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Monthly Archives: March 2018

Why I Quit My Dream Job

I was fortunate to have many years of actually being paid for doing what I loved–nurturing creative souls as they learned to love learning. Toward the end of my 34 year career, I experienced what this younger teacher discovered: all the joy was being ruthlessly sucked out of education. She expresses it well, and I am sure her departure from the field is a loss for students and families.

brennalea

I can remember standing in my parent’s basement smothered in wood panelling and orange shag carpet with a dry erase board and my second grade math homework. I can remember lining all of my stuffed bears and hippos and whatever else into a strategic seating chart so they could all see the board and I could walk around “the classroom” to ensure each student was on task. I assigned homework and stayed after school to plan for the next day or at least until dinner was ready. Teaching has been my dream since I was cognizant of the fact that a career was possible for me.

I attended an elite teaching school in Colorado, took college credits in high school, made every career decision and personal to match the teaching timeline of my life.

Most recently, I moved back home with my parents, back to the shag carpet and wooden…

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I Can Only Imagine–the inspiration behind the song

I Can Only Imagine

by Bart Millard

I Can Only ImagineWhat will it be like for a believer in Christ to die and go to heaven? Bart Millard’s answer is “I Can Only Imagine.” If you have not heard this beautiful worship song, I encourage you to go to YouTube and listen right now. Then read the memoir I Can Only Imagine written by Bart Millard, lead singer and organizer of MercyMe and writer of this song. God inspired him to write the song, and he had it down on paper in ten minutes, but as legendary Christian singer Amy Grant told him, referring to his background, “Bart, you didn’t write this song in ten minutes. It took a lifetime.”

Millard’s memoir details what a movie by the same name could only highlight. A product of a severely dysfunctional family, he suffered extreme physical, verbal, and emotional abuse followed by a long period of neglect which could still be punctuated by paternal outbursts of anger. But through it all, God had a plan. This book details Bart’s relationship with God and the dual miracles He worked in the life of Bart and his dad. How could Bart’s father morph from a monster into a role model? How could Bart forgive his father for the horrible abuses wrought on him and go on to become a kind and loving father and husband himself? The answer to these mysteries is summed up in one word—God. More exactly, the miraculous power, love, and mercy of God.

The book also shares how the band MercyMe was formed and worked its way up the ladder in the dog-eat-dog competitive music industry while remaining true to God’s calling for them. Theirs was not a path of instant success, but it was one that glorified God and reflected His plan and goals.

This memoir is well written and honestly reflects the struggles Bart had in his personal as well as musical endeavors.  The part of the book that deals with abuse is, of course, difficult to read, but Millard shares enough that the reader understands the depth of what happened without being drawn into lengthy descriptions of the brutality. Millard shares his pain but also inspires with the wondrous miracle of God’s love.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Memoir

Publication:   February 13, 2018—Thomas Nelson (W Publishing)

Memorable Lines:

But through all that noise in my life, whenever I heard perfect union of melody and lyric in a song, something traveled from my ears to my heart and made me feel alive.

I embraced the truth that no matter what happened or what Dad did to me, God was ultimately in control. I became more vocal about my faith, less afraid to ask questions about the Bible, and more confident to state what I believed. What I discovered is that there’s personal empowerment that comes with a relationship with Christ, and this, coupled with a newfound identity in Him, brings real healing to suffering people.

The maddening thing about verbal abuse is how the words you’ve heard replay in your head hundreds of times, even when the person is not around or has stopped saying those things to you.

We all face really hard seasons when it seems as if the entire world is against us, when we think we just cannot win. But when we keep standing strong, following the Lord, and obeying His calling, He will see us through and keep us on His path.

Dead Calm–murder-suicide?

Dead Calm

by Annelise Ryan

Dead CalmDead Calm centers around Mattie Winston, a medicolegal death investigator who works in Sorenson, Wisconsin’s medical examiner’s office. She is newly married to Steve Hurley, a local homicide detective. Receiving twin middle of the night phone calls from their bosses, they are summoned to the scene of an apparent murder-suicide at a motel on the outskirts of town where rooms can be rented by the hour for liaisons.

Annelise Ryan has written a mystery that moves quickly from one situation to another with lots of threads and clues along the way. How could a pharmaceutical coverup tie in? Are the victims’ spouses culpable? Has a construction crew uncovered the skeleton of an alien on Mattie and Hurley’s proposed home site? Ryan keeps the reader guessing all the way to a surprise resolution.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #9 in the Mattie Winston Mystery Series, but it reads well as a standalone. There is a lot of backstory, but the author does a good job of relating it quickly.

Publication:  February 27, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

The land is out in the country; the mosquitos were apparently having some sort of convention out there all weekend, and I was on the menu for every meal.

For starters, my relationship with Emily was iffy at the time, iffy being a euphemism for a barrel of TNT connected to a short, lit fuse.

So far, our road to marital bliss has been as smooth and painless as petting a porcupine.

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