Archives For Christian Fiction Book Club

Update: Winner of this sweet story is Tracy! I’ll be emailing you soon!

“When my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”~~Psalm 17:10

This verse kept running through my mind as I read Julie Klassen’s historical novel, The Girl in the Gatehouse. In the story, Mariah Aubrey stumbles into disgrace and, as a result, is harshly rejected by her autocratic father. He banishes his heartbroken daughter from their home—with only a brief good-bye for her mother and sister—and hides her away in a relative’s gatehouse. It is there, in a quiet corner of a country estate, which happens to be across the street from the poorhouse, that she builds a new family from the eccentric and endearing characters who come her way—servants, orphans, outcasts, and even a handsome Navy captain.

In writing this story, Julie Klassen was inspired by Jane Austen as she created her main character, premise, and a few scenes, and I know many of you are Jane Austen fans. However, I sometimes find an Austen novel a bit cutting in its treatment of a character’s weaknesses. Also, it seems to me that Austen often portrays the secondary characters as either scoundrels or fools.

So the tone of The Girl in the Gatehouse reminded me more of one of my best-loved authors: Louisa May Alcott. Mariah is a secret author, like Jo March in Little Women. She is rejected by proper society, like Phoebe from Rose in Bloom. Mariah and her friends perform the theatricals she has written, as do Jo March and her sisters. And the gatehouse world is peopled by unconventional folks who charm and entertain—as are Louisa May Alcott’s warm, homey novels.

(Follow this link to download a copy of Rose in Bloom for your Kindle for $.99, or at this link, it’s free in several formats.)

I loved how Mariah was pulled into the lives of the poorhouse inhabitants and soon became enmeshed in their troubles more than her own. And I would have a difficult time choosing a favorite out of the droll characters she comes to love. Would it be the tough old sailor who uses his spyglass to look into her garden from the roof of the poorhouse? Or maybe the boys who stretch a rope across the road to catch a girl for kissing Friday? Perhaps sweet Miss Amy with her love of scarlet knitting thread and gentle words of wisdom . . .

And since I’m a suspense lover, any novel that combines charming characters, an inspirational thread, dashes of romance, plus a mystery will always win me over. I enjoyed piecing together the mystery along with Mariah and was surprised at how—without any dead bodies to be found or deranged killers on the loose—it kept me turning pages.

Did you also read and review The Girl in the Gatehouse? If so, link up your review here at Edgy Inspirational Romance.

I’m always happy to find a modern-day novelist who carries on the tradition of great authors from the past. How about you? Who are your favorite authors from years gone by, and who have you found to bring you similar stories today? I’d love for you to share any suggestions with me in the comments section.

Follow this link to view Julie Klassen’s Amazon Author’s Page so you can pick up this book or one of her other novels. The paperback versions of her books are $5 and $6. The Girl in the Gatehouse is $7.68 for your Kindle.

***Thanks to Bethany House Publishing for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

Christian Fiction Book Club News: The next book club meeting is on May 21st to discuss the book Words by Ginny Yttrup. Joy, who began this online book club, has the whole schedule listed in this post. I’ve read two of the upcoming novels–Digitalis and The Preacher’s Bride–and they were GREAT!!

Here’s the book blurb for Words: Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn’t speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary. Sierra Dawn is thirty-four and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter’s death, the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself. Brought together by Divine design, Kaylee and Sierra will discover together the healing mercy of the Word-Jesus Christ. You can read the reviews and purchase the book at this link.

And, finally, the Giveaway: I’m giving away my copy of The Girl in the Gatehouse to one fortunate reader! All you have to do is let me know that you wish to be included in the drawing when you comment. I’ll announce the winner on Monday!

This first post of a new week contains fun family photos, book club news, and an update on my newest hot spot on the internet.

First, the Christian Fiction Book Club news: We’re currently reading The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen, but the discussion won’t begin until April 9th. So you should have plenty of time to grab a copy of the book and take part.

Joy at Edgy Inspirational Romance started this book club, and now she’s overhauled it by proposing some changes to help involve more readers and bloggers. She’s wondering if some of you might be able to participate if the time between each discussion is lengthened and if book clubbers know the book choices several months in advance. Joy has provided an array of books and asked us to choose 6 favorites. If you’d like to be involved in choosing books for the clubs in months to come, follow this link to Joy’s survey. Also, you can follow this link to purchase a copy of The Girl in the Gatehouse from Amazon.com.

FYI: A few days ago, my friend Shirley told me about a new author she’d discovered named Jill Marie Landis. And then I found a giveaway going on of Jill’s book, Heart of Lies, at this link. Take it from my friend Shirley, Jill’s an author you won’t want to miss! UPDATE: This giveaway is now over!

Next order of business: In my desire to become a more tech-savvy woman, I’ve recently begun tweeting! I can’t take advantage of all the best aspects of Twitter without a great iPhone, but I’ve truly been enjoying dipping my toes in the water of the Tweeting Community. If any of you out there tweet, you can find me here. I’d love to follow you!

And lastly, the photo-fest: Here are a few of the shots I took at two family events, my nephew’s thirteen birthday and my sister and brother-in-law’s fortieth wedding anniversary. God has blessed me with an encouraging, supportive family. And sometimes I just like to show them off!

The ski jump cake I made for my snowboarding nephew

Cool at any age

Why is the box more fun than what was inside?

A gift I pretended to open again and again and again . . .

Niece G. with special friend

Niece M. with hubby

Getting ready for the photo shoot

A great looking bunch, don't you agree?

Feel free to leave a comment and fill me in on what’s new in your life. Hope you have a week filled with blessings!

Yay! It’s Book Club Day! The February Free-for-all and Friday are both finally here! I hope you’re ready to tell us all about the book you read. If you’re a blogger, you know what to do–enter your blog post in the linky list at the end of this post. If you’re not a blogger and want to share, just write about your book in the comments section. Then lets all hop around and comment on each others’ reviews.

I’ll leave this post up for the weekend. And just for fun, if we have enough participation, I have a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate Giveaway to share with one fortunate reviewer.

This month I chose to read Nicole Baart’s beautiful coming-of-age novel, After the Leaves Fall, which focuses on the life of a young girl named Julia. Here’s how the story begins . . .

“Waiting is a complicated longing. I lost my father when I was fifteen, and I’ve been waiting ever since . . .

I began to exist in a tension between wanting and not wanting—waiting for something I couldn’t even pin down in my most naked and honest moments. Waiting for a balance where I neither ached nor forgot, regretted nor accepted. Waiting for my heart to be light again yet fearing the implications of that same lightness. I suppose I waited for peace—an end to my own personal warfare . . .”

Then Julia’s grandmother shares the words of wisdom from which the novel takes its title: “‘You know what my favorite time of year is?’

I blinked for the first time in minutes and looked up at her. ‘Huh?’

She continued without looking down at me, ‘I love it best when the leaves fall.’

I didn’t know what to say.

‘Lots of people like autumn because the leaves turn such pretty colors.’ Grandma smiled at this as if she had a secret, something sweet and unforeseen that she was going to share with me. I watched the familiar, wrinkled profile soften. ‘I like it when all those leaves fall because it’s such a small thing that means so very much.’ Pulling her hand out of mine, she turned to me and tilted my face toward her own. ‘Do you know what I mean?’

I didn’t.

She searched my face. ‘There’s this subtle sadness—winter is coming, and it’s going to be hard and cold. And there’s a feeling of good-bye. But there’s also . . .’ She searched for the right word. ‘Suspense? Maybe hope? Because it’s not over, everything is just waiting for spring. Do you know what I mean?’

Grandma sounded expectant, and I smiled at her because I loved her better than anyone else in the world now that Dad was gone. ‘I think so,’ I said quietly.

‘You can see more clearly when it’s all stripped bare. You can see that everything gets to be new.’ Grandma smiled at me with every hope for our future shining in her eyes. ‘That’s the good part.’

A gust of wind from the southwest shot through the trees and showered us with cold water and soggy leaves that were anything but hopeful.

I’ve been waiting a long time for the good part . . .”

My take on the story: This young heroine crept into my heart. At times her words reminded me of things I have felt and struggled with. Other times, I simply wanted to be the mother she was longing for. As I read, I kept thinking of the verse, “When my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” (Psalm 27:10)

I hurt with Julia as she struggled to become a new creation without the power of the Savior. I wished she hadn’t chosen to learn so much the hard way. However, though some of her missteps were painful, the end of the book brought hope and healing.

BTW, I would welcome her wonderful grandmother into my home any day! When I was a teen, I would’ve loved to know someone like Julia’s Grandma–just to sit at her feet and soak in all she’d learned about God and His ways . . . As you can tell, these characters seemed very real to me! Continue Reading…

Hey, guys, great news! If you’ve read a Christian fiction book this month, you can write about it, link up or share your review here, and be eligible to win a prize! If you’re not a blogger, you can email your thoughts on your book to me (reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com) or you can share your thoughts in the comments section of my review when I post it.

I’ll post my review on Friday, February 25th, and we will have the weekend to link up and read each others’ reviews.

This is a great way to fellowship by sharing our values, hearts, and special favorites with each other. So join us. It’ll be fun! I promise!

If you’re new at this and don’t know what to write, consider these questions . . .

  • Which character did you relate to and why?
  • Which character did you love and want for a friend?
  • How did the author’s story touch your heart or affect your view of some aspect of life?
  • Could you relate to the situation in your book because of something in your own life?
  • Did the dialogue or situations in the book make you smile?
  • Would you read another book by this author?

For further details about books suggestions and how this all works, see my original book club post at this link.

 

Maybe all of us have asked the question at one time or another, “Is there more to life than this?” One of my favorite country songs says it this way, “You know I’m more and more convinced the longer that I live that this can’t be–No, this can’t be. No, this can’t be all there is!” (from Believe)

A book I read recently brought this strongly to mind. It put me through an emotional wringer (for reasons I might share in a future post) and sent me to my Bible to soak in some of God’s familiar promises. The novel is this month’s book club selection, Crossings Oceans by Gina Holmes.

Since some of you may have the same question in your heart, I’d like to focus on one aspect this significant story brought out: What happens when life on earth is through?

First, a story summary: Crossing Oceans, by Gina Holmes, is the poignant and lovely story of Jenny Lucas, who must “navigate the rough and unknown waters of the new reality in her life when she returns home with her young daughter to her stoic, distant father and her oxygen-toting grandmother.” The story speaks to some of the universal themes we all deal with—moving on from unrequited love, learning to forgive, letting go of the past, becoming a better person for those we cherish, and adjusting to whatever ‘new normal’ life throws our way.

One of the key relationships in the book is between Jenny and her dad. These two can’t even discuss the weather without throwing in digs and accusations.

 

The main source of misunderstanding between them stems from the fact that they’ve both been marked by watching beloved wife and mother, Audra, suffer the ravages of cancer. Since Jenny was a teen when her mother died, she sorely needed the comfort of her surviving parent, but her dad closed himself off behind a wall of bitterness. Only after many heartaches and wasted years, are they able to bridge the gap between them.

Look at how the following lines from the novel describe one of Jenny’s visits to her mother’s grave:

I knelt on the grass, ignoring the lumpy ground pressing into my bare knees. Though some found it sacrilegious to set foot on a grave, let alone sit atop it, to me it was as close to my mother’s lap as I’d get on this side of heaven.

Even as an adult, Jenny longs for her mother. Audra’s death has shadowed her life. We’ve probably all read about the process of grieving and the steps involved, even if we’ve never experienced them. Yet, like Jenny and her father, we’re reticent to speak of it, deal with it, or prepare for it. But we don’t need to be if we’ll simply educate ourselves from a trustworthy source. The Bible says that we were created to live forever.

 

I believe deep down inside, we all know this to be true because God has placed eternity in our hearts. We find ourselves longing for permanence. We try to build things that will last forever: pyramids filled with mementos, towers that reach the sky, unsinkable ships. Yet eternity may only be found in Christ. Through Him, we’re promised a new heaven and a new earth.

Just think of it: all that we love and none of what we detest. No more crying, sickness, death, disease, abuse, power-struggles, tsunamis, earthquakes, unemployment, poverty—you name it!

And I also believe that the more firmly convinced we are of our salvation, of Christ holding our lives in His hands, the more confident we’ll feel that there’s more to life than this. Not that we’re eager to see our happy lives on earth end any time soon! But don’t we all want to know that there’s more to come? That this life is just prologue to an incredible future?

Jenny believes it. After witnessing her mother’s experience with death, she becomes convinced that there is life everlasting for the child of God. While at the grave, she thinks of this:

I looked back down to her headstone. “Here lie the remains of Audra Ann Lucas, beloved wife, daughter, friend. Do not mourn her, for she lives.” As if I hadn’t see these words a thousand times, I stared, amazed at the profoundness of them.

Jenny’s new perspective also gives her an appreciation for the beauty of life here on earth:

I closed my eyes, letting the sun rays soak into my anemic flesh. They felt as nourishing to my soul as Isabella’s kisses or Mama Peg’s touch. The simple joy of breathing fresh air, feeling the sun and being among the green God created filled me with amazement. I scanned the trees with their heavy limbs, the grass cushion under me, and the wisps of white sailing on a sea of blue above. The simple grandeur of it all took my breath away. Placing a hand over my heart, I marveled at such beauty—so familiar and yet it felt new. I’d had all this at my disposal my entire life, but I’d never really appreciated it.

Jenny learns much from her mother’s death and comes to truly believe that she’ll see her again. Her epiphany reminded me of an old story told by Bible teacher and preacher J. Vernon McGee:

 

There is a story of sweetness and beauty which enlightens the heart of every person who has lost a loved one to death. It concerns a custom among the shepherd folk of the Alps. In the summertime when the grass in the lower valleys withers and dries up, the shepherds seek to lead their sheep up a winding, thorny, and stony pathway to the high grazing lands. The sheep, reluctant to take the difficult pathway infested with dangers and hardships, turn back and will not follow. The shepherds make repeated attempts, but the timid sheep will not follow.

Finally a shepherd reaches into the flock and takes a lamb and places it under his arm, then reaches again and takes another lamb, placing it under the other arm. Then he starts up the precipitous pathway. Soon the mother sheep start to follow and afterward the entire flock. At last they ascend the torturous trail to green pastures.

The Great Shepherd of the sheep, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, has reached into the flock and He has picked up a lamb. He did not do it to rob you but to lead you out and upward. He has richer and greener pastures for you, and He wants you to follow. For as He promised:

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I [Christ] go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” ~John 14:2,3

Now that’s a promise you can build your life upon!

If you haven’t read Crossing Oceans, follow this link to purchase a copy for yourself.

Follow this link to contact the author, Gina Holmes, at her website.

Lydia at The Overweight Bookshelf has written a great review of this novel and is hosting a linky list of book club reviews for you to check out here.

How about you?

  • Can you relate to Jenny’s experience?
  • What are your thoughts on eternity?
  • How should our view of eternity affect our lives today?
  • Any words of hope to share?

There will be a day . . .

January’s book club selection has been compared to A Walk to Remember and The Notebook, and the author has been compared to both Charles Martin and Karen Kingsbury, as well as Nicholas Sparks. The book has also been described as similar in tone to Hope Floats, Steel Magnolias, and Terms of Endearment. That’s a lot of acclaim for one debut novel!

This month’s Christian Fiction Book Club choice is Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. Here’s what Gina’s website says about the book:

Nothing deepens a stream like a good rain . . . or makes it harder to cross. Jenny Lucas swore she’d never go home again. But life has a way of upending even the best-laid plans. Now, years after she left, she and her five-year-old daughter must return to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form of her oxygen tank-toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father, and David, Isabella’s dad. Who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter.

As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love to change everything—to heal old hurts, to bring new beginnings. Even to overcome the impossible.

So what’s been holding you back from joining in the Christian Fiction Book Club fun? I know time is at a premium for most of us. Perhaps spending money on extras–like a book you don’t even know you’ll like–is an issue. Or maybe you’re too shy to share your opinion in the comments section of the blog.

This might be the time, the first month of the new year, to change all that!

Our hostess for this month’s club is Lydia at The Overweight Bookshelf. And Book Club Day is January 29th.

Purchase Crossing Oceans, new or used, at Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or Half.com.

My first blog post is dated July 31, 2010. So on Friday this week, I will have been blogging for five months! I’ve wanted my blog to do-it-all: tell my own stories, relate other people’s stories, review great books, inspire, entertain, and offer giveaways. But the very best part of blogging has been connecting with new friends and old—readers, fellow bloggers, product reviewers, favorite authors, women of faith, other aspiring writers and book-aholics. So I hope you all will stick with me as we head into the New Year together!

This week I’ll be reviewing several books. On Tuesday I’m taking part in a blog tour for an intense suspense novel. Later in the week, I’m reviewing a perfect after-Christmas pick-me-up. And Monday is Book Club Day! If you love Amish fiction, you’ll want to know more about this month’s book.

Have you ever made a new acquaintance and almost immediately felt like you’d know them forever? That’s how I reacted to the charming Brenneman family. No matter that they’re creations of author Shelley Shepard Gray. After reading Grace: A Christmas Sisters of the Heart Novel, I wish I too had shown up at the door of the Brenneman Bed and Breakfast to be welcomed as an unofficial member of the family!

This story begins on December 20, with the Brennemans discussing how they’ve accepted no reservations for the week of Christmas. Their rooms will be filled with family. They have plans to spend their days reading, taking long walks, baking, doing puzzles, and otherwise, relaxing. All that changes when two unexpected guests arrive.

What happens next? Nothing out of the ordinary. A hunting trip. Some car trouble. A little fighting and misunderstanding and making up. New friendships are forged. Folks fall in love. A baby is born. And all within the space of a few days’ time.

The novel Grace focuses on the inner conflicts of several characters. Handsome Levi comes to the inn to wait out the holidays and their painful memories as best he can. However, the Lord wastes “no time in proving to him that it wasn’t possible to avoid feelings and responsibilities and hurts. They always came back.” In spite of his pain, he finds himself drawn to Melody, who is due to give birth any day.

Winsome Melody has been the victim of an assault that left her pregnant. At first, “she felt embarrassed and worried and scared. And so completely, totally worthless.” As she and Levi form a fragile friendship, she grows more confident that God has not abandoned her and has good things in store for her future. A future which might include raising her baby. When Levi asks if keeping her child will remind her of the terrible man who hurt her, Melody says, “Yes, but I think it will also be a reminder to me that the Lord doesn’t do anything without a reason. Perhaps one day I’ll discover what His reasons were for me to have this child.”

Gray also shows the budding friendship of another couple, Leah and Zack. Leah is Melody’s best friend, who is determined to make her way through a storm to be with her friend. And Zack is the young patrolman she meets along the way.

The Brennemans work their magic on all these people by exercising their gift of hospitality. They provide the atmosphere of acceptance, kindness, and peace. And God does the rest.

The theme of the book is summed up in the title: Grace. I once learned the definition of this word in acronym style:

G—God’s
R—Riches
A—at
C—Christ’s
E—Expense

Grace is epitomized by God sending His Son to pay the price for your sin and mine. Grace is God loving us while we were yet sinners. Grace is God giving us the gift of a relationship with Him, made possible because of all His Son gave up for us.

Are you interested in experiencing a taste of Brenneman life yourself? Author Shelley Shepard Gray has written two series, Sisters of the Heart and Seasons of Sugarcreek. You can follow this link to view all of her books and make a few purchases!

Discussion questions:

  1. At first Katie Lundy resents the arrival of Melody and Levi because she feels they’ve ruined her family’s Christmas. What is your idea of the perfect Christmas? Do you recall a Christmas when things didn’t go as planned? How did you respond and what did you learn?
  2. Melody never wavered in her decision to keep her baby. Was this the right decision? Would you have blamed her if she had wanted to give the baby up for adoption?
  3. Leah was determined to go out of her way to be by Melody’s side on Christmas Day. Have you ever gone out of your way for a friend? What was the result?
  4. The Amish rarely decorate for Christmas. They have no tree, nativity, or wreath. They sing no Christmas carols. However, many exchange Christmas cards, bake cookies, and give one or two meaningful gifts. Do you think most families would benefit from simplifying their Christmas a bit? In what ways?
  5. One of the Brenneman’s traditions is to read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. What are some family traditions you love?
  6. The concept of grace is an integral one to the story. How have you experienced grace in your life?

Now for the giveaway! I have a $10 Amazon gift card to give away to one fortunate winner. Mandatory entry: Follow my blog via Facebook at this link and answer one of the discussion questions–even if you haven’t read the book. (There are several to choose from in case you’re tired of talking about Christmas.)

Bonus entries: Make separate comments for each bonus entry.

1. Follow my blog through Google Friend Connect.

2. Subscribe to my blog via email–through the box in the sidebar–and make sure your subscription is verified.

3. Answer any additional discussion question.

Feel free to return to this post any time until the end of December to complete more bonus entries!

And . . . let me add that I give Joy to the World when I write about beautiful, uplifting literature!

And Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.” (Matthew 1:5-6)

Why would God choose to give Rahab, a former Canaanite Harlot, the honor of bearing a son whose lineage could be traced to King David and then Christ? Because He is a God of forgiveness, grace, and second chances. And Pearl in the Sand, Tessa Afshar’s version of an Old Testament story, beautifully depicts this aspect of Rahab’s life.

In the first pages of the book, the author presents Rahab as a tender young girl who becomes scarred by the customs and practices of her native Canaan. She recoils in revulsion when she witnesses her baby nephew’s sacrifice. Then Rahab’s desperate father betrays her by giving her away to a rich man for enough gold to keep his family for a year. These two events drive Rahab to despair, but they also eventually drive her to seek shelter in the arms of Israel’s God.

I read this book as part of an online Christian Fiction Book Club, and I’d love for you to join us for the next one! I’ll post more details about the November club soon. If you just want to trust me that this is a must-read, skip this section and sign up for the giveaway below! Those of us in the book club had a chance to think through the discussion questions included in the back of the book. I’ll answer a few of these here. If you’ve read this book, please add your thoughts in the comment section at the end of the post. I’d love to hear your take on the story!

1. In chapter 3, we see Rahab being drawn to the Lord. What qualities does she perceive in God that draw her to Him? I loved how the author portrayed Rahab being drawn to the Lord. First, she hears a tale of a Hebrew spy who cried at the sight of children being sacrificed in the Canaanite temple. The following lines relate her astonished thoughts:

“Rahab turned toward Debir holding her breath. A god who cherished life? A god who cared for unnamed babies? A god who could see Canaan’s iniquity and declare them beyond redemption? Again she felt that longing, stronger than before. The irony of it didn’t escape her, the pitiful irony of a prostitute of Jericho longing for the God of the Hebrews.”

Rahab views Canaanite society through new eyes as she contrasts the cruelty of her people with the compassion of the Jewish God. When she looks at her city, she says to the God of the Hebrews, “Am I seeing what You see when you look at Canaan?” Rahab then goes on to ask God’s pardon and experiences an inexplicable peace. This whole scene came alive to me as vivid picture of repentance. For I have learned that repentance is not real in me until I see my sin the way God sees it.

2. In chapter 21, Salmone calls Rachel his Jericho. What does he mean? I also thoroughly enjoyed the scenes between Rahab and Salmone. For me, the author’s spiritual insights heightened the romance and added depth to the budding relationship. Salmone refers to Rahab as his little Jericho, because he feels God has given him the job of loving Rahab enough that she will pull down her defenses and allow him into her heart.

3. In chapter 23, Salmone tries to explain the difference between shame and true guilt. Explain this in your own words: When Rahab can’t quite understand how God (or Salmone) can pour out mercy when she expects judgment, Salmone explains:

“I suppose our sins warp our expectations. I mean that the reason God seems to act in ways that make no sense to us is that our perceptions are wrong. Our expectations are subtly twisted. We long for things that harm us and run from the things that grow and heal us. We think good is bad and bad is good. God acts rightly, but to us, it seems confusing. Or sometimes plain wrong.”

His words brought to mind some of my favorite verses, II Corinthians 7:10-11: “Godly sorrow [true guilt] brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow [shame] brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.”

True guilt is produced in our hearts by the Holy Spirit for one purpose: to bring us to repentance. I John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.

So once we confess something and God forgives, it’s over—no matter what our feelings tell us.

Shame or false guilt plagues us when we doubt God’s love or fail to trust His forgiveness. We needlessly beat ourselves up again and again over the things we’ve brought to God. It’s a major victory in the story when Rahab is finally able to realize this truth.

For the story of another woman of the Bible who experienced God’s forgiveness in a person way, follow this link to A Cup or a Bucket: The Woman at the Well.

Here are some of the remaining thought questions. Even if you haven’t read the book, think about how you would answer these questions. Would your answers match what God’s Word has to say? As always, feel free to share your answers in the comment section below.

In your own life, were there ways your family failed to love and protect you?
How do you feel these circumstances have affected you?
Use three words to describe God as you understand Him.
What gives you your sense of worth?
How do you think your life shows this?
How do you think God feels about you?
What are some qualities of God discussed in this story that touched your heart?

I appreciated so many things about this story and encourage you to grab a copy of your own or sign up here to try to win mine!
I’ll hold a giveaway of my copy of Pearl in the Sand from today until Wednesday, November 3rd.

Steps To Enter the Giveaway:
1. Join this blog through email or Google Friend Connect. To join by email, enter your email address in the space provided on the sidebar. But you’re not done yet! Look for an email from Doorkeeper or Feedburner in your personal email account. Follow the link provided to verify your subscription.

2. Leave a comment here to let me know that you are a follower or subscriber. Be sure to put your email address in your comment. However, write it like this jenniebee [at] yahoo [dot] com and NOT like this jenniebee@yahoo.com. (This helps keep your email safe from spammers!)

Have a great day!