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Putting It Together Again When It’s All Fallen Apart
by Tom Holladay
We all have times when we need to rebuild, whether it is a “church, a business, a relationship, or a purpose in your life” says Tom Holladay. He is the senior teaching pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, and he uses the book of Nehemiah in the Bible as his foundation for teachings about “putting it together again when it’s all fallen apart.”
Do you, like me, need a reminder, a prod—who was Nehemiah anyway? Holladay says “Nehemiah was a government leader who rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem after it had fallen into ruin.” Actually, in the book I learned that Nehemiah also went on to reestablish the city, resettle its inhabitants, establish rules for commerce that aligned with God’s laws, and give thanks to God for completing the project which naysayers said couldn’t be done.
Holladay takes a book of the Old Testament that could be boring and makes it come alive. He analyzes the text well and applies it in a very practical way to a variety of situations from personal to business. He gives examples of how real people have used these principles successfully in their lives. I especially like that this is not a verse by verse study of Nehemiah; Holladay explains how Nehemiah worked through the problems of his building project and how we can apply the same Scriptures in our own lives.
I highly recommend this book for its interesting content and writing style and for its Scriptural insights and integrity. There are so many possible applications that I think every reader will come away enlightened and blessed in their daily walk with God.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Zondervan for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: This book ends with a Small Group Study Guide and references 10 minute videos available on YouTube to accompany each chapter.
Publication: February 6, 2018–Zondervan
Memorable Lines: (Just way too many—a sign of a book with a lot of wisdom—so I’ll just pull out a few of the first ones I highlighted.)
Gossipers love to destroy what others are building. It gives them a twisted sense of power.
Victory comes from your relationship with God. Nehemiah exemplifies dependence on God at every point in the battle: he talks to God in prayer, follows God in the changes, listens to God in his encouragement, and lives by means of God’s priorities through God’s Word.
Rebuilders must have thick skin because they’re going to face attack. That attack may come from an individual, but it can also come from within. One of the names for Satan in the Bible is “the accuser” (Revelation 12:10). He loves to ridicule your faith. So he’ll send a thought when you want to renew your faith, a relationship, a ministry, or a dream.
This summer I took a road trip from New Mexico to the South to visit friends and family. My route took me through the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Missouri (going East), Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Arkansas (going West). I was driving my appropriately designated “Desert Sky Blue” Ford Thunderbird, but going through my head was “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet.” I hope the people who came up with that ad campaign, tune, and lyrics were well compensated–now that was branding!
Most of my time was well spent reminiscing and catching up. I was treated to some sightseeing along the way.
Paducah, Kentucky, is restoring its downtown area. So much interesting history there! We had a delicious lunch at a bakery that survived a major flood and currently includes a café, walked the brick paved streets admiring period storefronts, viewed fantastic murals along the riverbank, and lingered in a local museum with fascinating memorabilia.
In Asheville, North Carolina, I enjoyed the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In Chattanooga, Tennessee, I went to the National Cemetery. It may seem like a strange place to visit, but I have memories of going there as a little girl with my father like you would go to a park. I had a fuzzy recollection of a “train statue” and was eager to make a better connection. There is a memorial there to Andrews’ Raiders and the Great Locomotive Chase, a military raid in 1862 during the American Civil War. The locomotive pictured below is a model of The General. The memorial is surrounded by tombstones of some of those involved and indicates which ones were executed, escaped, or exchanged.
A bit of history has been brought to life in the James County Courthouse which has been remodeled with a wedding chapel upstairs and a tearoom, which I highly recommend, beneath–wonderfully decorated, delicious food, and a friendly staff.
Always good to travel and always good to return to a place you call home. The New Mexico desert is a welcome sight as I head towards my mountain retreat.
Raisins and Almonds
by Kerry Greenwood
Raisins and Almonds is a typical Phryne Fisher mystery, but somewhat more cerebral. Evidence of that is found in the inclusion of a bibliography reflective of the author’s research and a glossary of Yiddish words. This mystery is strongly tied into the Jewish community that settled in Australia, the politics of Zionism, and a sub-sect focused on alchemy. Phryne has to do a lot of research in addition to her usual methods of sleuthing in order to find the murderer of a young Jewish scholar and free an innocent bookseller from prison.
Greenwood excels in this book in three ways. She uses the supporting characters to good advantage in solving the mystery as she sends her adopted daughters, her assistant Dot, and friends Bert and Cec out on different missions which play to their strengths. Phryne and Jack agree on the bookseller’s innocence enabling them to cooperate in their separate missions to solve the mystery. The ending of Raisins and Almonds is a fun surprise which wraps up the mystery and the title quite satisfactorily.
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.
Category: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Notes: #9 of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
Publication: June 6, 2017—Poisoned Pen Press
Phryne smiled guilelessly into the policeman’s face. He winced. Miss Fisher was at her most dangerous when she was smiling guilelessly. It was a sign that someone, somewhere, was about to be shaken down until their teeth rattled and the Detective Inspector was uneasily aware that he was the closest available target.
Bert was nervous because he didn’t know what to look for in this big bustling market. Neither did Cec, but his Scandinavian ancestors had bequeathed him some Viking fatalism. If they were meant to find out, they’d find out.
Kadimah was as ordinary as a church hall, and as extraordinary as a landing of Well’s Martians. It was as sane as porridge and as lunatic as singing mice.
Tightening the Threads
by Lea Wait
Tightening the Threads is a very good cozy mystery, set in Maine and focusing on family relationships Most of the characters in the story are the product of dysfunctional to nonexistent relationships with their parents. Some emerge from childhood with pain and an inability to have meaningful connections. Others find solace and stability with extended family or build strong bonds with friends.
There are mysteries to be solved that tie into the relationship issues; these crimes center around the patriarch Ted Lawrence, son of famous artist Robert Lawrence. The novel shows us once more that money and fame do not necessarily insure happiness or wisdom.
This author obviously has an interest in needlework in general and needlepoint in particular as evidenced by her main characters belonging to a group called the Mainely Needlepointers. She displays her historical interest by starting each chapter with a quote from a child’s sampler as well as a description of the sampler and information about the creator as available. I enjoyed this book and am definitely interested in reading more by author Lea Wait.
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.
Notes: #5 in the Mainely Needlepoint Mystery Series, but works as a standalone.
Publication: March 28, 2017–Kensington Books
During the ten years I’d lived in the almost perpetually neutral shades of Arizona, I’d missed seeing Maine hills glowing with gold and scarlet and orange in late September.
“Love you, too. As always, for always.”
“I think all families have mysteries, and secrets, and stories. I don’t think they’re all meant to be uncovered.”
Families weren’t simple. They weren’t like television show casts where everyone supported everyone else and laughed over dinner.
I read so many fascinating tales and review them in my blog, but probably none outshine the real story of Esther found in the Bible. Here my blogging friend Dolly (KOOLKOSHERKITCHEN) shares the original tale along with traditions that have developed and are part of the celebration of Purim. Don’t miss the funny video and delicious recipe she shares as well.
These pastries are called Hamantaschen. We can no more imagine the holiday of Purim without them than without the graggers – noisemakers gleefully shaken by children and adults alike to drown the name of the evil villain Haman.
That’s a story of Purim in a nutshell. Once again, the Jewish people, marked for wholesale slaughter, were saved through the good offices of the beautiful and pious Queen Esther and her uncle, the wise and righteous Mordechai. To commemorate this event, we read (or at least listen to) Megillas Esther (the Scroll of Esther) where the entire story is recorded in minute details. Every time when Haman (may his memory be erased forever) is mentioned, we make all kinds of noises, and not necessarily by using traditional graggers that look like this:
…but also anything that makes loud noises. I play castanets. A friend of mine, a very reserved lady…
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Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education
by Raphaële Frier
illustrated by Aurélia Fronty
The youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize earned this award and world-wide acclaim through her activism in support of girls’ rights to education. Starting at age eleven, she began a courageous public battle against the Taliban and their destruction of girls’ schools in Pakistan. Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education, depicts Malala’s background and family support, her bravery in the face of Taliban violence, and her continuing efforts to bring light on rights’ issues for girls and women in particular, but including all downtrodden people.
The artwork is an essential part of this book, providing colorful symbolic images. At the end of the book there is a helpful timeline of events in Malala’s life as well as photographs of her. There is an added useful feature for parents and teachers who want to extend the study with information on Pakistan, education in Pakistan and the world, and Malala’s religion and inspiration. There are also brief discussions of other peacemakers: Gandhi, Mandela, and King. This section includes quotes from Malala as well as a listing of other sources of information about Malala including links to various important speeches she has made.
Teachers will find Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education a valuable teaching resource. It empowers both children and women to stand up for what is right and summarizes the religious and historical context in a way that is understandable and appropriate for children. This book could be used as an integral tool in many curricular units as well as to provoke thoughtful discussion by itself.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Charlesbridge Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Younger Readers, Biography
Notes: recommended for ages 6-9
10 inches X 10 inches
originally published in French
Publication: Charlesbridge Publishing–February 7, 2017
One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world.
“Dear sisters and brothers, we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.”–Malala
“The extremists are afraid of books and pens. With guns you can kill terrorists; with education you can kill terrorism.”–Malala