Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Stolen Marriage: the twists and turns of a sudden detour in life's plan

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain is the story of Teresa “Tess” DeMello and how one night’s mistakes leads her life on a different plan than the one she had planned. The story opens in June 1944 where Tess is married to Henry and his mother, Ruth, his sister, Lucy, and most of the town of Hickory dislike her. Lucy asks her for a favor, suspicious but wanting to connect with her sister-in-law, Tess agrees. It ends in a horrific event where the reader is left wondering their fate as the story rewinds to August 1943. Tess is a nursing student and engaged to Vincent Russo, a childhood sweetheart and doctor. While Vincent is in Chicago helping with a polio epidemic, Tess and her best friend, Gina, take a trip to Washington DC. There Tess meets Henry Kraft, a businessman from Hickory, North Carolina. After dinner with too many drinks, the two have a sex which leads to a pregnancy and a dilemma for Tess. She finds Henry and he suggests marriage. She agrees, leaving everyone behind with a false story for her sudden marriage. Once in Hickory, she is met with hostility and strange events. Once a polio epidemic occurs in Hickory, Tess is able to throw herself into helping the sick while she discovers her husband has terrible secrets. Will she be able to leave her marriage and this town?

The Stolen Marriage is a fast paced story with the backbone of a real life polio epidemic in Hickory, North Carolina and the amazing efforts the community took to help the sick. The story was wonderful with heartache and tears. There was one chapter that had me in tears. I was able to read this book in a few hours as I could not put it down. There were twists and turns, questions that I asked myself as I read. I highly recommend The Stolen Marriage. It is a story of secrets, betrayals, prejudices and the power of forgiveness.

The Stolen Marriage
will be available October 3, 2017

in hardcover and eBook

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

We were Strangers Once: a touching immigrant story

We were Strangers Once by Betsey Carter is the story of immigrants in America. A story told in three parts. Part 1 opens in the Old Country, Germany 1890 with 21 year old Elisabeth Arnstein meeting with Professor Rudolph Schneider about an illustration job for his books. The two eventually marry and have their son, Egon. Egon grows to love animals as his parents do but when it’s time to head to university, he decides to study medicine. At university, he meets his roommate, Meyer Leavitt, who is there to be a writer. As Egon graduates and establishes his practice, the outside world starts to intrude. It soon becomes apparent that it is no longer safe for Egon to be in Germany. He leaves in 1928. Part 2 opens in the New Country, New York City 1904 with Rose McFadden in Hell’s Kitchen when she meets Ryan Walsh. They are both Irish immigrants from County Mayo. They marry and have four children which only two survives. Ryan soon finds himself unable to care for his young family and he leaves for Chicago never to return. Rose now must raise her children, Catrina and Kiefer, on her own. Catrina grows up head strong and her path of failed love, she meets Egon. Part 3 opens as the war in Europe is raging but America has yet to join the fight. Catrina, who was born in America and Catholic, and Egon and his German friends, who are recent immigrants and Jewish, learn to interact and live in the land of the free. Some find it hard to assimilate and find the anti-German, anti-Semitic sentiment become too hard to endure. When Egon is threatened to be deportation and returned to his certain death, friends of all races and religions band together to fight to keep Egon in the country. Will they be successful? Will Egon have his American Dream?

I thoroughly enjoyed We were Strangers Once. While reading it, I will guarantee you will be on a roller coaster of emotions. Sadness, fear, elation but the one I felt the most was anger. Anger at the horrible attitudes Egon and his friends experience as they try to rebuild a life in American after the horrors they left behind. However, I feel it is an accurate depiction of what immigrants experienced as they came to the land of the free with dreams and promises of opportunity. Their fight is real and the tensions are high. But somehow the different cultures learn to come together when it matters. The story ends in June 1941. I would have liked to have seen the characters’ reactions in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack. I highly recommend We were Strangers Once

We were Strangers Once
will be available September 12, 2017

in hardcover and eBook

Monday, August 14, 2017

Multigenerational households: pros, cons and questions to consider

According to the US Census data, roughly 16% of Americans live in a household with at least two adult generations. The highest level in 50 years. Although the practice is familiarly common in many cultures around the world for centuries, it is growing in the US. More and more people are living in multigenerational households for various reasons and the living arrangement carries a variety of pros and cons. I will discuss each of the pros and cons as well as questions that should be discussed when considering living in a multigenerational household. Is a multigenerational household a treasure or torture or a bit of both?

There are a number of benefits of living in a multigenerational household. First, kids and grandparents have daily access to each other. The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren can grow stronger as they can share in the day to day life experiences. For example, when a child gets an award at school, the grandparents can easily share in the accomplishment as the child comes home and talks about rather than hearing about it secondhand. Second, the adults can share living expenses and thus savings costs on various bills. Expenses such as groceries and utilities can be divided among the adults to ease the financial burdens. Third, with older parents living in the households, they can provide more support in the way of child care and saves time finding a babysitter if an emergency arises. Lastly, adult children will have the ability to provide in home care and keep an eye on aging parents especially when one or both parents loses the ability to living on their own.

There are also a number of cons to living in a multigenerational household. First, the loss of privacy and alone time for everyone in the household. With more people in a household, finding a space where you can be alone and unwind may become harder and harder. Second, more pressure on the main income earners. Especially if the old parents are retired and living on a fixed income and expenses rise, the main income earners may feel the pressure to keep everyone afloat. Third, personality conflicts and clashes with habits and behaviors. With older parents being used to being the parents, there may be conflict over parenting the younger children. Or the constant reminders of “that’s not how I used to do it” when an older parent sees the adult child do a chore or prepare food or even discipline the young children. Lastly, feeling like a permanent guest or host. The constant feeling of not really being home or having to entertain can quickly wear on the adults in the household.

When considering a multigenerational household there are a number of questions to consider. Because with even with the best of intentions, it is a situation that cannot be entered into blindly.

1. Will the move be short term, long term or permanent?
  • Considering the terms of the stay can elevate the possible cons or prepare everyone for the possible conflicts that may arise.

2. Is there enough space for everyone?
  • Trying to fit adults and children in a tiny space will ultimately lead to conflicts and other issues.

3. What will be the rules, roles and boundaries? How will they be decided and moderated? What procedures can be established to resolve conflicts in order to avoid resentments and tension?
  • Establishing boundaries beforehand is an excellent way to avoid conflicts from the beginning. For instance, stating that an individual’s or a couple’s bedroom/bathroom be off-limits to everyone else can help with the privacy issues.

4. Do you offer family meetings to discuss conflicts, concerns or issues that may arise once the move-in is complete? How often should they be held?
  • Monthly meetings should be considered to discuss any issues such as budget and changes in schedules, etc. Discussion on how chores should be divided so everyone knows their responsibilities in the household.

5. What items will or will not be shared? Will food be shared or will certain items be off limits?
  • It may seem like a non-issue; however, frustrations could arise if someone buys something as   a treat for them and everyone eats it before he or she can enjoy it.

6. How much of daily life and events be shared or separated? Will meals be together or separate? Will vacations and outings be together or separate?
  • The answer to this questions probably boils down to schedule and if the family is together during meal times. As for vacations and outings, I would anticipate some to be separate as well as possible family vacations together.

7. What are the guidelines for inviting guests? Do you consult each other when you want to invite a friend over or is everyone free to invite guests over without consultation?
  • It is a sign of respect for those you live with when you consult others about if and when visitors will be invited and at the residence.

In my research, one site suggested that two questions should be answered. First, do you and your parents get along? I think regardless if you and your parents or even your spouse’s parents get along, living together is an entirely different situation than just being able to get along at functions and other get-togethers. Could the living arrangement bring up childhood issues? Can you live with your parents’ characteristics and behaviors? And can they live with yours? Second, are you and your spouse agreeable with the arrangement? Even if you get along with your parents, the bigger question is does your spouse? Having one or more parents living with you can cause tensions in any relationship especially a marriage. Abstain from directing anger at your spouse and guard your relationship as the center which holds the household together. I think the questions I’ve listed above are a good start in starting the conversation about living in a multigenerational household. Some situations may have more or less questions depending on the individuals involved.

In conclusion, even with the best laid out plans, as the new household learns to come together, it would be wise to expect conflicts, frustrations, restricted freedoms, role confusion and loss of privacy until everyone can learn the rhythm of the arrangement or until the arrangement ends, if in the short term. The most important thing to establish is the expectations of everyone in the arrangement. And keep those expectations clear in everyone’s mind as time goes on. Open communication is also key (and it is key in any situation regardless of living arrangements). If you are considering a multigenerational household, list your questions and concerns to be discussed with everyone beforehand. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Girls made of Snow and Glass: an excellent retelling of the Snow White tale

Girls made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust is the re-envisioning of the classic Snow White tale. Told from two perspectives, Lynet (the Snow White character) and Mina, her stepmother (the Evil Queen character). Lynet is the spitting image of her mother who died when she was born and everyone treats her with kid gloves as if she was so fragile, she would break. Mina came into her life when she was a young child when her father, Gregory, a magician and alchemist, came to live at the castle at Whitespring from the south. Lynet’s father, King Nicholas, marries Mina and she and Lynet become close as a mother and daughter. Until a terrible secret is revealed to Lynet and everything she believes to be true is all a lie. Who can she trust now? When a promise is broken to Mina and a tragedy occurs, Lynet and Mina are pitted against each other. Will they become bitter enemies? Or will they join forces when a greater enemy reveals itself?

Girls made of Snow and Glass is an excellent story with a new twist on Snow White. Lynet and Mina are both strong character who aren’t the typical female characters. They are both a bit of damsel in distress and strong females who don’t need a man to rescue them. It was filled with action and surprises at every turn. I could not put it down. There were a couple questions that came up that I feel the story doesn’t answer. However, the book is a great story and young adult and adult readers will enjoy this new Snow White story. I recommend Girls made of Snow and Glass.

Girls made of Snow and Glass
will be available September 5, 2017

in hardcover, eBook, and audiobook

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Girl in Snow: a murder mystery in a small town

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka is the story of a murder in a Colorado small town. Lucinda Hayes was a pretty and popular girl in the small town of Broomsville. She is found cover in a light blanket of snow at the high school’s playground. Suspicions immediately fly about who could have killed her and why. The story is told from three perspectives: Cameron, a loner boy who watched Lucinda from afar, Jade, the outcast girl, who secretly harbored hatred toward Lucinda and Russ, the local detective assigned to the case. Cameron must fight the past as the town has not forgotten what his father, a former local cop, did and subsequently disappeared. Jade tries to befriend Cameron and help him with the scrutiny he’s under as several fellow students accuse him of killing Lucinda. Russ, troubled with the past as his former partner was Cameron’s father, must find the truth among the accusations and innuendos. Who killed Lucinda Hayes?

Girl in Snow is an excellent book. The gripping drama with past and present intertwined as the mystery behind who killed this girl is revealed. I couldn’t put it down. I had to finish it. I had to find out after all the twists and turns who killed Lucinda Hayes! There are so many details that I cannot discuss as it will ruin the reveal of the killer. The story gathers the usual suspects and as one by one is cleared or you think they are, it leaves you with more and more questions. Everyone has something to hide in this small town. I will say that Ms. Kukafka writes a story so gripping that you are on the edge of your seat from page one! I highly recommend Girl in Snow!

Girl in Snow

is available in hardcover and eBook

Friday, August 4, 2017

Everything We Left Behind: what happens one man recovers his memory?

Everything We Left Behind by Kerry Lonsdale is the sequel to Everything We Keep. At the end of the first book, James wakes up from his fugue state confused and with no memory of the prior years. Everything We Left Behind picks up right after the first book with James trying to figure out who he is. Is he James or Carlos? The point of view switches back and forth between James in the present and Carlos in the past, as he tries to rebuild his life once again. But now he has two young sons who only know him as Carlos and a sister-in-law whom he has falling in love with…as Carlos. James must also learn how to let Aimee go, who has moved on with her life. Meanwhile the threat of his brother, Phil’s, release from prison is hanging over his head. His other brother, Thomas, is trying to unlock his memory, convinced that he has very important information locked in his brain somewhere. Will Phil try to come after him? How can he protect his sons? Will he ever remember what happened? Will he be able to rebuild his life?

Everything We Left Behind wasn’t as exciting as Everything We Keep. I waited for the drama with Phil and Thomas which didn’t live up to my expectation. However, I enjoyed the drama and struggle as James/Carlos struggles with his memory as he comes to terms with his life. I only know the basics of how fugue states function, it was interesting to see how Ms. Lonsdale portrays it in this book. Your heart breaks for James as he comes to terms that the life he knew is gone forever and it breaks for Carlos as he knows that he may cease to exist and memory of his life in Mexico will be erased. The story was dramatic and intense as the family must rebuild itself. The end of Everything We Left Behind gives a hint that this story isn’t quite over yet. I look forward to the third book, Everything We Give, which is set to be released next summer. I recommend Everything We Left Behind. If you haven’t read the first book yet, I highly recommend you read it first. You will not be disappointed.

Everything We Left Behind

is available in paperback and on the Kindle

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What does it truly mean when Jesus says "judge not"?

Lately I’ve been hearing people say “You can’t judge me. Only God can judge me” as if to say my opinion doesn’t matter and they have the right to behave in a certain way. Yes, God is the ultimate Judge (1 Corinthians 4:3-5); however, I don’t think people truly understand when Jesus says “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). To paraphrase Inigo Montoya from the The Princess Bride, you keep using that phrase, I do not think it means what you think it means. Many people quote verse 1 and forget the 4 following verses.

First, Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge, or you too will be judge. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Jesus is telling us to examine our own motives and conduct instead of judging others. The traits that bothers us in others are often the habits we dislike in ourselves. Romans 2:1 warns us about judging others in this way. Paul writes “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” It is a warning against rash, hypocritical and unjust judgments. In Luke 6:37, Jesus says “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Therefore, we are to judge ourselves first. Do we deserve the same criticism? If so, come clean before God and then lovingly approach others about their behaviors or sins.

Second, Jesus continues in verses 3-5, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eyes? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” “Do not judge” is against the kind of hypocritical, judgmental attitude that tears others down in order to build oneself up. It is also not a blanket statement against all critical thinking. This is how many people are using it. However, it is a call to be discerning rather than negative. To be discerning is to have and show good judgment. Jesus said to expose false teachers (Matthew 7:15-23) and Paul writes that we are to exercise church discipline (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). So how are we to do this without judgment? With God’s guidance.

Third, in verse 6, Jesus says “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” In Jewish tradition, pigs are unclean animals, according to God’s law (Deuteronomy 14:8). When Jesus uses the illustration of pigs trampling pearls under their feet, he is saying we should not entrust holy teaching to unholy or unclean people. It is futile to try to teach holy concepts to people who don’t want to listen and will only tear apart what we day. However, that doesn’t mean we should stop giving God’s Word to unbelievers. It means we should be wise and discerning in what we teach to whom, so that we will not be wasting our time.” It also means that we should be careful to whom we dispense advice to because someone who doesn’t want to listen will tear apart your advice.

Therefore, what does this all mean? People use verse 1 as a way to shut others up about what they would deem to be intolerance by giving it a meaning that was never intended. When Jesus says to “judge not” he does not mean that Christians do not deal with sin in each other. It does not mean we are not to correct with respect to God’s Word. If you see someone behaving in direct violation of God’s Word, are you just supposed to let it slide? No. It also does not mean that we cannot make value judgment or assessments on situations. The verses do mean that we are to be careful not to become a fault finder and to eliminate the spirit of criticism. We are to look for the best in people while lovingly correct when correction is warranted. And again, recognize that God is the ultimate Judge and he assesses the motives of the heart that we cannot see.

In conclusion, we have become a society where being judgmental has become a negative word. Yes, many people will form an opinion or view of someone based on very little information. And that is wrong. However, bottom line: when we judge, we need to do so in truth and love. If we judge in the spirit of jealousy or hatred or an overall critical spirit, we are being judgmental and need to seek God’s guidance before continuing. Jesus loved people enough to call people out on what was wrong and speak the truth. The difference between judging someone and being judgmental is love. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Oh Susannah: Things that Go Bump: a story about facing your fears

Oh, Susannah: Things That Go Bump by Carole P. Roman is the second book about a young girl named Susannah who is learning about life and herself. In this book, Susannah is reluctant to go to a sleepover at her friend’s Lola’s house because the house is old and scary. But she’s afraid to tell her parents and Lola why she doesn’t want to go so she goes anyway. While there, she and Lola start to have fun while Susannah tries to push aside her fears. Until something happens that she can’t hide her fear anymore. She learns that everyone has fears and just because something is old and scary looking doesn’t mean that it is.

I enjoyed this book as it is a lesson for children with fears. Like my 5 year old is afraid to be alone in the dark and I’ve been trying to help her overcome this fear. I will be reading this book to her in the hopes that she can relate to Susannah and understand there is nothing to fear. I enjoyed Ms. Roman’s illustrations that everyone has a fear of something and not let fear keep them from enjoying life and having fun. I highly recommend Oh, Susannah: Things That Go Bump for any family or school library.

Oh, Susannah: Things That Go Bump
is available in

paperback and ebook

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Desire's Way: a typical romance

Desire’s Way by Ginni Conquest is the love story of Chase Rivers, owner of Rivers Security and Desiree Maisson, a wedding planner. While on a job, Chase watched Desiree walk by every day until he decided he had to meet her. He orchestrates a way to bump into her and talk with her. He discovers the name of her company and decides to visit her later that day. The sparks fly immediately as the two begin to date and become very close. Everything seems to be going smoothly until trouble comes their way, the two must find a way to be together. Will Chase and Desiree truly live happily ever after?

I’ve been reading romance novels since middle school and Desire’s Way is what I would describe as a typical Harlequin romance. In the book, there’s an instant attraction and the sexual tension builds up fast. I had a hard time enjoying the book for two reasons. First, the format and editing of the book was very distracting. The book started on the left side page when books typically start on the right side. Chapters also started a line after the previous chapter ended. It looks like the author wrote the book in Word and printed it from there. Also the double spacing is very unnecessary in a book. Again looks like a Word document in book form. Another format choice I don’t understand is the author chose to capitalize words that don’t need to be capitalized. For instance, the word aunt was capitalized in the middle of a sentence without a proper name. Second, the story itself. As I said, I’ve been reading romance novels for a very long time. This story is very much like a Harlequin romance where everything happens very quickly. Not to knock Harlequin novels too bad because I’ve read some really good ones that remain on my “keeper shelf.” However, this book is not one of those. I can’t tell you how many times I rolled my eyes and mumbled “oh geez” at certain parts of the story. I especially disliked Chase’s typical macho behavior of “get your hands off my woman” while on their first date! I mean, come on!!! If you enjoy a quick love story, you may enjoy Desire’s Way. However, if you enjoy a true love story with deep emotions and substance, stay away from Desire’s Way.

Desire’s Way
is available on Amazon

in paperback and on the Kindle

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Daniel and Hosea: a study in dreams, visions and warnings

This month’s study is on two books, Daniel and Hosea, and will be a bit longer than usual. Daniel was one of four men who were chosen to learn the language and literature of the Babylonians. He was even given a Babylonian name, Belteshazzar. Everyone knows the stories of the fiery furnace, the lion’s den and the writing on the wall. Few remember Daniel was also an interpreter of dreams and had dreams himself. These dreams foretold the future. Some were fulfilled quickly while others have yet be fulfilled. Hosea is a prophet in the northern kingdom. Hosea’s life is an illustration of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God and his desire for reconciliation. Hosea takes a wife who is unfaithful to him. Despite her unfaithfulness, Hosea remained married. His life became a living, prophetic example of Israel. Hosea also proclaims to Israel the changes against them and the coming punishments.

Daniel interpreted two dreams. First, in Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream of a large statute. The statue had a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze and legs and feet of iron and clay. And a stone destroys each part, leaving no trace. No one could tell him the meaning of the dream until Daniel sought God’s guidance for the meaning (verse 18). Daniel interpreted the dream, telling the king that he is the head of gold. After his kingdom’s time, another kingdom will rise, inferior to his. Each succeeding kingdom will be inferior to its predecessor. The last kingdom is a mixture of iron and clay, mixed but not united. In this last kingdom, God will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed. Many scholars believe this alludes to Christ’s earthly kingdom. Many scholars believe that the silver represents the Medo-Persian Empire, the bronze the Grecian Empire, and iron and clay the Roman Empire. Although, some scholars now believe the iron and clay represents modern world powers and we now wait for the coming of Christ’s kingdom. Second, Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar, once again, has a dream. This time he dreams of a tree. A large and strong tree which gave food and shelter until a messenger, an angel, comes to cut down the tree. Before Daniel gave his interpretation, verse 19 says he was deeply perplexed and it terrified him. The tree is the king and God has issued against him. He will be driven away from the people, to live among the animals. Seven times will pass by until the king acknowledges the Most High is sovereign. One year later, the dream is fulfilled with Nebuchadnezzar took credit for his kingdom (Daniel 4:28-37).

Daniel has dreams and visions himself. First, the dream of the four beasts in Daniel 7:1-14. The first beast was a lion with wings of an eagle. Its wings were torn off and it stood like a man. The second beast, a bear with three ribs in its mouth. A voice told the bear to get its fill of flesh. The third beast is a leopard with four wings like a bird and four heads. It was given the authority to rule. The last beast is the most terrifying, frightening and powerful with large iron teeth and ten horns. It crushed and devoured its victims. God reveals the meaning of the vision to Daniel (Daniel 7:15-28). The four beasts represent four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. Many scholars believe this is an end times vision. Second, the vision of a ram and a goat (Daniel 8:1-14). In it, there was a ram with two horns and a goat with one horn. The goat attacked the ram and the ram was powerless to overcome the goat. The goat’s horn would break off and four more grew in its place. The angel, Gabriel, gives Daniel the interpretation of the dream at God’s command (Daniel 8:15-27). The ram represented the kings of Media and Persia. The goat was the king of Greece. The four horns represent the four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation. These kingdoms will be less powerful than the original kingdom. 

In chapters 4, 5 and 7, Hosea details the charges against Israel. They have no faithfulness, no love, or acknowledgement of God (Hosea 4:1). God is angry at the priests who relished in the people’s sins for they profited from it. Hosea 4:7-8 says “The more the priests increased, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful. They feed on the sins of my people and relish in their wickedness.” The more the people sinned, the more they offered as atonement. The priests would live on the offerings as stated in the Law (Leviticus 7:28-36). However, what they could not eat, the priests would sell. They were making money from the people’s sins. So what motivation would the priests have to help the people leave behind their wicked ways? God places the blame on the priests and the kings for the people’s sins. In Hosea 5:1, Hosea writes “Hear this, you priests! Pay attention, you Israelites! Listen, O royal house! This judgment is against you; You have been a snare at Mizpah, a net spread out on Tabor.” Mizpah and Tabor may have been prominent sites of worship to the god Baal. Leaders encouraged the people to worship and sin at these sites. With the kings and priests encouraging sins for their own benefit, how could the people of Israel stand a chance to obey God. God still held the people responsible for their sins; however, when the civil and religious leaders whom they looked to for guidance were disobeying God, why should they? God wants to save Israel but they do not call out to him, they do not repent (Hosea 7:13b-14).

The coming punishment for Israel’s unfaithfulness Hosea 9: 17 says “My God will reject them because they have not obeyed him; they will be wanderers among the nations.” Due to their disobedience and their failure to repent and turn back to God, Hosea 10:13 says that the Israelites “have planted wickedness,” they have “reaped evil” and “have eaten the fruit of deception” and depended upon their own strength and “many warriors.” They believed they were safe due to the military might of the northern kingdom. God promised them that with the roar of battle, their fortresses will be devastated (Hosea 10:14). They will live in tents once again like they did when they were brought out of Egypt (Hosea 12:9). However, God still loves this people. He still wants to see them turn from their wickedness. Hosea 14:9 states “Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them? The ways of the Lord are right, the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” It is an appeal to listen, learn and benefit from God’s word. To those who receive the message from Hosea, it meant the difference between life and death. God judges the sin but shows mercy to the sinner when the sinner repents and turns back to God.

In conclusion, the dreams in Daniel were messages, warnings to things to come. Some events could not be stopped like the dream of the statute. It was a look into the future of the major world powers. Some dreams were a warning from pride like Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the tree. God used these dreams and visions to how his people that he is in control of heaven and of earth. He is the one directing the forces of nature, the destiny of the nations and the care of his people. In Hosea, God is the one who is forever faithful to an unfaithful people. In the book, God lists Israel’s sins against him and the terrible consequences if they did not repent and turn back to God. Despite Israel’s sins, God still loved the people. No matter what we do, God still loves us. There is still hope to turn away from sin and turn back to God. He waits for us with open arms, if only we are willing to walk into them. However, if we do not, we will suffer the consequences of our sins just as Israel did. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Handmaid's Tale: a classic novel we should all read

I originally read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood in high school. The imagery in the book is one that has never left me. When I heard Hulu was producing a series based on the book, I was interested in reading it again. What also intrigued me was the comments I found on online about the book’s themes which some of the purposed themes I did not see when I read it the first time and I was curious if I would pick on the themes as I read it again. I also read the author’s introduction about her thoughts on the proposed themes readers have seen in the story. The themes are essentially feminism, anti-religion, and a prediction of our coming future.

The story is told from the point of view of Offred, a Handmaid, in the Republic of Gilead. She lives in the home of the Commander and his wife. Her job is simple. She is to become pregnant by the Commander in order to produce children due to the declining birth rates. Offred and the other Handmaids are highly restricted. Women are no longer allowed to hold jobs, have their money, or even allowed to read and write. She is safe in a world which is becoming more and more unstable as long as she produces children. The Handmaids are look down upon by the other women known as Marthas due to the nature of their presence in the households. While she goes about her daily life, she remembers her life before with her husband, Luke, and their daughter. She wonders if they are even alive. She remembers the other Handmaids real names without revealing her own. It’s a secret she heavily guards. Slowly she is able to learn about the truth behind everything and as she learns the truth, she becomes more and more in danger. Can she escape with her life? Or will she be another victim to the growing restrictions of the regime?

The first theme that is often discussed with The Handmaid’s Tale is feminist. In the author’s own words: “If you mean an ideological tract in which all woman are angels and/or so victimized they are incapable of moral choice, no” (page XVI). In the author’s mind and I agree, the novel is feminist in the sense that women are human beings and what happens to them in the book is crucial to the story. The female characters are the focus on this story. Not just the handmaids, but the Wives, the woman who can no longer have children. The Marthas who are the servants in wealthy and powerful households. The Econowives who are viewed lower than the handmaids because they are married to men of little money or power. Wives, Marthas, Econowives, and Handmaids all interact in a way which is dictated by societal rules. By the end of the book, the reader gets a sense that every woman, regardless of her rank, is at the mercy of the men in power and they lash out on those they can: the other women. In a way, the reader ends up feeling sorry for the women who may or may not have chosen their rank and now must live a life accordingly.

The second theme is anti-religion. Ms. Atwood’s inspiration for the tale comes from the story of Jacob and his wives, Rachel and Leah, and their handmaids, Zilpah and Bilhah (Genesis 29:15-30:24). In the story, a dominant group of authoritarian men seize control and set up a society of extreme patriarchy. The regime uses biblical symbols to do so. The clothing worn by the women in the story are derived from Western religious iconography. The Wives wear blue which invokes the image of the Virgin Mary and of purity. The Handmaids wear red symbolizing the blood of childbirth. The highly enforced clothing helps regimes control and target the masses just as the Nazis did with the yellow stars and the Jews. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the dominant “religion” (we are not told what religion) takes control of every intellectual and doctrinal ideal in order to eliminate the other religions. Catholics and Baptists are targeted as the enemy in “the war” and Quakers go underground and escape the country. In the book, Offred refuses to believe that the regime has been sent by a just and merciful God. No, the book is not anti-religion. According to Ms. Atwood, “it is against the use of religion as a front for tyranny” (page XVIII) which is very different than being anti-religion.

Third, many readers see The Handmaid’s Tale as a prediction for the future, just like many people quote the book 1984 by George Orwell as a prediction to a very scary future. Ms. Atwood calls her book an anti-prediction. She holds that a future described in detail and people are aware of it can be a force to make sure it doesn’t happen. With the 2016 election, I can see how many people could see a regime like the one in The Handmaid’s Tale could happen. I can see how anything is possible. Anyone who has studied history can tell you that many horrible things have been done to others in the name of religion, government, or any reason they chose to give. The United States is a country of rebels. We were founded on a principle that we can change what doesn’t work. We can change a government which has become oppressive and even tyrannical. In a 1965 radio broadcast, Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, said “Eternal vigilance is not the only price of liberty; eternal vigilance is the price of human decency.” We cannot sit by and let those in power take away our civil liberties and our God given rights. We are a country of the people, by the people and for the people. We need to stand up and not let futures like the one portrayed in The Handmaid’s Tale happen.

In conclusion, I see The Handmaid’s Tale as a warning. A warning to those are becoming complacent about the world events around us. We can be a part of the change or we become a part of the regime which holds everyone down. I see how the book can be feminist as it portrays women as a vital and important part of society. Women are not people who need to be protected from themselves or others. I do not see the book as anti-religion. It is a book against the use of God’s name to oppress others or enact their own agenda which is something we have seen in history. I also see it as an idea of what our world could be like if we are not vigilant. I look forward to seeing the Hulu series. I recommend this book as it is belong among the classic stories which we all need to read. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming review

Spider-Man: Homecoming opened in theaters on July 7th. The story begins following the Battle for New York from The Avengers (2012), Adrian Toomes (played by Michael Keaton) is running a salvage company contracted to clean up the city. Their operation is shut down by the newly formed US Department of Damage Control. Outraged over the loss of business, he turns to developing and selling advanced weapons from the Chitauri technology he had in his possession. Fast forward 8 years, Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland) is still reeling from his involvement in the airport fight from Captain America: Civil War (2016) as he resumes his sophomore year at the Midtown School of Science and Technology. While he anticipates being called up to be a full-fledged Avengers any day, he begins to forgo his academic commitments to practice his fighting skills. He soon stumbles across Toomes and his weapons. He takes it upon himself to stop him and possibly prove himself worthy of being an Avenger.

There are three main aspects of the film that I enjoyed. First, Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-man. Holland is the youngest actor to play Peter. At the time of filming, he was 19 which is a lot closer to the character’s age of 15. By comparison, Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man (2002) was 25 and Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) was 26. Holland was able to capture Peter’s teenage angst without being overwhelming and annoying. His teenage desperation to be a part of the big boys fit real and genuine. Holland was also very good at the sarcastic and quippy side of Peter. He just fit. I enjoyed his performance from start to finish and look forward to other Spider-Man films. Second, Michael Keaton played an excellent villain as Adrian Toomes aka The Vulture. Toomes is a man who feels wronged and cheated by the rich and powerful and he sets out to take back what was supposed to be his. Keaton had facial expression which just poured out evilness and it sent chills down my spine. He was an excellent fit. Third, I enjoyed that the movie wasn’t another origin story. Peter is already established as Spider-Man. We didn’t need another movie to shows us how Peter becomes Spider-Man. It’s been done. Twice. We need to see Spider-Man in action. With Homecoming, we do.

There was very little that I did not like about the movie. First, I didn’t care for Marisa Tomei as Aunt May. My favorite Aunt May is Sally Field’s portrayal in The Amazing Spiderman films. However, Marisa Tomei’s portrayal was fine. She was supportive of Peter. She tried to talk to him when it was obvious he was troubled by something. Overall, she wasn’t in the film for very long. So I can’t really say I hated her in the movie. Second, the timeline. The movie takes place 8 years after the events in The Avengers, so it’s 2020? But the events in Civil War were in 2016? The events of this movie should take place in 2017, being so soon after Civil War. So, if the timeline they chose is true, Peter is 15 in Homecoming, therefore he was 11 during the airport fit in Civil War?!?!? I don’t think so. Someone screwed up royally when they decided it was 8 years later.

The movie has been well-received by critics and fans alike, receiving a 93% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Robert Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times wrote “The best thing about Spider-Man: Homecoming is Spidey is still more an kid than a man. Even with his budging superpowers, he still has the impatience, the awkwardness, the passion, the uncertainty, and sometimes the dangerous ambition of a teenager still trying to figure out this world.” However, not all shared his enthusiasm. One fan on the Internet Movie Database ( wrote this movie was “spit in the face of Spiderman fans” and killed his inner child. Please!!! I can’t roll my eyes any harder. As he listed everything he thought was wrong with the movie, I realized he wanted another origin story. Why? We already had two of them! Everyone knows the origin of Spider-Man! There is so many more stories to tell of Spider-Man than just his origin. He also seems to think Tony Stark gave Peter the webbing. Nowhere in the film does it imply that. Yes, Tony gives him the suit. However, the webbing was already established in Civil War. This fan also states “I don’t mind changing the characters into other races, but doing it just for the sake of doing it was lame.” Obviously he does mind and I don’t think they did it for the sake of doing it. New York City is a highly diverse place and the movie reflects this with the student at the school in a way the other Spiderman movies did not.

In conclusion, I enjoyed Spider-Man: Homecoming. And it infuriates me that fans were constantly comparing the movie to the original Spiderman movies as if they were movie gold (they weren’t). While I preferred another actress as Aunt May, the characters in this film fit this movie very well. The acting was on point. The laughs were great. The action sequences would intense. Overall, a Spiderman movie I’ve been waiting for and I’ll admit I was getting tired of Spiderman movies. I only saw this one because it was part of the MCU. It didn’t disappoint. It is a great addition to the MCU and I look forward to seeing more. If you are a fan of the MCU, you will enjoy Spider-Man: Homecoming

Friday, July 21, 2017

More great books from Carole P. Roman

Carol P. Roman has two great new books out. First, Oh, Susannah: It’s in the bag is the day in the life of Susannah Logan. Her day goes from bad to worse and every time something goes wrong, she ignores it by stuffing it in her backpack. In the morning, it’s her unfinished math homework and the banana she doesn’t want to eat. When she gets on the bus, her best friend, Lola, gives her an invitation to a sleepover which she doesn’t want to go but doesn’t know how to tell her friend. Then it’s her math quiz which she did horribly on because she didn’t finish her homework. So on and so forth until her bag begins to rip. If is only after a nightmare of an exploding bag which wakes up her parents, she is able to talk to her parents about how overwhelmed she feels and didn’t ask for help because she saw how overwhelmed her parents are. Her parents realize that they are all overwhelmed and help her get organized, finish her homework, and remind her never be afraid to ask for help. Oh, Susannah: It’s in the bag is a great short chapter book for young girls who are learning to read on their own. It has a great character they can relate to as well as learn a lesson about speaking up when you need help.

Second, If you were me and lived in…Cuba takes the reader on a tour of the island nation of Cuba. The reader is taken through the capital and largest city of Havana. There is shopping with Abuela and visiting Castillo del Morro, a 17th century Spanish fort. There is a visit to Cayo Coco, a famous beach in Cuba. It is rumored that Ernest Hemingway used it in many of his novels. There is a look into special foods for celebrations in Cuba as well as the country’s favorite sport, baseball. If you were me and lived in…Cuba is a great addition to this children’s educational series. It has become a favorite of mine and I can’t wait for my daughter to learn about Cuba and all the other countries featured in this series. I highly recommend Oh, Susannah: It’s in the bag and If you were me and lived in…Cuba for any family and classroom library!

Oh, Susannah: It’s in the bag
If you were me and lived in…Cuba

are available in paperback and eBook

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Angels: what are they in the Bible and what purpose they serve in our lives today

Angels are supernatural heavenly beings created by God. While Scripture does not give a time of creation, but Job 38:7 implies they were created before the creation of man as they “shouted for joy” at God’s work. There are only two angels specifically named in the Bible. Gabriel, the messenger, and Michael, the archangel. While Scripture as a whole is silent regarding details of the time and cause of a rebellion leading to fallen angels, there are a few verses which reference it. 2 Peter 2:4 says that God sent the fallen angels to be bound up in hell. There is so much information about angels out there. I will try to be as concise and clear as I can. I will discuss what the Bible says about the angels’ descriptions, their work in heaven as well on earth, and their appearances in the Old and New Testaments. Lastly, I will cover evil angels and their purpose.

First, the descriptions of angels are limited; however, Scripture does give some details. There are a vast multitude of angels (Revelation 5:11). They are without a bodily organism; they often appear as men on multiple occasions. Jesus said they do not marry or die (Luke 20:34-36). They constitute a company rather than a race developed from an original pair. They possess superhuman intelligence; however, they are not omniscient. In Matthew 24:36, Jesus says that angels do not know the day or hour of his return and 1 Peter 1:12 says that the angels long to see what believers experience through Christ. They are stronger than man but not omnipotent. In 2 Thessalonians 1:7, Paul writes that powerful angels will appear with Christ at his second coming. 2 Peter 2:11 describes the angels are stronger and more powerful than man. Angels are distinct beings and are not glorified human beings. Hebrews 1:14 says that angels are ministering angels who will serve those who inherit salvation.

Second, angels work toward believers include a variety of tasks. They guide as described in Genesis 24:7 as an angel guided Abraham’s servant to find Isaac’s wife. They provide as described in 1 Kings 19:5-8 as angels provided Elijah food and drink as he fled from King Ahab and his queen, Jezebel, plot to kill him. They deliver men from harm. As in Daniel 6:22 as an angel protected Daniel from harm in the lion’s den. In Acts 12:7-10, an angel helped Peter escape from prison. They direct. In Acts 8:26, an angel sent Philip into the desert where he encountered the Ethiopian who needed help understand Scripture. They comfort. In Acts 24:23-24, an angel is sent to give Paul comfort as he sailed for Rome and trial before Caesar.  Angels work toward non-believers as well. Angels were sent to destroy Sodom for their sins (Genesis 19:13). When the Lord sent a plague on Israel and an angel stretched his hand out to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord told him to stop (2 Samuel 24:15-17). An angel struck down Herod Agrippa I when he did not praise God (Acts 12:23).

Third, angels had an important role in Jesus’ life too. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and announced Jesus’ conception (Matthew 1:20-21). Angels heralded his birth to shepherds in the field (Luke 2:8-15). Angels attended to Jesus after his temptation in the desert (Matthew 4:11). Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:16 that the angels witnesses his resurrection. In Matthew 28:1-7, an angel appeared to Mary Magdalene and Mary to proclaim his resurrection and show the women the empty tomb. Lastly, angels accompanied Jesus on his ascension to heaven (Acts 1: 9-11). Angels will play an important role in Jesus’ return to earth. Jesus said that angels will help “weed out everything that causes sin and all who do evil (Matthew 13:41) when he gave the explanation for his parable of the weeds. In doing so, angels will separate the wicked from the righteous (Matthew 13:49). An angel will be instrumental in binding Satan for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3).

Angels appeared to people many times in the Old Testament. Including the Old Testament instances I mentioned previous paragraphs, there are many stories of angels appear to individuals. Three angels came to Abraham and proclaimed that the same time the following year, his wife, Sarah, will have a son in her old age (Genesis 18:1-15). An angel appeared to Hagar, the maidservant, when she ran away from Sarah’s mistreatment (Genesis 16:7-8). Angels appeared to Lot at the Sodom city gate (Genesis 19:1) and hurried Lot and his family out of the city before its destruction (Genesis 19:15). Jacob has a dream of stairway of heaven which angels were ascending and descending on it (Genesis 28:12). An angel appeared to Moses in the flames of the burning bush (Exodus 3:2). An angel came to Joshua to give him God’s instruction to attack the city of Jericho (Joshua 5:13-15). An angel appeared to all Israelites to remind them of God’s deliverance and his covenant (Judges 2:1-4). Gideon was given a special message from God by an angel (Judges 6:11-13). An angel appeared to the wife of Manoah to proclaim the coming of their son, Samson, after years of childlessness (Judges 13:2-5). Angels were active in the New Testament as well. Luke 1:26-38 states that the angel, Gabriel, appeared to Mary to deliver the message that she will give birth to a son. In Acts 5:19-20, an angel appeared during the night and opened the jail, freeing the apostles to continue to spread Jesus’ message. An angel appeared to a Roman centurion named Cornelius and told him to seek out Peter (Acts 10:3-8). The apostle John writes that the vision documented in Revelation was given to him by God through the angels he sent (Revelation 1:1).

Evil angels or demons are spirits whose purpose is to oppose God and try to defeat his will and frustrate his plans. Romans 8:38-39 states that nothing, not even demons, can separate believers from the love of God. The book of Job is a perfect example of demons hindering man physical and eternal welfare by a limited control over natural phenomena. In Job 1:12 states that the Lord allowed Satan to take everything from Job, but he was not allowed to physical touch him. His cattle was carried off by attackers (Job 1:13). Then the house where his children were feasting was destroyed by a mighty wind, killing everyone (Job 1:18-19). Demons often will inflict disease on believers. In Luke 13:11, 16 tells the story of Jesus healing a woman who had been “inflicted with a spirit for eighteen years (verse 11) and Jesus states it was Satan who bound her (verse 16). Demons will often be sent to tempt man to sin. In Matthew 4:3-10, Satan attempts to tempt Jesus to use his power to make bread from rocks. Whatever power demons have is limited by the permissive will of God.

In conclusion, angels are mentioned over 300 times in the Bible. Both good and bad angels, they serve a purpose in the will of God. You may be asking “well that’s great but does angels have to do with me?” Do you think God would stop using angels as his messengers? I don’t think so. Hebrews 13:2 says “do not forget to entertain strangers; for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” As I discussed above, many from the Bible entertained angels without realizing it until it was revealed to them. Entertaining or being hospitable is simply helping others feel comfortable and at home. With people coming in and out of our lives, never to be seen again, you never know if one of them was really an angel.  A customer, someone you pass on the street may be an angel passing through with a message, a reminder.

Zondervan New International Bible Dictionary

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

Monday, July 17, 2017

Catching the Wind: a story of promises kept despite the years past

Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson is a story of one man’s determination to find his childhood friend and fulfill a promise. The story opens in Germany July 1940 where Dietmar Roth, 13, is playing with his friend, Brigitte, when men come to take him away. At his mother’s urging, Dietmar and Brigitte run. Fast forward to 2017, Quenby Vaughn is a reporter for the World News Syndicate where she is on the story of Lady Ricker and the rumor that she help spy on the Britain for the Nazis. She gets a call from Lucas Hough, a lawyer for wealthy businessman, Daniel Knight. They have a job proposition for her. Mr. Knight is Dietmar who changed his name when he arrived in England in October 1940. He and Brigitte were separated after their arrival in England and he has been searching for her ever since. As Quenby begins her search, she learns about their dangerous journey from Germany to England. She also learns that Brigitte’s story may be tied to Lady Ricker’s activities during the war. As she gets closer to find Brigitte, Quenby gets the sense that something or someone is trying to stop her. Will she be able to find Brigitte and reunite the two friends? Will she discover the secrets hidden for 70 years?

Catching the Wind is a beautiful story of a lifelong search, of promises kept intertwined with the dark days of World War II. It is a story of redemption and the truth about a family’s past. It was filled with twists and turns, surprise after surprise. I read this book over the course of two days. I could not put it down. I sat on the edge of my seat as I turned the pages eager to see if Quenby would find Brigitte and renuite her with Daniel. I highly, highly recommend Catching the Wind!

Catching the Wind
is available all major booksellers

in paperback and eBook

Saturday, July 15, 2017

What's in a name?

In recent months, I’ve read articles and online debates where people and groups arguing over the proper name of Jesus. Some insist since he was Jewish, we should be called him by his Hebrew name, Yeshua. While I was looking for images to another post, I came across a picture which depicted how Yeshua became Jesus. And it got me thinking, does it really matter if we call Jesus by his Greek name or his Hebrew name? Does it diminish what he came to earth to accomplish? Does it diminish who he truly is?

First, the name Yeshua is the shorter version of Yehoshua, meaning “Yahweh [the Lord] is salvation.” Sometimes the name is shorten further to Yeshu. Therefore, it is the same name for the same person (KjaerHansen). It would be like a woman named Katherine becomes Kathy then becomes Kat. Its three names for the same person. Jesus is the English derivative of the Greek transliteration of Yehoshua via Latin. Transliteration is the conversion of a text from one script to another by swapping letters in predictable ways. It is primarily concerned with representing the characters accurately rather than sounds of the letters. So the A is dropped from Yehsua because there is no Greek character for the Hebrew letter Ayin (YEH SHU). Then the SH is dropped as there is no Greek character for the Hebrew letter Shin (YEH SOU). The Hebrew YH becomes the Greek IE (IE SOU). The S is added in Greek as a nominative case ending which indicates a name (IE SOUS). The O is dropped in the English transliteration for the King James Bible (IE SUS). When J was introduced in English alphabet in the 14 century AD, it replaced “I” in future King James Bibles. Therefore, that’s how Yeshua become Jesus in our Bibles and our lexicon.

Second, Jesus is more than just name. He is Lord and Savior. He is the Messiah or Christ, which is the Greek word for Messiah. He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He is Immanuel “God is with us” (Isaiah 7:14). He is the Son of God (Luke 1:35, John 20:31, Matthew 26:63, et al). He is the Son of Man (Matthew 20:28, John 5:27, John 13:31 et al). He is the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 1:8). He is the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). And many, many other names and titles. He is my Redeemer. He is more than a given name, an everyday name. At the crucifixion, Pilate wrote a notice which read “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews” and placed it about Jesus’ head on the cross (John 19:19-20). He wrote it in three languages: Aramaic for the native Jews, Latin for the occupying Romans, and Greek for foreigners visiting from other lands. He was proclaimed in the languages of the ancient world. Hebrew: the language of Israel, of religion. Latin: the language of the Romans, of law and government. Greek: the language of Greece, of culture. While Pilate intended the notice to mock and threaten the Jews; however, it had an unintended use. He was proclaimed Jesus king in every language of those who were there. There isn’t a language that God cannot speak. I don’t think he would care if we call our Savior by his Hebrew name or his Greek name.

Third, does it really matter if you call him Yeshua or Jesus? To me, it doesn’t. Call him Jesus or Yeshua, it doesn’t diminish who is he and what he has done for us. “Jesus of Nazareth – the friend and Saviour of sinners. That is what his name – Yehsua – means, and that meaning can become clear even if one uses JESUS in a diaspora language. Anyway, this is what Matthew did” (KjaerHansen). This is what Matthew does in his gospel when he writes “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). If you relate to him by Jesus, do not be burdened to call him Yehsua. He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). He knows his sheep and his sheep know his voice. “It is true that his mother and friends called him Yeshua rather than Jesus, but if you know him as Jesus, does he mind that? Is it incorrect to call him Jesus? There are some who would argue till they’re blue in the face that it is critical to call him Yeshua and not Jesus, but Yeshua’s coming was also God’s time to take salvation to the gentiles. I believe that it was no accident that his name was disseminated in the international lingua-franca of the day: Greek. It was to go far and wide, to every nation on earth” (One for Israel).

In conclusion, to quote Shakespeare “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II). Names do not effect who people really are. The person gives the name its worth, not the other way around. So call him Jesus or Yehsua, it doesn’t change who he is. To many, he is Lord and Savior and a name wouldn’t or shouldn’t diminish that. In my opinion, when someone argues over whether to use Jesus or Yeshua, its all semantics. They are splitting hairs for whatever reason. As I’ve said before, Yeshua or Jesus, he is still my Lord and Savior. Change his name. Call him whatever you wish. It doesn’t change who he is to me.

KjaerHansen, Kai An Introduction to the Names of Yehoshua/Joshua, Yeshua, Jesus and Yeshu. Jews for Jesus, March 23, 1992, retrieved July 4, 2017

One for Israel Jesus vs Yeshua?, retrieved July 7, 2017

Friday, July 14, 2017

Before We were Yours: a excellent story about a painful past

Before We were Yours by Lisa Wingate is a tale of one woman’s determination to discover the truth behind her grandmother’s mysterious behavior. Avery Stafford is a successful federal lawyer who comes home to help with her ailing father, Senator Wells Stafford, who is up for reelection. While at political function with her dad, she is approached by an elderly woman who calls her by a different name. Avery’s heart is drawn to the elderly woman and as she seeks out information about the woman, she discovers a deeper mystery. Flashback to Tennessee, 1939, Rill Foss is the oldest child of Briny and Queenie Foss, river gypsies who live on their boat, Arcadia. Until one day when she and her four younger siblings are taken from their home and delivered to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. There Rill tells her story of abuse and lies as she realizes what is going on. Will Avery discover the truth? Is her family connected to the elderly woman? Does Rill and her siblings ever make it home?

At first, Before We were Yours was slow to start. I wondered what the point was as I read back and forth between Avery’s point of view and Rill’s. But soon the story took off and I was hook. I couldn’t put it down. I read into the wee hours of the night, eagerly waiting for the resolution. What happened to Rill and her siblings? When I read the author’s note at the end of the book, I realized the story was based on real events of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society and the woman who ran it. I highly, highly recommend Before We were Yours for the great, intriguing story.

Before We were Yours

is available in hardcover and eBook

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Stars over Sunset Boulevard: a friendship forged during an iconic movie

Stars over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner is the story of two women who become roommates and friends, each with their own reasons for coming to Hollywood. Violet Mayfield is 22 years old from Alabama. She has come to work in the secretarial pool at the Selznick International Studios. She meets Audrey Duvall, 30 years old another secretary, who dreams of bright lights and her name on the marquee. They are working for the studio during the filming of one of the greatest films of our time, Gone With the Wind. Although at the time, the film is doomed to be a failure, Violet is recruited to be an assistant on the set as Audrey chases her dream of becoming an actress. Enter Bert Redmond, a costume assistant on the film and not so secretly in love with Audrey. Their friendships will stand a test when Violet and Bert fall in love. One night, after a night of heavy drinking, one of the green carpet hat that Scarlett wears in the film goes missing. How are the women and their friendship tied to the hat? Will their friendship stand the test of time? Will the hat be discovered?

Stars over Sunset Boulevard is a great story with one of my favorite films as its backdrop. I loved the friendship between Audrey and Violet who at different times emulated the friendship of Scarlett and Melanie from the film. It is a friendship that things were done and said due to fear, love and uncertainty. I also enjoyed how Ms. Meissner weaves the past and the present as the mystery of the green carpet hat is revealed. I highly recommend Stars over Sunset Boulevard!

Sunset over Sunset Boulevard

is available at all major booksellers