Send Down the Rain by: Charles Martin

Send Down the RainSend Down the Rain by Charles Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The woman hadn’t let her guard down in a long time. I’d been there. You can kill my body and you’d be doing me a favor, but kill my soul and there’s no remedy for the pain. And when you’re in that place, and the pain is real bad, and you’ve been leaning into the thing causing it so long that you don’t know how to do anything other than lean, hope and hopelessness blur and you lose sight of who’s trying to hurt you and who’s trying to help. Sometimes you need somebody to stand between you and the sharp thing that hurts. To lean for you.

The 3 R’s- Rescue, Reconciliation, and Redemption always spells out sacrifice. The story of one man and those that are impacted him whether they know it or not.

Joseph has isolated himself in mountain cabin. Running from evil, the pain of a broken heart. He rescues a mother and her two children as they are running from a Mexican drug lord. Here illegally, her only option is to run. It helping them from his mountain home to Florida, that he is compelled to the beach where he finds his childhood sweetheart Allie. Allie has just lost her second husband in a horrific crash. Her first husband was Joseph’s brother Bobby who is now a State Senator. Together they piece the broken parts of their life. Each learning to trust the other. To find the innocence they once had.

Thru the narration, Allie and Joseph had difficult childhoods that they were drawn to each other as friends. When Bobby was drafted to Vietnam, Joseph’s mother had asked him to take his brother to Canada. Joseph left Allie behind with a promise to return. Upon entering the military and protecting his own brother, he did several tours that did him emotionally and physically. Upon coming back, he found his Allie married to his brother and to heal his broken heart he started many ventures. He also started to listen to Suzy on the radio. Suzy spoke to his soul as she too was hurting from the Vietnam war. She had lost a father she never knew.

A crescendo of fate that brought redemption thru sacrifice. Charles Martin is so good in communicating the broken heart. How they find each other and heal from each other. With Joseph, I felt he was a contradiction in his retaliation with his adopted family, however, he somewhat paints a picture of the condition of man and the gospel. Not a full picture but the need of the gospel. Of forgiveness and the value of others. What love really means in sacrifice. In the novels I have read so far, Martin hardly mentions God, salvation but his words hit home with our condition for something more. Which always leads me to wanting to read more of Charles of Martin.

A Special Thank You to Thomas Nelson and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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The Gospel Comes With a House Key by: Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

The Gospel Comes with a House KeyThe Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sanctification is work, not an act. We grow in sanctification over a lifetime in union with Christ, of denying ourselves, of taking up the cross, of following Christ. We grow in knowledge of God when we read our bible in the way God intends – as an inerrant, inspired, authoritative, unified revelation. Image-bearing the knowledge of God means that we lean into the cross and not ourselves. There is always a battle between cross carrying and doing what feels best to us. Hospitality is a sanctification at work.

Rosairia Butterfield and her family practice radical hospitality. They budget for it, they plan for it, and they are intentional about it. It is a way of practicing and displaying the gospel. I would not call this text a resource, I think it way more than that but a testimony of the power of God and blessing of hospitality. Hospitality is not easy and many times it is messy. Butterfield centers her family practice in the friendship of a neighbor that was later busted for meth lab. Her neighbor kept to himself and way from the Butterfield, however, they developed a friendship in spite of that. They found common ground in a dog. There was no bible pounding but an invitation. There was no condemnation but there was compassion. How many times when we watch the news and we think or say out loud, they deserve to go to jail and to throw away the key. The Butterfield believe everyone should know the gospel – the Good news of Christ.

There were two chapters that impacted me in this much needed study of hospitality. One was on the care of her mother as she was in hospice. Her mother a proud atheist and a strong feminist always thought of Rosaria of being weak. It is those very words that her mother begin to receive Christ. In our weakness, (in death, sin, our depression)we can lean into Christ for his strength. Dying she realized her weakness. It was there all along but death has a way of confronting you with that weakness. This chapter had me in tears. It was tender and honest and I appreciated Rosaria sharing it with her readers. Rosaria also shared about her past. Growing up in her family, her life in LBQT and the impact LBQT has on hospitality. It can put many Christians to shame.

The other chapter was on Judas. There is a Judas hidden among us and could be us. Judas is only found in the church. An environment that is ripe for Judas is consumerism. Judas thought himself to more merciful than God. That Christ had failed him. “He missed the core lesson, a heart broken by Jesus asks the Lord to make him godly, not bless his natural desires. A heart broken by Jesus prays, Lord make me yours, not Lord, give me what I want.”

There are many things that keep us from hospitality. Fear and to keep the status quo. Butterfield expresses the dynamic of family. The gender roles and how they maintain a healthy environment for hospitality. I think it is important that before hospitality can be expressed outside the home, we must be practicing inside the home. Hospitality is a family effort and will not work if the family is not on the same page. Hospitality is a mission that we all can do. If you are in family that would not practice this, you can practice hospitality in other ways. Butterfield does stress a counterfeit hospitality vs a Godly hospitality.

I highly recommend all Christians read this because hospitality is the gospel. We see people as made in the image of God practicing hospitality. We do not think better of ourselves practicing hospitality, and we pursue the heart of God in hospitality. A nearness of God.

A Special Thank You to Crossway Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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A Passionate Hope: Hannah’s Story by: Jill Eileen Smith

A Passionate Hope: Hannah's Story (Daughters of the Promised Land, #4)A Passionate Hope: Hannah’s Story by Jill Eileen Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want to worship You, Adonai. But I don’t know how anymore. I don’t know how to live with constant battering and such a deep sense of loss.

The story of Hannah of the Old Testament (see 1 Samuel) seen from her pain of desiring a child. The story was done well with excellent context. The context is so important as it tells the importance of children in the Jewish culture. Our culture has social security however, the children of the Old Testament times was the family social security. They were brought up to love and respect their parents and take care of them in their old age. Today’s culture and biblical culture is so different but when looked thru the eyes of God’s grace, it helps us to know the goodness of God.

The marriage of Hannah and Elkanah was also in context. The foundation of their marriage was worship and their shared love of God. Since Hannah was unable to bear a child, Elkanah’s parents put pressure on Elkanah to take another wife to bear children. Again, in our culture this seems barbaric and sexist, however, Elkanah and Hannah’s decision was not easy and the consequences of that decision was the pulling force of their story. What I remember of the biblical account was Elkanah encouragement and love to Hannah saying that he was better than 10 children she would ever have. I find it interesting that God would record that for us today. The context of that statement was put in a whole new light for me.

I found this account of Hannah’s story filled with God’s grace in heart wrenching circumstances. It was not a lesson on positive thinking but when we remember the promises of God and rely on his goodness for our good. When we look thru the lens of redemption, our circumstances become secondary and worship becomes automatic. Like breathing air.

A Special Thank You to Revell and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Amish Sweethearts by: Amy Clipston

Amish SweetheartsAmish Sweethearts by Amy Clipston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love and Buggy Rides

Love and Buggy Rides Janie and Jonathan meet under a terrible accident. Jonathan is giving buggy rides to tourists when a car run into the buggy, hurting the several of the passengers. Janie being witness to this accident, realizes it is not his fault but is told by her father to stay out of the business of Englishers. It is when Janie and Jonathans relationship turns into something more deeper when she is forced to make a decision. I loved this story as well as it deals with what is the right thing and the tension it brings. It really displays on doing the right thing does not come automatically but with intentionality. This was a great story on integrity of the heart.

A Home for Lindsay

Matt and Lindsay have their whole future ahead of them. Matt is building a home for Lindsay on his sister’s property anticipating the day that he will bring his bride home. However, with unforeseeable circumstances, he must abandon his plans and break the heart of the woman he loves. A story about what home really means and the relationships that make home.

Where the Heart is

Tobias Smucker left his Amish home to live with uncle in Florida. A recovering alcoholic, Tobias had to deal with his relationship with his father. It was a relationship that left Tobias in despair that led to his drinking. Now he has come back home to reconcile with the family that he hurt and to make things right. Coming back he comes to know his sister’s best friend Mariella,in a different light. Mariella has always had a crush on Tobias but never let her feelings be known because of his sister. The relationship grows from friendship to more. It is this friendship that Tobias learns to deal with his father and find healing.

Love Birds

Ellie Lapp and her mother now live alone and must find ways to make ends meet after the recent death of her brother Seth. Ellie’s father died years ago and to fill the void of his father, took the responsibility of making sure his sister and mother were well cared for. Seth’s best friend Lloyd is helping with the family chores and with the family’s loss, begins to see Ellie a new way. They form a friendship and they begin to share their fears and likes building a trust that naturally turns to love. With Ellie’s new job at the gift store, she begins to look for new Amish made gifts to sell in the store. When she discovers Lloyd’s talent of making handcrafted birds, she encourages him to sell the birds so that others might enjoy their beauty. When the fear of loosing her job takes over, a trust is broken. Can love overcome what was lost?

Each of these stories deal with loyalty, trust and facing your fears. At the root of each one is a faith in God that encourages anyone who struggles.

A Special Thank You to Zondervan and Nettgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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The House on Foster Hill by: Jaime Jo Wright

The House on Foster HillThe House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My eyes see beyond today, beyond my circumstances in a world jaded and scarred by sin. I see into Heaven. And it is beautiful. And it is good. It is my future. There is no despair in eternity, in God’s presence, in His perfection. There is only hope. He is my hope.

After much loss and fear, Kaine Prescott has left California to Wisconsin and bought a house. A house with a horrid history and a mystery that has been unsolved. Kaine knows about the unsolved. Her husband’s apparent accident was no accident but a homicide that has not been resolved.

In Wisconsin, she has befriended a few locals that know about the history of the House on Foster Hill. A woman found murdered on the grounds and Kaine’s relative Ivy Thorpe determination to find out what happened and why.

The narration is told in turn by the present and the past. Ivy’s struggle with the death of her brother and Kaine is haunted by the death of her husband. The similarities of these women thou 100 years apart is striking. They both have purpose. Kaine helps women in abusive relationships and Ivy helps her father in his practice and when he is called to the murdered woman found on the grounds of Foster Hill, Ivy is determined to find out what happened. Both have these women have determination.

There is much going on with these two women. Relationships and the issue of trust in those relationships, however, what brought it together for me is how the past and the present came together. Where hope may not be found, hope is what was being fought for. Hope gets me every time.

A Special Thank You to Bethany House Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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Psalms of Praise: A Movement Primer by: Danielle Hitchen

Psalms of Praise: A Movement PrimerPsalms of Praise: A Movement Primer by Danielle Hitchen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

With outstretched arms, you and your child will be praising God with action and words. A primer book that will instill worship in the youngest of hearts. And yes! Babies can worship because they are in awe of anything new and especially you as a parent that loves that child, they will have a heart of worship that can last a lifetime.

Going thru the Psalms with action and a verse is a wonderful way to spend time with your child and with our Father! I will be getting these books for my own grandchildren and I recommend that you should too.

A Special Thank You to Harvest House Publishers and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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In This Moment (The Baxter Family #2) by: Karen Kingsbury

In This Moment (The Baxter Family, #2)In This Moment by Karen Kingsbury
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Once people stop believing in their rights of religion, those rights are whole lot easier to take away.

What is the freedom of the religion? How do our religious freedoms affect our way of life? The story of Principal Wendell Quinn and his students in a small town America reflect what is at stake.

Wendell is at a crossroads in his profession of principal. With all the gang violence, drugs, students without parental guidance, Wendell must come up with alternative to engage his students to a higher excellence, to higher learning, and community within the walls of his high school. He puts out there a VOLUNTARY bible study. That means students are welcome after school to learn about the bible. They are not made to study the bible or made to feel isolated because they choose not to. Religion that is forced does not transform. Wendell cares about his students. He desires his students for excellence.

The bible study has given many of his students purpose. With the numbers on his side, lower crime rate within the school, higher grades, student participation, Wendell is confident that God has ordained these students for something bigger than himself.

One of his students Cami was hostile to the bible study. A mother who claimed Christianity that left her family for another man has left a bad taste. She goes to see how poorly the study will do only to find that she becomes changed. She sees God in a different way. However, on parent night when the bible study is shared among the parents, her father comes unglued and goes to court. Sighting that religion and state do not mix. This is where misconceptions of religion comes to light. Is it against the law to bring bible? Is it against the law to lead a voluntary bible study? What must be done?

Wendell’s fight for his freedom to worship is also a fight for our identity as a Christian. His trust on the word of God and how we love others. Cami and her father also learn the power of a true faith. A faith in not what we do but what God has done in his son Jesus Christ.

Several misgivings on this that salvation is not a get out of hell card but being in God’s presence. Our salvation should not be pragmatic but seeking to know God and his love for us.

A Special Thank You to Howard Books and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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