Tuesday, July 5, 2016

MESSY GRACE by Caleb Kaltenbach

       How a pastor with gay parents learned to love others without sacrificing conviction       

I loved this book. That said, it was one of the hardest for me to review. I want to encourage both members of the LGBT community and Christians to read it. Although the author writes mainly to Christians, I believe no matter who you are, you will find Messy Grace an enjoyable read. Caleb Kaltenbach knows what he's talking about.

Caleb's parents divorced when he was two years old. Shortly after that his mom met her lesbian partner. Caleb didn't find out that his dad was gay until he was right out of college. He lived with his moms and spent weekends with his dad. 

The author mentions some of his encounters as a boy with "mean-spirited, hateful people" claiming to be Christians. Caleb was nine years old when his lesbian mother and her partner, Vera, took him to his first Gay Pride parade. People participating in the parade were yelled at, called names and harassed. Some of the harrassment was extremely cruel. Caleb says he thinks many Christians have some apologizing to do to the LGBT community for social media rants, inappropriate jokes, street signs, assumptions, and some for just being plain mean. 

What I liked about Messy Grace is that Caleb's writing is not at all "preachy." In fact, it contains a lot of light humor. It's a very easy, compelling read. God has used this book to change my heart. Not my Christian beliefs or principles, but my opinions and my attitudes toward those involved in homosexuality.  He has replaced not hate (I've never hated gay people), but ignorance, with love. Every human being is created in the image of God. To demean that image is to wound another human being in the worst way. Bigotry causes unfathomable sorrow.....to everyone.

I rate this book 5 stars!

**I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Published by Waterbrook Press

Monday, January 18, 2016



  Are you an adult who likes to color? I am. But, I'm not too thrilled with coloring pictures of cars, spaceships, or superheroes--some favorites of one of my grandsons.

  Maybe you've seen the hot trend of adult coloring books at the bookstore. The number and variety is overwhelming. VJ Schultz's book is somewhat different from most of the others. Her creations are based upon "positive affirmation words." Each picture includes one word of affirmation to color and apply to your life.

  How would you color brave, sweet or thankful? Would you use bold colors, pastels, or metallics? How about love or joy? I actually chose joy and have included a picture of my finished work. (Please don't judge--I'm a writer not an artist)  ;)  As I colored, I did so with an attitude of joy. I couldn't help it. It just came automatically.

  I recommend this coloring book to all adults. It is designed and illustrated by VJ Schultz and can be purchased at www.Amazon.com

 More information about VJ and books she has authored can be found at http://vjschultz-author.me

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Exploring Christian Theology - Vol. II (Creation, Fall, and Salvation)

Nathan D. Holsteen & Michael J. Svigel
General Editors
Bethany House Publishers

I hope you won't be intimidated by the title of this book because you don't have to be a Bible scholar to enjoy it. Holsteen & Svigel have done a good job in making sure it is simple and easy to understand, even for laypersons (and I am one). I knew I was going to love reading the book as soon as I opened it to the Contents pages. Yes, I can get excited just reading a table of contents.

One benefit I received from reading Exploring Christian Theology was that it provoked me to search further and study more. There are two parts to the book with extensive lists of other books recommended for further study at the end of each part. The recommended books are rated beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The rating at least helps so you won't spend your money on something too difficult or not suited to you. But, there's always the library to explore. The bibliographies are good too, as well as a nice glossary of terms for readers not familiar with Christian doctrines. (See also Vol. 1 & Vol. 3) 

You will also read about the different views on various Christian doctrines. There are major themes summarized, charts and graphs (which I love), scripture verses to memorize, and practical applications. But there is so much more.  In the chapter titled "Facts To Never Forget" there are six given.  All six are important, but I want to share a couple sentences from Fact #2-All humans are created in God's image and have inherent dignity:
".....all people have inherent dignity and worth as image-bearing creatures of God. No matter what gender, no matter what age, no matter what race, no matter what economic level--every human being is singularly significant. And no other worldview can genuinely affirm human equality."  It's shameful to admit, but that fact is often the most forgotten by many Christians.

I've studied and taught Bible studies for over 45 years and I still learned a wealth of information from this book that was new to me. We never stop learning. So, go ahead. Don't be afraid to indulge in Exploring Christian Theolgy-Volume Two. It's now on my shelf for everyday use and I hope it'll soon be on yours!

* I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a public review.

Monday, June 29, 2015


By Jacqueline Suskin

   What do you like? Sports? Exercise? Birds? Do you like to get up early or sleep in?  Stop and think about some of the things you like, then jot them down. Do it every day. Go Ahead & Like It is about making lists of things you like. You can do this anytime and anywhere. Use a napkin, a paper bag, or whatever is at hand. A notebook would be best.
   Oh sure, you can go on Facebook and click "like" on any number of things. At the end of the day, do your eyes and mind compute all those clicks?  Writing out your own personal likes can be much more enjoyable and possibly therapeutic. It should help you to explore your inner depths (mind and soul) so you can be more aware of:
>  your surroundings
>  your friends & family
>  your community
>  your job
>  your everyday life
   And, by making lists, you will learn more about yourself and what inspires you. (I might add what Suskin's book is not: it's not about keeping a "thankful" journal or a "blessings" notebook.)
   This book is only 71 pages, but it contains many ways you can use your lists. You could send a card or letter to someone special and enclose a list of all the things you like about that person. Another use is to save all of your lists as they will refresh the present with what moved you in the past. A list of likes could be used for a party game. Have each party guest jot down 5 to 10 things that they like and not put their names on it. Let each person pick a list and see if he/she can guess who it belongs to.  
   Maybe, if those who read Go Ahead & Like It put into practice some of its suggestions, we can have less negative stuff and more positive stuff going on.     
   Because this book is so short it reminds me of a picture book, not for children, but for adults. It contains many charming photographs and illustrations. Enough said. I'm adding this to one of my book lists because I like it!
Photographs by Shelby Duncan                Illustrations by Erielle Laniewski   
My rating:  4 stars 
** I received this book from Blogging For Books program in exchange for this review

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Q&A a Day - 5 Year Journal

                               365 Questions*5 Years*1,825 Answers
   Let me tell you that I absolutely LOVE this little book! It's on my list of favorite things--journaling. I have kept a journal since around 1978 and still have every one. A book like this could have helped me out a lot over the years. I'm so happy I have it now. 
   Each day has 4 lines on which to write stuff down. Each day also has one question. That question will be there for next year, and for the following 3 years. Let me give you an example: For February 17th, at the top of the page is the question. You are asked, "If you could change something about today, what would it be?"  Below that you would write the year, 20--, and then use the 4 lines for your answer. Next year, on February 17th, you will answer that question again. But you will no doubt have a different answer as our lives can change so fast.
   Another example is May 3rd. The question is, "If you could have a superpower just for today, what would it be?"  Next year on May 3rd you will probably want a different superpower and you'll write about that. A couple of other questions are, "What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning?" and "How do you feel about your body?"
   With 365 questions you will be exercising your brain every day. And, the questions are far from being silly. They are meaningful and personal. If you find some questions that require a bit more space for your answers, you can do what I do.  I have a small notebook that I keep with this book so if I really want to expound on my answer for the day, I just write the date in the notebook and write all my additional comments there.
   I don't want to forget to mention that Q&A a Day is a great gift idea too.
Published by Potter Style, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
   **I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

A Matter of Heart

 By Tracie Peterson

   I've been a fan of Tracie Peterson books ever since I read her debut novel many years ago. A Matter of Heart, set in late 1800's Texas, is a good read, full of intrigue, romance, and drama. The faith message is woven in seamlessly but is not intrusive. I'm sure readers will like the main characters too.
   Jessica Atherton, a lovely young woman, is at a point where she wants to make changes in her life so she can be a better person. She is also feeling left out of the circle of her now married friends, some already with children. Jessica doesn't even have any prospects for marriage. Then, all of a sudden there are two! First is Austin Todd. Austin is a Texas Ranger cattle inspector and retired Secret Service Agent. He is a good-looking man with a kind heart. He is a private person and something from his past is haunting him. Right away Jessica is drawn to him and he is drawn to her. Then a handsome young lawyer comes to town and sweeps Jessica off her feet. His name is Harrison Gable.
   A Matter of Heart had somewhat of a slow start for me. Also, it was difficult to keep track of all the minor characters. In addition, I wish Jessica and the man she chose could've gotten together much sooner. Nevertheless, readers should enjoy this book. I give it 3 Stars

**I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a public review.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dancing on the Head of a Pen

The Practice of a Writing Life

By Robert Benson
Publisher: Waterbrook Press                   174 pages
Rating:  3 stars

There are many other books available for writers that are similar to this book, yet much more enjoyable. Even though it is a small book, Dancing on the Head of a Pen was a slow read for me and I didn't learn anything new.

On the positive side, though, the book is a good inspirational read for a writer. Benson says that we study the habits of those who inspire us. On his list of examples is the late Graham Greene. Perhaps Robert Benson will make it onto the lists of those who read this book.

One piece of advice that I found dear to my heart is found in chapter 9. The author recommends that writers be pack rats. Collect stuff that moves you. Also, keep your old journals and try reading through a couple each year. Benson says his are "reminders of forgotten bits of my life."

A piece of advice writers hear all the time is "a writer should always be writing." My favorite quote from the book is when Mr. Benson says, "I want to write. I may even need to write. But I want to be read as well. I want to be heard."

Me too!

I received this book from the Blogging For Books program in exchange for this review.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Review of "The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn" by Lori Benton

   This book was a true joy to read. I fell in love with main characters Tamsen and her rescuer, Jesse, right at the start. As they took off running, I took off reading and could barely stop. Tamsen and Jesse are constantly seeking refuge, will find it, then have to flee again as Tamsen's murderous step-father and an unwanted suitor keep closing in on them.
   Jesse is a godly man and he vows to keep Tamsen safe. Sometime into their journey he realizes he loves her. Tamsen falls in love with Jesse too, but her love is a growth process. Secondary characters are either likeable or will be hated. One of the best and most likeable is Wolf-Alone, also known as Cade, the man who raised Jesse.
   The Christian message in the story is clear but not preachy. The book is fast-paced, romantic, and suspenseful. A real treasure. Readers will root for Tamsen and Jesse and hold their breaths until the very end--which is both surprising and very satisfying. A reader discussion guide is included as well as some interesting early American and Native American historical insights from around the time period of 1787.
   Lori Benton is a gifted writer who knows how to paint a picture with her words. Because the story is so visual I was able to "see" it unfold as I read. I have added Lori Benton to my favorite authors list.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging For Books program in exchange for this review.