The Masterpiece

Have you ever read a book that stays with you for a long while? Those books whose characters are so real you want to stay in their story for a long time. It will be weeks before I can pick up another book.

Cover photo by a real graffiti artist

I know when I read any books by Francine Rivers; I meet deep characters that are well crafted. Every story is a careful work, researched and built with smooth transitions.

Rivers has a heart for the underdog and shows redemption of the characters by Jesus Christ. That is the best part.

This is not ‘fluff ‘ Christian fiction here, this is life change. You fall in love with her characters so much that you wish they were real, and could sit and have coffee with them and hear how Christ changed them.

Broken people want to hide their past, and not deal with it. They hurt and are afraid to love or trust others. Rivers knows that there are multitudes of broken ones out there that need help and don’t seek it. When God heals hearts in miraculous ways, it fills you with hope.

Grace Moore steels herself against her past and will only take her problems to God and a few women friends at church. When she loses her job, she must take chances to support her and her son.

Roman Velasco has his own frightful past and paints graffiti on his studio walls to express his pain. His gallery art is a different story. He hides too; it’s easier not to be involved with anyone.

Against her own wishes, Grace takes a job as personal assistant for Mr. Velasco and learns to deal with his demons, as well as her own past.

The relationships in this book are rich. The believers in this story are not perfect by any means, which makes this story so real. We are redeemed with a love far beyond our imagining, and we the broken learn to give back because of it.

If you have never read Francine Rivers, pick up this book and become immersed in the lives of life-like people. I highly recommend this book.

 

 

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But It’s Such a Little Thing

There is already a thick layer of oak leaves in the woods, but each time I enter, the acorns still fall and smack loudly in this season’s carpet. The oaks are nearly stripped of all leaves now. The hills are a sad gray-brown, with touches of evergreen. Leaves crunch loudly as I walk, leaving a pleasant odor in the air. Not wet, not mold, but fragrant, as if saving their best scent for last.

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Birds now whisper quiet songs as they gather food; many have long gone where we call—South. My faithful few stay and gather at my sunflower feeders, and woodpeckers to my suet cakes. The chickadees always greet me when I appear to fill empty cedar feeders so they can drain them before day’s end.

Why do I continue to do it? It costs me! Some fall-winters it costs me much, but it is a sacrifice of love, and it is such a little thing I do…

This is the dying season, the season of nature’s rest. As the trees hibernate, I gather a stack of books about me. I can fill myself to overflowing, but do I keep in all that grace I read…to myself? Why do I nestle in a warm blanket and stay indoors, as if reading the right books will satisfy me with abundant life?

I’m well into the hard places of Ann Voskamp’s new book, The Broken Way. She is an amazingly sensitive soul. A farmer’s wife, busy homeschool mom, gardener, friend to many, and lover of passing out hope. Her soul cries out to be the best mom—ever. Don’t we all wonder at our own attempts at motherhood?

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I’m nearly at the end of the book. It reminds me of words I have heard somewhere before—How then shall we live? How shall I live?

What are the words we most often hear at communion? “Re-member Me.” Ann’s choice words for our forgetting are ‘chronic soul amnesia.’ How fitting! We forget all the time how good God is. We can’t forget our brokenness, and we still believe the lies of the enemy. We are all afraid of being broken and exposed, but that is how we live in close communion with Christ.

Come die. In a thousand ways. Give Me all. I want you. I want you all. Give not only all my best, but even all my brokenness? Hand over the whole natural self…because we know, all His is mine, and all mine is His.

All the books in the world cannot teach us how to give beyond our hurting, to give beyond our brokenness. We must look past our own pain, and find others who are hurting.

“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Co. 4:10 NIV

I never understood the depth of this verse until God hunted me with it. There’s not a day in recent weeks that I have not heard this message from Him. This is the depth of my relationship with him: the fullness of Christ in me. He is re-membering it to me…

But what do I do with this knowledge? How do I demonstrate compassion?

To quote Ann, we can’t think of “…time as something to seize, to try to capture, or that’s captured and stolen from us, and I’ll try to slow down before it steals away…time isn’t something you seize; it’s something you sacrifice. It’s not something to grab; it’s something to give.”

“Maybe temporary time is made for dying to self—so your eternal self can really live.”

The more I die to Christ, the more I see I can’t do anything without Him living in me. As long as I look at Him, the cross, his death, I see how short I fall. There is nothing I can do in myself. He happily gives me grace to show he delights in me–he loves me and wants to be in perfect union.

Sacrificing time and life with others seems such a little thing to us. It doesn’t seem enough for us to just give ourselves to others. We’ve been taught, (and lied to) to think we are never enough.

As we give grace to the brokenness of others, in doing so we have grace for our own brokenness.

We are always, always enough.

So give your thanks this season, and read Voskamp’s new book, The Broken Way…if you dare.