Category Archives: Book Reviews

Evade a Fade…Let’s Finish Well!

Friends! Anybody else on the hamster wheel this week?  Can’t quite catch up on that sleep that evaporated into the night? Dozing at the ole desk?

This week we’ll look at a couple of examples we do not want to emulate which I pray will motivate us toward a good finish… in spite of our not-so-friendly fatigue…

Recently John and I were blessed to hear Jonathan Pennington speak on the life of King David.  Our “take home” was DO NOT FADE.  (Avoid fading, or EVADE A FADE.)

Jonathan showed us in 2 Samuel when King David was somewhere between sixty and seventy, he became passive, losing his initiative, no longer active nor whole-hearted in his endeavors. Checkout his parenting skills (or lack thereof) in 2 Samuel as well as his other sinful acts which came with consequences, chapters 11-24, for starters… David was fading. (But don’t miss his repentance in chapter 22 and Psalm 51, plus we know David was a man after God’s own heart…very simply he was human just like you and me.)

Jonathan also reminded us of Eli, Samuel’s father who didn’t discipline his other two sons, who are dubbed “wicked” in the Bible. “But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death.” (1 Samuel 2:25) Eli lacked the same umph to discipline his sons that David did. Eli was fading.

This word, “fade”, ricocheted between our ears, and other friends of ours afterwards, all of us agreeing we do not want to fade into the background as we get older.  We want to be very present in the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Checkout what some definitions show for “to fade”:

DANGER WILL ROBINSON! We do NOT want to do anything of the sort!

I love a Grandfather’s prayer that says, “I ask God most often that we would be an unbroken line of Christians until Christ returns.”

Let’s hold Deuteronomy 4:9 tightly in our hearts,

How exactly, you may be asking, are we to evade a fade? Seems Jonathan and author and pastor Erwin Raphael McManus are on the same page, armed with help, just for us.  Don’t miss Erwin’s killer convicting book, The Last Arrow—Save Nothing for the Next Life.

Ten for ten of Erwin’s chapters equip us readers to be “battle ready.” (A few favorites are:  “Save Nothing for the Next Life”, “Refuse to Stay Behind”, “Act Like Your Life Depends on It.”)

He says,

“My intention for this book is that you would

NEVER SURRENDER,

That you would NEVER SETTLE,

That you would SAVE NOTHING FOR THE NEXT LIFE.”

Erwin warns,

Existence is a slow death;

Mediocrity is like quicksand that slowly consumes you and sucks the life out of you…

WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO CREATE IN YOU A SENSE OF URGENCY?”

Yes, well that will wake one up, huh?  What makes this book so compelling is Erwin prefaces it by sharing that while he was doing the final edits, he received the news he had cancer. Given that perspective, we readers hang tighter to the message, inspired to, in a nutshell, “buck up.” Stay in the race…

Need encouragement to evade a fade?  Be determined to ask the Lord daily to help you instill faith in your children and grandchildren, extending that line of Christians…making it endless!

2 Timothy 4:7-8 shows us what it looks like to finish well:

Press on, dear friends.

Evade a fade!

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

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Happy Holy Week! You’re Invited to Our Last Book Club Meeting of the Season, Cliffhanger and All, Next Monday, 4/22 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. (Don’t miss the Rx for Anxiety near the end…)

Friends! Come one, come all to what promises to be a super fun finale for our season. Terri Blackstock’s If I Run is not only suspenseful, it’s a cliffhanger and will provide you with two more books you’ll want to read to find out what happens. Yes, it’s #1 of 3 in a series!

Nancy Tinnell was most gracious to write a teaser for us. (If you’ve not read the book yet, you’re going to want to!). Here’s Nancy:

”Terri Blackstock’s suspenseful novel, If I Run, is our final book club selection this year. We will be discussing it on Monday, April 22nd, and you are invited to join us! I apologized in advance to the group last month for the cliffhanger ending in this story. It provides an automatic summer reading suggestion for us: books two and three of the If I Run Series. Those titles are If I’m Found and If I Live.


Casey Cox, the anxious young woman at the heart of the story, is in a desperate situation. She has discovered a crime scene, knows that DNA evidence will point to her, even though she is innocent, but she doesn’t have much faith in the local authorities. She feels they let her down at the time of her father’s death thirteen years earlier. Casey is so wounded in her spirit and feels so alone in this dilemma that she chooses to run.

In this story, we follow her as she constantly changes her location, her appearance, and her identity, so she can buy time to think through the situation and decide what to do. There is a lot of suspense involved here, so be prepared to feel a bit anxious yourself.

Enter the love interest! Well, Dylan is not a love interest yet. He’s one of the authorities trying to track her. But we can see it coming. I just know it! He has a knack for analysis and can see that the details don’t add up to her guilt, even if the DNA evidence does implicate her. Also, Dylan’s back story makes him a sympathetic character.

At book club, we’ll be discussing these characters and several others, in addition to probing Casey’s suspicions about this crime and the circumstances surrounding her father’s death.

Since Casey has to live on fast food on the road, our suggested snack theme for our April meeting is “food on the run.” What do you fix when you have to fix something super-fast? Or what do you “drive through the drive-through” to pick up when you are in a hurry? Or what leftovers in the fridge can you pull together quickly? Food on the run, lots of fun! See you on the 22nd, book lovers.”

Thank you, Nancy! We will also announce our selections for our 2019-2020 season. We had a meeting last week and chose four fiction and three non-fiction books, all of which look wonderful!

The Living Word Bookstore in Southeast Christian Church is partnering with us to carry our selections for our new season. You may call them at (502) 253-8220. (Their website is: www.livingword.org ) They’ll be happy to order your books for you.

Gather up a carload of your friends! We hope to see you Monday, April 22nd, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church. Please RSVP to Nancy at (502) 245-8839.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

 

Finally, since this week is Holy Week, here’s a reprise from last year should any of you have any anxiety about anything at all…our friend Max Lucado has just the help we need:

Anyone lugging around worries that are making you anxious? (I’m just realizing lug is in luggage.) Luggage denotes “inconveniently heavy baggage.” Well, take heart, I’m bringing you good news to lighten your load and bless us this Holy Week!

Many of you know how often I quote author Max Lucado. His book, Anxious for Nothing—Finding Calm in a Chaotic World, is a current favorite, its’ many pages already highlighted and dog-eared.

I’ll share a few of many favorite quotes which I pray will ease our anxiety, perhaps even erase it altogether, blessing us with a peaceful Holy Week. In the meantime, you may wish to grab this book as it’s a resource you would return to time and time again.

Max begins with, “Anxiety is a meteor shower of what-ifs…
Anxiety is trepidation.
It’s a suspicion,
An apprehension.
Life in a minor key with major concerns…
You’re part Chicken Little and part Eeyore. The sky is falling and it’s falling disproportionately on you.” Anyone?!!! Max not only cracks me up, he often perfectly depicts my own moods.

Flip on the news or grab a newspaper and “anxiety disorders” are usually the front runners. Epidemic proportions.Max states what we think, yet fear to admit:

One would think Christians would be exempt from worry. But we are not. We have been taught that the Christian life is a life of peace, and when we don’t have peace, we assume the problem lies within us. Not only do we feel anxious, but we also feel guilty about our anxiety! The result is a downward spiral of worry, guilt, worry, guilt.”

What’s a person to do? Thankfully, Max gifts us with the solution straight from Scripture. Philippians 4:4-8 says:

Max shows us that these five verses include, “four admonitions that lead to ONE WONDERFUL PROMISE: ‘the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds.’” (v. 7)

Additionally, this book blesses us throughout by equipping us with a simple acronym, the word “CALM”. Put this in your anxiety arsenal and you will have a peaceful Holy Week:

The concept of “CALM” is introduced in Chapter One, and expounded on throughout the book. You’ll never look at it again in the same way! (See page 10 for starters!)

We readers are reminded to consult the Apostle Paul’s words and actions. Max says, “Paul believed in the steady hand of a good God. He was protected by God’s strength, preserved by God’s love. He lived beneath the shadow of God’s wings.”

What does that look like for us? It translates into savoring God’s sovereignty. Clinging to His sovereignty and reminding ourselves daily that God is still on the throne. Always occupied. Always interceding for you and for me…

This Holy Week as we march toward Good Friday and Easter, may we remember the acronym “Calm”, and hear Max’ reminder: “God took the crucifixion of Friday and turned it into the celebration of Sunday.”

Max’ book also includes a Study Guide which would be great for anyone, but also super for a Small Group to work thru’.

Have a blessed Easter.

‘Til next time!

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Don’t Miss This Great Read for Guys or Gals: What If It’s True? by Charles Martin

Friends!  Gather a group or just your sweet self and grab this must-read book ASAP!

Already a fan of author Charles Martin and his novels, I was surprised to learn he’s crafted his first work of non-fiction. Trust me when I say it’s a doozy. It will open your eyes, boost your faith and maybe even step on your toes, but you’ll find that’s a good thing.

We readers get the best of both worlds in that Charles, being a talented storyteller, retells various Biblical stories as only he can, gifting us with fiction, followed by non-fiction, and loads of Scripture accompanied by gut-level vulnerability. This book would be good for guys or girls, and especially great for accountability groups to consider.

Charles has his own group of guys he’s been doing life with for a number of years.  They each give endorsements in the beginning of the book. His friend, Hank says,

His friend Rick says, “This book is a refreshing and anointed reminder that the gospel is true and does change everything.”

The title itself, What If It’s True?, causes you to consider your faith seriously.  Charles reveals his own doubts while guiding us to answers, along with a moving prayer at the end of each chapter.  Thirteen powerful chapters are included plus Appendix A and B which are Scriptures Charles has collected over the years.

Appendix A has Scriptures “where the Word talks about itself.”  Charles tells us he reads these to his boys at breakfast every morning. He says, “The Word tells us that God wrote the Word on our hearts, so I’m hoping to remind their hearts what it says.” Appendix B includes verses that “speak to or promise the breaking of curses and of being overtaken by blessing.” Both are rich resources.

His chapters address many sins and how to break their stronghold.  Just a few include:  addiction, unforgiveness, pride, anger, fear, lack of zeal, running from the Lord rather than to Him, spiritual blindness. The last of which literally opened my eyes to my own spiritual blindness to, oh yes, good ole’ pride.  Gulp.

His probing questions throughout pack a punch. (That’s the getting your toes stepped on part and it’s good for all of us!)

Charles shares some of his private practices which cause us readers to consider trying as well.  One favorite visual he gives us goes like this:

“I have this thing I do in the mornings…After we get the kids to school, I take my Bible and walk outside with my coffee. Then I walk around my backyard reading God’s Word back to Him. Usually Psalms. I do this to remind me, not Him. He knows what it says. When I’ve done  that, I set my Bible down and I walk, praying, with my hands in the air.  Doing so humbles me before God. It’s how I walk into the throne room…The thing this walk does for me is take my eyes off the waves threatening to swamp the boat and put them on the Savior who beckons me, ‘Come.’”(This is in Chapter Five, one of my favorites.)

Charles also equips us with powerful Scripture to thwart the devil, distractions and even our challenge du jour. For example, when he and his wife Christy are stuck, as in praying for something and getting no answers for a long while, they cling tightly to these letters:  JCILOA (Jesus Christ is Lord of All).  This helps them to not even consider resigning their requests.  They put this “rock” (JCILOA) between themselves and their enemy, “driving it like a stake in the ground.” Powerful!

He also offers sample discussions he has with satan (He never capitalizes satan’s name, purposely dissing the devil.), also calling him “resignation”. The prayer in this particular chapter demonstrates what Charles does with each chapter in that it focuses on its main idea.

Look with me at a few sentences from the prayer in Chapter Five:

“Lord Jesus, I confess that I have given in to resignation. I have listened to his lies and given in to his claims on more than one occasion…I’ve been giving more air time to the enemy’s blue sky than Your Word. I want to take back that ground. I want to hold up a stop-sign hand and declare, ‘Jesus Christ is Lord of all!’

So, come in like a flood. Renew our strength…Father, touch my lips with a burning coal and set Your words on my tongue. I say to the spirit of resignation sitting on my couch, ‘Get out in the name of Jesus! Get out of my heart. Get out of my wife/husband’s heart. Get out of my children’s hearts. You are a liar from the pit of hell. You’re a defeated punk. Shut up!…’

Tear down any and all strongholds in my mind that would argue with You. Please seal me—all of me— and grow me into a man/woman who will stand beneath Your Word and declare, ‘Jesus Christ is Lord of all!’”

In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

So, this is just a little glimpse into What If It’s True? I highly recommend it for all ages, men and women, and also suggest you try any of Charles’ novels.  My all-time favorite one is Wrapped in Rain.  John is currently reading When Crickets CryHis newer novels are great also.  One novel, The Mountain Between Us, was made into a movie in 2017. (I believe he’s written thirteen novels so far!)


Charles’ blog and website are also good resources.  Checkout www.charlesmartinbooks.com

To close, allow me to tell on myself.  Many moons ago, about ten of us from Southeast’s book club, including my cousin’s son who’d gone to school in Jacksonville with Charles, trekked to Lexington to Joseph-Beth Booksellers as Charles was going to be there doing a book signing.  Book signings are highly unpredictable in that some are well attended and some not so much.  This one happened to be the latter.  Only two others were there, so Charles said, “I’m not going to do my dog and pony show, y’all can just ask questions.”

He began by asking us if we’d read one or more of his books.  We giddy little schoolgirls shot up our hands, showing him we’d read every single one of his books so far.

When he finished speaking, he offered to sign our books.  I proudly whipped out Wrapped in Rain.  When he opened up the title page, there was a phone number on that page.  He turned twelve shades of red and said, “Uh, ma’am, are you trying to give me your phone number???”  To which I then turned twelve shades of red and replied, “Oh, mercy, no!  My husband just finished your book and whenever he receives voicemails, he jots down the phone numbers  wherever he can find a piece of paper.”

I’m still dying over that little encounter, fully aware he very well may not have believed me.  I wanted to say, “Charles, I could be your mother, and I’ve been happily married for thirty-five years!”  God bless him, no telling how many women readers and fans he has, or how they behave!!!  My friend, Betsy, also got to meet him recently in a LifeWay store in Nashville.

Book Club from Southeast at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, KY. Pictured left to right:  Sharon Cicardo, Jennifer Wright, Susan Thorne, Yours Truly, Nancy Aguiar, Charles Martin, Bonnie Johnson, Fay Bloyd, Mary Lou Leidgen and Bill Johnson.

 

oh, the phone number scene…

 

My friend, Betsy Heady, with Charles in Nashville

If you’ve not read any books by Charles Martin, give him a try.  You’ll love his novels, find Christ in the stories, and you’ll flip over What If It’s True.  

‘Til next time!

 

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You’re Invited to Book Club Next Monday, 3/25. Author Angela Correll is sending us a video! Come one, come all!

Friends! Fill your car with your best buddies and head to Middletown United Methodist Church next Monday night for what will be a super fun book club meeting.  We will be discussing Angela Correll’s novel, Granted.  Angela is making us a personalized video which will also add to our evening.

Granted  is the third of the May Hollow Trilogy, following Grounded and Guarded. While they’re all stand-alones, they’re each excellent reads packed with characters you’ll quickly become attached to.

Angela hails from Danville, Kentucky.  She and her husband, Jess currently live in Stanford. They have several businesses in Stanford.  We will also be showing a video about some of these projects they’ve taken on and I know you will be impressed.  They’re a fascinating couple.  You may just decide to take a road trip there asap!

Several of my friends and I enjoyed the drive over to Stanford not too long ago, ate lunch at their restaurant, The Bluebird Cafe, toured some of their guest homes (Wilderness Road Guest Houses) and we managed to get into trouble (!!!) by making multiple purchases at Angela’s gift shop, Kentucky Soaps and Such.  (Don’t miss the goat’s milk soap and body cream.  It’s to die for.)

Since Granted often discusses good ole’ down home country cooking, we’re suggesting we bring similar treats such as country ham biscuits, etc. I couldn’t begin to count the number of pies Annie’s Grandmother Beulah made, or the fried chicken, or the multiple delicious sounding meals.  Between the church suppers, Beulah’s many meals, and their gardening and farming, food plays a large role with their little community.

We readers don’t just stay in the state of Kentucky, watching Annie and Jake juggle multiple plot twists, including putting together their upcoming wedding.  We get to hop the pond and travel to the lovely area of Tuscany in Italy for their wedding! Delightful!

Annie’s father proves to be one character you dislike and don’t trust.  He defines narcissism while poor Annie keeps believing he will do what he says.

Faith plays a large role in the story as well.  We learn many a lesson in endearing ways which are all excellent reminders. At one point when discussing her farm, Beulah tells Annie, “It all belongs to God—I’m simply a steward, here for a little while…”

While planning their wedding, Annie “recalled her favorite verse, the one she struggled with the most:  ‘Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.’ She did cast her anxiety on him, but many times she picked it right back up again. That was what she had done all month. Lord help me in my unbelief, she prayed, because unbelief was the very root of it.”

A huge sense of community comforts us readers and in the Author’s Note,  Angela tells us, “While I’m certainly an advocate of small-town life, I also realize this same type of community can be experienced in New York, Los Angeles, and other major cities through the local neighborhoods, which seem like small towns within big cities.”

Angela closes with this quote:  “President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, ‘It’s nice to live in a place where people know when you are sick, love you while you are alive, and miss you when you die.’” Amen!

Grab your friends and come join us next Monday night, March 25th from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church.  Please rsvp to Nancy Tinnell at (502) 345-8839 and bring your favorite down-home-delight if time allows.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

We look forward to seeing you and hearing what will prove to be a great discussion as well as enjoying the two videos.

‘Til next time!

 

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How Are You Sleeping? Yeah, Me Neither…(One Resource Worth Researching)

Friends! Any insomniacs out there? Waking up in the wee hours of the night and can’t go back to sleep? Having wild nightmares? WHY is this happening to so many of us?

Old age is one petite charming cause. Others include depression. Hormones. Stress. Anxiety. Yada, yada, yada…

According to federal health officials, “Nearly half of Americans get less sleep than the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a day.” The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention says 40.6 million Americans sleep six or fewer hours a day.

John and I struggle with consistently getting a good night’s sleep. Approaching our sixth decades, I understand this is super common. However, this is NOT GOOD long-term for our bodies to not get enough rest. The question is, do we diligently try to catch up/nap/recharge? Do we ever consider our dreams and how they affect our sleep? Do we forget to pray for a good night’s sleep every night?

I’m happy to report on a fascinating book I discovered thanks to Eric Metaxas, on his radio show, Metaxas Talk. (www.metaxastalk.com)

Eric interviewed author Faith Blatchford about her eye-opening book, Winning the Battle for the Night: God’s Plan for Sleep, Dreams and Revelation. She is a pastoral counselor at Bethel Church in Redding, California. (www.faithblatchford.com )

Checkout these tidbits from her endorsers:

Winning the Battle for the Night…

– “inspires the reader to reconnect with God’s purpose for sleep—communion and rest…our yielded imaginations become a sanctified imagination, positioned for visions and dreams.”
Bill Johnson, Bethel Church

– “ignites hunger to be saturated in the last-days language of the Holy Spirit. We can no longer say, ‘It was just a dream. It was the roar of the Lord!’”
Lou Engle, co-founder of The Call

– “shows us how sleep can become our friend to help us grow spiritually.”
Beni Johnson, author

– “explains the spiritual science behind sleep. It arms us with relevant and practical information about the physiological, psychological and spiritual roots to sleeplessness. It helps us reclaim God’s design for rejuvenation and revelation through sleep.”
Margaret Nagib, Psy.D., clinical psychologist

– “offers practical solutions to finding the peace of God, which can guard our hearts and minds, interacting on a spiritual level with the Prince of Peace.”
Peter Carter, M.D., family practioner in the U.K.

– “reminds us of the importance of adequate sleep and rest both from a biblical and a medical perspective, integrating key Scriptures with evidence-based medical practice to address sleep and rest deprivation.”
Brenda B. Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing

Those of us not getting enough sleep can be prone to many battles that are terrible for our health, i.e. anxiety, depression, inability to focus, heart problems, poor judgment, among others. We’d be wise to sit up and take notice of a concept known as “the theology of dreams.”

Faith says,

Faith shows us many instances in the Bible where dreams occur. Joseph was one who paid attention to the angel’s warning which had been prophesied by Jeremiah (31:15) six hundred years before Herod’s order to murder every male child under two in Bethlehem.

One person who did NOT pay attention to a dream he had, to his own detriment and ultimate demise, is President Abraham Lincoln. I never knew he’d dreamed that he was killed by an assassin. He told his wife about it and she said she was glad she didn’t believe in dreams and President Lincoln said they shouldn’t think anymore about it.

President Lincoln even acknowledged the frequency of dreams occurring in the Bible and yet he didn’t take his own dream seriously. The evening he was shot, Lincoln’s bodyguard was out of town. He’d begged Lincoln not to go out, however he and his wife went to Ford’s theater and we all know he was shot that night, on April 14, 1865. This, of course, makes us think, “What if he had paid attention to that dream?”

Each chapter of Winning the Battle for the Night is more fascinating than the next. Chapter Four includes “Five Historic Encounters with God at Night.” Faith shows us how these encounters with God “changed not only these people’s lives, but ours as well.” We’re reminded about God’s encounters with Adam, Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon. Don’t miss the “Songs Downloaded” section!

Faith reminds us,

In later chapters, we readers get to explore the GIFT of sleep. Did you know King David said, “He gives His beloved sleep.”(NKJV). The ESV says, “God gives rest to His loved ones.” Thinking of sleep and rest as a gift from God can and realistically should be transformational for us!

But…in 2013 (SIX years ago!), CBS reported “nine million Americans are currently on prescription medication for insomnia.” Staggering and I’m sure that figure’s higher today. Faith reminds us, “the most important sleep aid of all is God!” We must remind ourselves to ask Him, praying before our heads hit our pillows.

Along with that prayer, one of the biggest robbers of sleep comes from our enemy, Satan. “Paul declared that he was not going to be taken advantage of by Satan because he was ‘not ignorant of his schemes.’” (2 Corinthians 2:11 NASB)

We’re reminded of the acronym for fear:  False Evidence Appearing Real. We must remember Satan is the “prince of darkness.” However, it’s our God who created day and night, and He has dominion over the darkness.

Faith points out that our winning the battle for the night is directly related to our “understanding that God created, dwells in, and has authority over all the darkness.”

One of my favorite take-aways from this book is Faith closes each chapter with a prayer. Let’s read this one together:

Not only are we readers gifted with prayers, we also are given practical ways to combat distractions (Chapter 9 is “Weapons to Win the Battle.”) and other things which rob us of our sleep. Chapter 11 helps us when our children or grandchildren are having nightmares, etc.: “Teach Children to Say ‘Bye-Bye, Boogeyman.’” For example, I had no idea that the word nightmare means “night demon.”

Finally, in the exploration of dreams, Faith closes the book with thirty-one questions we may have about our dreams. This is fascinating and makes for a great resource to return to over and over. Equipping Scripture accompanies her points all throughout the book which I find reassuring. (Don’t miss the Appendix with Twenty Declarations straight out of the Bible!)

If you struggle with getting enough sleep, having nightmares, or are curious about what your dreams mean, run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab this book! You’ll refer to it often and be encouraged and best of all, “armored up”.

‘Til next time!

P.S. This is another book by Faith which  looks like it would be a good resource as well:

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Anyone Want a Sneak Peek Into C.S. Lewis’ Incredible Friendship/Romance/Marriage??? Don’t Miss “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan

Friends! You do not want to miss this beautifully written novel about the lives of C.S. Lewis and the courageous woman who became his bride, Joy Davidman Gresham. I was captivated immediately, even tho’ I knew the outcome, I still wanted to see how it would shake out.

While this book is fiction, author Patti Callahan says her research helped her be as accurate as possible. Joy’s son, Douglas was also a great resource. Her writing completely transports us readers from America to London to Oxford, watching this unlikely romance transpire. Her captivating style, many times poetic and lyrical, makes for a primo reading experience.

We meet Joy while she lives in the United States, married to a man named Bill Gresham. They have two sons: Douglas and David. Their marriage crashes on the rocks, many scenes painful to read.

But Joy’s faith is about to take a huge leap. Consulting a colleague, he suggests she write to C.S. Lewis, who in turn, writes back. They develop an improbable friendship.

The first sentence of Becoming Mrs. Lewis sets the stage: “From the very beginning it was the Great Lion who brought us together.” As in Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia who equates, as we discover, to our own Lord, Jesus Christ.

I confess while reading the books to our boys as a young mom, I had no clue of the characters’ spiritual significance! And to be honest, I think we only read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You can guess I’m about to dive back in and read all seven of them!

Plus, we readers learn C.S. Lewis dedicated Book # 3, The Horse and His Boy, to Douglas and David Gresham. Joy’s sons indeed had been reading The Chronicles of Narnia and were clearly excited about meeting the writer/creator of these works. It is beyond exciting to hear the boys speak about meeting Mr. Lewis and to ultimately watch them develop a relationship. Very endearing.

The Magician’s Nephew, interesting enough, is #1 of the series now according to chronological order. Publication order has The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first as it came out in 1950. We learn that shortly after C.S. Lewis’ death, British editions began appearing that were numbered chronologically. Lewis scholars, however, agree that publication order makes more sense.

Back to the novel…Joy’s conversion experience is breathtaking. It happens early in the novel, after the birth of her second child. We find her on her knees praying after declaring she was an atheist (!!!):

Eventually, Joy and Jack (as his friends called C.S. Lewis) meet in person for lunch in Oxford. She also gets to meet Jack’s brother, Warnie, at another lunch gathering. Another of their meetings included Jack’s friend J.R. R. Tolkien, “Tollers,” who didn’t appear to think much of Joy. (Can you imagine meeting Tolkien and Lewis together???)

She inquires about Jack’s and Tollers’ friendship, as Tollers was who led Jack to faith. Jack said, “As with any good friend, we have many of those moments when one turns to the other and says, ‘You, too?’” (That particular quote I use in every chapter of my book on friendship. Love it!)

Joy’s healing sabbatical returns her to the states (she constantly fights health issues), to find that her cousin who stayed with her husband has become his lover ultimately landing Joy and Bill a divorce. She manages to take their boys with her, and returns to England.

Joy finds a place to live (neat story), a boarding school for the boys, and settles in to a lovely life of writing, editing (sometimes for Warnie and sometimes for Jack—can you fathom?), all the while trying to sell her writing. Challenges occur around every turn, but they don’t stop her.

Soon Joy and the boys get to go to The Kilns, where C.S. Lewis’ home is. He and Warnie live there, with a gardener, Paxford, and a cook, Mrs. Williams. You will love all of them.  Life at the Kilns for the boys is a little like Narnia, seemingly.

We also learn Jack reads a Bible, sometimes in the original Greek, and sometimes in Latin every morning. His office where he worked was “crammed from corner to ceiling with books, stacked and line up on floors and tables and bookshelves.” This is one of many examples of the delightful and highly visual details Patti gives us readers.

I felt a little like movie goers of Mary Poppins, when the characters were allowed to jump into the sidewalk chalk picture. Author Patti invites us in, gifting us with a for-real peek into the life and beautiful friendship/romance between Joy and Jack.

Many of you know Jack’s mother and Joy, his wife, died of cancer. Because he loved his mother so and was saddened over losing her, perhaps that’s why it takes him EONS to own his love for Joy. So in many ways, you want to continue in the story, and yet you don’t for fear of what will transpire. Grab a bunch of Kleenex, too, as it’s beautiful and terribly sad simultaneously. Don’t miss their steadfast faith—a great lesson for all of us during suffering.

That’s all I’ll share, you need to be the one to dive in. When you do finish, you’ll want to immediately research where the boys are, what they’re doing, find many of the books mentioned and read them, especially the ones Joy and Jack worked on together. Oh, my friend, I predict this is just the beginning of a new reading adventure for you!

Here are a couple of the books I’m about to hunt down:

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab Becoming Mrs. Lewis! You will be so blessed!

‘Til next time!

P.S. Here is the Publication Order, FYI:

1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)


2. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951)

3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)


4. The Silver Chair (1953)


5. The Horse and His Boy (1954)


6. The Magician’s Nephew (1955)


7. The Last Battle (1956)

 

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Please Join Us For a Riveting Discussion of Francine Rivers’ “The Masterpiece” on Monday, February 25th, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Friends! You and your friends and neighbors are invited to our next Branches Book Club meeting, on Monday, February 25th, at Middletown United Methodist Church, where we’ll discuss Francine Rivers’ compelling and page-turner of a novel, The Masterpiece. (We meet from 6:30-8:00 p.m.)

While it’s a tome, I read it in no time, quickly loaning it to a friend so she could enjoy it. Fast forward to this week when I called on our faithful friend and fearless leader, Nancy Tinnell to come up with a “teaser” to get you to book club. Let’s learn a little more about The Masterpiece…

Here’s Nancy:

“Francine Rivers has done it again. She creates characters that compel us to lean in to them. We are drawn to them like flies to honey, and, if you’re like me, you can’t wait to finish the book to see how the story will end.

The Masterpiece has that wonderful element of bad boy/good girl that we so often love in our novels, but this one has a twist. The bad boy is somewhat reformed from his juvenile “tagging” days, but he has some distance yet to travel. Our good girl does not feel truly good because of her past. I got so caught up in Grace and Roman’s story that I wished I could climb into the pages and counsel both of them.

The bonus in the book is the cast of characters surrounding our primary duo. I even got drawn into their stories! Thank you, Francine. This book does not disappoint. If they ever make a movie based on it, I could see Antonio Banderas playing Roman. But I’m not sure about the actress to play Grace. Reese Witherspoon, maybe?

We are giving a nod to the book’s location (California coast) by making healthy, coastal snacks our food theme. When we get together for book club, I’m dying to ask your opinion on something in the book, but it will have to wait. I have to leave you with that teaser for now.”

 

Thank you, Nancy!

So, girls, you can tell we will have quite a discussion.  If time allows, please bring a California Coastal treat per Nancy’s suggestion and RSVP to her at (502) 245-3839. We look forward to seeing you next Monday night!

’Til next time!

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

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Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews