Review on Chris Fabry’s Under A Cloudless Sky

Under A Cloudless SkyChris Fabry’s Under A Cloudless Sky is another one of those novels that take the reader back and forth, between past and present in Beulah Mountain, West Virginia.

Beulah Mountain is a coal mining town with a dark and secret history as well as all the present dilemma’s that face today’s residents in coal mining communities across our country.

Our story jumps back and forth between the years 1933 and 2004. It centers on the friendship between two young girls—Ruby and Bean. Though they come from opposite sides of the tracks the girls become inseparable BFF’s. That is until they get swept up in a power struggle between the forces of greed and power—versus truth, justice, and integrity.

The story primarily deals with the far-reaching effects of hideous and dark truths that get buried under a mountain of coal, money, and lies.

The present-day community in Beulah Mountain must decide between an easy expediency and continuing to “cover up” what actually took place in “the massacre of 1933,” or face the wretched truth with all the consequences of its ugliness.

Under A Cloudless SkyOf course, the ancient struggle of forgiving what seems unforgivable presents present-day residents with the same challenges their forefathers faced when they come face-to-face with their own fighting, feuding, and class warfare.

Present-day Ruby is now an old woman struggling with all the advancing infirmities that her old age brings. Her conscience won’t leave her alone and she is running out of time. She must decide whether she will “finish well” and be true to her professed Christian ideals, which means dealing honestly with her past, or take what she knows about what really happened all those years ago on Beulah Mountain, and bury her secret in the grave with her.

The beginning chapters of the book were challenging for me, as it is almost written like a movie script or screenplay, jumping back and forth between this scene, then that.

But should the reader have the same struggle I did, I highly recommend you hang in there and stay with it as the end of the story is well worth the climb, with all it’s troubling twists and turns through those Appalachian hills.

It delivers a surprising finale that totally stunned me!

I want to thank Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Chris Fabry's Under A Cloudless SkyUnder A Cloudless Sky is available now at all fine retail booksellers as well as Christian Book Distributors and Amazon online. I gave this book a five-star rating on Goodreads. It really is a great story and one I think you’ll enjoy. I’m eagerly looking forward to Chris Fabry’s next book!

A Closer Walk: Looking At Loss Realistically

I am trying to become more pragmatic about loss; trying to see it more realistically.

In our part of the world loss is treated with shock-n-awe headlines—fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, all banner headline-makers.

But are we seeing loss realistically? And, more importantly, are we seeing it Biblically?

I am beginning to wonder.

Learning to let go of material things is painful.

Heaven is our home.As a Christian I am taught that, while I live in this world, I don’t belong here. It is not my home.

So, if this is not my home, if I am only “passing through” as the old song says… then why do I cling so tightly to the things that can never go with me when I leave?

I mean, let’s face it, we do cling tightly. Don’t we?

Why else be so devastated when we come face-to-face with loss?

And my losses do devastate me. I mean, if I’m honest.

Once upon a time, losing the most menial things could send me into a petulant tizzy. But I am learning that loss is a big part of my journey. Letting go, is an essential skill to traveling light.

Realistically looking at lossIn our western culture, we are encouraged to “travel heavy.” Stuff, and more stuff, advertisers cry to us is our passport to true happiness, prestige, and well-being. But, is it? I don’t know about you, but I am finding that a large volume of “stuff,” gets to be a heavier and heavier burden. In truth, the amount of things that I actually need, is relatively small.

Maybe it’s because I am getting older, and I am realizing that I am closer now to my finish line, than the starting line. When I step back and take a good look, and think about what I claim to believe, I begin to wonder if my losses are not just a natural part of this journey I’m on. Perhaps, to get me more heaven-focused, by necessity, I need to carry things here a bit more loosely.

The idea of realistically accepting tragedy and loss is uncomfortable to me.

And, perhaps, that is precisely the point.

C. S. LewisI will share with you that years ago I was “homeless” for a short time—twice.

It was unthinkable at first. I was stunned that God would let such a thing happen to me. I was angry and frightened. (Who wouldn’t be?) But shall I tell you? Something strange happened through those dark experiences.

With all my “stuff” in storage, and finding myself standing on a sidewalk with no money and one little knapsack, and wondering where I was going to go? I learned firsthand what Paul meant when he wrote,” …I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.” [Phil. 4:11, 12Phil. 4:11, 12
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11 Not that I speak in respect to lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. 12 I know how to be humbled, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in need.

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I also have learned that God is faithful, especially in calamity. He kept me safe. He kept me fed. He kept a roof over my head. Though I found myself an unwelcome guest, sleeping on someone’s floor, more than once.

(My losses made others uncomfortable, too.)

Letting go of what you cannot changeYet, I discovered that all I really NEEDED each day was in that tiny little knapsack.

And, you know what?

Though sometimes uncomfortable it was liberating to learn how little is needed to really get by. I was forced to let go and trust God absolutely and so my emotions about my STUFF changed.

“Letting go” produced a kind of freedom and made me face a surprising and unexpected revelation: ALL CHRISTIANS ARE “HOMELESS!”

Loss is an integral part of this world, but for us, it’s only temporary because you see… we’re not home yet.

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LET IT GO!

Do not fear the clouds as though I had deserted you and left you to the mercy of this storm.

Who makes the clouds? Who creates the storm?

(Is it not I, your Father?)

Then, I say to you, “Fear not.”

I told you, you would go through floods, yes? (Isa. 43:1-4Isa. 43:1-4
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(Well, then?)

But, I say again, “…you will not drown.”

I come in these clouds as easily as in the days of blue skies and soft green meadows.

My child, listen… that thunder and lightening in your circumstances is the rumbling wheels of My chariots. Your deliverance is in those chariots! Do not fear them.

That fierce howling wind?

It belongs to Me. It does My bidding!

Storms are for your training child. You grow a little stronger from each one you weather.

Focus on Me. Focus on My faithfulness.

Let it goI AM sending into your life everything you need to grow you up and make you skillful for every task your destiny requires.

When your skies grow dark, and your enemy tempts you to doubt and unbelief, remember I created you! I have chosen you! Every storm is in My hand and does My bidding. If it washes out a part of your life, let it go!

I AM rebuilding you according to My plans and My specifications.

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“The clouds are his chariots. He rides upon the wings of the wind.”

Psalm 104:3Psalm 104:3
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3 He lays the beams of his chambers in the waters. He makes the clouds his chariot. He walks on the wings of the wind.

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Never Losing the Light: The Stormy Darkness

It is easy to fear in the stormy darkness… with your ship pitching wildly to and fro, and the dark waves rising far above, as the wind, and the waves lash at your face.

Stormy DarknessYes, in those circumstances anyone would fear.

Your circumstances are wild, I’ll grant you that.

Who would have believed things could have come to this? But, my child, I have your hand. You may not be able to see Me, but in your spirit? Can you feel Me near you?

(I am here. Right here. Right now… and I won’t leave you.)

I cherish you.

You are a wonder to me.

Do you not look at your own child and feel the wonder?

(That comes from Me.)

YOU bring ME wonder.

(I know that surprises you… but it shouldn’t.)

I am your Father. You are My child. I love you with an everlasting love. ( Jer. 31:3Jer. 31:3
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3 Yahweh appeared of old to me, saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you.

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Turn your face from the storm now. Look at Me.

Storms are for shaping your trust and developing your faith.

Do you not ‘work out’ to develop your outer man?

(… well?)

This ‘workout’ I’ve sent is to develop your inner man.

Kindness grows stronger through unkindnesses quietly borne.

(… and patience?)

Always through adversity always.

God Is Able

 

“I am holding you by your right hand; I, the LORD your God; and I say to you, Don’t be afraid; I am here to help you.”

Isaiah 41:13Isaiah 41:13
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13 For I, Yahweh your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, Don’t be afraid; I will help you.

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How Long Will You Forget Me?

How long?How long will you forget me, Lord? Forever? How long will you look the other way when I am in need? Psalm 13:1Psalm 13:1
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13 For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David. 1 How long, Yahweh? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

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“I spoke of an Army on the point of entering an enemy’s territories. Answering the question as to the cause of delay: ‘Waiting for supplies.’ The answer might also have been: ‘Waiting for instructions, ‘Waiting for orders.’ If the last dispatch had not been received, with the final orders of the commander in chief, the army dared not move. Even so in the Christian life – as deep as the need of waiting for supplies is that of waiting for instructions.” —Andrew Murray

~~~

When we are waiting for God to show us the way and what we should do next, stillness is difficult, and so is our waiting, but trust is the essential element that makes our stillness (and our waiting) peacefully possible.

Pause to think about that.

When I am weary with waiting and I just want to get on with it—standing still can be like a gorilla stomping on my last nerve!

I’ve been there.

So have you.

It is our trust in Someone who is greater, and more knowledgable about our situation, that will sustain me in the waiting.

If I trust Him I will wait.

No matter how long it takes.

I will believe in the instructions that I am waiting for even though I do not know what they will be.

If I trust Him, I will know that Love will not keep me waiting one second past “the right time” to move forward.

And it’s a funny thing about all that waiting.

(Take it from one who has waited many, many, years.)

All that waiting?

It builds TRUST.

Confident HopeHow long will you forget me, Lord? Forever? How long will you look the other way when I am in need?  How long must I be hiding daily anguish in my heart? How long shall my enemy have the upper hand?

Answer me, O Lord my God; give me light in my darkness lest I die.  Don’t let my enemies say, “We have conquered him!” Don’t let them gloat that I am down.

But I will always trust in you and in your mercy and shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord because he has blessed me so richly.  Psalm 13


SEEDS FOR TRUST #7

How Long

A Closer Walk: Essential Forgiveness vs. Optional Reconciliation

So many wounding’s in this life. For all of us. You cannot go far, even in the innocence of childhood, without feeling the knife. So we need to learn as early as possible forgiveness for the unkind words, rejections, disappointments… and worse.

Tell your storyThe trick as I see it, is remembering enough of your story so you can tell it, without becoming an archivist of injustice.

We begin when we’re young, growing in our expertise, learning to cling to our wounds in righteous and outraged indignation. For some, we carry that pain vociferously, telling any and all about the unfairness of what has been done to us. For others, we carry the pain privately, taciturnly stuffing all of it way down deep, trying to forget the damage done; hoping our wounds will scar over and be silent. By the time we reach our adulthood, most of us have a wide and varied collection of scars—some outward, but mostly, we all wear our scars on the inside.

I wish I could say that “coming to Christ” just magically changes that truth—but it doesn’t. It just changes the way we are to handle it. Belonging to Christ makes forgiving all offenders mandatory.

For me, this was really tough stuff.

woundresser.comYou see, I grew up in a home without forgiveness. It sounds awful to me now (to admit that) but at the time, I just accepted how things were. To transgress, meant you would “wear” the responsibility for what you had done from that day forward. That was the deal. The offense might not be spoken of, but it would always be the pink elephant in the room—always.

Since forgiveness wasn’t modeled, I didn’t “get the value” of the concept, let alone how to carry it off. Yet, God is faithful.  The Bible says, “…when your father and mother forsake you, I the LORD will take you up.” Which is good, because there are life principles to our forgiving that none of us can live without.

ForgivenessFirst and uppermost—is the principle that we are taken prisoner by anyone we refuse to forgive. Consequently, we then become the one who is unforgiven by God.

(Not good.)

Second principle—forgiveness is a process. The deeper the wound the longer the process.

Third—no guarantees of reconciliation. (A completely separate process.) Unfortunately, sometimes our offender will refuse to change or acknowledge their harmful behavior.

Therefore, to be “reconciled with them” is not possible.

Still, we must extend forgiveness.

Reconciliation might or might not happenFinally—we don’t give up until we succeed in forgiving. We are to genuinely ask God to bless our offender.

I once heard a pastor illustrate it this way.

“Forgiving is like climbing a slippery mountain made of glass. For every step forward, you may slide back three or four—but since forgiving isn’t optional—we keep climbing. Difficult, or easy, we keep at it because freedom’s view from the top will always, always, be worth it in the end.”journal

SUCH TRUST

You there… yes, you.

Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?

Your dreaming thrills Me.

(Your heart that forgives, and forgives…)

How I rejoice in you! Ask Me! Ask Me anything… I want to give you all that you desire; all that you are dreaming for others…

How those dreams of yours have changed.

ScarsOnce, they were so small and selfish. (We know.) Ah, but look… behold the beauty! How you long and weep for the pain of others. How you plead for their destinies.

(Oh, I AM so pleased with you!)

Ask Me! I AM here. The windows of heaven are full open! Your requests come at a favorable time… all that is Mine is yours!

You bring Me so much pleasure when you ask for such extreme, impossible things… for only the King of Universes could do for you all that you have asked.

How you honor Me child. Such trust! These requests of yours give Me such joy! Ask again, and again… My hand is open and I AM bending down My ear to hear even the faintest whispers of your heart.

How I love your holy audacity—your childish expectancy!

My, how you bless your Father.

How you give Me joy… here, My beloved… receive! Receive joy from Your Father who is delighted to give you His Kingdom!

(You are My rapture!)

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Yes, ask anything, using my name, and I will do it!

John 14:14John 14:14
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14 If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it.

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Never Losing the Light: My Favor

Now is the time to rebuild.

(All will come together quickly.)

You are walking in great favor.

(My favor.)

Breakthrough Jon BloomRemember, where I go the adversary is not far behind.

(Stay on your toes.)

We have much to do. Do not get caught up in this world. We have no time for that now. There is much to do and the days are short. Keep your sense of urgency.

Remember my servant Nehemiah?

One hand on a weapon; one hand on the work. (Neh. 4:17Neh. 4:17
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17 They all built the wall and those who bore burdens loaded themselves; everyone with one of his hands worked in the work, and with the other held his weapon;

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Build to last.

This will make more sense later. For now, just do it. Nothing flimsy. On The Rock, remember?

Choose your workmen carefully. All great things that fall, fall because of inner decay, not outer attack.

Walk worthy of your calling.

(No more childish anger.)

Put it away. It doesn’t fit who you are now. Remember to come to Me. I will guide you in the way you need to go.

My favor covers you.

Be strong. Be courageous.

(Your abilities will astound you.)

You are a fine sharp threshing machine.

(My harvester!)

Come, the harvest is waiting.

The Harvest

“…when I bring you home again from your captivity and restore your fortunes, Jerusalem will be rebuilt upon her ruins;”

Jeremiah 30:18Jeremiah 30:18
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18 Thus says Yahweh: Behold, I will turn again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have compassion on his dwelling-places; and the city shall be built on its own hill, and the palace shall be inhabited after its own manner.

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Everyone Counts by Dorothy Valcarcel Transformation Garden

“I had fainted, unless I had believed I’d see God’s goodness in the land of the living. Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: stay with God.”

Psalm 27: 13, 14Psalm 27: 13, 14
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K.J.V  The Message Bible

“Faint not! How great is the temptation at this point! How the soul sinks, the heart grows sick, and the faith staggers under the keen trials and testings which come into our lives in times of special bereavement and suffering. “I cannot bear up any longer, I am fainting under this providence. What shall I do? God tells me not to faint. But what can one do when (they) are fainting?” What do you do when you are about to faint physically? You cannot do anything. You cease from your own doings. In your faintness, you fall upon the shoulder of some loved one. You lean hard. You rest. You lie still and trust. It is so when we are tempted to faint under affliction…Dear child, when you grow faint in the fires of affliction, do not try to be strong. Just be still and know that He is God, and will sustain you and bring you through.”

L.B. Cowman

Everyone Counts by Dorothy Valcercal

“Stay firm, He has not failed thee

In all the past,

And will he go and leave thee

To sink at last?

Nay, He said He will hide thee

Beneath His wings,

And sweetly there in safety

Thou mayest sing.”

Author Unknown

You must know that every (individual) cannot be excellent, yet (they) may be useful. An iron key may unlock the door of a golden treasure; yea, iron can do things gold cannot do! Thomas Brooks Click To Tweet

[ Devotion “Everyone Counts” for Thursday January 4, 2018 ]

Everyone Counts by Dorothy Valcercal