Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Missing Pieces

The other day I was discussing a book with my mom and explaining to her my concern about how "blame" is cast upon the child in the story.  My mom commented about how deeply I read and consider what is written. Sometimes I wonder if I go overboard.  Am I questioning too much?  Am I overreacting? Why am I reacting this way?

I come back to knowing that God wired me this way.  But, I also reflect on how God has guided my path through the maze of books I've read over the past few years and what I've learned from the books themselves and from reading them.  

Recently, I read a book that troubled me.  The book I finished reading was Guiltless Living by Ginger Hubbard.  When I began reading it, I found myself puzzled and then disconcerted. And in the end, I cried. But, I cried for a different reason than one might suspect. I'd like to explain.

I did not read Ms. Hubbard's previous book “Don't Make Me Count to Three”, but I knew from friends that reviews of the book have been very polarized over the years. Whenever I know that about a book, I try to walk in with an open mind seeking to understand why people love the book, or author, and why some people have very strong reactions to it.

I had a strong reaction to Guiltless Living. I read Ms. Hubbard's introduction and her story about how people have criticized her in the past for being so open and honest about her thoughts. This admission grieved me. It grieved me that strangers would say the cruel things she recounted. I understood how this could happen to her, though, because the same thing has happened to me. One of my dear friends once told me that she was shocked at some of the things people had said to me over the years. I am very honest and up front with people and many people have shared with their stories with me. Stories I've been blessed to listen to. But, people have also said many unkind things to me and I've experienced a lot of rejection in my life.  God has used that to shape me and I have often seen him use it in my life.

I have been blogging and reviewing books for five years and the Lord has brought many books across my path that I don't think I would have chosen to read or have known about otherwise. I've been challenged to consider what life situation an author is speaking from, where they now live and where they have lived, what their family life is like, how old they are, where they work, and what other experiences have shaped them.  I tried to learn more about Ms. Hubbard as a way to understand her writing and ministry, but I found myself with more questions than answers.  

In this book, Ms. Hubbard addresses seven sins that keep us from living under grace. She begins each chapter with a story from her own life that will shock you and get your attention.  It is a story of how that sin has played out in her life.  Then the story is done and dropped like a hot potato, but not resolved... She moves on then to teaching from the Word and through stories from other people's lives about that sin.  But, there is a big piece missing:  heart change.  How does that change happen?  What does it look like?  Ms. Hubbard's answer is that we are to turn to God and accept his grace, knowing that we sin.  That's it.  As I read the first few chapters, I kept waiting.  Waiting for more.  Where was she going?  The introduction did not give me a clear picture of where the book was going to be going and what the author was going to set out and prove or show in the subsequent chapters.  The conclusion of the book was stronger and she almost, almost gets there.  She almost gets to addressing heart change, but she never does.  The gospel is about our hope in Christ--our hope that involves heart change.  

God calls us to repentance by his grace and He changes us.  He transforms us through the Word and through the Holy Spirit working in our hearts and lives. God doesn't call us to him, point out our sin, and just leave us that way for the rest of our lives.  Jerry Bridges does a great job in The Discipline of Grace of explaining how Grace and Repentance intertwine--and necessarily must intertwine.  I'm reading Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul Tripp and this is the central message--that God changes us.  Loving Him involves change. So, this is my first concern about this book.  Ms. Hubbard teaches about what God says about these sins (ie. pride, control, selfishness, and others) and encourages people to live under grace.  But, she doesn't explain how that change happens or ever explain how her own life has been changed by God in these different areas.    

My second concern is the tone of the book.  I think many people will be fine with it, but many others may be rubbed the wrong way by it... The tone of this book is one of a teacher speaking to her pupils.  She takes on a "teacher" voice--that of one being above her students.  I know this voice because early in my marriage, my husband made me aware of when it came out in me. Since then, I try to guard against it and be careful about how I come across. I've heard this "teacher voice" in several books over the years and they always seem to be the ones that have polarized reviews.  Instead of conveying grace, they convey disconcerting expectations and rules.  Ms. Hubbard doesn't convey a set of rules in this book, but she does something else that I've seen before.

Let me explain.  I did search out Ms. Hubbard's name online and found some missing pieces.  There is one article that she wrote about an incident with her former husband (I couldn't find out if he died or if she divorced and remarried a year later to another man.) In her writing, she had a decidedly different tone than she did in this book.  The article was written very humbly, acknowledging how God is continually changing her.  She doesn't talk of such change, though in her book.  I didn't know what to make of this.  I am not going to judge her.  But, I do want to acknowledge the tone of her book--a tone that I have recognized in myself before and other writers.  We have to guard against it!  "Do as I say, not as I do" is a message that falls on deaf ears.  People listen if they know you understand and that you are working to change too.  I listen if I know that someone else understands and isn't just telling me what I need to do.  I have felt my heart harden in conversations before when I have perceived this going on.  

Last year, when I read Dangerous Calling, my heart was encouraged by Paul Tripp's words.  I understood that pastors (and teachers) can fall into many traps.  One trap is that they can teach, but not sit under their own teaching.  Reading this book felt as if Ms. Hubbard has fallen into this trap, because she opened each chapter with an example of a sin.  She never explains how God has changed her in the area that she is talking about.  She gives an example of the sin.  In one case, she talks about how controlling she was in college and then with her own children in their youth and later in their teenage years.  But, she never apologizes or acknowledges that anything was wrong in what she did.  She talks about how her children coped with her controlling behavior, but never that she wishes or that she did change in this area of her life.  This seemed very odd to me.  

I have been extremely hesitant to comment on this book.  I do not want to come across as if I am criticizing Ms. Hubbard's faith or her life.  I want to give her the benefit of the doubt.  I want to believe that she accidentally ommitted how her life has changed.  I am acknowledging that she is not alone in stepping into a "teacher voice" and not realizing it.  I want to hope that she sees herself in what she is writing and that how she controlled others in her life was not what God would desire of her (as she exhorts others towards in her own chapter on the subject).  I want to hope that she sees a level playing field, rather than one with a pyramid that people are standing on at different levels.  Even after having an unsettling first impression of the book, I pressed on and read the whole book.  In this review, I wanted to state how her book comes across--the impression the book gave me and my concerns.  

Why?  Because I don't want someone to miss that important message that God changes us.  He works in mighty ways in our lives and hearts.  If we love God, we are necessarily not going to stay the same!  We are new creations in Christ.  There are other books on the same topic that I would recommend instead.  

Here are a few of them...
The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk by Shelly Beach (one of my favorites!)
Growing Grateful Kids (for moms)
Dangerous Calling (for anyone who wants to understand the challenges pastors face or who has been hurt by a pastor's sin against them.  I think it is easier to forgive sometimes if we step inside someone else's shoes.)
The Discipline of Grace, Respectable Sins, and Trusting God, all by Jerry Bridges
Becoming a Woman of Grace by Cynthia Heald (awesome Bible study for women!!) 

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Shepherd Press for review.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Thought Provoking Book

I have two reviews I need to write.  I'm going to start with the easier one, but it's actually the book that I enjoyed less of the two.  Both were good books and both are ones I'd recommend.  But the first comes with a caveat.  It is not what I'd call Christian fiction.  It is labeled "Christian fiction" and it is published by  "Christian" publisher that is owned by a big, secular publisher.  But, in my opinion, it is not Christian fiction.  It is simply fiction.  In my mind, I define Christian fiction as a book that is encouraging and points people to God.  God is a primary player and events are attributed to be caused by him.  Often books that are Christian fiction don't stack up to secular fiction in how good the writing is and how well developed the plots and characters of the stories are if compared to one another.  It is also important to me that if there is twisted theology in it, that there is the counterbalance presence of theology that is true to the Word... and that the contrast can be seen.  This morning I found this definition on Google when I entered "what is Christian fiction?"

"A Christian novel is any novel that expounds and illustrates a Christian world view in its plot, its characters, or both, or which deals with Christian themes in a positive way."

I wouldn't have put it that way, but I agree.  The positive way is something that I find in some books and others not.  It is also what is missing, mostly, in the book I just read.  It's there.  But, it's also not there.  There's a lot of people saving themselves and finding their own ways. Forgiveness without God being a part of the picture.  Wrong thinking about the nature of God and His love for us.  

But, the book is well written and a well plotted out story.  The book is the latest one published by Lisa Samson.  Runaway Saint.  It came out this past February and was published by Thomas Nelson.  

As I started the first page, I was immediately reminded of how I reacted to Resurrection in May.  Ms. Samson is a very good writer.  Her descriptions and how she tells a story isn't formulaic like much of what I read in the Christian fiction genre.  She gives her characters depth, some of which is visible and some hidden beneath layers but is implied.  

The story centers on the arrival of Sara's Aunt Belinda.  She brings a cloud of the unknown into her world when she comes.  Sara is married to Finn, a patient man who loves Sara the way she is, but who also wanted to rescue her from the sadness hidden inside of her.  Sara's character was difficult for me to sympathize with.  All of the characters of this story are very real, almost too real and it is painful to observe their pain and how they aren't dealing with it.  Sara's faith is twisted.  Her view of God isn't one that is in the Bible.  She's missing a lot of important pieces.  Part of that is by choice and part of that is because of the pieces missing in her own parents lives.  This isn't a Christian story, because it isn't really written from a "Christian world view" and I don't know that I would say the themes of the story are dealt with in a positive way in which God is  a part of the picture.  The themes and issues are dealt with as people find resiliency inside themselves.

Her setting for this book was interesting to me because it is set in Baltimore, a place I happen to live near.  The main character, Sara, lives near Patterson Park, which is downtown Baltimore.  It was interesting to see that she named so many specific places in the area.  In the book they seem close together, but in the world of Baltimore, they're pretty far a part.  Cockeysville is a good half hour (with no traffic which is never the case) from downtown according to Google Maps.  The one thing that I couldn't get from the book was a sense of location of all of the places from how she puts them in the story.  The places blend together and I could imagine most readers forming some amorphous map in his or my head based on the names of places that would be very inaccurate to where things actually are in reality.  That is the difficulty of using real places in a story.  I have noticed that it isn't as easy a thing to do in a fiction story as one might imagine.

But, what troubled me most is the ending to the story which I can't and don't want to give away.  Needless to say, the conclusions Sara, her father, her aunt Belinda, and her mother came to about an incident from the past are wrong in my mind.  This is what I will say.  I find in myself the automatic thought that when something bad happens that someone or something is to be blamed and that it matters who that is.  It must be identified.  But, I have come to realize that that is false thinking.  We, as human beings, are very quick to identify blame.  And when we say "you're not to blame", a little part of is identifying that the other party is to blame--we're just not saying it.  We say that to make people feel better most of the time.  We are loathe to take responsibility ourselves or to identify accidents as truly "accidents".  Such and such happened. No one intended it.  There are times when no one is to BLAME.  The word "BLAME"  implies guilt and wrong done by an individual or group.  Can you tell this bothers me?  I was raised to identify blame--ALWAYS.  This thinking impaired me for many years because it fed bitterness in my heart (just like what happens in this book).  It also at times fed horrible guilt in my heart and despair.  Now I fight it.  Sometimes things happen.  I know that everything is in God's plan and I choose to trust in his providence instead of searching for blame.  Sometimes it helps to identify causes just so we can fight the fallacies and wrong thinking that comes from the wrong things people have said or done to us.  Sometimes there is blame when wrong was done intentionally, but that blame and that wrong needs to be forgiven--and that can only be done truly with God's help.  As humans, I don't think we can really do it on our own.  We're sinners and we're imperfect at best.  Accidents aren't about blame and I try to remember that when my kids break something I love.  I try to remember that when we're late for swimming because the highway is at a stand still.  

So, those are my feelings about this book.  If you like realistic fiction... "real" realistic fiction, you'll like this book.  If you like secular fiction without the crassness and harlequin undertones, then this is a book I'd recommend.  If you liked Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, I'd recommend Resurrection in May and this one as well.  

Please note that I received an complimentary e-copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for review.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thought on Happiness

I started reading a new book yesterday and it's not one of those that I just can't put down.  It's very well written, but there's a character that grates on me.  What the character says is thought provoking for me because I disagree with the character so much!  

As I was reading yesterday while my husband was driving, I came across one quote that particularly struck me.  I'm reading the book on my Kindle so it's difficult to get back to the quote.  But, basically, the character said that contentment is when people settle for their lives because they're unhappy.  It's resignation.  They don't want to change and are actually miserable so people justify it by saying they are content.  People who change and progress with the times are actually the happy ones.  So, the character says...

What I read made me think about contentment.  As a Christian, I seek contentment.  Because contentment means something different to me.  It means trusting in God's plan for my life over my own and finding joy in that trust.  God's plan undergirds my life.  His providence.  His plan.  It's better than my own could be for my life.  Contentment is lasting.  It is something to strive after and seek.  Happiness, on the other hand, is fleeting.  It feels good in the moment.  But, it isn't able to be sustained continuously.  It is often self-centered and selfish in nature.  At the core, happiness--in the way that our culture often refers to it--is about us, rather than about God.  

But, Christians get it wrong, too, I think at times.  We can fall into the trap of thinking that it is bad to be happy.  Happiness isn't bad in and of itself, I think.  What's bad is when that is our goal instead of contentment and we make choices seeking happiness instead of seeking to glorify God and trusting Him.  But, I come back to Ecclesiastes 3:12-13...

12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.

It is one of God's gifts to us to enjoy our work and food.  I've known some Christians that shun the world because they think that it isn't okay to be happy and enjoy something.  But, I think that is wrong theology too.  God has given us gifts and this verse tells me that He wants us to enjoy them.  The problem isn't happiness, it is that the world has twisted the importance of happiness and turned it into an idol.

A few years ago, when we were doing a Bible Study on Genesis by Tim Keller, we took a look at how the Serpent works in the Garden of Eden.  At first, the serpent just repeats back what Eve says, but then the Serpent says it with a little twist.  Each time the Serpent speaks, he twists what God said to Adam and Eve more.  

I hear the mantra often "I just want to be happy."  A friend of mine who works at a counseling center said over Easter dinner that all group sessions state that the goal people should strive for is "to be happy".  Hmm.  Happiness isn't evil, but it isn't primary goal we should be striving after.  At least, that's what I think and what I find when I read God's Word.  

The two greatest commandments are that we are to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength--and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Neither of those list happiness as the most important thing we should do.  I think happiness in the life of a Christian looks like joy and it is in the Word in Galatians 5:22-23:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control;against such things there is no law.

Yesterday, my son turned 6 years old.  And I was happy.  I was joyful.  I loved that he enjoyed his birthday presents from us and his sisters so much.  Each gift was perfect for him.  I loved watching how his sisters sought to make it a special day for him.  I loved the peace in our family--it wasn't perfect and Eli still had a few tears when he got frustrated at moments and Sami got frustrated when the rain spoiled her plans.  But, I saw those blessings, joy, and happiness as coming from God.  They were gifts and undergirding how I felt was my unspoken thankfulness to Him.  I said to my husband last night that my goal when it comes to my kids isn't that they would be happy or that they would have all experiences available to them.  It is that they would know how much God loves them and how much we love them.  And that they would get to be kids.  I don't want the world to steal their childhood from them.  

But, back to where I started with this post.  It hadn't occurred to me before yesterday that contentment is something I desire, but it doesn't play the same role in my thinking that it does in someone who doesn't trust God or believe in Him.  If one didn't believe in God, why not pursue happiness first. It's what makes sense, doesn't it?  Why not want to be happy and feel good? If there isn't a plan undergirding anything, like Romans 8:28, that's what makes sense.  

It's moments like this, when it occurs to me what my life would be like if I didn't trust the Lord...what my life would look like if I was constantly striving after happiness, which never lasts and is always fleeting.   I am so thankful that the Lord drew me to Him.  With great humility and tears, I am thankful.  I was lost and angry in my teen years and early twenties.  But, years later, I feel joy now when I look at my children and marvel at how He has made them. The peace I have because I trust the Lord's plan for my life and theirs is lasting.  

Well, I think it's time that my musings must come to an end for this morning and I need to get my children going!  I hope all of this makes sense.  It may have come out a bit rambling along the way... 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Doing Devotions With Our Children

I have to admit that this has been a weakness of mine.  For the past few years, I have struggled to get going in the morning.  Then, by the time we get started, I feel a great sense of pressure to get all our academic work done.  So, I've skipped devotions.  We have always prayed before all of our meals and have family devotions many nights.  So, I let the practice go by the wayside for a bit.

When my kids were little (ages 2-5), reading a Bible Story was a daily practice in our schooling.  We read through the Read Aloud Bible Stories (all 4 volumes) plus Ms. Lindvall's Tell-Me Stories (from the same set, but about Jesus' parables) when they were 2 and 3 years old.  Then, we read through Ms. Lindvall's little storybook, Bible Stories for Little Children when they are 4 and 5 years old.  It's out of print and it's one of my favorite books! After each short story, they get to answer a few short questions that are right at their level.  Eli just finished this one with me and loved it.  Now, we've moved on to Big Thoughts for Little People by Kenneth Taylor, the man who founded Tyndale Publishing.  I reintroduce the Read Aloud Bible Stories when my kids are learning to read, so Eli is reading through them aloud to me now.  The language is simple and the books are large--with large print.  They're really wonderful.

But, when my kids hit first grade, I don't have a specific devotion plan.  I have read different devotions periodically for a time, but I couldn't find a routine that could stick well for me.  Until recently...

We instituted a new morning ritual.  Each morning our goal is to listen to Adventures in Odyssey around 8 am.  Sometimes it ends up being 8:10 or even 8:15, but no later than 8:30 a.m.  This has gotten my kids up and going--as well as me.  Along with this ritual is the habit we've begun that everyone must gather on the couch for devotions and a read aloud.  We already finished reading The Cricket In Times Square by George Shelden and have now started The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit.  Doing read alouds has been another weakness of mine.  I have been good about it when my kids are younger, but then as they get older I have let it go and let them read on their own.

But, God is a redeemer.  I have noticed how homeschooling is not just about my children learning, but it is about me learning as well.  It is often about God working through my weaknesses and showing me how to fill in the gaps that can result from them.  I see God's graciousness to me and His love for my children in how He has created them.  My oldest daughter reads the Word on her own and has for quite some time.  I never stopped talking to my children about God and His Word as we went about our days.  But, I erred in not starting things off all together.

My children and I all value our new routine.  I think my oldest daughter most of all.  I love to see how God fits the pieces together.

When my kids were little, I reviewed a lot of Bible storybooks.  I learned a lot from reading so many.  Some were very fluffy.  Some filled in details that weren't in the Bible.  Some changed certain little details that are in the Bible.  That's why I ended up loving Ms. Lindvall's books and the one by Kenneth Taylor.  I posted a list of my favorite ones by age group HERE.

Last year I received an e-copy of a new one by Starr Meade, Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds: Devotions based on the Heidleberg Catechism.  I had considered reading her other devotion book based on the Shorter Catechism before, so I was interested in this one.  When I first received it, I tried reading it with the kids but they didn't take to it.  So, I set it aside... for another time.

Three weeks ago, as I was considering what to use for our morning devotions, I looked through our collection.  I wanted a devotion that would work for my almost 6 year old, 8 year old, and 10 year old together.  I looked through what I have.  I opened up Leading Little Ones to God and a few others, but none of them appealed to me.  I wanted a devotion that would take us a long time to go through, but that had short daily devotions in it.  I didn't want a fluffy book that starts with a cultural grab your attention trick that then connects a Biblical truth to it.  I also didn't want a short book with only 30 days of devotions.  Then, I remembered Comforting Hearts.  So, I pulled out my Kindle and "opened" the book up.

I sat down with my three kids on our couch and pulled out our Bible.  I started with week 1.  Each week has 2 questions. The first day we only talked about question #1.  Then, the next day we talked about question #3.  On day 3, we actually did Monday's devotion.  At the end of each day, there is a verse or two from the Bible to read.  I used this chance to teach (and reteach) my children how to look up verses in the Bible.  We started by singing the Awanas' books of the Bible songs.  Then, we sang the OT or NT song until we got to the book we were looking for.  Each day it is a different child's turn to read.  So, they each get a chance to practice looking up verses.  They look forward to it.  Some days we all pray when we're done and other days just me or one of the kids prays.  

Over the past year, I've learned a lot watching my husband do our evening devotions.  He's a natural teacher.  I am a learned teacher.  I need a nugget and then I can run with him. But, with him, it just comes naturally how to explain things.  When I discuss the devotional with my kids, I ask them what different words or phrases mean and we discuss them.  The first couple of questions focus on sin and sin and sin.  My kids understand that we live in a fallen world.  And we have talked about sin and misery because of the fall.  But, I also daily remind them of God's grace for them and the hope that He has given us.  

I am so thankful to have a routine in place now that works for our morning devotions.  It's a good place to start our mornings.  I have to admit that if we have to be out the door early in the morning, we don't get our devotions in.  But, we do the rest of the week.  

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds for review from P&R Publishing.

Odd Man Out

Two years ago, I deleted my facebook account.  Wow.  It's surprising to me that it's been two years already.  Mostly, I don't miss it. Facebook is like internet's version of high school for adults.  It can make you feel like you're "in" or that you're "out".  Oh, the travails of high school life!

Two months ago, I went from an old Nokia prepaid phone--an ancient phone like the ones most people had fifteen years ago.  Except that I had it up until just two months ago.  I texted for the first time last June when we went with a group of junior high kids from church to camp.  For the first time, I actually found it handy to text and found a reason to.

But, recently, I learned that texting can be just like Facebook.  It's an a-emotional form of communication.  You can't get someone's attention by speaking up.  People can choose to ignore you.   You can't always convey the feeling with the words you're saying (even with emoticons).  Texting can feel like high school too. You can be a part of a group conversation.  Everyone can be talking with each other, but not acknowledging you're there, or not there, or what you've said.  Whoa....  high school all over again.

My husband talked with me about the next morning.  He shared some wise advice with me that he really wanted me to hear.

There are times when we need to walk into situations where we're likely going to get rejected.  We're called to love people with Christ's love.

But, there are times when we know certain environments are simply not wise to walk into.  We've been there before.  Experience has taught us.  These are negotiable.  It isn't wrong to stay or to walk away.  

My experience with group texting felt like high school, because I let it.  I cared whether or not I was included.  Instead, I just needed to realize that it wasn't where I belonged.  There are other places and other groups where I do belong.  This is the advice I've given my little 10 year old daughter.  It isn't because people may dislike us, they just prefer others.  It's okay.  

Last Sunday, our pastor was preaching and I was reminded of something the Lord has laid on my heart many times before.  I love when I realize that God is working in my life.  But, I really love watching how He's working in other people's lives.  One of those ways is through the friendships and relationships that he blesses others with.

In the case of the group texting, I have a choice.  I can focus on not being included.  Or I can be thankful for the relationships he has given the other people in the group and then walk on.  I think it would be wise for me to choose the second path... And to forego future group texting...  I've gathered from several friends that group texting can often be problematic and they all stay away from it.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Handwriting Help

I've been reading more about how to help my children with their handwriting.  I found this document online HERE.  Pages 11-14 talk about identifying the difficulties children are having (good questions!) and then a brief description of how to help each one.

Here's a second document I found online that has more helps and tackles other issues that might come up in greater detail.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Typical Christian Fiction

This morning I finished reading Caught in the Middle, a new Christian historical fiction story by Regina Jennings.  My husband asked me last night what I was reading and I replied that it was just a typical Christian fiction book. 

It is just that.  I often read what looks like typical Christian fiction, hoping for something different.  The last one I read by Ann Gabhart was.  But, this one by Regina Jennings is pretty typical.

The story centers around Anne, aka Mrs. Tillerton, a young woman who has endured great suffering in her life.  Nick Lovelace enters the story as a businessman who knew her a long time ago, but only through his sister.  He owns a lumber company that is providing ties and materials needed to the railroads being built.  Ms. Tillerton gets stuck taking care of a baby whose mother has skipped town.  Her only connection is Mr. Lovelace.  And so the story goes... what will come of the baby?  Nick has seeds of faith, but Anne has none.  Will they turn to God in their crises?

The story is fine.  It's made-for-tv Christian romance fiction.  It is very competently written.  The ending seems to come a bit too quickly, though.  The author chooses to jump ahead a couple of months in time and give a snapshot to show what life is like for Anne to bring closure to the story.  

This book is fine to curl up with one night.  Does it stand out to me?  No.  It's not a bad book.  It just doesn't stand out of the pack.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House.