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The Drop Box, a Documentary about Life

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A bell chimes and Pastor Lee Jong-rak hurries past shelves of baby supplies to the drop box at the front of his house.  He opens its door and finds yet another baby.  Carefully he carries it back to the warmth of the living quarters, unwraps it while volunteers and some of his children watch, and prays, “Thank you, God, for saving this baby’s life.”

Hundreds of babies have been left in that drop box instead of being abandoned on the streets, in garbage areas, or on cold doorsteps.  Hundreds of little lives have been saved

Drop boxes are not new, but they are controversial.  Some suggest that their presence may encourage parents to give up their babies rather than keep them.  However, Pastor Lee points out that his drop box saves the lives of abandoned babies who could otherwise die before being found.  As long as babies are being abandoned, he wants to provide a place where they can be abandoned safely.

Over twenty years ago, Pastor Lee and his wife welcomed their severely handicapped son into this world.  Through this boy, who has never done more than lie on his back, God taught them that each life is valuable.  It is the handicapped who are most often abandoned, but Lee says that these children, who rely on others for survival their whole life long, are the educators of society. They teach and change many people.  He is convinced that

God sent them to this world with disabilities.  Therefore they are not the unnecessary ones in the world.  God sent them to earth with a purpose.

One of the ways God used Pastor Lee’s son was to give his father the vision to rescue handicapped and abandoned children.

Throughout the movie we see heart-warming images of little ones laughing, playing, eating, and just being kids.  Some of them are handicapped.  Some of them were born to very young and unwed mothers who were under great pressure from family and society to get rid of them. Many of them would have died, but now they are alive, thanks to Pastor Lee’s drop box and his heroic efforts to save them.

Although most of the abandoned babies go on to government care, Pastor Lee has also adopted many.  He says, “The reason I decided to become their father is because God has adopted me.”

This moving faith has had a great impact.  Brian Ivie, the atheist director of this award-winning documentary, became a Christian.  Many babies’ lives have been saved; many adult lives have been changed.  Thus The Drop Box shares a message of hope, testifying that every life is valuable and that God sends everyone to this earth with a purpose, even those whom society says are not really necessary.

Visit the website for more information about the film and to find a theatre where you can see it in Canada (March 4 or 5) or in the US (March 3-5).  To find out more about Pastor Lee and how to help him, as well as about the filming and the producer, visit Kindred Image.

Caution:  Some images may be disturbing for young viewers.

Disclosure:  I was given a preview link by Focus on the Family Canada and Graf-Martin Communications Inc. in order to prepare this review.  My opinions are my own and I receive no compensation for this review.

For more encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Mom to Mom Monday, Monday’s Musings, Missional WeekendR&R Wednesdays, From House to Home, Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Mondays, Faith Filled Fridays.

Five Week Wrap Up: Life, School, and Books

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The past weeks have been moving in many ways.

First there was my 50th birthday when my five siblings from all over Canada flew in to celebrate.  There is no way to describe how loved that made me feel.  We had a wonderful time together and, though everyone’s life is back to normal, the weekend strengthened our relationships.

On a heart-stopping note, Miss 12 rescued our dog Sparky who fell through the ice on the river.  That means she, too, was dangerously close to the hole in the ice.  Some things just don’t bear thinking about.

We enjoyed celebrations, outings, and events, including the thought-provoking Exhibition On Screen movie, Rembrandt.  If you love art or Rembrandt, you should check this out at your local theatre, but act soon; I do not think it will be shown long.  (Caution: female nudity.)

This has been a cold, cold month with windchills up to -40, and we are thankful for warm tea and a good fireplace.

Even though I now am only able to post twice a week on my blog, it seems to be thriving.  Today it will reach the magic number of 150,000 unique visitors, as measured by SiteMeter!   (It turns out that the number really does depend on what site does the measuring and how it is done.)  And one of my recent posts currently has 87 facebook likes, a record!  It is a joy to realize that my writing is benefitting people, and I would like to thank each one of you for reading and for encouraging me.

In our homeschool

Miss 17 is still very, very busy with her schoolwork.  At one point, she developed eye trouble, but the optometrist said it was nothing serious, just overwork.  Sigh!  So now she has someone besides me tell her to rest her eyes frequently.  On a happier note, we are excited that in the next week or two she will apply to the only university she’s interested in.

We’ve had all three girls using ALEKS math recently.  Miss 17 used it to help with pre-calculus, and when she had completed that course we gave her account to Miss 12; I like how it is possible to switch to another level like that.  The time with ALEKS has been good for both of them, but probably did contribute to Miss 17’s eye trouble.  Miss 14 still uses it for her regular math.

We try to watch Dave Ramsey’s funny videos about personal finance  for teens but we seem to have so many other things going on that it is not a regular occurrence.

When life is hectic, it can be difficult to keep unmotivated students on task.  Then I try to remember the importance of being faithful in the little things, day after day after day. Sometimes it may not seem as though any learning is happening at all but, while that might be true, it most likely is not.  I remind myself that at the very minimum they are learning about being faithful in the little things, and that is no small lesson, either.

In our gluten free kitchen

So much good food!  From chocolate, whipping cream, and fruit platters to roasts, fried chicken, pork chops, and bacon, we have enjoyed eating.  Yes, vegetables too, and pasta, and all sorts of potato dishes, and cake, cookies, pancakes, and breads. Those tiny little cups of flavored yoghurt, the kind I never used to get because they-are-too-sweet-and-I-can-make-it-better-and-cheaper-myself-thank-you, have been on sale and the kids love them.

Some of my favorite things were

  • My birthday celebrations with siblings, family, and friends.
  • Spending hours around the fire with my family.
  • Good food.
  • Good books.

Questions/thoughts I have…  As I sit in our sunny living room, close to the fire, I realize that we enjoy almost all of the comforts of a tropical vacation without any of the hassles.

Fitness… One of my friends and I have become exercise accountability partners.  That is so inspiring, and has helped me begin to do my physio exercises more regularly again.  Because I am very busy with several projects and still need to sleep 9 hours a day (plus a nap), it’s an effort to fit exercise in.  It does not help that the treadmill is in the study where my husband works when possible, but now that I realize that is a problem, I can try to solve it.

Some of the things I’ve been working on

  • Homeschooling and record keeping.
  • Caring for my family.
  • Studying the history of science, specifically physics in the 19th century.
  • Reading books and writing reviews.

I’m reading (all links are to my reviews on this blog or on GoodReads)… Numbers.  Currently I’m in the middle quite a few other books:  Science and Religion, the New Genevan Psalter, Spurgeon’s Sorrows, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Fringe Hours, Fundamentals of Applied Electromagnetics, and How to Win Friends and Influence People.

In the last month I’ve finished Too Many to Jail, Einstein’s Heroes, Remember the Lilies, The Practice of the Presence of God, and The Ten Best-Ever Depression Management Techniques.

I’ve also reviewed The Meaning of Marriage, The Financially Confident Woman, The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts, The One Thing (mini-review), and Faraday and the Royal Institution, and posted three book round-ups:  Carr’s Christian Biographies for Young Readers, Top Twenty Books for Families to Read Aloud, and Nine Helpful Marriage Books.

Read earlier and waiting to be reviewed—which is how I absorb what I read—are Geons, Black Holes and Quantum Foam, A Mathematician’s Lament, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, What the Most Successful People Do before Breakfast, You Shall be Free Indeed, and God’s Undertaker.

Reading aloud…We have almost finished reading 1 Corinthians at mealtimes and then plan to switch to Psalms.  We’re still enjoying Michael Faraday and the Dynamo and after that we plan to whiz through Daugherty’s book about the Magna Charta.

When my husband is home for meals, we read various epistles.

I’m grateful for ….  Health, Canada’s medical system, good food, vitamins, and health books.

Quote or link to share….  I’ve been using Rescue Time at the computer to see if I’m using my time wisely.  It’s a wonderful program, and I recommend it if you are at your computer a lot or are feeling overwhelmed with commitments.

I’m wondering if this is applicable to my history of science project:  “The scholar’s greatest weakness:  Calling procrastination research.”  Stephen King (a quote on Rescue Time)

This post is linked to Kris’s Weekly Wrap Up , Week in Review, and Finishing Strong.

Review: Remember the Lilies by Liz Tolsma

Remember the Lilies

 

It was 1941 in Manila’s Santo Tomas Internment Camp.  Irene Reynolds, living there with Anita the missionary aunt who adopted her when her father disappeared, worked for the Japanese censors.  Usually she passed on censored parts of messages, but this one time it did not seem important.

Rand Sterling, a former wealthy night club owner, was determined to escape from Santo Tomas to aid his ill houseboy, Armando, who had been like a father to him.  Although the final message about the plan seemed cryptic, he was confident that all would go well.

However, when Irene arrived with the censored sentences, she was just in time to see him arrested and taken to the dreaded Fort Santiago.  There prisoners were not killed directly but tortured to death.

Miraculously Rand survived and was returned to Santo Tomas where he got to know both Irene and the Lord, but not without facing intrigue, starvation, misunderstandings, blackmail, snakes, and bullets….

This fast-paced story of life in a prison camp kept me on the edge of my chair, but it did not give me nightmares.  Instead it filled me with hope….

I fell in love with Liz Tolsma’s first book, Snow on the Tulips and have also reviewed Daisies are ForeverRemember the Lilies is her third book and again her characters are memorable and realistic, her plot is exciting, and her settings are difficult to forget.  However, what I value most are the simple but profound Christian themes that run through the books authentically rather than as cliches.

For example, “Ever since her father had deserted her, she had been looking for someone to be there for her.  To watch over her.  To provide for her.  She looked to everyone but God….All the while, when she had been longing for a Father the most, she already had one….How foolish for her to have spent her life thinking otherwise.”

I highly recommend Remember the Lilies and Liz Tolsma’s other novels despite the occasionally uneven writing, and eagerly look forward to her future novels.

Related to one of the themes of this book:  Father Hunger by Douglas Wilson, an important book about one of the main problems facing our society (link is to my summary and review).

This is yet another book in the in the 2015 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook.  For more encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Mom to Mom Monday, Monday’s Musings, Missional WeekendR&R Wednesdays, From House to Home, Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Mondays, Faith Filled Fridays

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from LitFuse and have shared my own opinions.

This gripping new tale from Liz Tolsma, Remember the Lilies, is a must-read for fans of WWII-era fiction. When Irene is attacked by a sinister Japanese guard and their secrets are exposed, she and Rand must learn the true meaning of forgiveness—if they can stave off starvation until the American troops bring freedom.

Help Liz celebrate the release of Remember the Lilies with a Kindle Fire giveaway!

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One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire
  • One copy of Remember the Lilies
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 2/19. Winner will be announced at Liz’s Remember the Lilies Facebook author chat party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Liz and WWII fiction fans, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!
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{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 19th!

Nine Helpful Marriage Books

Flowers from my husband

Right now the shops may be full of pink hearts, roses, and chocolate treats, but I encourage us all to focus on strengthening our marriages.  Our relationship with our spouse is, after all, the foundation of our family and homeschool, as well as a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church.  Therefore it needs our daily attention.

I have been reminded of that over and over lately.  You see, last year was a very marriage-focused year for us.  By the grace of God my dear husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary.  My parents celebrated their 50th anniversary, as my in-laws had done the year before.  And, providentially, I was inundated with books about marriage, most of which I reviewed.

As a result of all that, here is a list of nine marriage-building books I’d like to share with you.

Now, of course not even all the books in the world will keep our marriages safe.  We are all human with hearts full of self-deceit and sin.  We all need to be saved from ourselves and each one of us needs God’s Holy Spirit in order to love our spouse as we should.  Yet God can use books to help us serve him and avoid sin in our marriages.

So, with a prayer that some of these will benefit some of you, here is a list of helpful marriage resources (with links to my reviews):

The Bible.  Even the parts of the Bible that seem to say nothing about marriage can have a profound influence on that most special relationship, because the foundation of our marriages is our relationship with God.  As many devout Christians have pointed out, God needs to be at the center of our marriages.  We should not be worshipping our spouses, much less ourselves or some abstract idea of marriage; we should worship our God.  Once that focus is in place, our marriages can thrive.  So, number one:  read your Bible; if this is difficult for you, the link has some suggestions.

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages by Shaunti Feldhahn.  This intensely practical book shares research about the habits of the happiest couples.  Many of the habits are listed in my review, but I highly recommend that every married person buy this book to understand the ideas and to implement them.  Feldhahn’s clear suggestions are based on what works in real life for hundreds of happy couples, not on what some counsellor thinks should work based on his or her ideas, secular studies, or personal experience.  As expected, research points out that faith plays a significant role in many of the happiest marriages.

The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy and Kathy Keller.  In this discussion of what marriage is and should be, the authors repeatedly point us to the Bible to remind us that Jesus—and nothing and no one else—gives us meaning and significance; that our natural self-centeredness is the essence of sin; and that the cure for the self-centeredness and neediness that attack our marriages is God’s salvation.  Basically, the Kellers write that the gospel teaches us about marriage, and marriage makes us rely on the gospel.  My review focuses on studying this book with a group, but it is equally good to read individually or as a couple.

My Beloved and My Friend by Hal and Melanie Young. This is yet another Biblical marriage manual, focusing specifically on the friendship between husband and wife.  Its goal is to tell us How to be Married to your Best Friend without Changing Spouses.   I have learned that unfriendly or careless attitudes can very easily sneak into life, especially during times of stress, and especially in marriage.  Before long, we wonder what’s wrong, and often the simple fact is that we no longer treat each other with ‘the same tolerance, grace, forgiveness and trust’ that we show to our other friends.   That is the problem this book seeks to address.

The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted by Gary Chapman.  Chapman states that the goal of marriage is the deep, total union of a couple on all levels—intellectual, social, spiritual, emotional, and physical.  With such a lofty goal, it’s no wonder that he encounters many ‘problem’ marriages.  In fact, it’s a wonder he has encountered a single good one.   Chapman’s book is practical while also discussing background causes—as well as solutions—for common difficulties.  However, this book is not only about marriage; it’s also about living a Christian life because that is the foundation to meaningful Christian marriages. Chapman helps people think about their own sins rather than their spouse’s, and he says: “Discipline yourself to live with a clear conscience toward God and your mate.”

The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn is not a marriage manual at all.  Instead it is a thorough analysis of all the available marriage data with the surprising and heartening conclusion that most of the things our culture ‘knows’ about marriage are false.  That’s right.  It’s not true that half of all marriages fail, most marriages are unhappy, it takes years of painful work to fix a bad marriage, remarriages are unlikely to succeed, and Christians’ divorce rates are the same as unbelievers’.   These ideas are debunked and instead, Feldhahn’s research gives hope about marriage, especially Christian marriage.  That hope can give struggling marriages a life line and thus help to save them.  I have compared Feldhahn’s two books with Chapman’s.

Pure Love by George Van Popta.  This little gem is not a marriage manual either and is far more inspiring than most of those.  Van Popta has gathered all the joy and emotion of the Song of Songs and distilled it into a series of 24 beautiful sonnets.  All of the previous books would make excellent engagement or wedding gifts.  Save this one for the wedding, though.

Married Mom, Solo Parent by Carla Anne Coroy.  I read this book years ago and still recommend it.  If you have an absentee husband, whether because of the military, work, ministry, health, hobbies, or personality, Carla Anne Coroy’s Married Mom, Solo Parent will show you how to make even that work for good.  Carla Anne is both practical and sympathetic, but nowhere does she encourage a solo parent wife to feel sorry for herself or to take her discouragement out on her husband.  Rather she encourages a lonely wife to live as God would have her live, even in difficult circumstances.

Money and Marriage by Matt Bell.  Since many marriages face trouble because of money issues, it may be worth your while checking out this book. However, the problem with this kind of book is that it could lead to more difficulties than it solves unless both spouses agree on whether or not to read and implement it.  On the other hand, if a couple agrees to read it together, it could make all the difference in the world.

So which one of these 9 should you pick? 

As mentioned above, the Bible is foundational to marriage.  If you can manage only one book, read the Bible, and if you choose any of the other books, read the Bible first.  And then, if you are looking:

  • for practical help, try The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages; My Beloved and My Friend; The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted; Married Mom, Solo Parent; or Money and Marriage.
  • for a better understanding of marriage and how it works, look at The Meaning of Marriage and The Good News About Marriage.
  • for inspiration straight from the Bible, read Pure Love.

Finally, if you are dissatisfied with your marriage, remember Ann Voskamp’s profoundly simple discovery in One Thousand Gifts, “By giving thanks for the life you have, you get the life you want.”  We humans don’t know how it works, but there it is:  obeying God’s commandment to be thankful will give us a lot to be thankful for.

It is my prayer that this list of encouraging resources will bring increased contentment to many families.  May God bless each one of you for his glory, for the security of your children, and for the joy of your marriage.

For more encouragement, visit Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, The Book Nook, Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Mom to Mom Monday, Monday’s Musings, Missional WeekendR&R Wednesdays, From House to Home, Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Mondays, Faith Filled Fridays.

Disclosure:  As usual there are no affiliate links here.  Most of the links above are to my reviews of different quality marriage resources, many of which I received in order to review them.

Review: The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy and Kathy Keller

 

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Last year some of us gathered on balmy summer evenings to discuss Timothy and Kathy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage.  It was an inspiring study book and a wonderful shared experience.

The Meaning of Marriage, based on Ephesians 5 and Genesis 2, discusses all aspects of marriage, from its meaning and purpose to the nitty gritty of daily life and the glory of sex.  Timothy and Kathy remind us that marriage, like life, is not ‘all about me’ and that our culture is completely wrong about most, if not all, aspects of it.  Instead they point us to the Bible, over and over again, to remind us that Jesus, and nothing and no one else, gives us meaning and significance; that our natural self-centeredness is the essence of sin; and that the cure for the self-centeredness and neediness that attacks our marriages is God’s salvation.

The Kellers’ foundational assumption is that marriage is glorious but hard.  They even say, “…like knowing God himself, coming to know and love your spouse is difficult and painful yet rewarding and wondrous.”

In fact, the Kellers write that the gospel teaches us about marriage, and marriage makes us rely on the gospel.  This, I would say, is the essence of the book and is why, after 25 years of marriage, I can recommend it whole-heartedly.

The Meaning of Marriage is an excellent study book, even though it has no study guide.  Each chapter contains enough solid concepts and Bible references for serious discussions and enough stories to make it real.  The Kellers also makes some surprising statements and have some startling assumptions, perfect for getting people talking and even debating. This is the kind of book that can bring a study group closer together.

While most of our study group had not experienced the difficulties that the Kellers assume all marriages have, that could be because most of us are not first-generation Christians.  What a blessing that is!  This realization also reminds us of the responsibility we have to our children to be good examples so that they will know what a good Christian marriage is like.

Our study group had also not all experienced the negative, patronizing attitudes most people apparently have towards the opposite sex.  That could be a gender thing.  The men seemed to identify more with the idea that doing things differently is not doing them as well as they could be done, whereas the women seemed to identify ‘different’ with interesting.  Or it could be a cultural thing, because I was well over 40 before I heard a Christian friend with a different background say about her husband, “Oh, isn’t that just like a man!”  Or, once again, it could be a result of most of us having grown up in nth generation Christian families.

Even though–or perhaps because–we did not identify completely with the Kellers’ assumptions, this was a thought-provoking and marriage-enhancing study.

Although this review has focused on a study group’s use of  The Meaning of Marriage, I highly recommend it to Christian individuals (married or single) and couples as well.  It will give both hope and reality to your relationships and will strengthen your understanding of the gospel, whether you are a new or long-time Christian.

This is yet another book in the in the 2015 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, and The Book Nook.  For more encouragement, visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Mom to Mom Monday, Monday’s Musings, Missional WeekendR&R Wednesdays, From House to Home, Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Make Your Home Sing Mondays, Faith Filled Fridays

Disclosure: I bought this book for a Bible study and am not compensated for this review in any way.

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