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The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God’s Goodness Around You
by Shannan Martin
Where is a Christian’s mission field? You know, the ordinary person who has not been called to go to another country? Shannan Martin in The Ministry of Ordinary Places says it is wherever God has placed you. She doesn’t advocate passing out pamphlets, cornering people, or pushing invitations to come to church. Instead, we are to love people, listen to them, invite them into our homes, be available to them and to the opportunities to help them as God presents them to us.
As a rural introvert, Martin has had to change a lot in opening her heart, time, and home to her neighbors in a multicultural setting. She had to “choose the comfort of the past or the struggle of moving forward.” She learned that hospitality is not perfection in entertainment; it is extending invitations willy nilly, throwing together some tacos, and letting God take it from there. She has learned to receive kindness from others, understanding the cost of that kindness from someone who is down and out.
Martin’s story is engaging, and her writing style is excellent from the humorous “Go with God, good middle school bus driver. You are a rose among loud, hormonal, Hot-Cheetos-for-breakfast-eating, lanyard-flipping thorns” to sharp edged descriptions such as “She has known the desolate landscape of struggle. Hunger and wanting blow through her life like gale-force winds through a thin cotton jacket.” There is magic for the reader in words like these.
Martin does not believe in pushing Jesus down anyone’s throat; she makes her own heart accessible and invites others into her life where they not only see, but feel, the impact of Jesus on individual lives.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Thomas Nelson for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Publication: October 9, 2018—Thomas Nelson
Only as we engage in the hidden practice of listening do we learn about the struggles of others, gaining empathy where we one cast judgement.
It’s so easy to tip into judgment when we view the world through an us-them dichotomy. Sitting face-to-face, the problems loom larger and we have to contend with the sticky fact that there is simply always more to the story.
…we are all longing to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Sometimes we get so hung up on doing something great, we forget the best thing is often the smallest.
Death and Daisies
by Amanda Flower
Fiona, who has inherited a home in Scotland, a magic garden, and most importantly the position of Keeper of the Garden from her godfather, Ian, is joined in the book by her much younger, at-loose-ends sister Isla. Fiona is opening her flower shop named the Climbing Rose Flower Shop after the 300 year old rose growing in her magic garden in Duncreigan. Some townspeople are welcoming and friendly like Raj and Pasha, twins in their sixties with calming and wise ways. Others view the sisters with suspicion for their strange Tennessee accents and ways and their association with the magic garden. The local minister is so opposed to Fiona that he publicly bans her from the church.
Death and Daisies by Amanda Flower centers around a murder, threatening notes, an abusive spouse, and drugs. Fiona is compulsive about investigating despite a scary vision that might potentially foretell her death and the warnings of Chief Inspector Neil Craig who is afraid she will be hurt.
Death and Daisies is a fun and fascinating cozy mystery you will not want to put down. Filled with interesting characters and lots of twists and turns in the plot, this tale has room for character development and an interesting setting. The murderer and the reason for the murder surprised me. The author has another surprise for Fiona and the reader toward the end of the book on a very personal level. There is closure to this book, but also several issues that deserve further attention. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #2 in the Magic Garden Mystery Series but works well as a standalone
Publication: November 23, 2018—Crooked Lane Books
“St. Thomas Church, as it stands today, is much younger. It was built in the seventeenth century.” She said this like the seventeenth century was last week. If anything was over one hundred years old back in Nashville, they turned it into a museum and built a fence around it. In Scotland, “old” had quite a different definition than I was accustomed to.
I didn’t want to break it to her, but no one had their life figured out at twenty-two. I didn’t have it figured out at thirty, and I wasn’t expecting fifty to be much better.
“But no one should make an apology expecting one in return. That ruins it for both parties. It is better to say you are sorry and be at peace.”