Tag Archives: ruth

Broken and Not So Broken

6 Jun

This is my walking boot. I decorate it, of course.

“God, I’m in the place again/I’m trying so hard not to fall/But everything keeps coming down with the rain.”–Everyday Sunday

I’ve always appreciated melancholy songs.  There’s something about the toned down, raw nature of a rock band that grips my heart and makes me pay attention, like KISS’s “Beth” or Five Iron Frenzy’s “Every New Day.”  (Yes, I just mentioned KISS and Five Iron Frenzy in the same sentence.  Incidentally, “Beth” is the only KISS song I know.)

Since lyrics and song melodies move me, it’s understandable why I’ve danced my way into the genre of singer/songwriter in my old(er) age (though I still enjoy Southern rock, like Credence Clearwater Revival and more recently, NeedToBreathe.)  Lately, it seems, I find comfort in the likes of Bebo Norman (surprise, surpise!), JJ Heller, Audrey Assad, Josh Wilson, and Andrew Peterson.

See, I haven’t had an easy go of things lately.  In mid-May, I broke my left foot. Yes, friends, another broken foot.  As you may recall, I broke my right foot about 15 months ago…and the healing process for the right foot has been excruciatingly slow.  After a couple tests, my foot doctor discovered my Vitamin D level to be pitifully low and started me on a regimen 50,000 units of Vitamin D weekly.  That’s the boring medical part.

This happened a week after I made some changes in my life, after all night prayer sessions, talks with my pastor, and weeping before the Lord, I felt Him saying to me, as He said to Elijah as he ran for his life from evil Queen Jezebel, “The journey has been too much for you.  Rest now, My child, I will take care of the details.”  Two weeks after resigning as lead of a ministry and falling into a more manageable role on the leadership team, I broke my foot simply by getting up from (or rather down) from one of our counter height dining room chairs.

This started a longer-than-I-anticipated journey of rest–no driving, walking around with a rollator (rolling walker), going down the stairs with a cane, needing assistance with normal tasks like showering, shopping, and getting here and there.  Oh, and of course, resting with my legs elevated to improve healing time.  Alone all day in my apartment.  It sounds perfectly lovely to harried people who could use a day off, but it’s house arrest for a social, relational woman like me.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to God and listening to music.  At first, I was struck with severe anxiety, which I believe was my anxiety disorder as well as a spiritual attack from the enemy.  I cried–wailed actually–and copied psalm after psalm from the Bible into my journal.  My fervency for God was strong and trust was a moment by moment walk.  While I don’t miss the panic attacks and tears, I wish I could maintain the level of urgency for God and His Holy Word when I’m not in the throes of fear.

I don’t always listen to music.  I like silence, too.  I can hear the birds singing merrily, the engine of the mail truck, laughter and screams from neighborhood children, the clink of my dog’s tags as she roams about the apartment, and my cockatiel’s own chirps.  So many ordinary sounds that make up the backdrop of this orchestra called life…and most of the time, I barely notice.

And I’m reading.  As much as I love to read, I don’t always make time for it.  Besides my Bible study reading (The Story and Crazy Love) and my daily devotional, Jesus Calling, I’m juggling three books right now–One Thousand Gifts, The Parable of Joy, and The Covenant Child.  My attention span seems to have increased as a result of my sitting in this stillness.

My writing life has been rich, though much of it has come alive in my journal–private conversations between God and me.  While this isn’t a measurable source of earthly wealth, it is the most important writing that I can do.  I call it “holy writing.”  If my purpose here on earth is to bring glory and honor to God, then my writing–for Him and Him alone–can have no higher calling.  Face down before the Throne of God, I write and write, like some ancient, inspired scribe.  Perhaps I will pick out thoughts to blog about here.  Or maybe write that book I’m always thinking about.

Don’t get me wrong.  I would never have chosen this path, but I am learning to be thankful for it.  I am grateful for the friends God has given to support me in this time.  It’s funny how my One Word for 2013 is LOVED and He is showing me how LOVED I really am! (Even when I start to believe the lie that no one cares, including God.)  Who would have thought the path to knowing I am LOVED would come with so much pain and brokenness–the actual physical breaking of another bone?  It seems all paths are littered with sorrow and suffering.  Is it any wonder that these are little Much Afraid’s guides to the high places in Hind’s Feet on High Places? (I plan to re-read the book as soon as I finish The Covenant Child.)

I am loved.  It rings loudly and clearly throughout my days, and it is revealed through so many ways and so many people.

If I hadn’t broken my left foot, my small group leader wouldn’t have moved our Bible study into her living room so I could attend showing me that I am LOVED.  (Thanks, Amanda!)

Nor would I have received a ride to the Bible study I lead from one of the attendees.  (Thanks, Patty!)

I would never have trusted God to help me make it up to the choir loft for praise team or give me strength to sing when my jaw ached with TMJD pain.  (Thanks to the Praise Team for their encouragement!)

I have moments of despair, when I feel God’s touch or receive a phone call or text or Facebook message.  These are precious things I gather into my heart.  Someone is praying or God is teaching me to trust Him more and more.  I hate the aloneness, and I love the intimacy with God.

If this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.  Perhaps I’d write something else, or maybe nothing at all.  I know not the path I would’ve taken and it hardly matters because this is where I am.  Everything around me is speaking to me–the book One Thousands Gifts, reading the book of Ruth this morning (I was struck that Naomi was so very bitter and yet so very blessed through Ruth in the end.  In the middle, it seemed she would never have joy again), and in watching The Fellowship of the Ring last week. (Frodo never CHOSE for the ring to come into his possession, yet it did.  Yet he carried the burden anyway.  He chose to do the right thing in the midst of his circumstances.)

It’s a conscious choice, this choosing to be thankful and grateful in the midst of this disappointment.  Perhaps it’s a divine appointment to receive greater joy.  That’s an encouraging thought, isn’t it?

Tell me, how has God taught you to be faithful or thankful in the midst of something hard or disappointing?  What have you been reading lately?  Do you miss the fervency of intimacy with God when you aren’t going through trials?

Advertisements

Take 5 with author Liz Curtis Higgs

16 Mar

Liz Curtis Higgs is my favorite former bad girl.  Author of the Bad Girls of the Bible series as well as a slew of other award-winning books, Liz just released her latest historical novel, Mine Is the Night (read review), which completes the tale that began with Here Burns My Candle.  Both novels take the book of Ruth and transplant it in 18th century Scotland.  The result is a series that is both breathtaking in its historical detail and swoon-worthy in its classic romance.   I adore Liz—her personality, her writing, her zeal for God’s Word—and am beyond excited to interview her for the first time on Backseat Writer.

You have a special gift for retelling stories of the Bible, yet leaving the message intact.  When did you first discover you were a storyteller?

Almost as soon as I started reading, I started writing little stories on paper for my family and friends. My first go at a novel came at age ten. Yes, I still have it, and yes, it’s laughable! But when I hold it in my hands I remember that young girl who dreamed of writing real novels someday. I kept that dream under wraps for many years, through high school and college, through my radio career and the early years of my speaking career. In the mid-90s I finally confessed to a writing friend, “I believe God is calling me to write fiction,” then waited for her to laugh. Instead she said, “Why not? You’re a natural storyteller.” Her kind words gave me the courage I needed for the next step: showing an editor my work. Thank the Lord she didn’t laugh either! I wrote two contemporary novels and a novella before turning to historical fiction in 2003 with Thorn in My Heart.

I read that the story of Ruth, the basis for Mine Is the Night, has been a longtime favorite of yours.  What do you love about this story?

It’s a romance for the ages, one that goes far beyond girl-meets-boy. A young woman leaves behind her pagan gods to follow the God of Israel, then leaves behind her family to follow her bitter, broken mother-in-law, and finally leaves behind her widow’s weeds to marry a man who is older than she, yet wise in the things of God. It’s the ultimate rags-to-riches, loss-to-redemption, sorrow-to-celebration story. Glorious! By moving Ruth and Naomi’s journey to eighteenth-century Scotland, I hoped I might help readers look at their story afresh and discover what God might be saying to us about his loving-kindness and mercy.

What captivates you about Scotland, where so many of your tales find their setting?

The land itself is beautifully green and rolling in the Lowlands, then strikingly barren and majestic in the Highlands. History is everywhere you turn in Scotland, with castles and cottages dotting the landscape. Traditions are woven into their lives like a thick tapestry. And faith runs through the backbone of Scotland like the Great Glen itself. It’s simply a magical place. I’ve been there a dozen times and cannot wait to return.

Your Bad Girls of the Bible books have greatly impacted my life and the way I look at the Bible.  How has sharing parts of your own story through your writing and speaking helped others? (And maybe even helped to heal you!)

It took ten years of sharing my Former Bad Girl story from the platform before I had the courage to share it on the pages of my first book, One Size Fits All and Other Fables, released in 1993 and now long out of print. So my healing was already well underway when I wrote Bad Girls of the Bible in 1999, praying I might help other women break free from the mistakes of their past and embrace the grace that God offers. Jesus loved hanging around with Bad Girls, with prostitutes, with those who were unclean, unwelcome, unseen. What a Savior! It’s been thrilling—and humbling—to watch God work in the lives of our sisters through the Bad Girls of the Bible series.

When was the last time you laughed out loud in a very unladylike fashion?

I do that on a daily basis! Though I have to say, this little story that arrived in my morning email made me LOL: A woman was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup under the watchful eyes of her young granddaughter. After the woman applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little girl said, “But Grandma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!” Love it.

For more information on Liz Curtis Higgs, please visit her online at LizCurtisHiggs.com.  She’s also on Facebook and Twitter.  Everyone needs a little Lizzie in her life!

Don’t forget to read Backseat Writer’s review of Mine Is the Night.

Book Review:: Mine Is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs

15 Mar

By Donna Landis Liz Curtis Higgs‘ new book Mine Is the Night is the sequel to Here Burns My Candle. I did not read the first book, but it really is not necessary as Ms. Higgs recounts the journey of her characters up to the point of meeting them in Mine Is the Night. If you love historical romance rich in the details of life in 18th century Scotland, you will find Higgs’ new book fascinating. If you are interested in a modern retelling of the biblical story of the book of Ruth, this is the one you are waiting for.

I loved all three books in Ms. Higgs’ Bad Girls of the Bible series (we studied – actually discussed, argued, laughed – these books our women’s Bible study) because her insights into a woman’s psyche are compellingly honest. In the Bad Girls series, she had real doozies of characters and situations to deal with. In Mine Is the Night she parallels the sweet redemptive story of Ruth and Boaz. Those of us who are complete romantics begin to swoon when we just hear the story of Ruth mentioned. If you are that kind of romantic, run to the bookstore to purchase this book.

However, the very romantic story of Ruth and Boaz as led by God’s redemptive plan is well known. There is just not enough tension between the characters of Ms. Higgs’ Elizabeth and Jack as well as in the story line to make this plot sufficiently pleasing. Can we find fault with Ruth and Boaz? No. In the same way, Elizabeth and Jack are too sweet and too predictable.

Despite the dearth of an interesting and compelling plot, the story is rich and beautifully told. Historical romance fans, Mine Is the Night is your book!

DON’T FORGET TO CHECK BACK TOMORROW FOR AMY’S INTERVIEW WITH LIZ CURTIS HIGGS!

Donna Landis is a retired teacher (over 30 years of teaching kindergarteners was enough).  She has one daughter, Amy, who is the head honcho of Backseat Writer.  She lives in Pennsylvania and owns a cute dog named Katie.

*With thanks to Waterbrook Press for my review copy of this book.  To see Backseat Writer’s full review policy along with the FTC disclosure, please click on the “About Backseat Writer” tab above.*

Book Review & Blog Tour:: Treasured by Leigh McLeroy and “God Gave Us” Books by Lisa T. Bergren

30 Nov

Today is an exciting one, folks!  Backseat Writer is participating in its first blog tour—the Tresaured/”God Gave Us” Blog Tour sponsored by Random House/Waterbook Press.  I reviewed Treasued by Leigh McLeroy and enlisted my friend Shari, a children’s literature reviewer for the “God Gave Us” books.  Enjoy the reviews and thank you to Waterbrook for this opportunity (and, yes, they did provide us with review copies).

TREASURED by LEIGH McLEROY

Leigh McLeroy and I would make great friends—I’m sure of it.  Her easy writing style makes me feel as though we are sharing our hearts on her couch over a cup of nice, strong Chai.  Not only that, but McLeroy is a keeper of sentimental things—reminders of her love for the Living God and an old box of her beloved grandfather’s belongings given to her after his death.  I have those boxes, too—one that smells like my Grammy and the other like my Poppy.  This sentimentalism drew me into Treasured: Knowing God By the Things He Keeps, which looks like a gift book, but is much more than a pretty book to keep in the bathroom.

McLeroy interweaves her personal stories with Bible stories drawn from the first few books of the Bible—pulling from the tales of the Fall of Man, Noah’s Ark, Hagar and Ishmael, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, the Exodus, Rahab, Balaam, Ruth, and David.  In each chapter, she picks an item—a treasure—that God used to teach a lesson to His people.  She then explains how Abraham’s knife, which should have been used to kill Isaac, instead teaches us about God’s mercy and love, how a bloodied strip of cloth from Joseph’s coat turned a tragic loss into the saving of a family (and nation), and how a scarlet cord signaled life for Rahab and her family.  She then makes it personal—first with her own story and then challenges the reader as well.

Treasured is not only a great book for new believers who are becoming familiar with the Bible, but also life-long Christians who have heard the ol’ stories hundreds of times—because, like me, you probably missed the small details that McLeroy so beautifully highlights.

Treasures can be found in the most common of things we keep—a heart-shaped leaf, a loved one’s picture, and a child’s first Bible, but also in the things that God keeps to remind us that we are treasured in Him.

GOD GAVE US LOVE & GOD GAVE US CHRISTMAS by LISA T. BERGREN

By Shari Transue, Special to Backseat Writer With Christmas quickly approaching our thankful hearts and giving spirits need a reminder of why we are celebrating. Lisa T. Bergren has written a series of children’s books discussing the gifts God has given to the world. In her “God Gave” series a polar bear family talks about Gods gifts of children, siblings, heaven, Jesus and love. God Gave Us Love coupled with God Gave Us Christmas is perfect for discussing the Christmas message to children ages four to eight. Since the books contain a lot of text that warrants explanation, the messages may be a lot for younger children to understand. The beautiful and fun whimsical artwork in each story invites engagement and enjoyment for the young readers, who will be sure to love these cuddly polar bears and their arctic setting.

In each story, Little Cub asks her Mama and Grampa questions that all children ask adults they grow up. When Little Cub and her Mama set out on a Christmas adventure, in God Gave Us Christmas,  to find God, Little Cub discovers the wonders of God in the Aurora Borealis, the majestic ice caps, the bright Morning Star, little flowers and the meaning behind the crèche. Little Cub learns about Jesus, the best present of all—that He was sent because of God’s great love for all of us–to show us how to love others.

God Gave Us Love is a great follow up story, discussing the kinds of love that we share with our families, friends and others.  Grampa Bear shows Little Cub how sharing love with others is important even when we do not feel like showing love. It is hard for little ones to look beyond themselves at a young age when they need so much attention, have many needs and need answers to many questions.

Grampa explains to Little Cub that God gave us love to allow us to accept others’ differences and show love by being patient, gentle, kind—touching on the Fruits of the Spirit. Grampa tells Little Cub that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to help us show our love and that is what is most important.

This Christmas season, as we ready for the celebrations of family and giving, remember and share with your little ones that God gave us Christmas, God gave us Jesus and the best present of all–love.

Shari Transue writes for Examiner.com, Associated Content, and Miss Shari’s Story Time Blog . She’s a Keystone College graduate, holding Bachelors in Communication Arts & Humanities and Education certification. Formerly a preschool teacher, Shari loves collaborating with parents, teachers, and reading children’s literature. Contact Shari here.

Take 5 with Ruth

2 Nov

By Amy Sondova When it comes to answering questions, Ruth’s frontman, Dustin Ruth, is a thorough guy.  Instead of offering pithy answers, Dustin instead chose to respond to this “Take 5” with thoughtful responses.  Having just released their sophomore album, Anorak, on Oct. 28, Ruth (which is not only Dustin’s last name but an acronym for “Return Us To Him”), the band is eager to share their songs on their current tour with DecembeRadio.

However, Ruth is no stranger to the road having toured with Switchfoot and Relient K on the “Appetite for Construction” tour last fall (read BSW’s interview with Relient K’s Matt Thiessen) as well as the ever-popular Emery.  Read on to learn more about the term “Anorak,” documentaries on Trekkies, and so much more from the fingertips of Dustin Ruth, who was ever-so-prompt in answering his “Take 5” questions.

When coming up with a title for the album, how did you come upon a British slang term like “anorak”?  (Where did you learn British slang?  What are some other British slang terms you think our readers need to know?  Sorry, for the 3-in1 question, but it had to be asked).

Well I was hanging out with a good friend of mine Chris Martin, he’s in a pretty good band you may have heard of “Coldplay”. Check them out. Anyway he and I were talking and I asked….just kidding. 

We were hanging out with Emery on their bus one night in Portland before they played a show and Josh Head put on Trekkies 1 and 2. This is a documentary movie about people labeled as “trekkies” who are extremely into the sci-fi series “Star Trek”. They go to these conventions and dress up like their favorite character and speak the language of that character, ect.  In Trekkies 2, the documentary expands from the U.S. to Trekkies around the world. While in the U.K. they ask an old man on the street outside a Trekkie convention what he thinks of the costumed people entering the building. He responded, “Anoraks, all of them”.

When I heard him refer to them as Anoraks, it stuck in my head and I looked the term up online. I found on Wikipedia that it was a British slang word for someone who’s a nerd and really excited and into a topic most people don’t care about (Amy’s note: click here to read Wikipedia’s entry about Ruth). That’s where it all began. We confirmed this while touring in the U.K. a few months ago and got a real education on where the term got its slang use. People there were very excited that we knew what it meant.

Why for our record? Well we’ve found that it can be challenging to be accepted by a lot of people out there. We travel a lot and no matter where you are, on a plane, train, or at a restaurant, when people ask if you are a band and you say “Why, yes” they want to talk. When they find out what your primary topic of music is about they become extremely uninterested. On the flip side, there have been songs that we didn’t record on the first album because we were told they were too honest and that people in the “Christian industry” would not accept them. So with this record we didn’t care what anyone thought and recorded what we felt was right.

As for other British slang, well I’m not cool enough to know any. I just was watching Trekkies 2.

Not only is the title for the album unique, so was its crafting, which was primarily took place at rest stops and hotels—not your usual realm of inspiration.  How did the album come together in these unlikely places?

I think it had to happened in these places because we were on the road solid that year. When the year was over we ended up playing over 180 shows. So there wasn’t much time to write at home. I also only write alone and so this was very challenging. I often times would be in the van while the guys slept in the hotel or were watching Spinal Tap or Wayne’s World multiple times without me. It was tough.

But I will say when we got home finally, we were able to get the gear out and jam on all the new stuff together and the guys did a brilliant job of writing parts and developing the record. I think it really paid off to be able to get back to what we love doing the most as fast as possible.

Why is the song, “Nothing to Hide,” one of your favorites?  (I think it’s because guys are suckers for love songs).

Wow. Well, I am a sucker for love, but this song is very complex. I highly debated ever explaining it to anyone and may not. In the end it makes perfect sense, I promise. Honestly, I believe its one of the best songs I’ve ever been blessed to have written. We spent a lot of time as a band molding it to what it is. I spent a lot of time just thinking about vocal parts, harmonies, counter melodies and really felt excellent when it was finished. The lyrics go deep for me and I know in my heart they go deep for everyone.

While I should probably be asking about “Back to the Five” (feel free to throw some thoughts in about that song), I want to ask you about the story behind one of my fave songs on the album, “Miracle Photo.”  Would you mind sharing about it?

“Back to the Five”: A song about being homesick and realizing time is still turning at home and your not there to enjoy it. That’s tough for me. I really love Washington and the West Coast. In the midst of everything we miss on the road we know we are doing what were supposed to right now. That’s what this song is about.

“Miracle Photo”: A song about the miracles God has done for this band. He has parted the Red Sea for this band. I think the biggest inspiration for this song was the Switchfoot and Relient K tour. There was no logistical reason for us to be on that tour and there were hundreds of more qualified bands on the list before us. Somehow a burned copy of Secondhand Dreaming made it full circle with those two bands and they picked us. There are a lot of miracles outside that but it was pretty cool to watch happen.

Usually this is the place where I ask an absurd question, but we sort of tackled that in Question #1, so I’ll ask this instead:  This album’s about watching dreams come true and watching other dreams fall apart.  A lot of times when dreams don’t’ come true, people become angry with God.  How have you handled the pain of dreams that don’t come to pass and how has it impacted your relationship with God?

Great question. I deal with that everyday. It’s hard to be working hard for what sometimes seems like nothing. At home friends ask what I’ve been up to. My favorite response is “still working hard to get down that dead end road”. They always laugh because they know at some point I’m going to have to get a real job and pay some bills. But they know I’ll never put down music.

As for me and God, I am so blessed to know Him. I can’t believe He even cares about me. There are times I get mad at Him. Those are the times my true ugliness shows. He’s my best friend and He takes care of me and I just really want to know Him better. I can’t wait for the next song to teach me something about Him. All I can say is that He is the one that copes with me, and He is the one that holds me close. If I had to do that myself, I would be long gone.

Print copy of Take 5.

%d bloggers like this: