I’ve heard if you can count on one hand your ‘real’ friends, throughout a lifetime, consider yourself blessed. What constitutes a ‘real friend’? Certainly friendships take time to grow, but I knew early on there was possibility of going beyond the normal stage, or depth, or whatever with those very few I hold closest to me. The one quality that is consistent with those special friends is their willingness, their ability to be real with me, and allow me the same. We’ve seen the best and worst of each other, shared it openly. Sometimes we’ve even celebrated it.
That’s what sets author Lynn Coulter’s writing apart. Mustard Seeds, Thoughts on the Nature of God and Faith is a collection of 15 essays, and every one of them is straight from the heart. After losing both parents close together, and her husband’s job loss that left their finances reeling, she was seriously injured. Many of us can relate all too well to the wall she hit, when we’ve dealt with losses and hurts and betrayals and the pat answers that served us well in the past fall short. Sometimes it’s easy to blame God or question whether He’s even out there, running the world at large, and in particular our little part of it. She shares with us, in this little book, the time she spent in that place.
Lynn tells of a little necklace which held a small mustard seed within a little plastic bubble. She received it as a ten year old, from a Sunday School teacher. The teacher explained that if her faith was even as big as this tiny little seed, she could move mountains, in fact she could do anything through Christ, who made her strong. Somewhere along the way she lost the necklace, the bubble and the mustard seed. Then further down the road of her life she almost lost her faith.
Years ago, leading a small group of high school girls, I told them their ‘faith’ would not really belong to them until they took it off, set it down and took a hard look at it. If and when they decided to pick it up again, then it would truly belong to them. It took a personal decision to trust, to believe. Lynn shares, one essay at a time, how she did just this – questioning the easy answers she’d depended on in the past, that were no longer holding up to the realities of her life. How she set down her faith, questioned it, tried it, and then slowly picked it back up.
Each essay is written with honesty, a sharing of hard times and her reaction to them, that will make the reader feel like you’ve found a friend who truly understands what you’re going through. “Our lives stayed messy and sad for a long time, and most days we simply slogged along as best we could.” Haven’t we all had some ‘slogging along’ days?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t need a friend who has all the answers. I need a friend who has hurt, felt lost and didn’t know where to turn, asked hard questions and eventually found her way and can point me in that direction. Mustard Seeds will do just that for any reader who is hurting, and don’t we all qualify from time to time. “Life isn’t a paperback mystery, and we can’t flip over to the last page to see how neatly the plot ties together. But there is an Author behind the scenes, and he knows exactly where each and every story is headed.” Not a book to be read quickly, or all in one sitting, but with a cup of tea, curled up in a cozy place, when your heart and faith need a bit of a boost.
Spending time in the pages of Mustard Seed feels a bit like one of those three-hour coffee sessions with the friends I count on one hand. Real, through and through, so that you come away encouraged for another day, even if it’s just ‘slogging along’. Couldn’t we all use a dose of that?
This is Bev’s last post for us here at 5 Minutes for Books, and I for one (Jennifer here) enjoyed each of them. Thanks Bev! Bev has a new blog. You can find her at Life of GRITS.
What a lovely gift idea–to self, or to friends. Recently, after being in a bit of a valley, I’m reminded once again that He IS faithful, and that if I’m to be at all peaceful, it’s time to hold fast and firm to faith and loosely to all else.
Carrie, Reading to Know says
What a fantastic and well-written review. Thanks for sharing, Bev. And we’re gonna miss you here!