This is actually the 4th book in a 5 book series, (of which I only found 3 for sale at my local library,) but for the price of only $.10 apiece they have been so worth it! My previous post was the 3rd book, “Return” and it chronicled the story of Luke Baxter, the only son of the Baxter family. This book “Rejoice,” continues where the story left off in “Return,” but it focuses primarily on Brooke Baxter West’s family. Brooke is Luke’s sister, as the Baxters, John and Elizabeth (the parents,) have four daughters, Brooke, Ashley, Kari, Erin, and one son, Luke.
In this story, a tragedy has befallen Brooke and Peter West. Brooke and Peter are both physicians. At a children’s birthday swim party at the home of one of Brooke’s pediatric partners, the youngest of Brooke and Peter’s two daughters, Hayley has fallen in the pool unnoticed. Brooke had been unexpectedly called away to a work emergency, and Peter was watching the girls. When Maddie comes in asking Peter to help find her sister, Peter see’s she is holding Hayley’s life jacket. So begins, “Rejoice.”
In our home town, from West Virginia, my wife and I were best friends with another family. In addition to attending church together, we saw each other regularly. They also had two daughters that were the same age as my girls, and their names were Hayley and Maddie. Though thankfully, no tragedy like this ever occurred, seeing these two names in this story, brought back many wonderful memories, such as adventures to Carter Caves, Kentucky, camping trips and campfires, just visiting around the kitchen table with coffee. The best part of life, I’ve learned, is found in these type of moments. Being with people you love.
With this in mind, that is what this book, “Rejoice” (copyright 2004, by Tyndale House Publishers, 369 pages, including concluding words from the authors,) is really about. It is a book of moments in the life of the Baxter family, as they surround the kinds of situations that every family faces. Lessons in faith and prayer are given to all of us. How better to learn how to meet those unexpected turns in this highway of living, but through the example of others? Interwoven through the circumstance of the West’s family, are all the other happenings in the Baxter world, each inviting you to become a friend of the family.
When you finish, “Rejoice,” you will be just that. A friend of the Baxter’s and a fan of Karen Kingsbury. You will also be better equipped to meet your own opportunities to REJOICE, what may come.
At the end of “Rejoice,” Karen shares that the events of this story are parallel to a real life situation that her friend out in Arizona had faced with their 19 month old son Devin. Four months after she had written the first chapter of “Rejoice,” she received a phone call that on 4-12-2003, little Devin James May had fallen in and drowned in an irrigation canal in Cottonwood, AZ. He was in the canal for 18 minutes, blue and lifeless, no breathing, no pulse, just like little Hayley in the story.
God intervened, and little Devin survived and prospered. By the time Karen had written her remarks, Devin had turned two, and was eating birthday cake.
I tried to see if I could find out how he was doing today, he would be around 11 years old now. I hope that he has done well. I did see this update from 2006, where Devin had graduated preschool!
He looks great!!! Knowing this, it has truly added to the experience of reading “Rejoice.” It has come to life even more for me.
There is a prevailing verse throughout the books in the”Redemption” series:
“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
I personally prefer the KJV:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11, KJV
Here is why. In the original Hebrew bible it says this:
This reminds me that we are always on God’s mind, in the thoughts and designs for well-being that He has for us, and whether or not we ponder it, we all will have a hereafter. The “expectation,” is what the Lord has in His mind for us, and I really believe that this also relies on our own willingness and purpose to seek and walk in His design for us as it unfolds in our lives.
As Karen Kingsbury’s wonderful books points out, this unfolding of God’s incredible design, may offer us surprises, and at times may seem unbelievable. There will be joy, and times of sorrow.
Oh how I pray for my family, my own wife, daughters and son, that God’s design for us will bring us into all that He has purposed. I do love Him so!
Read “The Redemption Series,” I know you will be incredibly blessed!