Monthly Archives: August 2014

Review of Running Away: A Memoir by Robert Andrew Powell

It is amazing the impact of a father’s love, or lack thereof, can bear on a person’s life. I just completed reading a poignant chronicle about one year of an unsettled man’s life in middle class America. Robert Powell attempts to find himself living in the shadow of his father’s giant footsteps. In sharing his painful journey, we can appreciate his brutal honesty regarding his own faults and failures, and by the end of the year, see how far he has come in his emotional journey.

Powell’s memoir details the year 2007-2008, when he sold all his possessions and took off from Miami to the city of Boulder, Colorado to begin training to run in a marathon. All his life, he had been dogged by his own underachievement in the light of his father’s great success, both as a runner and as a businessman. Looming large in his mind always is his father’s successful attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon in one try and the big newspaper story that followed.

Powell did a great job pulling at emotional heartstrings, drawing me into the story as I read about his multitude of mis-steps, and how this seemed to be his last chance at finding self-esteem. For anyone who may have struggled in a shaky relationship with their father, chances are good that you would be able to relate to him in some way.Kudos to him for sticking with his running program when he plain out admits that he got no pleasure from running. He meets new friends in Boulder, and acquires a trainer, whom he really thought cared about him.

The climax of the story occurs when Robert and his running partner, Carl, travel to Florida for running their own marathon. I will not give away what happens there but to me, was the highlight of the book and made the reading worthwhile. Also woven into the story is how the author met the famous Olympic marathon gold medalist Frank Shorter, and interviewed him while in Boulder.

I would not mind reading a follow up book just to find out what happened to him since.There is some foul language and talk about marital infidelity, which the author regretted in the long run.

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Filed under family relationships, memoir, running

George Mueller of Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith by A. T. Pierson

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If you want a challenge in your faith walk, I recommend reading the biography of a remarkable man, Mr. George Mueller, the founder of homes that housed thousands of orphans in the 1800s in Bristol, England. This book gives a detailed look at the life of Mr. Mueller from one who was greatly influenced by Mueller in his spiritual life. This pastor from America, Arthur. T. Pierson, was a personal friend of George Mueller.

The story is outstanding not because of George Mueller in and of himself, but that he proved in his life and ministry that God was a prayer hearing and answering God. He sought first of all that God might be glorified in answering his fervent prayers for the many needs of his ministry. In fact, everything Mueller accomplished for his ministry (which grew steadily from humble beginnings) was not from going to people as a source but instead was accomplished through fervent prayer.

Mueller chose never to broadcast a need for his orphanages to anyone, however, but only to God. Even all his helpers were not allowed to broadcast any need, but only to petition heaven for their needs. How different this is than the approach used today with ministries having telethons and begging for money. Many times Mueller, his wife and his helpers were sorely tested and lived in poverty themselves as they gave just about everything they had for the sake of the work. Reading these testimonies, it really put me to shame, to be honest. These workers sold all they had for the sake of the work and did not count their lives dear unto themselves,just like the Apostle Paul said of himself in the book of Acts.

After a youth filled with thievery and rebellion, George Mueller became a believer while studying Divinity at the University of Halle, without any interest in God. A friend invited him to a Bible study and the sight of people praying on their knees that night drew Mueller into seeking his own personal relationship with Christ. He functioned as a pastor for over sixty years. In his retirement years, he took on an evangelistic outreach that took him all over the world. Yet his principles remained the same: the needs were always placed before God and God alone to provide. Mueller kept a Narrative of the Lord’s dealings with him, after being influenced reading the autobiographical narrative of the Lord’s dealings with John Newton, a pastor he admired, who is famous for writing the hymn Amazing Grace. In Mueller’s own narrative, great detail is given to showing how the Lord answered specific prayers in His own timing, and by reading about the details of this Narrative, it imparted great incentive for me to continue in my prayers like the persistent widow in Luke 18. George Mueller prayed for two people’s conversions for over 60 years, and even did not see the answer before his death, but stated: “I have not a doubt that I shall meet them both in heaven; for my Heavenly Father would not lay upon my heart a burden of prayer for them for over threescore years, if He had not concerning them purposes of mercy.” (page 302)

Another important takeaway from this biography is to learn George Mueller’s Bible reading habit and of making himself happy in the Lord as the first order of each day. What a beautiful idea, to start each day making sure that one is happy and content in their relationship with Christ as the most important thing. He read the Bible through two hundred times during his lifetime.

This book is long, 375 pages, but is edifying and worth the read. I should not compare myself to George Mueller, for Scripture says that is unwise, and I fall way short. But, I can glean great encouragement to petition God like George Mueller did, for Mr. Pierson stated:

“While men are asking whether prayer can accomplish similar wonders as of old, here is a man who answers the question by the indisputable logic of facts. Powerlesssnes always means prayerlessness, It is not necessary for us to be sinlessly perfect … but it is necessary that we be men and women of prayer–habitual, believing, importunate prayer.” (pages 371-372)

George Mueller lived like the faith heroes of Hebrews 11, therefore his faith and life of prayer is worth imitating today.

This book was published by Kregel Publications in 1999.

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Filed under awareness of the poor, Bible, Bible instruction, character-building books, heroes of the faith, homeschooling, missionaries, simplicity, Uncategorized

One of my baby book faves: Disney’s Pooh’s Early-to-Bed and Early-to-Rise Hum

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Wouldn’t it be nice if life was as easy as following the advice in this precious board book, tested and approved by my grandson to bring delight to little eyes?
While I prefer the original A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh books to the Disney ones, I take an exception with this book. I have to admit I have as much fun reading it as (hopefully) the little guy enjoys hearing it. He hasn’t started fussing yet so I think he likes it. ( I will test it on my other grandson too, who is a bit further away, on my upcoming visit.)

It starts out with, as you can see, “Bees buzz in the morn to tell a bear to rise.” This is time for Grandma to act rather foolishly and pretend she is a bee and tickle little grandson under his chin, making bee noises. The next lines in the book become rather Ben Franklin-ish, saying that a bear who stays in bed will never be wise. The next page encourages Pooh bear to enjoy his day, and not to dawdle on the way. The kicker is on the following page, the Pooh Bear is to hum and not act glum. When I get to the word “hum” I start humming vociferously. Then, by humming and not acting glum, he will have lots of friends and things will work out in the end. The last page says the old Ben Franklin proverb of early to bed and early to rise can make a bear be successful in his endeavors.

Doesn’t it you make you wish a happy life could be obtained as simply as that? Getting up early, enjoying your day, humming and not acting glum? These are all good suggestions for little ears to hear. Maybe I should try them all more often!

The way this little board book rhymes makes for lots of fun using lots of inflection. When I put the book up close to my grandson’s face, he seemed to light up. I read to my own kids a lot when they were little, but it seems I even enjoy it more as a grandma. And it is never too early to start reading to babies, IMO.

I found this book at a library book sale, it is copyrighted 1999 by The Pooh Properties Trust.

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Filed under book lovers, books for babies, books for preschoolers, homeschooling, new grandmas, simplicity, Uncategorized