Renovating Becky Miller by Sharon Hinck is one of the books on my spring reading challenge (which is rapidly drawing to a close this week!!) I had read Sharon’s first book, The Secret Life of Becky Miller, last year (it was one of the first books I discussed on my blog!) and just loved it — the characters and situations and struggles were very real — so I knew I’d get the sequel as soon as I saw it. I finished it last week, but this is my first chance to sit down and get my thoughts together.
Becky Miller is a young Christian mom, married with three children, heading up the women’s ministry at church. In the first book she struggled to “do big things for God.” Each chapter started with a “daydream” in which Becky somehow saved the day. This book starts each chapter with a spoof of a movie scene (I didn’t realize that at first because I hadn’t seen the first film alluded to. 🙂 I thought it was a spy scenario like the first book might have had. After a while I began to realize those scenarios were strangely familiar — then I “got it.”) It was fun figuring out what movie the scenes were from. I got most of them even though I hadn’t seen all the films. If I had just read the back cover of the book more thoroughly, it would have given me a tip-off.
Becky faces a number of pressures — her new job at a new church is taking a lot more time than she thought it would; the people there feel that increasing and expanding their programs will reach more people for Christ, so there are constantly new projects and more work added on; her husband’s mother is having physical problems and comes to live with them; something’s bothering her husband, but she can’t get him to open up; something is wrong with one of her closest friends, but she can’t get anyone to tell her what the problem is; her husband think they need to find a new home, and the ideal one in their price range that just needs “some fixing up” is an old farmhouse. Becky think the bigger house in the country will mean a slower, simpler lifestyle, and the “fixing up” will be a good project to draw the family closer. If you’ve ever had a house that needed work, you’re probably smiling and shaking your head right now. 🙂 On top of all of that, the leg that has been having problems since the accident she had in the first book is getting worse because she is so busy with everything else she hasn’t had time to do her physical therapy.
In other words — she is under a lot of pressure.
I could relate to thing on so many levels. The first home we purcahsed was a “fixer-upper” and we didn’t realize how much money, time, and energy it was going to take. I head up the ladies’ ministry at church, and though we haven’t had any church growth pushes, there is always the pressure to do more. We have had parents in just for a short time but have had discussions about what we might need to do in the near future, as many in the “sandwich generation” have. I’ve had physical problems that I wished the Lord would just go ahead and heal so I could get on with my life and minister for Him more effectively. Just keeping in touch with your family (even living under the same roof it is all too easy to just pass by while getting other things done) and trying to be a good mother to your children can be enormous pressure, not to mention these other things.
At one point, Becky asks, “Lord, is serving You supposed to feel like this?”
I think many of us have asked or have felt like asking that question.
I’ll leave you to find the answers Becky found in the book.
Because I have four bookcases filled to overflowing already, usually after I read a book, if I really don’t think I will ever reread it, I pass it on to my mother-in-law or someone else. But I am keeping the Becky Miller books. I want to revisit them again some day. Once again the characters and the struggles were very real (even though my kids are older than Becky’s, I could remember a lot of the “young mom” struggles, and some of them still apply though in slightly different forms) and the answers Becky found, though not new to me, were wonderful reminders.
If I had a rating system, this book would get the highest rating, plus a couple of plus signs. 🙂 It’s everything that good Christian fiction should be. It will have you smiling in some parts and pondering its truths in others.
By the way, Sharon Hinck has a website and a blog and a “Book Buddies” newsletter you can sign up for. She has another book out already, The Restorer, that is on my to be read list. It is a fantasy, and I have no doubt she can handle it well, from the fantasy preludes in her chapters of the Becky Miller books!