Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Frederick: A book review

Frederick Ndabaramiye has a powerful story to share!  He grew up in Rwanda during the genocide, losing his hands because he refused to follow the soldiers orders to kill his countrymen.  In Rwanda, to have no hands meant there would be no hope of having a productive life.  That is, until Frederick and a group of caring Americans began to intervene...

Frederick's story brings hope to those with disabilities.  While at one point he did feel like ending his life, he decided instead to persevere and make the most of every day.  Because of that, he formed relationships that put him in contact with some Americans who decided to help him.  They weren't aware of it at the time, but by helping this one boy get prosthetic fingers, they enabled Frederick to start what has become a huge learning center to help other Rwandans with disabilities learn and become productive members of society.    God's fingerprints are all over this series of events.  What was intended to harm has been used for a great good.

What touched me most was Frederick's perspective.  He could have focused on the hardships and tragedy in his life.  He could have written God off as unloving and cruel.  Instead, he recognized the times during his childhood when God had used people to save him.  Since God had allowed him to live, he dared to hope that there was a purpose for him still.  By focusing on the good in the world - the generous Americans who helped him - he was able to forgive his attackers.  He continued to dream, to hope, and to move forward through his challenges.  That's a lesson we all could learn from.

I recommend this book as an inspirational story, but also as a way to learn more about the Rwandan way of life and what happened during the genocide. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Never Ever Give Up by Erik Rees

This is an inspiring story on many different levels.  Some may have heard of 12-year-old Jessie and her battle with cancer or her famous NEGU "Never Ever Give Up" motto.  Others may have seen her on the news or heard of fundraisers to fill JoyJars for children with cancer.  Or, like me, you may have never heard of Jessie Rees until this moment.  No matter where you find yourself, this is a story worth reading. 

There are unfortunately many children who get cancer, all of which have stories to tell.  What makes this situation unique is Jessie's reaction to her circumstances.  Instead of wallowing in self-pity, she looked to the other children suffering through treatment and asked "How can I help them?"  What began as a simple act of her filling a few jars with toys to give to children at a local hospital has grown into a huge foundation ( that has raised over $3 million to give hope to children with cancer and their families.  Jessie's life only lasted 10 months after her diagnosis, but her legacy continues.

This book can also be a resource of hope to families dealing with similar issues.  What really stood out to me was when Jessie's father talked about making the decision to be bitter or better.  No matter what difficult circumstance we find ourselves in, isn't that always a choice?  This family was hurting and struggling - but their choice to continue to care for others in the midst of their pain is an example to be followed.  Erik writes "We cannot understand with our finite minds God's infinite plans.  All we can do is to trust that when we are suffering, there is a greater cause.  God doesn't let us suffer pointlessly.  So when you're hurting and wondering why God isn't taking your pain away, consider that you're playing a role in a greater picture than you could ever imagine."

Yes, this story was written to raise awareness of childhood cancer and rally support.  But it was also written to inspire us to take the initiative to care for others and make a difference in whatever way God has impressed on your heart.  Use your gifts and passions to help others.  Jessie left us a great example of how to do just that. 

Thank you, Rees family, for sharing the intimate details of your story with the world.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Compassion Without Compromise by Barr & Citlau

Finding the right balance between love and truth can be tricky sometimes.  Compassion Without Compromise uses biblical teaching and personal stories to "help Christians find balanced ways to respond to the issue of homosexuality."  The authors are both pastors and have experience in counseling people struggling with this issue.  One of the authors, Ron, was once living a homosexual lifestyle and has since been transformed.  They have compassion for others with this struggle.  They have also studied the Bible and believe it is fully inspired by God - it's the truth.  It is from their experience of balancing compassion and truth that this book is born.

I have read other books with a similar theme.  One thing I like about this book is that it is short and not bogged down with quotes and studies from other sources.  The text asks questions that are relevant to our society today, and at the very least can ignite some great discussions.  At the end of each chapter there is a Takeaway paragraph that sums up the main idea of the chapter.  I found that to be very helpful.  There is also a list of resources at the back for people who want to research these ideas further.

The author's "hope begins with the message that we all need God's forgiveness and joyfully proclaims that Jesus has made a way".

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Song for a New Year

I recently heard "Keep Making Me" by Sidewalk Prophets and liked it instantly.  It's as if God put it before me and said "Here, Jeanette...this is what you need right now."  But once I really focused on the lyrics, I had to re-evaluate whether I wanted to be singing them!  Do I really want to be broken, empty, and lonely?  Those things are scary and can hurt!  But as the song reminds me, those things also lead to healing, fulfillment, and fellowship with Jesus - all of which I desperately need.  So this will be my song for a while.  Praying it will bless and challenge you as well. 

Make me broken
So I can be healed
‘Cause I’m so calloused
And now I can’t feel
I want to run to You
With heart wide open
Make me broken

Make me empty
So I can be filled
‘Cause I’m still holding
Onto my will
And I’m completed
When you are with me
Make me empty
‘Til You are my one desire
‘Til You are my one true love
‘Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me

Make me lonely
So I can be Yours
‘Til I want no one
More than You, Lord
‘Cause in the darkness
I know You will hold me
Make me lonely