Halfway Done

Every year I choose to do the Tim Challies book challenge and if you want to know what I have been reading here is the list so far. I will put the challenge, the title and a quick note of what I thought about it.

A book published in 2020 or 2021 – Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
This book was weird. I somewhat enjoyed it, but probably will not read another book by this author. If you like fantasy with minimal characters and slow builders, then you may like this book.

A memoir or autobiography – Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
This book was full of quips and ways to live. It has a lot of wisdom in it, but it is worldly wisdom. There was some religious aspects to it, but like all self-help books, they fall short to the wisdom given in the Bible. It’s a good book for older teens.

A classic novel – The Curious Life of Benjamin Button by F. Scott FItzgerald
This was another weird novel. It was somewhat Kafkaish and I didn’t really like it. I liked the Great Gatsby, so I thought this would be a good novel, but I was left feeling confused and wondering why I even started it.

A book by a pastor – Something Needs to Change by David Platt
I recommend this book to all Christians! Phenomenal book about taking our faith seriously and shaking off the clutches of complacent Christianity.

A book about a book of the Bible – Colossians He is Enough by Asheritah Ciuciu
Great devotional book! I recommend reading her!

A book published by Zondervan – Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
The book was informative but I had forgotten that Ravi Zacharias was one of the men Lee interviewed, so the book didn’t sit well with. It also seemed a bit too permissive when it came to sin and grace. Case for Christ was better.

A book the word “gospel” in the title – Another Gospel by Alisa Childers
What a great book on the dangers of what is now called deconstruction. Every Christian needs to read this book. Alisa, also has a youTube channel that I enjoy watching. She is a great theologian.

A book with an image of a person on the cover – Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel
This is the second book to the Wolf Hall series. I love the way this woman writes and I love Tudor historical fiction! If you love this era and historical fiction, you will love this book, bur read Wolf Hall first.

A book about a current social issue – (A)typcial Woman by Abigail Dodds
This was a good book, the author did a good job in describing Biblical womanhood. She used Scripture well and I encourage you to read it if you are a Christian woman.

A book for children or teens – Wingfeather by Andrew Peterson
Loved this book. Adventrure, Pirates. Villans. My kids really enjoyed this book It is a series that we may continue. I read this book aloud to my kids.

A book about theology – Royal Deception: Exposing the KJV Only Conspiracies by Fred Butler
This book was lacking in what I really wanted to know. There is so much about KJV onlyist that I wanted to know about and this book did not provide it. I think James White does a better job.

A book about Christian living – Full by Asheritah Ciuciu
I loved this book! I got in on audio, but bought the actual book after I listened to the audio. I plan on re-reading it this year! If you struggle with food addiction, this is a wonderful book full of the Gospel and freedom!

A book of your choice – The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
I love the way this woman writes. This was a good thriller, mystery book.

A book written by a puritan – Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards
Puritans love their descriptions of hell. I am so glad I am saved and this motivates me to keep giving the Gospel to my loved ones.

A book recommended by a friend – Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This book is set in occupied France. Great book about the love between sisters and the courage of the people who suffered under the Nazis. This book is long, but it does submerge you into this time.

A book about social justice – Why Social Justice is Not Biblical Justice by Scott David Allen
Totally recommend if you are Christian wondering what to think about the culture in the US right now.

A novel that won a Pulitzer prize – The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami
This book was actually a runner up to the Pulitzer, but still it was beautifully written. It is about the Spanish conquest of the Americas and their exploits. It is harsh and sad. This book was about a slave of one of the Spaniards, one of only 4 survivors.

A book with 2 or more authors – Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie H. Perry and Nancy DeMoss
The book was good, but not my kind of taste. JHP is very artistic and was a bit too long winded about colors, fashion partying and her relationships. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. When it comes to this particular genre, I prefer Rosaria Butterfield.

A book with at least 400 pages – Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Tudor Historical Fiction again. This book was harder to read than Bring up the Bodies because HM uses the pronoun “he” quiet a bit and sometimes I forget what “he” she is talking about. She does better in her second book. I can’t wait to read the third and final book about Mr. Thomas Cromwell.

A book cy CS Lewis or JRR Tolkien – The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
Must read for all Christians. What a wonderful and smart man is Mr. Lewis. This book is about a “younger” demon learning the ropes from his uncle Screwtape on how to ruin the lives of Christians and people.

A book that has a fruit of the Spirit in the title – Sovereign Joy by John Piper
This book was about the lives of Augustine, Luther and Calvin. I loved reading about them and because of this book I have added Augustine’s “Confessions” to my reading list.

A book on the New York Times Bestseller list – Dream Big by Bob Goff
Like always, this man inspires. This is a good book to get you motivated to dream big and pursue your dreams.

A book about prayer – Dangerous Prayers by Craig Groeschel
This was a good book. I was pleasantly surprised though that I already pray dangerous prayers. If you want to grow in how you pray, this is a good book. I just need to pray more often!

A book about theology – Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Suffers by Dane C. Ortlund
This is by far the best book I have read so far this year. What a breath of restful air this was. This book made me cry and reminded me of what a gentle and loving Father I have in God. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

A book of your choice – Outsider by Stephen King
The book started off really good, but what a cop-out for an ending. I wasn’t too happy with the sci-fi cop out. SK does write well though, but the ending was so disappointing.

A book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with – Recovering from Biblical Womanhood by Aimee Byrd
She has a chip on her shoulder and her illustrations and allegories were awful. I also listened to this book on audio and the author reads it and she sounded a bit to “karen” for my taste. Maybe if I read it instead of listening to it, it may be better.

A book by someone whose ethnicity is different than yours – Fault Lines by Voddie Baucham Jr.
Great book. So needed for our times right now. It is a book about the dangers of critical race theory and social justice.

A book that won an award – Deep, Deep Snow by Brian Freeman
This book won the Edgar Award. It is about a young detective solving a case in a small town. It was a great crime/suspense novel.

A book by Charles Dickens or one of his contemporaries – The Woman in the Black Veil by Charles Dickens
This is one of his first books ever written and what a plot twist. Good short book. It was only like 35 pages long.

A book about leadership – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
There was a lot of insight and great advice in this book. Highly recommend for all people who want to get their life together and do more.

A book based on a true story – Beneath Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White
Good mystery book and great twist at the end.

A book with an illustration on the cover – A Court of Thorns by Sarah J. Maas
This book was a bit too romantic for me. So not my genre at all. If you the Twilight series you will like this. SJM writes extremely well and there were some scenes in the book that were outright scary and frightening, but just not into the romancy parts.

A book with one word in the title – Heaven by Randy Alcorn
Great book about the subject of Heaven. It makes me want to go there already. Death is hard for us to understand, but in the light of the Bible, physical death is what God uses to bring us to Him. Long book, but I definitely recommend.

A book whose title comes from a Bible verse – Filling up the afflictions of Christ by John Piper
Great book on suffering and why we suffer and how God uses our afflictions to make us more like Him. This book is short but very impactful. If you are struggling through a painful time in your life right now, this is a good read. Full of Scripture and grace.

A book by an author 30 years or younger – Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne
This book was great! Its about an FBI agent who happens to also be an ex-magician. The book was fun to read, but also mysterious. Great book for a summer read. Andrew Mayne is also a professional magician.

A book about theology – Knowledge of the Holy by AW Tozer
A good book about why we should not just feel our faith, but know why we believe. It also has a lot to say about the character of God and who He is. Why we should know about the God we worship.

A novel set in a country that is not your own – The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler and Ann Long
This book is set in Sweden and was annoying. The main characters were not very deep and the way they behaved was erratic and odd. I don’t recommend this book, and will not read any more of their novels.

37 books so far!! It is my hope to read 54 books this year and I think I will be able to make it. From now on, I hope to do book reviews on each of the books I read. Let me know what you think and tell me about some of the books you enjoy reading.

Blessings


The god of nostalgia

I finally caught up to my Bible reading plan. I started reading the five day reading plan with a group of friends back in January. I started off with lots of enthusiasm, but the past several weeks I have been playing catch up by reading massive chunks when I am “not busy”. That’s not how the plan is set up and I am not learning a new habit when I do that. But as I was pummeling through Ecclesiastes to catch up yet again on the reading plan, a certain verse stood out to me, and this is the verse:

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
    For it is not wise to ask such questions.

I live in the South. We say this all the time. My mom says this, heck even I remember the 90s as better than today. But Solomon in all his wisdom says we shouldn’t say this. But why? Why should we not focus on the “good ol days”? Let’s brake it down. What emotions does comparing the past with your present produce? What fruit of the spirit does it bring forth? A good way of feeling out a command in the Bible is to walk it through in your mind and see what some of the possible outcomes would be if you didn’t obey. In this case, if I live in the past complaining about the present. I get stuck there. I become less thankful. I become less grateful. I can easily conjure up a sense of hopelessness, and what is even more sad is that those around me will never measure up to my warped nostalgia of how things used to be.

As a wife, me remembering of how romantic my new groom was my first year of marriage compared to now, does me and my husband no good. None. It makes us bitter. Comparing him to how I THINK he was in the past, is not fair to him and will make me miserable. My attitude will not be sweet towards him when I think/say how “the good ol days of being a newly wed were so much better”. No, he doesn’t write me poetry anymore, but he sure as heck works his tail off so I never have to worry about paying the bills. And let’s be very honest, I’m no longer the blushing bride I was either. Thinking right now about how we were when we dated makes me giggle. I am so glad I no longer talk to him on the phone for 4 hours a day. Or pass on doing my homework so I can instant message him (yes, I am dating myself). Or not eat because the butterflies in my stomach are in a fluttering frenzy! Eeek! (I should eat less though!) He still surprises me and I surprise him, but he is not the Nathan I married and neither am I the Anna he married, and that’s a good thing. We are more sanctified. Wiser even. Closer to meeting our Maker and learning to die on bigger hills.

Paul encourages us when he writes: Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. (Phil. 3:13). The word “forgetting” here means “to no longer care for” or “to not focus on.” Sometimes focusing on those good ol days keeps us from focusing on the best day that is ahead. Instead of wishing for the return of our Lord, we are wishing for the return of a lost loved one, or a lost moment, or a lost emotion. We begin to play with the idea of what could have been or what should have been. We begin to complain about our current circumstance forgetting the cost of our salvation, forgetting our position before the Throne, forgetting how much closer we are to Heaven, forgetting how much God has done for us.

Nostalgia can be a good thing, but only in the light of our future hope as Believers.

If you struggle with not letting go of the past you will struggle with sadness and even depression. You will unknowingly nurture an ungrateful spirit. My dear brother or sister, God encourages us when he says: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19) The good thing is springing forth, but sometimes we are blinded by the lingering thoughts of nostalgia or of our past life. See how God says, “do you not perceive it”. There is a blindness to good things that happens when we stay stuck remembering the good old days. God then calls our past a wilderness and a wilderness can be admired and breathtaking, but staying there too long can lead to death. God also calls our past a wasteland, and sometimes that is what it is. It does us no good to live there. God has new things for us, even a new you! He is constantly renewing our mind and our thoughts. Focus on Him.

God sent His only begotten Son to die for you not so you would live in the past, but for you to live life now according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28) remembering what He has in store for those who love Him. (I Cor. 2:9) Let your thoughts (Phil. 4:) float towards the realization that you, my fellow Believer, have been selected to be His co-heirs with Jesus (Romans 8:16-17). And what you do for His Kingdom matters tremendously (Matt. 6:33)because He uses us to call and disciple His elect. (Romans 10:14, Acts 8:31).

What should we not forget:
*God – Remember Him, focus on Him, learn about Him, think about Him, thank Him, love Him (Jer. 29:13)
* The Gospel – Remember what Christ has done for you. (Eph. 2:11-12)
* The Saints – Remember what others do or have done for Christ to help you cultivate a spirit of boldness (Heb. 12:1, Romans 16)
* The Church – Remember the Christians God has placed around you. Love them radically. (I John 2:10)
* The Word – Remember Scripture all the time and let it nourish your soul. (Psalm 119)
* The World – Remember those around you. Show them the love of Christ. (Heb. 13:2, Matt. 25:40)

Isaiah 26:3 says: You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You. Trust Him, even with your past.

Blessings

God thwarted my plans, and that’s okay.

As Christians, we often wonder if we are doing God’s will.

Before my husband and I began our journey of fostering children, we thought for almost a year if it was God’s will to foster children. I am going to say something very bold: If both you and your spouse have thought about fostering children, it is God’s will, because if it is not, I promise, He will close that door. Most couples never consider fostering and those that do consider it, it’s usually one (usually the wife) who is more open to it. So if both of you are up to it, please take the next step in getting certified.

In life, we are sometimes so fearful to take any step in any direction because we are afraid of making a mistake and somehow and in some way thwart the will of God (Job 42:2). Let me take a whole load off your shoulders: God loves you, and “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Rest in this knowledge, my sister or brother take the next step.

I say all this because I want to tell you about the time in my life God didn’t give me foster children. My husband and I had completed our classes. We had gotten our fingerprints – TWICE (that’s another story). We did the home test, the body test, the psycho test. We got our CPR certifications. We turned in all our paperwork, watched all the videos and drew out our fire escape plan. All we were waiting on was our background checks to come back. I had only been living in Kentucky 4 years, so being an import from Texas, I needed a background check from there also. So I submitted my background check application and sent it off to Austin, Texas. My Kentucky background check came in 6 weeks and I got nothing from Texas. Nada. All the people in my church who took the foster classes with me, they all began getting their placements, and I was left waiting for this background check. I. was. devastated.! You just don’t understand, I have the organization skills of a squirrel on crack and the attention span of a puppy when it comes to paperwork. I loathe paperwork, and I had done it! Every single piece of stinking paper. And I wanted my foster kid! I had finally stepped out in obedience. I was finally unafraid of getting a little monster kid! I had tried so hard to get my home up to par. I was ready to be the hands and feet of Jesus to all the orphans of Western Kentucky! But flipping Texas was taking its flipping time! Months went by and nothing came.

Then came a call that changed my life forever . . . . .

A friend of mine asked if I wanted to translate for a young man that had just arrived from Guatemala. I would sit with him in all of his high school classes and translate for him what the teacher said from English to Spanish. The answer was an easy “yes” because my life was on hold, not being busy with foster children. That’s when I met Kendell. And as I sat with Kendell day in and day out, I found out that he was orphaned at 6. That he had no support here in the states and slowly, God revealed to me that this was why the Texas background check never came. The child God had for me, at this time, would not come from foster care, but would come through Crittenden County High School. The child God had for me was not Kentuckian, but Guatemalan. The child God had for me was not a youngster, but a teenager. The child God had for me would not be speak with a lisp or a stutter or have delayed speech, but would speak Spanish.

God uniquely brings about our passions. Not all of us have the interest in loving a child who doesn’t share our DNA. Frankly, it’s so rare that even radical Christians struggle with the idea of loving children who are not their own blood. This is why I want you to see how special you are if there are tugs at your heart to foster children or adopt them. Not everyone feels those nudges.

Six years ago, tomorrow, Kendell moved into our home. He has my heart and loves me fervently. He takes care of me when I am sick, lavishes me with hugs and kisses and makes me laugh every day. He is sweet and caring to all of his brothers and sisters, and there is nothing he wont do for any of us. About a year after he moved in, he became my brother in Christ! Seeing him grow in his faith has been inspiring and I can’t wait to see how God will use him to further His Kingdom. Almost 2 years ago, we officially adopted him and gave him the middle name Josiah. Josiah in Hebrew means “God supports”. And He does.

Two years later I did get my 3 little monsters from foster care, and that’s another story!! (There are so many awesome stories when you say “yes” to God!) But by then I didn’t need a background check from Texas. They have also been a blessing to me and I love them to pieces! And in them, I see the healing power of Jesus Christ and the magnificent sovereignty of our Lord. Just wow! (more of this later)

My friend, trust our Father! Do not lean on your own understanding (Prov.3:5). If you are not in His will, he promises to work it out. Ephesians 1:11 says: In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. God’s purpose will stand with or without you (Isaiah 46:10). You know the way, the way that was given specifically to you, now walk in it, boldly, knowing full well that He will support you or even thwart you. (Isaiah 30:21)

By the way, I never got my background check from Texas,

I picked up a homeless person

It was the first day of school, finally! I had had the kids since March and they were finally going to school in mid August. I had plans to eat Doritos and binge watch some nature or crime show all day. I dropped them off at school and as they got their temperature checked, I willed the thermometer not to read high. Then I went to McDonald’s, parked for a moment to eat my breakfast and listened to the news! (Yes, this is my idea of fun) After eating, I took the longer way home just to enjoy the ride ALL ALONE! Then, I saw her, she was walking barefoot near the dam in Grand Rivers. She was frail, thin and looked disheveled and lost. I didn’t want to stop, I wish I had taken the freeway, but there was no way now that I was going to ignore a woman that most likely was homeless at best, or abused and exploited at worst. I sighed a big sigh of frustration and knew I had to obey the tug at my soul to aid this image bearer. I made the U-Turn and then another, and pulled up close to her, only to realize that she was really a he! He was very thin and looked Southeast Asian. He had already seen me and I didn’t have the heart to just drive away and leave him there. I then called my husband and just said “I’m pulling next to a homeless man, I’m putting you on speaker phone just in case he’s drugged up and tries to kill me.” This isn’t the first time I do things like this, so Nathan just sighed and stoically said “okay” and stayed on the line. (I love him so much!) I wasn’t too scared of him, since I probably had about 100 pounds on him, but people on drugs can get pretty strong, even skinny ones.

I briefly talked with the man to find out if there was any way I could help him, but he didn’t speak much English and I don’t speak anything else but Spanish. So I got no where with him. I didn’t have any money and I had just gobbled up my McDonald’s breakfast, so I gave him what I had, my leather moccasins. My favorite, Minnetonka, comfy, tan moccasins. “He has no shoes, he has no shoes.” I kept telling myself. He is walking through the streets and has no shoes. All the homeless people I had ever seen before have had shoes, even their dogs have those little scarfs. This man, has no shoes, and I have a closet full of them. So I gave him my shoes, and he took them gladly and to my surprise they fit him a little big! But he was still grateful. I then tried to ask him where he was staying and he pointed at the woods and that he had been living there for 4 or 5 weeks. So I gave him the other thing I had. My Thirty-One monogramed bleacher blanket that cost me more than I’d like to admit! But here was a man who was living in the freaking woods. He was covered in bites, he had no shoes, and looked starved. So I gave him my blanket! I had 20 blankets at home! I even crochet blankets all the time. For fun! Blankets. Throws. Fluffly towels. Not leaves, or grass, or branches. Blankets, that’s what I have. He has leaves. I have blankets. Blankets!

I then asked him if he wanted something to eat – as I shamefully wiped the biscuit crumbs off my chest. He mentioned he hadn’t eaten in two days. So that’s when I decided I would take him to Wendy’s. I was also able to figure out that he had 3 children, and that he would like coffee since he hadn’t had any in a very long time. He was also a butcher and worked mostly with pork. His country of his birth is Thailand and he speaks Karen.

I eventually took him to my home (yes I know, I did tell my husband what I was doing and he was okay with it) and had my oldest help me get him some clothes. My oldest also wasn’t too surprised when I bolted into his room crying that I had a poor, half-starved man waiting in my minivan. He was a little upset that I picked up a man, but once he looked at the half dead man just waiting for us, he didn’t say much but helped me pack a duffle bag for him full of clothes, towels, an extra blanket and socks. My oldest accompanied me to drop him where he wanted to go and when we said goodbye, ThaiThai (which is the name my oldest and I affectionately call him, not his real name). Well, ThaiThai cried. He then put his hands together, bowed his head and said what I think was thank you. My oldest squeezed my arm and whispered to me in Spanish — “Not right now. Hold it together. Be strong. Cry later.” I didn’t hold it together and cried. We drove off and I sobbed.

I am so blessed beyond measure and I am ashamed at how self-centered I can be, so I want to give out a warning to all of us, my dear Christian brethren. Do not let this “pandemic” make us self-centered. I wanted to do what I wanted to do with HIS time. I wanted to not share the material things that HE has given me so much of. I felt inconvenienced when He wanted my simple obedience. Covid has done this to us. The kingdom of God does not cease to expand because of a virus. The threat of death has never in over 2000 years thwarted the mission of the Church – on the contrary it usually thrives within it. Fear of the unknown has never been an excuse to disobey our God who calls us trust in Him and not lean on our often flighty understanding.

Don’t grow lazy my brothers and sisters. Righteousness is not something we can drift towards. We must strive for it. Obedience is often hard (giving away your stuff, sanctification, mortification, giving away your blanket) and sometimes scary (helping out a man you thought was a woman). It is a constant struggle and now with the excuse of a “pandemic”, very easily we can lose the will to struggle for righteousness. But, take heart, we trust in the One who has overcome death. He loved us so much, He didn’t fear the ultimate virus which has an 100% mortality rate, but bravely bore it and we are now immune. Forever. And not only are we immune, but we have been given the call to tell others of this great news! That they too may live forever with Him!

So love on the ThaiThai’s around you. Don’t neglect the assembly of the saints. Tell God “Yes I Will”. Live fearlessly – wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Remember, what’s the worse that can happen when you obey God? Death? But your immune!

God bless my friends!

Doll Bones

I read this book out loud to my children and they loved it! This book is about 3 coming-of-age children – Alice, Zach and Poppy. They are in that awkward stage in their lives when they want to play children games, but feel pressure to stop acting that way. Most of the pressure is place on their own selves and a lack of communication among this trio places them at risk of ending their friendship.

With the encouragement of Poppy they set out on one last adventure to find the gravesite of an old ceramic china bone doll. The thing is super creepy and is said to contain the ashes of a murdered girl with the hollow of her body. The adventure is super fun and exciting and a bit scary. There was never a dull moment.

I truly enjoy reading these kinds of books to my kids. The book has real characters with real problems. They hurt each other feelings, they misunderstand their parents, they feel overwhelmed by the pressures of life. They cry, the yell, they hope and they lose hope. Talking about all these moments is why I love fiction. My kids and I had great talks about so many different things and it was great to hear their perspectives and walk them through better understandings of things.

This book would be perfect for a middle-schooler.

I gave this book 4 stars out of 5 on Goodreads

You can buy the book here.

A Place of Execution

I listened to this book on audio and it was intense!

The book is divided into two parts. One part is set in the 1960’s and the second part is set in the late 1990’s. The book is about a young girl who goes missing in the cold countryside of Scardale in England and the investigation afterwards. The second part of the book is set 30 years later and is about a journalist trying to write a book of what all transpired there. I had no idea what was going on until the very end and I loved every minute of it!

The book is a crime novel and does explain several heinous crimes that exposes the darkness and how evil man can be, but thankfully where it could have been more explicit, it left to the imagination. It still got a bit uncomfortable to read at times. My mind aches to know that these kinds of crimes happen all the time, and now even more with the internet.

As a Christian, I understand that these kinds of books are not for all of us, but this is our world and it is broken. People are depraved and need the saving grace of God. When we opened our home to foster care and then later adoption, my biological children were exposed to this darkness. They now knew things that they would not have known had we not fostered. “Where is their mom and dad?” my 8 year old asked, and the truth shocked her. Never could she have imagined a mom neglecting her children, or a dad in prison because of drugs. Not all parents are nurturing, not all sex is good, not all people are nice. It is not right and we know that, and we will do all we can and fight to be the light in the world until He comes, or we go home. These kinds of books unfold the dark world we live in and helps us safely see the consequences of sin. They bring me to pray, to be observant, to be aware and to be thankful.

I would only allow my adult children to read this book due to the sexual crimes explained in the book and some language.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes dark crime novels and mysteries. You can buy the book here.

I recently found out that there is a TV series based on the book, and I think I may watch it soon. You can watch it with an ACORN TV subscription here.

I gave this book 5 stars out of 5 on my Goodreads.

Born Again This Way

Sometimes it is scary to pick up authors that are unknown, especially when it comes to theology and heated issues like same sex attraction, homosexual identity, and gender roles. Then add upon that the complications of church culture and traditions and you have lots of room for cringy moments. Thankfully, this book had none!

Rachel Gilson was frank and didn’t dilute the Gospel. Her struggle to obey God, her conversion and her testimony are both beautiful and triumphant. Her explanations on the importance of inter-generational friendships was so moving that it has changed my life! I now am looking for ladies much younger and older for me to befriend. I loved this book and how she allowed us to peer into her old life and gloriously bask with her in her saved life.

She also had a lot to say on the idol of romance and love that our generation has fallen into. What a clear call to revisit our faulty thinking of what love is and what marriage should look like! Her voice on the unique importance of singleness was also just as powerful. Using the Bible, she backs up her stance on these subjects and she rightfully dictates the holiness and usefulness of both.

I recommend this book to any Christian wanting to read more about same sex attraction, marriage, and singleness. If you enjoyed Rosaria Butterfield’s books, you will enjoy this one. If you struggle with same sex attraction or someone you love does or just want to understand more, this book is full of hope for all because it is full of the Gospel.

I 5-starred this book on my Goodreads.

You can buy this book here.

Mulan

I was so excited when I saw that Disney would be creating a live action movie on the story of Mulan. And when I saw the previews, the movie looked colorful and epic! There is just so much that could be done with the beauty of Chinese culture.

Mulan is the story of a Chinese girl trying to figure out where she fits in a society where girls bring honor through a good marriage match and being good wives. There is trouble in the land though, and men from all the families in China have been called to join the army and fight against an invading force. The problem is that Mulan has no brothers, and the only man left to fight in her family is her old, injured father. Mulan takes matters into her own hands, steals her father’s armor and impersonates a male soldier. She does well as a soldier, overcomes lots of obstacles and saves the day more than once.

I didn’t like the movie and was a let down, and this is why . . . .

SPOILER AHEAD . . . .

I remember the original Mulan, and I loved it! This Mulan, unfortunately didn’t cut it for me. I was so let down. There is no dragon ancestor, but a phoenix. There is no will power, but the power of Chi. Mulan isn’t discovered, but admits her gender. And what was worse, Mulan doesn’t overcome the enemy through the help of her comrades, but is helped by the enemy witch woman that wasn’t in the original at all.

The movie does have some great scenes, but they are momentary. The rest of the movie looks like a colorful but cheap drama set. The poor acting also doesn’t draw the spectator into their emotions. The war scene in the original cartoon was something that made me gasp at just how spectacular it looked. The war scene in this one was left wanting.

Maybe I am just a purist. My children didn’t like that there was no Mushu and the extra story line with the witch was confusing to them. Why is she even there?

Overall, the movie ran flat for us. It was $39.99 that we will never get back, but it still works out since we are a family of 8 and going to the movies for us costs us more than that. If I knew how bland the movie was going to be, I definitely would have waited for it to be free on the Disney+ app.

The movie is rated PG-13 for sequence of violence.

American Gospel

American Gospel – Christ Alone is a documentary almost 3 hours long. It is free on Netflix. It is mainly an explanation what of what the true Gospel is, what it isn’t and a warning against the prosperity gospel. The movie calls out several popular pastors and explains what it truly means to take up our cross and follow Jesus.

I loved this documentary and it was a breath of fresh air to hear the Gospel just spoken over and over again. It reminded me of the freedom in God that I have and the grace that I couldn’t earn. It brought back the memories of the first times I started to understand just how special I was to have my eyes opened to the Truth of His Word. My heart leaped hearing the Gospel preached by so many and hearing their testimonies on how they came to salvation.

The movie does call out many beloved preachers and pastors, but I believe they (the producers of the documentary) are being obedient in calling out false teachers. John Piper has an excellent response to this very thing and you can read or listen to it by clicking on this link.

This movie was needed. I needed it because lately I have been complacent in my faith. I have become stagnant and mediocre and I can’t stand myself sometimes. My prayer life stinks, my Bible reading has just picked up and listening to person after person explaining their testimony and proclaiming the Good News, livened my slumbering soul. Praise the Lord, for His salvation. Praise the Lord for His Sovereignty! I am saved not because of my works, because of the work of another!

I highly recommend this documentary.

There is a second documentary by the same director called American Gospel – Christ Crucified that I started watching today and so far, it has been a blessing.

Prayer

Prayer is usually one of those practices that most Christians need to do more often. I know I do! It’s like trying a new diet, you get excited, you’re motivated, you write out little post it notes with words of encouragement, and three weeks later you’re binge watching Netflix while eating a bag of Doritos! Fortunately, there were some pragmatic points I think will stick with me. Here is what I underlined in the book and I hope it blesses you:

“King David learns that prayer is more about “will you? Won’t you?” than “when will you?” pg. 36

“Prayers are measured by their strength and not their length.”pg. 37

“Prayer begins with longing for God’s presence before his provision.” pg. 55

“Peace with God always comes through pardon and forgiveness, never performance.” pg. 58

In the Garden of Gethsemane while Jesus is praying and Peter, James and John are with him – “As Jesus brought the so-called strongest with Him, he didn’t share profound words of wisdom. He shared His weakness.” pg 68

“There is no smaller package than a man wrapped up in himself.” pg. 111

This is a short, small and on-point book. I did feel there was a small jab at the founding fathers, but nothing that I couldn’t read over. It was condescending and in bad taste and full of presupposition. Overall, the book was informative and good.

I struggle with prayer. It is my heart’s desire to cultivate prayer in my life. In a way the quote “Prayers are measured by their strength and not their length” freed me of this expectation that the longer the prayer, the holier it is. I am grateful for that quote and I will treasure it. I want to experience God in prayer and rely on Scripture to guide me to know Him more. Mr. Onwuchekwa does well in removing my legalistic approach to prayer. He also emphasizes the importance of communal prayer.

The book served its purpose and I recommend it to all Believers who want to sharpen their prayer life, especially prayer with other Believers.

You can buy the book here.