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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

We’ve made it to Friday, and nearly to November – and it’s snowing, y’all. I’m joining my friend Jess in her #votedearlyreadathon to stay away from scrolling the news. Here’s what I have been reading:

Heather and Homicide, Molly MacRae
MacRae’s fourth Highland Bookshop mystery takes us back to Inversgail, where a true-crime writer is sniffing around a recent murder case. Heather (the writer) is likable, but odd – and when she’s found dead, both the police and the women who own the local bookshop have questions. A so-so plot, but I like retired librarian Janet Marsh and her colleagues. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Dec. 1).

The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow
Anne and others recommended this lushly written fantasy novel about January, a girl who discovers a Door to another world, which might also hold clues to her own history. The world-building is fun, but I found January really irritating, and the action took a while to pick up. Still enjoyable. Found at the Book Shop of Beverly Farms.

The Chanel Sisters, Judithe Little
Before Coco Chanel became a famous designer, she was simply Gabrielle: one of three sisters abandoned by their peddler father and left at a convent. Narrated by Gabrielle’s younger sister, Antoinette, this novel follows the girls as they struggle to make their own way, eventually opening Chanel Modes in Paris. I didn’t know anything about Ninette, but I enjoyed her voice. An engaging, sometimes tragic novel full of romance, fashion and gritty hard work. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Dec. 29).

Stella by Starlight, Sharon M. Draper
Stella mostly likes living in Bumblebee, North Carolina: she and her friends make their own fun, and stay away from the white folks. But then she spots a burning cross in the night, and her father and his friends are determined to go register to vote. Stella is a budding (if ambivalent) writer, and she tries to make sense of what she sees through words. Similar setting and thematic ground to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and full of warmth and heart.

Blacklist, Sara Paretsky
In the wake of 9/11, V.I. Warshawski accepts a simple-sounding surveillance job for a regular client’s elderly mother. But then she finds a dead black man – a reporter – in a nearby pond, and stumbles onto a nest of secrets. One of Paretsky’s most compelling novels yet: so much here about keeping up appearances, giving in to fear, racial profiling and more. Some startling parallels to our current moment.

Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers, ed. Natalie Eve Garrett
I can’t remember where I heard about this essay collection, but I adored it. Thirty-one writers (like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Anthony Doerr) share childhood favorites, the foods that got them through grief and divorce and transition, and simple favorites. Warm and funny and delicious (with recipes!).

The Book of Longings, Sue Monk Kidd
“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.” This declaration begins Monk Kidd’s latest absorbing novel, which is lovely and wise and full of well-drawn characters, including Ana, her aunt Yaltha, her adopted brother Judas, and Jesus himself. This version of Jesus is fascinating and utterly human – and I loved Ana and her stalwart female friends.

Our Darkest Night, Jennifer Robson
I adore Robson’s novels about strong women in wartime, and devoured this one in a day. Antonina, a young Venetian Jewish woman, must pose as a Christian farmer’s wife to escape the Nazis. I especially loved watching Nina make friends with Rosa, her “husband’s” prickly sister, and discover her own strength. Powerful and at times heartbreaking. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Jan. 5).

Love is All Around: And Other Lessons We’ve Learned from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Paula Bernstein
I am a longtime Mary Tyler Moore fan (I went through a serious phase a few years ago). I saw this book on the Bookshelf Thomasville’s Instagram feed and ordered it from them. It’s a fun, heartwarming look at how the show was a pioneer in its era of TV, the close-knit relationships among the characters, and the inspiration we all draw from Mary’s spunk and gumption (and very human struggles).

Links (not affiliate links) are to local bookstores I love: Trident (which has a brand new website!), Frugal Bookstore and Brookline Booksmith. Support indie bookstores!

What are you reading?

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“And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night, and lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them. And the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.’

“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

That is, indeed, what Christmas is all about. Merry Christmas to all my beloved blogosphere friends. I love all of you…and so does the Child who came to save us. May He come for you again as you celebrate His birth.

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Last night I had coffee with a group of women whose hearts I’ve come to love. We meet at Mezamiz once a week (the date is variable), sip our hot or cold coffee-ish drinks of choice, and talk – about jobs, movies, husbands, kids, recipes, haircuts, faith and life. For some reason last night, several of us wound up sharing about our experiences with dramatic reenactments of the Christ story. Jana’s husband, Richard, has played Jesus in several productions, and I was a part of a church Easter musical for five or six years as a teenager. We talked about the profound impact of acting out the Christ-story, on individual believers and on church bodies. But my favorite was a story Amanda told.

Amanda’s husband, Ray, used to have long wavy hair and would get frequent comments such as “You look like Jesus!” from random people in the street or at the grocery store. But one day a little girl ran up to him and asked breathlessly, “Are you Jesus?” He squatted down to her level, looked her in the eye and said kindly, “No. But He’s a real good friend of mine.”

I think I’d like to be able to say that.

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Let there be not one stranger to “Away in a Manger”
Let there be not one soul left untold
Let there be not one face unknown to the face of the One
Who will gather the fold
For Christ’s sake, it’s Christmas
And for Christ’s sake, let everyone know
They all have a choice
So lift up your voice
Make sure they know
By Christmas Eve, pray that everyone sees that
We’ve opened the eyes that were closed
For Christ’s sake, it’s Christmas
And for Christ’s sake – let everyone know

Insightful lyrics from George Strait’s Christmas recording, aptly titled “Merry Christmas Strait to You.” We listen to it every Thanksgiving weekend as we put up the tree and deck the house with Christmas spirit. When I was little I didn’t know that “for Christ’s sake” was a way of taking His Name in vain; the only place I ever heard it for many years was in that song, and I just supposed George was saying that Christ is the reason for Christmas. Which, of course, He is.

There’s a dish full of red-and-green-wrapped candy on the front desk at the office. Peggy is hanging the stockings for full-time staff and students. Today Bethany and I will go buy a Christmas tree, and wrap it with lights and deck it with ornaments and put a star on top. And last night I spent a couple of hours singing choral Christmas songs, and another hour singing praise songs in Jeremiah’s living room, which included “O Come Let Us Adore Him” and “O Come O Come Emmanuel.”

I’m thankful to be where I am at this time of year…somehow, being at a Christian college at least ensures that Jesus is kept on the map during Christmas. It’s harder for us to get buried in tinsel and forget the One who is at the center of it all.

And yet we are still capable of forgetting, as human and fallible as we are. So my prayer echoes George Strait’s words this year, but it’s not only for non-Christians: it’s for those at ACU and other Christian institutions. Especially among God’s people, let there be not one person who looks upon the baby Jesus as someone they do not know. For Christ’s sake, and for our sake (thanks be to God), it’s Christmas. And for the sake of the baby who grew up to be a King, we can’t miss it. We’ve got to make sure we know.

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