(Review) Pierced & Embraced: Seven Life-Changing Encounters With The Love of Christ by Kelli Worrall

Pierced & Embraced

Publisher and Publication Date: Moody Publishers. August 1, 2017.
Genre: Christian nonfiction, Christian women, religious life.
Pages: 224.
Source: Complimentary paperback copy from Moody Publishers. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.

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Summary:
In the opening chapter, the story Greenleaf is summarized. This story was written by Flannery O’Connor. In this story, a bull is terrorizing Mrs. May. He is methodically eating her farm and home. She finally makes the decision to have the farmhand shoot the menacing bull. Plans do not go as Mrs. May had liked. The bull charges her and pierces her heart. Kelli Worrall has used this short story to create a teaching point.

Believe it or not, the bull is the conduit of the grace of God. The bull is a type of Christ. Page 16.

Mrs. May had been trying to control every aspect of her life. The bull was interfering in the way she thought things needed to go. He was a menace and she was angry.
We too want to control our lives. We want things to go as we envision. The bull never gave up, he edged closer and closer to Mrs. May. He tried to get her attention. He pierced her heart so she would finally see.
Worrall explains that Jesus deals with women differently than men. She studied the book of John and saw how Jesus “patiently pursued” women’s hearts. The following chapters listed are the women from the Gospel of John that Worrall examines.

A Piercing Embrace
Chapter 1. Called to Obey: Mary, Mother of Jesus
Chapter 2. Sought Out & Satisfied: The Woman at the Well
Chapter 3. Seen & Healed: The Woman with the Hemorrhage
Chapter 4. Forgiven & Set Free: The Woman Caught in Adultery
Chapter 5. Heard, Loved & Given Life: Mary and Martha
Chapter 6. Valued & Empowered to Serve: The Woman with the Alabaster Jar
Chapter 7. Chosen to Make Him Known: Mary Magdalene

My Thoughts:
I loved the opening chapter of the story of Mrs. May and the menacing bull. I loved the comparison between the persistent bull and God. It is a thinking story; and it’s not a story where at first reading I readily understood. I first read the chapter and said, “wait and minute, I need to read that chapter again.”
Worrall shared intimate circumstances in her life. Some examples are infertility, caring for aging parents, and adoption. By sharing these details, I was able to identify with her and the book personally spoke to me.
Two favorite chapters of mine explored the “call of God,” and child development and attachment.
From chapter one on obeying the call.

…hearing and heeding the call of God shouldn’t mean searching for something that is self-satisfying. Rather, it often means following His footsteps into the hard and even impossible places. It sometimes means being willing to stay in that space for as long as it takes-maybe even for a lifetime. Page 50.

From chapter three on insecure attachment.

All of us have emotional wounds that need to be healed. These wounds might come from obvious traumatic experiences-the death of someone close to us, an accident that took away our sense of safety, the divorce of our parents, some sort of abuse. But wounds can also occur more slowly and subtly. Wounds can even happen from seemingly small situations-especially, if, as a child, we aren’t afforded the help we need at the time to process these things…Sometimes we choose to ignore the pain, and we assume that time alone will take care of it. Sometimes we stuff or numb the pain because the thoughts of facing it head-on is too much to bear. Sometimes these old pains run so deep and, as adults, they are so much a part of who we are that we get used to them. Page 85-86.

Both of these chapters addressed problems I’ve struggled with. These topics are personal to me. The call of God is not necessarily a place I always want to be. But, it is the place where God has planted me. There are things that I can not see that needs work. And, I trust in Him to see me through. On the topic of stuffing emotions, I explain this as being numb. I lived this way for most of my life. I am not numb anymore. I will say that a deeper level of faith has developed, after I confronted and began to process the pain and suffering of the past.
Chapter five is on waiting and being patient. Worrall reminds me that modern life provides quick fixes and responses. The Bible reminds me that God often requires us to be patient. For example, Abraham, Moses, and Joseph.

God uses long periods of waiting to draw His people closer to Him, to increase their dependence, to reveal His glory. Page 152.

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(Review) Mercy Triumphs, Book Three by Jana Kelley

Mercy Triumphs

Publisher and Publication Date: New Hope Publishers. September 4, 2017.
Genre: Christian fiction.
Pages: 296.
Source: Complimentary paperback copy from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Good.

Litfuse Publicity Group is closed. Any links for this site will be broken.

Side by Side, 2015

Door to Freedom, 2017 

Mercy Triumphs, 2017

Author Info:
Author of the captivating novel “Side by Side,” Jana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated, and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After 13 years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live.
Jana-Kelley-214x300

Summary:
Michael and Mia Weston live in Sudan, Africa with their three children. Michael works as a project coordinator for the Kellar Hope Foundation. They had befriended a young woman named Halimah (her story is in the previous books) and led her to Christ Jesus. She and her sister are left with how to live out their belief in Jesus while living in an Islamic culture. Michael, Mia, and their children have become adjusted to the way of life in Sudan. However, the Sudan political climate has become intolerant to westerners.

My Thoughts:
The front cover nor the beginning pages explain Mercy Triumphs is the third book in a series. The back cover clued me in. It could be the publishers believe Mercy Triumphs, can be read as a stand alone and does not need the previous books to help tell the full story? Most books in a series state its place on the front cover giving the series number of the book. And, the series usually has its own title. I feel a bit lost not having read the first two books. I feel it would have helped the strength of the characters plight and circumstances, as well as the triumph at the conclusion.
The strength of the story is the setting or environment. The dire and complicated circumstances of the cultures of Sudan, and Islam, have a strong impact on the three female characters. Mia as an American woman has lived in Sudan for a while and has become accustomed to wearing appropriate clothing. She has also become accustomed to dealing with no electricity, the sand storms, limited shopping choices, not having secure medical care, and not having central air conditioning. She has adapted to the culture and standards of an Islamic Sudan. It is difficult for Mia to re-adjust to the American way of life. I feel this is a strong aspect of the story. It contrasts sharply with her American friends who take western life for granted. The two sisters are Halimah and Rania. They are faced with a decision about their new beliefs in Jesus Christ. Will they be able to worship Jesus or will they be forced to hide their Christian beliefs out of fear of death?
Mia has limited encounters with a few women in Sudan. What brings them together is their basic commonality: their role as mothers. I enjoyed this aspect of the story. Women, no matter where they live, if they are mothers, they have a strong link. Caring for their dearly loved children brings an instant connection.
Mia wants to share the gospel with the women she meets, but the Islamic culture and the women’s place in society prevents conversion.
The back cover of the book states, “Faced with harrowing circumstances.” I counted three times when the story began to feel tense with anxiety about a situation. However, the story does not stay at that point long. I feel the intention is to give closure to the trilogy. Mercy Triumphs is a Christian fiction book. Christian fiction backs off from causing too much tension and fear.