LIVING LIFE BACKWARDS by Narita Roady

My parents both enjoyed roller skating even before they were married and had me. They never dreamed their simple pleasure would be passed down to me in a big way. I remember the first time they took me skating when I was about 6 years old. The rink was big, noisy, and exciting! I was quivering with anticipation and could hardly sit still as Daddy laced up my skates. He helped me down the steps, placed my small hands on the rail, and gave me instructions to stay close to the handrail and make my way around the edge. Off Daddy flew on his skates leaving me to learn on my own. Quite the optimist and with great expectations I was very surprised when my first attempts met with a hard fall, one of many.
As I struggled along, my eyes became riveted to the center of the rink. There skaters were doing jumps, spins and figures. That’s what I wanted to do! I just knew if I could make it to that magic area in the middle of the rink I could do the same! Why not?! I began my painful, slow journey to my goal, roll, fall, get up, roll, fall, get up . . . As I plodded along, people whizzed by me on all sides. The good Lord protected me and oncoming skaters from being seriously hurt, because halfway there Daddy scooped me up and returned me to the cursed rail.
He gave me a stern lecture about not obeying him. I tried to explain to him that I didn’t want to do any rinky dinky (pardon the pun) stuff like that! I wanted to go out and do jumps and spins like the other skaters! I never considered I couldn’t do these things, to me it was just a matter of getting out there. Dad gave me a firm “no”, explaining that first I had to learn to stand up and SKATE. I was to say the least put out by his lack of understanding!
Then with a smile he said, “If you can go all the way around the rink once, I will buy you a coke.” My young, short attention span quickly diverted to the promised treat. I smiled and told Daddy it was a deal. Relieved that he had distracted my unrealistic ambition he went off to skate leaving me to keep up the end of the bargain. With all the strength my little arms could muster, I stiffened my legs, grabbed onto the rail and hand over hand pulled myself around the rink with only a few minor mishaps. As I approached my starting point I saw my Dad and hollered, “I did it!” His brow wrinkled as he said, “But you didn’t SKATE around the around the rink, you PULLED yourself around the rink!” “Yes”, I replied with my brightest smile, ‘but you didn’t say I had to skate, you just said I had to ‘go around’ and I did. Can I have my coke now?” Daddy shook his head and sighed as if I had taken advantage of our “gentleman’s” agreement. Nevertheless, he took my hand and rolled me to the snack bar. I remember contentedly sitting and drinking my coke and watching the other skaters pass by. Little did either of us know that night that a fire was lit within me. “Many years later, after 1000’s of hours of practice and 1000’s of dollars of my Daddy’s hard earned money, I did master those figures, jumps and spins, winning competitions as a competitive skater.
As a child I was trying to do everything backwards. Now being a youngster I had an excuse, but what about now? There are so many areas we as Christians attempt to do this very thing. We deceive ourselves into thinking we can do things in reverse and it will bring success. Satan is working right along with us and loving every minute of it when we put the ideas of the flesh before the wisdom of the Lord. He knows if he can perpetuate this method of thinking, that we will be caught in an unending circle of frustration and discouragement.
One of the most dangerous backwards thinking notions is concerning the lost. A person believes they cannot accept Christ as their Savior until they start living a better life. As children of God, we can see that there is no way to overcome sin without Christ living in you. Yet for the unsaved this can be a real stumbling block straight into hell. We have had people say, “Well I can’t come to church until I stop drinking (or gambling, or just fill in the blank with any sin)”. What they don’t realize is the devil will make SURE they continue to sin! For a couple of years Jerry and I witnessed to a wonderful, caring lady who was struggling with this perilous assumption. Finally one Sunday morning as she sat in tears wanting to be saved but feeling she could not, a light came on! She realized we are all unworthy and He wants us just as we are. She joyfully asked Jesus to save her and a few years later, on her death bed, she had complete joy and peace of where she would spend eternity.
2 Corinthians 6:2b “. . . behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”
Busyness is an epidemic in the 21st Century. It not only distracts us from what is important but has turned into a common excuse for not taking care of priorities. Those trapped fail to realize it is simply Satan’s merry-go-round. A never ending circle of “have to’s” that will never end until we step off and put God’s things first. How many times has your Bible reading and time with prayer dwindled to nothing and you told yourself, “When I am not so busy, then I will start spending time with the Lord.” 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Study takes time, diligence, and daily effort. Aren’t you persistent in making sure that your children do their homework each night? It is necessary for them to learn and apply that knowledge. Don’t you make a concentrated effort to spend time with your family? Relationships require consistent attention to create communication, strong bonds, and love. Do these things not apply to God’s Word and your relationship with Him? Once again the Devil will make sure you are “always” busy!
What about your service to the Lord? The same “backward thinking” rings loud and clear here also. We will be faithful to attend church when “things slow down”. It’s the same old merry-go-round we’re just riding a different horse! How about “Well, Sunday is my only day off!” God created that day as a day of rest and to worship Him, not for our sleep and recreation!” He gave you 6 days to take care of your stuff, Sunday is His! Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Another favorite on the “do it in reverse list” concerns God’s money. Yes, His money. All we have belongs to Him and He shares generously. He allows us to keep 90% and all He asks for is 10%, a dime on every dollar. Pretty fair don’t you think? Yet only 5 percent of Christians in the U.S. tithe. The majority of churches everywhere struggle financially with numerous ones even closing their doors. All the while, God’s money sits in the pockets of many members. Prayer requests for financial blessings and help are commonly heard, yet many often wonder why God does not answer. I would venture to say most Christians want to tithe, but they are waiting until the “bills are caught up” and they are “out of debt”. They will never achieve that goal, and the will continue to battle making ends meet, because they are doing it backwards. They rob God (yes steal from Him) and the expect Him to bless them! “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3:8
Only when we are obedient to God will He bless us. Malachi 3:10, shows us this promise. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
Lastly one of the area’s where backwards living does the most damage is in relationships. It makes for miserable marriages, unhappy families, fractured friendships, unbearable workplaces, and churches filled with discord and contention. The motto here tends to me, “Do unto me THEN I’ll do unto you.” The rational is, “When you start treating me right, I’ll treat you right. Change your attitude and I’ll change mine. Respect me, and then I will respect you. Be loving to me and then I will be loving to you.” In print here it looks ridiculous and immature doesn’t it? Yet in a huge majority of Christian lives today, it appears reasonable and logical. Well it may be to them but it is not to God!
He is our ultimate example of love and mercy. He loves us with Agape love: unselfish, sacrificial, and unconditional. It loves without reservation never considering if the one receiving of it is worthy or will respond in like manner. This is how He wants us to love, expecting nothing in return. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12. In fact, the more we love and the less it is returned, the more God is glorified. This will not only free you from bitterness, anger, and conflict, but it will allow the Lord to work through you in the lives of others in amazing ways. Expecting God to bless us when we disobey or before we obey qualifies for Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
Backwards living just doesn’t work! It won’t bring our desired success. It’s God’s way or no way!
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, June 2014

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The Miting By Dee Yoder

I really enjoy reading Amish fiction, and especially did this book. Not that I would want Amish people to have problems, but the idyllic life portrayed in many books is only showing one side of their lifestyle. This book actually addresses questions I have wondered if Amish youth might struggle with.
Seventeen year old Leah loves the life she leads, the closeness of family and community, and traditions. Her friend Martha was in her rumspringen and using that time to experience many sins the world had to offer. Her desire was to leave the Amish permanently. Leah on the other hand had no desire to explore the English world or leave her home. Her rumspringen was one of a spiritual nature.
The Old Order Amish she was a part of were very strict. Until reading this book I was not aware that the Bishop could set rules for the community he was over. Leah’s Bishop was extremely strict. The only Bible they could read was the German one and she didn’t understand it. Dark purple curtains were only allowed in windows, reflective triangles on buggies were sins, yet sexual abuse within a family was dealt with lightly. It wasn’t that way in other Amish communities and Leah wanted to know the “why” behind all the rules.
After secretly attending a Bible Study at the home of an ex-Amish couple, Leah’s eyes are open to the gospel of Christ and the way of salvation. She accepts Christ as her Savior. She realizes following the Ordnung and being a member of the church will not get her to Heaven. She hungers to learn more about God and read His Word. She tries to be open with her parents but they see desire to grow as rebellious and sinful.
The Bishop advises her family to treat her as if she were shunned to give her a wakeup call. Torn between the love of her family and following Christ she feels forced to leave her home. She moves in with the ex-Amish couple and becomes a part of the English world. While she finds it exciting at first she truly misses her family. How can she remain honest and not denounce her true salvation? Homesickness wins out. Leah returns believing God can work in her family’s hearts and she live Amish yet still read her Bible and be true to her new faith.
Her homecoming is a painful shock. Her family still rejects her. The Bishop insists she must give up her Bible. I will not reveal the ending but I learned of the extreme and harsh measures the Amish will take to keep a member from disobeying. The ending is a special surprise!
The book was excellent. It truly made me think about situations all over the world where people are forced to choose between Christ and those they love the most. The story is a beautiful example sacrificing all to take a stand for Him.
I received this book free from Kregal Publishers. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Emma of Aurora by Jane Kirkpatrick

Do not be intimidated by the size of this book. It is actually 3 books in one: A Clearing in the Wild, A Tendering in the Storm, and A Mending at the Edge. As with all of Ms. Kirkpatrick’s novels, this is based on real people. With exhaustive research the author brings to life the story of a young woman named Emma Wagner. She is a member of the Bethel colony in Missouri, in the 1850’s. It is a communal religious group led by Dr. Wilhelm Kiel. He is very controlling and domineering over every aspect of the member’s lives. I was not aware of this group until I read this book. I found their way of life fascinating and disturbing. Women’s dress codes were so strict they were not even allowed to have ruffles in their petticoats, yet the colony made whiskey for profit and saw no sin in dancing and drinking. Quite an inconsistency!
Emma’s story begins in, A Clearing in the Wild. She doesn’t fit the norm of the Bethel women. She is spunky and defiant of the strict rules. At 17 she falls in love with Christian Giesy, a man almost as old as her father! Dr. Kiel refuses to allow the marriage but Emma’s persistence wins. When the decision is made for Christian to find a new location for the community in Oregon, she convinces Dr. Kiel she is capable of going and cooking for the men. Unknown to anyone other than Emma she is expecting their first child. A secret she keeps until they are well on their way. The description of their journey, the land, and their hardships are incredible. When Christian locates what he believes to be the perfect place, Dr. Keil and the other colonists disagree. The couple faces conflict and rejection from the very ones they strived so hard to serve. Emma’s story is one of great faith, determination, and unbelievable courage.
A Tendering in the Storm continues Emma’s story. Christian and Emma decide to remain on the land they settled and live a separate life from the colony as oyster farmers. Life is hard but their love and the two precious children they now have bring them great happiness. Then tragedy strikes. Christian dies to save another person. Only a few days after his death she realizes she is carrying their 3rd child. With no family or community Emma bravely strives to care for her family and land. She refuses to join the new colony’s location but to stay where her and Christian settled.
Concerned Christian’s parents would take the children because they believed she could not care for them, she agrees to marry a man named Jack Giesy. The condition of the marriage is strictly in name only to make sure her children are safe. Sadly, Jack turns out to be an abusive man. Emma wants to runaway but has nowhere to go. Her faith in God is tested. This book gave even more insight into the suffering and adversities these people faced. Some of them were unbelievable and even more so that they didn’t give up.
A Mending at the Edge, Emma takes her children and flees her abusive husband, Jack. Her only choice is to return the Bethel colony and once again submit to the very tyrannical rules and leadership that she sought to escape. Dr. Keil commands her to attempt to reunite with Jack or be excluded from the colony. Emma works very hard to for the community and is in a position to obtain important things her family needs. Jack suddenly returns and according to the colony’s rules has the right to use the fruits of her labor for himself. Finally he leaves and Emma once again works hard to provide her family with a home. Yet every step of the way Dr. Keil continues to sabotage her efforts, placing heartless and unfair guidelines. She faces even more pain and heartache. Her faith and God and perseverance amazed me. Even under such insufferable circumstances she continued to show love and compassion for others and serve God.
As I have said before, Ms. Kirkpatrick is one of my favorite authors, but she has really out done herself with this trilogy. The story is riveting, moving, and intriguing. The historical details of these people and their times brought the story to life. I promise you when you finish the 1168th page you will be wishing there was more!
I received this book free from Waterbrook Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Candle Bible Handbook by Terry Jean Day and Carol J Smith

This is an outstanding Bible resource for children ages 8 -12. Children rarely have a natural interest in studying the Bible. In fact it can be quite intimidating to them. It is our responsibility as parents, grandparents, and Sunday school teachers to not only teach them about God’s word, but also to encourage an interest to study it. The Candle Bible Handbook is just the resource to aid in this.
It gives them their very own Bible study book they can use on their own.
I loved the flexible cover. It wasn’t a paperback or a hard back, but sturdy and easily handled. The pages are quality paper than will hold up to lots of use.
The maps, illustrations, and pictures were outstanding! They were very colorful and gave excellent visuals of places and people being studied.
There is a chapter for all Old Testament and New Testament books. Each book of the Bible begins with a brief, concise, easy to read synopsis of what it is about. Also included are “Frequently Asked Questions”, things that a child would naturally wonder about. Next is an outline of that book, divided into the main parts that are covered and contains the chapters and verses where they are found. A simple explanation of what occurs in those sections is included.
A part called, “Look Out For”, alerts the child to important truths and lessons that occur. There are also “Study Questions” with scripture references for the child to look further into what he has studied. Scattered throughout the book are words that a child might not understand. The word is thoroughly explained and many times scripture references are given. In the back of the Bible Handbook these words are listed with the definition so they can be referred to without having to go back through the chapters.
Also in the back are more excellent resources. “Promises of the Bible” and “Fifty Very Important Passages” Are listed. I liked the use of bold print for the subject and italics for the scripture reference in these two sections. It made it easy to read. Last of all is “Who’s Who in the Bible”, where the most prominent Bible characters are listed with a small paragraph telling about each one.
This is a lot of information but each page is arranged where it is easily accessed. The title, Candle Bible Handbook is very appropriate. Psalm 119:105 tells us God’s word, “ . . . is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” This is a perfect resource for young, beginning, Bible scholars to find that “light”.
I received this book free from Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Be Bolder Growin’ Older: Overcoming the Temptations of Old Age By Bruce Leiter

Oddly enough post people never think about growing older, they just live in the moment. Unless the Lord takes us home at an early age we most certainly face day when we face those “twilight years”. Just as getting married or raising children, it is a phase of life with no “how to” manual.
Mr. Lieter does an excellent job of giving the reader insight into 10 temptations aging will bring our way. He is very through in covering each one. Each chapter shows the reader the damage they can suffer from giving into the temptation. You are just left hanging, because he also gives you information to conquer each one.
Mr. Leiter includes many of his personal insights and experiences. I was impressed with the in-depth Bible study covering each of the temptations. I liked the large amount of scripture that is included to help the reader truly learn and apply the concepts to their life. All the chapters include Bible Discussion Questions and scriptures to further enhance the study.
I can tell a lot of hard work went into the writing of this book. It is a must read for anyone nearing the senior years are already there. A wonderful book!
I received this book free from the publisher through theBookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Promises of Hope for Difficult Times by Jane Kirkpatrick

I have long been an avid fan of Ms. Kirkpatrick’s historical fiction novels. This is the first of her non-fiction books I read, and I must say it was amazing!
The author lays her heart open wide and becomes vulnerable and transparent in sharing her very private struggles in being a caregiver to her husband. I applaud her courage to do so and help thousands of other facing the same challenges.
Just one year before my husband died my mother passed away. I had cared for her in my home for 4 years. When I received the book last year I had no idea I would lose my precious husband just a few months later. While his health issues did not require me to give him the same care as my mother, there were still intense responsibilities and physical/emotional demands that brought about a exhaustion and discouragement. I never dreamed when it came in the mail what a great source of comfort it would be to me those nights I lay in bed crying.
Each short devotional started with a scripture and must say each one was just what I needed at the moment. I didn’t just read the scripture; I read the entire chapter it was contained in. Then Ms. Kirkpatrick would share a personal story of her experiences. She was completely honest about how the fatigue and stress sometimes brought about feelings of exasperation, anger, and at times even resentment. I had experienced some of those at one time or another in caring for my mother, and was struggling with guilt I could not reconcile. She helped me realize that I was not some horrible person for having them. She offered hope through God’s word and sharing her most intimate feelings and struggles.
This book is a must read for all those being a caregiver and all the struggles and confusion that go with it. This would make an excellent gift for anyone you know who is a caregiver. It is a small book but very powerful.
I would like to thank Jane Kirkpatrick for the opportunity and privilege to review this book.
I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Here is a link to her web page. I hope you will go and check out her other wonderful books.
http://www.jkbooks.com/

Pelican Bride By Beth White

What a fantastic historical fiction novel! This is my favorite genre to begin with but this book was amazing!
Two young sisters, Genevieve and Aimee Gaillain, take a perilous journey to the Louisiana colony in 1704 as mail order brides. Their transport, the French ship the Pelican seems to be the answer to the problems they are facing in their homeland. Their father, a baker, became a martyr for their religious beliefs that went against the Catholic Church. Genevieve is also fleeing execution as a murderer for shooting a soldier to defend her family.
Scared but hopeful they embark on their journey in hopes of finding a good husband and religious freedom. They quickly find they Louisiana is not as promised. Instead they find themselves thrown into the midst of a disorganized settlement filled with filth and immorality. The men they have to choose from are dishonest and crude, even the officers. They must continue live in fear and secret concerning their religious beliefs. Genevieve has protected a portion of her father’s yeast from his bakery that she plans use to make a living as a baker in this new world. Her young sister Aimee is awed by the pomp and importance of the officers, failing to see their glaring lack of sincerity and character. Tristian Lanier, a widower who has nursed a broken heart for many years surprises everyone and asks Genevieve’s hand in marriage. Even more surprising he does so before leaving on a 2 month journey to encourage support and peace of local Indian tribes. His chances of coming back alive are slim.
In addition to the disgusting conditions of the settlement, lawlessness rules, especially in the corrupt leadership. Genevieve finds herself stretched thin trying to help the other suffering women, protect herself and Aimee, and living with the uncertainty and fear for their lives.
One thing that made this such a fantastic historical Christian novel is how the author included so very many detailed facts of politics at that time and the raw and difficult living conditions of the people. The story was fast paced and exciting. Do not read when going to bed at night! It certainly made me think about how blessed we are with our religious freedom today!
I received this book free from Revell publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.