Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Book review Wildflowers From Winter by Katie Ganshert

I wanted to review this book because I have come to love and appreciate the author.   I follow her blog and have watched her steps over the last year to get to this point of her debut novel sitting on bookshelves.  Unfortunately I was unable to acquire a copy of the book for reviewing so I did something better ... I bought my own!

Wildflowers from Winter tells a poignant story of a young woman's travels through a murky past and into a better, albeit unknown future.  Katie Ganshert's ability to pull you into her story is incredible.  Her voice is rich in description and littered with passion.

Wildflowers from WinterA young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built a life far removed from her trailer park teen years. Until an interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa. Determined to pay her respects while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.

Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. So when Bethany is left the land, he must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany's vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away. 

For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn't seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace she's not even sure exists?

Some of the things I loved the most about the story was the character of Evan.  He is strong and secure, yet with a thread of insecurity which seems to be tugged on by the very presence of Bethany.  I loved watching their romance bloom like a field of wildflowers - haphazard, unplanned yet breathtakingly beautiful all the same.

I also adored the authenticity to Bethany's fears.  It wasn't only a tainted reputation from her past that made her run.  There was depth to her story that made the lies she believed about herself, her family and mostly about God vibrant.  She struggles through the story to come to terms with a God she cannot understand. I particularly love that, even though at the end of the story she has chosen to surrender to God, it isn't a bed of roses for her. God is real.  God is active but like many of us (even if we aren't ready to admit it), Bethany appears she will struggle to fully relinquish control of her life to God long after the last pages of the story.  A true testament to the reality of life and love.  

There were no negatives that were noteworthy in reading this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I was moved to tears more than once.  I would encourage anyone who enjoys Christian romance that tugs at your heart to pick up this book.  You won't be disappointed.  I wasn't and I paid $12 for it! :)   Can't wait for the next one, Wishing on Willows!

You also won't be disappointed by checking out Katie and her blog. She is adorable and engaging.  She was one of the four debut novelists involved in the Story Soiree May 15.  You can watch in action there or on her Youtube channel for more Katie fun.

Tune in later to hear a couple other thoughts I had on Katie's awesome book, Wildflowers from Winter.

Monday, June 18, 2012

We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. Vince Lombardi

I had an epiphany at a soccer game recently.  I am way too serious.  I take life, its consequences and its appearances way, way, way too seriously.

My son was playing soccer in another town and his team was beating the other team.  We were ahead by at least five goals.  In fact the home team hadn't scored even once.  I listened to two different voices echoing across the field.  One was our team coach - whose voice was firm, pressing the boys onto even greater plays and smoother passes.  The other voice was "whimsical" for lack of a better word.  (I have been reading Bob Goff's book and I recognized the whimsy of it immediately.)

The opposing coach said things like, "You guys are having fun out there right?"  "Anyone want to run for the ball - I will give a prize to the first one there."  At first some of the parents by me thought he was mocking his players.  But there was a unmistakable gentleness in his voice.  His laugh was rich and contagious.  A sound of someone filled with love not fierce competition.  He began listing out prizes as the night went on that he would give away to the one on his team to ... score a goal, take a shot, receive a key pass, etc.

Towards the end of the game in an effort to not give up the fight, the coach announced he would buy the whole team a slurpee if someone would score a goal.  Then the whistle blew three times announcing the end of the game with a score of eight to zero.  The losing team jumped up and down like champions and hugged each other.  One player yelled "we won ... sort of" and then high-fived several of his teammates.

I was amazed at the attitudes all these boys had.  A coach had set the stage for these boys, nearing adulthood, with a healthy sense of perspective.  Life is bigger than a soccer game and bigger than a test or a job.  It is about loving and caring for others in a way to makes them celebrate.

After loading in our vehicle, my son and I drove to the local corner store to buy a snack for the ride home.  There was the home team, celebrating in the gas station over their loss each with a slurpee in his hand.  Love does the most amazing ... and unpredictable, unconventional, and unassuming things.

I told my son as we drove away, "life isn't a scoreboard; the winner is the one still standing at the end of it with their heart intact."  I don't think he understood what I meant, but that's okay.  I will just have to show him instead of tell him.

Be secretly incredible!

Here are a few coaching quotes I discovered.  Enjoy them.  Write them done.  Or better yet ... pass them on.  Is there someone who could use just your brand of encouragement today?

All coaching is, is taking a player where he can't take himself.

Coaching really is an individual philosophy.

I learned this about coaching: You don't have to explain victory and you can't explain defeat.

The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.

Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it. 

Measure yourself as a coach not by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished given the ability of your players and the strength of your competition. 

Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts. 

A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Review - Love Does by Bob Goff

Love Does ... some amazing things.  You need to read this book!

Bob Goff is a lawyer with an office in Disneyland, who sees the world differently than I do - for certain.  But I want to see it his way.  He says, "I wrote Love Does to capture some of the stories of hope, joy and whimsy that have helped to shape the way I see Jesus," says Bob Goff. "What I've realized is that I've learned a lot more about who He is from what people have done with their faith than I have from what they've said about their faith." 

The Publisher describes the book this way: 
Love Does: You Can Be Secretly IncredibleAs a college student he spent 16 days in the Pacific Ocean with five guys and a crate of canned meat. As a father he took his kids on a world tour to eat ice cream with heads of state. He made friends in Uganda, and they liked him so much he became the Ugandan consul. He pursued his wife for three years before she agreed to date him. His grades weren't good enough to get into law school, so he sat on a bench outside the Dean's office for seven days until they finally let him enroll. 
Bob Goff has become something of a legend, and his friends consider him the world's best-kept secret. Those same friends have long insisted he write a book. What follows are paradigm shifts, musings, and stories from one of the world's most delightfully engaging and winsome people. What fuels his impact? Love. But it's not the kind of love that stops at thoughts and feelings. Bob's love takes action. Bob believes Love Does.
When Love Does, life gets interesting. Each day turns into a hilarious, whimsical, meaningful chance that makes faith simple and real. Each chapter is a story that forms a book, a life. And this is one life you don't want to miss.
Light and fun, unique and profound, the lessons drawn from Bob's life and attitude just might inspire you to be secretly incredible, too.

Do you need a shot of caffeine added to your walk with God? How about a dose of whimsy?  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I read it in small doses to absorb the deep and profound truths held behind the veil of his crazy stories.  Each chapter is only a couple of pages and I often read it in 5 minutes or less but Bob knows how to use a few words to say a lot.  I especially enjoyed the comparisons at the beginning of each chapter.  They represent the lessons he'd learned and was now teaching to me.  For example, 

  • I used to think people needed more answers; but now I think they just need more truth
  • I used to think I needed an invitation to get into most places, but now I know I’m already invited.
Each chapter is a gift inside a lesson, wrapped inside an amazing story, enveloped inside a nearly unbelievable event that Bob and his family or friends got into.  You might be watching a wedding cake spill all over a parking lot, or allowing a young love-struck man take over your home and property or even letting your children suggest foreign policy. No matter what it is you can be certain it involves action. Because, "I used to think being loved was the greatest thing to think about, but now I know love is never satisfied just thinking about it."

There are no doctrinal debates in this book, such as the age old issue of faith and deeds. Bob isn't try to change your religion at all. He is zeroing in on a way to look at life through the eyes of how Jesus sees us.  To love more, but more importantly to let that love do more.  

I recommend this book to anyone - Christian or not - to challenge yourself to be a little more active in your love.  Put some shoes on it and see what happens because remember ... "love is never stationary."

"Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson

Another great review of this book that I agree completely with is here.  Or here.  Or to hear from Bob himself on Donald Miller's blog here.

Monday, June 11, 2012


I see it has been nearly two weeks that I have been absent from this blog.  Is anyone else crazy-busy in June?

Well, in that spirit as I regain control of my life this Monday, I offer a much needed giggle to you this morning.  (These guys never disappoint.)

Check out other CTGB videos here.

Have a great Monday!!