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30 Days in the Land of the Psalms: a Holy Land Devotional

30 Days in the Land of the Psalms: A Holy Land Devotional

by Charles H. Dyer

30 DaysA devotional is such a personal kind of writing. Readers bring their backgrounds to the process. Then the Holy Spirit uses the author’s words, guiding their thoughts and providing inspiration for understanding and change. As a reviewer, I read 30 Days in the Land of the Psalms: A Holy Land Devotional daily to capture the devotional experience.

The author, Charles H. Dyer, has a lifetime of experiences in the Holy Land, having led many tours as a licensed guide. He also has outstanding academic credentials, and I am sure he knows more about the Bible than I ever will. He excels at analyzing the structure of each psalm. I discovered at the end of my reading that I had noted many more memorable passages than usual. Dyer’s format is to draw the reader into the psalm with a description of the area the psalm would have been written in or about and some historical background. Next he talks about the format of the psalm in terms of the repetition that is so important in Hebrew poetry and why it was written the way it was. Lastly he includes a section, “Walking in Our Land,” which applies the psalm to the reader’s life.

While 30 Days in the Land of the Psalms: A Holy Land Devotional has many good points, it did not offer personal inspiration for me. I have two major criticisms. As someone who has led forty tours in the Holy Land, he could have included more photographs and they could have aligned better with the point he was trying to make. Also, his efforts to make the book sound like a tour fell flat for me. An example is his writing in several chapters as if someone had posed a question, “I am glad you asked that question.”

I found 30 Days in the Land of the Psalms: A Holy Land Devotional to be an acceptable devotional, but not sufficiently interesting to encourage me to purchase other devotionals by this author.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Moody Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Category: Devotional

Publication: May 2, 2017—Moody Publishing

Memorable Lines:

Whether we’re facing life’s struggles or rejoicing in God’s blessings, it seems we can always find a psalm that matches the mood of our spirit. And that’s what make the book of Psalms a songbook for all occasions.

The enemy might be somewhere just outside the city, but God is still seated calmly on His throne in heaven—and nothing takes the God of heaven by surprise.

We can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we’re going to respond. David had enemies, but during those times of trouble he also experienced God’s loyal love. And remembering how God had worked in the past gave him confidence that God would continue to bless the rest of his life. He rested in the presence of God.

Pride (the attitude that I can do it all myself) and impatience (thinking I want it all now) bring us into conflict with God…while humility and a sense of patient trust place us in proper relationship to Him.

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Guacamole–perfect for a fiesta or an everyday treat

title_croppedAlthough various regions claim to be the “avocado capital,” I can attest that Michoacán, México, deserves the title! Not only was the oldest evidence of the tree found in México, but you only have to take the highway to Uruapan to be surrounded by hectares of avocado orchards and warehouses. We are talking big business and a delicious and healthy product.

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Basic guacamole topped with tomatoes, onion, and cilantro

I make guacamole a number of different ways, depending on my mood and available ingredients. It is so easy. Just combine the ingredients, mash with a fork, and serve.  For me the staples of guacamole are: avocado, lime juice (preferably fresh), and salt. Other tasty additions in any combination you desire are diced onion or tomato, fresh cilantro, and powdered cumin or coriander. I love it best with salted tortilla chips, known in México as “totopos,” but it is also good with fresh veggies, as a salad on a bed of lettuce,  or as a side, topping, or garnish with anything Mexican. How do you like your guacamole?

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The basics–ready to go!

 

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New avocado trees getting their start

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treasure in Paradise–family style resort

Treasure in Paradise

by Kathi Daley

Treasure in ParadiseHaving read the first book in the Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Mystery Series, I was eager to read the newly released seventh book, Treasure in Paradise. It opens with the captivating “There is magic in beginnings.”

I must admit that although Tj Jensen stumbles onto a crime scene in the first chapter, it took me a little while to orient myself. I don’t think the fault of the confusion lies with the author but with my expectations. The series up to this point is set in a family owned resort in the mountains in Serenity, Nevada. In this book we find Tj spending the summer supervising the restoration of Turtle Cove Resort in South Carolina for a family friend who has had a stroke. She brings along four familiar faces, but we are also introduced to a whole new cast of characters.

Treasure in Paradise has interesting characters whom Tj and the reader meet in her efforts to discover the killer of the man she found murdered at the resort and a long lost treasure map of pirate vintage. She also has conflicts with a resort developer and a sheriff who seems to be hiding something. There are some relationship developments as Tj struggles with two half-sisters uprooted for the summer, her friend Kyle, and her father’s impending marriage.

I recommend this cozy mystery and am looking forward to the next one in the series, Fireworks in Paradise, to be released in October of 2017.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery, General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: This series is one of five created by Kathi Daley

Publication:   April 11, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

There is magic in beginnings. some beginnings come as a rite of passage, such as a graduation from college, the birth of a child, or a wedding day. Other beginnings start off more subtly, as nothing more than an ordinary moment that evolves into a crucial event that, in the end, helps define who you are and who you will become.

“…even if you find Prince Charming and he’s everything that you ever thought you’d want, sometimes that isn’t enough. My grandmother used to say that love isn’t logical, that sometimes you just have to trust your heart to find the other half of itself.”

I knew in my heart that sometimes seeking justice wasn’t justified at all.

Ruddy Gore–a mix of Chinese, Welsh, and Australian

Ruddy Gore

by Kerry Greenwood

Ruddy GoreThe inimitable Phryne Fisher and her friend Bunji find themselves in the middle of a very physical Chinese family dispute, which is only a subplot in this tale, as they are on their way to the theatre to enjoy a presentation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera Ruddigore. Following that initial conflict, they make their way to His Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne, and the reader is presented with the one weak portion of the novel. In the guise of encouraging Bunji, a very minor character in the book, to stay and enjoy the opera, Phryne summarizes the plot of the opera for her. Greenwood is attempting to share background for her unfolding story which centers around an old and a new murder and mysterious occurrences at the “Maj.” Both the cast and the characters they play are important in Ruddy Gore’s storyline, but this portion of the book, really only part of a chapter, was more extensive than necessary.

With the background sufficiently established, the plot moves quickly as Phryne is initially mystified, and then gradually peels off the layers of this puzzle.  As always with a Phryne Fisher novel, there are descriptions of her delightful ensembles and her romantic encounters. Dot, her companion, is called in to help with the investigation. Detective Inspector Jack Robinson views Miss Fisher as more likely to obtain information from the cast than he is, and so they cooperate and share information.

The Chinese connection through her love interest, Lin Chung, presents the thread of racial intolerance and prejudice from both sides. Lin and Phryne discuss the history of the Chinese in Australia and how the Chinese have adapted and coped. Phryne is the subject of discrimination herself from the Chinese and handles it well.

Phryne Fisher is undoubtedly rich as evidenced by her spending and lifestyle. She is not selfish, however, and her magnanimity occurs on a personal level. In this story she identifies a situation in which a stage boy with few options but much promise is being abused by his alcoholic father. Phryne doesn’t try to change the world, but she does change this boy’s world by providing him with opportunities. She doesn’t make him a charity case, suggesting that he repay her at a future date. She is also resourceful in engaging the cooperation of others in helping him.

Ruddy Gore is a wealth of incidental information about the theatre, actors, technical people, and management. All of these play a role in the mysteries which are resolved in the end, quite satisfactorily, leaving the reader anticipating further adventures starring Phryne Fisher.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Poisoned Pen Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery, Historical Fiction

Notes: #7 in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries but reads well as a standalone

Publication:   April 4, 2017—Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines:

“He will always get everything that he wants and never get the one thing which he really desires—that’s how it works with bounders,” observed Phryne.

No harm in him but as self-centred as a gyroscope.

“Have you ever heard of hiraeth?” he asked, his eyes staring sadly across endless seas. “No, what is that?” “A Welsh thing, hard to translate. ‘Yearning,’ perhaps. ‘Longing’ is more like it. All of us have it, however happy we are. The yearning for home, even if we shook the dust off our shoes in loathing and swore never to return to the cold damp streets and the cold narrow people and the flat beer and the chapels fulminating endlessly against sin.”

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