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A Parachute Prayer for the New Year

Parachute PrayerAs we prepare for the New Year, whether we make resolutions or not, many of us become introspective, considering improvements, goals, habits, and dreams. There’s just something about a new day, week, month, year, decade, or millennium that seems to trigger this in us: the desire to grab hold of something brand new and make something beautiful out of it.

I think it has something to do with being made in the image of our grand, Creator God. We want to create, too! Yet when one year doesn’t go exactly as planned, we look forward to the opportunity to try all over again.

I don’t usually make resolutions, but I do set goals, make plans, and dream. I’ve been ultra-compulsive about it this year, in fact. I think that comes naturally out of becoming an empty-nester and embarking on a new phase of this life’s adventure. I have books to write, many more to read, and a great desire to organize ev-er-y-thing. I’m also feeling called to pray like never before and am greatly intrigued to discover where that calling will lead. (If you are following this blog, I promise, prayer will be this year’s biggest theme!)

  • How do you approach the New Year? Do you make resolutions, reflect and goal-set, or simply try not to think about it much?

If you approach the New Year like I do, you need to know that all this introspection, reflection, and goal-setting is meaningless if your perspective is off. In order to move forward effectively, we must first learn to see ourselves as God sees us.

New Year PrayerFor example, whether or not we lose an extra five pounds is probably one of God’s lower priorities for us. He wants us to make healthy choices and care for His design. If we’re doing that, the number on the scale is irrelevant. When we train ourselves to place our focus where His is—such as on the healthy choice instead of on the scale— we’ll probably take a lot of pressure off of ourselves. Then we will be able to serve Him with a better frame of mind: “God loves me and has meaningful work for me to do. I’ll care for myself so that I can serve Him well,” rather than “I’m not good enough to serve God because I just can’t seem to reach this goal. I am a failure. I’m incompetent. Poor me.”

In light of this, let’s practice a new Parachute Prayer: Whenever you see your reflection, pray, “Lord, please help me see myself as You see me. Help me to cooperate with You as I see You working in my life. Make me over in Your image that I’ll be able to serve You well. In Jesus’ name and for Your glory, amen.”

If we do this, God will answer our prayer and help us to see our own lives from His perspective which is, truthfully, the only perspective that counts. Armed with this point of view, we’ll be able to step into 2014 with confidence. God will make something truly beautiful using us.

For more encouraging thoughts this weekend, visit The Weekend Brew and Spiritual Sundays.

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Book Review: A Christmas Gift for Rose

I would classify A Christmas Gift for Rose as an Amish historical fiction romance with an emphasis on the historical romance. Set near the end of World War II, this story opens with the main character, Rose, feeling both heart-broken and perplexed. Her ex-fiancé has just returned from an overseas tour of duty as a medic. His choice was controversial and suspect because the Amish are pacifists. His people expected this man to go to jail for refusing to serve rather than volunteer before even being drafted. Rose has heard all of their worries, complaints, and judgments and feels she must stand firm in her decision not to marry after all. She hasn’t heard his side of the story, though.

And Rose’s life is about to change with unexpected news about her own, shaky standing among her people. Rose will have to come to terms with who she is and to whom she belongs as everything she believes is hers will seem to be taken away.

I enjoyed reading this story and appreciated how author Tricia Goyer handled such subjects as military service, post-traumatic stress, poverty, and adoption. Readers who favor historical fiction with an enduring message will want to read this book.

I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending a complimentary eCopy for this honest review.

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Book Review: The Cutting Edge

Books!The Cutting Edge by Ace Collins is the story of a popular supermodel who has just received the offer of a lifetime, a dream contract that will make her career. Unfortunately, accepting this offer will require that she compromise moral standards she’s mostly managed to cling to in spite of pressure from her industry. Leslie decides to head home to talk with her parents before making any decision. Before she can get there, though, she’s brutally assaulted in a dark alley. Her attacker leaves her for dead, yet hopes that she’ll live, knowing he stole something that probably meant more to her than life: her beautiful face.

As you’ve probably already figured out, the rest of the book is about Leslie and her family learning to cope with this loss and Leslie discovering the source of true beauty.

The story has potential, but fell a bit short of reaching it. To be fair, I’m writing this review from an unedited ARC (advanced reading copy) that I received from the publisher (Abingdon Press) in exchange for this honest review. The final version may shine. We’ll see what a great editor can do!

The sequence of events leading up to the climax and the final resolution were good. Through the rest of the book, though, characters didn’t always act believably. For example, though Leslie was from and in a small town, she’d been living alone in New York City. She would have known better than to leave the lighted area of a mostly abandoned airport in the middle of the night and to approach a strange vehicle pulling up to the curb. Even though she had called a taxi, those vehicles are clearly marked. A single woman who’d been living in New York City would have known to be cautious. It would have been instinctual. Further, Collins implies that Leslie had no choice but to live with her parents after her attack because she had nowhere else to go. I didn’t understand this. She lost her job because of the attack, but she wouldn’t have lost her bank account. She’d been a successful supermodel. Where did all her money go? Elements like this made it hard for me to engage with this story.

I did appreciate the opportunity to read it, though. And, as it’s the second in a series, I’m curious to read Leslie’s cousin’s story, Darkness Before Dawn. Meg, the cousin, encourages Leslie throughout The Cutting Edge.