Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review-Amish Fiction

Bridge of Peace, by Cindy Woodsmall

My rating: four stars out of four

I decided to read a novel that takes place in an Amish community, with Amish characters. In my personal life I've had a couple business dealings with Amish folk and enjoyed the experience. So I was curious to see what kind of story Cindy Woodsmall would tell concerning the Amish.

This story is about an Amish schoolteacher who loves to teach. A fun-loving and playful young lady with a large birthmark on her face. She still has a childhood crush on a young Amish cabinet maker, but the problem is he's married. There's also a dangerous, crazy Amish guy who is out to get our beloved schoolteacher. So, the story has some jeopardy and supsense thrown in, too.

I really liked the book. Some of the details of Amish living were different than my experiences with the Amish. For example, the Amish in my area are not allowed to have much counter space in a kitchen, so a kitchen island would not be permitted. In Bridge of Peace the kitchen island is a place people gather. Theses characters also take warm showers to relax, and the Amish homes I've been in around my area don't have showers at all; just one sink with running water is allowed inside their homes.

Setting aside little lifestyle details the book was a pleasureable escape for me. I liked the characters and following their conflicts and growth. I would recommend the book to any fiction lover.

You can buy it online here at Target.

I received the book from Multnomah Publish Group for free in exchange for reviewing it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Important Computer Tip

Here's a little tip I shall pass on to you.

It's not a good idea to have a cup of coffee, tea, or glass of pop perched on a stack of books next to your computer keyboard where you can accidentally knock it off. Especially if you left it there over night and forgot it had a beverage still in it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Missing My Friend

Yesterday morning was supposed to be a success group meeting. I sent an email to the other members of the group and said I just didn't want to talk real estate or even see my broker's office. I was feeling very down about my friend's situation. Shortly after that I then received an email from my manager saying our collegue and friend was now in heaven.

I will truly miss this classy lady. I will truly miss her constant smiling face, her readiness to pray and give Godly, encouraging council. I will miss her readiness to laugh and crack a joke, in that very classy and dignified way she had about her.

I have wonderful memories right now that I'm going to cherish. There was a whole office meeting this morning and I played hookie from it, again. Another collegue asked me last night to come to the meeting this morning and tell a funny story about our friend that we experienced together. I just discovered that I didn't wake up until after the meeting started. It was actually an important technical meeting and I don't know why I slept so late this morning.

I heard once that when we lose someone it also brings up the grief from all our other lost loved ones. I find this to be true. I've taken moments to really reflect on losing my dad 6 years ago, too. I will always miss his Godly, wise council, and gentle smile.

So from here I must move forward. Time to clean up, put on some mascara, lip gloss, and high heels (ok clothes, too) and get going.

It is a wonderful comfort knowing my friend's spirit is alive and beholding the face of the Lord. If you're reading this, please pray for her beautiful daughters and son. I know they will miss their mom so much.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

This is a Downer: Don't Read

Of course, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan is heavy news to comprehend. I called my friend from Japan to let her know I'm thinking of her and her family.

In my personal life a friend of mine is dying right now. She took a turn for the worse after open-heart surgery. She is now on hospice and they moved a bed to her condo so she could be at home. It's what she requested. I walked into her hospital room Friday with a little white and green irish flower thinking I would have a little chat with her. What I found instead was a room full of her family around her bed. She was asleep. It looked grave, and it was. I went and laid one hand on her arm and prayed for healing, because that is what I believe is possible. My friend believes in supernatural healing, too.

I then quickly left as it wasn't my place to be there with the family.

She is the reason I'm at my current broker. She was there first and suggested I come to the same office as her, about six years ago. We went to the same church and were part of the same church community. She and I would help each other in the business. We counted on each other. We prayed together in our offices about real estate, and all kinds of personal things. We have a "succes" group together with a few other people, encouraging each other to go for it and reach our business goals. A career in sales is pretty rejecting, and isolating, and there is a lot of negativity spewn at you. You have to market yourself and go get the business before you can even do the technical skill part of marketing, and facillitating a sale. My friend is such a positive person. She helped get me back into the boxing ring after I'd get my teeth kicked in. Once she said, "we're magnets. People and money just stick to us, we can't help it. No need to apologize for our succes. We're magnets!" ha ha. I needed that at the time.

Her situation is really bumming me out. I do believe in healing. I still think she is too young to die.

So, yeah, it's a bummer.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What Do Your Friends Look Like?

For some reason I'm thinking about this right now. Many years ago I attended a regular "life group" at our church. We called them "cell" groups for some reason back then. They weren't really bible studies, but we did read the bible together. We worshipped together. We played and ate together. I enjoyed these groups at that time in my life. I could feel Jesus there with us. Well, He does promise that.

Anyway, a new gal to the church came to the group one night. She was maybe 7-10 years younger than me. She had just graduated as a nurse and moved to our town. I thought she was precious and sweet. So, I called her up and invited her to lunch, my treat. I just wanted to spend some time with her, get to know her, and offer her friendship. I picked her up as she didn't have a car and drove to a nearby Mexican restaraunt. Throughout the whole meal this young woman kept asking me, "why did you invite me to dinner?" The first time she asked, I simply and joyfully responded that I wanted to get to know her and offer friendship to her, as she is new to the city and church. She answered, "well, I guess it's ok for me to have a friend who is older than I." She said it in a way that sounded like she didn't believe it. I remember thinking it was odd she would say this. I patiently thought to myself, perhaps she's never had a friend who is a few years older.

I can't really judge other people's experiences in life to be similar to mine. I was the youngest child and I had a very loving older sister who included me in her outings with her friends. I had older aunts that I corresponded with and thoroughly loved their attention and involvement. Thourought the years I've met women, 10 years, 20 years, even 50 years older than I. Having coffee with these older gals, or just sharing some time on the phone didn't feel to me like "older" lady and "younger" lady friendship. We felt equal. At least I felt equal. They sure acted (and still act) like they are equals.

So, not everyone has had these types of friendships in their lives. So I was patient with my lunch date. The second time she asked me the same question, I still didn't think anything about it. She continued every five minutes or so throughout the entire meal to ask me why I would want to be friends with her since I was older than her. I tried to simply answer her, and ignore the question and just ask her questions that I would ask anyone I want to get know. Do you like to travel? Do you have any hobbies? What books do you like to read? How's your apartment coming along? In the end, she didn't receive my outstretched hand of friendship. I dropped her off at her apartment with my phone number and told her if she wanted or needed anything, even just to talk, she can always ring me up. I never heard from her. She is still at the same church to this day all these years later. She quickly found a group to belong with, and, yes, they were all about 7-10 years younger than I. Should I have continued to pursue a friendship with her? I don't know. My life at the time was full of work, parenting, and a new baby. I already had a slew of Christian gal friends, so I just didn't pursue her. Plus, she had made connections in the church.

This memory just has me wondering what do your friends look like? I have friends from around the world. Many of my friends look nothing like me at all. They are all different colors and all walks of life. Rich. Poor. Genius IQ's and some not so much. I have friends who are very emotionally stable and some who suffer with mental illness. Some friends are Christian. Some are not.

Some people, I think, must only be comfortable with those who look, sound, and act like they do. I think they must only be friends with people who are "easy" to be friends with. (that's not to say there's a time to end a difficult relationsip) I personally feel that would be a very limited and boring life. I'm so glad there are different kinds of people in this world.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

When Love is Not Enough

I'm reading the bible all the way through and my reading this past week has been about Love.

So, I've been helping a very wonderful couple purchase an investment property this past month. The rental they want to buy is located in what is probably the ugliest, poorest ghetto in my city. I've been a little uneasy showing them properties these past couple weeks because the weather is warmer and some very scarey-looking people live in these areas. When it was colder, you didn't see people on the street. The temps hit mid 60's and the people had come out like cockroaches on their porches, in the streets, in the yards. My uneasiness has nothing to do with skin color. The poorest, ugliest neighborhoods in my city are predominately white folk. These are the scariest looking people I've ever seen. I felt vulnerable parking my car and having these murderous-types, creepy looking men watch me closely as I walk up to vacant, boarded up houses. My car doesn't fit in there. My clothes don't fit in there. Even though I have hippy longish hair, my hair doesn't even fit in there.

A couple years ago I went property shopping with my brother in these neighborhoods for an investment. I felt safer with my brother because he "packs heat" (carries a concealed weapon) and knows how to use it. Even then I was a little nervous.

This wonderful couple that I'm helping now most certainly do not "pack heat." They are devout Christians and their whole lives are dedicated to ministering and serving others. Last night as we were getting the offers signed I told them that I wished I had the same "love" they have for these people they serve. I told them I prayed and confessed my sin to God for not wanting anything to do with those I saw glaring (drooling) at me from their porches.

See, my clients aren't buying just an investment property. Their church is a couple blocks around the corner from this rental, and they plan to use the house for outreach to the neighbors. They have already been reaching out to these people, serving meals, offering friendship, tutoring children. I wish you could see what the clientele looks like there. If they hadn't just been released from prison, they probably should be in prison. Perverted. Dangerous. "How do you do it," I asked my friends. "What do you mean," they responded. I tod them that the people I see in that neighborhood look dangerous. "They are dangerous, " they acknowledged "But, that doesn't mean they don't need or deserve the gospel or our help."

I told my friends that I want that kind of love. That my fear of being kidnapped, raped, and killed keeps me from even approaching anyone in that neighborhood.

The wife answered so sweetly to me, "yes, we hope our motivation is love, but I'm not always sure it is." What do you mean by that, I asked. What other possible motivation could you have? The husband replied, "well, I hope I don't burst any grand ideas you may have about us, but obedience is our motivation. I'm not sure we feel a lot of love, though we certainly wish to."

Obedience. Oh, my. I never thought about the connection between Love and Obedience.

I am very aware of the fact that Faith is required to Obey. I've been asked by the Lord to do some really strange things and hard things that I knew I would never do or could ever do, unless I relied on Faith to propel me to action. "When you are called, " my friend said, "it's always best if you obey."

So where Love is lacking, Obedience answers.

Jesus said, "if you love Me, you will obey my commandments."

That's a really cool lesson I learned last night. I hope God finds me faithful to what He asks me to do. Even if it's living next door to some dangerous, scarey-looking, perverted, drug fiends.