Book Review: Tea With Emma

 Tea With Emma by Diane Moody is a story within a story.

The outer story has writer Lucy Alexander with writer’s block ever since her beloved aunt died. When Lucy’s father sends her the teacup collection that her aunt had willed to her, Lucy is reminded of their special times together and of the Jane Austen book her aunt had bought for her.

Then Lucy is inspired: she can write a series of stories based on each of the cups. The first one is loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma.

Next comes the first story, Tea With Emma.

Two lifelong friends, Maddie and Lanie, are just returning from a trip to England. Maddie is inspired to open an English tea shop, and Lanie has agreed to help her. Their giggling and carrying on in the plane annoys the seatmate in front of them, an English professor. In a comedy or errors, the girls and the professor keep running into each other, with near-disastrous results.

When Maddie goes home to her grandmother in Texas, whom she has taken care of since the latter had a stroke, she lays out her plans for the tea room and gets her grandmother’s blessing. She soon discovers that the grumpy professor lives across the street. She tries to befriend him, but he rejects her efforts.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma, but evidently missing what Emma had learned by the end, Maddie feels God’s mission for her life is to be a matchmaker. She encourages Lanie towards the contractor and away from an online computer geek. It does not go well.

Meanwhile the professor has to come to grips with the issues in his life which have made him so cranky.

My thoughts:

I thought the premise would make for a fun, touching story, but I just didn’t connect any of the characters, except maybe the grandmother and the computer guy. Maddie and Lanie seemed juvenile, Maddie seemed pushy, and the professor was just a grouch, at least until he got his heart right. And the transformation from irritation with Maddie to falling in love with her just seemed too quick and unrealistic. Of course, this is a novella, so things had to happen a little faster than they would have in a longer novel.

I enjoyed the theme of letting God have control and following His direction. Both Maddie and the professor became more likeable by the end of the story. I know Jane Austen’s Emma goes through a similar learning curve, but I always found Emma sophisticated and likeable even while I disliked her actions and motivations at the beginning.

Reviews on Amazon were mixed, with some people loving the story and others not, so it may just be a matter of personalities not appealing to everyone. So don’t let me discourage you from trying the book, especially as it’s free for the Kindle at the moment. I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)

 

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What’s On Your Nightstand: August 2018

Nightstand82The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand the last Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.

As we near the end of another month, it’s time to recap what we’ve read.

Since last time I have completed:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, reviewed here. Not my favorite classic or Hugo book, but I am glad to have read it. It kept me thinking for days afterward.

30 Days of Hope When Caring for Aging Parents  by Kathy Howard, reviewed here. Very good.

Full Assurance by Harry A. Ironside, reviewed here. Excellent study on what the Bible has to say about assurance of salvation.

The Pattern Artist by Nancy Moser, reviewed here. A maid from England accompanies her employers on a visit to America in 1911, then strikes out on her own. She lands a job in the sewing department of Macy’s and captures the attention of the Butterick Patterns salesman. Very good!

Back Home Again: Tales from the Grace Chapel Inn by Melody Carlson, reviewed here. Three sisters turn the old family home into a bed-and-breakfast, working through their own differences and town opposition. The first in a long series. Good.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, reviewed here. Riveting historical fiction based on real circumstances concerning a woman who stole poor children and then placed them for adoption.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book VI: The Long-Lost Home by Maryrose Wood, reviewed here. A fun and satisfying wrap-up to this series.

Reshaping It All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness by Candace Cameron Bure, reviewed here. Cameron’s journey from bulimia and excess weight to fitness, inside and out. Very good.

I’m currently reading:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society By Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Finally!

Helen Roseveare: On His Majesty’s Service by Irene Howat

Reclaim Your Life from IBS: A Scientifically Proven Plan for Relief without Restrictive Diets by Melissa G. Hunt

Up Next:

Christian Publishing 101 by Ann Byle

I’d like to reread, or at least look through again, Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

Something from this stack and my ever-increasing Kindle collection:

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Are you reading anything good now?

Book Review: Before We Were Yours

Truth is stranger than fiction, the saying goes. It is also more heartbreaking. One of the saddest and strangest situations in history is the story of Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society she operated. Georgia would abduct poor children by various illegal means: outright kidnapping, taking children born to unwed mothers for “medical care” and then telling the mothers their babies died; tricking parents into signing their children over to the home, and others. Policemen, family court judges, a crime boss, and others were a part of Tann’s network. The children they obtained would be adopted out to unsuspecting couples or sometimes sold to high-profile, wealthy families. Records were often destroyed or falsified. Even though Tann thought the children would be better off in their new situations, ultimately her enterprise was a money-making scheme. Tann died while she and the home were investigated, but before she could be brought to justice.

Before we were yoursLisa Wingate sets her novel Before We Were Yours in these circumstances.

Avery Stafford is a senator’s daughter being groomed to take his place. On a trip with her father to a nursing home, a resident pauses before Avery, seems to recognize her, and calls her “Fern.” An aide hustles the woman away, chalking the incident up to dementia. But the woman made off with Avery’s heirloom bracelet, and when Avery goes back to the woman’s room to retrieve it, she sees a framed photograph of a woman who looks remarkably like Avery’s grandmother. Conversations with the resident, May, lead Avery to look into her grandmother’s journals. Every scrap of information uncovered produces more questions. Avery isn’t sure what she will ultimately find or what the consequences will be, but she feels compelled to know the truth. And the process causes Avery to question whether she is living a “role” in life set out for her by others.

May’s story is told in flashbacks. She was born Rill Foss, the oldest of five children who lived with their parents on a houseboat. When Rill’s mother goes into hard labor, the midwife insists that she be taken to the hospital. While Rill’s parents are gone, a policeman comes to pick up the children, saying he will take them to see their parents. Instead, he takes them to a woman waiting in a nearby car, who whisks them away to a children’s home.

Children in the home are neglected, not well fed, and abused. But when potential adoptive parents come, the children are dressed up and threatened to be on their best behavior. One by one Rill’s siblings disappear, but when she protests or tries to thwart their removal, she is punished and her remaining siblings threatened.

Even though May’s history is heart-rending, ultimately the book ends redemptively and hopefully.

Lisa’s scenes on the river are so real, I could almost see and smell and feel the surroundings. I ached with May through her story and the ultimate hard choice she had to make, and rejoiced at how things wrapped up for her. And I enjoyed Avery’s story as well.

A very well-written, excellent book.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday, Carole’s Books You Loved)

Book Review: Reshaping It All

ReshapingSome of you may remember Candace Cameron Bure as oldest daughter D. J. Tanner in the TV series Full House several years ago. I have not really kept up with her career since then, but somehow I was aware that she’d had some eating issues, had lost weight, and was an outspoken Christian like her brother Kirk Cameron. So when her book, Reshaping It All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness came up on a Kindle sale, I got it.

Although the book is not a full-fledged memoir, Candace gives glimpses of her growing-up years, family, time on Full House, marriage, and motherhood.

Her family seems remarkably grounded: even though Cameron and her brother were making all kinds of money, their father still made them work (at other jobs: he didn’t consider acting “work”) when they wanted something.

He could see that hard work was not only a prerequisite for success but that it was also a prerequisite for strong character. Struggling for the things we get teaches us the all-important lesson of self-disciple while it strengthens our body and spirit. It wasn’t enough for us to achieve a certain level of success in this world: our parents wanted us to reach our full potential as people who are strong in spirit and mind.

But Candace received mixed signals about food. He father provided “cardboard-tasting ‘health’ food” while her mother brought in doughnuts and such. Various other factors came into play, resulting in Cameron’s being about 25 pounds overweight and suffering from bulimia in her early twenties.

What I didn’t realize at the time is that my heart was longing for the things of this world. I ran to comfort food instead of running to God. I discovered my sin, but I hadn’t discovered that my heart was in the wrong place. I sought moral reformation instead of spiritual transformation. I had known who He was, but I still hadn’t grasped who I was in His sight.

She tells how she changed her approach to food and fitness. She didn’t follow a specific diet plan, and she believed everything was allowable in moderation, but she had a few principles she went by.

Transforming our bodies must begin by the renewing of our minds. Our bodies aren’t making these detrimental choices for us; they are simply animated by a mind that needs a mental makeover.

One such principle was HALT. “When you feel like reaching for food, ask yourself first if you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. If you’re hungry, then proceed, but it you are reaching for food in response to emotion, then halt your behavior immediately.”

And even though the book is primarily about her journey towards fitness, she applies some of the same principle to style, clutter, marriage, and other facets of life.

Candace became a Christian at age 12, and the life principles she espouses are based squarely on Scripture. She writes in a conversational, level-headed, encouraging, easy to read style.

Standing face-to-face with a mountain can be overwhelming, especially when your perspective is that of looking up from the bottom. But if we decide to take one step and then another, looking only at the ground set before us, we realize the potential we have.

The only negative for me was the fan letters. At the end of every chapter, Cameron includes a fan letter asking her a question related to the chapter before. That was fine, but each letter also contains a certain amount of fannish praise that I felt awkward reading.

This book was written back in 2011, before her co-hosting stint on The View and other pursuits. She has written a few more books since that time, too.

I enjoyed the book very much and took away a few nuggets to help me in my own journey.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday, Carole’s Books You Loved)

Laudable Linkage

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I’ve been mostly absent from the blog this week. It’s rare for me not to do a Friday’s Fave Five, even if I don’t post anything else. But it has been a busy week: card-making and present-shopping and wrapping for a baby shower and my oldest son’s upcoming birthday, house-cleaning for my son’s visit from out of state, buying tons of food for family get-togethers, etc, etc. It’s amazing what you can done when you’re not blogging! 🙂 I am not sure how much I will be online the next week. My oldest son is here, my husband is off, we’ll have more time with the whole family. But, in the past when I have thought I would not be posting much, I have been surprised. Our whole family likes our computer time, so we’ll see.

Meanwhile, I have collected in odd moments online the last week some thought-provoking, helpful reads I wanted to share with you.

Poor Interpretation Lets Us “Believe” the Bible While Denying What It Actually Say, HT to Challies. “Historically, theological liberals denied Scripture, and everyone knew where they stood. But today many so-called evangelicals affirm their belief in Scripture, while attributing meanings to biblical texts that in fact deny what Scripture really says. Hence they ‘believe every word of the Bible’ while actually embracing (and teaching) beliefs that utterly contradict it.”

Grace Comes With Refills.

Love Is Not a Feeling.

Praying the Words of Jesus for Your Teen.

Pants on Fire. The folly of the “I don’t know whether this is true or not; but I just wanted to get it out there” type of post.

Are We All “Harmless Torturers” Now? HT to Challies. “When we think of the savagery of social media, we often think of awful individual behavior…Harmless Torturers never go that far; we just like, retweet and add the occasional clever remark. But there are millions of us, and we’re all turning the dial.”

Why Getting Lost in a Book is So Good for You, HT to Linda.

Finally, you might be blessed by this video even if you don’t know Ron and Shelly Hamilton (of Majesty Music, aka Patch the Pirate and Sissy Seagull) and Shelly’s parents, Frank and Flora Jean Garlock. I had no idea the Garlocks were in this situation or that Ron had been diagnosed with dementia. This is not only an update of how they are doing, but a sweet testimony of a man caring for his wife.

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I have just a short list today, but I thought it best to go ahead and share it rather than have an overly lengthy one next time.

The Greatest Thing You Can Do With Your Life.

Know the Neighborhood, HT to True Woman. “Because many Christians have not ‘walked the streets’ of our Bibles, we are overly susceptible to the views of others, right or wrong. Like would-be travelers or gullible sightseers we take as fact the opinions of the ‘experts’ about the 66 cities we have rarely or never been to visit.”

Why Women Should Be Readers of Good Books, HT to Out of the Ordinary.

The “At Least” Among Us, HT to True Woman. “The thing about saying ‘At least’ to someone—particularly someone who’s confessing their own anger, fear, grief, or sadness at the circumstances of their life, is it negates their wrestle and it naturally elevates our own.”

Five Dangers of Reading Christian Biographies, HT to True Woman. You know I love Christian biographies, but there are some potential stumbling blocks in reading them.

And finally, HT to Laura, this fun real estate listing showed a guest using the various facilities on the property.

Happy Friday!

Back to the Classics Challenge Mid-year Check-in

Karen at Books and Chocolate hosts the Back to the Classics Challenge for reading classics at least 50 years old. She’s holding a mid-year check-in for the challenge – and a giveaway!

I enjoy this challenge because I was not exposed to many classics as I grew up, and this challenge inspires me to expand my horizons and explore books I might not otherwise read. I’m happy to report that I have read 11 of the 12 classics on my list, and I am now reading (or listening to) the 12th. Here’s what I’ve read so far:

My unfinished one is a classic that scares you (due to its length or it intimidates you in some way), and for that I chose The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. I’m working on it now.

Karen allows for three children’s classics, and I am counting Where the Red Fern Grows, The Secret Garden, and Journey to the Center of the Earth for those. I’m not counting 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea because nothing I read about it indicated it was written for children.

I enjoyed all of these except Journey to the Center of the Earth, but I think my favorite is He Fell in Love With His Wife. Adam Bede would be a close second. Frankenstein was the biggest surprise.

Have you read any classics lately?

Book Review: Villette

Villette was the last book written by Charlotte Bronte (another was published posthumously but was actually her first book). I had only recently heard of Villette, but since Charlotte penned one of my top three novels, Jane Eyre, I thought I’d give it a try.

Villette is a semi-autobiographical novel based on parts of Charlotte’s life. She and her sister, Emily, had taught for a time in a boarding school in Brussels, Belgium. They both went back to England when their aunt died, and Charlotte returned to the boarding house alone. Villette is a fictional town in France, but based upon Brussels. By the time Charlotte started writing this novel, she was the only remaining sibling of the original five in her family, and she well captures that feeling of being all alone in the world.

The story’s heroine is Lucy Snowe. After some unexplained tragedy in her family, Lucy was left totally alone and needing to make her own way in the world. She heard that some French families hired English-speaking governesses for their children, so she took what money she had and went to France though she knew almost no French and no one in the country. She met a young English girl, Ginevra, on the ship, who went to a French boarding school. After getting lost in Villette, Lucy found herself on the doorstep of the same boarding school run by a Madame Beck. Lucy begged for a job doing anything at the school. She was hired to take care of Madame Beck’s children, but eventually she was asked to teach English at the school.

Lucy on the outside seemed like a quiet, almost mousy person (someone called her a shadow), but inside her feelings ran deep. Charlotte named her Snowe on purpose (she was originally going to go with Frost) to portray how she seemed to other people.

In addition to the ups and downs at the school and encounters with the spoiled Ginevra, Lucy came across her godmother and his son in town, who, unknown to her, had moved to Villette. The son was a teenager at the beginning of the book but became a doctor. Later Lucy encountered a father and daughter she had also met at the beginning, and had several run-ins with an abrasive fellow teacher, M. Paul Emanuel.

One article I read said “Everyone loves Paul Emanuel.” I did not. He constantly criticized Lucy and tended to dominate, not letting her leave for lunch when he wanted to talk to her, locking her up in the attic to learn lines for a school play he was directing. Later he is shown to have several redeeming qualities, but I never got over the initial dislike.

Since France was primarily a Catholic country Lucy stood out as one of the few Protestants. M. Emanuel and a priest took it upon themselves to try to convert her, but Lucy stood firm. Lucy had no use for Catholicism (” the CHURCH strove to bring up her children robust in body, feeble in soul, fat, ruddy, hale, joyous, ignorant, unthinking, unquestioning”), but came to believe that “there are good Romanists.” She and M. Emanuel eventually came to an understanding that they both trusted in “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” and they left each other’s religious affiliations alone after that. The priest, however, thwarted some of her interests later.

Though there are several aspects to the story, it’s primarily a psychological drama of sorts with Lucy’s highs and lows, known mostly just to herself. There are comic moments in Lucy’s asides to herself, especially in her conversations with Ginevra. But Lucy gets so low at one point, when she is left alone at the school during a long break with a mentally disabled student and then falls ill, that she has a breakdown. One passage that’s characteristic is Lucy’s encouraging of herself:

Courage, Lucy Snowe! With self-denial and economy now, and steady exertion by-and-by, an object in life need not fail you. Venture not to complain that such an object is too selfish, too limited, and lacks interest; be content to labour for independence until you have proved, by winning that prize, your right to look higher. But afterwards, is there nothing more for me in life—no true home—nothing to be dearer to me than myself, and by its paramount preciousness, to draw from me better things than I care to culture for myself only? Nothing, at whose feet I can willingly lay down the whole burden of human egotism, and gloriously take up the nobler charge of labouring and living for others? I suppose, Lucy Snowe, the orb of your life is not to be so rounded: for you, the crescent-phase must suffice. Very good. I see a huge mass of my fellow-creatures in no better circumstances. I see that a great many men, and more women, hold their span of life on conditions of denial and privation. I find no reason why I should be of the few favoured. I believe in some blending of hope and sunshine sweetening the worst lots. I believe that this life is not all; neither the beginning nor the end. I believe while I tremble; I trust while I weep.

Some article I read herald the novel’s “feminism” and Lucy’s independence, but here she shows a longing for a “true home,” someone “dearer to me than myself.” I read that she wanted to write a sad and unfulfilled ending, but her father (and I think perhaps others) urged a conventional happier one. The ending is a little ambiguous, so readers can interpret it whichever way they like.

There are several parallels between Villette and Jane Eyre. Both protagonists are women alone; neither would be considered beautiful; each has a rather unconventional romance with an unlikely suitor. There is even a bit of gothic mystery in both: Jane’s Mr. Rochester is found to have a mad wife locked up in an unused part of the house; Villette’s boarding school has a legend of a dead nun who haunts the place, which Lucy encounters a couple of times (though later a logical explanation is found for the appearances).

One downside to Villette is that much of the conversation is written in French with no translation. That posed a problem for me to listen to the audiobook since I know almost no French. Thankfully I found an annotated copy of the novel at the library with translations and other notes, but it was disjointing to have to look up passages later after reading them.

I listened to the audiobook wonderfully read by Davina Porter. Though I enjoyed the novel, Jane Eyre is still my favorite Bronte work.

(Sharing with Carole’s Books You Loved, Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday)

 

Louisa May Alcott Challenge Wrap-up

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The Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge hosted by Tarissa at In the Bookcase hosts this month has ended. I read two books for the challenge:

I watched the recent Masterpiece Theatre remake of Little Women and enjoyed it quite a bit – I think it aired last month. But I enjoyed watching several of the behind-the-scenes videos of the show. I didn’t know the Alcott home, Orchard House, was still preserved today with many of its originals furnishings, Louisa’s desk, and even May’s (Amy’s counterpart) sketchings on the walls. I learned, also, that one of May’s art students sculpted the sitting Lincoln Memorial.

I also listened to several of the podcasts Tarissa linked to for us.

It was fun to spend so much time reading and thinking about Alcott this month. I already have at least one book planned for next year’s challenge.

Thank you for hosting, Tarissa! It was fun!

Book Review: A Small Book About a Big Problem

Anger“Anger lodges in us. It comes home, kicks off its shoes, plants itself in front of the TV, and expects to stay. It doesn’t even look at you when you tell it to leave. But it can be moved. It just takes more than a day” (p. 35).

You wouldn’t think I was an angry person if you observed me much. I don’t generally yell or scream. I might occasionally throw something if I am alone. I tend to seethe rather than explode. Part of that is my upbringing; my father was the only one allowed to express anger. But quiet anger is still anger and still destructive. I experience it enough that when I saw A Small Book About a Big Problem: Meditations on Anger, Patience, and Peace by Edward T. Welch, I got it as soon as possible. Ed’s book, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest, was a big help to me with anxiety, so I trusted this book would be just as helpful concerning anger. And it was.

It is indeed a small book. It’s only about four by six inches and 185 pages. It’s divided into 50 chapters, but they average about three pages each. Ed advises reading just one chapter a day and meditating on its main point rather than rushing through the book without absorbing it. And that’s a wise strategy. I confess I did sometimes read two at a time, if one was short or a expressed a truth that was already a part of my thinking. But I tried to move slowly. I went back through the book after finishing it and made a list of main points and quotes from each chapter. That overview over about three days helped bring out some of the recurring themes and connections.

The first need is to acknowledge that anger is a problem.

“To be angry is to destroy…In its commonness we can overlook our anger’s volatile and destructive disposition” (p. 1).

“Anger is known to take a toll on our bodies. It is not healthy” (p. 2).

“Jesus…enlarged the boundary of murder so that it includes all kinds of anger. In order to do this, He links them at the level of the heart, where they share the same lineage of selfish desire. We want something–peace, money, respect–and we aren’t getting it. The only difference is in our choice of weapons” (p. 18).

Sometimes we’re “deaf to [our] anger” because it sounds like what we grew up with; it seems normal (p. 117). Prov. 22:24-25: “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”

Wisdom–learning what God says about anger–and humility are our best aids to diffuse anger.

“Humility might sound like your worst nightmare because it seems to destine you for mistreatment. People can now treat you any way they like, or so you think. In response, you can only meekly turn the other cheek. Humility, however, is not necessarily silent, and it is certainly not passive. Instead, it is the foundation for all wisdom. It has the flexibility to rebuke, overlook offenses, invite, or get help” (pp. 25-26).

“One of your desires is “I WANT AN EASY LIFE. When this is thwarted, you will likely pounce on the offender” (p. 157).

It’s not the incident that made us angry: anger was lurking in the form of desires (James 4:1). Some desires are legitimate, but we elevate them from a desire to a need, and then get angry when they are thwarted.

Anger may not seem to relate to God, but when we don’t get a desire we have deemed important, that “says something very significant about our relationship with God” (p. 43). James 4:4. “We are not thinking about God. We simply want something or someone else, at least temporarily. Our selfishness blinds us to the betrayal. We want what we want, and we don’t want Him” (p. 44).

James 4:13-16 talks about taking the Lord’s will into account in our planning. This is hardest for me in the “little” areas of life, like traffic jams keeping me from getting somewhere on time. But “If we learn this, we no longer live as if we are slaves to the circumstances of life” (p. 108).

The passage in James reminds us our life is but a mist. “We are mere mortals who will die. What makes us so important that life must go according to our plans?” (p. 108) (emphasis mine).

Anger can seem powerful, gives an illusion of control, gets results. But “A man without self-control  is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25). “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32). “Real strength and real power, however, never lash out. Those who are truly strong are composed, while others are not. Real strength is used to rule our spirit rather than rule others” (p. 92).

Other chapters discuss covert forms of anger (grumbling, which reveals our displeasure that God isn’t doing things our way, sarcasm, coldness, and even indifference), the need for forgiveness, taking care of the “log” in our eye before dealing with the “speck” in someone else’s (Matthew 7:1-5). Anger can feel like fear, threat, being misunderstood, fatigue, injustice, depression, guilt, shame. Some even use anger as a shield for their own pain and vulnerability, like a hurt animal. We need to recognize these in ourselves but show mercy and patience when we recognize them in others.

The author looks at anger as shown by God the Father and Jesus and how their anger differs from ours.

“When other people’s welfare was at stake, Jesus was angry. Here is how He is unlike us: He was never angry when He was personally violated” (p. 53). 1 Peter 2:23 – when He was reviled, reviled not again.

“Does this leave you deaf, bind, and mute in the face of personal injustices? No, it leaves you so that you are not mastered by the injustices of others. Anger might feel powerful, but it is not. It renders you a servant of the one who hurt you. The way of Jesus is the way of Spirit-given power. In this power you have a clear mind to consider how and when to act” (p. 54).

“Jesus was confident that His Father was in control; there would be justice in the end” (p. 54).

“Jesus served by blessing His enemies (Luke 6:27-31), which is a good thing, because we ourselves have been His enemies” (p. 54-55).

When the only one who has a right to be angry chooses love and service, when He considers the interests of others more important than His own and chooses humility–He changes everything” (p. 55).

And he encourages us that God loves us and wants to forgive us and help us change.

“When we see our anger clearly, we would expect God to forget about us. Instead, He pursues us with even more zeal, and He gives us even more power to stay faithful to Him” (p. 70).

“He doesn’t forgive us because of our resolve to never be angry again. He forgives us because of His resolve to forgive those who come to Him” (p. 47).

Hebrews 4:15-16 – our high priest (Jesus) sympathizes with our weakness, has been tempted like we are. Draw near to throne of grace for grace to help in time of need.

One chapter that brought me to tears was “Day 22: You Have Been Anger’s Victim.” And later, for those of us who grew up with anger:

“Retrain your ears as you listen” for anger. “Decide that the culture of anger will stop with your generation” (p. 118).

“As a protest against the anger around us, who will you bless with your words today?” (p. 119).

Our example of how to respond when wrong, is of course, Jesus, who “when He was reviled, reviled not again” (1 Peter 2:23). And when we remember how much we have been forgiven, we realize we have no right to withhold forgiveness from others (Matthew 18:27-35). Remember the love and cost to our forgiveness, freely offered (Eph. 1:7-8; 2:4-5). But even beyond forgiveness, God wants us to love and bless those who wrong us.

Forgive me for such a long, quote-heavy post. But there is so much that was so helpful in this book, and I have only shared maybe half of it. Needless to say, I highly recommend it.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday, Colletta’s Book Club, and Carole’s Books You Loved)