Saturday, May 29, 2010

Book Review: Embracing Your Second Calling

This book annoyed me. I hate to put it so bluntly, but that’s what perfectionists tend to do—especially when encountering other perfectionists who devote an entire book to telling them how to intensely over scrutinize their lives in order to be ever more perfect. That’s what Embracing Your Second Calling does, and for most women, especially those with perfectionist tendencies, this usually does more harm than good.

In this book, Dale Hanson Bourke compares the mid-life, empty nest season of a woman’s life to Naomi’s experience in the book of Ruth. Naomi lost her husband and sons and found herself feeling lost and bitter. For each chapter of Embracing Your Second Calling, Bourke tells her readers something she sees in Naomi that compares to women in mid-life, then she tells how she has applied this observation to her own life and how her readers can do so, too. The book isn’t a Bible study, but speculation about what Naomi may have been thinking or feeling or doing as she moved through this difficult time.

Personally, I don’t think mid-life is a bitter time. It’s a transition, but unlike Naomi’s sudden loss, it’s something we see coming. (And, while losing a husband and children is tragic, successfully launching children into adulthood is something to rejoice about!) If we let Him, God prepares us for this next phase of our lives all along. We don’t suddenly leave one life for another. We don’t stop, evaluate every aspect of our lives, rearrange, and start over again. Instead, we draw close to God and let Him lead us happily into new opportunities and ministry tasks.

Bourke does provide quite a bit of useful information and several good ideas, but we don’t need to take ourselves so seriously all the time. Rather, we should focus intently on God, allowing Him to work His Will in us. To someone whose life is suddenly and traumatically changed, I might, with caution, recommend this book, but I don’t think it’s really for women naturally moving through mid-life.

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers for my review.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Book Review: Indivisible

When I learned that Kristen Heitzmann had written a novel about a policeman solving the murder of two raccoons, I just had to read it. I’ve enjoyed some of Heitzmann’s other books, and I like raccoons even more than I like squirrels. Of course, the raccoon murders had to be unusually brutal or the policeman wouldn’t have taken notice. That was a disturbing aspect of the book. But Heitzmann didn’t dwell on it. This book was really good!

Indivisible is the story of several broken-heartened, abandoned or rejected people who have dealt with their hurt and loneliness in unhealthy ways, ranging from mildly harmful to extreme. Over the course of the book, however, they make discoveries about their pasts, learn to let go of the pain, and come together, offering each other the love and acceptance they should have received from others throughout their lives. Woven into the story are incidents of child abuse, drug and alcohol addictions, bullying, and infidelity. The Christian message is subtle, but themes of Christian community, God’s Presence, and forgiveness are there. I love the way Tia and Piper knew they could count on women from the church for encouragement, accountability, and support.

If you enjoy mystery and suspense with strong characters, Indivisible will be a good choice for you. Thank you Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending this book for my review.