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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

in His lap

Life has been...normal, I guess.  Just not the normal that I expected.  Which, I suppose is normal...for life to be unexpected.  Unpredictable.  Crazy.  Too fast.  Unplanned.  Normal.

Things have been happening too fast, too much at one time.  Relationships have been sticky, my family has been suffering illness, we recently had to put down our dog of 12 years, we went on a trip a couple of weeks ago and came back with the flu, I felt called to leave a job very near to my heart, I found out about the death of a childhood friend... And if this doesn't sound crazy enough, that isn't all--I have actually left out a lot for privacy reasons, but I'm pretty sure this gives you a pretty good idea.

Yep, normal couple of weeks. Not really.  I mean, my life is usually crazy, but not this crazy.

Being that I had the flu a week ago, I also had a conference scheduled that I was supposed to work at this past weekend.  Over those 3-4 days, I did everything I could to cheat the illness.  I downed the garlic, vitamin C, echinacea, I did EVERYTHING!  I wanted to do this conference!  I had been scheduled to do it, and looking forward to it for MONTHS!

The day before I was supposed to leave, I was up and around, testing my body's strength.  On my feet all day doing laundry, everything.  I can DO this!  I was GOING.  That night I went to bed.  I had to get up at 3am to leave for my 5:15am flight.  But I couldn't sleep.  And I wasn't feeling well.  1:45am came, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to do this.  I was pushing myself too hard, and it could end up detrimental to my body, and those working with me at the conference if they had to pick up my pieces while I was sick away from home.  I sent an email admitting my weakness, and that I wasn't going to be able to make it.

So great was my disappointment, I felt terrible.  I slept practically all day.  My body was exhausted from my pushing...and my spirit was sad, unmotivated.

Even now, I feel the effects of the past couple of weeks weighing heavily.  Just everything, making my body emotionally and physically exhausted.

These are the times that Jesus has taught me that awkward, ironic feeling of resting in Him.

It's a strange feeling.  It's like I still feel all the chaos.  I feel the hurt.  I feel the disappointment.  I feel the frustration.  I still feel everything.  But there's something else.

I feel in the very deep recesses of my soul His rest. 

It's like a young child with a scraped up knee coming and crawling into the lap of a parent.  The child will still bleed.  Still hurt.  But she feels the arms of her parent around her and knows she's going to be okay.

It's the same with Jesus.  His rest does not mean that I won't feel pain. Hurt.  Disappointment.  Sadness.  It doesn't mean that I'll be immune to chaos.  Stress.  Strain.

But He does promise that He won't ever leave me, or forsake me.  He does promise me peace in the midst of it all.  He does promise abundant life.  He does promise Himself.  Rest.  Peace.

That strange yet beautiful feeling that He's got this.

Am I willing to let go of what I think I can control long enough to crawl into His lap and let Him hold me?  Let Him breath His words of peace into my heart:

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
~John 14:27

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

book review and giveaway: The Thief

Just when Nissa believes that death would be better than life, her life is spared.  
Will she have the courage to redeem his sacrifice?

Longinus has victory within his grasp, yet why does it feel so worthless?

Nissa doesn't see how it can be any other way.  Unwanted, she knows that she has no hope of marriage.  Her parents have abandoned her blind brother and her to fend for themselves, who will hire a woman?  Abandoned by the God of their fathers, their only way of survival is to depend upon the Mouse, the best thief in Jerusalem.

Haunted by the death of his best friend, Longinus is weary of the Jews and their murmurs of revolt.  When offered a wager that he hopes will bring him peace, he accepts and sets out to capture the little thief and the accompanying Greek.  But when Longinus witnesses the miraculous healing of a mysterious Jewish rabbi, he knows that his life will never be the same again.  

As Longinus' and Nissa's paths cross and intertwine, neither of them understand the full weight of glory placed upon their hands.  Just when neither of them believe that there can be any deliverance from the the agony of sin or the haunting fear of death, they witness one of the most historical events in history.  As blood and water trickle down, both sinners witness the power of love and forgiveness... at the foot of a cross.

I love Biblical fiction--it's probably my favorite genre!  The Thief was no exception.  The story was very well written; the character development was excellent, the plot moved quickly, the twists and turns were brilliant.  I loved the parallels, the symbolism, and the way that the characters were so real.  I found myself relating to them: squirming when they faced danger, smiling when they found peace.

One of the things that I really love about Biblical fiction that was executed beautifully in this book, was the fact that when we see a Bible story from someone else's view, it helps us to understand it more fully.  In this book, witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ from the view of a Roman centurion and also a poor Jewish girl, was so moving.  Understanding the full gravity, the significance of the event in their time on a small scale, it was amazing; truly left an impression upon me.

My only negative comments would be the lack of style in the writing.  I found myself not wholly interested in the book at some points when I would go to pick it up to read it, then I would wonder why?  The story was brilliant, why wouldn't I want to keep reading?  Vibrant prose helps to keep one turning pages, and though the story was fantastic, the lack of style kept me from finishing the book sooner.  However, the book was still written with clear concise language that is easy to understand.

All in all, I truly enjoyed this book!  I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

I give The Thief 4.5 stars.

thiefbloggerbuttonDon't miss Stephanie Landsem's outstanding sophomore effort, The Thief.

Best-selling author Tosca Lee had this to say of the book:

Filled with memorable characters, The Thief is a tale of hopelessness turned to hope, of high stakes made higher, and ultimate love. What happens when a character at the lowest rung of society crosses paths with the most well-known figure in history? The story of The Thief.  I couldn't stop reading.

Stephanie is hosting a Kindle Fire HDX and book giveaway at her website. CLICK THE BUTTON to find out more and enter to win.

Find out what readers are saying HERE

I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.