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.

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.

Amazing Grace : William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery

This is the second biography that I have read that was written by Eric Metaxas. The first one being on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Reading about the life of William Wilberforce has changed me. There is no way it couldn’t. What this man did with the time God gave him on this earth is just short of miraculous. His convictions changed a whole culture and catapulted British society into an age of providing human dignity for the poor, the less fortunate and of course, the slave. There were so many involved in his life-long campaign to end slavery and I hope I get the opportunity to read up on all of them.

Mr. Metaxas has a beautiful way of revealing the intangible life of Wilberforce but at the same time bringing him down to a level where I can almost touch him. It is an encouraging book of a man who just lived out his faith. Like the biography of Hannah More, these Believers just experienced their faith. They were not side liners or bench warmers, they truly believed what God’s Word says and did it. I couldn’t help but think of my life and what exactly am I experiencing in my faith. What kind of Christianity am I living out?

Wilberforce had long walks with God and brought along his Bible to read. He went against British society and regarded all men to be image bearers and worthy of dignity. He went against the mold and fought against animal cruelty. He thought all children – including poor ones – should be educated and taught to read, write and math. He believed that Christianity was not just nominal, but a way of life that transformed character and changed desires. He spoke up for the weak, the oppressed, the voiceless and the destitute. What a man! In his life time he was part of abolishing the slave trade, enacting laws against animal cruelty, and bringing about the emancipation of the slaves. He also endeavored to encourage Christians to act out their faith and brought about reform in this area. He gave a wealth to different charities and ministries. And as his life came close to an end, he only regretted not being able to do more!

I highly recommend this book to all Believers. It is my hope that it encourages you to live your life fully for our Lord. To be anxious for nothing and love those God has placed in your life. To fear nothing, and fight the good fight that is so many times against our selves. To live on purpose and with focus on the Kingdom and His people. I believe I spend too much time scrolling on my phone when there is really so much to do. May God grant me the ability to be aware that my time here is but a vapor, and that I may be His vessel to be used as He wishes!

You can buy the book here.

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

 

 

 

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

Martyrs I didn’t know about

Book Review of:

Jan Hus Ulrich Swingli.jpg

Author: Charles River

I had heard a little of Jan Hus and much less of Ulrich Swingli and I needed to fix this in my life. This book was less than $3 on audible and I wish I would have spent more money on a  better book. The book was okay, but was a bit dry.

I was surprised to read about just how secular they both were. It’s funny how in my mind these men were always holy and didn’t struggle with the sins of “normal” men and women. Zwingli struggled with sexual temptations and had a mistress for a while and Hus wrestled with vanity and materialism. Both these men relied on the grace of God and both these men paid the ultimate price for their convictions. Hus paved the way with his burned flesh for voices like Luther, Knox and Calvin who came a century and a half later and Zwingli is considered the 3rd most important influencer of the Reformation.

It is important for us Believers to read about men like Hus and Zwingli. It helps us revere and appreciate the Bibles we have in our home. It helps us put into perspective the flightiness of my convictions. What am I willing to die for? What is so important to me that it changes the way I live? These books make us reflect on these serious questions.

I often wonder what would I do in the face of martyrdom. Would I stir or negotiate? Would I be betray my conscience and my God? I do not know. These men had their faults, just as I do. These men struggled and wrestled with their faith. Just as I do. But they finished strong, in the faith and trail blazed a path for all of us to comfortably walk in sound doctrine. They are an inspiration, and it is my hope that you read more of these men who changed the world.

The Best 3 Books I Read in 2019

 

books

This year I read a total of 52 books. That’s about a book a week! My goal was 40!

The shortest book I read was only 76 pages and was “Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce” by John Piper

The longest book I read was 659 pages and was “The Shining” by Stephen King.

And out of all those books I read in 2019 the top three I think would be, in no particular order:
1. “True Community” by Jerry Bridges
2. “Letters to the Church” by Francis Chan
3. “A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness
These three books made me a better person, or gave me insight and words to emotions I couldn’t put into words. I highly recommend these books!

I look forward to 2020 and what wisdom and adventures it will bring.

The Forgotten Trinity – Book Review

I know that I know nothing!trinty

The Trinity – what a beautiful doctrine, but such a difficult concept! In my ignorance to try and comprehend such a complex truth, I have fallen in and out of heresy. This make me thankful for His grace and gives a deeper appreciation for the profound vastness and mystery of our Creator. I will never completely know Him, but I can know Him.

This book was magnificent and just revealed to me just how much I do not know. That is our God – knowable but also not. This book helped clear out a lot of questions that regularly pop up for me regarding the Trinity. It strengthened my trust in His Word. Mr. White gives plenty of verses in Scripture to make his points and explain as best as humanly possible who the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are. This book also elevated God to another level for me. It made Him bigger somehow. I couldn’t help but just marvel at how awesome (in the old definition of the word kinda way) God is. Full of awe!

All examples previously given to try to explain the Trinity like the egg, or the different states of water fall short of describing His true essence. Nothing on earth can describe Him and frankly, we lack the intelligence to fully understand it. And that is okay! He wouldn’t be God if we could completely understand him. God said in Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

The book is a bit academic, but what else would you expect from a book written by James White.  I truly appreciate men like him who devote themselves to reading and researching such deep truths and helping the layman discern such beautiful things. Mr. White has a YouTube channel where he discusses different Biblical topics. You can buy the book here. The book is 224.

The truths in this book bring the Believer to a deeper worship of such an intimidating God.  I leave you with this description of our Lord:

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,  and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.  Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today.  Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.  – Deut. 10:12-16