Thursday, July 16, 2009
Here we have a book that was very different from anything else I've ever read. When I first received the review request from the author I debated on whether or not to accept. Based on the book's description I knew the storyline was heavily based on the theory, or form thereof, of metempsychosis (ie rebirth). As a Christian, I'm not one who even remotely considers such a thing as truth, but I decided the book itself sounded like it could be fascinating. I agreed to review the book, knowing full well that whatever the author's beliefs, I'd be reading it purely for entertainment value.
The Nine Lives of Clemenza follows the spirit Clemenza through, just as the title suggests, nine very distinctive and unique lives. The prevailing thought throughout the book is that God creates every spirit, and then allows each to pick what form it would like to live in. Each receives a total of nine lives, after which point he/she can choose to become an angel, return to a past life, or even live out the rest of eternity in Heaven's retirement center. It's an idea that, in and of itself, is pretty kooky, but when compounded upon made for a very uniquely entertainly story.
Clemenza, who we meet before she even embarks on life number one, must carefully decide what life opportunities she'd like to endeavor and explore. Given the chance to choose any form of existance, she must then live her life to its fullest and take away something really important from each one. For upon return to Heaven at the end of each life, Clemenza is required to share with God at least one important thing she learned during her last life. It's important for her to learn as much as she can, because she never knows how her knowledge will come in to play in her next life.
I won't spoil things for the reader by telling what life forms Clemenza ends up choosing along the way, only that each has it's very own extraordinary story. I could tell the author put a lot of time and thought into developing each world and persona for Clemenza. Even when at the most basic of levels, Clemenza was still a thinking, acting, dedicated being. It was intriguing to see how Christine, when all was said and done, brought all of the lives together through a simple analysis of each. And while I put no stock in the idea of reincarnation, I thought the author's book was well written and interesting.
Religious and spiritual views aside, if one can agree to read this book from a fictionalized entertainment standpoint in lieu of a non-fiction stance I think you will quite enjoy the incredible journey Clemenza takes you on. It's not a book for everyone, of that I'm quite certain. I am glad I gave it a chance though, because I really did get a kick out of following Clemenza's story from start to finish. It was a quick and impressive read; one not without pain, grief, love, intense joy, and even an important lesson or two to be learned.
~Bookish Mom, RebekahC
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2009)
Stormie Omartian is the bestselling author of The Power of a Praying® series (more than 11 million copies sold worldwide), which includes The Power of a Praying® Wife and The Power of a Praying® Husband. Her many other books include Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On, The Prayer That Changes Everything®, and The Power of a Praying® Woman. Stormie and her husband, Michael, have been married more than 35 years and have three grown children.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
See God Pour Out His Spirit upon Them
Once you have released your adult children into God’s hands and dedicated—or rededicated—their lives to Him (as I described near the end of the introduction), then the first and most important way to start praying is to ask God to pour out His Spirit upon them. It doesn’t matter what else you need to pray about specifically; you will be heading upstream against a strong current if you and they are not moving with the flow of God’s Spirit.
Every day we want the Spirit of God to come upon us and carry us where we need to go. We want Him to open our eyes to the truth and open our ears to hear His voice. We want Him to fill us afresh with His Spirit so that our lives can be lived for Him and we can move into all He has for us. And that is exactly what we want for our adult children as well.
Ideally, our adult children will ask for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit themselves. But realistically, many young people don’t even think about doing that, or understand what it means or why they should. It would be wonderful if our adult children would pray for all the things suggested in this book over their own lives, but whether they do or don’t, they still need our prayer support.
Pray That They Will Welcome an Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
A glorious promise God proclaimed to His people was first heard in the Old Testament through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28) and then quoted later in the New Testament by Peter. It says:
“It shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17, emphasis added).
We are living in the last days God is talking about. If you are not sure about that, read your Bible and then turn on the TV and watch it for a week. You will see unmistakable signs of it everywhere. The promise for our adult children in the words “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” is that, when the Holy Spirit is poured out on them, they will be able to hear from God. They will have a word from God in their hearts, and it will become the motivating factor in their lives. And God will be glorified in the process.
When our adult children can hear from God, then they will know where He is leading them, and they will understand how He wants them to serve Him. They may not know specifics, but they will have direction. Too often young adults can’t figure out the direction for their lives because they haven’t heard a word in their hearts from God about it. This can carry on for years until you have adult children who are aimless and don’t feel any sense of purpose or calling. But when the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them, they can sense direction from God, and He is able to lead them on the right paths and secure their steps in ways they couldn’t begin to do on their own.
I have known too many good, godly, believing parents who had an adult child who did nothing for years after he (she) graduated from high school. In each case he (she) refused to go to a college or a trade school and couldn’t or wouldn’t find a job. The parents prayed and prayed and threatened and prodded and begged to no effect. Then one day, after they had prayed that God would pour out His Spirit upon him (her), their adult child got up off the couch, turned off the TV, and went out and made a life for himself (herself).
You might be thinking, Why didn’t those parents just throw their lazy adult children out? But it is not as easy as it sounds. When you throw them out they can get into a lot of trouble. They can become more vulnerable to evil influences because they are afraid or desperate. You must have the mind of God about this. You have to be certain that throwing your adult child out of your house is what God wants you to do. In some cases it may well be, but it can’t be a decision born of human emotions, such as anger. I know some parents who shipped their adult child out because they thought it would do him good, and it turned out to be a terrible decision because he fell under some horrible influences.
We have to keep in mind that God can do far more for our adult children than we can ever do, and so we must ask Him to speak to their hearts by the power of His Holy Spirit. They need to be able to hear from God regarding every aspect of their lives, from decisions they make about where they go and what they do to the people they spend time with and perhaps try to emulate.
Some adult children are going to be more open to hearing from God and receptive to the move of His Spirit in their lives than others. Some will not be open or receptive at all. At least not at first. Whether they are open or not shouldn’t affect your prayers. You pray what needs to be prayed regardless of what your adult child’s attitude is toward the things of God. Your job is to pray, and it is God’s job to answer. Remember, you have released your adult child into God’s hands. That doesn’t mean you have given up on him or her. You’re not saying, “You take him, God. I can’t deal with him anymore.” Or, “That’s it, Lord. I’ve had it. She’s all Yours now.” It means you have surrendered the burden you have been carrying for your adult child to the Lord so He can take it off of your shoulders. Then the burden you carry is in prayer.
Pray That They Will Understand the Power of the Holy Spirit
I wrote The Power of a Praying Parent more than 15 years ago, and it has served me and others well in all those years. I have seen countless answers to prayer in my own children’s lives, and I have heard from thousands of readers about the wonderful answers to prayer they have experienced as well. Those of us who started praying for our small children back then have seen them grow into adults. And we have also watched the world change for the worse in some way every day. We must now have a new strategy in prayer for our adult children. Our prayers for the flow of the Holy Spirit in their lives will become a powerful protective shield from the flood of this toxic culture. They cannot navigate it successfully without God’s power.
Today’s cultural environment will chew our adult children up and spit them out if they are not strong enough to recognize the destructive, dark, and powerful forces that are in it and be able to resist them. No matter how horrible our own background might have been, we weren’t confronted with the outpouring of evil they are facing today. It is becoming so dangerous that even our adult children cannot successfully withstand it on their own. They need the power of the Holy Spirit, and they need our prayers to help them understand how He moves in power on their behalf.
We must not only politely ask God for an outpouring of His Spirit on our adult children, we must get on our knees and cry out for it from the depths of our being. We must recognize that already a spirit is being poured out on them right now—the spirit of darkness, death, perversion, lies, destruction, and evil—and only an outpouring of the Holy Spirit can negate that in their lives before it harms or destroys them. Only an outpouring of the Holy Spirit can connect them to the power of God.
Pray That They Will Be Influenced by the Holy Spirit of Truth
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). We all must have Him functioning in that capacity fully in our lives. And this is especially true for our adult children. The Spirit of truth will bring the truth to light and expose the lies.
I am deliberately not telling many stories about my own adult children in this book, and that is not because there aren’t any stories to tell. But Christopher and Amanda are adults, and these are their stories to tell. And I hope that someday they will, for the outcome in each case has been great to the glory of God. However, I will say that each one of my adult children at one point presented us with a challenge that made it necessary to confront them about some choices they had made with regard to the path they were on. They each had gotten off the path God had for them because of bad influences in their lives. I am not blaming the bad influences, because obviously something in each adult child allowed them to be drawn toward what they clearly knew was not right.
This happened in separate years and ages for each of them, and they were dealing with entirely different issues. However, in both cases I had previously sensed in my spirit that something was not quite right in their spirits. A parent can look into their adult child’s eyes and see if the Holy Spirit is reflected back in all His purity, or if something has come into their mind and soul that is competing with His presence. And this is especially true when you ask the Holy Spirit of truth to reveal what you need to know in order to pray effectively for their lives.
My husband and I felt something was not right, but we didn’t have any hard evidence. So we just prayed that God would reveal everything that needed to be revealed, and that He would not let them get away with anything. We asked God to pour out His Spirit upon them and convict them of whatever was in their lives that was not glorifying to Him. We asked the Spirit of truth to reveal the truth to them and to us.
In each case, not long after we prayed, someone called us to say they were concerned about our adult child and why. We went to each one and told them what the Holy Spirit had put on our hearts. We also told them what we had heard, although not whom we heard it from. (I never reveal my sources.) They each immediately admitted to what we suspected and were deeply and completely repentant.
This was a turning point for each adult child, because they were different from then on. They were more serious about their lives, their futures, and the Lord. They became far more careful and wise about their associations and actions. The Holy Spirit spoke powerfully to them, and their hearts were opened to a new level of His work in their lives. All this could not have happened without the Spirit of truth penetrating their lives and revealing what they needed to see.
Even though I am not using many stories from my own adult children’s lives—except in a few minor instances such as this, where their privacy is not compromised—there are countless parents of adult children with whom I have talked at great length about the problems they have faced with their adult children. These conversations have given me more than enough examples to illustrate what I need to in each chapter. However, so as to protect everyone’s privacy, I will not mention any real names or specifics that would allow someone to be identified. Plus, nearly every example I am citing is based on more than one case. So it could be any one of a number of adult children whom I am talking about in this book.
All that to say, I have seen countless answers to prayers for adult children. Were I to tell you all of them, you would be greatly encouraged in praying for your own. I hope the ones I mention will give you the encouragement you need.
If you have an adult child who has grieved or worried you, or caused problems for himself (herself) or for you or others, ask God to pour out His Spirit on him (her) right now. Don’t waste time blaming yourself, the other parent, or your child. I am not saying your adult children don’t bear any responsibility for what happens in their lives. They certainly do. But the overriding factor is that only an outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God on your adult children is powerful enough to withstand the onslaught of the spirit of evil coming against them. Asking God to pour out His Spirit upon your adult children is a simple prayer with powerful ramifications, both for you and for them.
I have asked God to pour out His Holy Spirit on you and speak to your heart as you pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on your adult children. I can’t wait to hear about the results.
Lord, You have said that in the last days You will pour out Your Spirit upon all flesh. I cry out to You from the depth of my heart and ask that You would pour out Your Holy Spirit upon my adult children. Pour out Your Spirit upon me and my other family members as well. Pour out Your Spirit on all of their in-laws, both present and future. Pour out Your Spirit upon whatever difficult circumstances each of my adult children are facing. Be Lord over every part of their lives and every aspect of their being.
Speak to my adult child’s heart and help him (her) to hear from You. Enable him (her) to understand Your leading and direction for his (her) life. Open his (her) ears to hear Your truth so he (she) will reject all lies. Help him (her) to move by the power of Your Spirit. Enable him (her) to rise above the onslaught of evil in our culture.
Where he (she) has walked away from You in any way, stretch out Your hand and draw him (her) back. Don’t let him (her) get away with anything that is not pleasing in Your sight. Convict his (her) heart and bring him (her) back to where he (she) should be. May the Holy Spirit poured out on him (her) completely neutralize the power of the enemy attempting to pour out evil in his (her) life.
I know You can do far more in my adult child’s life than I can ever do, and I invite You to do so. But if there is anything I should do—or should not do—make it clear to me so that I will do the right thing. Holy Spirit of truth, reveal the truth that needs to be seen both to them and to me. Guide me in my response to them always.
I pray my adult child will never grieve Your Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) but will receive Him as a gift from You (Luke 11:13). Fill him (her) with Your Spirit and pour into him (her) Your peace, hope, faith, truth, and power. Let a spirit of praise arise in his (her) heart and teach him (her) to worship You in Spirit and in truth.
In Jesus’ name I pray.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!
You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.
Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
Prophecy never came by the will of man,
but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:21
Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
I have been a fan of Stormie Omartian for several years now. Owning both her Power of a Praying Wife and Power of a Praying Parent I knew I had to also tour and review this lastest release by her. My kiddos are far from grown (They are ages 3 and 5 to be exact.); however, I knew The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children would be an insightful read even now. Plus I can easily shelf it again until my own girls are grown.
In her introductory section, Stormie discusses at length the many points she believes every parent of an adult child should know. Know that even when they're grown and not living at home, your parenting days won't be over. Know that no matter what they do or how they do it, you'll never be able to fix them- BUT God can! Know that no one is perfect, and that means you too. These are just a few of the points Stormie mentions in the beginning of her book, and each one holds a deeply inspiring message.
I think we as parents tend to try to make the world in to a perfect bubble for our kids. If and when something goes wrong, be it with the children themselves or the environment around them, we often times blame ourselves. But as Stormie points out, no one is completely equipped to properly manage and carry off everything except for God. Learning when and how to lean on Him is one of the most important messages I think any person, parents in particular, can grasp. In The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children not only are there examples of what can go wrong; there are also examples of how to appropriately pray the exact blessing and direction of God onto and for your children. Safe to say, parents with children of any age can certainly benefit from reading this book. Though, for obvious reasons, those with adult children will be able to reap the fullest of rewards from it sooner than the rest of us.
So, yes, I'm quite glad I took the review opportunity because what I read was not only very informative, but provided great principles that I can already begin to store away and set in motion for when my babies are truly no longer babies any longer.
~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC
Friday, July 10, 2009
Not generally a lover of short stories, I wasn't expecting to be overly wowed by this collection. As I've been known to say on more than one occassion, short stories to me are usually too hurried and lack the backbone I feel is important in making a story flow and feel completely rounded. In this instance, it wasn't that I doubted the author's ability or even that I expected not to be entertained; more so I just didn't think I'd enjoy it as much as other "more complete" books. More complete, to me, means a book with one main plotline that is followed up with individual storylines that come together to form one whole story. (Think a novel.) However, when it came down to it, I was bowled over and totally drawn in by the complex nature of each individual story told in Haney's compilation.
Every story told a tale of relative simplicity but the manner in which each was told opened the depths to allow the reader a uniquely personal insight to the characters and their plight. I say "plight" because while each of the stories is told from a different perspective, all of them seem to have one common thread tying them together- a loss and/or deep and pervasive sadness. From the very start, in "An Ordinary Evening", we see a mother coping with the pending loss of her comatose daughter. You, the reader, experience the pain alongside the mother. You recognize her grief, and yet you can sense her hope that perhaps some good can still come when all is said and done. Or in "Sweltering", which was probably my absolute favorite of all the collection, we meet a couple who have more than just the intense Summer heat driving them apart. The cause of the couple's withdraw from one another is not immediately evident. However, as the story progresses, with the introduction of a stray cat, you begin to understand where the couple has come from and what driving force has unfurled the thickening distance between them. It's a story so moving, so stirring. So much, infact, that the act of reading it seems almost too personal, as if the couple really does exist and by reading their story you are not just observing but actively taking part in their emotional upheaval. This, truth be told, was the case with each of the eleven stories included in The Simplest of Acts. While all unique, each contains a richness that can only be fully appreciated when shared in its own intimate setting.
Unlike some other short stories I've had the displeasure of spending my time reading, each of these pieces seemed effortless to read. Every narative was complete and showed a distinctive beginning, middle, and end without coming across as overworked or rushed. Despite their brevity, each story was polished and exuded the author's true talent for storytelling. My hats off to her; for within these mere 101 pages, my mind has been changed once and for all wherein short stories are concerned. I'd be lying if I didn't say that as of here and now my eyes have been opened to a new and improved form of short story. I might not go out of my way to pick up just any old short story collection, but I fully intend to not give them quite the brush off I've been known to give in the past. Especially if and/or when Melanie releases a new collection, you can sign me up to receive a hot off the presses copy!
It was a tremendous pleasure to read and review this book. I'm disheartened to think that I might have missed it all together were it not for this blog, Bookish Mom Reviews. Without it I would have never received the review request from Ms Haney; and, therefore, I would have probably never stumbled on to the book by myself. And even if I did, let's be real, I probably wouldn't have given it a second glance, if not for the pure and simple fact that, again, it's a short story collection. So, yes, my utmost thanks goes to the author for this great opportunity. Thank you, Melanie!!!
~Bookish Mom, aka RebekahC