The Butcher and the Wren – Book Review

If you are into true crime, you may have heard of Morbid. It is a podcast on true crime, creepy history and all things spooky. It is co-hosted by Alaina Urquhart who is the author of The Butcher and the Wren. Ms. Urquhart is not just a co-host of the podcast, but she is also an autopsy technician, which to me brought a whole new element into reading her book!

With such a huge following of the Morbid podcast, the moment this book was released, it easily became a bestseller! This book is set in the Louisiana bayou and introduces us to forensic pathologist Wren Muller who works for the medical examiner’s office. There is a brutal killer on the lose who is leaving a string of victims. Can the dead reveal who this monster is? Can Wren give the detectives evidence to help them track down who the serial killer is? With several twists and turns, the book is a fast paced, cat and mouse thriller.

I think the fact that the author has the experience of being an autopsy technician added validity to the scenes in the book where Wren is in the autopsy room. The author was very knowledgeable in this area, but then, the book fell short. Ms. Urquhart didn’t really develop her characters very well. I really didn’t get a good sense of who Wren was in the book. She lacked depth and personality. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her – I don’t mind hating a character in a book – it was that I didn’t know her well enough to form any opinion of her. The same thing went for the serial killer. He was brutal, but that was all. What made him the monster he was? Tell me the history of his home, tell me of his depraved thoughts and mind, or of his past. Tell me more so I can get this creep into my mind and then into my nightmares! There were gory parts, but that seemed all it was. The book felt bland where we are just given some substance, but not context. There was great potential for the book, but in the end, it fell flat for me. The constant use of short sentences with minimal adjectives, didn’t allow the reader to fall into the book or get lost in it. Even as I write, I struggle to remember the main characters in the book. The twist towards the end did redeem it slightly for me, but then the end left me a bit confused and then disappointed. It really didn’t make any sense.

I really wanted to like this book. The cover is amazing, and I liked the word play of the title, but in the end, it gets a 2.5 out of 5 star rating for me. I didn’t completely hate it, but I didn’t like it either. It will not go on my permanent bookshelf. Although, I do believe this book would be a good book for someone who is maybe just getting into reading. I would also recommend it to younger adults who are into slashers or thrillers and doesn’t care too much about character building or context.

You can buy this book at The Shire Bookstore or click here.

Genre: Thriller/ Suspense/ Mystery/ Horror
Pages: 242
Published: September 13, 2022
Goodreads Rating: 3.75

Tales of a Bookstore Owner

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
We have all heard the saying.
The same could be said of a book lover,
I’m not even playing.
For into The Shire a rough neck hunter can walk in to see
If I have any romantic fairy warrior high fantasy.
Seriously?
Then comes in a grey-haired older church lady, so wise
Head for the spicy section with sunglasses as her disguise.
The young man or woman with blue hair and a celtic locket
They’re looking for a Bible that can fit into their back pocket.
Then a young boy about ten or eleven
Talks to me about Homer’s Odysee, oh I’m in heaven!
By the way – He read it when he was 8 or maybe it was seven.
The short man with the most beautiful blue eyes, comes in with his 3 sisters looking tribal
He asks if I can place an order for him. He wants the Satanist’s Bible.
Girls wanting books on construction, and plumbers wanting info on alien abductions
They all have been in here.
I have had so many conversations, and have even shed an occasional tear.
Many have come and made me laugh out loud
And hearing “you’ve turned me into a reader.” Man, I feel so proud!
You have given me a treasure, and enchanting precious pearl.
For you have let me into your life. You’ve let me into your world.
So many adventures have entered through these doors.
All so unique, telling me about the books they adore.
It is my hope and prayer to continue to share life with you.
There’s nothing more in the whole world I would rather do.

A Man Called Ove – Book Review

Book #4 of the year!

A Man Called Ove (pronounced OOvah) is a book about a curdmugeon who has just lost his wife. He battles with suicidal thoughts. He also is perpetually annoyed by his neighbors and all those around him. He is cranky and mean, but slowly he is awakened to a new version of himself and slowly begins to enjoy his life, sort of. The same people who annoy him, end up being the same people who smooth out his rough edges. Also, the cat who is just as cranky as him, is super hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud several times throughout this book and most of the time, the cat was in the scene.

COVERT SPOILERS AHEAD!

I am the opposite of Mr. Ove. I see rules more like guidelines, and for Ove rules were obeyed always. I try different things all the time where Ove hated change. I struggle with routines, Ove thrived in them. I am fluid with what I wear or eat, Ove didn’t have much of a wardrobe. Silence with others is a treasured thing for me, but with strangers, the hardest thing for me to do is be quiet – you get the picture. I usually am not cranky and I definitely never send back my food at a restaurant, return items to a retail store or write emails or letters regarding my warranty. But as life would have it, I am drawn to people who are hyper routine oriented. People who see black and white, right and wrong, and who lean more towards stoicism. I can see the necessity for people who see the world like Ove – granted, I do believe Ove needed someone to slap him once in a while to snap out of it. There is a point where you are taking yourself or life a bit too seriously. Ove did have someone like that in his wife. She saw potential in his seriousness, but as luck would have it for Ove, she passed away. His wife, Sonja, died and Ove didn’t know what to do with himself. Us extroverts need the introverts to draw us into ourselves and contemplate about things. To not speak and listen. To see that this way is right or this way is wrong. The same goes with introverts, we draw them out into sponteneity, a little bit of chaos, and once in a while, side-splitting laughter!

This and more is what A Man Called Ove is about – our differences. How in the mundane and in the monotony is where deep relationships can flourish. Our lives intersect and touch each other unceasingly, and what we do in those moments either chips away at our humanity, or interlinks it. I loved A Man Called Ove because I have a lot of cranky people in my life that just need a hug, and even though I may run the risk of being rejected, I am confident in myself enough to keep loving them.

Something else I really didn’t expect from this book was the insight I would receive about people who are suicidal. I am continuously grateful that I have never struggled with suicidal thoughts. I know that there are many out there who suffer from these kinds of thoughts. I know many who have to fight depression and sadness every day. I am thankful that this is not my lot in life. Reading Ove’s thoughts really surprised me. In my mind, I thought that he would quit after his first failed attempt at hanging himself. What a shock I received when Ove attempted yet again to kill himself. He failed to kill himself several times, and still tried to do it. In my sunshine-rainbows-and-kittens-type-of-mind, he should be grateful he didn’t die, see the light, realize he has so much to live for and move on from his loneliness. I am so dense! All who I have spoken with who struggle with melancholia and depression, these thoughts seem to never leave. Yes, they have happy moments. Yes, they see that they are needed. Yes, life does go on, but in the background hangs this low dark cloud of sadness, loneliness or even suicide.

Learning things like this is why all of us should read fiction. C.S. Lewis writes that fiction “enlarges our perspective”. It allows us “to escape from ourselves into one another”. What a better way to get to know those around us who are not like us. Yes, could I read statistics on suicide among teens? Could I read about chemical imbalances or hormonal fluctuations in the brain? Of course. But something else happens to my soul when I read about a man’s bellowed sob that springs from his soul at the loss of his wife. At the frustrated wail of a mother when the doctor can do nothing more for her child. Of the silent cry of a woman holding the lifeless body of sister, who survived a Nazi camp only to die later of pneumonia. Fiction reaches us where statistics can’t.

I will eventually forget the stats I read, but I probably will never forget Ove.

This is officially my first 5 star rating of the year!! I recommend this book to anyone who likes heartwarming books! You can buy this book and other books by Mr. Fredrik Backman at the Shire Bookstore. If you liked As Good As It Gets the movie, you’ll definitely like this book. Obviously there are several attempts at suicide throughout the book, so if you struggle with those thoughts, please be careful as you read. Also, there is a movie based on this book starring Tom Hanks called “A Man Called Otto”. I recently read that it will eventually stream on Netflix.

Last Kingdom – Book Review

Book #3 of the year.

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read, and lately I have been digging Vikings! It is a goal of mine to read a completed series this year, and I have decided to read the Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell. I really enjoyed the series on Netflix and Bernard Cornwell is an excellent author. He does a tremendous amount of research, and I love learning as I am entertained.

The Last Kingdom is the story of Uhtred son of Uhtred – a Saxon – and his battle to regain his homeland of Bebbanburg. Uhtred is taken by the Danes, but is treated well by them. He then loses his Danish family and begins fighting for the Saxons. Back and forth, Christian against Pagan, Saxon against Dane the story goes, and I love it! The book is written in first person, from Uhtred’s point of view.

This book was very rich in English history. In it I learned about Alfred the Great and how he handled the occupation of the Danes, and in it I am also learning some history of my Christian faith. This time in history is known as the Dark Ages and admittedly, I do not know much on it. Reading about the struggles of the faith at this time, and what so many endured at the hands of each other, I feel grateful to be living in an age of so many comforts and so much knowledge.

I am giving the Last Kingdom a 4.5 rating out of 5 stars. I love how Mr. Cornwell writes and how I am carried off to the land of the Saxons so easily. I cannot wait to see how Uhtred handles what destiny has for him in the next book! The series is composed of 13 books in all.

If you love Vikings, the Dark Ages, Saxon wars, or historical fiction, I definitely recommend this series! If you like the Netflix series and like to read, this will also be a fun read.

You can buy this book at The Shire or here.

Grow Your Roots

Second book for the year is read!

At The Shire Bookstore, all kinds of books come in as donations and I am always so grateful for them! I saw this book and thought it would be a fun read, and it was! The book is titled “Kentucky Ghosts” and is written by William Lynwood Montell. It is composed of 6 short stories and each one mentions the county of where the ghost story originated.

I am not a Kentucky native, but I have grown to love this beautiful state. In my home state of Texas, there is hot and hotter when it comes to weather, but here in Western Kentucky I get to enjoy the four seasons. I love the massive trees, the array of birds, the wildlife, and just how close to nature I can get to. The temperatures are not extreme and the people are friendly. It is my prayer that God will keep us here until I draw my last breath. My family has cultivated and grown roots here, and that is what I want to briefly talk about in this blog.

One way that we can grow roots and love for an area is to read about its local history. I know that after I read “Drowned Town” by Jayne Moore Waldrop, I did grow a reverence for the lakes that are minutes from my house. I met the people affected by the flooding of the rivers. I visited sites with my children and walked along the shores of the lakes looking into their vastness trying to imagine a town under there. Reading Kentucky Ghosts helped my roots here get just a little stronger. Two of the six stories spoke of counties I recognized (Trigg and Muhlenberg). The stories in the book weren’t scary per se and they spoke of haints and ghosts in a positive light. I may not believe in ghosts, but the stories told me more about the living than about the dead. It spoke of the connection to family and how love surpases all. One of the stories was a bit silly as it was meant to be. I believe the author of the book wanted this book to feel as if grandma or grandpa was telling you their story around a campfire or the house hearth. That is what the book felt like.

If you like local folk tales or history written in a very simple form, then I believe you would like this book. This book can be read in one sitting. It is only 64 pages long. I only have one copy of this book at The Shire and it is $5. You can also buy this book if you click here.

Live Your Truth and Other Lies

Book Review

I first heard of Alisa Childers when she spoke as part of the documentary American Gospel. I loved her eloquence and the story she gave about her faith, so I wrote her name down on my notes. When I looked her up, I was elated to find out that she has a podcast and a YouTube channel. Her book then was “Another Gospel” and spoke on progressive Christianity. In that book, she speaks about how she struggled in her faith, and how doubt reigned most days. She also spoke on the dangers of what has now been coined as “deconstruction”. Deconstruction is when church leaders and other outside sources deconstruct a person’s faith, to then build up a more progressive Christianity/idealogy. Desiring God puts it as ” Deconstruction is a critical dismantling of a person’s understanding of what it means to be an evangelical Christian. To read more about this, you can visit this link.

Now onto Alisa’s second book – Live Your Truth and Other Lies. Alisa does great in explaining how a lot of humanistic cultural concepts have crept into the church. She affirms that truth is not subjective (my truth, your truth), but objective (the truth). She does so well in telling us the disservice we do to society and to other Christians when we let them “follow their heart” or go with “what feels right”. So many times, I “amened” what she had to say. She put to words so many things I have thought and worried about when it comes to nominal American Christianity. Sometimes the truth hurts, and the only way to make it not hurt is to lie, and that benefits no one.

Here are some quotes from the book:

There’s a big difference between live your truth, and live the truth.

So many of the lies we cover in this book begin with the foundation of self. To be authentic, I must belong to myself. To be happy, I must put myself first. To be fulfilled I must be enough for myself. To be successful, I must control my own destiny. All these ideas build upon the starting point of “self”. But as we look at each lie, we’ll see the self is a faulty foundation. It’s a structure with cracks in it; it’s broken.

Our culture is brimming with slogans that promise peace, fulfillment, freedom, empowerment, and hope. The problem? They are lies.

I do recommend this book to all Christians! I really enjoyed it and learned so much from it. I will forever be a fan of Mrs. Childers.

I gave this book 4.5 stars out of 5. The only reason I did not 5 star this book was because Alisa likes to give examples to help explain her position, and sometimes those examples were unrelatable to me and maybe a bit juvenile. Thankfully, this may have happened only twice, but enough for me not to 5-star it.

You can buy this book at my bookstore The Shire or order it on Amazon.

60 Books This Year!

This year I was able to read 60 books. Here is my list with short comments on some of them!

The rating is to the right of the book title and author.

* = did not like. Had trouble finishing.
** = it was okay. Sometimes felt like a waste of time.
*** = not bad. Some parts were annoying.
**** = good book, recommend if you like that genre
***** = excellent book. totally recommend for all. May have changed my life!

  1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak *****
    This book brought back a lot of memories. The illustrations are still impacting, and I so enjoyed reading it again!
  2. John Wycliffe: A Life From Beginning to End by Hourly History ***
  3. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch ****
    This book was very interesting if you like books about parallel universes. It took a couple of chapters to figure out what is going on, but my oh my what a wild ride!
  4. Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier *****
    Book on the affects of transgender ideology on our young girls. This book is fair to both sides and raises excellent questions.
  5. Tilly by Frank Peretti ***
    A book about a woman dealing with an abortion.
  6. Post Mortem by Patricia Cornwell ****
  7. A Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent *****
  8. Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner *****
    Total fan-girl of Skippyjon Jones now!
  9. Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave by Edward T. Welch *****
    Great book if you are a Christian who struggles with any kind of addiction.
  10. Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston **
  11. The Maidens by Alex Michaelides **
    This was nothing like the Silent Patient. Ugh!
  12. Where the Crawdads Sing *****
  13. Eating Disorders by Edward Welch *****
  14. Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier **
    Too much teenage drama for me to care.
  15. Fractured by Karin Slaughter ****
  16. Help! I’m a Slave to Food by Shannon McCoy ****
  17. The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James ****
  18. The Premature Burial by Edgar A. Poe ****
    This one was actually good, and cracked me up. Who knew Poe could be funny!?
  19. The Long Walk by Stephen King ***
    Mr. King and his horrible endings! Great story though!
  20. Piercing Heaven by Robert Elmer *****
    Excellent book on prayer! WOW!!
  21. Oliver Twist: A Graphic Novel by Charles Dickens & Dan Johnson ****
  22. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins ***
    It was okay. Not as good as the Hunger Games. Knowing that Snow isn’t going to die, somewhat removes the suspense for me. Interesting history though.
  23. Endless Love by Scott Spencer **
  24. Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary ****
  25. Naughty Mabel by Nathan Lane ****
    Laughed. Cute book!
  26. Extraordinary Insects by Anne Sverdup-Thygeson ****
  27. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry ****
  28. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen ****
  29. The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman ****
  30. Verity by Colleen Hoover ***
    Not my type of book. Not into relationship drama!
  31. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein *****
    Very emotional book.
  32. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin **
  33. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee *****
    Excellent book! I couldn’t pick up another book for days because I was still processing this one!
  34. House of Shadows by Darcy Coates ****
    First time I have read this author. Very gothic. I will be reading her again.
  35. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R.R. Tolkien ***
    Mr. Frodo would agree, it is a long journey of a book.
  36. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson *****
    Suprised at how much I liked this book. Definitely recommend! There are some very uncomfortable scenes of pain and torture though.
  37. Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson ***
  38. The Crucible by Arthur Miller ***
  39. Drowned Town by Jayne Moore Waldrop ***
    Great resource if you want to know more about our local history of Western Kentucky. Historical Fiction though.
  40. Ruckkus on the Ranch bya Texas Tenors **
  41. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart *
    I can’t stand teenage drama! I wanted them all to die!
  42. Lord of the Flies by William Golding ****
  43. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ***
    She is a good writer, but lots of gay relationships, and frankly that just not my cup of tea.
  44. Gild by Raven Kennedy **
  45. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell *
    Too woke!
  46. The Bald Bandit by Ron Roy ***
  47. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah Maas ****
    Ms. Maas is an excellent writer, but just not a fantasy fan.
  48. Hearth-Shaped Box by Joe Hill **
    Not into old man, young woman relationships!
  49. Exalting Jesus in Ecclesiastes by Daniel Akin *****
    Excellent Bible study!
  50. Queens Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle **
    Queen Kathering Parr was not woke!
  51. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Stevenson ****
    Wonderful classic!
  52. Knowing Sin by Mark Jones ****
  53. Thinner Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews ***
  54. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom *****
    Everyone needs to read this book! WWII non fiction.
  55. A Cat’s Life by Gemma Correl ***
  56. Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica ***
    Great book until the ending! Hated the ending!!
  57. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey ****
  58. Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Durham ***
    Great characters except the main characters.
  59. Zoo by James Patterson **
    Sorry, I’m not a James Patterson fan. I don’t like his writing style. Its too typical!
  60. The Unsaved Christian by Dean Inserra ****
    I just finished this book today. Great read! Recommend to all who live in the USA. There are a lot of unsaved Christians.

Mr. Dahmer and I

In the month of September of 2022, the Netflix series Dahmer came out. According to many critics, this series was the closest production of the actual story that had ever been created. Many people talked about how uncomfortable the series made them feel and that it was very dark and frankly just plain gross. I really battled with watching it because as a child of the 90’s, I had an inkling of an idea of what the series was going to portray. I wasn’t sure how graphic the necrophilia, cannibalism and sex would be.

This next part contains spoilers.

After much thought, I went ahead and watched the series. I really don’t have that much time to binge, but I was able to finish it probably in a week. The series starts off slow and intense. There is a lot of awkward silences and scenes, and the lighting feels dirty and grimy. The movie did live up to what people had said. It was vile. It was depraved and there were plenty of scenes that I did skip or close my eyes to. I don’t remember there actually being gay or corpse sex or much nudity, but there was a lot of male/male dancing and kissing. The series also does show Dahmer eating human flesh and there are gory scenes.

I write all this just to point out that Dahmer was an immoral man. He was totally depraved and acted out things that many of us have probably never even though of. He was a predator, a murderer and an awful human being. But in prison, Dahmer sought out Jesus, repented and was saved. He was also baptized and according to his pastor, spent his last days reading and learning about his Bible. The last episode of the series, to me, almost brought tears to my eyes.

I wasn’t going to write anything about this series until I saw several Facebook posts warning Christians not to watch the series, not because of its vulgarity, but because it was demonic. According to the post, there was a demon entity in the movie that brought about fear. The woman said that she felt it’s evil presence and warned people not to watch it. But that was the opposite of what I felt at the end of the series.

The series left me uncomfortable because but for the grace of God, there go I. Dahmer’s utter and total depravity, was also my own. His past, was my past. I may have never eaten human flesh, but I have eviscerated the soul’s of image bearers with my judgmental words. I may have never had homosexual sex, but I have lusted and committed adultery in my heart. I may have never murdered, but oh boy is my anger murderous sometimes. Jesus raised the moral standard, and all have fallen short of it. Both Mr. Dahmer and I needed a Savior, and both Mr. Dahmer and I called out to Him for salvation. (Romans 10:13) But these truths left me uneasy, because comparatively speaking, he’s worse than me right? Maybe, but the Gospel is the great equalizer. Here is what Romans 3:10-18 says about all of us:

There is no one righteous, not even one;
 there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”

and it continues

Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

All of us are like Dahmer, and if you turn your nose up to that thought, you may not have a true grasp of just how awful your sin is. May I gently warn you not to be that Pharisee. (Luke 18:9-14)

The series is a harsh physical manifestation of what all of us were spiritually (1 Corinthians 6:11). I would argue with the Facebook lady that it’s not a demon in the movie, but us. The series holds a mirror showing our natural state – our default condition. And that in the end, the movie isn’t demonic, but redemptive.

I never felt fear watching the movie, but I did feel grossed out. Grossed out at Dahmer’s sins, then of my own sins, knowing full well that Jesus drank the wrath that was meant for us so we may now rest in our salvation – rest in the finished work of Jesus. Somehow it doesn’t seem fair, that maybe the men Dahmer killed are in hell, and that he is in Heaven. What a mind blowing thing grace is. (Matthew 20:1-16). It goes against our sense of justice. But then I am reminded that if justice had its way, I would be guilty too.

The series isn’t for all Christians. It is very violent and offensive, but demonic it isn’t. Sometimes we think it is the devil, when in reality it is just us.

I encourage you to watch this YouTube interview of Dahmer’s prison pastor. After listening to this, I do believe Dahmer was legitimately saved.

Blessings

Time is Running Out- A Poem

The earth, the planets, the waters and the expanse divided

The oceans, the land, the trees, and the animals, You provided

The galaxies turning, the stars burning, as creation is yearning for your returning.

God of Heaven and of Earth. God of death and God of birth

God of the ocean and of the sky. God when there is much and God when it is dry.

You are great. You are awesome.
You hold us in your hand and have lost none.

THEN

The word became flesh and bone. Then was crucified all alone, but on the third day He removed the stone and commissioned us to leave our comfort zone

Christian don’t just sit there and wait. Always criticizing how there’s so much hate, while petting your sin you yourself create. Am I loud enough? Does this resonate?

Nothing will happen if you just sit in your pew. Living in the past and all you’ve been through. Wondering who’s judging or looking at you. Have you forgotten that you have been made new?

Who cares what people think about you?

You are worse than they know

Kill that sin of yours and go, go, go. Don’t wait for anyone else, they’re too slow. God has breathed life in you and there should be some to show.

Just remember though. You can’t expect fruit, if there’s nothing to grow.

So.

Proclaim the Good news, there’s nothing to fear. All men can be saved if He is drawing them near. His Spirit is in us, He is right here. We cannot wait for someone else, we know that much is clear.

Don’t you see the urgency

That those who die without Christ are bound to Hell! To wake you up, how loud do I have to yell? Maybe I should stomp or ring a bell. There is so much more that I want to tell!

But I wont . . . Don’t worry . . . I’m almost done.

But

Time is running out. I wont scream any more nor am I going to shout. Don’t waste your salvation, Oh Christian.

 I’m out!

God’s fleas

Every Summer without fail, we get them. Evidence of the fall. Proof that life here on this earth is marred by the sin of Adam. When infested by them, we call out for the quick return of our Savior! Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, spiders, bed bugs, lice, horse flies, chiggers. These awful critters are more than eager to bite at our flesh and drink up our blood. The itching, the scratching, the bleeding is a menacing reminder of their violation upon our skin. Here is where my mind went as I was finishing up The Hiding Place written by Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch watchmaker who was arrested, along with her father and sister, for hiding Jews and conspiring against their Nazi occupiers.

In the book, Corrie and her family opened up their home to foster children, the mentality disabled, Jews and any who needed of any help. They shared their Christian lives to all, and when the Germans came to occupy their country, they continued to be a light in the darkness of WWII. They soon came in contact with a famous architect who designed a special hiding place in Corrie’s room where, when the time came, the Ten Boom’s could hide the Jews they were keeping in the their home. The hiding place was so well built that when the Germans did come to look for Jews, they did not find them. Corrie, along with her family were arrested, beat and mistreated by their German captors, but they never betrayed those they had hidden in their home.

In prison, the faith of Corrie and Betsie, was unbelievable. There were many moments throughout the book that were inspiring, but I will only write about two moments that I hope I will never forget. The first one is when Corrie and Betsie are transported from the prison, to the infamous all-women’s concentration camp called Ravensbruck. Upon arriving, they are sent to their barracks where Corrie and Betsie soon find out that it is infested with lice and fleas. There are so many fleas that they can see them writhing in the beds. Corrie is besides herself in horror – rightfully so. Here, is where Betsie pipes up and reminds Corrie that God says in His Word that in all things we should give thanks and that includes giving God thanks for the fleas. Corrie can’t believe what she is hearing. I can’t believe what I am reading. Give God thanks for those pesky critters that torment us? She must be joking. But Betsie was not, and then and there, both Corrie and Betsie give thanks to God for those fleas. I, am not that good of a Christian. Throughout the book, Corrie is able to keep with her a New Testament Bible, and every night, after 11 hour work days, she reads to all the women in the barracks. They pray, they tend to wounds, they rub cold feet and hands back to life, they pick out lice from their matted hair all without interruption. Later, we find out that other women in other barracks aren’t that lucky. Those women are bullied by the guards, called to do extra things, they are sicker because of their lack of rest, and do not hear the Word of God every night since Bibles are not allowed in concentration camps. Corrie finds out that she and her barrack mates are very privileged, and they are very privileged because not even the tough German guards want to get near Corrie’s barracks, for those barracks are known to be riddled with fleas! Corrie chuckles in the book, I put the book down and think.

When I read the section where Betsie encourages Corrie to give God thanks for the fleas, I thought Betsie was ridiculous, and frankly overdoing the whole Christian piety thing. Who does that?! I thank God for my delicious food, for a steady income, for my friends. I have never thanked Him for the annoying things in my life like my jittery van with the blinking check engine sign. Like the fruit flies all over the place. Like the allergies that come with fall. Here is the verse Betsie quotes:

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

“In everything” means “in every thing”. I was so humbled by that. God used those fleas to keep the German guards out, allowing Corrie to read aloud Scripture to women in horrendous living conditions. “Jesus, teach me to be thankful in every situation”.

The second scenario that I want to mention is at the end of the book, Corrie visits and speaks at a church in Germany after the war, and there meets the German soldier that got her and her family arrested. He is now a believer and asks for Corrie’s forgiveness, and Corrie cannot forgive him. She refuses to shake his hand and asks God to give her the strength to forgive this man who caused her so much pain and devastation. She lifts up her hand and as she touches his hand to shake, Corrie mentions that a jolt was felt from her hand, up her arm and into her heart. And there she felt a Christian love for this man. She mentions that God provides for us the forgiveness we cannot give. He gives us what we cannot give. He does what we cannot do. He provides what we cannot provide. He is faithful when we are not. What ever impossibility we are facing, we can trust that He provides to us what is required from us. Praise God!

In this season of Thanksgiving, this book was a pealing bell in calling me to a Christian life of humble service to all and thanksgiving. I have become too worldly, and this book has shined a blaring light on that. I am grateful for this book and encourage all Christians to read it. I plan to read it aloud to my children.

I have several copies of this book at The Shire, but you can also buy it here.