New From Pacific Press
Editor's Note: Periodically the Gleaner will feature reviews or summaries of recently published books from the Pacific Press Publishing Association. Following are the third set of featured books in the series.
Against All Odds
Against All Odds is the spiritual memoir of Kari Paulsen who, together with her husband, Jan, has ministered to the church she loves for almost 60 years. While still a little girl, Kari vowed, in the aftermath of serious heart surgery, that if God carried her through she would become a Christian — even though she had no idea how she would do so.
God heard her prayer, and Kari kept her vow. Though forced by her father to leave home while still in school, Kari did not turn back from following Jesus. Over the years, the Lord has led through her countless adventures, including overwhelming health issues, while serving across the continents of Africa, Europe and the United States.
Against All Odds is Kari Paulsen’s beautifully told story of a life steeped in service to God and love toward her fellow man. It is filled with the honesty that comes from a deep and personal faith in God.
Bill Knott, Adventist Review and Adventist World editor, describes his thoughts on the book: “This warm and candid spiritual memoir will be read — and loved — by thousands of believers around the globe who are trying to understand the leading of God in their own stories of pain and grace. Don’t miss this book!"
Here’s an excerpt from Against All Odds:
The kitchen of my childhood home in Norway was a magical place. I watched my mother at work at the long table where she carefully undid the seams of old clothing. She would study the fabric, holding it up and turning it this way and that, considering what new garment she could make. Having made her decision, she’d lay the fabric out on the table and begin cutting out shapes with quick snips of her dressmakers’ scissors.
There’s no doubt she was a skilled seamstress, but in hindsight I realize that her most important gift was her imagination. She had an amazing ability to look beyond worn fabric and outdated styles and see the potential for something new and fresh.
I’ve written this book because I’ve come to recognize the powerful gift that my mother gave me all those years ago. No matter what old, discarded material lay in front of her, she looked at it and saw the beauty she could create. She demonstrated over and over again the truth of an old European proverb, “You must cut the garment to fit the cloth.” It’s no use lamenting what you wish you had — whatever life hands you, you have the opportunity to take it and fashion it into something meaningful.
If you’re like me, your life probably doesn’t look perfect. Try holding the fabric of your life up to the light, and turn it this way and that. Look closely at the material and try to see past the worn places. Study the fabric itself and search for its original beauty. Are there possibilities there? With the Lord by your side, could you reshape it a little, perhaps trim it here or there, and make something new? Something beautiful?
A Time to Forgive
This year's Father’s Day weekend marked the 19th anniversary of the death of Shannon Marie Bigger. News of her death shocked the close-knit Seventh-day Adventist community around the country, but nowhere more so than in the Pacific Northwest. Shannon, the eldest daughter of Darold and Barbara Bigger of Walla Walla, Wash., was interning at Washington Adventist Hospital when she was murdered in her D.C. apartment just six days after her 25th birthday, on June 16, 1996. She was due to leave two weeks later to take a position at Gem State Academy in Caldwell, Idaho.
In A Time to Forgive, Darold Bigger tells the incredible story of his struggle through a parent’s worst nightmare, beginning with the phone call that would forever change his life. But A Time to Forgive is more than a memoir. It is an effective guide for anyone struggling with the challenge of forgiveness in real life. It contains three sections. The first covers what the family went through in coming to terms with Shannon’s murder and how they finally found what they needed to carry on. The second takes an in-depth look at forgiveness, what it is and what it is not. The final section presents an understanding of life and relationships and offers a rather unique, and helpful, look at love.
Life is filled with challenging moments for each of us, and “we kid ourselves,” says Bigger, “if we pretend that we can find easy answers.”
As an example of this powerful testimony, here is a short excerpt from A Time to Forgive:
“We have found comfort in surrendering to truth — the truth that this world is an evil place. The truth that horrible things happen here. The truth that life isn’t always fair or just. The truth that we are helpless to change what has happened. The discovery of our helplessness leads us to admit that we desperately need a Savior. Anything short of that, and we’d be at risk of trying to solve our own problems, of relying on human wisdom, strength, and skill to lift our race from our condition.
"Easy solutions and quick answers hide the ultimate answer from us. But when we admit our helplessness, when we let ourselves be overwhelmed, we see our desperate state. Abraham Lincoln once wrote, ‘I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.’
"Desperation turns us to God, and in God we find hope!”