Book Review: You Were Born for More by Harry Jackson Jr.

It took  me a while to slog through this book…and not in many way because it was bad, but because I would read and then would have to really think about what Mr. Jackson was asking of me.

You Were Born for More makes you take an in-depth look at your life and ask those hard questions.

I liked the fact that Mr. Jackson breaks things down and goes through them step by step, using Biblical references to help you look at how you can change your life through Divine Grace and providence.  And not by using God, but making those changes in your life that will positively impact all areas of your life.

He does not sugar coat things.  There will always be a bad health report.  The kids may or may not be doing good in school.  The job you were depending on may fall through.  But, as children of God, it is dependent on us, to take these moments and delve into our faith fully, wholly and unrepentantly.  Mr. Jackson recounts his own personal experiences with illness and strife to show how things came out for the better, even when the situation seemed impossible.  It brings to mind something a televangelist has said many times, “In the natural it doesn’t seem like it can happen.  But in the supernatural, God is always working for us, with us and through us to make those things work.”  Of course, I am paraphrasing here, but you get the point, Gentle Reader.

Change is not easy.  It takes a while and it take deliberate actions to do so.  Mr. Jackson gives us a thorough way in which we can do this through the promises God has given us in His word.  As. Mr. Jackson explains, You Were Born for More.

I was sent this book by Chosen Books, a subsidiary of Baker Publishing Group for review.  I am under no obligation to give it a favorable review, but I have because I liked it.

Blessings Be on you today, Gentle Reader.

Book Review: Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden

LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! this book by Elizabeth Camden.

Into the Whirlwind is definitely a whirlwind book.

The book takes us through the tumult the Great Chicago Fire and the aftermath.  We meet two people, Mollie Knox and Zach Kazmerak.  Mollie is the owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company.  Zach is the lawyer and main procurer for a large department store.  They know each other on a purely business level but we begin to understand that Zach is more than a little interested in Mollie.

Zach’s employers wants to make a deal with Mollie to buy her watch company.  This includes all papers, watch designs, parts…everything.  Mollie does not understand everything and is a bit overwhelmed by Zach and his speed of doing business.  Mollie is a plodder.  She needs to view a situation, make calculations and then decide on what the most favorable outcome will be.   But some unfinished business between her father and the owner of the department store brings about a large share of mistrust and miscommunication between Zach and Mollie.

Will the two of them ever be able to come to an agreement or will there always be mistrust between them?  Will Mollie ever get her watch company back up and running after being destroyed physically and spiritually by the Great Chicago Fire?  You have to read to find out.

I really enjoyed this story and it truly sucked me in.  I liked the development of the characters and the pacing.  Mollie Knox is someone I can relate to and she is likable.  I understand her feeling of being overwhelmed running a business and trying to keep it afloat.  There is an isolation in that no one, but a fellow business owner can understand.  So many people depend on you!

I fell in love with Zach Kazmerak.  He is street smart, business savvy and a bit ruthless.  But under that polished exterior lays a poet who wants love but can never get it unless he compromises his loyalty to his boss.  And it’s his loyalty as well as his unflagging strength that pulled me to him.  I have always been a sucker for a hidden poet…whose easy on the eyes and who also knows the importance of a long days work.

I really felt for Mollie and Zach.  I think part of that reason it intrigued me and sucked me in is that I can relate to the whole fire experience.  We had our own little fire in our town almost a year ago and so I can totally commiserate with the whole thing albeit on a much smaller scale.

Character development, plot line and story pacing are wonderful.  There is plenty of descriptive writing and enough history woven on the pages that you actually feel like you could be reading a first hand experience of what happened to many folks during those awful 36 hours and the subsequent aftermath.

If you like reading a little bit of history melded with a wonderful love story and hard-working folks then Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden is a great start.

I was sent this book by Bethany House Publishers and I am not required to give it a good review but I did because I liked it.

Book Review: King by RJ Larson

King by RJ Larson was a fantastic 3rd book in the Books of the Infinite Trilogy.

The third book follows the decisions that the king or Akabe is making.  Akabe is frustrated because the Infinite is silent and so instead of waiting in patience, Akabe starts making decisions based on what he thinks the Infinite wants…not on what the Infinite actually wants.  Akabe flounders and makes tons of mistakes.  There’s a lot of espionage afoot, assassination attempts and general unrest in may different areas of his life and Akabe feels alone.

We can see the direct parallels between Akabe and how the Kings of the Bible must have felt and their trials and tribulations.  Rebuilding when everything has been destroyed with enemies at all sides, it’s no wonder they sometimes made huge blunders!  I sometimes have a hard time deciding what we are going to have for supper…so I cannot imagine the magnitude of pressure these great men must have gone through.  Whole nations rested on their shoulders.

RJ Larson introduces us to a new character, Akabes Queen, who at times I feel equal parts pity and anger.  She irritates me because she is steadfast in her ignorance.  But then after reading about her life with her family, her mistrust is understandable.  I don’t actually get to like her until the very end.

The plot is fast-moving and I would say the only challenge a reader would have is that if they did not read either Prophet (Book 1) or Judge (Book 2) they might get a little lost.  A lot of the book comes from prior knowledge of what happened in the first two books.  I don’t think it would be necessary to read the first two books, though I highly recommend it, to be able to get the gist of the story, but if you were to pick up this book without prior knowledge, I think the reader would get a little lost.

Ella and Kein are perfect in their own way.  Kein has matured so much and would be a person I would like to call friend.  He exemplifies meekness and humility while Ella is the picture of pure obedience, even though she doesn’t want to she does.  I can totally commiserate with Ella.  And even in fear, she rests in the Creator, the Infinite to get her through.

All in all, King was a well written end to an amazing trilogy.  It was fast paced, action packed and exciting.  There are things that made me happy (FINALLY!!! but I won’t tell you Gentle Reader what happens) and there are things that made me irritated with the wilfulness of the characters.

I was sent this book by Bethany House Publishers and I am not required to give a favorable review, but I liked it, so I did.

Book Review: Angels by My Side by Betty Malz

Angels by My Side by Betty Malz is a short and sweet little book  that gives us mere mortals an “insiders” view of Angels at work in our lives.

Betty Malz experienced a near-death experience when her appendix ruptured and she was clinically dead for 28 minutes.  Her time in heaven was a pivotal moment in her life and she went on to tell about her experience and impact other people’s lives.

The book is a great way to open the doors to our minds to believe that Angels are real and that they are sent by our heavenly Father to protect us, watch over us and keep us safe.  But, please do not mistake that they are there to command or expect to do things for us.  That is not their duty.  Their duty is to obey God’s commands and help us mere mortals.  It is comforting to know that God has helpers attending to us when we are in our deepest need.

Malz winds scripture and real life stories from other believers who have had amazing encounters with Angels.  She shows why calling on the name of Jesus is so important and how God really does care for all of his people.

This book would be a great pick me up for a friend down in the doldrums or even a pick me up for yourself.

I was given this book by Chosen Books and I am not required to give it a favorable review but I did because I liked it.

Belonging

For the past two years I have volunteered at a local venue which is host to some pretty good country acts.  I enjoy the music.  But there is a longing inside me to belong.  I want people to see that I am willing to pitch in and help.  Do I get a benefit out of it?  Yes, I get to hear the music.  That’s a huge boon.

I have some odd skill sets.  I know how to set up a store thanks to my time at Nike as a merchandiser.  I know how to heat press t-shirts thanks to owning a heat press machine and making shirts at my business.  I know the “art” of selling thanks to my reading and learning about what makes a good salesman.  I can emcee, record commercials and talk on radio…thanks to the things I have learned in my sum of years.  There are other skills in there too…but I don’t want to digress too much.

As I was at this event, in the mercantile, I was ridiculed or maybe gently poked fun of, because I know how to heat press t-shirts.  I guess, if you know how to do something, and you do it well, you should keep it to yourself.  Anyway, I let others run it because my skill set was not needed.  And I was being a punk.  Hey, if you’re going to make fun of me…I’ll take my ball and go home.

The next day, I was asked to work in the beer garden selling coupons for beer.  (Which totally got me thinking about Ron White and his whole “coupons” for beer schtick he used to do in his show.)  There were two other women working with me and basically, all I did was stand there and smile at people and thank them for their money.

Amidst all this hub-bub…I found myself lonely.  Deeply lonely. Soul-achingly-lonely.  I have no one to call my own.  No crew to belong to.  These folks have known each other, some literally, since infancy and it has been made clear to me on many occasions, that no matter how much my family has assimilated into the community…we will never truly fit.  And usually, usually this does not bother me.  All I need is my family.  We are a pretty good fit.  But then, amidst all that…God spoke to my heart and asked me: “Is THIS where you truly want to belong?  Look at them.  They slaver for oblivion when they should be hungering after me.  Is THIS really what you want?  To belong to this?”

Crap.  No, Father.  You are right.  I don’t want to belong to this.  These are not my people, my crew.  So I did what I was commanded to do.  I prayed over them.  Every single one that came to the table to slap their money down, $10, $20, $100 dollars dropped for beer or alcohol they will just piss away.  I prayed God would forgive them for loving alcohol, oblivion over him.  “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.”  I prayed for salvation and freedom from addiction.  And it saddened me.  I don’t want you to be confused, gentle reader…my sadness is not out of pity for me or them…just that they don’t love themselves enough to love God enough to let their addictions go.  And I certainly don’t want you think that I think I am better than them.  I am not.  Oh, my…I am FULLY aware of my own failings…believe you me.  I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.  I prayed for forgiveness for all of us.

As I told my husband this story…about God’s revelation to me in a beer garden, I started to cry.  That’s how much it upset me.  Not the drinking.  Not the belonging.  But that these folks are so far from my Lord.  So far from the best salvation.  So far from the Father’s love.  And not that He doesn’t love them.  Because He does.  Oh, how He does.  And not that He has forsaken them…because He has not.  He is there.  Waiting for them to turn to Him.  They just don’t realize what they are missing.  Am I making sense, gentle reader?  I am heartbroken and upset with myself that I was involved in it.

So next year…I won’t be volunteering.  I can’t.  It’s too much and such a waste of literal human flesh.  God Bless them all.

Book Review: Reasons For Belief by Normal L. Geisler and Patty Tunnicliffe

I might have mentioned a book called “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” before and if not, then it is an AMAZING book on apologetics.  So before I digress too much, what is apologetics?  Apologetics is the defense of Christianity.  Its how you can lay out an argument to defend your faith.  “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” does this in spades…but I struggled through it.  It was very hard to read because, honestly, I am not that smart.  And the writing was WAY higher than my poor, child addled brain.  (Seriously, once you have kids…you might as well kiss your ideas of intelligence out the window.  Kids make you stupid.)  The ideas were wonderful, made sense to me and were so spot on, it was fantastic.  Just, I struggled with the academic bent to it.

So, now back to “Reasons for Belief“.  Guess what?  Norman Geisler also helped write “IDHEFTBAA”  This is a great introduction to Apologetics AND it’s like the “Cliff’s notes” version of “IDHEFTBAA“.  Whoopee!!  It was so much easier to read and follow.  Everything made sense (again) and it helped reinforce ideas and cement new ones that might have been lost in the original translation.

“Reasons for Belief” takes you through many different areas which all point to the proof that the Bible is an accurate historical account of Jesus, that Jesus is real, he was resurrected and Christianity is the one true religion of God.  It discusses the 3 different major religions, different thought processes on how life started and much more.  It follows a common sense path with common sense ideas that are fairly easy to understand.  I am a common sense kind of gal, gentle reader and this type of thinking and writing is a no-brainer for me.  And what is unreal, is how mind blowing the information is.

If you have struggled explaining why you believe the way you believe, why you believe Jesus is who he is; then this would be a beneficial read for you.  It helps the non-academics like me really understand historical data and hey, maybe even sound a little smarter than I am!

I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn more about apologetics, delve deeper into their faith or just brush up on ways to have meaningful discussions with persons who do not believe or who want to argue with you why you are wrong in your belief!  (And, none of us has ever had that, right???)

I was sent this book by Bethany House Publishers to read and review.