<![CDATA[GRAMMARFANATIC.COM - Blog]]>Sun, 30 May 2021 12:54:48 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Before I Called You Mine]]>Mon, 24 May 2021 19:29:13 GMThttp://grammarfanatic.com/blog/before-i-called-you-minePicture
Have you ever started reading a book without really understanding what it is you’re about to experience? Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese is just such a book. I found it by accident—I wasn’t familiar with the author, but the cover and the title drew me in. Once I started reading it, I found it hard to put down.

Before I Called You Mine is the story of first-grade teacher, Lauren Bailey, whose love of children leads her to pursue international adoption. The author paints a beautiful picture of the challenges adoptive parents face, both in the waiting and after the adoption takes place. As Lauren struggles against giving up hope, one of her wise friends tells her, “Right now your child is sitting across the world in an orphanage, waiting for you, too. You may not know your child’s name yet or what their face looks like when they laugh or cry, but God has already gone before you in this. He’s already connected your heart to theirs in a way only He can. I know the wait can feel excruciating while on this side of things, but it’s not in vain. There is purpose in the waiting, Lauren. Don’t allow yourself to lose sight of that.”

Even if we’ve never been involved in adoption first-hand, we all know what it’s like to find ourselves waiting on God for the answer to a prayer—a new job, healing from illness, the return of a prodigal child, etc. Waiting is never easy!

The duo Shane and Shane sing a song called, “I Will Wait for You,” based on Psalm 130. The chorus says,
                I will wait for You. I will wait for You.
                On Your Word I will rely
                I will wait for You, surely wait for You
                Till my soul is satisfied.
Psalm 130:7 sums it up: “O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with Him is plentiful redemption.”
The answer to waiting on the Lord is to rely on His Word and His promises. In His Word we find comfort, encouragement, strength, peace, and God Himself. As we lean into Him, we begin to give up feelings of stress and worry, and instead we find we can trust in His whispered reassurances and perfect timing.

In the author’s notes at the end of the book, she wrote: “Before I Called You Mine is my tenth novel. And while I’m usually partial to my most recent manuscript, there is something vastly different about this story’s hold on my heart. Because so much of the journey found in these pages—of this struggle to live out the kind of faith that often calls us to the edges of ourselves—is my story, too . . . my ultimate hope for this story isn’t about the events of the climax at all; it’s about you. Specifically, it’s about a question I hope you’ll ask yourself: What is the hard that God’s asking me to partner with Him in?”

Who knew that reading a book about adoption would bring the reader to the point of the “struggle to live out the kind of faith that often calls us to the edge of ourselves”? This is where the “rubber meets the road,” where we identify with characters in the Bible who found themselves on the edge. I started to name some of them, but then realized that all of the characters in the Bible at some point, had to come to that same place, because it’s there that we have to decide whether to take God at His word or succumb to our fears and insecurities.

But then comes the author’s other question: “What is the hard that God’s asking me to partner with Him in?”

I have recently begun volunteering at a Christian pregnancy center and even though it brings me joy, it has been hard. I get to see God’s hand at work every time I’m there, but it’s tough to see young girls and women in crisis, faced with the decision to keep a baby and raise it, give it up for adoption or, sadly, to abort it. It’s never easy watching someone dealing with the consequences of a poor decision, but God can bring good out of a bad situation, even abortion, and it builds my faith and confirms to me the promise found in 2 Chronicles 16:9: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.”

None of us is perfect and God knows it, but He loves us anyway. Even though this book told the story of a woman who adopts a child, it made me realize we are all children in need of adoption. Ephesians 4:4-7 reiterates this: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons [daughters]. And because you are sons [daughters], God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son [daughter], and if a son [daughter], then an heir through God.”

I pray this humbles you as it does me, and lets you know you’re not alone in whatever it is you’re struggling through right now. If you’ve accepted your adoption in Christ, embrace it and the whole of God’s love for you! Bring your cares and concerns to Him, because He truly cares for you, and wants to hold your hand through the hard that He’s asking you to partner in with Him.

I commend moms and dads who have walked through the difficult journey of adoption as it is a definite hard. God will surely bless you for your selflessness and desire to serve Him in this way. I’m thankful God gave Nicole Deese this story to tell because I know it will bless those who read it, and may even plant a seed, or confirm, in someone’s heart about adding to their family through adoption.

​Blessings to you!

<![CDATA[Redeeming Love]]>Mon, 26 Apr 2021 20:16:21 GMThttp://grammarfanatic.com/blog/redeeming-lovePicture
​When I started writing my blog back in May of 2020, I had several friends express their love for Francine Rivers’ book, Redeeming Love. It has been many years since I first read it, so I decided it was time to read it again. The author beautifully depicts the tumultuous relationship between Michael Hosea, a Christian farmer who falls in love with a prostitute who goes by the name Angel. He marries her, against everyone’s advice, and then spends years showing her unconditional love, despite the many times she runs away from him as she struggles with worthlessness and memories of her past.
​The author uses the bibilical book of Hosea as the basis for her novel. The story of Hosea and his wife, Gomer, is a picture of God and Israel, loving her unconditionally and drawing her to Himself. As with Israel, God wants to draw us to Himself, even when we feel unworthy, many times running away from Him to pursue loves that never satisfy and a peace we will never find apart from Him.
My ESV Bible footnote states that the name “Hosea” comes from the same verb as “Joshua” and “Jesus” and means “to save or deliver.” The NIV Bible footnote says it means “salvation.” Hosea 1:2 describes the Lord speaking to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.” When the marriage begins, Gomer is faithful to Hosea, just as Israel was faithful to God at first. As Gomer falls into adultery and sin, God reveals to Hosea His desire to save His people and restore them to Himself.
In Redeeming Love, Michael shows Angel in countless ways how much he loves and cares for her, yet because he is only a man, he feels the hurt and pain of her rejection and faithlessness. He tells God, “I could kill her and be glad of it! Seventy times seven. I don’t want to listen to you. I’m sick of listening. You ask too much. It hurts. Can’t you understand? Don’t you know what she’s done to me? Seventy times seven. I can’t help how I feel, Lord. If I thought she could love me, maybe—As you have loved me? It’s not the same. You’re God! I’m only a man.”
We think that because He is God, God does not feel our rejection, but He does. Psalm 78:40 (ESV) tells us “how often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert!” The heart of God is love—a love so deep and abiding that we cannot comprehend it. Romans 8:38-39 (NIV) reminds us: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In Hosea 2:19-20 (ESV), God reveals even more of His heart toward us: “And I will betroth you to Me forever. I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.” We have the privilege of not only being loved by God, but being able to really know Him.
The story of Michael and Angel is one all of us can relate to. At some point in our lives, each of us have “stumbled because of our iniquity” (Hosea 14:1 ESV) and need to turn to the Lord. Some of us, like Angel, make it harder on ourselves by fighting for control of our lives, unwilling to let God’s forgiveness flow over us, unable to receive His acceptance of us, and unaware of the gifts He has for us if we’ll only open our hearts to Him.
Reading Redeeming Love drew me to Christ in a new way. It’s one of those books that needs to be reread every so many years, and because we never remain static in our personal growth, we take something different away from it with each reading. It’s the same with Scripture. Each day I read it and meditate on it, then spend time in prayer, I come away changed by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.

I want to leave you with Francine Rivers’ comments at the end of the book: “Writing Redeeming Love was a form of worship for me. Through it, I was able to thank God for loving me even when I was defiant, rebellious, contemptuous of what I thought being a Christian meant, and afraid to give my heart away. I had wanted to be my own god and have control of my life the way Eve did in the Garden of Eden. Now I know to be loved by Christ is the ultimate joy and fulfillment. Everything in Redeeming Love was a gift from the Lord: plot, characters, theme. None of it is mine to claim. There are many who struggle to survive in life, many who have been used and abused in the name of love, many who have been sacrificed on the altars of pleasure and ‘freedom.’ But the freedom the world offers is, in reality, false. Too many have awakened one day to discover they are in bondage, and they have no idea how to escape. It is for people such as these that I wrote Redeeming Love—people who fight, as I did, to be their own gods, only to find in the end that they are lost, desperate, and terribly alone. I want to bring the truth to those trapped in lies and darkness, to tell them that God is there, He is real, and He loves them—no matter what.”

“But I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but Me, and besides Me there is no Savior.” (Hosea 13:4 ESV)

​Blessings to you!