©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

This Week's Reading

I can only go back to Tuesday for this week's reading list, but it was a good reading week.

First, Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes (published by Revell 2011).

Lydia Gale is a widow who is trying to help her father launch her youngest sister into London Society while helping her middle sister plan her wedding in 1812. In the midst of this, she's asked to help a Frenchman get out of prison and assist his introduction to Society. That's the gist of the book, but there are twists and turns worthy of a corkscrew in the plot. Lydia is caught in the intrigue of traitors and patriots and ferreting out whom to trust. In the midst of all this, her middle sister breaks her engagement, her youngest sister gets involved with a questionable man, and her father wants to marry her off to someone she cannot stand. I found this book to be a bit of a departure from my normal reading genre, but it was worth my time because it was truly enjoyable.

Second, Saturday Morning by Lauraine Snelling (published by Waterbook Press 2005)

Andy Taylor is a lavender farmer in Medford, Oregon, selling products made from the lavender she grows. Her husband, Martin, is a salesman in a high pressure industry and he travels extensively. Martin has been offered a Vice Presidency in his company that requires his moving to San Francisco, California. Andy is reluctant, digging in her heels at every step.

Hope is the owner of Casa de Jesus (also known as JHouse), a women's shelter ministering to any woman who has the need. Her own needs include money to retrofit her building to make it earthquake safe, as well as day-to-day needs of running the shelter. Hope's husband, a former policeman disabled in the line of duty, is her right hand man whose heart is in helping the women at the shelter as well.

Julia is a family attorney who deals with custody issues and other family law matters. Her granddaughter is a runaway who could be living on the streets of San Fran.

Clarice is an older woman who has been duped by a man she married, believing he loved her. He cleans out her bank accounts, steals her jewelry, then puts her on a plane to San Francisco to take possession of a condo he told her he bought for them. She lands with only the money in her wallet and a need for a place to stay while she gets things straightened out.

All of these women converge at JHouse and become The Girl Squad. They meet together to pray for their own needs as well as the needs of the women in JHouse. These four women have lived very different lives with very different personalities, but they all come together to help one another and stand by one another in the difficulties life brings to each of them. It's interesting to watch how the friendships are forged and how they all work together to find a place to serve and a place in one another's hearts.

To say that I enjoyed the book is not enough. It touched a deep place in my heart--reminding me of those friendships that keep me going.

Third, The Key on the Quilt by Stephanie Grace Whitson (published by Barbour Books 2012)

This one is the first of a series and I cannot wait to see the next books in the series.

Jane Prescott is in the Nebraska State Prison in 1876 for killing her abusive husband. She is advised by Agnes, another inmate, to learn to do her time--just get through it. It's tough and Jane does all she can to just bide her time.

Mamie Dawson is the women's matron, overseeing the workings of the women's section of the prison. Martin Underwood is one of the prison guards who helps Mamie. While his outer appearance isn't all that comely, Mamie comes to see his heart in surprising ways.

Reluctant to make the move to Lincoln, Nebraska, to live across from the prison, Ellen McKenna is the wife of the prison warden. Ellen gets a peek into the women's ward of the prison and sees a need that she desires to see filled. Mamie is in total agreement of Ellen's desires and builds a plan to educate the women there, as well as give them jobs to do--much like the men in the prison have. Jane desires something to do to help her pass the time and what Ellen and Mamie plan fills Jane's desires.

Mamie and Ellen set up a sewing area in the women's ward and collect needles, fabric, scissors and sewing machines so that the women can make things to be sold. Jane makes a Courthouse Steps quilt for Rose with all of Rose's favorite colors and after she is released, takes it to Rose with a key to a small trunk on the quilt. She wants to reconnect with her daughter but finds out that her sister has allowed Rose to believe Jane is dead. Rose finally remembers everything that happened with her step-father's death and desires to see Jane.

Other players in this book are Ian McKenna, Ellen's husband; Pearl Brand, a trouble-maker in the women's ward; Max Zimmer, a doctor who knew Jane before she was an inmate; and Rose, Jane's daughter currently living with Jane's sister.

Every now and again, I find a book that not only entertains me, but also adds to my spiritual life. This book is such a one. Mamie introduces the concept of Grace Notes. Basically, there are no circumstances in which God's grace cannot reach, and when you see those instances of grace--those are Grace Notes. This book was a Grace Note for me, just reminding me to look for them.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I Am an Addict

A while ago, I read an article by Liz Curtis Higgs in which she proclaimed herself to be a bookaholic. I can relate; I share more than just a few of these tendencies. I imagined a twelve-step program for those of us who are similarly afflicted, quiet meeting room where a group is gathered and they are sharing their stories. My imagination ran to what I would say in that group: “Hi. I’m Becky and I’m a bookaholic. It started on the first day of first grade. I was in Mrs. Willoughby’s class and I came home crying that she didn’t teach me how to read. I was sure that would happen on the first day of school. I remember being the first child to read a WHOLE book in front of the class. It started young and has carried on till now. I have three or more books on my night stand that I read every morning for my quiet time and then I have stacks beside my bed, I have floor to ceiling bookshelves that are over-full. I have a stack of books beside my chair in the family room, and more bookshelves in the den. I worked in a second hand book store and brought home more books almost daily. I am not ashamed to read, re-read, and keep books that I truly enjoy. I know all the best places on the internet to find used books, and I have been known to order $50 worth at a time. I always have a book with me whenever I am in a situation that I have to wait for something. I get the shakes when I finish a book and don’t have a back-up to start right away. I am truly, seriously addicted.”

Those are just a few of the symptoms of bookaholism. Others are:
■You buy a book and find out when you get home you already have it
■You love the smell of musty pages
■You read ten chapters before you realize you have already read it
■You carry frequent reader cards for two or more bookstore chains
■You cannot visit a bookstore without buying something
■When you talk to people, you talk in quotes from your favorite books
■Your friends won’t lend you books because they won’t get them back
■You won’t lend your books because you are afraid you won’t get them back
■Your TBR* stack is more than 10 books
■You haunt library sales
■You get a job in a bookstore because you frequent it so often you know it better than the owner. (Um, yes, this is how I got my job)
■Your vacations have to include a trip to the bookstore and you ship your purchases home because you don’t have space in your luggage for them.
■You have pairs of reading glasses all over the house (and for a while I had a couple of pairs that I left at Mama's house)
■You have sunglasses that are readers, so you can read in the car in daylight; and reading lights in your car, so you can read after dark and not disturb the driver.

I like to read fluff with happy endings for my recreational reading. I don’t “do” scary books—my nightmare threshold is way too low. I am probably the only person on earth who hasn’t read a Left Behind or Frank Peretti book. I don’t read mysteries, but I will watch detective shows on TV.

I have in my readings, however, learned many things. In reading one of these more fluffy books, I stumbled across a deep truth that was confirmed in my devotional reading. In the fluffy book, a character was struggling with being able to come before God before she “cleaned up her life.” The romantic interest was explaining Romans 5:8 to her. This caught my eye because this is the one Bible verse my daddy taught me. I knew what it said, but I didn’t really “get” it until I saw it explained in this “fluffy” book. The verse is: But God commended His love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The explanation was that we have to come to God as we are, because we can’t do the clean-up by ourselves. Then I found this in 2 Corinthians 5:21 in my devotional: For our sake He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. Again, we can’t do the cleaning-up that needs to be done, because it’s already been done, accomplished, finished….

Because of that alone, I think I will keep my addiction and try to spread it around. This is one affliction for which I don’t mind being a carrier.

My name is Becky Guinn, and I am a bookaholic.

*TBR=To Be Read