Friday, December 05, 2008

Book Review: Heaven has Blue Carpet

What happens when you transplant a suburban housewife and put her into a working sheepfarm? It sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn't it? But in Heaven Has Blue Carpet: A Sheep Story by a Suburban Housewife
Sharon Niedzinski, a devoted Christian, shares the real-life lessons she learned from throwing herself into a new life tending sheep. She not only learned the practical aspects of sheeprearing from reading everything she could get her hands on that referred to sheep and from kind-hearted neighboring farmers, but she also obtained brand new insights into the Bible and our relationship with Christ from her time on the farm. It is these lessons that she is most eager to share and which make this book very worthwhile reading.

In Biblical times, sheepherding was a very common occupation. Therefore, the Biblical references to Jesus as a good shepherd and the many stories and psalms that featured sheep resonated with the listeners. In the modern era when most of us do not spend our lives tending sheep, the deeper meaning of many of these images have been lost. Niedzinski shares her real-life experience to make these Biblical passages come alive. For example, she had orphan sheep that had been rejected by their mothers which she gave special care to. These sheep got to know her and develop a special realtionship with her. On the other hand, the other sheep who didn't need her so much were rather indifferent to her presence, but she still cared for them and provided for them. “These sheep didn't have a close relationship with me like my orphans did, but if they continued to listen to my voice and follow after me, they could enter into their destiny. 'My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand' (John 10:27-28)”

Perhaps the best parts of the book are the little snippets of information highlighted under “Shearing Shed,” “Good Grain” and “Chew on This” in which Niedzinski provides a very succinct lesson worth remembering. One of the best is this offering found under “Good Grain”: “On your feet now – applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence. Know this: God is God, and God, God. He made us; we didn't make him. We're his people, his well-tended sheep. Enter with the password: 'Thank you!' Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him. For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever. (Psalm 100)

“Heaven has a Blue Carpet” both educates and entertains. Neidzinski has graciously shared her hard-learned lessons with the rest of us that we may profit from them.

Some other great quotes from this book:

"Man will also give up and die without hope. Hope is a gift of life given to mankind by God. With hope, man can anticipate, aspire, and believe in what he does not see. The Lord delights in those who can put their hope in him and his unfailing love."

"Are you hungry for God? Are you willing to let him do whatever it takes to get you to that place of broken, holy hunger? Are you willing to give the Shepherd total control over your life? If you do, don't be surprised if he starts messing with it. He might put you in a new pasture, in a different sheep pen, or even lock you up in a smelly stall for a while; whatever it takes. Don't hold on to any part of your life so tight that the Shepherd can't move it around or eliminate it! He alone knows your future. You have to believe that the plans he has for you are always for your good . . . even if they stink for a time."

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