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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?

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!

Faithful despite the fear

What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? (Romans 3:3 ESV)

Our refrigerator helps tell the story of our lives. You can barely see the surface behind favorite photos of our kids, Christmas card photos of friends and families, and magnets representing vacations or craft times.

The side by the pantry sports two yellow stars that my husband and I added in January. Identical stars were probably in elementary classrooms all across America before the COVID-19 pandemic changed so much about our lives in the last few months. But ours aren’t from an old school project. Ours are from our pastor.

In one of her first sermons of 2020, she talked of how people sometimes choose a word as a theme or focus going into a new year. She thought it would be an interesting exercise for us to do as a congregation – receive a word that could be a touch point for our faith this year, and see what we had learned from it a few months later. We all chose a star without looking, praying that the word written there would be something of merit for us.

My word is faithfulness. And the further we get into 2020, the more I see that I would be hard pressed to find a word that better represents what I have needed this year.

  • Faithfulness in God’s direction as our daughter chose which college she’ll attend in the fall.
  • Faithfulness in His leading when I wanted to find a new ladies’ Bible study that works with my crazy work schedule.
  • Faithfulness in His provision when I stared at aisle after aisle of empty shelves when I tried to buy groceries.
  • Faithfulness in His protection as our son completes a 10-week summer internship in California.
  • Faithfulness in His calling as I turn back to writing for Him after years of keeping flash drives full of words and ideas tucked away while I focused on other things.

Some of these situations seem easy on the surface. But the truth is, these – and many other things – have made fear clench my heart and knot my stomach more times than I’d like to admit.

Fear? Of finding a Bible study or resurrecting writing projects?

Yes, fear. The older I get, the more I see that my biggest fears and insecurities often tie to things that seem simple because they’re the things I know God would want me to do. After all, why wouldn’t I feel confident that God would want me to go to Bible study?

My confidence in that is exactly right – because it’s not God who’s making me feel fearful or uncertain. Those confidence-busting thoughts and emotions are coming from the enemy. And they crop up at those times because the enemy knows exactly when and where to push my insecurity buttons to keep me from moving in the direction God wants.

But here’s one thing I know: my God’s faithfulness far outweighs any fears that the enemy might stir up in me. I might falter in my faithfulness to whatever He’s calling me to, but He will never falter in being faithful to me. Even on the days when I let the enemy get in my head too much.

My God will always – always – take away my fears, no matter how big or small they might be. I just have to go to Him in faith and trust Him to do the rest.

Father God, there are so many times when fear grips me so tightly I can hardly breathe. Remind me in those moments that You are the breath of life, the calm in the storm, the balm for my fears. Strengthen my faithfulness and help me trust You more each day. Amen.

Scripture Saturday: Romans 15:13

 

Romans 15 13 a

Hope.

It’s something that ties us all together, no matter who we are or what we do or where we’ve been. It’s that little spark inside us that refuses to die, that helps us press on when it seems like all is lost.

It’s a gift from God that grows in us as we learn to trust Him with every part of our lives — the big, the small, and the in-between. The things that affect our family, our country, and our world.

The rest of this verse (which I couldn’t fit on the meme) is, “so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Even on the dark days, we can hold on to God’s promise that He’s in control and that everything is going to be OK. And aren’t we glad He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us remember that? I know I sure am.

Let’s have a beautiful, hope filled day.