All posts by libraryfree4all

GOD, Don’t You Even Care?


As the disciples rowed Jesus on the lake, an enormous storm erupted around them, threatening to capsize the boat. Jesus, having spent every ounce of energy he had, was sleeping despite the chaos. He is awakened to the frightened cries: “Don’t you even care that we’re about to die?”

The day of the storm, Jesus had just spent hours and hours teaching huge crowds of people. This was not necessarily a receptive crowd. There were a lot of argumentative and hostile people among them. Ever have a day like that?

And he spent more time explaining things to his disciples. Patience. That’s what’s needed when the folks who live with you, who should be the ones to understand you best, still need tons of explanations. He cared enough to take the time.

This went on all day. It was evening before Jesus asked them to row him across the lake. Sleep probably felt like a mere moment before the accusatory cries came. Don’t you even care?

Our answer to that question makes all the difference. We’re dying down here. Does God care, or not? If you find you’re often overwhelmed, perhaps you know how you’re answering that question, even if you would never let the words escape your lips. So, let us take a moment to strengthen ourselves, and remember the character of our God.

Compassionate – Psalm 103:13-14

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed. He remembers that we are dust.

He’s never going to ask more from us than we can give. He isn’t asking us to save ourselves, or even almost save ourselves. In His compassion, He has taken care of our every need through Jesus, the Christ.

Gracious – John 1:16

Indeed, we have all received grace upon grace from his fullness.

We’re not saved by works, but He gives us plenty to do. The abilities and opportunities we have to work, serve, help, play – all of it – comes from our gracious God. Eyes that can read, ears that can hear, minds that understand, other people to share it with. God’s graciousness is in evidence everywhere because He cares for us.

Patient – 2 Peter 3:8-9

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Patience is an ironic thing. Sometimes, people get yelled at for being patient. God has that happen to Him a lot. But often, maybe even always, the thing we’re yelling at Him about is more evidence of His love for us.

Love – Ephesians 2:4-5

Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

We are His absolute treasure. He always planned to draw us near to Him, into His family through Jesus. It was His pleasure to do that on our behalf.

He loves you. He has sacrificed deeply to prove it. Storms will come, and they will be scary. But one thing you can rest your mind about: God does, indeed care.



The Heavens Declare the Glory of God


The other day I was driving my boys to school when it was still dark. Traffic was already congested, and as I pulled up to the front of the line at the intersection, I looked down the road to my right. The moon was hanging bright and low and heavy in the sky. It was a harvest moon. I mistook it for a road sign at first.
Once I realized what it was, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it and I became a dangerous distracted driver for a moment.

I thought how very long the moon has been hanging out there. In my imagination, time went through a high speed rewind. Everything around me became undone. The road was unbuilt; cars disappeared as well as road signs, light poles, buildings. The ancestors of the current people hadn’t yet arrived.

But the moon was still there, as it’s always been. A deep peace filled me in that moment.

Many times in the Bible, God points to the skies to remind us of His faithfulness. You can count on His promises the same way you can count on the sun coming up in the morning, and the moon and stars staying in their places.  The steadfast love of the Lord is forever. His loving-kindness never ends. He is speaking to us through His creation. Let us draw near.

Psalm 19

Shattering the Power of Death


The people of God are free from the power of sin and death. We are. I believe that, and lately I’ve been thinking about the fullness of the significance of that statement. We are free from so much more than the fear of eternal separation from God. We have been freed to see life as it really is – a way stop, yet so very full of significance!

As I go through life, I’m noticing many ways the power of death attempts to manifest itself. There is a golem who lives inside each of us who wants it’s Precious NOW. If we are not on the alert, we will become enslaved to this merciless master and waste the days the God of creation has given us.

Everyone knows the power of the fear of death (except, perhaps boys between the ages of 7 and 21). But death’s power lures us with many attractions as well. People want every experience available to them in this life. They want to try every food, travel to every beautiful locale, swim with the dolphins, snuba in the Caribbean. The fear of “missing out” drives people to unsuitable relationships. Some grasp at whatever experience is in front of them because – why? The power of death looms behind wasted moments, wasted energy, wasted money because we buy into the lie of “if not now, then never.”

We wear ourselves out pleasing people because we feel we fall short in this life if we don’t perform. The power of death shows up in our desire for significance or eternal youthfulness. Every moment must be documented, shared (blogged about?), preserved, somehow, beyond itself, or perhaps it wasn’t enough.

There is no peace down this road.

We serve a God of peace. He, Himself, has given us our significance. All who have believed in the power of Jesus to save have been given the high honor of being called children of God (John 1:12).

He did not stop there – God has given the moments of our lives eternal significance, as well. We have each been created to do good works, prepared in advance just for us (Ephesians 2:10).

And he has given us relationship with each other that transcends this life. We aren’t individuals trodding this earth for a time. We are part of an eternal family that is being built into a kingdom we are excited to see in its fullness one day (Ephesians 2:19-).

So, God has broken all of the power of death through Christ Jesus. Our days are no longer ruled by fear or immediate desire or striving after the wind. We are grounded in purpose, thankful for our opportunities, patient in difficulty, generous with our time and money, fully awake to the significance of every person and moment in this life, but not held captive by any of it.

Walk in this freedom, my fellow believers. Experience anew the joy of the freedom of God. Let’s be a light in this generation so the power of God will be evident to all.

If You Can Keep It by Eric Metaxas


Wow. I’m not a fast reader, but I inhaled this book. Metaxas lifts our eyes to see again the hope that is America. How long has it been since you’ve listened to retellings of the heroes of our nation’s history? Have you heard or thought about the exceptional circumstances that formed this country of ours? When was the last time you felt proud of America?

Metaxas is an amazing historian with a talent for shining a light on good and noble things. He speaks of things we don’t hear much about anymore: patriotism, heroism, moral leadership, divine purpose.

I don’t know if our nation can be revived, but this is an excellent step in that direction.  I am reinvigorated to pray for our nation. But I do wonder: can our people show mercy to our nation and extend it to the world if they don’t even know what mercy is or that they need it? The ultimate call, in my mind, is for the Church to rise up and fulfill her calling to go, teach and make disciples. Very inspiring book.

Christian Book Awards

As a librarian at a Christian school, I have found that I have to be purposeful if I am going to find books that reflect the interests and values of my students. Books rarely include characters who have lives that portray faith in or concern for the things of God. Like most other forms of entertainment, the publishing industry tends to shy away from Christian themes or portrayals of religion. So, I have found a few organizations that give literary awards for Christian writing, and I keep up with the lists each year to help me develop my library collection.

The Christy Award has been giving awards for excellence in Christian fiction since 1999. They name an overall book of the year every August, and choose winners in several specific categories, including a young adult category most years. Things may look a little different next year because administration of the Christy Award  has just been turned over to the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association). ECPA will be on my radar beginning in 2017 because they have added a Young Adult category to their awards.

The INSPY Awards have been recognizing books since 2010. The award honors “the very best in literature that grapples with expressions of the Christian faith.” The judges are all bloggers who have agreed to the statement of faith that is posted on the INSPY web site. Book nominated for INSPY awards may be from Christian publishers or the general marketplace.

The Crown Lamplighter Awards are lists of uplifting literature for 1st – 3rd (Gallery), 4th – 5th (Crown), and 6th – 8th (Lamplighter) grades. Students at participating schools read the books and vote on their favorite each year. The winners receive the Gallery, Crown or Lamplighter award.

As Christian themes become more popular, there will probably be more award organizations popping up. If you know of any, leave a comment.


Opportunities to Meet Authors

There’s something unforgettable about meeting an author and hearing first hand about the process of creating a book. How many different ways could a story be told? Why choose one perspective over the other? How do the characters develop during the writing process? What role does the editor play?

There are two excellent and free author visit opportunities coming soon in the Houston area:

Kate DiCamillo

Inprint, a literary arts organization in Houston, is hosting Kate DiCamillo on April 17th. You may know Kate DiCamillo because of her story, The Tale of Despereaux. She won the 2004 Newbery Award for the book and it was made into an animated movie in 2008. She won the Newbery again in 2014 with the book Flora and Ulysses! And her 2001 book, Because of Winn-Dixie was a Newbery honor as well.

Find out about the Inprint author visit here: Inprint Presents Kate DiCamillo

Teen BookCon

Teen BookCon is a free annual event sponsored by The Barbara Bush Foundation, Phillips 66, Alief Educational Foundation, and others. It is designed with teens in mind. 25 authors are lined up to attend this year’s event, which will take place on April 2nd. The day will kick off with a keynote speech, followed by five different panel sessions, and it will close with comedy improv. Book sales will go on all day, as well as author signings. I think this is a great opportunity not only to meet authors, but for teens to learn how a conference works. Be prepared to give yourselves enough time to park. It was quite crowded when I went last year.

Visit the Teen BookCon site here: Teen BookCon

Do you know of another author visit opportunity? Leave me a message to get the word out!


Year End Reviews

I review books for a local librarian group, HAISLN, to find titles for recommended reading lists. Here are a few I completed over the last year:
Football Faith by Rob MaaddiFootball Faith, by Rob Maaddi
Football Faith features entries for 52 professional football players (one for each week of the year?). Each entry begins with a favorite Bible verse shared in the player’s own words. Some simply explain how they apply the verse in their own lives. Others describe how the verse contributed to their larger faith journey. Entries are brief, which I believe will keep the intended audience engaged.
Scripture stories are followed by Extra Points, which tell of some sort of charity involvement, mission work, or some career goal or achievement beyond professional football.
Finally, there is a quick overview of the player: position, weight, age, high school, career highlights, etc. Every entry ends with an action photo.
I was provided an electronic advanced copy for review. There were some font and layout issues I assume will be corrected before the book goes to press.
I will be purchasing this title for my private school’s library. This book would be appealing to middle school – high school football fans.

Continue reading Year End Reviews