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The Wind in My Hair–compulsory hijab

The Wind in My Hair

by Masih Alinejad with Kambiz Foroohar

In her memoir The Wind in My Hair, Masih Alinejad, in exile first in Great Britain and later in America, tells the struggles she had and all Iranian women still endure with laws in Iran that make wearing the hijab compulsory from age seven. The “morality police” in that country take this law over what women wear to the extreme. Women can be beaten, flogged, and jailed if even a strand of hair escapes the hijab. Women who have resisted this compulsory law have had acid splashed in their faces and have been incarcerated, tortured, and sometimes raped.

Masih tells her personal story of an impoverished, but mostly happy, rural childhood with conservative parents. Always a bit of a rebel, Masih was expelled from high school in her final semester and jailed for belonging to a small anti-government secret society. Later as a parliament reporter, she was banned from the parliament building for asking the wrong questions.

In exile Masih worked tirelessly and sometimes under threats of violence for the rights of women in Iran. There are more issues involved than compulsory hijab, but that is a visible sign of the control men have over women in Iran. Masih used the tools of social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, to broadcast her positions in Iran where the government controls television and newspapers. The movements she started were given exposure internationally via the Internet.

Masih is highly critical of female politicians and government employees who visit Iran but are unwilling to bring up women’s rights in official discussions and wear some version of head covering during their visit. Masih made recordings of Iranian families’ stories about their dead or missing loved ones called The Victims of 88. Brave women flooded her social media accounts with pictures of themselves without the hijab in the interest of freedom. The Wind in My Hair is well-written by a journalist-storyteller who has lived the story she tells. It will grip you and not release you as you ponder the freedoms you currently enjoy in your own country.

Rating: 5/5

Category: History, Memoir

Notes: Perhaps because she was not raised American, perhaps because she is a journalist, Masih’s perception of current politics and reporting in the U.S. seem somewhat skewed. She clearly understands that you can’t trust reports in Iran, but does not seem to realize that there is censorship in the U.S. by big business, politicians, and the media working in concert. That viewpoint does not change the importance of her analysis of the Iranian government’s control over its people following the deposition of the Shah.

Publication: May 29, 2018—Little, Brown, & Co.

Memorable Lines:

“The Americans are coming to steal Iran away. They’ll kill us all.” I really thought we’d face another war immediately. It was not rational, but, like millions of Iranians, I had been brainwashed by the daily propaganda on the national television and radio stations. I thought it was only Khomeini who was strong enough to stand up to the greedy U.S. capitalists. Many years later, I discovered that Khomeini was a coldhearted dictator who ordered the execution of thousands of Iranians.

I didn’t even know what charges I faced. No one had read the complaint against me. I had no lawyer to defend me. I was forced into giving a confession, and now all that remained was for this judge to pass a sentence. It didn’t sound very just. Later in life, I discovered that there is not much justice in the Islamic Republic.

There is a predictable cycle in Iranian politics, as predictable as the weather. Every year, for a few months, the government relaxes its grip and some actions are tolerated—women can show a few inches of hair under their head scarves, or men and women can actually walk together without being married, or the newspapers can publish mildly critical articles. Then, just like the dark clouds that gather in late autumn, the freedoms are taken away and transgressors are punished.

The Remarkable Ordinary: How to Stop, Look, and Listen to Life

The Remarkable Ordinary

by Frederick Buechner

Art and music as gateways to God—an interesting thought Frederick Buechner uses as the basis of his first chapter in The Remarkable Ordinary. That beginning was a little slow to take hold on me, and it didn’t really continue on as a predominant theme in the book. In fact, the book continues forward in three parts with a total of eight chapters. As I read, I felt like I was examining Buechner’s mind, his thought processes, his memories, and most importantly his search for God in the ordinary things of life. When he began a relationship with Christ, he was “all in.” Not content to read the Bible through as a first step, he wanted to jump right into seminary. He eventually decided that his training in the ministry and his skills would be best used as a writer rather than as a pastor. He never used the term philosopher, but that is what I see him as. The Remarkable Ordinary is part philosophical treatise and part memoir. He delves into therapy sessions, dreams, and family history that helped form his character and beliefs.

Buechner is honest and introspective, and the book is a product of his soul searching. Each chapter is a collection of his thoughts on various themes. He reflects on holiness, our personal journeys, our efforts at controlling others, and the wars we wage with ourselves and those around us. He shows facets of God to us as he examines the arts, other people, the ordinary things around us, and our stories, dreams and memories. He ties all of these parts of the “remarkable ordinary” into our need to “stop, look, and listen to life.”

I actually read much of the book twice in an effort to understand Buechner’s views. It is different from other books I have read by religious leaders. Buechner is very open about his beliefs and his past and yet, probably rightly, he did not reveal all as he continued to clarify his thoughts. Some things are too personal to share with the world. Frederick Buechner passed away on August 15. 2022, leaving behind a legacy of 39 works of fiction and nonfiction in several genres written over a span of 60 years.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Nonfiction, Christian

Publication: October 3, 2017—Zondervan

Memorable Lines:

It seems to me almost before the Bible says anything else, it is saying that—how important it is to be alive and to pay attention to being alive, pay attention to each other, pay attention to God as he moves and as he speaks. Pay attention to where life or God has tried to take you.

We’ve all had saints in our lives, by which I mean not plaster saints, not moral exemplars, not people setting for us a sort of suffocating good example, but I mean saints in the sense of life-givers, people through knowing whom we become more alive.

I was so motivated because I was at that point so on fire with, I can only say, Christ. I was to the point where when I would see his name on a page, it was like seeing the face of somebody you loved, and my heart would beat faster. I had to find out more about him.

I certainly am always at war one way or another with myself, and some of them are wars I must fight to try to slay the demons, to kill the dragon, to lay the ghost to rest. But there are other wars you fight with yourself that are really not worth fighting at all. The war to make yourself be more, do more than you have it in you really to do or to be.

Help is Here: Finding Fresh Strength and Purpose in the Power of the Holy Spirit

Help is Here

by Max Lucado

In the way Max Lucado presents information in all of his writings, he tells us in Help is Here about the Holy Spirit—with lots of Scripture as the basis to which he adds humor and anecdotes to make his point clear and personalize it for the reader. I never realized how many verses of the Bible, especially the New Testament, talk about the Holy Spirit: who He is, His job description, and how we can access His power and help. As always, Max points the reader to God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

When you are in such despair that you don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit will intercede and pray for you. When you have a task that is too big for you, you can have the Holy Spirit walking beside you, empowering you. Nothing is too big or too hard for Him. When you need direction, the Holy Spirit is there. When you feel totally undone, the Holy Spirit can breathe new life into you. If you have never investigated the role of the Holy Spirit, I urge you to read Help is Here. Max explains His role in the world and urges you to welcome the Holy Spirit into every part of your day. Practical and inspirational, Help is Here is a treasure for Christians whether you have been walking with Jesus for a lifetime or you have just met Him. If you are a seeker wanting to know more about God, this is a good book for you too.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Christian, Nonfiction, Inspiration

Notes: Help is Here ends with “Questions for Reflection” prepared by Max’s daughter Andrea Lucado. There is a set of questions for each chapter. The book concludes with a few pages of footnotes.

Publication: September 13, 2022—Thomas Nelson

Memorable Lines:

…your Father is more than willing to release blessings in abundance. You have the Spirit as your advocate and your Father as your provider. You may feel weak, but you’ve never been stronger.

We have a helper, a divine instructor. He will save us from the cul-de-sac of confusion and the dead end of doubt. He does this by enrolling us in the primary course of his university: Jesus Christ.

The chief aim of the Spirit is to escort you into the Sistine Chapel of Jesus and watch you grow wide-eyed and slack-jawed. He will enchant you with the manger, empower you with the cross, embolden you with the empty tomb. He will infect you with his love for the Savior.

The help you need is here. Ask the Spirit to infuse you with his power. Throw open the door! Swing wide the gate! Stand on the threshold and say “Come in!”

Into the Forest–A Holocaust Story of Survival, Triumph, and Love

Into the Forest

by Rebecca Frankel

So many books have been written about World War II and, more recently, about the Nazi treatment of Polish Jews. Rebecca Frankel adds Into the Forest to the collection. It is nonfiction that in many parts the reader would wish it to be fiction, that the torture, annihilation, and deprivation should not really have happened. It is the story of the Rabinowitz family, of the many Jews who died, of the love that persisted through two years of living on the move in the cold forests, of digging holes in the ground to hide from Nazis. It is the story of survival, of triumph as the lives of some of the people in the book intersect years and thousands of miles later.

This book was emotionally difficult to read, knowing it is nonfiction, and thus was a slow read for me. The author knew first hand some of the people she wrote about. She spent five years researching and interviewing. There is a huge section of copious notes detailing where her information came from for each chapter.

The Prologue ties the tale together and is worth rereading at the conclusion of the book. There are two chapters that set the stage of what life was like in the little Polish village of Zhetel before the invasion of the Russians, followed by the occupation of the Germans. Then the focus lands on the German-created Jewish Ghetto, the Polish Resistance, and the various “selections” in which laborers and those destined for the mass graves were chosen. The “lucky” escaped to a huge forest, but many died there as hunted animals before the liberation came. The Rabinowitz family had their eyes set on a future in Palestine, but they had many more moves in their future and were caught up in the growing prosperity of the 1950’s. Into the Forest is a challenging book worth reading. It shows Jewish life and customs in the midst of both tribulation and good times. The book thankfully ends on positivity as the author stresses the various types of love woven into the book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: History, Nonfiction, Memoir

Publication: September 7, 2021—St. Martin’s Press

Memorable Lines:

The forest, however, would not be exempt from the war’s brutalities or the bare-knuckled survival required to endure it. Nor would it provide ample shield for the Jews or the partisans—Russian and Jewish alike—who had taken shelter here and set up their outposts in its wilds, no matter how dark or deep. The farther they went and the safer they were, the more determined their killers became to root them out.

In some areas, the advertised reward for information on the partisans or hiding Jews was a single cup of sugar. Which was either a reflection of the paltry value of a Jewish life, or the peasants’ depth of desperation.

But Moscow’s successful onslaught had made the retreating Nazis more dangerous and, however unimaginably, even more murderous. Himmler issued an order to those in the path of the fast-moving Soviet troops: destroy all evidence.

Battle Cry of the Siamese Kitten: even more tales from the Accidental Veterinarian

Battle Cry of the Siamese Kitten

by Philipp Schott, DVM

I had a delightful journey through a series of tales, compared by the author to snacks, in Philipp Schott’s latest book Battle Cry of the Siamese Kitten. It is his third book of this type. It includes animal stories, vet stories, and client stories along with memories dredged up from his unusual childhood as a German immigrant. We gain insight into how he thinks and how he relates to others. There is a lot of humor in the book, and Schott doesn’t shy away from laughing at himself. He has a great way with words that lets the reader experience the animal encounters whether they be disgusting and smelly, bloodletting, or laugh out loud funny. The second tale about a two pound “gorgeous fluffy kitten who channels Satan” will ensure that you are fully engaged as this tiny, very loud, little guy “starfished himself across the entrance” to the kennel looking for a “decisive victory.”

Philipp Schott draws on over 30 years of experience with animals. He is the kind of vet you would want for your own pets—caring, hardworking, kind, intelligent, and honest. Unless you live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, you are unlikely to meet him. He lives there with his family and four animals who admittedly receive people food from time to time as treats. Although she did not contribute to this book, his wife is also a veterinarian and probably a very patient person.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Memoir, Nonfiction

Notes: The more I read, the more I liked what I was reading and even went back to read a few tales again for pure pleasure.

Publication: October 11, 2022—ECW Press

Memorable Lines:

Supercat put his ears back flat and stared at me with an intensity that signaled a level of hatred two steps beyond loathing.

I am not easily bored, but this was an exception. Flies fell asleep in that class.

Have you ever noticed this? The happiest dogs are the ones carrying sticks. And if the sight of a happy dog carrying a stick doesn’t gladden your heart, then what are you doing with this book in your hands?

Some Golden Daybreak–the Second Coming of Christ

Some Golden Daybreak

by Lee Roberson, D.D.

Having worked through two different current Bible studies on the book of Revelation, I came away with more questions than answers. I learned that there are three major perspectives that scholars adopt to address this New Testament book of prophecy. I remember clear teachings when I was a child at Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, so I searched online for a book by the pastor at that time. On a used book site, I found Some Golden Daybreak, a collection of 17 sermons on the Second Coming of Christ written by Dr. Roberson. Since then, I discovered that Amazon has both paperback and a Kindle version so this book has clearly passed the test of time.

I highly recommend Some Golden Daybreak. Its teachings are based on Scriptures found in both the New and Old Testaments and address such topics as the mark of the beast, Armageddon, and the much debated Great Tribulation. It answered many questions for me satisfactorily. If you have wondered about eternal life and salvation, this book will provide hope, inspiration, and answers.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Christian, Religion

Publication: 1957—Sword of the Lord Publishers

Memorable Lines:

He invites all sinners to come and to drink of the water of life. No one is excluded. All are invited. What is the water of life? It is salvation through faith in Christ. How do we take it? Freely, without money and without price. It is for everyone.

He is coming again. He is coming in power and great glory. The Christ who was prophesied to come as Saviour hundreds of years before He was born; the Christ who walked upon the earth and died upon a cross; the Christ who arose triumphant from the grave; the Christ who ascended back into Glory; the Christ who gave His promise before leaving this earth that He would come again—this Christ is coming.

The more we study the truth of His coming and the more we observe the trends of the times, the more we feel like fervently praying, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

How the West Brought War to Ukraine–understanding how U.S. and NATO policies led to crisis, war, and the risk of nuclear catastrophe

How the West Brought War to Ukraine

by Benjamin Abelow

A short book, How the West Brought War to Ukraine, presents an important but controversial view of which countries are behind the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine. To understand Benjamin Abelow’s thesis, you have to revisit history going back almost 200 years to the Monroe Doctrine. In 1823, the United States made it clear that foreign forces placed near U.S. territory are in violation of that policy and provide a reason for war. If you follow that to its logical conclusion, countries massing troops on Russia’s border, especially with weapons whose capability allows reaching within Russia’s borders, is clearly an offensive act.

For years, the U.S. and NATO have been setting up countries that border Russia with military aid to be able to fight a proxy war. Abelow explains “How the Narrative Drives the War” in his introduction in which he lists the Western provocations. The rest of the book is an amplification and explanation of each one of these. One of his most compelling arguments is asking his reader to put the U.S. in Russia’s position. What would the U.S. do? How would it react if foreign forces massed on the Mexican or Canadian border with the ability to send destructive weapon fire into the U.S.?

The author is not a Putin lover, but he does try to present the other side, the side the Western media is not showing. The author is sympathetic to both Russian and Ukrainian soldiers. Among the many leaders he quotes, he includes Chas Freeman, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. He speaks of the U.S.’s two contradictory aims which will result in many deaths. Dripping with irony, Freeman says “We will fight to the last Ukrainian for Ukrainian independence.” The author also spreads the blame around to many Western leaders (including George W. Bush, Trump, and Biden) who have reneged on promises to secure borders and have propped up regimes whose goals were to break down those borders. You may or may not agree with the author, but if you read the book, you will be able to have an informed opinion about this conflict which could potentially evolve into a nuclear war.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: History, Nonfiction, Politics

Notes: 1. I always try to learn from history, and there are very few politicians I trust. I have to ask why we are involved in this conflict. It is hard to convince me that it is out of concern for the common man and woman in Ukraine when there are conflicts and genocides all over the world that we ignore. It seems something more than altruism is at play.
2. I have bumped this review ahead in my queue because the book’s message is time sensitive. Recently, pipelines that are important to our world were blown up, and this morning I read that an important bridge suffered an explosion in the Crimea and apparently several people lost their lives. There has been war and conflict in that part of the world for centuries, but it seems there currently is evil afoot with a very destructive path.
3. For memorable lines for this complex topic, I am just noting one paragraph rather than 3 shorter passages. I think it presents the theme and the persuasive writing style of this book quite well.

Publication: August 31, 2022—Siland Press

Memorable Lines:

Had the United States not pushed NATO to the border of Russia; not deployed nuclear-capable missile launch systems in Romania and planned them for Poland and perhaps elsewhere as well; not contributed to the overthrow of the democratically elected Ukrainian government in 2014; not abrogated the ABM treaty and then the intermediate-range nuclear missile treaty, and then disregarded Russian attempts to negotiate a bilateral moratorium on deployments; not conducted live-fire exercises with rockets in Estonia to practice striking targets inside Russia; not coordinated a massive 32-nation military training exercise near Russian territory; not intertwined the U.S. military with that of Ukraine; etc. etc. etc.—had the United States and its NATO allies not done these things, the war in Ukraine probably would not have taken place. I think that is a reasonable assertion.

Through Gates of Splendor–a call from God

Through Gates of Splendor

by Elizabeth Elliot

Five young men felt God’s call to share the good news of Jesus with an Ecuadoran Indian tribe that had never had positive encounters with outsiders. Their bad experiences date back to the ruthless rubber traders of the 1870’s—“civilized savages against unbaptized savages.” They had Stone Age technology, were feared by other Indians for their unprovoked ambushes, and had a language known only to themselves. The missionaries and their wives had a daunting task. They started by evangelizing more friendly local tribes and establishing bases, many refurbished from areas abandoned by Shell Oil Co. From these bases they did flyovers of the Auca land, first to find where in the jungle the Aucas were living and later to communicate with them by dropping gifts to demonstrate their friendly intentions.

When they felt the time was right, they finalized plans to land and meet with the Aucas in person. The book becomes very intense at that point. After an initial positive meeting, there is literally radio silence instead of the expected call back to the wives. A search and rescue team went in consisting of Ecuadorian military, volunteer missionaries and Indians, and U.S military. It was a dangerous mission.

Although the preparation and action are the basis of the story, the core of the book is faith in God. Elizabeth Elliot, the author of Through Gates of Splendor, was the wife of Jim Elliot, the first missionary of the group to respond to God’s call to contact this people group who had never heard of Him. Jim Elliot was willing to die if need be to share the good news of salvation to the Aucas. He said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” The story of the lives of these young men and their dedication to God is inspiring and many of their notes and thoughts are recorded in this book. In its pages you will see a vivd picture of what God’s call can look like as well as how these missionaries and their wives responded.

Rating: 5/5

Category: History, Christian, Memoir

Notes: The 40th anniversary edition which I read included:
1. Maps
2. Photographs, many taken at great peril by a Life magazine reporter who chose to stay with the search party when he could have returned to the base and safety.
3. Two Epilogues. One was written in 1958 explaining the immediate aftermath of the first contact and one written in 1996 relating the lives of the families as they evolved over the next 40 years.

Publication: Originally 1956
40th anniversary edition in 1996—Living Books (Tyndale)

Memorable Lines:

“If that old engine had quit up there, God alone could have saved me. I might just as well admit it frankly right here; I don’t like to fly over stuff like that and I have to have a pretty good reason to be over it without a good position-check and a good river to identify my position by. But these are people for whom Christ died, and you have to find them before you can take the Gospel to them, so I was happy to have stumbled on them.”

Pete Fleming was one of those who could not be content while the Aucas remained in darkness. In his diary he wrote: “It is a grave and solemn problem; an unreachable people who murder and kill with extreme hatred. It comes to me strongly that God is leading me to do something about it, and a strong idea and impression comes into my mind that I ought to devote the majority of my time to collecting linguistic data on the tribe and making some intensive air surveys to look for Auca houses….I know that this may be the most important decision of my life, but I have a quiet peace about it.

September, 1955, was the month in which Operation Auca really started, the month in which the Lord began to weave five separate threads into a single glowing fabric for His own Glory. Five men with widely differing personalities had come to Ecuador from the eastern United States, the West Coast, and the Midwestern States. Representing three different “faith-missions,” these men and their wives were one in their common belief in the Bible as the literal and supernatural and perfect word from God to man. Christ said “Go ye”; their answer was “Lord, send me.”

Food Triggers–a Godly approach to healthy eating

Food Triggers

by Amber Lia

Amber Lia writes Food Triggers from the perspective of a certified health coach and a Christian. She began her journey to develop healthy eating habits when she was sixty pounds overweight. She views the journey to health as both a physical and a spiritual battle. She began her personal changes with a “medically designed plan” in consultation with a health coach for accountability. She combined that with examining her food triggers one at a time. This book does not tell you what to eat although she clearly avoids sugars and excessive carbs. She intends her book to be read one chapter per day for 31 days. Each chapter addresses a specific motivation or food trigger, some external and some internal.

Lia backs up the information with research and with Scriptures. She encourages the reader to “exchange unhealthy patterns for God-honoring habits.” Some of her chapters resonated with me and others did not apply. She addresses how others can try to sabotage your healthy eating plan and the temptations that may arise when you are in community settings that involve food. There are many difficult areas she addresses including travel, portion control, and boredom. Food Triggers is not a diet plan, but is another tool with insights and practical tips that those struggling with weight loss and/or healthy eating can add to their toolbox.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Nonfiction, Christian

Notes: Although I am in support of portion control, I did not agree with the author’s emphasis on following the serving sizes indicated on packaging. I have always viewed those as the food industry’s efforts to simplify the nutritional labeling. The FDA, however, says that the goal for their newly revised labels is to “bring serving sizes closer to what people actually eat so that when they look at calories and nutrients on the label, these numbers more closely match what they are consuming.” In other words, the serving size is not what people should eat, but what the “average” person consumes. These revised figures have gone up for ice cream, but decreased for yogurt. The government in this case is not leading consumers to healthier eating. You know the old saying, “just because he jumps off a cliff, doesn’t mean you should too.” A good example of that is the marketing of soda in huge cups. Along with that we have a huge increase in obesity and diabetes.

Publication: January 4, 2022—Bethany House (Baker Publishing)

Memorable Lines:

In many ways, our culture has brainwashed us with massive portions and helpings that are, well, NOT helping.

Your health journey will present you with hard choices, and it won’t just be saying no to onion rings—but saying no to people or jobs or places that are not moving you toward God’s best for us.

[part of a prayer from the chapter on holidays] Transform my thinking so that I learn to focus on the people and meaningfulness behind times of celebration, instead of all the things to put in my mouth.

Prayer in the Night–for those who work or watch or weep

Prayer in the Night

by Tish Harrison Warren

“Compline” or “Night Prayer” dates back to the fourth century and is intended to be a simple, private service to end the day. It includes Psalms and other Scriptures. One of the prayers, the subject of Prayer in the Night, is:

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

Tish Harrison Warren, an Anglican priest, analyzes this prayer describing anecdotally and theologically how and why the prayer has come to mean so much to her.

Life has not been particularly easy for Warren or for many of the parishioners under her care. She is honest and real about her struggles. Most of the book is written in layman terms, but there are some theological concepts that she labels somewhat abstractly. For example, “theodicy” was not a part of my vocabulary although I am aware of the inner conflict many have wondering “why bad things happen to good people.” She used it enough times in context that I was able to adopt it.

Warren doesn’t shy away from pain, vulnerability, weariness, and grieving. She points out the differences between the suffering and the afflicted and how God brings comfort to both. While much of the book addresses the darker side of life, she also brings light on that darkness with the joy, love, and trustworthiness of God.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Christianity, Religion, Theology

Notes: Includes Discussion Questions and Suggested Practices for groups or individuals to encourage deep thinking and application.

Publication: January 26, 2021—IVP

Memorable Lines:

When we’re drowning we need a lifeline, and our lifeline in grief cannot be mere optimism that maybe our circumstances will improve because we know that may not be true. We need practices that don’t simply palliate our fears or pain, but that teach us to walk with God in the crucible of our own fragility.

The hope God offers us is this: he will keep close to us, even in darkness, in doubt, in fear and vulnerability. He does not promise to keep bad things from happening. He does not promise that night will not come, or that it will not be terrifying, or that we will immediately be tugged to shore. He promises that we will not be left alone. He will keep watch with us in the night.

In a culture that’s increasingly committed to nursing every grievance, there’s deep wisdom in being able to name what is right and whole about life, to keep moving forward despite obstacles, to have a wider perspective, to look hardship in the eye and laugh.

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