Blind Hope, An Unwanted Dog & the Woman She Rescued

>> Friday, December 31, 2010

Blind Hope by Kim Meeder and Laurie Sacher is my second book to read and review from Multnomah Books.  I was drawn to this book because the cover was so adorable and I knew the perfect friend who would like to read it when I was done.

Most of this book is a conversation between the co-authors, Kim and Laurie.  Kim is the owner of the Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch in Colorado, a ranch that takes in horses they have rescued.  Volunteers come to help and in the process, many breakthroughs are made in their lives spiritually, mentally, and physically.

Laurie comes to the ranch as a volunteer.  She rescues a dog who she renames Mia.  In her care, she takes her to the vet and Mia is diagnosed with diabetes and eventually loses her eyesight.  As Laurie attempts to befriend this dog and teaches her how to function in the world without sight, Laurie learns many lessons that brings her closer to God and helps her see how blind she has been for years.  She says, "My dog was blind...but now I see."

One of the last conversations in this book is very profound about hope, "Mia taught me that blind hope doesn't grope around in the darkness trying to find the way.  Blind hope doesn't depend on what it can feel.  Blind hope depends on what it knows!  Authentic hope depends on what is true.  Hope that is real doesn't come from what we can see --it comes from our heart, from the inside out.  It comes from Christ alone."  (Pg 170)

I loved when Laurie shares about Mia's rescue and how she teaches her to navigate in the world.  The antidotes were very good and held my attention.  From a writer's standpoint, though, there is much telling in this book and not enough showing.  Every time Laurie switches from talking about Mia to how her little blind dog has taught her more about God, my eyes rolled and I skipped paragraphs and skimmed pages.  It was very good stuff but all so predictable.  Nothing was left to the reader to grasp on her own.  Everything was spelled out in a way that began to annoy me.

Kim has written more books about the happenings of her ranch.  I imagine they are wonderful and would love to get my hands on a couple of them.  The ranch sounds like an awesome place and God moves big in their midst.  I do appreciate the spiritual truths in this books, don't get me wrong.  I hope that people who love dogs and/or are young Christians will take hold of this book and be blessed.


Christ is Come! Christmas, 2010

>> Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010 has come and gone.  It seems like I have time to breathe now and catch up on rest before school starts up again in January.  Jim, Nik, and I got together with Jim's side of the family on Christmas Eve.  It's so hard with Ruth gone.  It's funny how the mom is the glue to a family.  She certainly is missed, especially by her two granddaughters, Kristen and Jenna.  I think they truly feel it more than anyone, or at least express it more than anyone else.

Christmas day was spent with Ryan, Kristen, and Nik.  It's so different now that they're older.  We didn't buy one toy.  How sad is that?  It was good to get together with our little family. Kristen made it from the south on some slick roads.  It took lots to get Ryan home from the north.  He went into the ditch twice, requiring two tow trucks and after the second time, he parked it and rode home with Jim.  That was an expensive trip home and puts a whole new spin on, I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas.  Whoever dreams that certainly isn't waiting for family to come through the bad weather!

When we were on our way to town to do our last minute Christmas shopping (our shopping was last minute from the very first, by the way), I heard this song, Christ is Come, and it really made Christmas come alive in my heart where Scrooge's bah humbug was lurking. Christ did come and He is alive, making each day worth living, even though it gets very hard at times.  Christ is come and He will come again.  I look forward to the days ahead in 2011.



>> Friday, December 24, 2010

Mari is hosting a special edition of Christmas Friday Fiction.  Go over to her blog to read some great stories.  Merry Christmas everyone!


“Nat, don’t wake us up until seven, okay? That’s the earliest,” her mom warned as she tucked her into bed. 

Natalie looked at her funny. 

Her mom repeated, “I mean it. Not 5:30. Not 6:00. Seven o’clock. Got it?”

“Okay, Mommy,” she said after a big sigh. “Love you.”

“Love you, too. Christmas will be here before you know it. It’s just a dream away.”

A dream away. That’s what Natalie thought about as she drifted off to sleep. She dreamt of presents piled high under the tree. She dreamt of Barbie dolls and Easy Bake Ovens. She dreamt of singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus as she shared a big piece of cake with Him. Before she knew it, a little sun had peeked in through her window. It was morning. She shot straight up and checked the clock. 

Too early. It was too early. Natalie lay back down. She fiddled with her blankie until it was in several knots. She sat up and flopped back down. She thought about what it would be like to have a brother or sister to wait with. Surely that would be much more fun. 

Natalie sat at the edge of her bed. Her bare feet hung down, almost touching her fuzzy pink bunny slippers. She eyed the alarm clock with disdain as she thought about the conversation with her mom just the night before.

She knew she would be in trouble if she went even a minute before seven o’clock but waiting was so very hard for a five-year-old. 

She got up from her bed and peeked out the window. Her footed PJ’s kept her warm as she watched soft white snow flakes fall from the sky. The first snow of the season is a perfect Christmas present straight from God to her and every other child in the city. She pressed her nose to the cool window. This made her shiver.

She scooted back into bed and got under the covers. She eyed the clock again. It was not much later than all the other times she looked. She sighed. She twirled her hair. She unknotted her blanket. 

Natalie began the Christmas countdown the beginning of December. It seemed to go so slow she could hardly stand it. But this – this was so much worse. This countdown to seven was a killer. 

She sat up and took a good long look at the clock again. Surely it must be time… but no, only another minute had passed. Wrapped up in her blanket, she closed her eyes and started talking to Jesus. 

“Happy birthday, Jesus. I’m excited it’s finally here. Mommy won’t let me wake her up yet. Jesus? I need to ask You something. Is it the same if I get up but don’t wake my parents?” Natalie sat quietly. She listened to see if Jesus happened to answer her. 

She lay back down. She sat up. She looked again. Frowned…lay back down…got back up. This time she went to the door and opened it just a bit. She listened. All she could hear were snores coming from her Daddy. She turned around and looked at the clock again and gave it a cross-eyed stare. She looked up, as if giving Jesus a last chance to chime in with His answer. Hearing none, she opened the door wider and slipped out. 

The hallway was darker than she expected. She wasn’t used to being up this early by herself. She tip-toed past her parent’s room; listened, and then crept on by. She set her mind on her goal… the Christmas tree. She stood in wide-eyed wonder as she looked at the decorated room. A pink bike sat in the corner. She ran over to it and felt the smooth seat. She itched to ring the bell but didn’t. 

The old cuckoo clock started to chirp and scared her spit less. She stopped in her tracks and counted. One… two… three… four… five… six… seven… Seven. It was seven o’clock! She ran back down the hallway and rushed into her parent’s room without even bothering to knock. 

“Mommy! Daddy! It’s seven o’clock. She jumped onto the bed and made a big splash, and almost spilled her Daddy out of the water bed. 

“Merry Christmas, Nat,” her daddy croaked with his deep morning voice. 

“Oh Daddy. I’ve been up forever. I didn’t think it would ever get to be seven. I’ve been up since 6-5-0.”

“6-5-0 huh? That is a long time. Merry Christmas, NatNat.”



>> Wednesday, December 22, 2010

After school today, our last one before Christmas vacation, I watched a silly movie that makes me cry every time - Jack Frost.  It's bad theology and it just plain doesn't make sense yet it touches me like few movies do.  Weird, I know.

Jack is a musician that puts his career first many times, before his wife and son, Charlie.  The time he decides to change his mind and not be gone for Christmas, he is killed in an accident during bad weather trying to get to their cabin.  So sad.

It whips you instantly to a year later.  Charlie's still grieving and lost.  He builds a snowman, like his father did with him that last winter, and then he finally got around to playing the harmonica his dad had given him.  His dad told him it was magic.  He would hear it from wherever he was and would come back to Charlie.  When Jack came back, though, he was a snowman, of course.

This snowman, I mean, Father, got a Christmas do-over, or a life do-over.  In truth, none of us get this.  When our time on earth is done, it's done.  Intentional living should be our mindset for 2011.  We really should live each day like it's our last because we just never know.  It could be.

The movie also got me thinking about do-over's.  There is so much in life that I would love to do over again.  My fear, though, is I would make the very same mistakes.  The do-over would be a bust and total waste of time.  How frustrating a thought is that?  ugh.

A comforting thought is that each morning we wake up with a clean slate.  God forgives us each and every time we ask and He gives us another day to make things right.  We're here to rock our little part of the world. Hug more.  Express our love in a good old fashioned phrase, I LOVE YOU.  Pass out compliments when they are deserved.  Share our faith by the choices we make and by what comes out of our mouths.  Live life BIG.  We've only got one life to live.  I want to live my life to the fullest and experience God's mercies every single day.

Just like a fresh snowfall in the night, no discoloring, no footprints - I want a fresh slate - no past mistakes to haunt me or make me freeze up in fear.  This isn't a 2011 resolution - living intentionally.  It's a right now one. Living life big will not be error-free.  It will be full of glaring mistakes and embarrassments.  I'm so glad I have a God who forgives and friends and family who will do the same.


Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball

>> Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul, is a whimsical little Christmas novella published by Waterbrook Press.  The best I can describe it is a Christian fairy tale with a good dose of romance, mystery, and drama.  It's a short book so it's a fast read - perfect for this busy Christmas season.

I really fell in love with the author's characters:

Cora is a young, unmarried, Christian, working woman with a past that she is constantly running away from, especially from her evil nemesis, Zee.  Cora calls her family's soap opera life, "Tomorrow's Sorrows," because whatever choices they make one day become their problems the next. 

Simon is one of Cora's boss'.  He is a serious-minded, focused, hard-working man but when he leaves work, he goes home to his mother, grandfather, aunt, and little sister, Sandy -- all fun-loving and loves the Lord lots.

Sandy is special.  She says about herself, "I won't grow up.  It's an advantage I cherish.  A gift from Jesus."  I love how she explains her special needs to Cora.  

Simon and Cora met at a very mysterious bookstore.  Soon, the serious Simon grew to love the messed-up Cora, but he wouldn't admit it.  He loved how Cora could make Sandy so happy but Cora seemed to give him indigestion.  

The Christmas Ball is the event that finally seals their romance.  I really don't want to ruin the book for would-be readers so I won't share anymore of the story.  The characters are fantastic; you will fall in love with them quickly.

One thing about the book that gives me pause is the wizards.  They are explained but honestly, I think the author could have written the book without them and it would have been just as good or better.  Mixing in wizards and so much magic is a little scary to me.  If Mrs. Paul wrote about angels down on earth creating all this interactions and mystery, it would have been easier to swallow.  

I do like how the author used so much scripture.  I truly enjoyed the book but, in the back of my mind, I had to keep wrestling with the wizards.  I guess this is a mixed review.  I loved it yet I have some reservations about recommending it.  

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