30 June 2012

Mondays With My Old Pastor by Jose Luis Navajo, Book review


Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN-13: 978-0849947254


 A totally burned-out young preacher reignites his faith and gathers wisdom for life while spending successive Mondays with an eighty-three-year-old pastor.
"Deep inside in some uncertain part of my soul persisted this strange exhaustion that was difficult to explain and hard to endure," writes pastor and author Jose Luis Navajo. Thinking of quitting the ministry, Navajo doesn't know where to turn until he begins meeting with a seasoned man of the cloth-his "old pastor"-who, through successive Monday visits, offers a legacy of wisdom in the form of 15 unique principles. 

In lyrical prose, Navajo shares the personal anecdotes, fables, and deep spiritual insights offered by the old pastor and his wife. By turns funny, heartbreaking, and thought provoking, Mondays with My Old Pastor is a comfort to anyone who struggles in his or her walk with God. As readers follow Navajo's journey from desperation to rejuvenation, they will find themselves similarly transformed and inspired. This moving, beautifully written account is sure to reignite every soul's longing for renewal.

My thoughts:

Originally written in Spanish by Jose Luis Navajo and beautifully translated, 'Mondays with my old Pastor' is destined to become a favourite with most Christians, particularly Pastors and Lay Ministers or anyone whose faith struggles with burnout!

'Mondays with my old Pastor' is an exquisitely crafted recount of the weekly visits of this small church pastor with his mentor at a time when he needs someone to reignite the flame of his faith. 
As each Monday comes, the old Pastor - and his wife - brings comfort and wisdom to the younger man's wounded soul using fifteen unique principles.

As you read on you are treated to a variety of stories, sometime with humour, often thought provoking or even heartbreaking but with faith building experiences you will not soon forget. 
If I had to choose one adjective to describe this story it would be 'comforting'. With clear wisdom, the older Pastor reminds us that God loves us for whom we are, not for what we do.  

This book is hard to put down and I would imagine most of us will soon have our copy dogeared!

The introduction alone called 'A Cross in the Desert' will change the way readers pray forever!  An intuitive observation of the many treasures God has given each of us, this one, the gift of prayer time with Him, is the only way to describe it and should be experienced.

Each chapter is labelled: 'First Monday, Second Monday,...and begins with a short meaningful message. But it is the Old Pastor's deep perception on subjects such as weakness, disappointment, faith and being a servant of God (or Church executive as described in the Third Monday) which allows us to see ourselves in a different light and brings us acceptance and understanding! 

- Love Him...
- How can I love Him more?...
- By knowing Him better. 

 So simple!

'Wisdom is with aged men, 
And with length of days, understanding.' (Job 12:12)

5 Stars (because there is nothing higher ) and worth so much more!

About the Author:

'José Luis Navajo has completed studies at the Seminario Evangélico Español, the Asociación de Formación Teológica Evangélica and the Escuela Bíblica Salem. He is currently part of the pastoral team for the Iglesia Evangélica Salem in Madrid, Spain.
Pastoral ministry is his calling and vision; as an author of several books, his other vocation is literature.

Navajo leads conferences, contributes as a commentator for various radio programmes and is a columnist.'

(from Joining the Dots Dist.)

I received this book free from THOMAS NELSON/BOOKSNEEZE as part of their blogger review program.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

28 June 2012

Lucy Come Home, Book review

Publisher: Castle Rock Creative, Inc. 
ISBN-13: 978-0982054437


Fifteen-year-old Cindy worked long days beside her migrant worker family in Michigan's sugar beet fields in the early 1940s -- the "war years" -- until she met a dashing young man from a traveling carnival, bringing some joy and fun into her hard-scrabble life. But a tragic twist of fate -- and a dead field boss-- sent the two young people on the run, leaving behind family and everything she'd ever known.

Lucy Tucker, the crotchety old bag lady from the popular Yada Yada House of Hope series, is a veteran of Chicago streets and not about to give up her independence, even as she approaches her 80th birthday. 
Until, that is, a young displaced woman with her gentle aging mother and a dog named Dandy seem to need her -- unsettling the secretive Lucy, who doesn't let anyone get too close. But just when it seems her past is catching up with her to bring her in out of the cold... Lucy disappears again. 

How these two tales intersect and intertwine between past and present gradually shines light into the dark corners of Lucy's murky past. But... why won't Lucy come home?

My thoughts:

Have you ever seen a photo of something you simply cannot forget? A tangible reminder that you are blessed and should appreciate all that you have perhaps?
'Lucy come home' and its haunting resume was such for me. Scroll down and see the photo I posted at the end of this review and I think you will agree!

The Yada Yada Journey of Hope series which includes 'Lucy come home' and authors Dave and Neta Jackson were new to me.
This 416 page fictional work was a tad unusual as I prefer historical novels but the Yada Yada series is so well known, I wanted to give it a shot and see what it was all about it. 

'Lucy come home' is a remarkable work of human warmth and compassion in a world where too often we forget to be 'as Jesus'! 
Written in the present tense with flashbacks to the Fourties, you discover the true story of this 80 year old homeless everyone knows as Lucy. She has been on the streets for decades but who is she?

Back during wartime, the then 16 year old traveled with her migrant family, working the fields from sunup to sundown. Despite harsh living conditions and too often the pains of hunger, Lucy aka Cindy knew love and care with her family. When a traveling carnival appears nearby, she discovers a brand new world!
A tragic event however will see her leaving all that she loves behind and in the newly found company of a handsome young carney, she runs away.

As you read this novel, you soon feel totally engrossed in this startling novel! Well written with haunting details, it shows every possible emotional facet!
'Lucy come home' is a profound story of love and hope, with glimpses of the stark reality of marginal living for homeless people like Lucy! This book will make you laugh, sigh and cry! 
Dave and Neta Jackson have a gift for storytelling and their Christian novels have provided many with heartwarming stories!

So go ahead and find out who is Lucy and what she is doing on the streets of Chicago, the windy city! 
A story to read and remember always!

I give it 5 stars!

Note: This photo has been in my collection for a long time and has often haunted me!

About the Authors:

Dave and Neta Jackson are award-winning authors living in the Chicago area where their parallel novels from the Yada Yada House of Hope and Harry Bentley series are set.
As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books.
For additional information read (here)

For more reviews on this book please check (here)!

I received this book free from LITFUSE as part of their blogger review program.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

25 June 2012

Just Not Such A Good Day...

The day did not start too well...and I felt sad...

Nothing felt right so...I decided to try on a few hats...

I keep on hoping Summer will show itself...

And being a tad homesick I even reached out for the Bobby look...

After a while I realized I had a lovely time after all and just smiled...

God is good, God is great...

23 June 2012

Mary Magdalene by Diana Wallis Taylor, Book review

Publisher: Revell (June 1, 2012)
ISBN-13: 978-0800720483


Long maligned as a prostitute or a woman of questionable reputation, Mary Magdalene's murky story seems lost to the sands of time. Now a portrait of this enigmatic woman comes to life in the hands of an imaginative master storyteller. Diana Wallis Taylor's Mary is a woman devastated by circumstances beyond her control and plagued with terrifying dreams--until she has a life-changing confrontation with the Savior.

Lovers of historical and biblical fiction will find this creative telling of Mary's story utterly original and respectful as it opens their eyes to the redeeming work of Christ in the lives of those who follow him.

My thoughts:

I chose to feature the above synopsis instead of the one shown on the back of the cover for a personal reason. I admit I am only a student of the Gospels and for a moment as I read the cover's resume I thought there might be another Mary Magdalene!

The imagination of storyteller Diana Wallis Taylor brings readers however a new dimension to the picture we might have of this amazing woman who followed Christ till the end.

I found myself utterly enchanted by this author's narrative of a woman we know little of despite mentions in Luke, John and Acts. 
We know Jesus cast off seven demons from her and that she was a close follower.
We also know she witnessed His mock trial and heard His sentence, she was present at His crucifixion and later amongst the women who find the empty tomb.

In 'Mary Magdalene' Diana Wallis Taylor weaves a stirring profile of a gentle child who learned the Scriptures, growing up in Magdala, a coastal town off the Sea of Galilee with caring parents.
Following a tragic event, Mary Magdalene lives the next few years plagued by nightmares and yet amidst of all this, finds love and eventually will be healed. 
She eventually follows Jesus and witnessed to the Messiah's glory for the remaining of her life.

The author's rich historical and social details of Jewish life in Galilee in the time of Jesus interwoven with her chronicles of this amazing woman are most gripping!
A reader, young or old, will discover an emotional account of a woman we hardly knew and should remember first and foremost as one who was THERE.

This is the sort of enriching fictional work perfect as a gift for any young woman coming of age. It has all the elements of a love story of the purest form!

If I had a dozen copies, I would be passing them out right now!
5 Stars!!

 About the Author:

An Award winning author (her book 'Martha' is # 5 on the UK Christian Book list), this grandmother with six grown children and 10 grandchildren, had her first poem published when she was twelve years old. 
She enjoys writing Biblical Fiction and Christian Fiction and her novel 'Mary Magdalene' was published on 1 June 2012.
Her next project, a book on the wife of Pontius Pilate will be published in June 2013.
For more on this author read (here). Take a moment to read the section 'Staging your characters' actions' and check out her two other books, 'Journey to the Well' and 'Martha'.

I received this book free from BAKER/REVELL as part of their blogger review program.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

22 June 2012


A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.
 ~Chinese Proverb~
(Art by G. Elgar Hicks 1910)

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. 

 ~Mark Twain~

Life is short but there is always time for courtesy.

 ~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

From the grapevine...
A few bloggers in the vast world of Blogland  have occasionally overlooked Kindness...
Such a simple rule...
It helps all of us to keep on smiling...

21 June 2012

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren, Book review

Publisher: David C. Cook
ISBN-13: 978-1434764300


When Cora Kensington learns she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king, her life changes forever. Even as she explores Europe with her new family, she discovers that the most valuable journey is within. The first book in the Grand Tour series takes you from the farms of Montana through England and France on an adventure of forgiveness, spiritual awakening, and self-discovery.

My thoughts:

'Glamorous Illusions', Book 1  of 'The Grand Tour' series has a most enticing front cover. One look at the lovely gown featured with the Eiffel Tower in the background will have you wish you too could be part of this Grand Tour. I was ready to be dazzled!

Let me begin by saying Lisa T. Bergren is a seasoned author with over 35 books and sales of over 2 million copies but new to this reader.

David C. Cook, the Publisher gives us in turn a tantalizing resume of 'Glamorous Illusions' starting with 'It's the summer of 1913...A fateful afternoon, a stranger comes to call, and Cora discover s a terrible secret about her past...invited to take the 'Grand Tour' of Europe, a trip intended to finish a person's education and solidify an understanding of refinement and ancient culture...

I immersed myself in this fictional story turning page after page hoping to glimpse the wonders of a 20th Century trip abroad through the eyes of our young protagonist beginning with a portentous crossing aboard the Titanic sister-ship. 
Grand Tours were scintillating events and much anticipated occasions for any well bred young lady or gentleman to acquire a certain polish and large amounts of monies were disbursed by generous parents to this effect.

Breathtaking scenery along with ancient History and the discoveries of Music, Art, companions and fine culinary partaking provided the perfect ending to one's education. If one might find herself/himself an impoverished title in the bargain, families would look benignly and pride themselves in having acquired a touch of blue blood in the bargain.

The idea of our heroine leaving her Montana struggling beet farm for a Grand Tour of Europe in the company of her newly discovered high society siblings has many hints of Cinderella. However Cora's journey of self discovery along this grand voyage is often confusing, her true sentiments hard to fathom! Even as I close the book I would be hard pressed to guess what she hoped to find.

I could not picture any young lady destined to be a teacher to learn in one month how to move comfortably through the society throngs for example.
I found it also hard to believe the group described did not have at least one female chaperone (anything less would have been frowned upon in most societies and introductions near impossible), servants were unlikely to know what would be expected and therefore could not have advised.

Illegitimacy was not more condoned in France than in England and therefore the courtship of Pierre de Richelieu hardly believable. Family pressures alone would have demanded he kept his distance. Accordingly the young lady would have been appraised his attentions were not honourable and very likely whisked away to the next stop of the Tour.

Leaving these details aside, I felt none of the excitement or glimmer associated with such trip. One would hardly describe the wonders of the Eiffel Tower, Centuries old English manors, French chateaus or the wealth displayed at the Louvre for example in such a desultory way and hints at someone who trouped behind a guide (If this is Tuesday, it must be Belgium). 
The elements are there but seen almost through a veil and does not impart the stimulating experiences for the reader's pleasure. 

Finally the end of this first novel in the series left me perplex. A hint or two leads me to believe there is more to the story but neither the romance nor the Grand Tour details provided much satisfaction. 
One can only sigh and say: 'C'est la vie!' 

More of a Young Adult story, I give this one 3 stars.

About the Author:

Lisa T. Bergren is Tim's wife; Olivia (16), Emma (13) and Jack's (8) mom; a traveler (www.TheWorldisCalling.com); a freelance editor; a writer; and an explorer of people, places and the ways of God. 
Visit her website (here) for more information.

Win a $350 “Glam” Visa Card Prize Pack from @LisaTBegren & RSVP for 6/27 Facebook party!
What is our "true" identity? Join the conversation at Lisa Tawn Begren's Glamorous Illusions Author Chat Facebook Event Page. On the evening of 6/27 we'll gather to talk about our spiritual journey, share our stories and a few laughs.

In the meantime, celebrate with Lisa by entering her Glamorous Illusions Giveaway!

One "glamorous" winner will receive a "Glam Prize Pack":

  • A $350 Visa Cash Card (Oh ... think of what you could do: treat yourself to a mani/pedi, a fabulous new dress, dinner for two, or even a two-night escape in a lovely hotel - you're only limited by your imagination!)
  • Glamorous Illusions (by Lisa Tawn Begren)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 6/26/12. Winner will be announced at Lisa's "Glamorous Illusions" Facebook Party on  6/27 {Fun begins at 5pm PDT / 8pm EDT}. Lisa will be hosting an evening of meaningful chat, fun trivia, laughter, and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and a Book Club Prize Pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club and a live chat with Lisa via video or phone.)

So grab a few of your friends and your copy of Glamorous Illusions and join Lisa on the evening of June 27th for an evening of fun.

Enter via E-mail
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Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 27th!

I received this book free from LITFUSE AND DAVID C. COOK as part of their blogger review program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

19 June 2012

Flowers, Sheeps and Heart...

Off island today for supplies...
And just thinking of what is really important in life...

"For millions of years flowers have been producing thorns. For millions of years sheep have been eating them all the same. And it's not serious, trying to understand why flowers go to such trouble produce thorns that are good for nothing? It's not important, the war between the sheep and the flowers?... 

Suppose I happen to know a unique flower, one that exists nowhere in the world except on my planet, one that a little sheep can wipe out in a single bite one morning, just like that, even without realizing what he's doing - that isn't important? 

If someone loves a flower of which just one example exists among all the millions and millions of stars, that's enough to make him happy when he looks at the stars. He tells himself, 'My flower's up there somewhere...' But if the sheep eats the flower, then for him it's as if, suddenly, all the stars went out. 

And that isn't important?'" 

(From 'The Little Prince')

(Artwork by Corrine Bayraktaroglu - Jafabrit's Art)

"One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." 
~Antoine de St Exupery~

17 June 2012

Father's Day...

There are many phases to Fatherhood, all involving patience...

And it is not always easy...

But children grow up fast and leave home...

So it should be remembered by all that today Fatherhood is to be praised by one and all!


(All artwork by Norman Rockwell)

16 June 2012

The World Is At Peace...At least Here On This Tiny Island...

Perhaps due to the cooler weather for the season, the island is quieter than ever...

Flowers blooms despite the constant rains

And whilst wars rage elsewhere we marvel at Mother Nature's daily miracles...

Now there is one...

And now there are two...

I have been really good Mum...I never barked once whilst you took this morning photos...

Life is very simple...At least here on this tiny island in the Pacific North West...
We count our blessings, really!

14 June 2012

Flag Day And Learning Something New Yet Again

'Inspired by three decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day - the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 - was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. 

While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson's proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.'

I Am Old Glory

I Am Old Glory:   For more than ten score years I have been the banner of hope and freedom for generation after generation of Americans.
Born amid the first flames of America's fight for freedom, I am the symbol of a country that has grown from a little group of thirteen colonies to a united nation of fifty sovereign states.
Planted firmly on the high pinnacle of American Faith my gently fluttering folds have proved an inspiration to untold millions.
Men have followed me into battle with unwavering courage.
They have looked upon me as a symbol of national unity.
They have prayed that they and their fellow citizens might continue to enjoy the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, which have been granted to every American as the heritage of free men.
So long as men love liberty more than life itself; so long as they treasure the priceless privileges bought with the blood of our forefathers; so long as the principles of truth, justice and charity for all remain deeply rooted in human hearts, I shall continue to be the enduring banner of the United States of America.

~Originally written by Master Sergeant Percy Webb, USMC.~

(Source: http://usflag.org/index.html)

13 June 2012

Service, A Navy Seal At War by Marcus Luttrell, Book review

Publisher: Little, Brown and Co.
ISBN-13: 978-0316185363

A Seal's philosophy:

“I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.”


Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell returned from his star-crossed mission in Afghanistan with his bones shattered and his heart broken. So many had given their lives to save him-and he would have readily done the same for them. As he recuperated, he wondered why he and others, from America's founding to today, had been willing to sacrifice everything-including themselves-for the sake of family, nation, and freedom.

In Service, we follow Marcus Luttrell to Iraq, where he returns to the battlefield as a member of SEAL Team 5 to help take on the most dangerous city in the world: Ramadi, the capital of war-torn Al Anbar Province. There, in six months of high-intensity urban combat, he would be part of what has been called the greatest victory in the history of U.S. Special Operations forces. 
We also return to Afghanistan and Operation Redwing, where Luttrell offers powerful new details about his miraculous rescue. Throughout, he reflects on what it really means to take on a higher calling, about the men he's seen lose their lives for their country, and the legacy of those who came and bled before.

A thrilling war story, Service is also a profoundly moving tribute to the warrior brotherhood, to the belief that nobody goes it alone, and no one will be left behind.
A thrilling war story, Service is also a profoundly moving tribute to the warrior brotherhood, to the belief that nobody goes it alone, and no one will be left behind.

My thoughts:

Shall I begin by telling readers 'Service' is nothing but gripping, and the honest recount of heroes such as Marcus Luttrell and his teammates? This is an amazing story of survival, determination, skills, patriotism and heroism on the part of US Navy Seals but also an homage to their spouses and families whose sacrifice should also be remembered!

What makes one man (or  woman) a hero? We recognize a true hero in a fireman rushing into a burning building to rescue a child, someone giving up a kidney to help save a loved one, a teenager jumping in freezing water to rescue a sibling...

Then there is also a different breed of men...Born heroes, their unwavering love for flag and country their driving force in a life filled with dangers...They give it all!

Marcus Luttrell and co-author James D. Hornfischer tells us of such heroes, men who go beyond enemy lines, into the very heart of terrorist territories. This is a story of the trials and sufferings of these courageous soldiers and the meaning of true valour, where each team member is willing to give his life for the other and their amazing victories.

This book also honours the many heroes of the other service branches serving in Afghanistan offering chilling facts regarding the countless experts who hunt and disarm explosive devices daily placed by the enemy and the pilots who swoops into a hot LZ to rescue wounded to name a few.

'Service' is a book that will show you how Navy Seals fight, live and how they die for their country and freedom. It reveals also the unsung heroes: the wives, girlfriends and family members whom they leave behind on the home front.

As I read Marcus Luttrell's dedication I felt a small measure of this true hero:

'I dedicate this book to my brother, for walking through Hell with me, and to my wife, for pulling me out of the shadows.'

Service is about selflessness...It shows us incredible courage and speaks of deeds few of us take the time to ponder upon unless it is to read a small caption in a headline.
In this book you will read of such people who truly rise up to be as Christians, roles models living quietly the idea expressed in John 15:13:
"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

A story to be experienced in recognition of the selfless deeds of these amazing warriors and their fight to preserve our way of life! 

Be sure to read the Naval Special Operations Personnel Killed in Action 1943-Present!
Freedom is not cheap and we should honour their sacrifices!

5 Stars because I could not rate it any higher!!

Never forget!

"Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit

(USN Seals Motto)
About the Author:

Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell joined the United States Navy in March of 1999 and became a combat-trained Navy SEAL in 2002, serving in many dangerous Special Operations assignments around the world. 
He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Lone Survivor.
For additional information see website (here). 

Finally a heartfelt thank to Anna Balasi and the team at HACHETTE for giving me the opportunity to review this book!

I received this book free from HACHETTE as part of their blogger review program.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

11 June 2012

Last Week No Water, Tomorrow No Electricity

Whilst they are trying to figure out what happens next...

We'll light a candle or two and listen to the rain falling down...

Maybe refresh our memory about the basics in life....
See you on the 13th!