Friday, June 27, 2014

Blog Tour - Atlas Girl by Emily Wierenga

I am thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Emily Wierenga’s memoir, AtlasGirl. Emily gave us a choice of topics and I chose this one – 

Have you found God close to home? Or did you travel the world to do so? Tell us about where you found Him.

I have found God in many places, some close to home and some far away. Like Emily I left my home in Ontario in 1974. I was wandering in the wilderness at that time in my life, sure that God wanted nothing to do with me. So I convinced myself He didn’t exist. I had decided to just go my own way, live my life without all the rules and restrictions that had been a source of frustration to me for many years. 

I ended up in Alaska and then settled in a tiny town called Dawson City, Yukon. ‘City’ is a misnomer – there were only about 300 people living there when I first arrived, but from the first day I had a feeling that my destiny was there. So I returned home, bought an Austin Mini, loaded up all my worldly belongings and headed north with the intention of living there for the rest of my life.

I was desperately looking for a place where I fit, a place where I would be accepted for who I was, not who I was expected to be. It didn’t take long to realize that the utopia I thought I’d found was terribly flawed. The restlessness and sense of emptiness didn’t go away so I tried to mask it with all kinds of endeavours – creative outlets like pottery, weaving, stained glass, writing; relationships that usually only brought more pain; careers that were far from satisfying.

Then I met a young man who seemed to be attracted to me in a sincere and wonderful way. It took me some time to yield but eventually we became a couple and made plans to be married. It was then our lives were turned upside down as death became an unwelcome part of our reality. Four friends died in quick succession and a neighbour’s 18 month old boy disappeared and was believed drowned on the day we were married.
Those events put us on a collision course in many ways – a crisis in our spiritual journey (that we didn’t even acknowledge), a crisis in our relationship as my husband began to seek answers to the big questions of life and found them in a tiny mission church, and a crisis of identity as we tried to sort out what was real and what we believed.

The resolution, for me, came on the road to Mayo, when I gave in and asked God to forgive me for the things I knew I’d done wrong. (you can read that story here) I challenged Him to show me that He existed, and it wasn’t long before He did.

The one desire of my heart at that time in my life was to have a child but the “experts” had told us it would not happen so we had begun the process of applying to adopt. Then, one early morning I woke and was very ill, but immediately wanted to sit down and eat a big breakfast. In fact in the days following it seemed I was always hungry, even right after being ill, which continued to happen each morning.

I was stunned by the reality that I was indeed pregnant and even more amazed at the revelation that this was the thing I had asked God to do. He had proven He existed, proven His love for me, by intervening in my life and giving me the precious gift of a baby girl. She was born on a frigid night in November, 1982. And when he fixes things He does a good job – we had two more children after that.

When I realized that God did indeed exist I became eager to discover who He really was. My husband and I became regular attendees at that small mission church in Dawson and began to grow quickly in Christ. Within two years we were in Bible College and the rest, as they say, is history.

I had to wander over 3,000 miles from my home to find Jesus, then realized that He had been with me all the time.
Please visit Marcia's website

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review - The Closer by Mariano Rivera and Wayne Coffey

I am not a really big baseball fan. I don't know much about the game at all, in fact, so I didn't expect to love this book. But I did. Written in the voice of the man himself, the text is engaging, I think perhaps because it is told in a simple style that reveals the character of Rivera himself. He is a man who practiced humility and shunned the temptations of success. The story is inspiring, particularly as Rivera continually gives glory to Jesus as his career begins to take off. Read the information below to get a picture of the man and his career - then read the book.

‘The Closer’ Wins With the Story of a Lifetime

New York - The greatest relief pitcher of all time shares his extraordinary story of survival, love, and Baseball. In September 2013, Mariano Rivera left the field to a stadium soaked in well-deserved applause. He retired as “the best reliever in the game in history,” as Relief Pitcher Trevor Hoffman puts it. Now, he tells the story of how God brought him from Puerto Caimito, Panama, to Major League Baseball in The Closer (May 2014 Little Brown & Co.).

As a boy, he played baseball on the beach at low tide. He and his friends would cut three holes in a piece of cardboard, set it on a frame, and see who could throw the most make-shift balls through the holes. He learned he had good aim. Years later, a local coach and part-time scout for the Yankees saw him pitch at tryouts and made an offer. The fisherman’s son was going to the minor leagues in Tampa, Florida.

Rivera learned many things as he continued to perform for his coaches, including how to speak English, but one thing stood out: God had blessed him with major league skill. “He wants my pitching to help spread the good news about the Gospel of Jesus.” His signature pitch, his own brand of fastball, came to him out of the blue. He even tried to straighten it out, until he realized it was a gift.

“You know how many times I’ve gone out to the mound thinking, ‘This guy has no shot, because I am Mariano Rivera?’” he asks. “Never. The guy with the bat in his hand is a professional. He is trying just as hard to get a hit as I am trying to get him out. I respect that.”

With many honest details about his emotions, successes, failures, and the words of his teammates, Rivera describes his career as the New York Yankees primary relief pitcher.  He offers a glimpse inside the locker room before the 2001 World Series, which they lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 7. He talks about many players, such as Derek Jeter and Paul O’Neill, the last game played in the old Yankee Stadium at 161st Street and River Avenue, and the many prayers he spoke during and between games.

He is the last man to wear the legendary Jackie Robinson’s number, 42. “I don’t know if any person can match that standard, living up to the measure of a man who changed the world. I am a simple man who measures his impact in a smaller way: by being a humble servant of the Lord, and trying to do my best to treat people—and play the game—in the right way.”

The Closer is the story of the man Yankees General Manager Joe Torre called “the best I’ve ever been around.” It’s the well-paced, intimate testimony of a legendary baseball player and faithful family man that ends with a look toward the future. Rivera is investing in his community, trying to inspire kids who may feel they haven’t got a shot at doing anything worthwhile. While this isn’t the end of his life, Rivera is already trying to close well.

The Closer
Mariano Rivera
Little, Brown & Company
ISBN: 9780316400732/ Hardcover/ May 6, 2014