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Book Review #4: Slow-Roasted Hope

slow roasted hopeWhen I picture the word hope, I think of the tiniest little ray of sunshine peaking through a sky filled with dark, ominous storm clouds! Sometimes, that is what hope is in our lives. We are surrounded by stormy situations and circumstances. It appears that all is lost.

When I came across the Kindle version of this book last year, I was, quite frankly, lacking hope! I had let the unexpected storms in our lives crowd out that little ray of sunshine. There were so many more questions than answers running around in my mind, and I had a hard time imagining that there would ever be much to be hopeful about again! (A bit of an over-reaction, I know, but it’s where I was at the time!) However, as I was struggling to find hope, it seemed that the Lord kept bringing that word to my attention just about every time I turned around! It popped up in my Bible reading on a daily basis! Some sweet friends sent me a birthday card and wrote a Scripture reference with their kind note. The reference belonged to a verse about hope! I went to two different ladies’ meetings at two different churches where two different speakers talked about waiting on God and hoping in Him. When I saw this book in my Amazon recommended reading list and then read the description, I decided that maybe the Lord was trying to tell me something!

Mrs. Chumley faced her own storm when doctors discovered that her almost two year old daughter was completely deaf in both ears. She was, quite understandably, shaken and faced a time of great despair and darkness. It was then that she began to search through the Scriptures to find out what God had to say about hope. This book is the result of that research. It is the story of how God used the deafness of her first daughter to prepare her for the same diagnosis with her second. It is the story of how God used His Word and His people to comfort her hurting heart and prepare her to comfort others in the future. It is story of how one little ray of hope led to another, which led to another, which led to another. It is the story of how God changed her perspective and gave her the ability to see hope in the darkness, instead of just looking for hope to get out of it! Incredibly, it is also the story of how, years later, God answered the prayers of those two little girls and surprised the family with a third daughter – who has no hearing problems at all!  You can read about her journey out of darkness and into hope by purchasing the Kindle edition of this book for $3.99 at www.amazon.com**

Maybe you are still in the darkness. Seek God! Go to His Word! Surround yourself with His people! Remember that finding healing and hope, like brewing a good cup of coffee, takes time! It is often a slow process, but one that will leave you stronger and better able to strengthen those around you who are weak. Perhaps, God will change your perspective. Instead of seeing only the threatening clouds of doubt and despair that are filling your thoughts, maybe you will find that one little ray of hope, pushing its way through the darkness and fighting to make its presence known.

“But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.”

~~Psalm 71:14~~

 

**In the interest of complete honesty for those who may want to know ahead of time, I should note that not all of the verses quoted in the text are from the KJV.

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Book Review #3: Off Script

 Well, hello there! It has been well over a year since I have written anything on my blog. There have been plenty of events in the Ross household that may warrant future blog posts – like the birth of our precious Sarah Noel seven months ago or the unexpected job offer from a friend at church that my husband accepted two months ago. With six growing children ranging in age from baby to sophomore in high school and increasing involvement at church and school, I have spent lots of time thinking about this blog, but not much time actually writing! Here’s hoping this will not be the last post for another 15 months!

To be honest, this book review has been in the works for almost eighteen months. Along with the normal activities of life, there is a lot of soul-searching, thinking, and praying that goes on when your plans and dreams for ministry come to a crashing halt! This is just one of the reasons that I believe reading good, Bible based material is so very important. Though it can be temporarily encouraging to read from motivational speakers who tell you that God has a great (i.e., successful, prosperous) life planned for you or that you can guarantee said successful and prosperous life simply by having a positive outlook, those philosophies are not at all Scriptural. In fact, they are the very opposite of sound Biblical teaching. The Bible is overflowing with stories of men and women who were not, by the world’s standards, successful or prosperous; whose lives were filled with great pain, misfortune, and suffering; and whose only hope was that God could see what they were experiencing and would work it together for their good. (In fact, one of the items on my “bucket list” is writing a book about some of those people and the example they left for us as they waited – sometimes for years – for God to bring closure to their stories of pain, loss, suffering, testing, trial, etc.) Sound reading material is vital to Christian growth and even more necessary for those who wish to lead other Christians!

It’s been so long since I first read “Off Script” that I decided to go back and read it again before writing my review. Honestly, I think I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Though his circumstances differed greatly from ours, I appreciated Pastor Schmidt’s openness and honesty about his struggles physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was blessed to read about his victories and was thrilled to see on his Facebook page recently that he has been given the “all clear” and has been discharged from the care of his oncologist! Knowing that God has brought him through his season of trial and has done miraculous things for him in the process (in both his personal life and ministry) has been a source of encouragement to me!

In a style that addresses serious topics and issues with both honesty and humor, Pastor Schmidt outlines the following ten principles to implement when facing times in life that expectations do not match reality:

  • Love God, Trust God, Live for God
  • Be of Good Cheer
  • Be the Clay
  • Cherish the Treasures of Darkness
  • Walk in the Spirit
  • Wait for Him, Hope in Him
  • Try Your Ways
  • Be Strong and Work
  • Love Your Own
  • Strive Together for the Faith

Your season of trial may occur in health, relationships, ministry, finances, or any number of other areas in life. The above principles, if implemented, will strengthen your faith as you face the unknown with confidence in an all-knowing God and broaden your influence as others learn from your faith-based, Spirit-led responses to the difficulties life brings.  Whether you are currently entering, enduring, or ending a stormy time in life, it is vital that you fill your heart and mind with Scripturally sound literature that will encourage you to daily place your trust in the God who knows and sees all! “Off Script” is one example of the kind of reading material every Christian should include in his library. It can be purchased for $14.95 from www.strivingtogether.com. Pastor Schmidt has more books and other helpful resources available at www.caryschmidt.com.

 

Coming Soon!!!!

books“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

~~ Harry Truman~~

If you read my most recent post about ministry (What is Ministry?), you will know that I have struggled somewhat over the last few months with how to proceed with this blog. Honestly, I have had quite the case of “writer’s block.” Since all five of my kids are visiting my parents over Spring Break, I will have quite a bit of time on my hands (Yay, me!), and I have decided to dedicate some of it to reading. I know that I will not get to read all of the books on my list over the break (I’m also planing to sort through the stash of old papers, schoolbooks, and miscellaneous “kid stuff” that is now taking up space in what is supposed to be my sewing room!), but I would like to make a nice dent in the stack! I know that these books are going to be an encouragement to me, and I want to share some of what I learn through them by publishing a book review post for each one that I finish!

Here are the books on my reading list:

  1. When Others Make Your Life Difficult (Daniel E. Miller) – This is a booklet that my Mom gave me last summer. It has short, easy to read chapters and is filled with Scriptural principles.
  2. The Burden Bearer (Paul Chappell) – I won this in a drawing at our church’s annual Ladies’ Retreat last fall, and I have been slowly reading it since then. It has been a blessing so far, and I look forward to finishing it soon!
  3. Off Script: What to do When God Rewrites Your Life (Cary Schmidt) – My friend Stephanie recommended this book to a new mom in our church, and it seemed like a book that I could learn from during our time of transition!
  4. Out of Commission: Getting Every Christian Back to the Great Commission (Paul Chappell) – My husband and I were both encouraged to hear our pastor, Pastor Brandon Sichting, talk recently about several books that he has read that have challenged or encouraged him in the ministry! This is one of those books, and I am excited to read it as well!

I hope that you’ll join me for this new adventure and that it will be a challenge to you to find Godly reading material that will encourage you in your Christian walk!