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

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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

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Divided We Fall: a look into church division and what we can do about it

Divided We Fall: Overcoming a History of Christian Disunity by Luder G. Whitlock Jr is a look into the history of the Christian church and how disagreements and arguments have created division among Christians throughout the centuries. He begins with biblical foundations of faith and how humans as relational beings are designed for companionship and community. He takes an in-depth look into the historical events which have shaped the different denominations as we know them today. From the Apostolic Church to the Medieval Era to the Reformation. As he discusses the differences among the denominations, he focuses on the Presbyterian Church, which he is the most familiar with. The differences are more than doctrinal differences but cultural, economic and social differences. For example, the Presbyterian Church has 10 or more denominations that have developed since the arrival in the New World. The church separated into North and South denominations during the Civil War and failed to reunite when the war was over. Some denominations are divided along heritage identity i.e. Scottish and Irish congregations. Some division simply came about over the business matters. After he discusses where the church has lost its focus, he offers solutions to refocus and return to the united church as discussed in the Bible. It all begins with love, trust, understanding, kindness and the ability to function together despite our differences.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I enjoyed reading the history of the church and the changes to the church as society changed. I agreed with many of his points especially his assertion that he is a Christian without the label of a denomination, “I am happy to be a mere Christian without further appellation.” I too am happy to be merely a Christian. The clarification of what denomination I may or may not belong to is unimportant. Another point he made is “the closer you are to Christ, the more some issues fade in importance.” I wholeheartedly agree. The last year I committed to reading the Bible book by book and I found myself closer to Christ and to God than I have ever been before. The denominational differences and scrabbles do not matter to me anymore. I highly recommend this amazing book. Mr. Whitlock is honest about where the church has gone wrong and acknowledges the solutions he offers will be difficult for some to do but they are necessary for unity among believers. This book has a permanent place on my bookshelf.

Divided We Fall: Overcoming a History of Christian Disunity

is available in paperback and eBook

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Lumineers: a great band worth listening to

The Lumineers are an American folk rock/Americana band featuring founding members, Wesley Schultz (lead vocals, guitar) and Jeremiah Fraites (drums, percussion). The pair were writing and performing together in Ramsey, New Jersey in 2005. Neyla Pekarek (cello, vocals) joined the band in 2010. They are known for their energetic live shows and international hits. I vaguely knew of their music. The only song I was familiar with was “Ho Hey” from their debut album. When it was announced, they would be one of the opening acts for U2 on the North American leg of the Joshua Tree Tour 2017, I was curious how they would be live. My husband and I saw them perform on May 20, 2017.

Wesley Schultz was born December 30, 1982 in Ramsey, New Jersey. His best friend was Josh Fraites who died at the age of 19 of a drug overdose. Schultz would connect with Josh’s brother, Jeremiah (born January 17, 1986). The two would find solace in music, songwriting and performing. According to Fraites, they were doing “crappy covers” with “no focus; it was a mad, random mess.” Frustrated with the lack of progress in their music careers, the pair would relocate to Denver, Colorado. They would place a Craigslist ad which Neyla Pekarek (born September 4, 1986) would answer. Pekarek is a classically trained cellist who had hopes of becoming a music teacher when she answered the ad. She joined the band in 2010. The Lumineers’ first single, “Ho Hey” was used in 2011 for the CW song Hart of Dixie. Social media created such a buzz. The band would pass on deals with major record deals in order to sign with Dualtone Records, an independent label. Their debut album, The Lumineers, was released on April 3, 2013 to positive reviews. Their second album, Cleopatra, was released on April 8, 2016. They have also done music for various movie soundtracks including two of The Hunger Games films, Pete’s Dragon (2016) and Storks (2016).

Their style of music is in its simplicity. Fraites once said the simplicity of their
Style is that “anyone who can play an instrument can play a Lumineers song.” They’ve been influenced by everyone from Bob Dylan to Guns N’ Roses. They’ve been compared to Mumford and Sons, who play a similar folk rock; however while Mumford and Sons play “instruments in massive buildups. The Lumineers by constant, stay sparse, barely getting around to using an electric guitar” (Jon Pareles, The New York Times, February 10, 2013). The Lumineers can still rock out without the electric guitar. I like the sparseness of their music. You can feel every hit on the percussion and each story is easily a great toe-tapping tune. Each story tells a story with Schultz as the storyteller. Many of their songs have been inspired by real experiences and interactions with people. One example would be the song “Cleopatra.” Schultz said he was inspired to write the song after a conversation with a female cabdriver who shared her story during a cab ride.

While all their songs are great. I have a few favorites. One of them is “Ho Hey” from their debut album. It is the song which introduced me to them. It’s an example of their simplicity. The instruments featured is a guitar, drums, tambourine and a mandolin. According to Schultz, the song was created as a kiss-off to disinterested concert goers, as an “effort to get under people’s skin at shows in Brooklyn, where everyone is pretty indifferent” ( The shouts were added to the song to “get someone’s attentions.” “Ho Hey” is definitely a song that you can’t help but dance and sing along. I like the sharp hits of the percussion especially the tambourine. Another of my favorites is “Ophelia” from their second album. The line “Oh Ophelia/You’ve been on my mind since the flood” at first had no meaning. According to Schultz, he doesn’t know why he said the line or what it could mean. “Sometimes the truth comes out of just blabbering and blurting things out” ( The song came to be a story how the band has dealt with their sudden fame after the success of their debut album. I’ve come to see the line as Ophelia is fame and the flood, their sudden success which fits the meaning as it developed with the band.

In conclusion, when I saw them at the Rose Bowl, my expectations of their performance was not high. However; by the end of their set, they had two new fans, as my husband and I really enjoyed how they performed. They rocked out with great beats and awesome lyrics. The Lumineers is a refreshing change in music. Their simple style is their greatest asset. As one commenter on a YouTube video said, “Real instruments, real meaning, real inspiration, real goosebumps…real rare.” The Lumineers are a return to a time when music was the artists and their instruments. No fancy sound effects. No electric distortion. I highly recommend you give The Lumineers a listen. Even if you think folk rock is not in your musical taste. They may surprise you with their storytelling, their music and their talent. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Where Dragonflies Hover: two love stories and lives connected despite the years

Where Dragonflies Hover by AnneMarie Brear is the story of two women connected through a diary. The story opens in 1945, Alexandria “Allie” Jameson, whose health is fading,  is determined to finish the story of her and Daniel. Allie was a nurse in France during World War I when she meets Captain Daniel “Danny” Hollingsworth as she nursed him back to health after he was wounded in battle. Fast forward to 2010, Alexandria “Lexi” O’Connor is a successful solicitor and married to a successful doctor but something is missing. Hollingsworth House, an old estate, is up for sale and she is determined to have this house despite her husband, Dylan’s, objections. Her desire for the house intensifies when she find Allie’s diary. She buys the house and begins to fix up the house as she continues to read Allie’s diary. She and Dylan split when it seems they want different things in life. When an emergency seems to bring them back together, will they be able to reconnect and rediscover their love for each other? Will Allie and Danny have a happily ever after?

Where Dragonflies Hover is a wonderful story which blends past and present into a heart wrenching love story. One love during a terrible war and another during a war within themselves. I loved that Ms. Brear chose the backdrop of World War I for Allie and Danny’s story. So few books have stories set during the Great War or tell the story of the brave men who fought in the trenches and the women who were in the field hospitals who worked tirelessly to save their lives. I also loved Lexi and Dylan’s story which is such a modern story of trying to find the balance between one’s career and their heart’s desires. I highly recommend Where Dragonflies Hover!

Where Dragonflies Hover

is available in paperback and ebook