Saturday, January 15, 2011

Review of "Unplanned"

Unplanned

This book tells the fascinating, sobering true story of the journey of Abby Johnson. She worked for Planned Parenthood, believing she was helping women and decreasing the amount of abortions. She was a professed Christian. All the while she worked there, her parents, her husband, and even the workers on the opposing side, the Coalition for Life, were praying for her and loving her. She became friends with some of those peaceful pro-life members, and God used them to help change her mind. Can someone be so deceived as to think they are doing God's will in a pro-choice clinic? Can prayers, love, and outreach toward your neighbor--even one you radically disagree with--make a difference? This book, without arguing, testifies to a resounding "Yes." We are all weak and sinful beings, and even as Christians we can be deceived by semantics, by wanting to make a difference, and by not doing the proper research. This book makes me want to be a more loving and wise Christian, one who truly cares about others and doesn't make snap judgments. The women who undergo abortions--they are wrong, but they are desperate. They are hurting, needy souls. The issue is not just a fight for the lives of the unborn--which is crucial--but also for the lives of the parents and of those participating in the abortions. God can save anyone and use anyone. In fact, each of us is capable of extreme evil, for each is born a sinner. Possibly contrary to what Mrs. Johnson thinks, based on the Bible, I do believe in church discipline and that we are to be careful about the company we keep; however, even in that we are to be loving and seek the other person's good.

I am thankful for this book and the thoughts and questions it stirs up. God's hand was shown gloriously through the story of Abby Johnson.

In exchange for my honest review, Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

This Year

I am thankful to God for a wonderful year in 2010! May this year be one of higher growth and deeper love for God. Here are some of the highlights of the year (I'm sorry for the lack of pictures).

January:
  • Went ice skating
  • Got together with friends from church
February:
  • Had a needed root canal performed
  • Began to teach watercolor classes!
  • Listened to Evenings with Victoria Botkin
March:
  • Godly advice from family & friends
  • Made wheat noodles with friends
April:
  • Camped in Big Bend National Park
May:
  • Bought a big batch of tomatoes and made ketchup, etc.
June:
  • Joel, Charity, Harmony, and Autumn visited
  • My first time to play the piano at church in TX
July:
  • The Baby Conference with Vision Forum - great speeches and visiting with friends
  • A family came over for lunch and hymn singing after church
  • We went to watch a movie (Hymns and History) that friends made. They were gracious enough to use my painting of Martin Luther in it.
August:
  • Mr. and Mrs. Castillo visited!
  • We went to the Animal Safari with them
  • Had another Hispanic family over with Castillos and singing fun praise songs
  • Went to a wedding shower for someone from church
  • Went to the wedding of our friend, Cindy
September:
  • Saw Joel, Charity, Charity's sister, and Charity's father at church
  • Went to a lovely concert and auctioned a painting for Voice of the Martyrs fundraiser
October:
  • Get together at the Phillips' house
  • Hymn singing at our house after church with friends
  • Writing classes with Mrs. Morecraft (begun in Sep., I believe)
  • Writing poetry
  • Painting and helping at the Manteufel's house
November:
  • Went to The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival - very enjoyable!
  • Joel & Charity visited us for a pre-Thanksgiving get-together at Michael & Grace's house, etc.
  • Exchanged gifts with Joel & Charity and part of our family
  • Annie and I traveled by car to Fort Worth with Joel and Charity
  • We tented at a Chick-Fil-A grand opening in the cold!
  • Talked quite a bit with Harmony, Charity's sister
  • Went to another pre-Thanksgiving get-together with our cousins and uncle and aunt.
  • Went to a 5-course demonstration dinner
  • Annie and I rode back on the train--our first ride on one!
December
  • Packed up to leave to a new part of the state!
  • Watched & listened to episodes of Navigating History
What were your blessings of 2010?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Book Ideas for 2011

Here's my list of books that I may read this year.

Ones I have started last year (or earlier):
Humility and How to Get It by Charles Spurgeon

The Treasury of David: Volume 1 - Psalms 1-57 (I may not finish it this year, but that would be nice. I'm over half of the way through, but it's a long book.)

The Portable Patriot: Documents, Speeches, and Sermons That Compose the American Soul

Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

The Poetical Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes Volume 02: Additional Poems (1837-1848)

Afterwhiles by James Whitcomb Riley

American Poetry, 1922 A Miscellany

The Bible And The Closet Or How We May Read The Scriptures With The Most Spiritual Profit: And Secret Prayer Successfully Managed (1842)

Ten P's in a Pod : A Million-Mile Journal of the Arnold Pent Family

A Woman's High Calling: 10 Essentials for Godly Living by Elizabeth George

The Pre-Tribulation Rapture by Alan Beechick

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

A Study in Scarlet / The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

An Autobiography of Buffalo Bill (Colonel W. F. Cody)

The Girl's Own Book by Lydia Maria Child (POSSIBLY this year--it's more of a reference book than a read-through)

Winslow Homer Watercolors by Helen A. Cooper (POSSIBLY this year--it's more of a reference book than a read-through)

Ones I started this year:
The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
Lost City of the Incas by Hiram Bingham

Others to Read This Year, Possibly
The Betrayal: A Novel on John Calvin by Douglas Bond
Alone Yet Not Alone by Tracy Leininger Craven
Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham
Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald
The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz
Verses of Virtue compiled by Elizabeth Beall Phillips

Classics:
Mansfield Park or Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
One of Dickens, perhaps
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Two Margarets

Some of the details in this poem were imagined by me, such as the bread and water verse, but most of it is factual.

The Two Margarets
by Melissa Merritt
October, 2010

Eighteen summers had Margaret Wilson passed,
Now trusting firmly in Jehovah.
Neither parent believing, alas--
They saw her faith as an enigma.

When the king's men spread throughout the land
Arresting opposers of prelacy.
The Wilson siblings had joined such a band,
Retreating from cave to marsh, the back-country.

It seemed the danger had abated,
So the sisters dined with a friend in town.
This widow's other guests were elated
While they brought the girls--their enemies--down.

As the girls were dragged to prison,
Their hearts drummed fast and loud;
Yet even in the roofless dungeon,
They remembered God rebukes the proud.

The stone door clanked open wide,
But only for a moment, in the gloom.
The girls were pushed and squeezed inside,
'Mid the bodies in that crowded tomb.

One day a lined face appeared before them,
Widow Margaret MacLauchlan, their own.
They gasped and reached each other, then.
"Oh, my friend!" they each did bemoan.

"We must not waver; we must be strong!
The LORD will be our help, I ken."
Thus they waited, bursting out in song,
Fin'lly huddling to sleep after the last amen.

They were brought before the court's bench,
Margaret Wilson and her sister.
"Does the king control the church?
Or does God?" the voices blistered.

"God," they cried in unison,
Young Agnes along with Margaret.
Their sad fate they could envision,
But they turned not to vile regret.

Their father fought to free them,
Paying ransom for the younger;
But Margaret still they would condemn,
Though Mr. Wilson contended longer.

Morning eclipsed morning, nothing changed;
Bread and water were all their meat.
Some pris'ners fell, some grew deranged.
Some shared a cloak for added heat.

'Twas dark each night, no sign of a lantern,
And oft the rain pummeled their heads;
But the true and righteous could not turn,
Not bend, though they ached for soft beds.

They were prepared, these Margarets twain,
Reciting many a verse of God's Holy Writ.
They fainted not in adversity nor died in vain,
No drowning could put out their glow, once lit.

So when the guards came, mocking,
On that pale gray Wigtown dawn,
The torch-lights of the prison wing
Were steadily burning on.

'Twas May of sixteen hundred eighty five
When they were hauled into the tide,
The younger watched the older strive,
And called it the wrestling of Christ inside.

Margaret sang and prayed, unafraid.
They dragged her out, panting, for one more proffer,
But her resolve was not allayed;
Eternity with Christ had more to offer.

Reading Challenge, 2011


Reading Chantel's worthy goals at the above link have convicted me. Was I really reading everything that met up with Philippians 4:8? My problem is if I own a book, I it's almost like I have to read it before getting rid of it, even if I'm not sure it will be that good, and once I start reading a book, I like to finish it. I try to read things that aren't defiling, but perhaps it's time to reexamine even the "harmless" fluffy books, ones Christian in name, but hardly in spirit. Maybe I can skim them over to decide if they are worth reading before I read them, as I did with a few that I decided to give away or trade on paperbackswap. Our move to a new house prompted that in part. But I do want to be pleasing to God, to think on the pure and lovely things. I know I'm weak and give in often, but the Lord is strong, and I'm praying He will help me to do far better this year. Hoping that you will join me in the adventure, and read the books that really do get through to you...in a good way.

~~~~~

My goals, then, are to read books that are more spiritually or practically helpful. Fewer fiction books. I'm going to set the goal of at least 10 nonfiction Christian books. No more than 10 fiction books. And probably a few classics or other nonfiction books.

Last year I read 8 nonfiction Christian books, plus the Bible. 3 classics. 6 secular nonfiction books. And a whopping 25 random fiction books. A little off-balanced, wouldn't you say? Hoping I can do things a little differently this year! If I do read more than 10 fiction books, I want to make sure they are good ones, and I'm especially trying to stay away from romance in the modern sense.

I didn't start off too well, perhaps, but it could have been worse. Yesterday I started and today I finished Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana by Melanie Dobson, which was not as much a romance as it sounds by the title. More of a historical novel, with some romance at the end.

Now I am starting to read the classic theology book called The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, which I received free--thank you, Ligonier Ministries! It is already a very thought-provoking book and one I think I can really recommend.

I also want to finish at least most of the 15 other books I started last year or before!