Date Archives October 2017

BOOK REVIEW–And the Shofar Blew

The first time I picked up this book to read, it was an e-book version. I dove into the first chapter, and when I had cause to put it down, I didn’t miss it.
When my baby sister decided to buy me a book as my birthday gift and we didn’t locate the title by Karen Kingsbury which she was determined to buy for me, we settled for this after all its a Francine Rivers’ book. I had no clue it was the same book I had started to read once.
Author: Francine Rivers
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher/publication date: Tyndale house publishers inc/ 2003
Pages: 435 pages(my paperback copy)
ISBN: 978-0-8423-6583-3

Blurb
As Paul and those around him struggle to discern what it truly means to live out their faith, they must ultimately choose between their own will and God’s plan. The story of a dynamic young preacher, committed to building his church–but at what cost?
Paul Hudson seemed like the perfect pastor to lead Centerville Christian Church and Eunice was the perfect pastor’s wife. When Paul accepted the call to pastor the struggling church, he had no idea what to expect. But it didn’t take long for Paul to turn Centerville Christian Church around. Attendance is up, way up, and everything is going so well. If only his wife could see it that way. Still, he tries not to let her quiet presence distract him. But Eunice knows that something isn’t right and it hasn’t been for a long time… Eunice closed the bedroom door quietly and knelt beside her bed. I am drowning, God. I’ve never felt so alone. Who can I turn to but you, Lord? Where else does a pastor’s wife go for help when her marriage is failing and her life is out of control? Who can I trust with my anguish, Lord? Who but you? Grasping her pillow, she pressed it tightly to her mouth so that her sobs would not be heard.
 Related: Read a review of Francine River’s Redeeming love here

Review

The title didn’t suggest much to me as I began. I was focused on getting past the start of the book which I found rather boring.
This isn’t the best book I’ve read by Francine Rivers. I appreciate this book in it’s religious capacity. I appreciate the cogent lessons it draws out for a Christian and for the church at large. But as a piece of art, it didn’t hook me much. Not even the blurb!
Paul Hudson and his wife, Eunice appear as the cutest couple around. They have a son, Tim, and together they’re on fire for God.
A call comes to pastor a once-vibrant, now dying church in California- Centerville Christian Centre.
He shakes up the church with the zeal burning in him. One old elder tells his wife at home:

He’s trying to raise the dead”
Good” she sipped her decaf laced with cream and sugar. “You’re pleased, aren’t you?
“Yep.”
“What about the others?”
“He shook ’em up”.
“We all need a little shaking up now and then

Samuel chuckled. ” I don’t think it’s going to be a matter of now and then, Abby, but a matter of from now on

With the onset of more liberty in a church of his own, Paul’s fire soon needs encampment. He disregards those who brought the call pastor to him, he gets zealous and dreams big.
His dreams are working. The church is growing.
His relationship with his wife and son grows cold.
We encounter how the life of a pastor can radically affect the life of every other person.
We’re left to juxtapose the building God wants us to do to the church (his body) with the building we do to the church ( the structure).
Related: read a review of Francine River’s Atonment child here
Some of the major characters are Paul, Eunice, Stephen, David Hudson, Lois Hudson, Abby, Samuel.
Some of the central themes include: The vast impact of fatherhood on the lives of children; The balance of family life and the ministry call; Love gone sour; Hearing the voice of God.
We have a few beautiful sentences in the book:

Why don’t you gentlemen go out on the patio and enjoy the last bit of sunsine while I clean up the kitchen? Its hot enough in here without you two adding your steam.”
Samuel chuckled. “What do you say, Stephen? You think it’ll be cooler outside?”
Abby turned at the sink. ” you can always turn on the sprinklers.”
Samuel opened the screen door, inviting their guest to follow. “Never argue with a lady, Stephen. If you win, you just end up feeling guilty”. The younger man laughed as he pushed his chair up to the kitchen table”

“We all have besetting sins, Stephen. They’re the trouble that bring us to our knees and keeps us depending on the Lord for strength”

” he intended to woo her not just in the way he had in the early days of their courtship, with flowers and love letters, soft music and dimmed lights, but with the right decisions. Walking the walk, one step at a time. Keeping the faith with her, safeguarding their marriage”

She looked fragile and broken. “You know what hurts most, Euny? I can’t seem to hear the Lord’s voice anymore. It used to be so clear that it was like a trumpet call-like the shofar of ancient Israel. But I can’t hear him anymore. Not even the still, small voice. And I want that more than anything.” She took Eunice’s hand, her eyes filled with anguish. ” Don’t Let it happen to you, honey. Please don’t let it happen”.

The characters are credible and understandable although a lot of times, I was annoyed by the patience the majority of them demonstrated.
My favourite character is Lois, Eunice’s step mother. My love for her grew in bounds when she had cause to go to a pub. All her responses were lit. She appeared bold and brazen for the gospel, she’d only become subdued by the man she was married to. I was glad she heeded God’s wake up call through Eunice to see what she’d been doing all along.
I highly recommend this book to Christians especially Christian leaders in any capacity.
This is also good for anyone who wants a perspective into what it takes to build a home and a church too. Of course, if you’re a fan of Rivers, you shouldn’t miss out on it!

What are your thoughts? Have you read this book before? Are you interested? Feedback!

Finance and perspective

Only self-discipline keeps you learning when there is no one marking your script. Only great managers of self become great leaders tommorow.”

-Excerpts from Engaging the power of self discipline.
We’re meant to improve on ourselves, as humans. When we stop, there is a problem.
We’re to constantly assess ourselves and make necessary improvement.
Any dimension of life you do not have a firm grip on, has room for improvement. It doesn’t matter if that dimension is oily, get good gloves, do something. You should have a grip on it. That’s discipline.
No one wants to get to that stage in their life when they wonder if it’s not too early to regret. Regrets are awful. Regrets are terrible.
For major matters however, it’s best to have a firm grasp pretty early in order to avoid regrets. Live consciously, live with an aim to get better.
Personally, finance has been an aspect I’ve not had full grasp on.
I’ve never entered debts nor had financial difficulties but I cannot categorically say that I can control my finances. Some months, it’s yaaay. Some months it’s naaaay. I wouldn’t even tell you which one surfaces more often.
I spend easily once I’m shopping. My shopping cart just gets fuller and fuller with pretty things, relevant things, yet all the same, things I can do without.
Just on wendnesday, I had an appointment with a natural hair stylist. As the high-maintenance lady that I can sometimes be, I agreed to spend some amount of money. This agreement was over three times what I budgeted to spend before we had our meeting. I was won over by my love for my hair and by my satisfaction that she was quite knowledgable in her field. It took some holy-spirit inspired thinking at night for me to change my resolve. Yes, I still love my hair. No, I don’t like breaking agreements. However, we need wisdom to make wise decisions. We’re people of integrity and we stand by our words, yet wisdom is pivotal.
In the bible, Proverbs6:1-3 says

“My son,
if you guarantee a loan for your neighbor or pledge yourself for a stranger with a handshake,
2 you are trapped by the words of your own mouth, caught by your own promise.
3 Do the following things, my son, so that you may free yourself,
because you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Humble yourself,
and pester your neighbor.
4 Don’t let your eyes rest or your eyelids close.
5 Free yourself like a gazelle from the hand of a hunter and like a bird from the hand of a hunter.

Are you currently taking a decision financially or otherwise which you need to back away from, carefully consider that passage.
Financially, work towards savings and investment, it never hurts.
Work towards discipline. Have a grasp on your finances.
I took another step by following @clevergirlfinance on Instagram. I’m assured those constant tips on the page, would go a long way.
I’ve also subscibed by e-mail to newsletters on their website and I advise you do too. It’s a really helpful platform. I feel richer by simply having discovered their website.
You may not be earning your own money yet ( probably as a student) but why wait till then to get a grip on financial management?
A man is not yet old until regrets take the place of dreams.
-John Barrymore

Do you have plans for your finances? Do you always live by your budget? Share your defeats and achievements in the comment box, let us learn from them.

Mistakes and perspective

Hello. Happy independence day celebration to Nigerians.
Today, I’ll be sharing on mistakes and ways to retrace our steps and learn from them.
I’ll share using instances of mistakes I’ve made over this past weekend and useful tips you could all use, if faced with similar situations.
1. Understand that sometimes, our emotions face court room trials. 
I have written a blog post on vulnerability for several months now which I haven’t uploaded on the blog yet. In retrospect, I feel it could as well have been a sanctimonious post. I thought I was Open, honest and vulnerable because I perceived myself to be so based on certain criteria and also, people’s observation. I went ahead and wrote the post confidently while offering useful points.

Honesty
? that’s true.

Openness
? that’s very debatable among the people who know me intimately.

Vulnerability
? …uh. we have a problem here.
On Saturday morning, I had to expose something I considered quite intimate which got me emotional at a gathering and I guess I wasn’t very pleased with the outcome of the meeting after that. I was a bit hurt. During the day, I looked at the word of God and cried and prayed and looked at the scriptures again, then I slept. I discussed with my sister on the phone later that night.
Today, I wonder what made that incident upset my day terribly. It was my vulnerability on the stand and I took ill emotionally.
If you’re faced with a similar situation, you must recognize that there is a tendency for you to blow the facts of the incident out of proportion because it’s personal to you. If you asked other people, they wouldn’t percieve it as strongly as you do. So, calm your emotions down. Court trials aren’t even as bad as they appear to the lay man.
2. Get what lesson God teaching you and stick to it. Over the next few days or hours, you may want to over-rationalize the issue again. Don’t do that. Stick to what God has told you instead. If you over-rationalize, you tend to justify your own weaknesses too and blame the other party. In case you haven’t realized, the blame game helps no one.
Also, it’s always a wasted experience when you “suffered” so much and you’re still unable to decipher the lesson behind it all.
3. Stick to your plans. Did you schedule plans for the day? Try to stick to them. Your schedule doesn’t have to be overturned if it isn’t a major matter you’re dealing with. You could breathe in and out, literally, then proceed with your responsibilities.
A deviation from your scheduled plans would probably cause more anxiety over the load of work you have to achieve by the next day or cause some other damage.
Trust God for the strength to carry on.
4. Speak to someone who often understands you. I mentioned that I called my sister at night and we spoke. She encouraged me.
I know we all sometimes insist, especially when we’re emotionally spent, that no one truly understands us. No one may understand everything about you but someone understands certain aspects of your life. Why don’t you speak to someone you trust, who would reassure you. This should be done wisely. Don’t speak with someone who will slander the offenders in their quest to ‘help’ you.
5. Don’t downplay what you have/ who you are (because of that error)
I did some reading during the weekend. Mostly blogs- I read new blogs, caught up on old blogs too. I enjoyed doing so. Everyone inspired me richly. It however, didn’t occur to me that I have some people getting inspired by my blog too and that they’re waiting for updates. There was an update I planned to, but failed to make on Friday.
A friend of mine called and asked about my blog. She set me thinking.This post is up to remedy that. I have a good blog,  I will remember that.
These lessons are pretty General yet selective. Like I stated earlier though, they’re simply lessons I drew out from my mistakes over the weekend.
Anytime you’re faced with mistakes you’ve made, rather than berate yourself, look out for lessons.
Don’t get stuck in self loathing by realizing all the wrong things you did without realizing what you can do to improve on them next time. Sharing those tips with others around you is also productive. Enough self loathing people. It’s mind over matter. Perspective matters!
Let us hear from you. What lessons have you learnt from your mistakes of late? We could benefit from them so share with us below.