Saturday, September 04, 2010

Independent Book Review: Held By God: Finding Hope by Recognizing His Provision in the Midst of Suffering by Lori Phillips and Lynn Willers

Held By God is an amazing work, penned by two sisters Lynn Willers and Lori Phillips. The dual author's voice lent a warmth to the book - one which I have not come across before. Sisters Lori and Lynn are twins so I should not have been surprised by their united front. However, much more apparent was their shared love for the Lord which was boldly, unabashedly shared throughout this anointed book.

Their passion for coming alongside their reader to comfort and encourage was clear as sisters Lynn and Lori jointly shared not only their trials and tribulations but their faith. Throughout this book the co-authors returned to Being Held By God in any situation. Undoubtedly the content supported the title - the takeaway hope in any circumstance when one enters the valley in the arms of God.

Chapter One ushers in the beautifully shared story which occurred on the walk to school when the girls were six years old.  Lynn cut her hand very badly after dropping a jar that she was bringing for "show and tell." Clearly an angel (possibly Good Samaritan for those less inclined to believe so easily in angels) carries her to a house nearby to get help. The incorporation of Scripture pointing the reader back to God's faithfulness is included in this chapter (as well as all other chapters).

Beginning on page 54 I began to cheer for the sisters! I realized they were educating their readers - no - empowering and encouraging their reader to challenge the western medical establishment. I applauded as the sisters became their own health care advocates when they did not agree fully with their doctor's assessments. The doctor insisting on Lynn having the "pleurodesis treatment" and instead Lynn insisting on speaking to a Thoracic surgeon illustrated the importance of standing firm in all medical situations. Her account is a reminder to us all that we truly are the consumer - customer if you will - even though we may never have realized this role before. We must be Bereans when it comes to the role we play in the health care industry.

I must mention the coffee cup illustration in Chapter Four! Without being a spoiler of course...Danny is the twin's brother. He innocently protects a coffee cup from all harm to find out at the end of the day that his efforts were in vain as what he needed to do was much easier! That story stuck with me as many of the illustrations similar to this one in the book also stuck with me. The tone of Held By God draws you in and you actually feel like you are one of the family. I chuckled along with Lori and Lynn in Chapter Four for sure!

"Why would the Lord bring us all the way out here, just to have this doctor's door slammed shut so abruptly? In retrospect, this was one of those moments that would have made us laugh had we seen it from God's perspective. When God opens a door, sometimes he doesn't want us to just walk through the door. Sometimes He wants us to walk through, turn right, and then go down the hallway." (page 98)

Relatable? Yes. This book asks many "Why?" questions the reader can relate to - but the word "Why?" does not end with a question mark. Before the ink is dry on the 'y" the sisters often give a Scripture verse. God is held high in this book. The authors come alongside their readers (many of whom no doubt are also suffering physically and hurting emotionally) to share their story and explain how asking "Why?" and remaining in the questioning phase of "Why?" too long won't help the situation at all. Only surrendering to God and letting Him endure the pain with you is the answer and is the theme throughout.

I enjoyed hearing the seasons of Women of Faith Conferences and how each topic ministered to the girls right where they were in their healing journeys. Especially the last conference mentioned touched my heart because the girls attended albeit their Mom was not with them that year.

One of my favorite mentions of servant hood in the book was on page 130. I quote, "During those times, we learned alot about sacrificial giving. Caring for someone with cancer is hard. It is messy, and it is heart wrenching. However, it gives us the opportunity to be like Christ and really show people how much we love them. Sacrificial love is when we place ourselves in situations that take us way out of our comfort zones. During those months with Mom, we realized a truth. We don't show our love for someone by doing something that is easy for us to do or doesn't take much effort on our part. We show our love for them by doing the things that are difficult or hard for us to do. That is when we are most like Christ." Amen and Amen sisters!

I found myself weeping unexpectedly in many chapters. Especially in Chapter Seven Silver Linings in a Dark Cloud I could not read the words before me because the tears were in the way. My head ached from crying but then the pain of crying passed as I read on...and then silly me was bawling again but this time with tears of joy! How wonderful to experience so much emotion - pain and suffering but hope and happiness on the same page. I cried with Lynn as she listened to "holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty", when the fellow bed mate in the hospital helped her when she couldn't even help herself....and so very many times throughout this very special work.

A Bittersweet Celebration was my most favorite part of the entire book. Needless to say, I called my Mom right away and told her I loved her. I chatted with her about random topics that we both have in common. We laughed together during this phone call because we could. I thought I heard her sadness when I said Goodbye. I was reminded of Lynn and Lori's mention of their sadness in not being able to call their Mom as they used to do without hesitation. Unlike Lynn and Lori's Mom, my own does not know the Lord (Romans 10:9-11).

However, the fact that this book's final pages presented the Gospel - just one more time was not lost on me. For this book truly glorifies the Lord and is for everyone - no matter who you are or what you are facing. The medical condition CPT may have been the reason for the book being written at first, but clearly the sisters have allowed the Lord to take this topic and use it as a springboard for a relationship with Christ. For that reason, though I do not suffer with CPT or lost a parent to disease I will share this book with one who does not know Christ and as a result - though they may or may not suffer - no matter what they will never again be without hope. For to be Held By God truly begins with surrender.

Thank you Lynn and Lori for this amazingly hopeful, informative, enjoyable warm and comforting work. Many will be ministered to as a result. This book is anointed.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3&4

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author as part of their request for an independent review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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