God is clearly working on my heart!
About a month ago, I was selected as one of the women in our department to attend an upcoming technical conference specifically for women in technology. While I am excited about this opportunity, as a previous attendee began describing the type of women who will be there, and as I read some of the sessions and gatherings offered, I began to pray. . .
Many of the women who will be there are “strong,” brilliant women. And very liberal and atheistic. Perhaps of the “I am woman, hear me Roar” sort.
I am pretty much the opposite. Except maybe the brilliant part, of course! Actually, I am unusual in my field in that I don’t have a college education. I often get along better with men than women. I love being able to defer to my husband as the leader in our home (though having strong opinions that I am free to express, of course!) And my views are much more conservative. I’m more “I am woman. Hear me squeak!”
So I began to pray for God’s heart toward the women I will come into contact with. That I will be able to have compassion and to love them. I realized after reading Red Rose Bouquet that God has been working in my heart already this year through the books I have been reading, some of which have brought me way out of my comfort zone.
Are there books you have read that have helped to bring your thinking more in line with God’s? Or, that have simply allowed you to see things in a different light? I’d love to hear what they might be, so please leave a comment!
Red Rose Bouquet
by Jennifer Rodewald
Series: Grace Revealed #2
Published by Rooted Publishing
Publication Date September 2, 2016
Genres: Christian Fiction, Clean Romance, Woman's Fiction
Setting: Colorado Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 25-34, 25-60
Written for: Adults
The dark places in life have taught her this much-some things simply cannot be forgiven. Cheryl Thompson learned over a decade ago to guard her shattered heart with a veil of cold indifference. Life since that day has been an endless cycle of detachment and loneliness, followed by superficial relationships. Break up, rinse, and repeat. Until something in her snaps. This life...she can't do it anymore. She returns to her childhood home in the Colorado Rockies to help her Nana, only to discover a man capable of thawing her iced-over emotions-a man she knows she doesn't deserve, so she pushes him away. But he keeps coming back. Brock Kelly lived high as King of the Slopes in the world of snowboard cross racing. Medals. Money. Fame. But after a visit to an orphanage in Mexico, he gave up his adrenaline-packed lifestyle to follow a calling from God he didn't know he had-helping kids who'd been damaged emotionally. When his best friend's baby sister returns to town, he recognizes the hollow look in her eyes and sees the pain beneath her icy armor. It seems God has issued new call on his life. One he is not prepared for. Falling in love with a woman who keeps secrets is dangerous all on its own. But when Cheryl finally tells Brock what she's never told anyone else...no wonder she is the way she is. It would take a miracle to heal that wound, and a love bigger than Brock had ever imagined to walk with her through the process.
When an author creates a character who says and does things that would normally cause me to dislike them and yet shows me their motivation so strongly that I have compassion for them instead, I know this is great writing. Jennifer Rodewald has certainly done this in Red Rose Bouquet with Cheryl’s character.
While I was uncomfortable with her as the story began to unfold, I didn’t dislike her completely. It was obvious that she had a deep secret pain that caused her to shut herself off from others. To create a shield that would protect her from more pain. Not many were able to see beyond that and some of the characters, including her brother, referred to her as the Ice Queen. Ouch!
I liked that Brock didn’t like Cheryl at first. It would have been unreasonable with the way she behaved to have him fall in love immediately. While he had given up a life of fame and fortune to help needy kids, he wasn’t perfect, though he seemed a little like he was at first.
Here are some things I loved about the story:
- Brock’s compassionate heart and the way he saw Cheryl’s brokenness and sought to help
- Brock’s willingness to listen to God even when He told Brock to do things he didn’t want to do
- The roses and the significance behind them
- The way the author made me care about Cheryl and see past her ugly persona. I felt like I understood her in a unique way
- The message of healing and hope
There were some things I didn’t like as well:
- Cheryl, at first. This was by design yet it doesn’t change the fact
- There were sections at the beginning of the chapters that sounded like poetry perhaps from Cheryl’s journal. It was never explained what they were.
- The story seemed to have a rough start. Perhaps because I didn’t care for Cheryl and partly because of the ugliness I could tell was coming
While I don’t often read other reviews before writing mine, there were some things I wanted other’s thoughts on. I did see some reviewers question Brock’s interpretation of the Lord’s urging to love Cheryl, saying he shouldn’t have interpreted it as romantic love. Some commented on the fact that Brock was attracted to her and kissed her even when she wasn’t walking with the Lord. Um. While it shouldn’t be encouraged, it isn’t something that doesn’t happen in real life. Brock is human (well, in the story he is!) and does make mistakes. While reading this, the story of Hosea came to mind, how the Lord commanded him to marry a woman he knew would be unfaithful to him. So Brock’s interpretation wasn’t necessarily out of place.
While I have enjoyed other books by Jennifer Rodewald more than Red Rose Bouquet and while there are some hard and ugly things Cheryl and Brock both had to deal with, they were handled with compassion and tact. The subject matter is mature yet without being graphic or describing things that it “shouldn’t”. I don’t recommend it for teenagers though, but do recommend it for women who are looking for a story of hope and redemption.