Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mountains of Grace by Kelly Irvin – Mixed feeling but worth hanging in for the themes of grace and forgiveness


I had never read Kelly Irvin’s books until about a year ago.  After reading one of her Amish themed books I loved how she developed the characters and how they grew and changed through the story.  That’s why I was eager to read Kelly’s newest book Mountains of Grace. 

Mountains of Grace is different from the other Amish themed books that Kelly Irvin has written.  This novel is set in NW Montana in a community called West Kootenai.  I never knew that there were Amish communities in Montana.  From Mountains of Grace I got the impression that this Amish community, though they lived separate and different lives than the English people, the community seemed to be more closely allied with their English neighbors. 

I have some mixed feelings about this book.  It wasn’t until about halfway through that something changed and captured my interest. 

I struggled with the two main characters, Mercy, a 22-year-old single Amish school teacher, and Juliette Knowles, her English friend and neighbor.  The two young women couldn’t be any different from one another.  Mercy seemed quite immature especially in the scene when they were fleeing their homes because of a fast-approaching wildfire.  Mercy’s response and that of her younger siblings seemed childish and didn’t demonstrate that they comprehended the seriousness of the situation.  Juliette, on the other hand, seemed to be a vapid, shallow, mouthy gal who wanted attention and would flirt with any male who came nearby.  I didn’t like either Mercy or Juliette. 

It wasn’t until about halfway through this book I found someone I liked, Spencer, who was a smoke jumper that was injured at the beginning of the book.  It was his interaction with Mercy that made me pause.  Something about Spencer was honest and he took a liking to Mercy.  It was interesting how their very different characters interacted with one another.  

There were a lot of characters to keep track of in this book, family, friends, and neighbors of Mercy and Juliette.  I liked Tim, the man who was in love with Juliette.  Why he like her I didn’t understand because Juliette was such a pill.  I appreciated his integrity and his willingness to obey God’s command that he should not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.  There some good examples of strong Christian faith.  I loved some of the prayers offered by different characters. 

I had a hard time imagining Mercy as a school teacher because of her immaturity and poor decisions that resulted in her being disciplined by the Amish elders.  While it wasn’t made known, I wondered who it was that told on Mercy.  What I did like about Mercy was her boldness and desire to befriend Spencer who was so different the Amish men she knew. 

I liked the themes of forgiveness that were lived out by several characters, like Angie, Spencer, Tim.  While it may not be easy, God does command us as believers to forgive those who have hurt and wronged us.

I never fully came to appreciate Juliette.  Her character was very off-putting.  I was glad that she finally disclosed what had happened to her and what caused her to turn from being a nice young lady to someone who was not so nice.  I appreciated that she was a good friend to Mercy and even tried to protect her. 

I’m glad I read this book to the end.  It contains some good examples of forgiveness and mercy and God’s abundant mercy towards us as sinners.  It also showed the importance of communicating with one another, even when it’s hard.  It was almost like there were two lines of stories with the Amish and the English characters and a lot going on with multiple characters. 

Would I recommend this Mountains of Grace, yes, especially if you are a Kelly Irvin fan or like Amish-themed novels.  It was interesting to learn about the men that put their lives on the line to help protect life and property and put out wildfires in treacherous terrain.   

I would like to thank Zondervan Publishers and NetGalley for providing a complimentary copy of Mountains of Grace by Kelly Irvin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

While Waiting – Pray, Trust and Work



Today is day seven since we officially put our home up for sale. 

For a couple of years now, my husband Chris and I have been saying that we need to downsize and get a smaller one-story home.  Our home has served us well and we love friends, neighbors and the neighborhood, but it’s time to move.

In July, we contacted a realtor in our neighborhood.  For four and a half years, we’ve watched Lily’s work.  We’ve seen the difference in people’s homes who’ve gone with our realtor and those who have used other realtors.  When we had a question on remodeling decisions, she freely gave her advice on what buyers like.  When the time came to sell our home, we contacted Lily.

Over the last 6 weeks, Chris and I have been working to get our house ready to put on the market.  I can’t tell you the number of trips we’ve made to Good Will, or how much we’ve given away or thrown away or how many trips we’ve made to put things in storage to make sure our home is clutter-free.  We’ve had handymen in to take care of some odds and ends repairs.  We have thoroughly cleaned our home and worked in the garden.  We wanted to get our home ready, not only to sell but also prepare it for new owners.

Family and friends have assured us that our home will likely sell quickly and that is what we are praying and hoping for.

This last weekend, we had our first open house.  I had big expectations that we would get a lot of people coming to see the home and that perhaps we’d even have offers. 

We had five families that came to see our home.  They said it was clean and well maintained.  Some people thought the yard was too small and some raised concerns about living near power lines.  It didn’t seem like anyone was eager to buy our home.  We’ve had no realtors contact us to set up a viewing for their clients. 

Can I confess…I was disappointed!  Disappointed because I had the wrong perspective. 

Since then, the Lord has been reminding me daily that everything, including the sale of our home, is firmly and fully in His control.  Our home will sell when He brings the people that He wants to be the next owners and not before then.

If our home had sold on the first open house, I would have been attributing the success to our realtor.  Or being prideful and thinking that all our hard work had paid off. 

No matter what…whether it’s a quick sale or something that takes a while, the sale of our home will be the Lord’s work.

Each day…I go through a routine of getting our house ready just in case we get a call that somebody wants to see it.  I vacuum our house top to bottom.  Counters and bathrooms are cleaned, furniture, shutters, and blinds are dusted.  Once a week, I’m thoroughly cleaning each area or zone. 

While I’m cleaning, I’m praying for the family who will buy our home.  Perhaps they don’t even live in Texas yet but will be making a move here.  Maybe they are trying to sell their home and are waiting to look for a new home until it does.  I’m praying that they will be the right family for our neighbors and neighborhood.  If they have children that they will have an easy transition into new schools and make good friends.  That the husband and wife will agree on what they want in a home and for wisdom in making decisions and for their finances.  That perhaps the changes and improvements we’ve made to our home will be something that they will enjoy. 

All the efforts from our realtor and our hard work to get our house ready and keep it ready are good and necessary. 

During this time, we’ve looked at homes and have a better idea of what want to buy and where we want to live.  So, it’s not been a waste of time.  Perhaps the Lord’s timing is different than what we had hoped for because the right home for us is not on the market yet.

While I may not know why there is a delay in selling our home, I know that it’s perfectly in the Lord’s control, timing and plan.  On those days, when I get tired or have doubts…I have to remind myself to trust the Lord, know He is good and that He has a good and perfect plan that He is working out.  I can trust and depend on God while we are waiting. 


My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt – A beautiful and sorrowful love story during a pivotal time in history

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