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Monday, December 24, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Book Review of An Ocean Apart

I have long been a fan of Rosamunde Pilcher and just discovered
that her son, Robin Pilcher is carrying on his mother’s tradition as a fiction writer.

The main character of this story is David Corstorphine, son of a Scottish Lord and heir to a whiskey distillery. David is grieving the loss of his wife to cancer and he has taken a sabbatical from work to take care of his children and deal with his grief. He finds solace in gardening, despite the horrific Scottish weather. Though he seems to be holding it all together, his mother  knows he’s stuffed his emotions and is worried that he hasn’t fully coped with his loss.

When David’s company requires that he make an emergency trip to America to tend to a business related matter, David suffers an emotional break down when he is brought face to face again with his loss. He prolongs his visit to America and takes a menial job for an affluent family as their gardener. (They are unaware of his past history or social standing.)

The story is about his journey to heal his deep wounds and find meaning in life again.

In a similar tradition to his mother, Robin has written an enjoyable women’s fiction book. It’s not a romance per se, but it has strong romantic leanings. David is likeable and we are able to empathize with him. I found myself rooting for him hoping he would be able to find healing and applauding him as he becomes involved in the lives of the family he is working for. Though at times I had to suspend my disbelief, finding it hard to swallow that a father of three would just decide to start working as a gardener for a month and ocean away from his children, I was willing to because the characters are affable and interesting. At times it seemed to be a bit melodramatic but only on occasion. I still enjoyed the story, even more so since it has a happy ending and David finds new love.

I give this 4 out of 5 stars.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Book Review, While I Was Gone by Sue Miller

This women’s fiction book is well written. The main characters are Jo Becker who is a veterinarian, her husband, a Lutheran minister and a long-lost acquaintance, Eli Mayhew.

The theme of this story is that small things can divide strong marriages including those that have been solid for long periods. We fall into predictable patterns, a comfortable existence, and the danger is we may become bored. It doesn’t take much--a misspoken word, a spouse who is preoccupied spouse, or even meeting up with someone or something that makes us look back and long for something in our past.

All of these come into play in this story.

Jo Becker has radically changed from her free-wheeling days during the 60’s. She’s on her second marriage and is the mother of three grown daughters. But when she encounters Eli, one of the former boarders of a house she lived in with other young students, the past suddenly intersects.

Jo’s wild and rebellious side resurfaces when she thinks she has feelings for Eli. It is the case of forbidden fruit and she risks it all to meet up with this man. They both harbor the same dark secret from the past. Dana, one of the boarders in the house they shared, was murdered and the crime has gone unsolved for all these years.  

Sue Miller accurately describes static family life and the dynamics of strained mother-daughter relationships as well as sibling rivalry among children. Family gatherings can often bring out the best and worst and we see both. The scenes where her daughters are present including Cass, the black sheep,are real enough to make you squirm.

This book provides a strong warning about pining for something better. One misstep and we may lose everything we hold valuable. I give the four out of five stars. Be warned there is language and some sexually explicit sections.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ministry Going Rough? Make a Bamboo Car.

One of the purposes of this blog is to share slice of life experiences. I don’t often talk about much besides writing usually because of lack of time. However, I am making time today. I thought it appropriate to share about the ministry my husband and I are involved in. It is a huge part of who we are.

Our Christian coffee shop ministry, Java Journey ( is one of the most exciting and challenging things we have ever done, especially. We live and operate out of Hickory, NC which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

Our ministry, in a nutshell, is to share Christ’s love to the hurting and broken and teach them to give it back to others. What we had never foreseen was that the bulk of those we minister to are either under employed or unemployed so they can contribute very little financially to our ministry, which cannot be supported through coffee sales alone. We rely on donations as well. Unfortunately, now our donors are being affected. The past few months have been particularly challenging as yet another substantial donor, due to relocation because of job loss, has stopped contributing.

Good stuff is happening in our ministry, but sometimes, because of the finances, it feels as if we are stranded on an island with no means of escape. We see other ships passing by just out of reach, but cannot seem to get out of our predicament (though we have ideas for how we could become self-sustaining). When things break, we have no money for repairs. Our most recent fatality is our deli case. Over the past few months, we’ve paid rent later and later. Thank goodness for a gracious landlord who extended mercy and said he’d really like to keep us because he believes in what we are doing.
Recently, Jeff attended a clergy meeting with local pastors and shared about our present circumstances. He approached it with humor. “We’re like folks on Gilligan’s Island,” he said. “We make cars out of bamboo.”
Indeed, there are parallels to the illustration of the castaways. Those who have survived such hardship have done so because of several things. We can learn a few things from them:

First, cherish the encouragement and accept the help of others. You are more likely to make it if you have others to commiserate with and share with.

 Second, hold tight to your faith in God. Though it seems as if you have been stranded forever, you are only going through a temporary hardship. It will not last forever.

Third, have a positive attitude. Give thanks for even the small things. Hold on to hope.
Finally, use whatever resources you have at your disposal (even if it’s just bamboo).  Do the most excellent job you can and trust God to bless your endeavors.

If you cling to these truths, you will not only find the strength to carry on, you will inspire others to as well. One day they may say, “they are truly remarkable. I had no idea you could make such an awesome car out of bamboo.”
Here's some fun Gilligan's Island trivia


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Book Review, Near-Death Experiences as Evidence for the Existence of God and Heaven

J. Steve Miller has made a comprehensive and thorough study on near death experiences. The book references many accounts of those who have been temporarily dead and what they have seen while in that state. But what lends the highest credibility to the work are the accounts of those in the medical profession who have told accounts of patients. These are not hysterical people but those who would be seen by those who know them as normal and respectable thereby carrying more weight.

The author has accurately called it a brief study, and indeed, it is just 6 chapters with multiple appendixes but he has represented the length honestly and has done a thorough job. Throughout you will find excellent writing and documentation that is in simple layman’s language. Where other studies documented in such a way might become cumbersome, this book held my interest and helped sway me, a skeptic to see the plausibility of near death experiences.

I especially appreciated his convincing and logical arguments about common themes in most accounts of near death experiences which he tackles on a point by point and how he ties them in to the existence of God and spiritual beings. If you have any interest in this topic and are yet undecided, I highly recommend this book. I doubt you will find a better one on this subject anywhere. Here's the Amazon Link.