror is encouraging as you read stories of LaVila Henry’s life. Even more encouraging is when it inspires you to look in your rearview mirror and see examples of what God has done in your own life.

Thanks to my friend Katie for getting me a copy of her aunt’s book!

Her One And Only

She’d actually tackled him when that first shot had gone off. It had happened fast. In less time than it took him to snap his fingers, she’d tackled him.. Many people had told him how important he was to the. Fans. His team. His coaches. His agent. But this was the first time that he’d ever seen anyone put themselves between him and a threat. It was Dru’s job to do so. But that fact that she’d actually done it, that she’d put action behind her words, caused something within him, something cold and closed, to crack. He cared about her. He cared about her way more than was wise.

Book: HerOne And Only by Becky Wade, Bethany House Publishers, 2016

Genre: Modern Realistic Fiction/Romance
Target Audience: Adult Women
Subjects: Love, Trust in God, Forgiveness, Righteousness
Summary: How on earth can she be HIS bodyguard? He’s a big tough football player. She’s younger than him and half his size for goodness sakes! And why is everyone so sure he needs a bodyguard anyway? So a few threatening letters have come. It’s not that big of a deal. Gray does not need a distraction right now. He is in the midst of an intense football season. He has a superbowl to win. Dru is not so fond of Gray either. Attempting to protect a cocky football player who refuses to acknowledge the many death threats he has received is not going to be easy. The fact that Gray thinks he can get any woman he wants to fall at his feet is not helping matters either. Yet, it’s hard to spend hours with someone and not get close to them. Dru has something to prove and is determined to keep her client alive long enough to prove it. Gray is hiding a lot of his past and is not willing to open up fully to anyone. He learned well the lessons of his childhood – trust no one. Dru is beginning to doubt she can survive this assignment. It may be impossible to be the one to keep Gray alive and still keep her heart intact. One or the other may have to go.
Notes: Her One And Only is the final book in the series of books about the Porter family. This book tells the story of the final sibling as well as give more updates on some of the previous characters. The book shows a character trying to convince himself that he is good enough. He was saved when he was young but lives completely for himself. Drinking and going through woman after woman while refusing to actually open his heart to any of them is how he has lived his life. He found success on the football field and focused his life around that in order to hide the pain of his abusive childhood. Dru challenges him to rethink his relationship with God and what really matters. There is also a thread of trust in God in the midst of trials woven through the book as it continues the story of one of the characters from a past book. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a great romance story that also includes strong spiritual elements.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 4/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Isaiah 43:19 – See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I enjoyed it!