Friday, March 31, 2017

Good Morning, Friday

via Pixabay

Schuyler's going to be a bizy backson today. 

boo that 

Happy Weekend, folks! Are you starting Camp NaNoWriMo tomorrow? Tell me all about your projects! I want to know!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Time to Rise, by Nadine Brandes

All good things must come to an end.

Even book series.

But when it's the right end for the right series, it feels almost like a bittersweet doorway. While you are walking through the end of Unknown and new experiences, you're also walking through The Beginning of knowing and loving these characters again and again throughout a lifetime.

The Out of Time series is one of those collections.

It didn't take me long after buying the series to dive into book 2. But I am pleased to say that I didn't eat it in a short amount of binge-reading time like the other two. I stretched and stretched it out in the most pleasant of ways--reading some of it and then taking days or longer in between to make it last longer. I was not in a hurry to see the end. (With, you know, still one binge-read last Saturday. After a certain point there is no stopping for love of mercy or homework grading.)

So let's have at it. And if you haven't read book two yet, then turn right around and head the other way. Here be spoilers that can't be helped. ;)

The Book [official description]

What more can you sacrifice than your life?

Parvin Blackwater is dead.

At least that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.

Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world?

My Thoughts 
I think what I love most about the Out of Time series is that it is a twisting kaleidoscope of hard and fun. Characters suffer and hurt and learn and grieve and lose and sin. But at the same time, they conquer, love, laugh, experience relief and friendship and survival and God. It is visionary YA literature: thinking stuff that still helps you relax in the evenings. I appreciated as a young adult who's no longer a teenager that Parvin and Solomon acted mature, even though they were young--and I think this casts such a good vision for the audience reading it. That YA novels don't have to be about gratification and rebellion. They can be about young people learning and growing, who are also working to serve others and make the world a better place. That's exactly what YA should be. Parvin grows from caring about herself to caring about others, and in a time of life when it is so, so easy to get wrapped up in our own concerns, this example is vital. She's not boring or stiff or goody-goody while she does it. She's very real, praying and crying and learning to love a guy, and wondering how in the world it's all going to turn out--but she still pursues shalom. 

I liked the added twist in this book of Parvin swallowing a knowledge cap of things she would never ever have wanted to know. She's struggled with outward forces up to this point, and even inward forces, but struggling with an urge to use the knowledge of self-defense against her enemies made her choices very real and difficult--especially when people were in her power and death felt like the best choice to make. Seeing her wrestling with that temptation contrasted other character's choices in a very powerful mirror theme. 

And the climax. The climax. That was just the calibre of tension and excitement you want after a three book series. Perfect pacing, dilemmas, love, sacrifice, and camaraderie after the build-up of the previous books. It was a climax that delivers everything you want it to deliver.

(some wounds will never be recovered from, but they are beautiful scars.) 

This is a series that I will fiercely enjoy the memory of. It leaves you aching in some places, whole in others. I will keep it and thumb through favorite parts (gotta read that climax again) and one of these fine days I'll start over again from book 1, because favorite books are like good friends: they deserve fellowship more than once. And Parvin, in the most aching, beautiful, shalom way, is a good friend. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Was Charles Dickens a Christian?

Blimey Cow mentioned this question once upon a time, making a caricature of people Googling "is such-and-such a celebrity a Christian?" It's a question people have had from Thomas Jefferson to Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens can't be left out of the picture.

We know his themes were incredible--the interplay of justice and mercy in Great Expectations is one I love to read again and again. Dickens cares for the orphan and the oppressed, something that we find in the book of James, as well as God's commandments to Israel. But merely following biblical principles isn't a guarantee of a changed heart--and only a heart relying on the blood and redemptive work of Jesus Christ can truly find its precious rest as a child of God.

Gary Colledge, adjunct professor at Moody, has written about Dickens in more than one place--and his work God and Charles Dickens, goes in-depth on this famous author's life and beliefs. Colledge brings to the table a passion for Dickens' work, which I really appreciated, as Dickens is my favorite author. Colledge makes multiple references to Dickens' works, as well as biographies written about him. Also, as he evaluates the religion and Christian references in Dickens novels, he brings to the table an extensive knowledge of Anglican thought in Dickens' day and how it influenced his works.

The beginning of the book is not promising on Dickens' behalf. The first chapters about Dickens' work The Life of our Lord, and his view of Jesus, while they show Dickens earnestly wanting to follow Jesus' example, wouldn't give you any indication that Dickens was other than just an all around good guy who had chosen Jesus for the pattern of his life.

But as you dig further into the book, indications grow more promising. Dickens, in various private letters, shows that he has an understanding of the religious controversies of his day, and while he never was a theologian, he was a thinking man, in tune with the church and society. One reason that Dickens is so confusing is that he hated the cold Calvinism of his day that gave children frightening tracts about hell and did nothing to relieve the poor in the streets. Dickens cared more about taking Christian action than spending time discussing Christian thought. Because of that, it's easy to put him in a wrong and heretical theological camp, when that may not necessarily be the case.

Chapter 6 on Dickens and the Church was especially worth reading, as Colledge explored the things that especially bothered Dickens (intellectual sermons that didn't help the congregation, keeping Jesus the central focus and not just making Bible study an intellectual end in itself) and how we can keep an eye out for these issues in our church today. Colledge is careful to distinguish that Dickens wouldn't have written all these thoughts himself, but he draws from Dickens' ideas in creating his own thoughts in this section.

Was Dickens a Christian? Based on this book, I think it very likely he might have been. I think he had some serious gaps and flaws in his understanding of God and theology. Certainly, I disagree with his tendency to fit liberal scientific views with the Bible, and I think his hatred of the flaws in the church sometimes caused him to swing the pendulum too far away from some central doctrines of the Bible. But at the same time, I think he understands enough of the essential, foundational elements of the Christian faith (sin in mankind, Jesus as divine and man, and God's forgiveness of the repentant) that he could be considered very promising as a child of God. I'm looking forward to reading his books again with a fresh perspective, especially to trace the theme of forgiveness in Great Expectations.

God and Charles Dickens is a rigorous book. I would recommend reading it in a fairly short period of time so you can grasp the main ideas and keep the chapters connected to each other. I tried the first time to read it in a leisurely way and was always losing the train of thought. But recently I picked it up again and kept on, and got a much better picture of what it was about. It requires a lot of concentration, and the chapters are long, but I think it's an excellent book to choose to strengthen and exercise your brain. I love choosing a tough book now and then, and understanding Dickens' Christianity for yourself is well worth the investment of time and effort. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring TBR

is this font not adorable, somebody hold me
Happy Tuesday, folkies! The spring is really springing, as Pooh would say, and I am so happy to start collecting another TBR stack for the upcoming season. I love the focus these posts give me to tackle books intentionally--and when I'm wondering "what do I read next?" I can always come back to the blog.

Here's what I've picked for Spring 2017....

Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
It's been a long time since I've read Bonhoeffer's thoughts on the Christian life in his own words. Thanks to the gift of a friend, I've had Life Together waiting patiently for me, and since it's such a small book, and I'm currently studying friendship and community, I think it would be a very valuable selection for the Spring season.

Story Trumps Structure, by Steven James
I started it shortly after Christmas, and it got delayed in a threatening TBR stack. Since I think it's a fairly quick read, I want to finish it up during the spring season and report in my findings.

Reformation Heroes, by Joel Beeke
This will be my first book to celebrate the Reformation 500th anniversary! An excellent, beautifully formatted book written by Joel Beeke, it gives informative snapshot biographies of many key people in the Reformation era. If you only read one book about the Reformation this year, let this be the book.

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This is one of the selections I'm most keenly excited about for my children's classics re-reading in 2017. I've been wanting to evaluate The Secret Garden and Burnett's religious beliefs in it for some time, ever since I heard that it contained non-Christian ideology. While I'm nervous about delving into it, I do want to be able to evaluate it for myself.

Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
An absolutely charming story, Wind in the Willows feels like a perfect spring tale. I've been waiting years to read it until I could own an edition with Kenneth Grahame illustrations. I'm so excited to get back to the friendships of Ratty and Mole and Toad and all the rest of the dear animals.

The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley
My childhood fandom, before Kidnapped, before Sherlock Holmes--I adored Alec and the Black and their adventures together. I absolutely cannot wait to rediscover them in a re-read.

How about you? What's on your current TBR stack? I'd love to know!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Tastes of Ireland

I thought, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, I would do a Taste of Ireland post for you all--music, poetry, book suggestion, and tastes of the Irish influence in my own writing to celebrate this festive day. My heart belongs in Ireland, and I hope you enjoy this fangirly post with some gorgeous scenery.

Taste of Ireland //writing: Micheal
Micheal....I don't know where Micheal came from. It was born of inward bitterness that found great redemption on paper. It is the story of a young Irishman who is trying to live his life the way he wants and runs away from home to do it. While he's on his journey to something better, he finds God and love and the sound of the sea. Here are some snippets:

The mist covers my view of the sea, and no birds break the sky to lead my way and remind me of why I am here. But in the stillness--stillness so quiet that a pebble would sound if it clattered from its resting place--I can still sense the chafing of the waves on the rocks below. Silky murmurs that quiet me, and make me continue my way as if in a dream. 
 The girl is beautiful, like a young deer climbing along the heights, gowned in a dress of soft fawn shade. Her hair curls alluringly over her shoulders, the color of the cinnamon spice that I saw once being unloaded from a trading ship as I passed by, and her lips are small--the lips of a girl. But her eyes are beyond her age, like twin pools holding ancient magic in them, and it is those eyes and the play of her tiny white hands in a little, confiding gesture as she thinks her own thoughts, that capture my heart and make it hers. 
And run I do, through the town, past the villagers that are hurrying out of houses, out to the well that stands away from the town, near an old forest. A young woman stands on it, clinging to the posts so that she will not fall in, suspended between one death and another. And beneath her stands a wolf-- a great diabhal shining out of his eyes in their yellow fierceness. His breath blows up in the frosty winter air, and his teeth clench in fierce anticipation of his prey. He is huge, the largest wolf I have ever seen.

Taste of Ireland//writing: War of Loyalties
War of Loyalties kind of accidentally turned into a book with Irish characters in it (they were Americans originally) and when it's published, you'll find a couple of funny or dramatic Irish characters to keep you entertained throughout. While I had to take it out of the book due to space, Terry O'Sean's family emigrated to America during the potato famine. I love the richness of the backstory. Alas, the section talking about that is no longer available to curious eyes, but I think you'll still find plenty of Irish to keep you happy. And a little more historically accurate Irish at that.

   Ben smiled. "I picked up the talent. What brought you from Ireland to Folkestone, if I may ask?"
   "Weel," Terry O'Sean drawled, "I've knocked about some, but I jumped in over my head on Easter, 1916." ~War of Loyalties 

Taste of Ireland//music
I call myself a Thunderhead and enjoy a lot of the classic Irish songs sung by Celtic Thunder. They are my main source of Irish entertainment--you'll find a lot to smile about in Ireland's Call and Home From the Sea and When Irish Eyes are Smiling. Mythology and Heritage are their best albums, both of which have seen me through a lot of exercising and driving to work. I'll probably throw some on tonight to celebrate.

Taste of Ireland//Finn MacCool
If you're in the mood for some Irish books I actually don't have a ton to offer (my friends on FB helped me out, and I hope to review much more in future. But of course, you might enjoy the Irish legends about the band of the Fianna who went questing and stuff (a la Studio C) around Ireland. They fought with Vikings, enchanted creatures, and each other, and it grips/wrenches/tears your heart to pieces as you read. If you haven't experienced this stirring mythology in the phenomenal writing of Rosemary Sutcliff, be sure to lay your hands on a copy of The High Deeds of Finn MacCool.

Taste of Ireland//poetry 
Lastly, a taste of Ireland that I hope you'll take away from this St. Patrick's Day is one of the most stirring poems I've ever heard--The Foggy Dew, by Charles O'Neill. O'Neill wrote it shortly after the tragic Easter Rebellion of 1916, where the Irish fought for freedom and were staunchly quelled by the British. While my favorite musical rendition is done by Deborah Brinson (sadly unavailable) you can find other renditions by The Dubliners and The Chieftains. And here's the poetry itself for you to enjoy:

As down the glen one Easter morn to a city fair rode I
There Armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by
No pipe did hum, no battle drum did sound its loud tattoo
But the Angelus Bell o'er the Liffey's swell rang out in the foggy dew

Right proudly high over Dublin Town they hung out the flag of war
'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky than at Suvla or Sud-El-Bar
And from the plains of Royal Meath strong men came hurrying through
While Britannia's Huns, with their long range guns sailed in through the foggy dew

As back through the glen I rode again and my heart with grief was sore
For I parted then with valiant men whom I never shall see more
But to and fro in my dreams I go and I kneel and pray for you,
For slavery fled, O glorious dead, when you fell in the foggy dew.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Birthday, Terry! // Beautiful People: March

I have 3 particularly close characters in War of Loyalties. Terry (aka Turlough O'Sean, but no one calls him that) is one of them. He's a 36-year-old Irish American who has a sweetly cheery companionship for his friends and a surprisingly effective left hook for his enemies. Today is his birthday, and if anyone deserves a birthday celebration it's him, because he pretty much nailed every one of his scenes from draft 1. I honestly didn't have to edit him much.

He's a sweetheart like that. (in the beginning, anyway) 

If he were in the Star Wars universe, he would totally be a BB8 droid companion for Poe Dameron.

help me find my poe. he is lost. *sad beep* I FOUND MY POE. *happy beep* 

(Neither Terry nor I are totally with it after the time change, so please excuse us.)

In celebration, we have some fantastic Beautiful People questions by Cait from Paper Fury. Be sure to join the link-up with a character of your own before the month of March is over!

Now I'll turn it over to Terry. Forgive him if he talks about his Acushla too much. He is a fellow of a one-track mind.

What’s your favourite book/movie/play/etc.?
Terry: I don't think I've read a book since highschool. They were always pretty boring. I just have people tell me what I need to know when I chat with them. And I don't know what a movie is. 

Me: If you had ever seen a movie, you would like Star Wars or Pixar movies. 

Terry: Well, I don't know what you're talking about, but I reckon. I've been to some pretty bad stage plays at the school my sister taught for, and they're kind of boring. No one likes me whispering what I think in the middle of them. 

Is there anything you regret doing?
Terry: Um. Well. I always regret not writing my mother more. Half the time I leave her wondering where in the world I am and what I'm up to--but I'm always alive, you know? So there's really nothing to worry about, and I'll write her tonight, I promise. I should probably visit home again one of these years, I kind of regret not. And not telling them about my sister.  

Me: And kissing someone without permission. 

Terry: I don't regret that. I had permission of the soul in spite of what the words said. 

If you were sick or wounded, who would take care of you and how?
Terry: Oh, no, never in this world. I don't need to be taken care of, and Ben and Jaeryn are fussy doctors who want everything clean and medically sanitized and recovery time, and I hate it when they do that. 

Me: So I take it you've been hurt before.... 

Is there an object you can’t bear to part with and why?
Terry: I have a nice knife with a Celtic cross on the handle for defense, and I will never no never be parted with it. I also have a pretty nifty sapphire ring, that I will only be parted with to give to my Acushla, but I gave it to someone else for safekeeping and I'm not sure when I'm going to get it back. 

Me: That kind of destroyed the definition of parting with it, Terry. 

What are 5 ways to win your heart (or friendship)?
Terry: Here, I made a list. 
1. Being Acushla. 
2. Talking about Acushla. 
3. Acting like Acushla. 
4. Cooking like Acushla. 
5. Being related to Acushla. 

Me: *cough* That's an awful lot of Acushla, Terry laddie. 

Describe a typical outfit for you from top to bottom.
Terry: White shirt, that kinda isn't white anymore. I need to do laundry again. Sleeves rolled up. Work pants, probably brown or grey. Worn, scuffed-up shoes, and maybe matched socks if I happen to find them, but they're all dark colored, so no one would notice if they weren't.  

What’s your favorite type of weather?
Terry: I like a bit of nip in the air. Something on the verge of winter, with good weather. It keeps the German agents indoors in front of the fire and gives me more time to meander around and relax. 

What’s the worst fight you’ve ever been in?
Terry: A locked room in a cellar on the night of a harvest moon. I gave it to 'em good to get out of there. 

What names or nicknames have you been called throughout your life?
Terry: I get called Terry all the time. Like a dog or something. If I say something wrong, it's a scolding voice, and if I do something nice, it's a fond voice, and if I'm about to do something they don't think is a good idea, it's a warning voice. People get shook up by what I want to do so often, I just stopped listening to them after a while. I live with people who worry a lot. Jaeryn and that new doc were barely out of spoon feeding and nappies when I left home, and they still think they're smarter than me. 

Me: Terry, they were a little older than that.... 

What makes your heart feel alive?
Me: Don't say Acushla. Say something else. 
Terry: But it's true! And it's my birthday. I can say whatever I want. 
Me: That doesn't give people a very well-rounded portrait of you, Terry. 
Terry: I think they get the general idea by now. I'm going to go hang out with my friends. And eat something good for supper. I notice you pay attention to Jaeryn's poor starved bachelor existence and you've never once mentioned what I go through. 
Me: I just didn't even think of it, you poor boy. Have the happiest of birthdays with the best of Irish food. You deserve to live until your eleventy-first birthday, and we couldn't be satisfied with anything less. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

How to Buy a Whole Book Series in One Afternoon

(um, Schuyler, do I need help with something like this? yes. yes you do.) 

There are a few things Miss Schuyler gets excited about.

Chai lattes. Plot twists. Books.

Customer appreciation week at local bookstores.

Tuesday I was able to stop in for Customer Appreciation deals at my favorite hang-out spot. And boy, was that visit one for the books. (groan.)

*walks in with plan to purchase 1-2 books at 40% off price and as many discounted used books as possible within set budget*

*fills shopping basket*

*realizes with glee that all books within shopping basket may fit within budget*

*takes one more meander through shelves of new books just in case*


*faints from ecstasy*

*puts them in shopping basket to see What Can Be Done*

*after vague recollection of sale on non-priced books, checks customer appreciation flyer to see that yes, FAVORITE BOOKS are 30% off.*

*also recollects coupon in purse. wonders if 30% off deal is only for Saturday. makes plans to persuade employees to hide said books until Saturday.*

*after leisurely afternoon of writing and tea, tracks down employee and asks if deal is only Saturday. angel in human form says that the sale extends all week. various other Forgotten And Rejected books fly out of shopping basket back to their respective places.*

*walks up to check out FAVORITE SERIES OF BOOKS. thankfully the same employee is at the counter who confirmed said books were on sale. breath of relief in case it had been a mistake somehow*

*dives about wildly for coupon. total 3 bucks over original budget, but 1 buck under revised budget, so all good*

*slowly realizes that in looking for coupon, a bottle of medication and a bag of crackers have been scattered on store counter*

*crams crackers in coat pocket from embarrassment. takes books and exits store thinking THIS IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.*

*sings very loudly from happiness on the way home*

*books match shirt for Instagram photos without even trying.*

I love how God surprises in delightful ways. Three new book friends are most welcome to the family.  But at the same time, I'm so sad because not everyone can get the paperbacks, so it feels a bit unfair to the rest of the bookworms. I hope, hope, hope they come back soon. In the meantime, you can get them on Kindle (I highly enjoyed reading them on Kindle, the ebooks were super fun to read) and A Time to Rise paperback (book 3) is $9 right now--on sale! <3 div="" nbsp="">

(The Out of Time series is a Christian dystopian series by a really sweet author Nadine Brandes.)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Cricket in Times Square

This year one of my reading themes is to rediscover some favorite children's books. I want to know what I think about them, find out the good ones, and re-live the old ones. Children's books are so important for shaping young minds, and I am admittedly out of touch. Frances Hodgeson Burnett is one I'm especially keen to read and evaluate again.

Last week was the perfect time to start. After some in-depth books I felt in need of something both rated G and a little more relaxing to rest my mind. The Cricket In Times Square immediately presented itself, and that was the perfect choice to start my rediscovery of Children's Classics.

If you love Wind in the Willows or Winnie the Pooh, you will most assuredly love The Cricket in Times Square.

About the Book [From Goodreads]
After Chester, a cricket, arrives in the Times Square subway station via a picnic basket from his native Connecticut, he takes up residence in the Bellinis' newsstand. There, the tiny creature is lucky enough to find three good friends—a little boy named Mario whose parents run the unsuccessful newsstand, a fast-talking Broadway mouse named Tucker and his Pal, Harry the Cat. Throughout their escapades and their ups and downs in New York City, together they somehow manage to bring success to the almost bankrupt newsstand

My Thoughts 
Our edition of The Cricket in Times Square is a frail old paperback. The kind you hold carefully and hope the cover will stay on for at least one more reading (behold, it did.) As soon as I cracked the cover and started reading, all the old memories washed back. I adore these animals. I adore them even more for the fact that the mark of a good story is one that can be enjoyed by all ages.  Madeleine L'Engle, in Walking on Water, explains that children's stories should not be written down to children, but written as something the author himself enjoys. I don't know without asking, but in reading this book, I feel like George Selden very heartily enjoyed and entered into the story as he wrote it. It shows, because The Cricket in Times Square, while suitable for children, is timeless and ageless in its appeal.

EPA's Top 100 Authors says about George Seldon, "It was essential to him that his animal characters display true emotions and feelings with which readers can identify." I can easily see that--Chester's homesickness for the countryside of Connecticut, Tucker's laugh-out-loud humor, and the friendship that exists between Chester Cricket, Harry Cat, and Tucker Mouse, are treated as if they are real and true. They resonate deeply with the reader. The ending tugs at your heartstrings while being perfectly satisfactory. They aren't so much children's emotions as they are human emotions. And that's why, all these years later, they mean the same and even more to me than they did when I was small.

Not only are the characters endearing, but with the added perspective of time and writing study, the plotting is also tight, with good structure. I also love the city setting. It makes me happy to think of a bunch of animal friends living in a drain pipe and collecting things to stash. ;)

Our edition has Garth Williams illustrations. The Cricket in Times Square shouldn't be read without them. He brings the same charm to these furry city friends as he does to Little House on the Prairie and the Little Golden Books (The Sailor Dog or The Kitten Who Thought He Was a Mouse, anyone?) While it's been a while since I've read them, you might also recognize his name from Charlotte's Web or The Trumpet of the Swan.

Altogether, my first foray back into children's literature was an absolute success. I'm looking forward to more and highly recommend this enchanting tale of three unlikely friends who share a charming adventure.

Have you read Cricket? Do you like Garth Williams illustrations? I'd love to know!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Adorned, by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Women long for kindred spirits. Many of us have kindred spirits in our own age group, safe places to pour out our hearts to. But in the moments where we turn to our peers and say "I have no idea what to do," we long for someone older. More experienced. A Titus 2 friend.

Titus 2 friendships have dropped out of date and out of style, and women everywhere are suffering. I myself for long periods of time longed for an older friend who I could ask life questions and get some practical biblical answers. The Lord is providing in that area for me, but it's been a long, hard road full of tears and loneliness. There is no greater joy than a friendship that spans generations and experience.

I'm not the only one who needs this. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, in her newest book, Adorned, addresses the need for the church universal to pursue these Titus 2 relationships, and a Titus 2 lifestyle. And her book is for older women and for younger women together.

The Book (Description from book's cover)
The Titus 2 model of older women living out the gospel and training younger women to do the same is vital. It's how we all thrive, how we are adorned, and how we adorn the gospel...together. 

Imagine older women investing themselves in the lives of younger women, blessing whole families and churches. Imagine younger women widening their circle to include women who've walked further down the road. Imagine women of all ages and seasons being transformed by the gospel, displaying its beauty, and making it believable to those around them. 

This rich study of the instructions to women in Titus 2 provides a roadmap to help you experience the kind of community and influence God designed you to have in the church and the world. 

My Thoughts
This book could be divided into two key thoughts: how to live as a Titus 2 woman (kind, submissive to husband, loving husbands and children, self-controlled, etc.) and how to mentor others in a Titus 2 relationship. The book is packed with insight on how to live out each phrase of Titus 2--I went through with my pencil for brackets and underlining as I read.

The points that resonated with me as I read Nancy's book are having a sophron (healthy, self-controlled) mind, living a self-controlled, godly life that isn't addicted to things, and making sure my interactions with men are pure. Nancy gives helpful tips and illustrations from her life and lives of other women. I was able to take small action steps as I read her book to apply more healthy living in some of these areas--and I hope to be able to take more in the days to come. Whether you are an older woman or a younger woman, a woman at home or at work, this book is full of grace and community for all of us.

Most of all, as I read chapter after chapter about how to live as a Godly woman, I appreciated Nancy's spirit of gentleness, of encouragement and compassion in attitudes that she recognizes are difficult to achieve. Biblical thinking and living often require spiritual battle--and she encourages us not to fall into the mindset that we have to live life with gritted teeth, somehow forcing ourselves to live out these things--but by the grace of the Holy Spirit, who helps us bear this fruit. That lifts a load off this perfectionists' shoulders, because my tendency would be to take these principles too far and rely on my own strength.

For those of you who have done TrueWoman 201, you know that that study also delves into Titus 2 line by line, with Nancy Wolgemuth and Mary Kassian. Fear not--both studies are complementary and worth pursuing as individual books. I was afraid they would overlap too much, but they are separate, each rich with insight and well worth the read.

On Monday night I finished reading Adorned, and on Tuesday I had the joy of meeting Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth at a ministry event and having her autograph my book. It was the perfect way to celebrate The End! But I hope, too, that it's only The Beginning of living out the truths in its pages. Adorned will be a book I want to return to again and again, as I seek to live out the beauty of the Gospel in different seasons of life.

I received this book from Moody Publishers. All opinions expressed are my own.

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