Saturday, February 26, 2011

Between a Rock and a Grace Place: Divine Surprises in the Tight Spots of Life

by Carol Kent,
Zondervan, 2010

After reading Kent's earlier books, When I Lay My Isaac Down  and A New Kind of Normal, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the author's latest book on my (public) library's bookshelves.

Like the previous two books, this one deals with the subject of life after, and in the midst of, difficulty or tragedy. Kent knows her subject well. Her son, Jason, was incarcerated for life without the possibility of parole after killing his wife's ex-husband in 1999. An only child, raised in a good home with caring Christian parents, Jason was the last person anyone expected to commit murder and wind up a custodian of the prison system. As you can imagine, the outcome was devastating - for Jason, his parents, his new wife and her children, and for the fiancee and family of the murder victim.

While the new normal is not what anyone would have wished for Jason or anyone intimately connected with him through his crime, his mother points out that unexpected blessings have come out of his incarceration, not least of which is strengthened faith.

Peppered with stories of other people who have dealt with a variety of challenges and experienced "divine surprises in the tight spots of life," this is an excellent read for anyone, but especially for those who are going through struggles of their own.

Monday, February 21, 2011

They Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: a True Story

by Kevin and Alex Malarkey
Tyndale House Publishers, 2010

On a November morning in 2004 Kevin Malarkey was travelling home from church with his son,  Alex, when they were involved in a horrific accident. Alex, who defied all medical and human expectations for his survival, was airlifted to Children's Hospital for emergency surgery. While he remains a paraplegic in a wheelchair to this day, his recovery has exceeded the predictions of his surgical team, and he and his family remain firm in their faith that with God's help, Alex will walk again someday.

This book tells the story of the accident, Alex's hospitalization, and what happened during his time of unconsciousness, including a period in which he was comatose. Alex went to Heaven where he spent time with God, Jesus and angels, and he is able to tell us many things about his experiences with them, both in Heaven itself and on earth. It is an amazing story and is shared, not to draw attention to Alex, but to glorify God and give hope to people.

Although the family has an unfortunate last name, I completely believe the truth that is shared with us here, and look forward to the day when I, too, might see my real home with my own eyes.

This is exciting stuff, folks! Let's keep this boy and his family in our prayers and join with them in believing Alex will walk again during his earthly lifetime. They have an amazing attitude that is inspiring to others.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Charlotte Sometimes

by Penelope Farmer,
William and Charlotte Rayner, 1992
(first published in 1969 by Chatto and Windus)

The setting opens in late 1940s England. 12-year-old Charlotte Makepeace has been sent to boarding school, where nothing is familiar and she knows no one. Even so, when Charlotte wakes up that first morning, she is sure that there hadn't been a cedar tree outside the bedroom window, though there is one there now. And the girls in her room aren't the same girls who laid down in the beds next to her the night before.

Charlotte soon discovers that, by some mystery, she has exchanged places with a girl named Clare, who spent time in the same school in 1918, near the end of World War I. Charlotte and Clare continue to switch back and forth until one day they become stuck in the wrong time period. Will Charlotte ever be Charlotte again? Will she ever make it back to her own generation? And what will happen if she doesn't? Get hold of the book to find out the answers to these questions.

A great read. Originally intended for children, the book can easily be enjoyed by teens and adults alike, especially if they don't mind an "older" style of writing. Just one caveat - there's a seance scene that could be disturbing to some readers.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Living With Purpose in a Worn-Out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults

by Missy Buchanan,
Upper Room Books, 2008

A collection of devotionals for senior adults, I found each entry an unexpected delight. The author is lyrical and minimal in her prose and quickly gets to the heart of each subject. Examples of topics covered include sleep, clutter, friendship, reduced mobility, diet, etc.

I was a bit disappointed that there were only 41 devotionals, however. It's unfortunate the author couldn't have produced 365, one for each day of the year. It might have made for a large and too heavy book for the target audience, though, seeing as the entries are in large print and each one is allocated one or two pages. A suitable alternative, in my mind, would have been to provide 52 devotionals (one for each week of the year) or 31 (one for each day of a typical month).

Most suitable for the frail elderly, the majority of whom I would imagine to be 80 years old or better and accommodated in assisted living facilities.

This book was provided free of charge to me from the publisher, but my review was not in any way influenced by this fact.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Snow Day

by Billy Coffey
Faith Words, 2010

Peter Boyd, his wife and two children, live in the foothills of Virginia, where Pete is employed at a local factory. When he wakes up one morning and finds himself the beneficiary of an unanticipated snow day, he decides to use the day to reflect on his life and what his future might hold. The factory is in the process of downsizing and he fears he may not have a job there much longer.

Through the course of one day Pete is reminded of a variety of truths and rediscovers what is important in life. He discovers that there really is a Santa Claus, but more importantly, there's a God who loves him, who has a plan for his life, and wants to shower him with all good things. Pete's faith increases as these lessons hit home.

A very enjoyable read, the contents deserve our careful attention. Well worth reading more than once.