A BRUSH WITH LOVE by Rachel Hauck

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Ginger Winters lived life on its altered scale, grievously marked with the hideous scars of horrific wounds. The bitter pain inspired her to see the beauty in others, despite her own ugly scarring. Although she survived to find a new purpose for living, the unalterable truth was that she was horribly scarred, a bitter fact that confronted her daily and from which there was no relief nor respite. The irreconcilable wounds in her heart and scars on her body created a shame that nothing could ever cover. Ginger knew she would never be beautiful again but she had a life calling that she dearly loved. As a successful stylist, she had the amazing skill to make an ordinary woman look extraordinarily beautiful. The art of beauty was her gifted calling and passionate duty in life. Ginger threw her whole heart and soul into her work, to see beauty blossoming in others. Her frightful, ugly scar kept her marked for life, with the soul-shattering, nerve-wracking realization that no one would ever want her. This bitter truth blew its own trumpet, giving her no peace. There would be no one, no one at all.

When Tom Wells broke into Ginger’s carefully guarded thoughts, their eyes locked in intense emotion, memories penetrated her senses with passionate intensity. Seeing Tom reopened a locked door in Ginger’s heart. She must not hide her wounds and scars too much to drive him out of her life. He might be her passion’s flame after all. But for Ginger, the flame of love’s passion was the most terrifying fire of all. With memories stirring his emotions passionately, Tom swung back to harsh reality. Should he apologize or let the past go? He tried to catch her gaze. “I’m sorry, Ginger.” The confession came frankly and honestly, with no previous thought and no prepared agenda, flowing freely where it willed. Ginger froze, gazing with gleaming eyes, revealing nothing.

Ginger awakened an intense longing in Tom, an aching desire to share her heart, touch her scars, comfort her and tell her she was beautiful. To Tom, she was as beautiful as ever, even more raw and wounded. Deep inside his heart, underneath all the latent layers of propriety, beneath any trepidation of what was right and proper, he longed to be in her life. Seeing Ginger made Tom feel like a part of his heart was restored. He felt new and wonderful, wanting to be a better person. Ginger was hard to read. Although she kept her feelings reined in tightly, she knew instinctively that Tom would open a locked, bolted and barred door into her heart.

Tom desired to follow God’s call and restore his family’s reputation and legacy. He must be above board in all his dealings. Sitting in the sanctuary, in the heartwarming presence and inspiration of God, Tom wept tears of gratitude. He heard God’s still, small voice in His heart, gently guiding him into the truth. “Walk worthy of His calling. Fulfil every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power.” “Know the Word. Live it, pray it, sing it.” Be faithful to your calling and to the Lord. Let Him do the choosing. It only matters what He thinks. Be confident in His love for you. Trust in His guidance and leadership. Love Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Let God touch Ginger’s eternal soul. Point her to Him. God redeems, saves and heals. Gaze at Him. Win Ginger to Jesus. Show her His love. Lead her to the Truth that God is love. How should Tom relate to Ginger? A simple, sweet answer arose in his heart. He could tell her what her heart longed so desperately to hear, that she was beautiful.

Out of the pain and humiliation of Ginger’s disfigurement emerged an unusual quality, a rare gift to highlight beauty in others. Ginger’s astounding success in revealing the beauty in women almost made her forget her own disfigured appearance. But it would take another extraordinary kind of love and selfless commitment to help Ginger to see the beauty in herself. The harsh reality of the truth that she was scarred and ugly always doomed her to stand precariously on the periphery, forever on the outside, looking in at beauty but destined never to be a part of it. Can Ginger’s thinly veiled insecurities, locking her from love, help her to recognize the beauty in herself or are some scars too deep for recovery? Will Ginger remained pitifully chained to the past, oblivious to love, or can she move freely into a new, hope-filled future?

Despite her ugly, scarred appearance, a small part of Ginger’s heart still longed to be a woman, a carefully concealed, secret desire, known only to herself. Tom shook her painstakingly erected emotional barriers. When he gazed at Ginger with his intent blue eyes, she felt engulfed in his love. The flames Tom ignited in her heart could not be extinguished at any cost, in any manner or by any means. Although Ginger would not admit it, Tom’s calm presence drew out the best in her, making her feel secure enough to aspire to be a better person.

Under Tom’s sensitive, insightful gaze, Ginger felt utterly transparent, as if he saw what she tried to hide. His words and the firm tenor of his voice confirmed, with utmost certainty, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he could read her, seeing through her thinly veiled insecurities with discerning skill, as if through a lens with the most acute focus. Tom instinctively understood Ginger’s strengths, weaknesses and the pressures she faced. He spoke of two kinds of beauty – outer and inner – with all the layers and nuances in between all the trappings. It was certainly good to do something she was good at and that she loved, Tom felt about Ginger’s job as a successful stylist, having no idea how much she ached to do it for herself.

If Ginger’s life signature was only for making others beautiful, wouldn’t that be enough? No, the heart knows what it wants and it will not be satisfied until it gets it. That was the way she lived life, figuring it out on her own. Ginger’s heart wanted love and freedom from her scars. Tom admired Ginger’s frankness and honesty. Her laughter warmed his soul. Her breath mingled with his, so to speak, their heartbeats in perfect sync. Tom wanted to touch her wounds, tell her it would be alright and that she need not hide them from him. But that would cross all boundaries.

Every time Tom saw her, Ginger caught a piece of Tom’s heart. He warmed her heart with hope. He had called her beautiful twice and it warmed her heart. She wanted to believe in his love. Emotion swelled in Ginger’s chest and tears filled her eyes. Tom’s soft, sweet tones pierced her fragile facade and drifted into her soul. She could see through his sea-blue eyes and into his guileless soul. “Pardon me for caring”, he had said to her. Ginger was deeply inspired by Tom’s sparkling grin. Tom realized that Ginger was not as hard and defensive as she pretended to be. It was only a protective defense, merely a put-on pretense, to scare people off.

Ginger was stuck in life and in her heart, concerning her beliefs about God, herself, and Tom. Cold tears threatened to overwhelm Ginger as she tried to avoid Tom’s penetrating gaze. The soft tenor of his voice touched her heart. She wondered why he was so nice to her. Was it because he liked her? No man could ever like her. Although he was a man of God, warm and kindhearted, with a blue-eyed intensity, Ginger could not trust anyone. As a successful hair stylist, she was in command of her life, captain of her ship, steering bravely to her destiny. But out in the harsh world, she was the poor, pitied, scarred one.

Tom’s beaming smile pierced her heart. His touch, his voice, his smile. He was the one man in her life who made her feel what it was like to be a woman. His gaze, the intensity of his words, set her heart on fire. He liked her scars and the fact that they had made her a fighter. He liked her face, eyes, smile and heart plus her ability to see beauty in others and bring it out for the world to see. Those were the things that made her unique and extraordinary. To Tom Wells, Ginger Winters was the most beautiful girl in the world, scars and all.

(compiled by Miriam Jacob)

THE INFINITE AIR by Fiona Kidman

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THE INFINITE AIR
by Fiona Kidman
Gallic Books
Aardvark Bureau
ISBN 978-1-910709-08-5
© March 6, 2016

Dame Fiona Kidman’s captivating novel, ‘The Infinite Air,’ portrays the enigmatic life of the very epitome of aviation, Jean Batten, one of the world’s greatest aviators, with her record-breaking solo flights around the world. This is the incredible story of an icon of the 1930’s, the ‘Garbo of the Skies,’ a fascinating account of worldwide fame, enshrouded and entombed in secrecy. The Second World War ended Jean’s daring flights. She disappeared to the Caribbean, died in obscurity in Majorca, to be buried in a pauper’s grave. This is her winged story of flight.

Flying in the panoramic expanse of the skies, to explore the immensity of the infinite air, Jean would conquer the world at her feet. She and her mother shared destinies inexorably and inextricably linked together. At her birth in 1909, Nellie placed a picture of Louis Blériot above Jean’s baby cot. He flew across the English Channel, in 36 minutes and 30 seconds, the first person to achieve this feat. Louis Blériot epitomized Nellie’s dream of flying, which Jean brought to life, as they weaved their way “Through Difficulties to Greatness.” Jean was determined to fly to Australia faster than anyone else. ‘Once my mind’s set on anything, it’s useless to swerve me from my purpose. I’m going to finish what I set out to do.’

For Jean, there was no turning back. Out in the sky, she was flying to her destiny, overtaken by delirious joy. The sense of speed and power thrilled her. She was enraptured at the pure sensation of flight. Jean did all the aerial tricks and manoeuvres — flying inverted, circling and looping, slow rolling, tossing the plane, diving, twisting and weaving, flinging it against the skies. At five thousand feet in the air, a sense of exhilaration invigorated  Jean. She flew to Italy. At Rome, she was the first woman to fly non-stop solo from England. A new record for a world class aviator on a peculiar mission, alone in the sky.

On 8 May 1934, Jean set out to fly to Australia. Success was within her grasp. No turning back. On the far horizon, a small dark cloud arose. Australia! She broke the solo record for women by four and a half days. A telegram from King George VI: “Please convey to Miss Batten the congratulations of the Queen and myself on her wonderful flight. George R. I.” In Sydney, sixteen planes flew out in formation to meet her. She made her first public speech. Jean did the largest live radio station broadcast ever organized from Sydney, with a broadcast to the United States. “I’m living in a dream. But it’s a dream of my own making.”

Brazil conferred on Jean the Order of the Southern Cross, for her record-breaking flight linking England with Brazil in the fastest time in history. France bestowed upon Jean the French Légion d’Honneur, the first British airwoman to be honored. Jean was made a Commander of the British Empire. Louis Blériot who had said, ‘The medals are important, but they are not the journey,’ had died of a heart attack in Paris, aged sixty-four. Jean cried, in bitter heartache. ‘Why him?’

Jean Batten’s Record-breaking Flights were: 1934. England-Australia solo flight (women’s record), 1935. Australia-England solo flight, First woman to make return flight, England-Brazil solo flight (world record), First woman to fly solo across South Atlantic Ocean and make England-South America flight, 1936. England-New Zealand solo flight (world record), First direct flight between England and New Zealand, England-Australia solo flight (world record, established on same flight), 1937. Australia-England solo flight (world record), First person to hold both England-Australia and Australia-England solo records at the same time.

Jean Batten died in Palma, Majorca, in 1982. Bitten by a dog while walking, the wound became infected. She declined medicines until her last hours but it was too late. Jean lay dead. She was buried in a paupers’ common grave. Five years elapsed before the details of her death surfaced in 1987. She had vanished into infinity. ‘I’m young at heart,’ Jean once said, ‘because I’ve never really grown up.” An extremely brave, daring and courageous lady, who inspired others to dream of daring exploits, Jean Batten was one of the greatest aviators of all time.

Miriam Jacob

ARMS OPEN WIDE by Sherri Gragg, reviewed by Miriam Jacob

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Publisher: Thomas Nelson

ISBN-13: 978-1400323463

Date: May 13, 2014

Jesus redeems sinners to give us a Father’s wholehearted love and unconditional acceptance. Christ gives hope to the hurting. Arms Open Wide’s thirty-four day devotions invitingly calls us to come to Christ just as we are, broken and bleeding, crying to be healed and made whole. Here is a strong clarion call to us to linger in Christ’s presence, imbibe His grace and share His fragrance with the world.

As you share Christ’s life in these spiritually-enriching devotionals, you will be gloriously touched, healed and blessed by the Divine Healer of our souls. Jesus is alive! He is right here with you. Experience His power and taste His love. Your life will be totally transformed. You will know Him in a personal way like never before. You will be saved by grace!

The life and times of Jesus Christ are graphically portrayed in the fictional narrative form. It was a time in history unlike any other. Biblical history is interspersed with Scripture to create a dramatic setting that transports readers back in time, to place them in Christ’s presence. In Arms Open Wide, Biblical traditions and customs come to life to help us experience Jesus’ life and the miracles He performed. The Biblical fiction gets us into the first-century mindset. This is a creative work strongly rooted in research.

Walk with the Savior to witness miracle healings. Get fresh new insight into His power. See lives instantly transformed by His love and grace. Feel the compassion and kindness of Jesus. Taste the love, grace and forgiveness our Savior offers. Engage in a first-person experience to walk with Jesus face to face.

Terrified at the tender, impressionable age of four, when she heard a powerful sermon on the eternal damnation of the soul without Jesus, the fragile infancy of Sherri’s faith was wrongly founded on a false and flawed view of Christ as a harsh Judge. The deep-rooted fear and misunderstanding of God robbed her of her talents, making her feel unwanted and unworthy. Feeling unloved and unlovable, this bitter cloud overshadowed her next forty years.

Although Sherri started to write early, she doubted herself far too much to permit anyone else to read what she wrote. If God was angry with her, how could anyone else accept her? Such falsehoods about God drowned her in utter fear and despair. Even when she knew the truth in her head, she struggled to deal with the lies in her heart, grievously inflicted by the devil.

When Sherri was forty-one years old, on an eye-opening trip to Israel, she got the rare chance to interpret Scripture through its highly colorful, cultural lens. Suddenly a light shone in her soul and her shackled heart and mind cast off its cruel chains. She saw Christ through the eyes of a Middle Eastern peasant.

Scripture came alive for Sherri as she saw at the heart of humanity, a bleeding Savior, the only begotten Son of God, pouring out His life’s blood in costly love to save us all. And Sherri loved Him! She instantly gave her first love to Him who had given His all for her.

Sherri Gragg is amazingly candid about the gaping wounds of childhood and how God alone can heal us. Sherri ’s prayer for you is that “you’ll experience the same living and loving Savior as I have, and that you will truly know He stands with arms open wide to welcome you into His Father’s kingdom just as you are.”

With the passionate words of a gifted, talented storyteller and the kind, compassionate and understanding heart of a teacher, Sherri takes us on a soul-revealing journey through the heart of God to be transformed by Jesus.

Jesus Christ, Master of the Wind and the Waves, lifted His eyes to see the restless sea of suffering humanity surge towards Him, wave after wave, in a prolonged series of human tidal waves. And still they came, and nothing could arrest the flow of passionate humanity seeking the Master.

The Sea of Galilee appeared tinted in different hues, at first golden in the waning light of the setting sun and then silvery in the soft majestic glory of the rising moon. A gentle breeze blew softly. It was serene and peaceful on a clear evening when the sky was painted gold in technicolor.

Out on the open water, a boat rocked gently, lulled by the steady breeze and the gentle swishing of the waves. The moon rose high, painting the water silver with its light. Slowly, stars began to pierce the night sky.

A fierce gust of wind rose, rocking the boat violently. Dark clouds obscured the moon and the stars. Jagged lightning zigzagged to illuminate the clouds. The normally tranquil lake answered the violent call of the storm as it bowed to gale-force winds that threatened to blow everything apart.

“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” – (Mark 4:38).

Soon, the waves were six feet high, spewing tall mountains of white ocean foam in its wake. The roar of the wind rose in all its turbulent fury. A flash of lightning illuminated the swirling sea, painting a morbid landscape.

“Quiet! Be Still!” – (Mark 4:39). Suddenly, the wind died down and the sea grew calm.

“Why are you so afraid? “Do you still have no faith?” – (Mark 4:40).

The clouds beat a steady retreat and a foamy blanket of stars, silhouetted by a pale moon, appeared in the clear sky. The surface of the lake now shone smooth as glass and silvery in the soft glow of the moon.

“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!” – (Mark 4:41).

As ‘the Untouchable One,’ she waits like a lonely specter, invisible to life, alone and forgotten, the most hopeless of them all. Condemned for a crime she did not commit. Her haven had become her prison. Her precious life was ebbing away, as the lifeblood that should have sustained her, seeped away into oblivion. She breathes the air of death. Even heaven is silent on her sad plight. Has God forgotten her, His beloved child?

Suddenly she hears that a Healer, a Miracle Worker, is coming. His name is Jesus. He walks in a sea of humanity, the Son of man. Her pulse quickens as the most desperate plea of her heart pulsates with hope through every cell of her being.

Could Jesus heal her? She was the most hopeless of all sick people, whom no doctors on earth could ever heal.

Each devotional closes with a beautiful, heartfelt prayer, the simple soul-searching cry of Sherri’s own heart. Journey with Jesus in the most important time in history. Your heart will be deeply moved and your life instantly transformed by His love and grace as you walk with the Savior as never before. He stands with Arms Open Wide to welcome you home, just as you are!

Miriam Jacob


 

SEVEN WOMEN by Eric Metaxas

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Thomas Nelson Publishers

ISBN-13: 978-0718021832

September 8, 2015

In “Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness,” Eric Metaxas presents a unique plumbline by which to measure ourselves. These seven women, true role-models for humanity, show us precious and valuable principles to build our lives on, although we can never aspire to reach their levels of greatness. Here is faith fanned in the fiery furnace of fire, courage in the excruciating crucible of suffering, seven women with the will-power to forsake comforts at all costs, with the sheer boldness to take incalculable risks, having sacrificial compassion for others, imbibing strong convictions to live for and to die by, filled with hope and inspiration.

This should be our heart’s cry – ‘If they could do it, so can do we! Here am I, send me!’ We need to be inspired by God, breathed into by the breath of God, needing the wind of God to blow into our sails. In Seven Women, the breeze billows and blows with the strength of gale-force winds. Through these seven extraordinary women, Eric Metaxas honors all women everywhere to be encouraged in being women and doing what God leads them to do. The unusually rare accomplishments of these seven women, spanning time and transcending the limits of circumstances, have indelibly shaped the world, making it a better place to live in.

A world-class biographer, Eric Metaxas, with his indomitable genius and inimitable gift of expression, portrays true moral greatness, in the lives of these seven great women whose inspiring lives will empower you to impact the world on a large scale. Plant one flower and it will multiply to fill the world with beauty. Who can count the untold millions of people whose hearts have been impacted by the lives of these seven incredible women? As you read these brilliant portraits of exemplary courage, each painted by the Master Artist with a personal vision of God and a voluntary conviction of self-sacrifice, how can you change the world? These seven women could and did, and evil trembled in their presence.

Seven Women inspires women to try to make a difference in society. Through this amazing book, Eric Metaxas encourages the world to reconsider its view of women’s greatness. Eric celebrates these remarkable people, remarkable as women and because they were women. In this inspiring book about women who lived up to their noble missions in the world, Eric Metaxas issues an urgent call to reawaken women to their God-given destiny, imbibed with the moral and spiritual qualities of great leaders. Each of these women delivered such a bracing clarion call to the spirit of their age that very few people could stand before them or match their unique powers. Each represented such a unique profile in courage and determination in their tryst with destiny.

In Seven Women, Eric Metaxas demonstrates his unusual and incredible gift for storytelling. He carefully draws the reader into an informative and historical narrative with a personal touch. With the skillful touch of a talented author, he infuses renewed moral and spiritual insight into these women from across the centuries. People will be greatly inspired by the incredible struggles that gave these women true greatness, the crucibles that refined their characters, sharpening the iron in their souls, and the simple greatness of deep faith of limitless depths.

GEORGE VI by Denis Judd

9781780760711

Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd
ISBN: 9781780760711
Publication Date: 28 Feb 2012

George VI was not born to be king but he became King with his unexpected accession to the British throne in 1936. He was the prince who bore the brunt of weighty responsibilities when he bravely stepped into the breach to save the monarchy and restore the nation’s confidence during the most unexpected and unprecedented changes following the abdication of his elder brother, King Edward VIII.

King George VI occupied a most extraordinary position in the history of his country. He maintained public morale during World War II and the Blitz. His calm, dignified personality was a shining beacon of hope, comfort and reassurance to the nation. He was earnest, frank and reliable, a greatly loved and much admired monarch. His life was the triumph of selfless honesty, exemplary goodness, fervent understanding and compassionate goodwill. Kindhearted and benevolent at all times, he was good, honest and kind in the face of despair, triumphing over extremely overwhelming odds.

A great-grandson of Queen Victoria and King-Emperor of the Commonwealth and Empire, King George VI set staggeringly high standards for himself to emulate in his private and public life. Not surprisingly, his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II took after her father in this respect, having admired and respected him greatly. She is her father’s daughter after all and a chip off the old block. His selfless, deeply committed spirit was reflected in her personality when at the tender age of 21, on a worldwide radio broadcast, she announced, “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great Imperial Commonwealth to which we all belong”. The Empire is gone but the Commonwealth is still here and Queen Elizabeth II, as Head of the Commonwealth, did her utmost to preserve and keep the best traditions alive.

One of King George VI’s admirable qualities was his extraordinary power to adapt to his changing circumstances and to do his utmost to the very best of his abilities. He was not a great scholar but he was a quick learner. This proved to be one of his best and most admired traits. He knew to the hilt the peculiar limitations of his role and sphere of influence as a constitutional monarch.

Though born into great wealth and brought up in palaces, King George VI projected an entirely genuine image. There was no artificiality in him. He was a genuine person at heart. He never tried to flaunt his intelligence or parade his intellectual brilliance to an astounded world.

Denis Judd presents Prince Albert’s successful transformation into King George VI in this highly acclaimed biography of the father of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, the world’s oldest reigning monarch and the longest-reigning monarch in British history.

Miriam Jacob

Helena Rubinstein: The Woman Who Invented Beauty by Michèle Fitoussi

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Gallic Books

March 11, 2013

ISBN: 9781908313461

She invented beauty, understood women and created a revolution.

Helena Rubinstein, one of the most extravagant and wide-ranging style-makers, built a cosmetics empire that spanned the globe. Her creative, professional and scientific approach to beauty coupled with innovative advice on skincare were an instant worldwide sensation. This visionary businesswoman and entrepreneur lived and breathed her own life’s work. Helena Rubinstein was a breathtaking, stunning original. She struggled, nearly gave up, and triumphed. This is her riveting, rags-to-riches life story, a vivid account packed with fascinating detail, the stuff that romantic fiction is made of.

A true heroine at heart, Helena believed in herself and in her extraordinary power to conquer the world. She turned all her disadvantages into strengths. Her character was forged in iron and steel. Driven by great courage, extraordinary intelligence and an indomitable will to succeed, she invented modern cosmetics, making them accessible to all. To Helena, beauty was a new power to assert independence. Her innate sense of marketing helped her to promote her cosmetics empire successfully. She constantly invented new sales techniques to set high professional standards, using creative advertising to her advantage.

Helena worked tirelessly. Work was her best beauty treatment. She believed in the energizing power of hard work. It kept her young, smoothing the wrinkles from her mind and spirit. She became one of the richest women in the world, amassing a fortune almost singlehandedly, by the power of sheer, hard work. She was a visionary and deserved her hard-won success. Madame, as everyone called her, became a billionaire businesswoman and a highly successful entrepreneur. She even acquired a royal title by becoming a princess later in life. Helena Rubinstein watched the dramatic democratization of beauty, the advent of consumerism and women marching towards freedom and liberty.

What is so interesting about Helena Rubinstein? First encounters are often
mysterious. We do not know exactly how things happen. Mostly it is a matter of chance. A person’s story touches us in ways we cannot express. With her name boldly emblazoned on beauty products, the opening lines of her life story are dramatic enough. Born in 1872 in Kraków, Poland, she had seven younger sisters. Aged twenty-four, she sailed to Australia as a pioneer, armed with only a parasol, twelve jars of cream, and inexhaustible energy. She disembarked in Melbourne, in the heart of a foreign land, where she struggled, nearly gave up, then triumphed.

Helena Rubinstein became a sort of romantic heroine who despised the past. Her motto seemed to be ‘Onwards!’. She was a conqueror. Her character was forged in iron and steel. Helena set out to prove one thing alone: ‘Give a girl the right cosmetics and she can conquer the world.’ Her extraordinary and tumultuous life spanned almost a century and across four continents. Inspired by courage and imbued with intelligence and a will to succeed, she built an industrial and financial empire.

More impressively, she re-invented modern cosmetics, making them accessible to all. It was not an easy task for a woman. But she loftily disregarded disadvantages, often turning them into strengths. Her first beauty institute was opened in Melbourne in 1902, when Australian women obtained the right to vote. Helena was a strong supporter of women’s equality, which meant fighting for their rights and their liberation.

For Helena, beauty was a new power through which women could assert
their independence, using the assets at their disposal to conquer the world. Cosmetics existed before Helena Rubinstein but she was the visionary who created the science of modern beauty. Her extraordinary and tumultuous life spanned almost a century and across four continents. Inspired by courage and imbued with intelligence and a strong will to succeed, she built an industrial and financial empire. She lived through many eras and died in 1965, aged 93.

Miriam Jacob

QUEEN VICTORIA: A Life – by Lytton Strachey

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QUEEN VICTORIA: A Life
by Lytton Strachey

Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd
ISBN: 9781780760483
Publication Date: 30 Mar 2012

In this highly acclaimed, classic biography of Queen Victoria who, with her irresistible sincerity defined an entire era and etched her name into history by the power and strength of her personality, Lytton Strachey created a humane portrait of the iconic monarch whose unaffected simplicity, youthful vitality and deep conscientiousness won the hearts of her people.

Queen Victoria caught the vivid imagination of the admiring public, for the dazzling symbol of England’s amazing might rested upon her youthful head. As the Queen of England, the wheels of monarchy revolved around her in all its pomp and glory. She was an extraordinary character whose strong personality was clearly visible through the swirling mists encircling royalty.

Queen Victoria’s life shone in the spotlight of conscientious duty. She spent her time fulfilling her numerous public responsibilities and attending to family cares. Personal portraits of the Queen, Prince Albert and their nine children present her as a loving mother enjoying precious family time. The queen recalled fondly the evenings when she and Prince Albert dined alone and looked at their photographs together. “It was such an amusement,” she wrote in her journal. “Such an interest.” Her truthfulness and sincerity were applauded. There was a striking transparency in her truthfulness – not the slightest exaggeration of facts. Her letters were a spontaneous burst of expression. Her style was exactly suited to her thoughts and feelings. Her language had a very personal flavour.

Through her writings, Queen Victoria touched the heart of the public who instinctively sensed her irresistible sincerity. It was an endearing trait and people responded warmly to her. As she aged gracefully through two-thirds of the nineteenth century, Queen Victoria became a symbol of Time. Firm and tactful, dignified and gracious, she was a model Sovereign. One of her ardent admirers described her as “the pattern and paragon of womanhood.”

Queen Victoria was a woman with a heart, sharing selflessly in the sorrows of her people and in their personal bereavements and sufferings. Her tears of sympathy were mingled with her nation’s tears. She was quite undoubtedly the “people’s Queen.” In an age of democracy, Queen Victoria was one of the most democratic rulers of her day.

On 20th June, 1837, Queen Victoria acceded to the throne and died on 22nd January, 1901 after an illustrious reign of sixty-three years, seven months and two days, setting the first record for the longest reign in the history of the British throne, until Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain became the world’s oldest reigning monarch and the longest-reigning monarch in British history. 

In the most remarkable of all British reigns, at the end of the nineteenth century and the dawn of the twentieth century, Queen Victoria’s long and illustrious life finally came to an end. She made the “Victorian Age ” the most splendid era in the history of Britain.

Miriam Jacob

THE SOUND OF GLASS by Karen White

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NAL/Penguin Random House Publishing Group,

ISBN-13: 9780451470898

Published: May 12, 2015.

The Sound of Glass by Karen White reveals how discovering the life-shattering secrets of a Southern family changes Merritt Heyward who unearths them. Engulfed by guilt after her husband’s tragic death, Merritt hears that Cal’s family home is bequeathed to her. Facing an unpredictable life and an unforeseeable future, Merritt travels to find the hidden secrets of Cal’s past buried deep in the heart of his ancestral home. This mysterious legacy re-defines the priorities of Merritt’s life as she unravels the tangled threads of the family’s past to confront her own dumbfounded fears for the healing she desperately needs.

In this multilayered mystery of a multigenerational, multifamily saga with a multifaceted plot, Karen White, “the Queen of Women’s Fiction,” plumbs the subtle depths of humanity as she deals with the inexplicable facts of life and death intertwined with tragedy. Her sensitive, story-telling style and precise, to-the-point narrative is an intricate weaving of the ultimate triumph of good over evil. Her sweeping, commanding and powerful execution of the complex plot and storyline of this extraordinary classic is praiseworthy, right from the start to the poignant, heart-rending revelations at the end. Karen White paints a vivid, multifaceted portrait of a family rooted in strife with hidden secrets and enduring love that ultimately leads to courage and healing.

I like the precious words of wisdom in the story, with their rare power to illuminate and inspire the hearts of readers. Here are some of the brilliant facets of wisdom and knowledge, shining like the brightest jewels:

It is in utter darkness that we see the brightest light. We are tossed and turned in the fire of affliction by the turbulent waves and storms of life, bearing deep scars to show what we have suffered. With each scar we learn new lessons. We turn toward the light unflinchingly, unbelievably strong at the torn, jagged and broken places. We absorb the light and reflect it outward.

Our paths cross, our lives meander as the twisting rivers bring us back to the starting point. Nothing happens simply. Everything happens for a good reason. Life never gets any easier than this. We just get stronger as time goes by. We cross bridges in the heart of the storm. I will not be afraid any more. The heart bears a compass pointing toward home. The horizon trembles with new light. The darkness gives way to the light. I see the beauty and the good in unexpected places. And in ourselves.

Stars shine through the darkness to illuminate the hidden places. When you gaze at stars, you look back in time long gone. Starlight takes millions of years to reach the earth, so when you see the stars , you know how it looked like millions of years ago.

Courage is doing the one thing you think you cannot do. The glowing lights soften the darkness. It is never really dark. There is always light if you look hard enough. The darkness is illuminated by the soft glow of lights. A single light glows in the darkness. You are strongest at the broken places.

Complex, engrossing and emotionally rich, The Sound of Glass lingers in the heart long after the gripping, beautifully told story is over. An endearing must-read for all.

TWENTIETH CENTURY THEOLOGIANS by Philip Kennedy

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TWENTIETH-CENTURY THEOLOGIANS – A NEW INTRODUCTION TO MODERN CHRISTIAN THOUGHT

by Philip Kennedy

Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd
ISBN: 9781845119560
Publication Date: 30 Jan 2010

“Twentieth Century Theologians” has the outstanding and rare distinction of being described by Graham Ward as “a tremendous achievement – colossal in stature, subtle in intellectual grasp and enviable in its scope.”

Philip Kennedy writes impressively with the undisputed authority, crystal-clear clarity and elegant exposition of an experienced Christian theologian as he brilliantly illuminates the exponents of modern theology in the historical context of their turbulent times. With great sensitivity, admirable lucidity and remarkable precision, he draws on the most influential thinkers to give an introduction to several Christian theologians from a kaleidoscope of backgrounds. He presents their ideological lives, the unique setting in which their thoughts originated, while skillfully presenting their theologies against the backdrop of the twentieth century, a time of rags and riches, of great technological advances and horrific violence. Philip Kennedy believes that true theology will always challenge injustice and try to change the world into a better place.

“Twentieth Century Theologians” gives a fresh new insight into modern Christian thought. It provides a clear-sighted  assessment of the central ideas of modern theologians in a biographical style. It depicts how the unique lives of the theologians profoundly shaped their theologies. It is an invaluable, progressive and all-inclusive resource as it examines a wide variety of theologians of different genders and backgrounds. Philip Kennedy’s deep, insightful thoughts, his penetrating and perceptive analysis of different theologians and diverse theologies as well as his comprehensive, in-depth studies of a panoramic range of historical contexts are extremely praiseworthy.

In a world delicately and precariously balanced between massive upheavals and scientific innovations, with even more obstacles to faith than in any other previous era and growing scepticism about religion in today’s materialistic world, there is an urgent need to reassess modern theologians sensitively to make a lasting impact on culture and society. “Twentieth Century Theologians” presents a golden opportunity “to study the great minds that gave birth to the most profound and far-reaching thinking of our times.”

Miriam Jacob

IN MY BOOK REVIEWS, THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE REVIEWS IS THAT OF THE AUTHORS.

CREDIT IS GIVEN TO THE AUTHORS OF THE BOOKS FOR FACTS STATED IN THE REVIEWS.

AS I WRITE REVIEWS TO PROMOTE THE AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS, I HAVE THEIR BEST INTERESTS AT HEART.

THAT IS WHY MY REVIEWS PORTRAY THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE AUTHORS.

IT IS THE BEST WAY IN WHICH I CAN PRESENT THE UNIQUE STYLE OF EACH AUTHOR TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOKS.

RADICAL CHRISTIANITY IN PALESTINE AND ISRAEL – LIBERATION AND THEOLOGY IN THE MIDDLE EAST by Samuel J. Kuruvilla

Radical Christianity in Palestine and Israel

RADICAL CHRISTIANITY IN PALESTINE AND ISRAEL – LIBERATION AND THEOLOGY IN THE HOLY LAND by Dr. Samuel J. Kuruvilla

Bibliographic Info
Imprint: Tauris Academic Studies
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd
Series: Library of Modern Religion
ISBN: 9781848855519
Publication Date: 30 Sep 2012

Publishers Description of the Book

Christianity arose from the lands of biblical Palestine and, regardless of its twentieth century associations with the Arab-Israeli conflict, to Christians around the world it remains first and foremost the birthplace of Christianity.

GOD LOVES BROKEN PEOPLE by Shiela Walsh

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God loves us, broken people, who open up our battered hearts to allow God to heal our personal sorrows and heartaches. When our carefully created glass houses crash down, we slowly start to carve a brand new world beyond the safe haven of those demolished walls.

We are broken lambs, who limp after our Shepherd. We do not know where He goes but we want to go with Him. Our personal brokenness opens up the way to the heart of God. We broken people know that God loves us, a heart knowledge that we dare to believe, and through such blind trust, a whole new awareness emerges from the shattered ruins of yesterday’s broken pieces.

The Shepherd loves us. We have no hope and no meaning in life apart from Him. We are not alone, we have never been alone, and we will never be alone. Our divine Shepherd is with us. He has always been there except that we will never know it unless and until we welcome Him into our hearts.

The dark little fingerprints in our lives leave not-so-easily-brushed-away smudges that only the Savior can wipe away clean from our slates. Let us bring the scarred, broken pieces of our lives to God and allow Him to do for us what only He can do. He can stitch together the torn fragments of our shattered lives into the most beautiful tapestry.

God loves us with a selfless, undying passion. He has committed Himself and His supernatural, omnipotent power to getting us safely home to heaven to be with Him forever. To God be all the glory.

© Miriam Jacob

FTC Regulations Compliance & Disclosure of Material Connection:

THOMAS NELSON has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, through BOOKSNEEZE Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HOW HUGE THE NIGHT – by Heather and Lydia Munn

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HOW HUGE THE NIGHT

by Heather and Lydia Munn

Kregel Publications

ISBN: 9780825433108

Publication date: 3-9-2011

Growing up as a youth in war-torn, Nazi-occupied France, Julien Losier finds his very identity threatened by the horrifying and devastating effects of war. At the young age of fifteen, this can be extremely daunting for a teenager and can inflict huge psychological damage.

In “How Huge the Night,” Heather and Lydia Munn portray the unseen and unsung heroes of World War 2, as they grapple with hunger, racism and war, in a world not of their own making, struggling to come to terms with heart-searching questions about the goodness of God in the midst of conflicting ethnic tensions in communities torn apart by war.

The devastating horrors of war, the selfless heroism of adolescents triumphing in the face of overwhelming adversity and the significant choices they made are vividly portrayed as the authors deftly weave together the lives of ordinary people who promptly chose to focus their immediate attention on those in dire danger and protect them safely from harm. This historical novel, a most inspiring and compelling coming-of-age drama, will inspire people to reflect thoughtfully on the choices they make each day and the cost they have to pay to make those choices.

Miriam Jacob

FTC Regulations Compliance & Disclosure of Material Connection:

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, as part of every web or retail site review, the author or publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

BRANDED: Sharing Jesus with a Consumer Culture – Tim Sinclair – Kregel Publications

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Kregel Publications,

ISBN: 9780825438943

Published: June 2011

How do we share Jesus with a consumer culture? In “Branded: Sharing Jesus with a Consumer Culture,” Tim Sinclair boldly declares that sharing Jesus has absolutely nothing to do with mass-marketing and everything to do with being personally branded by Christ, permanently marked by our Savior. BRANDED is a clarion call to turn the Christian hourglass over, to make drastic changes in order to see new progress. It is all about branding Jesus and becoming branded by Him ourselves.

Tim Sinclair specifies that when it comes to sharing Jesus with the world around us, it is crucial that we acknowledge our own unique talents and abilities and use them effectively to reach out to people within our own circle and sphere of influence. As Tim states so clearly, there is no “one-size-fits-all” methodology. How do people see you? When they look at you, what do they see? Do they see love? When love is authentically lived out in a person’s life, it stands out brightly in today’s world. Do they see you as a lover of Jesus who cannot help but share Him? Do you speak about your love for Christ to the world?

As a Christian, you inadvertently advertise Jesus wherever you go. Tell your story with your own particular flair and style, boldly, confidently, as open and honestly as you can. Show the world how Jesus can make a striking and significant difference in your daily life. The story of your walk with Christ is your most powerful tool. Be a bright and shining example of the extraordinary power of Christ to transform a person’s life and make it totally new! Make those around you want to believe! Your own life is your greatest testimony! Remember the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times – if necessary use words.”

Tim Sinclair, a top-flight communicator in today’s hi-tech, consumer-oriented world, exhorts Christians to promptly sign on for a world-class marketing campaign for the Savior and to share their faith honestly in authentic ways for God’s glory.

Miriam Jacob

FTC Regulations Compliance & Disclosure of Material Connection:

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, as part of every web or retail site review, the author or publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

JONI & KEN: AN UNTOLD LOVE STORY by Ken & Joni Eareckson Tada

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Zondervan Publishers

ISBN-13: 9780310314691

Published: Apr 2, 2013

In their autobiography “JONI AND KEN: AN UNTOLD LOVE STORY”, Ken and Joni Eareckson Tada live out their beautiful lives for the whole world to see. Here is faith in action, a rare and treasured glimpse into the courageous lives of two faith-filled people who are faithful to God and to each other. Joni has traveled an amazing journey of faith across the tough terrain of life. Her remarkable resilience has birthed hope in millions of people worldwide. Theirs is a faith that weathers the worst of storms and endures the harshest of realities, a sort of sacrificial and unconditional love that only God can give in full measure. They have faced unique challenges, in which the normal stresses and strains of marriage were further complicated by the hurdles of quadriplegia, in a life lived for the most part, in the glaring spotlight of public gaze.

In this book, Joni and Ken have laid their lives open for others to read in the most vulnerable way. Their hard-won fidelity inspires people worldwide to conquer the obstacles of life, as they have so courageously done, for the glory of God. They are a truly selfless couple who bravely show the whole world that Jesus Christ is the answer to all life’s problems. They reveal what commitment really means, as they overcome their own personal challenges through steadfast commitment and continual surrender. Their amazing story also includes the greatest story ever told – how the Lord Jesus Christ conquered the horrors of the cross in the face of the deepest trials ever known to man. They bear a strong witness to the deep, inner strength that comes to us when we surrender our hearts and lives to the One who cares for us wholeheartedly. Theirs is a real marriage, with true, time-tested love and selfless commitment, between two very real people. They overcome their own personal struggles through a deep and steadfast commitment to each other and a full and complete surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is a beautiful love story for the ages and a very personal glimpse into a thirty year marriage, characterized by unimaginable challenges, as God prunes, purifies and transforms their lives by permitting trials for His glory. As we watch their trials turn into successes by the power of Christ, we get the grace to believe that our own sufferings only serve to draw us closer to Christ, shape us into His glorious likeness and make us faithful and fit for eternity. They have an unfailing love for the Lord and His work and for each other. They are loved worldwide for their groundbreaking ministry “Wheels for the World” which provides a free wheelchair and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to children and adults affected by disability. Theirs is an honest story of commitment, surrender and selfless love.

Here are two lives beautifully lived, and two hearts beating as one, for the glory of God. This profoundly powerful and eternal love story leaves an indelible impression upon our hearts. It reflects the highs and lows of Christian marriage with its struggles and triumphs, while portraying the unique challenges of a life of quadriplegia, with the price of fame and excessive ministry demands. What makes Ken’s and Joni’s marriage succeed are the rare jewels of love, tenderness, unselfishness and endless patience , powered with the presence and blessing of the precious Holy Spirit. This is a poignant and profound love story of hope and encouragement, inspired by God and reflecting His heart for marriage. Through the most intense adversity, their tender love and commitment to Christ and to each other is so inspiring and elevating, as they love, honor and cherish God as the very source and sustenance of their lives.

What a heart-warming love story that cries out to be told! It is both honest and unique, utterly penetrating and riveting, while being open and transparent, all at the same time. A God-given marriage portrays our Savior’s love for His bride, the Church. Joni and Ken embarked on their life’s journey in a marriage laced with love and hope amidst bitter hurts and hardships. In a gripping, challenging and hope-giving narrative, they open up the best and worst in their lives to portray the undeniable fact that God can use even the very worst trials in our lives for our own good and His glory.

Ken and Joni Eareckson Tada live out their faith on the world’s stage, in full view of the glaring spotlight, where every flaw is highlighted and nothing is secret. Here is a precious glimpse into the lives of two people who love Christ and each other. Theirs is a faith that triumphs over the worst odds. They inspire people to conquer the obstacles of life for the glory of God and the love of Christ. A truly selfless couple who firmly believe that Jesus is the answer to all life’s problems, Ken and Joni overcome their own personal challenges through complete surrender to Christ. They inspire us to surrender our hearts to the One who loves us wholeheartedly. Here is a unique love story for the ages as we watch their trials draw them closer to Christ and shape them into His glorious likeness for eternity. Their groundbreaking ministry “Wheels for the World” provides a free wheelchair and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to children and adults affected by disability. Here are two lives joyfully lived, two hearts beating as one, for the glory of God. This poignant, powerful love story will reverberate through the centuries as Joni and Ken display the rare jewels of love, tenderness, unselfishness and patience, anointed by the Holy Spirit. This is a story of hope reflecting His heart. Through intense adversity, their love for Christ shines through as their marriage strives to portray Christ’s love for His bride, the Church.

Miriam Jacob

I received this e-book free from THOMAS NELSON PUBLISHERS through their book review bloggers program.

FTC Regulations Compliance & Disclosure of Material Connection:

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, as part of every web or retail site review, the author has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Cancer is so Limited – and so is Life

Cancer is so limited—                                               And so is Life.

It cannot cripple love.                                               It quenches hatred.

It cannot shatter hope.                                             It roots optimism.

It cannot corrode faith.                                             It restores trust.

It cannot eat away peace.                                         It consolidates gratitude.

It cannot destroy confidence.                                 It establishes assurance.

It cannot kill friendship.                                          It rejuvenates camaraderie.

It cannot shut out memories.                                 It rekindles relations.

It cannot silence courage.                                        It revives  convictions.

It cannot invade the soul.                                        It builds up wisdom.

It cannot reduce eternal life.                                  It leads to extravagant life.

It cannot quench the spirit.                                    It soothes the spirit.

It cannot cancel resurrection.                               It guarantees resurrection.

 

Cancer is so Limited – Dr. Robert L. Lynn          And so is Life – Dr. Alex Mathew

Goliath had a Brother – by Francis Frangipane

Here’s the scene:

In a battle against sickness, oppression or struggle,

you seek God, and the grace of God touches your life.

Your victory is through a word or prayer or encouragement,

but you absolutely know the Lord delivered you.

With five stones of divine grace, you defeated your Goliath.

But then, all the old symptoms suddenly return with a vengeance.

If you were struggling with an illness, it manifests worse than ever;

if your battle was regarding a relationship or a particular sin,

it seems as though all progress has been lost.

You are back to square one.

Have you ever been there?

Negative experiences drain the faith from your heart.

You lose the anticipation and power of faith,

a spiritual paralysis immobilizes your soul.

You still attend church, but your faith is unresponsive.

When others testify of deliverance,

you worry that they, too, will “lose their healing.”

For many, the result is faith-shaking disillusionment.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12).

“Heartsickness” is a spiritual disease that cripples your walk with God.

Faith is the substance of things you hope for;

if you lose hope, your faith becomes hollow.

How can you trust God when it seems He let you down?

You wonder:”Did I lose my breakthrough,

or was I only deceiving myself and never really had it?”

What you are experiencing is not a loss of God’s blessing

but an entirely new spiritual battle.

This new war is a very clever and effective deception that Satan uses

to try and worm his way back into the lives of those delivered by God.

Praying about this recurring battle, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart:

“Goliath had a brother.”

I was reminded of David’s war against the Philistine giant.

David became a great hero by trusting God and defeating Goliath.

Things changed in 2 Samuel 21:

“Now when the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David went down and his servants with him; and as they fought against the Philistines, David became weary. Then Ishbi-benob, who was among the descendants of the giant . . . intended to kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah helped him, and struck the Philistine and killed him” (2 Samuel 21:15–17).

Years after David conquered Goliath as a lad,

after he became king he had to face other giants.

1 Chronicles 20:5 reveals that at least one of those warring against David

was “the brother of Goliath,” and four were his children (2 Sam. 21:22).

These giants, being Goliath’s kin, might have looked like Goliath,

boasted like him, dressed like him and even smelled like him.

The Scripture says that while fighting one of the descendants of Goliath,

“David became weary” (2 Sam. 21:15).

The Bible is silent as to what was in the king’s mind as he battled these giants.

Perhaps he wondered, “I thought I killed Goliath. What is he doing back?”

But Goliath had not come back; he was dead!

David was actually fighting the giant’s kin.

It just looked like the same battle!

You also had many successful victories.

Just because the giant you face looks like one you defeated in the past,

do not accept the lie that you never really won the first battle!

By the strength of God’s grace, you trusted the Almighty and conquered your Goliath.

The first giant is dead. Satan is masquerading as your former enemy

so he can slip past your shield of faith and thus regain entrance into your life.

Resist him. Do not accept the lie that you were never delivered. Stand in faith.

Faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).

The living God who helped you conquer Goliath will empower you to overcome his brother as well.

Father, I come to You as Your servant.

Like David, I have become weary with fighting an enemy I thought I had defeated.

By the power of Your Holy Spirit, I expose the lie that this is the same foe I previously conquered.

In Jesus’ name, I rebuke the enemy.

I ask You, Lord, to send angels to strengthen me supernaturally,

just as angels often strengthened Jesus.

In the name of the Lord, Amen.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Adapted from Francis Frangipane’s book,
Spiritual Discernment and the Mind of Christ

THE PRAYER OF RELINQUISHMENT by Catherine Marshall

THE PRAYER OF RELINQUISHMENT by Catherine Marshall

When I first began active experimentation with prayer, I was full of questions such as: why are some agonizingly sincere prayers granted, while others are not? Today I still have questions. Mysteries about prayer are always ahead of knowledge– luring, beckoning onto further experimentation. But one thing I do know; I learned it through hard experience. It’s a way of prayer that has resulted consistently in a glorious answer because each time, power beyond human reckoning has been released. This is the prayer of relinquishment. I got my first glimpse of it in 1943. I had then been ill for six months with a widespread lung infection, and a bevy of specialists seemed unable to help. Persistent prayer, using all the faith I could muster, had resulted in – nothing. One afternoon, a pamphlet was put in my hands. It was the story of a missionary who had been invalid for eight years. Constantly, she had prayed that God would make her well, so that she might do His work. Finally, worn out with futile petition, she prayed, “All right, I give up. If You want me to be an invalid, that’s Your business. I want You even more than I want health. You decide.” Within two weeks, the woman was out of bed, completely well. This made no sense to me, yet I could not forget the story. On the morning of September 14 – how can I ever forget the date? I came to the same point of abject acceptance. “I’m tired of asking,” was the burden of my prayer. “I’m beaten, finished. God, You decide what You want for me.” Tears flowed. I felt no faith as I understood faith, expected nothing. And the result? It was as if I had touched a button that opened windows in heaven; as if some dynamo of heavenly power began flowing, flowing. Within a few hours, I had experienced the presence of the Living Christ in a way that wiped away all doubt and revolutionized my life. From that moment, my recovery began. Through this incident, God was trying to teach me something important about prayer. Gradually, I saw that a demanding spirit, with self-will as its rudder, blocks prayer. I understood that the reason for this is that God absolutely refuses to violate our free will; unless self-will is voluntarily given up, even God cannot move to answer prayer.

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is this pattern for us. Christ could have avoided the Cross. He did not have to go up to Jerusalem the last time. He could have compromised with the priests, bargained with Caiaphas. He could have capitalized on His following and appeased Judas by setting up the beginning of an earthly Kingdom. Pilate wanted to release Him, all but begged Him to say the right words that would let him do so. Even in the Garden on the night of the betrayal, He had plenty of time and opportunity to flee. Instead, Christ used His free will to turn the decision over to His Father. “Dear Father… all things are possible to You. Let me not have to drink this cup! Yet it is not what I want, but what You want.” The prayer was not answered as the human Jesus wished. Yet power has been flowing from His Cross ever since. Even at the moment when Christ was bowing to the possibility of an awful death by crucifixion, He never forgot either the presence or the power of God.

There is a crucial difference here between acceptance and resignation. There is no resignation in the prayer of relinquishment. Resignation says, “This is my situation, and I resign myself and settle down to it.” Resignation lies down in the dust of a godless universe and steels itself for the worst. Acceptance says, “True, this is my situation at the moment. I’ll look unblinkingly at the reality of it. But, I’ll also open up my hands to accept willingly whatever a loving Father sends.” Thus acceptance never slams the door on hope. Yet, even while it hopes, our relinquishment must be the real thing – and this giving up of self will is the hardest thing we human beings are ever called to do.

It’s good to remember that not even the Master Shepherd can lead if the sheep do not follow Him. That’s the why of Christ’s insistence of a very practical obedience: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Obey… obedience … trust… is all over the Gospels. The pliability of an obedient heart must be complete from the set of our wills right on through our actions. So we take the first hard steps of obedience. And lo, as we stop hiding our eyes, force ourselves to walk up to the fear and look it full in the face – never forgetting that God and His power are still the supreme reality – the fear evaporates. Drastic? Yes. But it is one sure way of releasing prayer power into human affairs. In the prayer of faith, our hand is still in His. Our heart is still obedient. But now, He has led us out of the frightening darkness, with only the pressure of His hand to reassure us, into the sunlight. We look into the face beside us with a thrill of recognition – the hand of the Father is Jesus’ hand! All along, our heart told us it was so. Relinquishment? Faith? Just daring to trust Jesus.

Father, for such a long time I have pleaded before You this, the deep desire of my heart:_______. Yet, the more I have clamored for Your help with this, the more remote You have seemed. I confess my demanding spirit in this matter. I’ve tried suggesting to You ways my prayer could be answered. To my shame, I have even bargained with You. Yet I know that trying to manipulate the Lord of the Universe is utter foolishness. I want to trust You, Father. My spirit knows that these verities are forever trustworthy even when I feel nothing. That You are there… That You love me…That You alone know what is best for me… Perhaps all along, You have been waiting for me to give up self-effort. At last, I want You in my life even more than I want ________. So now, by an act of my will, I relinquish this to You. I will accept Your will, whatever that may be. Thank You for counting this act of my will as a decision of the real person even when my emotions protest. I ask You to hold me true to this decision. To You, Lord God, who alone are worthy of worship, I bend the knee with thanksgiving that this too will work together for my good. I relinquish this to You. Amen.

Life’s Hardest Trial – by Ray Stedman

Life’s Hardest Trial

Series: The Man of Faith

Author: Ray C. Stedman

Read the Scripture: Genesis 22:1-19

There is a trial that is perhaps the hardest of all and it is to this incident in the life of Abraham that we now arrive. In the 22nd chapter of Genesis is one of the most famous stories in the Bible, the story of Abraham offering up Isaac. I think anyone can see, in this account of Abraham offering his son Isaac as a burnt offering, a remarkable foreshadowing in the Old Testament of the work of Christ in the New. It seems to me that no one watching old Abraham binding his dear son to the altar and his heart breaking within him can miss the parallel with God sending his own Son to Calvary’s mountain centuries later.

I want to touch on that aspect as we go through this story, but I wish primarily to dwell on the individual application to our own hearts. As we have been studying through the life of Abraham, you notice we’ve seen God has written this man’s story in such a way that he is a “sample man of faith,” that is, the Pilgrim’s Progress of the Old Testament and all these incidents recorded in Abraham’s life form clear pictures for us of what occurs in our life of faith. Therein we learn some instructive lessons.

In Chapter 22, we come to the story of Abraham’s greatest trial. This is the deepest thrust of the cross of Christ into his life. Because it was the work of the cross in the life of Abraham, there is involved in this account a Gethsemane, a Calvary, and a resurrection.

After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. (Genesis 22:1-4 RSV)

It is helpful to realize that about twenty years have elapsed between Chapters 21 and 22. We last saw Abraham in a tent by the well of Beer-sheba in the wilderness with his son Isaac. There he built an altar and worshiped and called on the name of the everlasting, unchangeable God. For twenty years of blessing and happiness, Isaac has been the delight of his parents’ hearts. True to his name, he has brought laughter into their tent; the whole family life centers around this dear boy as he grows up to young manhood. Suddenly like a thunderbolt from the sky comes this word from God. Abraham can hardly believe his ears: God says, “Now take your son Isaac, your only son whom you love, (I know you love him) and go to Mount Moriah and offer him up on that mountain.”

Mount Moriah is the very place where in later years King David bought the threshing floor of Ornan as a place for the site of the temple, (1 Chronicles 21:18). On that very place where Abraham offered Isaac, the temple of Solomon was built, (2 Chronicles 3:1). Today there stands in that very place the Dome of the Rock, a Moslem mosque, built over the great rock that formed the altar upon which Abraham offered Isaac. It is from this rock that the Mohammedans believe Mohammed and his horse ascended to heaven. So it is a very historic spot.

You can imagine what a blow this was in Abraham’s life. It is specifically called a test. That means it was meant by God to determine if Abraham’s confidence is in his son Isaac, or in God who gave him his son. This is a test of Abraham’s real heart love. In other words, will Abraham obey the first commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind”? (Matthew 22:37 RSV). This is also a test of how far this man has advanced in the life of faith and in the strength of the Spirit.

As we read through this account, we see that it says nothing about Abraham’s emotional reaction to this request of God’s. I think the reason is that it was quite unnecessary to say anything. We instinctively know what this must have meant to Abraham. His first reaction must have been incredulity. How could God be asking this of him? And yet, the voice is unmistakable; he has heard this voice many times.

Every now and then an account appears in the newspaper that someone has heard “the voice of God” telling him to go murder a certain person. We read of a terrible murder carried out in the mistaken belief that God has ordered it. But there is nothing like that occurring here. It is clear from the complete account that God never had any intention of allowing this to be carried through, but it was a very severe and bitter test as to where Abraham’s love was centered.

God is a jealous God, very concerned that he has what he deserves; that is, first place in every human heart and life. You can imagine the questions that must have arisen in Abraham’s heart as he contemplated what God had asked of him. What about the promises — all that God had said would take place — what about those? God has said: “Take your son and offer him as a burnt offering.”

“But Lord,” Abraham might have said, “How will the promises be fulfilled that my seed should fill the land and be as numerous as the stars in the heavens and the sand on the seashore? Why should this be asked of me?”

Whenever we get into a strait like this, the question in our hearts is always: “Why?” Why should God do this? Why should it be asked of me? “I can see, God, why you asked me, your servant Abraham, to give up Ishmael. You told me to cast him out of the tent because he was the son of the flesh, not of promise.” We can understand when God tells us to get rid of some cherished attitude that we know is wrong. We never ask why about that.

“But, Lord,” Abraham said, “This is Isaac; this is the son of promise, this is the one you yourself gave me. Why do you ask me to put him to death like this — the very gift of your grace to my heart?”

And then Satan must have suggested doubts to him, so that he wondered, “How can I find strength to do this? And what about Sarah? What is she going to say when I come back from that mountain empty-handed and she asks me what happened? I’ll have to invent some kind of yarn to explain it and I know she won’t believe me. She’ll keep probing till she finds out the answer and how am I going to face her?”

These must have been some of the questions that arose in his heart. What a sleepless, troubled night of torture and heartbreak this man went through.

And yet, is it not also a picture for us of that awful struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane when our Lord Jesus faced this very same test? God was requiring something of him which God surely could not be asking.

I think in some lesser degree, you and I have had experiences like this. Perhaps you have stared in unbelief at some situation or circumstance in your life, and said, “Is this what God wants me to go through? Is this what God is asking of me? Is this God’s will?” And your heart cries out, “Why? Why should this happen to me?” Well, this is life’s hardest trial. It is never so difficult when we can see a reason. However, when something happens to us in which we fail to see any logic, and, in fact, everything seems to be against it, this is when faith is really put to the test.

Now, notice that, when morning comes, Abraham’s obedience is prompt and complete. Though his heart is torn, yet he obeys God. He has passed the test. I am tremendously impressed at the obedience of this man Abraham. Is not this the secret of his life? We are so inclined to excuse ourselves from hard things and to rationalize our way out of difficult situations, relieving the pressure and avoiding certain unpleasant situations. We don’t like disturbing questions, and unsettling challenges. When it comes right down to it, we don’t like to take hold of ourselves, and say, “I am going to obey God!”

As I have lived, and prayed, and studied through the years, I have discovered that God is an utter and complete realist. He is not at all impressed with our emotional, hysterical outbursts. We sometimes get all wrought up, and believe our emotions will melt the heart of God, and change his mind. But God knows that when he tells us to do something, it is necessary for our benefit, for his benefit, and for everyone concerned, he expects us to obey. I am impressed with Abraham’s obedience here; when he hears God tell him to offer his son as a burnt offering on yonder mountain, Abraham obeys.

Now we come to faith’s Calvary:

Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place The Lord will provide; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:5-14 RSV)

Again the record is silent about the emotional reaction of Abraham here, but we have only to put ourselves in his place to sense what he felt, how his heart was torn, how he avoids telling Isaac the fearful truth until the very last possible moment, how he perhaps trembles within when Isaac asks the question, “Where is the lamb?” We know there is no real answer to Isaac’s question until we run through intervening centuries and listen in the New Testament to John the Baptist standing before the people of Israel saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29 RSV). Just as our Lord Jesus approached his cross with calmness and quiet self-control, so there is seemingly a sense of peace about this man Abraham as he draws nearer the actual sacrifice of Isaac.

What is the explanation for this? Where did this stricken father find the strength to carry through this fearsome task? How did he nerve himself to do it? The answer is found here in one brief phrase in Verse 5, “Then Abraham said to his young man, ‘Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.'” We will both be coming back again. Abraham is not trying to deceive these men, but somewhere in the quiet meditations of that awful night when this word first came to him, there came the consciousness that God could do something to raise this boy from the dead and Abraham believed in resurrection. That is where he found the peace to follow God’s command. In the struggles of that night, he began to reason and to reckon on God.

He must have thought something like this: “Now God has given me promises and I have lived with God long enough to know that when God gives a promise, he carries it through. God has said that in my son, Isaac, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Isaac is necessary to the fulfillment of the promise. It can’t be any other; he has said this boy is the one who is going to be the fulfillment of the promise. Well, then, if God has asked me now to offer him up as a sacrifice, there is only one explanation. God intends to raise him from the dead.”

Abraham had never had, as we have today, the experience or the record of anyone having risen from the dead. He knew nothing of Easter, nor of Lazarus, nor the miracles in the Gospel accounts. Yet so firm is his faith in the character of God that he comes to a realization of the resurrection. This is confirmed in Hebrews 11: “By faith Abraham … offered up Isaac,” (Hebrews 11:17 RSV). “He considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead; hence, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back,” (Hebrews 11:19 RSV). And so, to this father, as he is traveling on the way to Mt. Moriah, Isaac has been as good as dead in his eyes for three days. Abraham risked everything he owned and loved upon the character of God and found him to be a God of resurrection.

Because of this wonderful triumph in his life, he calls this place, “God will provide.” Because of this miracle there sprang up a little saying in Israel, a proverb:

“When you get to the mount, it will be provided.”

Do you know what that means? God’s ways with men are such that it seems as though deliverance will never come. It seems that you will never be delivered. But if you go on, when you get to the mount it will be provided. Man’s disappointments are God’s appointments. It is never too late for God. Even if Abraham had had to carry the bloody business through to its end, nevertheless, his father’s heart was quiet in restful peace because he knew God would raise his son from the dead. He had promised; therefore, it must be.

In conclusion, we read of the hope of resurrection morning:

And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba. (Genesis 22:15-19 RSV)

When Abraham gave his son back to God, then God said the promise of fruitfulness would be immediately fulfilled. There would be no more delay. The rivers of living waters would now begin to flow out from him to bless all the nations of the earth as God had promised. It was when Isaac came back from the dead, so to speak, in resurrection power that God said, “Now the fruitfulness of your life will be manifest.” This is resurrection life.

Even God’s gifts to us are of no value until we are willing, if necessary, to lose them so that God might reign without a rival in our hearts. When we have to come to that place to which the Spirit of God wants to bring us, that perfect relationship with the Father (in which our Lord lived his entire life) when God means more to us than anything, when we love the Lord our God with all our strength and soul and mind and spirit and heart, and we are even willing to give up the very gift that God has given, then in resurrection power that gift will be a blessing to everyone it touches.

We all have been given gifts from God. Maybe God has given you a special talent and you are asked to take a job where perhaps you can’t use that talent. You wonder about it, and perhaps rebel over this. But remember Abraham, and give it back to God. Face the possibility of not using that talent and the God of resurrection will take that talent and return it to you and make it a blessing to many hearts. Anything else will be a curse.

Perhaps you have a loved one and a situation arises in which you have to part from him or break that relationship. This is a struggle, but Abraham’s faith says that if God asks you to do it, then there is blessing beyond if you obey. Maybe you are living in a situation of comfort and happiness but you are needed in another place which is not as pleasant, and you say, “Lord, why — why do I have to give up my home and my relationships which I enjoy and go there?” You resist, you question, as Abraham did. Remember, however, that if God calls, you must obey. Beyond the apparent heartbreak and death lies resurrection. In the resurrection of that experience, God will give you back that gift and make it a blessing.

Is not this the record of every man and woman whose life has ever counted for God, who have been willing to give up the very areas they thought were God’s choice blessing for them when God called? In so doing, God made them a blessing. It can be in minor or major areas. This is the principle of the cross throughout all our lives. This is what makes resurrection life possible. This is why the Lord Jesus says, “He who loves father or mother … son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me…” (Matthew 10:37 RSV). “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it…” (Matthew 10:39 RSV).

Our God is the God of resurrection. When it looks as though we are throwing away every chance of blessing, God transforms in a moment the very thing we give up into the most richly rewarding and meaningful experience we have ever had.

I dare you to act upon this! I don’t know what it might be for you, but I know this is true and God has written this account so we may know that this is his way in the affairs of men. When we dare to stand upon what God has said, we discover as Paul did that the yearning of our hearts is “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…” (Philippians 3:10 RSV).

Title:     Life’s Hardest Trial
Author:     Ray C. Stedman
Series:    The Man of Faith
Date:    1968
From your friends at
www.RayStedman.org

Copyright © 2010 by Ray Stedman Ministries — This material is the sole property of Ray Stedman Ministries. It may be copied for personal non-commercial use only in its entirety free of charge. All copies must contain this copyright notice and a hyperlink to www.RayStedman.org if the copy is posted on the Internet. Please direct any questions you may have to webmaster@RayStedman.org.

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A BRUSH WITH LOVE by Rachel Hauck

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Ginger Winters lived life on its altered scale, grievously marked with the hideous scars of horrific wounds. The bitter pain inspired her to see the beauty in others, despite her own ugly scarring. Although she survived to find a new purpose for living, the unalterable truth was that she was horribly scarred, a bitter fact that confronted her daily and from which there was no relief nor respite. The irreconcilable wounds in her heart and scars on her body created a shame that nothing could ever cover. Ginger knew she would never be beautiful again but she had a life calling that she dearly loved. As a successful stylist, she had the amazing skill to make an ordinary woman look extraordinarily beautiful. The art of beauty was her gifted calling and passionate duty in life. Ginger threw her whole heart and soul into her work, to see beauty blossoming in others. Her frightful, ugly scar kept her marked for life, with the soul-shattering, nerve-wracking realization that no one would ever want her. This bitter truth blew its own trumpet, giving her no peace. There would be no one, no one at all.

When Tom Wells burst into her salon, he also broke into Ginger’s carefully guarded thoughts. Their eyes locked in intense emotion as memories penetrated her senses with passionate intensity. Seeing Tom reopened a locked door in Ginger’s heart. She must not hide her wounds and scars too much to drive him out of her life. He might be her passion’s flame after all. But for Ginger, the flame of love’s passion was the most terrifying fire of all. With memories stirring his emotions passionately, Tom swung back to harsh reality. Should he apologize or let the past go? He tried to catch her gaze. “I’m sorry, Ginger.” The confession came frankly and honestly, with no previous thought and no prepared agenda, flowing freely where it willed. Ginger froze, gazing with gleaming eyes, revealing nothing.

Ginger awakened an intense longing in Tom, an aching desire to share her heart, touch her scars, comfort her and tell her she was beautiful. To Tom, she was as beautiful as ever, even more raw and wounded. Deep inside his heart, underneath all the latent layers of propriety, beneath any trepidation of what was right and proper, he longed to be in her life. Seeing Ginger made Tom feel like a part of his heart was restored. He felt new and wonderful, wanting to be a better person. Ginger was hard to read. Although she kept her feelings reined in tightly, she knew instinctively that Tom would open a locked, bolted and barred door into her heart.

Tom desired to follow God’s call and restore his family’s reputation and legacy. He must be above board in all his dealings. Sitting in the sanctuary, in the heartwarming presence and inspiration of God, Tom wept tears of gratitude. He heard God’s still, small voice in His heart, gently guiding him into the truth. “Walk worthy of His calling. Fulfil every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power.” “Know the Word. Live it, pray it, sing it.” Be faithful to your calling and to the Lord. Let Him do the choosing. It only matters what He thinks. Be confident in His love for you. Trust in His guidance and leadership. Love Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Let God touch Ginger’s eternal soul. Point her to Him. God redeems, saves and heals. Gaze at Him. Win Ginger to Jesus. Show her His love. Lead her to the Truth that God is love. How should Tom relate to Ginger? A simple, sweet answer arose in his heart. He could tell her what her heart longed so desperately to hear, that she was beautiful.

Out of the pain and humiliation of Ginger’s disfigurement emerged an unusual quality, a rare gift to highlight beauty in others. Ginger’s astounding success in revealing the beauty in women almost made her forget her own disfigured appearance. But it would take another extraordinary kind of love and selfless commitment to help Ginger to see the beauty in herself. The harsh reality of the truth that she was scarred and ugly always doomed her to stand precariously on the periphery, forever on the outside, looking in at beauty but destined never to be a part of it. Can Ginger’s thinly veiled insecurities, locking her from love, help her to recognize the beauty in herself or are some scars too deep for recovery? Will Ginger remained pitifully chained to the past, oblivious to love, or can she move freely into a new, hope-filled future?

Despite her ugly, scarred appearance, a small part of Ginger’s heart still longed to be a woman, a carefully concealed, secret desire, known only to herself. Tom shook her painstakingly erected emotional barriers. When he gazed at Ginger with his intent blue eyes, she felt engulfed in his love. The flames Tom ignited in her heart could not be extinguished at any cost, in any manner or by any means. Although Ginger would not admit it, Tom’s calm presence drew out the best in her, making her feel secure enough to aspire to be a better person.

Under Tom’s sensitive, insightful gaze, Ginger felt utterly transparent, as if he saw what she tried to hide. His words and the firm tenor of his voice confirmed, with utmost certainty, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he could read her, seeing through her thinly veiled insecurities with discerning skill, as if through a lens with the most acute focus. Tom instinctively understood Ginger’s strengths, weaknesses and the pressures she faced. He spoke of two kinds of beauty – outside and inside – with all the layers and nuances in between all the trappings. It was certainly good to see Ginger do something she was good at and that she loved as a successful stylist but Tom had no idea how much she ached to do it for herself.

If Ginger’s life signature was only for making others beautiful, wouldn’t that be enough? No, the heart knows what it wants and it will not be satisfied until it gets it. That was the way she lived life, figuring it out on her own. Ginger’s heart wanted love and freedom from her scars. Tom admired Ginger’s frankness and honesty. Her laughter warmed his soul. Her breath mingled with his, their heartbeats in sync. Tom wanted to touch her wounds, tell her it would be alright and that she need not hide them from him. But that would cross all boundaries.

Every time Tom saw her, Ginger caught a piece of Tom’s heart. He warmed her heart with hope. He had called her beautiful twice and it warmed her heart. She wanted to believe in his love. Emotion swelled in Ginger’s chest and tears filled her eyes. Tom’s soft, sweet tones pierced her fragile facade and drifted into her soul. She could see through his sea-blue eyes into his guileless soul. He had apologized for caring. Ginger was deeply inspired by Tom’s sparkling grin. Tom realized that Ginger was not as hard and defensive as she pretended to be. It was only a protective defense, merely a put-on pretense, to scare people off.

Ginger was stuck in life and in her heart, concerning her beliefs about God, herself, and Tom. Cold tears threatened to overwhelm her as she avoided Tom’s penetrating gaze. The soft tenor of his voice touched her heart. Why was he so nice to her? Could it possibly be  because he liked her? No man could ever like her. But he was a man of God. Warm and kindhearted, with a blue-eyed intensity. However, she could not trust anyone. Certainly not Tom Wells. As a successful hair stylist, Ginger was in command of her life, captain of her ship, steering bravely to her destiny. But out in the harsh world, she was the poor, pitied, scarred one.

Tom’s beaming smile pierced her heart. His touch, his voice, his smile. He was the one man in her life who made her feel what it was like to be a woman. His gaze, the intensity of his words, set her heart on fire. He liked her scars and the fact that they had made her a fighter. He liked her face, her eyes, her smile and her heart. He loved her ability to see beauty in others and bring it out for the world to see. Those are the things that made her unique and extraordinary. To Tom Wells, Ginger Winters was the most beautiful girl in the world, scars and all.

(Book Review compiled by Miriam Jacob)

NIKI KRAUSS – Author of ‘LITTLE GIRL MENDED’

Niki Krauss

 NIKI KRAUSS

Author of ‘LITTLE GIRL MENDED’

1. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer, and how long did it take after that until you were first published?

I was an editor for a lot of years, and I always cringed whenever I was given a writing assignment. Fortunately, it didn’t happen often. I loved editing; it’s so “behind the scenes.” Writing puts you “out there,” and I think that’s why I didn’t like it. But I needed to tell my story, and so, I began writing. Over time—a long time and much to my surprise—I fell in love with writing. It was seven years from the time I began writing until my book was published.

2. Can you describe the process you went through to get to that first publication?

After completing my manuscript, I considered self-publishing just so that I wouldn’t have to write a book proposal, which is usually required for non-fiction submissions to agents or editors. Then I reconsidered, deciding writing a proposal would be beneficial no matter what route I took to publishing. With finished proposal in hand, I began shopping my book to agents who represented Christian writers and also directly to Christian publishers. The rejection letters started flowing in. I stumbled upon Vox Dei Publishing through a Google search for Christian publishers who would accept submissions without an agent. I submitted my manuscript in March 2015, received an acceptance letter in August, and Little Girl Mended was published at the end of December that same year.

3. How did that process change you as a Christian?

The whole process has definitely strengthened my faith. Like a lot of writers, I struggle with self-doubt about a lot of things, including my writing ability. My story is not an easy one to tell, but over the seven years from beginning to explore my story through writing to having a published book, I’ve felt this book is one of God’s greatest callings on my life. I didn’t know how the book would be published, but I knew it somehow would. I still don’t know what plans God has for my story, but through this journey of writing and publishing, I’ve learned to follow wherever God leads me, even when I don’t quite understand it. My prayer continues to be that God would provide all that I need to go and say and do all that He has planned for me and for my story, and that I would be willing and not let my self-doubts stop me.

4. Tell us about how and when you became a Christian? Did you write secular material prior to that? What about after that? Do you exclusively write Christian or secular material, or a combination of the two?

I was raised in a Christian home, but what was emphasized was the legalistic side of “religion” more than having a deep and intimate relationship with the Lord. It wasn’t until I was writing my story in my 50s that I came to understand how much God loves me and desires a relationship with me. He pursued me for a lifetime, and I’m so very thankful for His patience. Little Girl Mended is my first book, so I haven’t written any secular material up to this point. If God’s plan for me includes a second book, I think it would have a Christian message as well. I only see myself writing if I’m sharing God’s message in some way.

5. Tell us about your family and how they were affected when you became a Christian and became a writer?

Some members of my family are unbelievers, so they may think I’m a radical Jesus lover. In fact, I hope they do!

As for the writing, Little Girl Mended is a memoir about my family. Because it’s my story about childhood sexual abuse, it has been difficult for my family of origin. After all, my parents were their parents, too. As difficult as it’s been, they’ve been supportive of me and understand my desire and need to share my story with the world.

6. Do you have a “day job,” or is writing your main source of income?

I’ve had a lot of jobs over my lifetime. I’ve been an exercise instructor, legal secretary, admin assistant, office manager, and assistant editor for the Marine Corps Gazette, the professional journal of the U.S. Marine Corps, where I worked for fifteen years. I took a one-year leave of absence from my editing job to concentrate on finishing my book. After that year, my book still was not finished, so I decided not to go back to my job. Right now I consider myself retired, but I spend a lot of time learning all I can about book marketing and the things I need to be doing to help my story reach as many people as possible now that I have a published book.

7. If you could speak to those wondering if they might somehow break into writing, what advice would you give them? Would that advice be the same for those who want to write Christian material vs. secular material?

My advice would be the same for any writer: don’t let your doubts keep you from being a writer. It helped me to read about other writers, those who are very successful, and the doubts they still carry about their own writing. If God has called you to write, then write! Leave whatever comes next to Him.

8. Where can readers find out more about you?

Readers can learn more about me and follow my blog on my website at http://www.nikikrauss.com,
on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorNikiKrauss,
on Twitter at http://twitter.com/niki_krauss,
on Google + at https://plus.google.com/+NikiKrauss,
and on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/NikiKrauss/.
Little Girl Mended is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks.