Friday, May 27, 2016

Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler (book review)

Countdown to Moose's surgery is 5 days. In 5 days he will be tumor-free. We will not know for another year if he is completely seizure free - unless he has one within that time. This past year has been hard and we have been so thankful to have our hope not put into doctors or medicine or well-wishes but in our Heavenly Father. He loves Moose so much more and completely than we do. He knows the best for him; has plans made out for his life. He knows the outcome of this surgery and every step we will take during this waiting period and the waiting period to come. I don't know about you, but His Sovereignty (a fancy way of saying, all-power) gives me great comfort.

When I had a chance to read "Steadfast Love" by Lauren Chandler, I knew I was in for a treat. In 2009, her husband Matt (pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, Texas) was just finishing feeding their baby daughter when he had a grand mal seizure (big, convulsing). They quickly found out that he had a malignant brain tumor. He had surgery and went through recovery but was given 2-3 years to live; he's still alive in 2016! Isn't our God wonderful?! And the thing is, had Matt only had those few years to live, He still would be wonderful. I know that's difficult to understand but that's what I loved about Chandler's book; she so gracefully explained how that's possible.

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In this life, we have the chance to put our trust in many things. In money, in people's opinions, in material items, in family members, in our spouse or children, in our jobs, but throughout Steadfast Love, Chandler points back to Psalm 107 to really show us that our only anchor, our only trustworthy anchor is Christ. I have been living with this reality even closer than before since March 2015 with Moose's first seizure. Even before then, through autism and financial struggles and learning to be a mom and wife (which does NOT come naturally to this selfish gal), God has proved to me over and over that He is my only source of hope.

I enjoyed the format of this book. I was expecting more of a story-telling style but "Steadfast Love" is written more in a Bible study form, is how I would explain it. Not like a Beth Moore study format with questions but just a teaching-format, I guess. Chandler is not only vocally talented but also has a way with written words (which I guess if she writes her own songs, that shouldn't be surprising but they are differing genres).

One thing I really loved was when she was discussing Job and how "God loved Job enough to show him how He (God) alone can sustain." I was coincidentally reading through Job at the same time. I don't know why this sentence hit me because I tell my kids all the time when they are being disciplined - "I won't allow you to act this way/do this thing because I love you and it's not right by me or by God." Yet it's different because Job was righteous and in our earthly eyes, he didn't deserve to lose everything and to be ridiculed and scolded for sins he didn't commit. Yet God was teaching him that those things don't matter and even Job realized that in the end. Sometimes I wish this world would just be easier. Life can be so hard. And my life hasn't really been that hard; people have faced and overcome much more than I will ever have to endure, I know. But even just the mundane is hard; the never ending nature of hardship and struggle and toil. Yet it is in those times of trial that I have leaned in to God and He has not let me down; He has shown me who He is and proven Himself trustworthy. And so I wouldn't want to change the hardships that have brought me closer to Him.

I was reading in "My Utmost for His Highest" sometimes similar about a month ago. That we should not pray away others' troubles if that is what will bring them to Christ. Whoa! Here we want butterflies and rainbows for our friends but there are times when they need hardship and pain and struggle to reach the point of knowing Christ. That's a hard one to swallow but I see the truth in it and the grace in it.

I also was just contemplating while reading Job what the difference between lamenting and complaining. Chandler explained "Complaining is not the same thing as lamenting. To complain is to express dissatisfaction with something you feel that you deserve but don't necessarily need. To lament is to mourn the loss of something real, something you once had but enjoy no longer. You acknowledge the loss without demanding it back. You humbling desire its return while knowing there's no merit in you alone having it." While I'm still chewing on understanding that, it's good to know there is a difference and it is ok to lament. The Bible is full of them!

While talking about her father's heart surgery, Chandler said "we're never guaranteed to have it turn out like we think it will...I know He would have shown His power in sustaining us in the loss as much as He showed it in sustaining Daddy's life." I feel the same about Moose's surgery. It's completely scary, but I know the Lord will sustain us no matter the outcome.

This was such a lovely book to read at this time in my life. I appreciate the opportunity to have much of what I'm feeling and learning be put into book form - and I wasn't even the author (isn't it crazy how God crafts that out for us sometimes?!). Take some time to get this book because it has so much more inside than what I can tell you about here.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. All ramblings and opinions are my own. 

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