Saturday, June 26, 2021

Book Review: The Peace Project, by Kay Wills Wyma

I don't know about you, but I feel like the last 18 months have been desperately lacking in Peace. Inner peace, community peace, and world peace have been replaced by inner turmoil, community protests, and world unrest. 

When I saw the title The Peace Project
I knew this was a book I needed to read right now.

Before even opening the cover (which is so striking, by the way!), I noticed the forward is written by Ron Hall, co-author of Same Kind of Different as Me. I loved that book so much and still highly recommend it! You can read my review HERE.

On a busy morning, Kay Wyma backed out of her driveway, only to be met by a rude driver. Kay reacted like many of us do - cursing and swearing at the other driver from the safety of our own car. 

She texted a friend to share the encounter, but her friend's text didn't share her outrage. Instead, she shared a personal story of a time when a bad day made her the "rude driver."

That perspective started to shift something in Kay's heart. 
And that shift birthed The Peace Project.

Kay discovered that the combination of Thankfulness, Kindness, and Mercy (TKM) brought in waves of inner peace. She invited her friends and family on a 30-day practice to see if they could create more peace in their lives.

I will admit, this book went in a different direction than I expected. I thought this would be a 30-day guide with practical peace-making steps. I expected exercises and ideas for executing a peace plan.

Instead, Kay shares the stories of living out TKM in the midst of everyday life. The goal was to find a reason to practice each of the three every day. Some days, they happened naturally. Other times, they had to seek out or create opportunities. Thankfulness and Kindness seemed to be the easiest for Kay and her friends to access. Mercy became the real kicker. 

Kay's writing style is honest, personable, and really fun. Each chapter opens and closes with a quote inspired by the themes, and these alone are worth the price of admission. Most chapters close with a short paragraph written by one of Kay's friends and their own experience of living out one aspect of TKM. There's also space for you to track you own daily progress.

In the end, I'm glad this wasn't simply a "how to". I was inspired and engaged by the stories in this book. I don't think I've ever given so much thought to living out Mercy in my everyday life! And here's the thing, we all say we want Peace, but we define it as an "absence of conflict." How do we ever create an absence of anything??? Finding this TKM combination might just be the the secret formula to creating Peace in our homes, our communities, and maybe one day, in our world.

Kay is offering FREE gifts with pre-orders from her site (the pre-orders were still available as of today's blogpost date). Scroll down her Books page to also find FREE downloadable Bible studies! 
Here's the link:

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

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Book Review: Miriam's Song, by Jill Eileen Smith

I've always held a fascination with the women of the Bible. God chose these diverse women to be part of His story, and yet so often, we're given such tiny slivers of information about them.

A few years ago, I was asked to preach a sermon about Miriam 
for a Women of the Bible sermon series. 

You can watch my sermon on Miriam HERE.

Sister to Moses and Aaron, Miriam plays a key role in the story of the Israelites. We meet her several times over the full course of her life - from a little girl, putting her baby brother in a basket in the Nile, to a prophetess singing in the desert, to her death as an old woman - yet, in-between these moments, we hear so little about her.

That's why I was excited to read Miriam's Song
a new historical fiction by Jill Eileen Smith.

Smith has become an expert on recreating the stories of the women of the Old Testament. She has a passion for discovering the details of everyday life for women of that time. These details create a visceral and compelling world for the characters of Miriam's Song.

For example, after mixing pitch for Moses's basket, his parents decide,

"'We will bury the bowls, for there is no time to clean them well.' ... Bowls were scarce, and it would take time to make more. But it would be easier to make new ones than try to clean the old."

What a fantastic detail! Living in our own single-use society, I loved this line. What a reminder that things couldn't just be bought or easily replaced. Everything they owned had to be handcrafted in the scarce time that remained after a day of slave labour.

From food to clothing to housing, 
Smith gives us a full picture of Miriam's everyday life and duties.

The one challenge with the novel is the original issue with Miriam's story - we know so little about her! In writing Biblical historical fiction, the author always needs to manage a careful balance. Do I simply write within the limited story I'm given, or do I fill in the gaps and run the risk of rewriting the Bible?

Smith chooses to flesh out the parts of Miriam's story given in the Bible. But rather than invent stories not in Scripture, she fills in the missing pieces by switching over to Moses and telling his story. (She addresses this directly in the "Note to the Reader" at the end of the book.)

The whole story is compelling, but to be honest, I wish she'd stayed with Miriam the whole time. The storyline of the Exodus is difficult and emotional. I really wanted to stay with our heroine and allow her to be our guide through the trials and successes. That said, Smith does a wonderful job exploring the conflict within Miriam's heart - she knows God has called her to be part of His story, yet she feels so restricted in her sidelined role. 

How many people, especially women, can still resonate with this today???

There's such power in creating a novelized form for a woman like Miriam. It's so easy for us to judge the importance of a Bible character by the number of lines dedicated to her in Scripture. 

By writing this book, Smith has given Miriam a heart, 
a family, and a voice.
Her's is a story worth sharing...

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