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Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Book Review of "Running from a Crazy Man

                  Running from a Crazy Man

Welcome to my first ever guest post.  The last three years I have attended the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference.  It is an adventure every year and this year I am glad to celebrate the publication of my friend Lori Stanley Roeleveld’s first book.  I have read it and it is an awesome and inspiring book. Her book endorsement by Jerry Jenkins says it like it is. “A book that is hard to put down.” As one of the authors of the Left Behind series of books he should know what he is talking about.  This may work out to be a little long but totally worth it as she is letting me print a short excerpt from her book.  First I would like to let you read a little of her background , so here it is. It is a book of about 70 short stories that will deal with a lot questions we struggle with daily as Christians. This lady walks the walk and she knows what she is talking about from true life experiences. I pray you enjoy it as much as I did and are as Blessed as I have been.  This excerpt was one of my favorites as it spoke to issues in my life at the time.

“Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored a disturbing blog since 2009; a pursuit that eventually resulted in her first book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus). Lori’s blog has a modest but faithful daily readership and yet, in the past year, one post was viewed over 1.7 million times and another was shared over 275,000 times on Facebook. Lori has published newspaper and magazine articles, poetry, and plays. Her novels, short stories, and Bible studies have won several awards. Besides degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies, Lori earned her Masters in Motherhood homeschooling her two children through graduation. Now, she draws energy from helping writers find their voice and see God’s vision for their work. In her day job, Lori writes the stories of real families in crisis so others see their strengths and values, not just their problems. You’ll find Lori at her website or on her front porch writing. If not, know she’s somewhere slaying dragons.”

So without further stalling by me here is the Excerpt. You can get the book on line at Amazon by clicking on the word book and following the link.

Sorry about the quality of the Cover Copy, I will try to fix it as soon as someone tells and shows me how.

How a Talking Pelican Helped Me Dance with God
Following Jesus into Self-Sacrifice

This story is strange but true. I haven’t changed any names because no one is innocent.
I’m an introvert. Sometimes I live as if I’m stuck in junior high and life is one long Friday night dance. I inhabit the wallflower me. I wait to be chosen, watching everyone else go off and become part of the scene while I try to look comfortable against the wall, perfectly content to be rejected, left out, without a partner as the music plays on.
Then I stop and slap my moody self in the head. Snap out of it!
Admittedly, sometimes God does the slapping.
This is about a day like that.
I felt, well, bleh.
Like I was waiting for God to ask me to dance, certain that He would pass me over and choose someone else.
I prayed. I read Bible verses. Yada, yada, yada. No lightning bolts. No deep insight. Just bleh.
Great. I thought. Passed over in my own life. Terrific. Well, I know how this goes.
 I started to work my way into a major pity-party. Fine, fine. I’ll just carry on with my gray little life. No need for You to show up and dance with me, Jesus. I’m sure You have better things to do with your time. I’m sure there are plenty of others who need Your attention. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I’ll just go live my boring old, gray, dreary, foggy little life today.
So I did.
Part of my work on that day involved leading a community health class through a weight-loss book that was a little touchy-feely. I needed to prepare for class, so I read the chapter. The writer instructs the reader to stop and ask herself what’s going on in her body. Be specific. How does your body feel? Give the feeling a color, a texture, a name.
Wow. How seriously stupid. Here I wanted to spend an amazing day with Jesus, and instead, I’m stuck leading a drum circle in the seventies.
"Self," I asked, "how does your body feel?"
"Bleh," my body answered.
"Be specific." I urged. "What color is your bleh?"
"Gray. Gray, bloated, and full. I don’t know, like something by a foggy harbor. A pelican. A big, old bloated-beak pelican. That’s how my body feels."
 And this helps me how? I don't know anything about pelicans. How does this help? 
Maybe I’ll just look up an online image of the bird.
Yup, there it is. A pelican.
That's when I heard God's offer to dance. With nothing more than a hunch and perhaps, the flashing image of a winking Savior, I wondered if pelicans had any spiritual symbolism.
Pelicans? Symbolic pelicans? No way. I typed into the search engine: "What do pelicans symbolize?" 
Greed? Scavengers? Nothing good, I’m sure.
You can do your own search to verify, but I learned that in medieval Europe the pelican was a symbol of the passion of Jesus and of the Eucharist (because a mother pelican would provide her own blood for her hungry young when no other food was available.)
In fact, Saint Thomas Aquinas refers to Christ as "the loving divine pelican" in his hymn, “Adoro Te Devote.” I searched numerous websites and everywhere I looked, sure enough, pelicans symbolize self-sacrifice and particularly, the sacrifice of Christ.
What did that mean to me on that gray day?
Well, first, it reminded me that Jesus shows up on His schedule and in His own ways, not at my pouting demand or by my pushing the button labeled "devotional time." Like a true friend, He decided to surprise me by showing up unexpectedly later in the day.
Second, pelicans are truly ugly birds. They’re not beautiful symbols like eagles or doves. They’re homely.
I was feeling homely. That month had been all about me sacrificing to serve my family. There hadn’t been much time for self-care. In one moment, God validated all of that. It seemed He was acknowledging that He noticed me but, at the same time, He was pointing to Himself and His own example of sacrifice, His leadership in the path of laying down one’s life, the spilling of His own blood.
In light of His example, my self-pity dissipated like fog at sunrise. Sacrifice isn’t beautiful—it’s bloody, painful, and unattractive. That’s why we need the power of Jesus Christ to do it right. He did it first. He did it best. The rest of us pale in our imitations.
I then remembered the scripture from my morning devotions, Mark 8:34-36.
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul[DL1] ?

          As it turns out, Jesus had showed up at my devotions. He'd had a message for me from the very start. I was the one refusing to dance.
I’d read the verse on sacrifice and thought He was gearing up to lecture me, so I shut Him down. All along, He was reaching out to support me, to teach me to dance in the midst of sacrifice. Thankfully, He kept at me until I heard His voice coming from a gray pelican.
Are you listening or are you shutting out His voice? Are you ready to join Him in the dance? Are you willing to hear the message of the holy pelican?

Ponder the Perplexities:
Have you ever experienced a day of random connections that seemed woven together by the hand of God? He does that for all of us, but we have to be looking, we have to be open to it.
Every message from God should line up with biblical truth, but He’s active in the world and in believers’ lives today, even when we feel weird, off, or “bleh.”
No matter what’s going on in your emotions today, keep your eyes open for Jesus. He just may ask you to dance.

Remember: As it turns out, Jesus had showed up at my devotions. He'd had a message for me from the very start. I was the one refusing to dance

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