Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Book Review: All That We Carried, by Erin Bartels

As soon as I saw Erin Bartels had a new book, I knew I needed to read it. Two years ago, I read her historical fiction, We Hope For Better Things, and I still recommend it to people! 

You can read my original review HERE.

All That We Carried introduces us to Olivia and Melanie, two adult sisters with a desperately broken relationship. After a decade of near-estragement, Olivia reluctantly agrees to a hiking trip with Melanie, and that's where our adventure begins.

The inexperienced hikers take on the challenging trails of the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Thanks to a handy map in the front of the book, we're invited to follow the pathway for ourselves. If you're like me, you can't help but google photos of the real life trails and waterfalls, some of which I've included in this post!

Trap Falls

As Olivia and Melanie work their way through the trails, their legacy of family tragedy is revealed. I don't want to share too much of the plot because, like any good hike, it's best enjoyed step by step. The hiking trip brings dangers of its own, and with each new challenge, the sisters are forced to face the broken spaces in their relationship. Tensions grow as Olivia and Melanie wrestle with questions of themselves, their views of the world, and the things they assume to be true. 

Who can we trust?
How do we forgive?
How do we rebuild?
What do we believe in?
Why believe at all?

Petoskey Stone (Melanie's town is named for this geological wonder!)

All That We Carried reads quickly, but there's still lots of depth in the relationships and the philosophical ideas. I found myself underlining favourite passages and turning down page corners.

And let's not forget the setting! 
Bartels never lets you forget the glory of nature in the fall, 
while also sharing the tactile truths of wilderness living.

Side Note: 
I miss touring so much! 
This made my heart yearn for ocean and mountains and waterfalls.
But in a hotel, please. 
You won't see me sleeping in the woods anytime soon!

Part adventure novel, part "road trip", part spiritual debate, part healing journey, and part parable - 
I loved reading All That We Carried! 

Bonus: visit Erin Bartels' site HERE 
for interviews & articles about the novel!

Lake of the Clouds

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Impossible Sunrise

Happy Easter! 

This weekend, we’ve reached the grand finale of our Infinitely More 

We’re thrilled to share our Easter video! 
Featuring our very special guest preacher, Bishop Susan Bell of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara.

We’re also debuting a brand new song by Gerald called Impossible Sunrise.

Don’t you just love that title?

Impossible Sunrise…

Lenten Musical Calendar - Happy Easter!

We created this video in a swirl of emotions. 
Our parents have finally received their first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine! Spring flowers are bursting through the ground. It finally feels like there’s hope on the horizon.

But case numbers are on the rise here in Ontario. 
We’ve entered yet another lockdown. Medical authorities fear this may not be enough to quell the rise of the variants. We are all exhausted by the isolation, the uncertainty, and the constant stream of bad news.

For the second year in a row, we’re celebrating Easter - a story of new life - 
in a season marked by suffering, illness, and death.

How does any of this make sense?

And then, I remember that song title again: 

The angel tells Mary, “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.”

Jesus says, “... with God all things are possible.”

God says, “I am the Lord... Is anything too hard for me?”

On Easter morning, the women arrived with spices in their hands.
They were ready to anoint a body. 
Instead, they came face-to-face with the God of the Impossible.

This is the God who gives knowledge to scientists and medical experts.
The God who can heal our communities of political and racial strife. 
The God who can revive our struggling arts communities and small businesses. 
The God who can strengthen weary essential workers. 
The God who can rebuild marriages breaking under close quarters, 
and relationships suffering from too much distance. 

This is the God who can bring gratitude grace, love, and joy 
into our tired, pandemic-weary hearts.

Take a deep breath.
Remember who God is.

And then remember: this is the God who loves YOU!

This Easter, more than ever, may we experience the God of the Impossible!

“And the world awakes to an Impossible Sunrise!
 Yes, we finally believe when we see the love in His eyes.
  Yes, the world awakes to an Impossible Sunrise!”

Impossible Sunrise
Written by Gerald Flemming
CCLI# 7173690

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Today’s post is part of a blog-tour to celebrate the release of 
Inscribe Christian Writer's Fellowship's brand new anthology 

Featuring my own real-life story: 
Aunt Pauline and The Little Easter.

Lynn Simpson is also offering her own blogpost today. 

You can purchase your copy of Easter: Stories & More 
on our SITE.