I am not your redeemer .. .

I was driving back home from Chicago – a 7 hour drive one way. I was deep in thought listening to my audio book when the sudden urge to pee came over me. I looked down to check to see how many miles I had until empty and to my utter horror it was a big fat zero! How long had I been driving like this? Where am I? I have to pee even more now. I had no idea humans could whimper until I heard one coming from my mouth and my nose. Tears welled up from the lack of bladder relief and I was in total despair. I quickly looked up the nearest gas station on Google maps and saw that the closest one was 8 MILES AWAY! I whimpered again. I saw a sign that said Pesotum and I figured it was a tiny town and surely they have a gas station that Google forgot to add. So I exited and hoped to find civilization. I didn’t see a gas station, but I did see a couple outside their home enjoying the soon approaching sunset – which was my doom if I had to walk in the dark to get gas in the cornfields of central Illinois. This is how all murder movies begin! Thankfully this sweet couple had a big dining table for sale in their front yard so I had a perfectly good excuse to peel into their driveway and frantically wave at them as I got out of my minivan. They approached me with reserve because I was a bit jittery due to a full bladder and the non-stop whimpering. With the biggest smile and quavering voice I told them I was on zero on gas and if there was a little gas station near by I could fill up at. She told me there was one about 5 miles from where we were. I told her thanks and I hoped I could make it. I tried to comfort myself saying, well I could use a walk, and cornfields at night aren’t that scary. Right? Oh yes they are!! Darn you, Children Of The Corn, Signs, Freddy vs Jason, A Quiet Place, Sinister, Jeepers Creepers and every other friggin horror movie with a friggin corn field!! And just to top off the scary corn field, Illinois has these massive windmill propellers swinging around. I know they draw attention to all kinds of aliens and monsters and white-haired children who kill for kicks! Thankfully, the man who had been silent this whole time said I was in luck and I need not drive away, run out of gas and pee myself as I was being strung up to be a live scarecrow. He had just filled up his little gas cans and he would put gas in my van. I almost peed for joy. He put gas in my van and then said something very interesting to me.

He apologized to me.

He told me he had not one racist bone in his body. And frankly I believed him, because most people don’t. We have biases, ignorance, stereotypes, but outright racism, no most people don’t. I quickly held up my hand and shook my head stopping him from further apologizing for something he never had done to me and I believe, to anyone else. I was not his Judge or his Redeemer.

As I drove away noticing that I now had 46 miles until empty thanks to my white new friends, I thought a lot, but not too much because I didn’t have the heart to ask them to use their toilet so I got to the nearest gas station and ran – yes ran my jiggly self – to the bathroom. There are few joys in life than peeing in a non-cornfield place, with lighting, and minimal gas station bathroom juice on the floor. After that AND filling up my minivan, I did think a lot about my new friends. We had chatted for about 10 minutes and even took a selfie. I thought about all my closest friends where I live (who just happen to be white). I thought about how they make me laugh. I thought about how we have shared tears, and joys, and even fights. I remembered the strong opinions we have, the hobbies we enjoy, the theological debates we partook in. They are a true joy to have on this earth and I revel in the idea that they are joining me eternally in Heaven – together forever, literally!! And their whiteness or my Mexicaness has NOTHING to do with these moments. We have such strong bonds because of our shared faith. My or their DNA has nothing to do with our friendship, it just adds to the fun!

My gas-giving-new friends – who just happen to be white!

My brothers and sisters in Christ, we must not allow others to apologize for things they did not do. If any sin has ever been committed, it was firstly done to Christ! Sins done in the past by others who are now dead were either paid for on the cross by Jesus or are being paid for right now in hell. And it should stir us to a sense of finality because we cannot do anything about that reality now.

BUT

We are alive now, and many are alive with us who still have a hope. So let us proclaim the Good News to any who will hear us. Let us love all the image bearers that God has placed in our lives! Let us, with a little partiality, love and enjoy Christians a little more because of our shared faith. God only sees one color when He looks at us, and that is red – the color of the blood of His Son. If you’re not stained by His blood, repent and trust in that payment. Believe in Him and you shall be saved. Trust in Him and He will make your path straight. Rely on Him and He will give you peace. Look to Him and this world will grow less interesting. All who are called can come to Him. All who repent and believe. All.

#race #culture #Christian #Redeemer

13 Reasons Why I Hate This Book

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is a book about a teenager who commits suicide. Her name is Hannah. Before her death, she makes these tapes outing all those whom she blames for causing her to commit suicide. She mails out the tapes to the first person she blames and kills herself soon afterwards by taking pills. The story is told between Hannah and Clay – one of the persons on the tapes.

I truly wanted this book to help me delve into the minds of teens. I have 3 teenagers myself and was hoping for some insight. The whole time I was reading this I was thinking that Hannah was everything I hope my daughters never become. She is shallow, a bully, and a hypocrite. And in the end, I saw her death more as a tantrum than a virtuous cause. The summation of all the reasons she gave to justify her suicide didn’t add up for me.

Reason 1: Hannah and Clay place the blame on a rational counselor.
All the adults in Hannah’s life were in the backdrop and those that were actually good to her, she deems as unimportant. If she would have focused on building those relationships instead of seeing just how awful the other ones are, this would be a different story.

Reason 2: Hannah acts as if all her problems started with her first kiss. Hannah, you had problems before that, we all do.

Reason 3: Hannah has low self-esteem when she knows she’s pretty! UGH! False low self-esteem is so unbecoming of a young lady. You know those girls who put selfies up and then bait people by saying something like: “I know no thinks I’m pretty but that’s okay”.

Reason 4: Hannah goes SEVERAL TIMES to sleazy parties where people are getting drunk, high and having teen sex AND she expects to be treated like a lady by horny teenage boys. Her contempt is laughable.

Reason 5: She knows the guy could be bad news, but hopes for the best. Her judgement is lacking, and that’s fine an all, but goodness me blame yourself a little for being such an idiot!

Reason 6: The virtue signaling is strong with this one!

Reason 7: Hannah makes fun of people’s looks and judges their outer appearance throughout the whole book. I honestly don’t mind it except for the fact that one of the flipping reasons she kills herself is because people make fun of her!

Reason 8: You throw fits when someone doesn’t notice your haircut or when you are not complimented. Did I tell you she’s shallow?

Reason 9: She constantly places herself in situations where there is so much potential for emotional pain. True other people can be stupid, but you can’t totally blame others when you participate in the stupidity itself! For example, for Valentine’s day a survey is done for a potential Valentine. It’s a fundraiser. The survey then matches you to other people. It’s like a dating game. You get 5 names and their phone numbers. In my mind I was hoping she wouldn’t participate because Hannah is so sensitive, but of course she does and ends up being stood up by her date. He later shows up though an inflicts more emotional pain to her. Again, you know it’s stupid. And boys are stupid! And you’re stupid.

Reason 10: Teenage dating is so annoying. This is why I forbid my children to date in high school. I rather have me be the reason why they are pissed and crying, than have it be a teenaged idiot! They’re going to end up pissed and crying anyways, might as well be me. I come with a lot less baggage.

Reason 11: She hates those who didn’t protect her from the advances of others. I get that, but she herself failed to protect a girl that was getting raped! Can you be anymore of a hypocrite Hannah! A guy tries to kiss you and you feel trapped. He doesn’t get to kiss you because you push him off and he leaves angry. Another guy who saw this happen doesn’t come to your aid. And you add BOTH these boys to your list. BUT THEN, a girl is left on a bed drunk asleep at one of those sleazy parties you like going to, and as you hide in the closet and see her get raped, YOU DO NOTHING. There was no potential danger to you at all. And I would understand if you were too scared to stop it. But my understanding goes out the window when you blame others for being too scared to have stopped what happens to you.

Reason 12: You actually had a nice guy and nice friends. You say this towards the end of the book. Why didn’t you hang out with them more. Why didn’t you build on those relationships. Instead you knowingly cultivate relationships with toxic people, hoping for the best. Don’t blame others for your decisions. You actively sought out the scum of that school, and now are upset because you feel dirty.

Reason 13: You passive-aggresively tell the drunk-passed-out girl she was raped! Not in person, not the day after! But on the tapes when you are dead! This girl didnt know what had happened to her because of her state of mind, so you decide to tell her this way, and for others to know about it! What a jerk! Now she has no way of preserving any physical evidence of what happened to her!

There were so many more reasons, but I chose to do 13 for poetic effect.

I hope my daughters never act like Hannah, and if they do, I hope they are woman enough to face the consequences of their decisions. Hannah played the victim in her life and blamed others for how she felt. This book is awful and it saddens me that there are so many teens reading this mess. There is a NETFLIX series based on this book and I am afraid of watching it because if it is anything like this book, these girls we love are doomed. From what I hear these kids are eating this stuff up like candy!

There were several instances where Hannah could have corrected what was done to her, but she chose not to. She was sanctimoniously so brave on those tapes though! But when actual wrongs were done to her, no one owned up the consequences because she refused to do anything about it. And I get confrontation is difficult, but people – especially teenagers – cannot read your mind. And blaming them posthumously is not fair at all.

I can’t help but wonder if this is what post-feminism has cultivated into our girls. You can act and be however you want, and in the end, its everyone else’s fault how they treat you. May it not be so for the young women God has placed in my life. Our actions and desires have consequences. We must renew our mind and remember that our worth does not come from what the world says about us or what we say about ourselves, but what God says about us. That we are NOTHING if we don’t have Him. How’s that for self-esteem? That is what I teach my girls. So when Satan tempts them to despair about their looks, or their intelligence or their worth. So when Satan manipulates their minds. So when their negative feelings are so strong that they become real to them. THEY DO NOT LOOK TO THEMSELVES, but to CHRIST who has made them worthy, not because of what they do or think, but because of what He did for them.

I know that suicide in young people is a real thing. Most people who do commit suicide though have struggled with mental disorders for years. Others have faced such trauma that they see no other way out of their pain. This is why Hannah’s 13 reasons seem just so shallow to me. Hannah was not healthy or a typical teenager if these are the reasons she killed herself. And that’s my fear when these kids read this mess. Not one time was there a hint of a mental disorder she was battling, and that’s the danger of this false narrative. Hannah was not normal. She was not typical and I fear a lot of girls will identify some of themselves in her or make her out to be some heroine. If Hannah did not have a mental disorder, she is NOT a heroine or a champion for the oppressed. If she did, the author should have inserted a snippet of that part of her life, but I think the author intentionally made Hannah to be a normal kid. What an awful thing to do Mr. Asher since over 90% of people who do kill themselves have been diagnosed with a mental disorder and the others were due to major emotional trauma – like a sudden death in the family, an exposed dark secret or financial ruin.

I do not recommend this book unless you want to use it for kindling.

#13reasonswhy #ihatethisbook #awful #dosomethingelse

Literary Christians

After the disappointment that was The Boy, it was nice to read this detective/thriller novel.

Nine Elms is a book about the disgraced Kate Marshall. As a young police officer, Kate has the drive and ambition to climb the professional ladder at her workplace, but soon that changes after a life altering affair. Now, 15 years later, she must face the demons of her past again.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The first couple of chapters gripped me and then never let go. The characters are very well developed. The story is a bit dark and gritty, but if you are a fan of Karin Slaughter, you will love this book. The book does have cuss words and gory scenes. The villains in the book are sick and depraved and Mr. Bryndza does a superb job in capturing their twisted nature. The book’s darkness also encompasses sex and this adds another layer of just how degenerate the villains are. There is also cannibalism involved. Did I mention the book is dark?

As a Christian, I am not oblivious to the depravity of the human heart and mind. Verse after verse speaks about how quickly and naturally we resort to evil behavior. Without God, there is no hope for us. This is what I get from reading books like this. It provides a window into the world that, if I am not careful, can become invisible in my sweet little Christian life. I was depraved, but God saved me. I heard the call and I became a child of God. There is no hope besides Him. The world, in all its darkness, needs the light. I appreciate authors that lead us into these black hearts and minds. It gives Christians more to be Christians with. Here is a great article that makes the case for the need for Christians to read works of fiction.

I am looking forward to the second book featuring Kate Marshall in “Shadow Sands.” This book is set to hit shelves in the U.S. in November.

#nineelms #cannibal #thriller #killer #katemarshall #robertbryndza

What side do I take?

Luke 13:1-5 begins with racial tension. It says some people came up to Jesus and told him about an awful murder involving Galileans and Pilate. The Galileans were hated by the Romans, they were even looked down-upon by their own. Remember the phrase “can anything good come from Nazareth? (John 1:46) Guess where Nazareth is located? Yes, Galilee. Then we have the Romans who had been in this area for almost a century. They were the Jew’s oppressors and were understandably hated by them.There is nothing new under the sun, my brothers and sisters. Hatred due to ones ethnic makeup is not new and how Jesus addresses it is very interesting.

So back in Luke 13:1, we do not know who brought this up, but there is an obvious agenda. These people are stirring the pot. Remember, racial tension is high. The Jews want a Messiah who is going to liberate them from Roman oppression. They want a warrior. They are restless and the presence of Roman authority is everywhere. Pilate, their governor, has abused his power and had Galilean Jews murdered presumably in their own synagogue and mixed their blood along with the sacrifice. This was an act against them and God! These men were innocent! They were Jews! Even closer to Jesus heart, they were Galilean! They were just like him! Now what do you have to say Jesus!!

Jesus . doesn’t . even . answer . their. question. He doesn’t even address their issue. He doesn’t go there with them.

Instead, like always, he gets to the root of the issue by asking them a question: “Do you think these Galileans were more sinful because they suffered more than other Galileans?”

What a question! Jesus address their biases AND the true heart of the issue. Jesus DIDN’T ask, “do you think these Galileans were more righteous?” but he asked “do you think they were more sinful.” Why? Because suffering – just like today – was seen as a form of punishment by God. – Remember Job was asked, “what did you do to offend God that you suffer so much (Job 4)?” Same philosophy. – Jesus asks them this to show them that they should be assuming the suffering is coming from sin. They usually would have thought this, but because they have a political agenda, all of a sudden their suffering is because of Pilate, not God. This is called virtue signaling and is usually drenched in hypocrisy, which happens to be one of Jesus’ pet peeves. Jesus shocks them by giving them the benefit of the doubt, which leaves them even more speechless.

Then Jesus answers his own question with a resounding “NO!” and then elaborates with “but unless you repent, you will perish as well.” I believe he let that phrase soak in a little and then continued. He answered “no” because the Galileans were not more sinful. They were not more righteous. Their suffering was not special because they were Galilean, or because they were victims of a race crime. Jesus then continues with a horrible scene that must have just happened and was still on the minds of the people – maybe like the corona virus is with us right now. In verse 4, Jesus mentions that 18 people died when a tower fell on them. Their deaths weren’t any more special than the deaths of the Galileans because He includes them in the same subject and that is that the ONLY tragedy here is not death in and of itself, but the death of someone who doesn’t repent.

Galileans killed by Romans, Romans killed in war, people killed in accidents, black men killed by cops, cops killed by rioters, the elderly dead from covid; and on and on, if they all died without repentance they are in hell. THAT is the tragedy my brothers and sisters. THAT is why Jesus was there talking with these people. THAT is why He came, to bring all who will repent and believe to salvation. Jesus says again in verse 5: “Unless you repent you will all perish as well.” He says this twice!

In Jesus’ way of thinking here there are two kinds of people. Those who perish, and those who do not. Those who believe and those who do not. Those who are saved and those who are not. These are the lenses we should see our world through. When we hear of the deaths of people, our next thought should be “were they saved?” or “Did they know our Lord?” or “Did anyone tell them of the Good News that we who were bound to and deserving of hell have a Savior?” We should mourn our complacency of not sharing this Good News to our lost friends and family and world!

Who cares if they are Galilean! God didn’t when He judged them! They died without knowing Christ. That is what He cared about! THAT is what should stir you to do something!

Can I say something that is probably going to get me into a lot of trouble? Who cares if he’s black? God doesn’t.
Who cares if she’s a woman? God doesn’t.
Who cares if he’s brown? God doesn’t.
Who cares if he’s a cop? God doesn’t
Who cares if she’s poor? God doesn’t.
What God says is that unless they repent, they too will perish! THAT’S IT! There is nothing about our DNA, social status or upbringing that God cares about when it comes to our judgement! We are without excuse and we will die UNLESS we are covered and sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ! And it worries me that the church has been baited into this racial narrative. Jesus wasn’t. He went to the core of the issue as we should also.

From now on, when there is tragedy and death, I pray my mind will go to the heart of the issue and think “I too will perish, unless I repent.” Bad things happen all the time. Jesus describes this in passing in this text. It should remind us that we too will die and that people regardless of race or social statuses are dying everyday without knowing Him. I will not take sides in racial issues, because Jesus didn’t. I am on His side, and will live out my life professing the Gospel to all who will hear me.

#race #racialtension #jesus #perish #gospel

The Boy – No thanks

Look, I get that not all Christians are perfect and that all of us struggle with hypocrisy, but so do atheists, so do agnostics and so do the “cool” protagonists in books.

I have never read Tami Hoag before and reading this book I can tell that she is a great writer. I love it when books draw the reader in and an hour can pass by without you even knowing it! Mrs. Hoag is this type of writer, but the way she portrayed any Believer in her book was like a punch to the kidneys. The sleazy adulterer is a beloved Christian leader, the snobby sheriff’s fiance is a gossipy Christian woman who is a push-over. The devout Christian parents abandon their daughter in her hour of need. Not one of the faithful helped, loved or was kind to any person in the book. Not one! I know I shouldn’t expect much from the world, but goodness me. At least in some books there is a tiny smidgen of kindness from a Christian. Some books don’t mention Christians at all and that’s fine by me also. To top it all off though, all the protagonists that Mrs. Hoag develops in a glowing light are atheist who shake their tiny fist at God. They constantly point out the hypocrisy in Christians – never seeing their own, and blame God for everything.

All this said, the book is very well written, but I will not be reading her again. She is obviously biased in her writing and I was offended at how Christians were personified. I know we are not perfect, knowing our imperfection is what helps us rely on Christ’s work not ours, but the jabs towards Christians was more than I wanted to take. I also am not an easily offended reader, but unfortunately for me Mrs. Hoag took her level of prejudice for Christians to a height I didn’t want to experience. It seemed forced on some of the characters and jolted the believeability of those specific characters. The obvious contrast between the villains and the heroes was plain to see that if the character was a villain, he had Christian roots or sayings and if character was a hero, they mocked God.

No thanks Mrs. Hoag. But if you like dark murder mysteries,and don’t mind stereotypical prejudice against Christians, then you will like this book. Personally, I didn’t.

What can I learn from this? I realize that there is artistic license in all works of fiction, but I don’t have to like it. I also realize that authors put a little of themselves into their work, but I don’t have to buy those works. That’s the beauty of a free opinion, and this is mine. We as Christians, do need to work on our testimony. We fail all the time to portray the grace to others that was so freely given to us by Jesus. I don’t know one Christian who doesn’t struggle with their sin and who has a tendency to hide those struggles leading many to think of us as hypocrites. Let us live godly lives, constantly being aware of our testimony because the world is watching us.

I encourage you with these verses found in Titus 2:8-9 – In everything, show yourself to be an example by doing good works. In your teaching show integrity, dignity and wholesome speech that is above reproach, so that anyone who opposes us will be ashamed to have nothing bad to say about us.

The Theory of Everything

the theory of

The Theory of Everything is the story of Stephen and Jane Hawking. It is a drama that resonates with the thinker and encourages the curious to keep seeking out the mysterious deep of the unknown. The movie is a bit romantic, which I wasn’t expecting, but not so much that it causes nausea. It was also surprisingly funny and full of wit. If you liked a Beautiful Mind or Cinderella Man, you will love The Theory of Everything. It has the same feel. There is the man, the struggle, defeat, the resurgence of hope and the triumph.

Eddie Redmayne did a phenomenal job as Stephen Hawking. I recently read that he won an Academy Award for his performance. The music, the picture and the quality of the movie was simply beautiful.

theory

As a Christian, I believe we shouldn’t check our brain at the door. My faith doesn’t require science to prove itself, but that doesn’t mean that science cannot bring glory to God in its own way. I will confess, that many times I struggled with my faith because Christians were so cruel to me. I battled with belief because the Church was cold and un-engaging in a very dark time of my life. I remember one day thinking, that if this is Jesus, then I want nothing to do with Him. But what kept me from storming off into atheism was atheism itself. Evolution is ridiculous. The belief that everything came from nothing or that non-life gave birth to life – that premise is almost silly and frankly, an impossibility. The Spirit used the reasoning of science to nudge me to understand that there is a Creator, and that He made everything, and that He expects to be obeyed, and that I better listen. I couldn’t embrace evolution, so I embraced Christ and His Word – it just made sense. I soon slowly crept out of my single cell thinking and evolved in my faith. Pun intended. 

This movie was not very clear if Mr. Hawking in the end admitted to the possibility of God, it really feels like he couldn’t come to a conclusion. I am not too worried about his beliefs anyway. I know he had a brilliant mind and the mathematics behind his theories made my head hurt, but God’s Word says that a fool says there is no God (Psalm 53:1). Having such a mind amounts to nothing to God if that mind fails to see the sin within itself. Mr. Hawking’s life is inspiring though, and this movie motivated me to think more. To be more aware of what I do and how I perceive things. A book that came to mind for me to read was Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I am also interested to read his books on time.

I highly recommend this movie to all. It is a beautiful and stirring drama. There is no sex or nudity. There are some insinuations of adultery. There is a scene were Hawking’s nurse helps him open up his Penthouse magazine, but there is no visible nudity in the magazine. There is no cussing. The movie is rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and suggestive material. You can watch this movie for free on Netflix.

I have included the trailer here at the bottom of the page, if you are interested in watching it.

 

Real life is better than fiction

History dramatized in historical fiction is so entertaining.  So many times it is better than fiction!

I love the era of the Tudors and the War of the Roses, it is full of intrigue, beauty and so much drama. The lives of these kings and queens is unbelievable sometimes. Some authors do so well in bringing us back to those times and immersing us into the lives of these extraordinary people. Two of my most favorite authors are Phillipa Gregory and Bernard Cornwell, but I have another favorite, Maurice Druon.

I have really enjoyed the first 2 books of the series of the Accursed Kings, and highly recommend the books to any lover of historical fiction.The iron king & The strangled queen This series follows the reign of Phillip the Fair, King of France. The king is ridding himself of the Knights Templar by way of torture and gruesome deaths through burning at the stake. Then a prophecy is proclaimed from the burnt mouth of the Grand Master of the Templar before he dies and everything changes for the worse for the Iron King of France. Soon, the kingdom is shaken by the treasonous lives of the King’s son’s wives and chaos presumes.

The second book speaks about the daughter of the Iron King and the adulterous wife of his son. If you remember the beautiful French queen in Braveheart, well that’s the daughter of Phillip the Fair. This book continues the line of the Iron King and is full of so much betrayal, death and torture!

Happy endings are nice and all, but in real life sometimes there are no happy endings.  Main characters die, beautiful princesses and queens don’t find true love, powerful kings fail and innocents are wrongly executed. This is probably why I enjoy historical fiction because I get an incredible story and I may not know how the story ends, or I may not like how it ends.  That’s totally okay with me.

To the Christian, this series gives us a glimpse of the history of the church. In the 1300’s the Catholic Church wielded a lot of political power. There was a lot of corruption and most of Europe was Christian. It was a dark time in Europe. Only a select few could read His Word and whatever a bishop or priest said became what the people believed. It is a very sad time in our history. There were voices, though, in that time, crying out in the wilderness. Very few voices, but God’s Church prevailed. These were the dark ages and soon the black plague would wipe out almost half of them.

I highly recommend these two books if you enjoy historical fiction. I am looking forward in reading the whole series and have them on my summer reading list. If you would like to buy the books, click here.

#historicalfiction #mauricedruon #books #read #bookreview

Hanna More – I love you!

Opie, John, 1761-1807; Hannah More

I remember her name vaguely. She was somebody important during the time when William Wilberforce was fighting for the abolition of the slave trade. That is all I knew of her and I wanted to know more. I help manage a crisis pregnancy clinic, and it is my belief that abortion doctors and clinics are our modern day slaver traders. The people affected by slavery were voiceless, abused, powerless and mistreated. They were seen as less than human and their dignity was not a God-given right, but one exploited by shameless people. The life of a slave was based on the convenience it brought, never on their potential or individuality. They were just hunks of flesh to be used at the pleasure of others and it was wrong. It was Christian abolitionist who lead the charge for the slaves’ freedom and their persistence and passion is admirable. I know that the  more I read on these abolitionists, the more I can learn about leading a cause now to end the murder of those who are also voiceless, powerless and mistreated. I too want to be an abolitionist.

Goodreads recommended this book to me. Oh, I love Goodreads, and if you don’t have it and are an avid reader, get it. The book I read is called Fierce Convictions and it is written by Karen Swallow Prior.

     Christianity in England during the 1700’s was a lot like it is now is the United States, it was nominal. Everyone was a Christian, and so was Hannah. It wasn’t until later in her life that she realized she had to experience her Christianity, in other words, she had to live out her faith, and when she decided to just do that, her actions and obedienced changed the world.
     Hannah More is known for not only being a slave abolitionist. She was also a writer and poet and she, along with her sisters helped cultivate a society that saw the importance in educating all children regardless of social status. Schools were not free then, and she helped champion the cause to teach all children mathematics, geography, reading and writing. Many of her contemporaries looked down on this because they saw no use in educating the poor. I was delightfully surprised also that she was so progressive that she even advocated against animal cruelty. She, along with William Wilberforce, help set up laws that made it against the law to abuse animals. She makes a great point on treating all life with dignity, including animals, the poor and slaves. These social stands were extremely liberal at the time. She made it clear in the tracts she distributed to be “religiously and politically conservative, but socially liberal.” Besides all these extraordinary causes for her time, she also believed that women should not focus so much on dainty hobbies that were done just to pass the time, but actual rigorous learning!  This is what Prior wrote:
           More argued for a rigorous education for women. One that would illicit truth,                          foster precision in thinking and cultivate an exact mind. Female education                      should bring the imagination under dominion and lead women to think, to compare,                        to combine, to methodize. It should confer such a power of discrimination                                 that the student shall learn to reject what was dazzling if it be not solid,                                      and to prefer not what is striking or bright or new, but what is just.

     More also saw the importance of mixing social inequalities with politics. Her and William Wilberforce – a member of parliament – became very close friends. Wilberforce treated her as an equal and many times they spent hours conversing about political and social matters. Wilberforce wrote to her saying: “That in parlimentary measures of importance more is to be done out of the house than in it. In other words, changing the minds of parliament would require changing the mind of the nation.” What true words!
More used her writing and social skills to help others see the sheer inhumanity of the slave trade. Wilberforce used his eloquence in speaking to help his peers to see and then vote his way. Both forces, united, as one is what changed their country for the better.

I read about these two pillars of our faith and tried to learn from them. They were extraordinary Christians that changed their world through media (newspapers, books, tracts, pamphlets, drawings) and politics (voting, town hall meetings, friends in parliament, law making). A lot of times, I want to move away from politics. I want to just live my little Christian life and leave to Ceasar what is his. But like 1700’s Britain had some atrocious laws, so does the present United States. And unlike Hannah, I can vote for these changes, not just speak about them. I want to type out a testimony of a witness that was taken to a slaver traders post. This testimony was given in parliament in 1790 for the abolition of the slave trade. Here it is:
“The witness was taken to a small gathering of slave traders about to put an infant to death. I asked him why they were murdering it, and they answered ‘Because it was of no value.’ I told them, ‘if that’s the case, I hope they made me a present of it.’ They answered that if I had any use for the child then it was worth money. I first offered them some knives, but that would not do. They however sold the child to me for a mug of brandy. It proved to be that of a woman whom the captain of our ship had purchased that very morning. We carried it on board and judged of the mother’s joy when she saw her own child put on board the same ship – her child, whom she concluded was murdered. She fell on her knees and kissed my feet.”

The words “because it was of no value” rung in my head. I stopped what I was doing and just repeated those words in my mind. What is the value of a “useless” infant? Unfortunately, in our society, the answer is relative if the baby happens to be in utero. Foster kids, orphans, babies born alive after a botched abortion, poor kids, don’t we all put a value on them. Some maybe worth more than others? Put action to your passion, don’t just let it fester and dissipate.

atrocious deeds should never be called by gentle names

I admire Hannah More, she never stopped using her God-given talents to bring about justice and kindness to those who bore God’s image. She says this: “It is part of Christianity to convert every natural talent to a religious use.” This is so true. What are your talents, and are you using those talents to glorify your Savior by beings His hands and feet here on earth? Read Matthew 25.

     Hannah More died an old lady with hands upraised to her Lord. She wrote 11 books after the age of 60 and three weeks before her death, the slave trade was abolished! There is much for us to do in our world and it is time that we move from the sidelines and experience our Christianity.

She is grounded in the Bible. She is no clamorous beggar for extortent alms of admiration. She lives on her own stock. She does not wait for the opinion of the world to know she is right, nor the applause of the wor

I recommend Fierce Convictions to all Christians, especially women. Stop reading those darn Amish romances and get into these kinds of books. You can buy the book here. I listened to this book on audible, and you can get that here.

#life #abolition #hannahmore #dosomething #experiencechristianity

 

 

 

Challah Bread Recipe

No nonsense, just the recipe. Here it is:

WilHomed

Makes 2 large loaves

Ingredients:
* 2 packets of dry yeast (instant is fine) or 4.5 teaspoons
* 2 C  warm water
* 1/4 C sugar
* 1/4 C vegetable oil
* 4 tsp salt
* 3 room temperature eggs slightly beaten
* 4 TBS honey (optional)
* 7 1/2 C flour
* Eggwash: 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
* Poppy seeds (optional)

Directions:
* Whisk yeast and water well. Make it frothy.
* Add sugar, oil, salt and eggs and whisk well again. Make it frothy.
* Add 3 C of the flour and whisk well until there are no lumps. Here is where I add a bit of honey sometimes if I have some (about 4 TBS). Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. It should bubble a bit.
* After the 5 minutes, gradually mix in the rest of the flour with a spatula.
* Drop mixture onto a dusted counter top and begin to knead dough for 10 minutes (I use this time to pray for the ones who will eat the bread. Traditionally, I do not think it is Challah bread unless it has been prayed over.)
* Dough may be sticky at first, but it should smooth up after a couple of minutes. If by 10 minutes it is still sticky, add a small amount of flour and knead a bit more. Same if it is crumbly, add very small amounts of water and knead a bit more.
* Form dough into a ball and let rise in large, oiled bowl for 1.5 hours. Cover bowl with clean towel and place in a warm area.
* Divide dough in half. Then divide each half into three equal parts. Roll out thick, long strands with each part and make into a braid. Tuck in ends.
* Let rise again for 45 minutes to an hour. Cover braided loaves with a clean towel.
* Brush with egg wash
* Sprinkle poppy seeds if you like
*Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes

Some ideas:
* You can also not braid this bread and make small domes for an awesome soup bowl instead.
* When you divide the dough in half, you can freeze the other half in a ziplock bag then thaw and resume to next step at a later time.

Enjoy!

#bread #recipe #challah #love #fromscratch #homemade

First book I read by Ruth Ware

turn of the key

Turn of the Key is a mystery thriller written by Ruth Ware. The book is composed of several letters mostly written by the protagonist, Rowan Caine. When Rowan finds  an advertisement for a full time nanny position in the Highlands of Scotland with great pay, she cannot believe her luck. She gets hired and begins this new chapter in her life soon afterwards. She is to watch 4 girls, ages 1, 5, 8 and 14. The house where she will watch the girls is super high-tech, full of cameras and said to be haunted. Several other nannies have fled, none lasting more than several weeks. Little does Rowan know that the house has a lot more secrets than just the hauntings.

SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ ANYMORE IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK!

 

 

 

 

I really enjoyed this book overall. What I didn’t enjoy was that this whole book is basically a letter from Rowan behind bars writing about her innocence to a lawyer. Yes, the whole book is a letter, and Rowan became quickly annoying because she wouldn’t get to the blooming point of the murder she was charged with. This just made me read even more, which I think was the intention of the author. The ending was great and the twist at the end was also perfect. I didn’t see it coming, but Mrs. Ware does leave some of the ending to our own imagination. What did happen to Rowan in the end? What happened to Ellie? Did she get the help she needed? Living with such a burden is bound to cause a lot of mental torment in such a young little girl. Mrs. Ware doesn’t answer those things in the epilogue. We are left to guess for ourselves, and that leaves for a great conversation with this book’s fans.

As a Christian, what I noticed was that the book had a lot of profanity in it and Rowan is a liar. The teenage daughter, Rhionnan is very wordly also. There is the pain and baggage that comes with adultery and that is where I want to focus on in this blog post. There are two men in this book that are developed into characters. Both of them are the opposite of what God expects them to be. They take advantage of the women they are meant to protect and are scoundrels. The mess they leave behind because of their need for immediate gratification are a bunch of hurt children and broken homes. That is what adultery does. It shatters those we love and exposes the soft core of their hearts. Rowan is broken. The Elincourt girls are broken. Sandra, the wife, becomes broken. The wife of Jack becomes broken. These men are worthless in this book.

Books allow us to see into how the world interacts and lives its lives. We get a clear picture of families and how they deal with the pressures of day to day life without God. Yes, some books we read may have a faith element sewn into them, but most secular fiction books do not. I see in books like these, I really am not missing out on much. Yes, believers and the lives we live can be dark and yield forth bitter fruit, but the world yields way more and frankly it should since they go against what God says is right. This reminds me of Psalm 37:1-2 – “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.”

I recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries and or thrillers. This book did have a Gothic feel also, so if you are into those, you will love this book. If it wasn’t for the frustrating narrative of Rowan, I would have given this book a 5 stars on Goodreads, but I gave it a 4.

The book is scary and frightening, I would only allow my older teens to read it. There are no explicit sex scenes. There is cussing throughout the book.

 

#readingchallenge #ruthware #turnofthekey #books #goodreads