Book Love

Book Review: Journey to the Forgotten Coast by Terri Webster

Domestic abuse is more common than many of us might realize and can be closer to home than we expect. And while no type of abuse is ever pleasant to think about, there is hope – and there are resources and support – for people who find themselves caught in that situation.

Book cover of Journey to the Forgotten Coast by Terri Webster
Journey to the Forgotten Coast by Terri Webster

That reality and hope are the threads running through Journey to the Forgotten Coast by Terri Webster.

I’ll admit up front that I’m a bit prejudiced about this book because I’ve known Terri for many years through writers group. And I do love when a friend publishes a book. But even aside from that, Journey to the Forgotten Coast has some important messages for us to read and remember.

Jorie has been married for several years, but things haven’t turned out as she had hoped. It took a while for her to become pregnant and then she suffered a miscarriage. She still hasn’t healed emotionally from that trauma when both her parents die unexpectedly, within weeks of each other. Her husband Hugh’s actions following those events finally push Jorie to the point of admitting to others that he has abused her for years and that she believes her life is in danger.

Traveling through this story with Jorie isn’t easy. You see how – and why – she tries to justify the situation to herself and others. You share her fear as she decides to get away and start a new life for herself. You feel her anger at Hugh – and God – and her grief and disappointment.

But in the end Jorie realizes something important that can be hard for us to remember, too. God is always there, working in the people and situations around us to bring us closer to Him and to see His plans fulfilled. Even on the hard, ugly, disappointing days. Even when we feel hurt and betrayed and confused.

Jorie has people who are praying for her when she doesn’t even know it. People who care about her more than she realizes and who are ready to help her as soon as she asks for it.

Life doesn’t magically become perfect for Jorie when she gets away from Hugh – just like it doesn’t for us when we get past our own bad situations. But she draws courage and strength from the people who love her and begins to deepen her relationship with God. She learns to believe that she deserves a better life and that the work it takes to reach that point is worth it.

Jorie’s journey ends with hope and new purpose despite the imperfections. I think that’s an important lesson we can all learn, no matter what we’re going through.

Unfortunately, though, the characters and situations in Journey to the Forgotten Coast are all too familiar to millions of people of all races, ages and economic statuses who find themselves caught in situations of domestic abuse. But there is hope for these people just as there was for Jorie.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here are a few websites with more information and resources if you or someone you know needs support:

 

Living in Faith, Scripture verses, What I've Learned Lately

Acting with tenacity – thanks to Amelia Earhart

For the last several years, I’ve bought a daily tear-off calendar for my desk; one was Bible verses, one was great books to read, one was beautiful photos. This year’s is called “Seize the Day” and has inspirational quotes by people ranging from professional athletes to authors, historical figures to models, TV personalities to scientists.

Last weekend’s quote was from Amelia Earhart:

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity.”

Do you find that to be true? I often do, especially when the decision is faith-based.

I want to do what God wants me to do. I want to be the person He wants me to be. I want to go where He wants me to go.

But sometimes I’m so intent on doing what God wants that I end up doing nothing – because I want to be extra, extra sure that whatever I do is what He wants. So I pray about it. And I have conversations with God about it. And I pray about it some more. And I ask Him to help me know which way He wants me to go.

And in the course of all of this, I often stay right where I am instead of taking even a small step in one direction or the other.

As if He can’t readjust my path to get me where He wants me to be if my first few steps are in the wrong direction (because He definitely can).

As if sometimes both options I’m considering might not both be acceptable to God and usable by Him (because they can be).

As if I’m not old enough to know that sometimes He might just want me to take a tiny step of faith before putting all the pieces in place for me (because He’s done it before).

Amelia Earhart quote about tenacity
Was Amelia Earhart thinking about faith when she said that? My guess is probably not, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still apply it to our lives as Christians.

Deciding to follow Christ is a one-time action: once you profess your belief in Him as Savior and ask Him to come into your heart, it’s done forever. But we still have to decide day after day – sometimes minute to minute – to put our belief into practice.

Following Christ can be hard. Living as a Christian in today’s world can be hard. We need to be intentional about following Him because it’s not going to happen if we stop paying attention. And we need tenacity – persistence, determination, doggedness – to help us stay connected with God and focused on Him instead of everything that pops up on our path.

Tenacity helps us keep moving forward in the direction we believe God is calling us, even if it’s just one tiny step at a time. Because then one tiny step can become two tiny steps, and two can become three, until we find ourselves taking slightly bigger steps as our confidence in following God grows.

A few blog posts back I wrote about the focus words we received at church in January and that mine was “faithfulness.” I like “faithfulness” and believe it’s a great word for any of us to focus on. I definitely need to, especially during a year as crazy as this one.

But the more I think about “tenacity,” the more I like all the ways it can apply to my faith. My spiritual life could probably use some tenacity, some persistent holding onto God.

David wrote about this in Psalm 63:8. Many translations use variations of “my soul clings to you” or “I stay close to you.” But this is one time when I really like the King James translations:

  • My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me (NKJV)
  • My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. (KJV)

And then there’s the Contemporary Amplified version:

  • My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me.

I like the verb picture of following close behind God. It shows that I’m not just holding on for the ride, I’m chasing after God. And I’m following hard, making it a priority and trying to stay right with Him instead of just wandering along at my own place, checking occasionally to see that He’s still in sight.

Intentional following. Dogged, persistent, determined following. Tenacious following. Because it’s worth the focus and the fight to stay right with Him, wherever He’s leading me to go.

That’s how I want to be. What about you?

Your turn: What keeps you holding on and following hard after God?

Book Love

Book review: Rooms by James Rubart

Rooms by James Rubart book coverWhat if you walked into a home and found physical representations of your soul – even the parts you thought you’d hidden away or dealt with long ago? What if you also realized that the more you explored this house – which you’re drawn to in so many ways that you can’t stay away – the more pieces of the life you’re happy with fall away?

That’s what happens in Rooms, which is a bit of an oldie (published in 2010), but still worth the read. Here’s the back cover description:

On a rainy spring day in Seattle, young software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a cryptic, twenty-five-year-old letter from a great uncle he never knew. It claims a home awaits him on the Oregon coast that will turn his world inside out. Suspecting a prank, Micah arrives at Cannon Beach to discover a stunning brand new nine-thousand square foot house. And after meeting Sarah Sabin at a nearby ice cream shop, he has two reasons to visit the beach every weekend.

When bizarre things start happening in the rooms of the home, Micah suspects they have some connection to his enigmatic new friend, Rick, the town mechanic. But Rick will only say the house is spiritual. This unnerves Micah because his faith slipped away like the tide years ago, and he wants to keep it that way. But as he slowly discovers, the home isn’t just spiritual, it’s a physical manifestation of his soul, which God uses to heal Micah’s darkest wounds and lead him into an astonishing new destiny.

I’ll be the first to admit that I read fiction for fun and as an escape, not necessarily to dig deep and think about things in my personal life. But while Rooms was a good read, it also was good fodder for some personal reflection.

What kinds of dreams or hopes did I have years ago that have been forgotten in the busyness of “adulting”? What if I could sit down and literally have an out-loud conversation with the voice in my head? Whose voice would I be talking to? And then there’s the biggest question of all: If I could walk into a place that represents my heart, what would it be like?

Those are some heavy questions, but they show one of the many ways that Christian fiction is different from so many other titles on the shelves: They can teach you lessons about yourself and your faith if you’re open to the possibility.

So what did I learn from Rooms? It’s hard to pinpoint one specific thing, but I do have a lot rolling around in my mind. I’m glad I found this book buried in all the others on my Kindle; I’ll be looking at some other title from James Rubart now.

Your turn: What’s one of the best books you’ve read lately? Or, what’s a lesson you’ve learned from a novel?

Fun Friday

First Line Friday: Someone Like You

Welcome to First Line Friday, where book lovers across blogland share the opening line from a nearby book (since we all have books everywhere we turn). I’m kicking off my participation with the latest from one of my favorite authors of contemporary women’s fiction:

Someone Like You by Karen Kingsbury

Someone Like You by Karen Kingsbury

The first line is:

Like a tumor in her chest, for twenty-two years Brooke Baxter West had carried the lie.

Wow, what a line to pull readers in with! And in true Karen Kingsbury fashion, the story had me hooked from the beginning and I wanted to read it straight through (which would have been possible if I had started reading on a Saturday since it’s shorter than some of her books).

Your turn: Share the first line from one of your books in the comments. Then hop over to Hoarding Books (the blog I’m joining in this fun) to see what they’re sharing.

Happy reading!