Mountains of Grace by Kelly Irvin – Mixed feeling but worth hanging in for the themes of grace and forgiveness

I had never read Kelly Irvin’s books until about a year ago.  After reading one of her Amish themed books I loved how she developed the characters and how they grew and changed through the story.  That’s why I was eager to read Kelly’s newest book Mountains of Grace.

Mountains of Grace is different from the other Amish themed books that Kelly Irvin has written.  This novel is set in NW Montana in a community called West Kootenai.  I never knew that there were Amish communities in Montana.  From Mountains of Grace I got the impression that this Amish community, though they lived separate and different lives than the English people, the community seemed to be more closely allied with their English neighbors.

I have some mixed feelings about this book.  It wasn’t until about halfway through that something changed and captured my interest.

I struggled with the two main characters, Mercy, a 22-year-old single Amish school teacher, and Juliette Knowles, her English friend and neighbor.  The two young women couldn’t be any different from one another.  Mercy seemed quite immature especially in the scene when they were fleeing their homes because of a fast-approaching wildfire.  Mercy’s response and that of her younger siblings seemed childish and didn’t demonstrate that they comprehended the seriousness of the situation.  Juliette, on the other hand, seemed to be a vapid, shallow, mouthy gal who wanted attention and would flirt with any male who came nearby.  I didn’t like either Mercy or Juliette.

It wasn’t until about halfway through this book I found someone I liked, Spencer, who was a smoke jumper that was injured at the beginning of the book.  It was his interaction with Mercy that made me pause.  Something about Spencer was honest and he took a liking to Mercy.  It was interesting how their very different characters interacted with one another.

There were a lot of characters to keep track of in this book, family, friends, and neighbors of Mercy and Juliette.  I liked Tim, the man who was in love with Juliette.  Why he like her I didn’t understand because Juliette was such a pill.  I appreciated his integrity and his willingness to obey God’s command that he should not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.  There some good examples of strong Christian faith.  I loved some of the prayers offered by different characters.

I had a hard time imagining Mercy as a school teacher because of her immaturity and poor decisions that resulted in her being disciplined by the Amish elders.  While it wasn’t made known, I wondered who it was that told on Mercy.  What I did like about Mercy was her boldness and desire to befriend Spencer who was so different the Amish men she knew.

I liked the themes of forgiveness that were lived out by several characters, like Angie, Spencer, Tim.  While it may not be easy, God does command us as believers to forgive those who have hurt and wronged us.

I never fully came to appreciate Juliette.  Her character was very off-putting.  I was glad that she finally disclosed what had happened to her and what caused her to turn from being a nice young lady to someone who was not so nice.  I appreciated that she was a good friend to Mercy and even tried to protect her.

I’m glad I read this book to the end.  It contains some good examples of forgiveness and mercy and God’s abundant mercy towards us as sinners.  It also showed the importance of communicating with one another, even when it’s hard.  It was almost like there were two lines of stories with the Amish and the English characters and a lot going on with multiple characters.

Would I recommend this Mountains of Grace, yes, especially if you are a Kelly Irvin fan or like Amish-themed novels.  It was interesting to learn about the men that put their lives on the line to help protect life and property and put out wildfires in treacherous terrain.

I would like to thank Zondervan Publishers and NetGalley for providing a complimentary copy of Mountains of Grace by Kelly Irvin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

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Five Minute Friday – Reflections on Grace

Grace

Grace is one of my favorite words.  First and foremost it makes me think about God and His all-encompassing grace for all areas of my life.  Most importantly in saving me and covering my sin…no removing my sin as far as the east is from the west!

Below are some of my reflections of God’s grace…

A – Amazing Grace, Abundant Grace
B – Bountiful Grace
C – Continuous Grace, Compassionate Grace, Covering Grace
D – Daily Grace, Dying Grace
E – Effective Grace
F – Forgiving Grace, Faithful Grace
G – God’s Grace, Greater Grace, Gentle Grace
H – Healing Grace
I – Infinite Grace
J – Justifying Grace, Joyful Grace
K – Kind-hearted Grace
L – Limitless Grace, Loving Grace, Living Grace
M – Matchless Grace
N – Necessary Grace, Need Grace
O – Overwhelming Grace, Obedient Grace…the grace to obey
P – Powerful Grace, Pursing Grace, Perfect Grace, Patient Grace
Q – Quintessential Grace
R – Redeeming Grace, Reconciling Grace
S – Saving Grace, Sustaining Grace
T – Triumphant Grace
U –Undeserved Grace
V – Victorious Grace
W – Wonderful Grace, Wooing Grace
X – …
Y – Yonder Grace
Z – Zealous Grace

Five Minute Friday – Dive In
It’s another Saturday morn and I wanted to participate in Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday writing challenge.  Head over to her website “Lisa Jo Baker Tales from a Gypsy Mama”.  Be sure to read some of the entries from other writers.  I can promise you that you will be blessed.

Grace Filled Bloggers

They are grace filled bloggers
Blessing their readers
Sharing what they’ve learned in this journey called life
They share from their heart
What the Lord is teaching them today
Dare to reveal their hopes and dreams about tomorrow
They openly share about trials and temptations
Failures and what they’ve learned
Praising God for their victories in Christ
They share with photographs
Too beautiful for words
Of God’s abundant blessings in their lives
They give a picture into their lives
Telling of family and friends
Even their heartfelt passionate prayers
They encourage readers to stand firm in their faith
Never waver or doubt
But only believe
Some old friends, some new
Some whom I know personally
Some I will one day meet in heaven
They bless me as I read what they share
In their journey of life
Lord, for this I give You thanks
By Susan Wachtel
March 3, 2012
Thank you to the many bloggers who have blessed, challenged and encouraged me.  Truly there have been day’s the Lord has used your word and pictures to bring me much needed encouragement.  Abundant blessings to you in Christ!

Grace Expectations

Have you ever noticed that expectations…both great and small…can be a huge source for unhappiness and discontentment?  Discontentment with family, friends, work, home and church to name a few. 
 
After running smack dab into the wall of expectations…I think perhaps there’s a better way.
 
That’s not to say we should do away with expectations all together.  It’s reasonable and even godly to expect our spouse to be faithful and fulfill wedding vows.  It’s reasonable for parents to expect a child to be obedient and respectful.  It’s reasonable…but goodness knows it doesn’t always happen.
 
I don’t think having low expectations is good thing.  God doesn’t have low expectations of us.  He commands our love and requires our obedience and there are consequences when we fail.  God’s expectations, unlike ours, are not motivated out of sin or selfishness. 

Sometimes we’ll say we have no expectations in an effort to spare ourselves the hurt and disappointment that we feel when other people or circumstances fall short of our expectations.
 
So what’s a better way?  I believe that God is challenging me…to run my expectations through the grid of His will.  Is what I’m expecting in line with God’s will for the people and circumstances in my life?  When it is, then I can freely and boldly bring my requests to God in prayer. 
 
That’s not to say that God will impose His will upon each person and that everything will turn out the way I want.  But it means that I can pray with confidence.
 
When my expectations don’t line up with God’s will…it’s often because my expectations are motivated out of selfishness, fear or wanting to be in control. 

When others fall short…and circumstances don’t measure up to my expectations…it’s imperative that I deal with people graciously.  God has been gracious and merciful to me.  I’m also motivated to be gracious because I’m well aware of my own sinful nature and past failures. 

Perhaps the key is to have “grace expectations”.  Expectations that line up with God’s will and grace given generously to those who fall short. 
 

Overriding Love

 

It was the day
God’s love overrode His righteous wrath
Against sinful man

Where He offered me a sinner
Mercy, grace and forgiveness
Called this enemy, His friend

But God’s wrath towards sinful man
Was poured out in full
Against the only begotten Son of God

The innocent Lamb of God
Put on my sin
So that the wrath of God would be satisfied

The Word of God
Fulfilled Scripture that day
Submitting Himself to the Father’s plan


By Susan Bunts Wachtel
February 23, 2010

Heaven to Earth

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

The thing I love most about this picture is the reminder…that Jesus came here to earth.

God incarnate lay His glory aside, so that He might take my sin upon Himself, pay the penalty for my sins, so that I might be forgiven. Because He lived a sinless perfect live, His righteousness was credited to my account. My sin debt has been paid in full. I have been saved, by grace, through faith…Praise God!