30 December 2016

Of Stillness and Storm by Michele Phoenix

Lauren and Sam have spent most of their marriage planning and saving to get to Nepal to do missionary work in the remote tribal regions of the mountainous land. Two years into their lives in Kathmandu, reality wears on Lauren and their 13 year old son Ryan, in taxing and telling ways. While Sam disappears for three out of every four weeks, completely unaware of how much distress his wife and son are in, Lauren and Ryan are left to do his bidding in the name of the "mission", in a foreign third world country where daily life is more than just a struggle.

When an old friend from Lauren's long ago past pops up on Facebook, life begins to spiral out of control as reality comes crashing in. Unfortunately, it is the young who suffer the most . . . .in this story, that is no exception.

I found Of Stillness and Storm to be poetically and brilliantly written, carrying me along and wrapping me up in Lauren's story. I haven't read a book that I literally could not put down until I finished it, at 2 a.m., crying my eyes out, in quite a while. Lauren's tale riveted me, as if I was reading events parallel to my own life (except not in Kathmandu, and not missionary work) and I had to know what happened to Lauren and Ryan and I felt my life was invested, and interwoven even, in theirs.

The complexity of faith, the reality of daily life, the sheer selfishness of some people - however pure they think their motives are, the humanness that connects people to each other, the yearning and need to be heard, to feel validated, to be loved - these elements come together creating a powerful story.

The events and characters in this story reverberated deeply with me, perhaps because of events going on in my own life. I understood Lauren's pain, her yearning to feel loved by her husband, the frustration of being continually ignored and then told she didn't say anything, the anger at the incredible selfishness of some people, the pain of seeing her child spiral downward without being able to do anything about it, the response out of intense loneliness and taxing burden when someone reaches out and touches her soul. And the tension that these things bring out that comes crashing down in chaotic and incredibly tragic reality. These things are what Michele Phoenix writes about in her story.

Though Michele's mission is not to put ministry work in a bad light, she does have a heart for the children who are often run right over in righteous zealotry. Is a calling a calling if the whole family is not called? Would God want a marriage, a family, torn apart so that others can be reached? Of Stillness and Storm brings up these questions, and so many more, than cause thoughtful pondering of the will of God in our own lives, in ministry, and more.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Thomas Nelson Publishing Co.. 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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