©picture by scribbles (Marye McKenney)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

God's Bucket List

My son and I watched the Morgan Freeman; Jack Nicholson movie, "The Bucket List," together. When we do watch movies together, we watch for quotable lines, and this one gave us more than a few that gave us a chuckle. But that isn't what drew me to read this book. I do have a bucket list--one that waxes and wanes as time goes by. But right now the top item on my list is going to see the Gulf of Mexico. I also have a "Pie in the Sky" list--one that is more pipe dream than actual to-do list that includes a Mediterranean Cruise.

While I am sort of on the topic of movies, one of my favorite lines from Gone with the Wind is when Rhett tells Scarlett to name her general store, "Caveat Emptor," Latin for "Let the Buyer Beware." I have one caveat here for this review. I am Baptist as they come. When I was born, my parents went to a Missionary Baptist Church, then moved to a Southern Baptist Church, and now I am a member of a Baptist General Conference Church. I give this caveat because Teresa Tomeo is a Catholic and this book uses a lot of Catholic references, quotes many Catholic publications and authors, BUT this is not a Catholic-Only book! I am a maverick Baptist in that I believe that many protestants have thrown the baby out with the bathwater in denying that any Catholic practice has any value. I am finding that many spiritual disciplines that were birthed out of Catholicism have eternal value. So it's not that big of a stretch that I was interested in this book.

After I finished the book this morning, I wrote down THE Bucket List:

Live with stillness--there are times our lives are so cluttered with doing that we can't hear our own spirits talking to us, much less the Spirit of God. Being still forces us to slow down and really listen to what God is telling us. Being still includes taking the time to read His Word, and letting that seep into us and do a work of restoration.

Live with your passion--find out what makes you hum, what really satisfies your soul, and do that.

Live with instruction--the worst student in the world is the one who thinks they know it all. As Christians, we can't begin to scratch the surface of knowing anything. Something God loves is a teachable disciple, and we all need to be teachable.

Live in the mess. Life is messy at the very best of times, and despite the desire to clean it up, sometimes we just have to close our eyes to the clutter and just live in the messiness of life. There are times we cannot just walk away from the mess, it won't be hidden, and it can't be cleaned up. Cancer (a topic I know intimately) is no respecter of persons, the rain falls on the just and the unjust, and lives just get messy. It's better to live through it, with it, around it, than it is to try to clean it up under our own steam or sweep it under the rug.

Live with understanding. I have a friend (actually my former boss) that I love to see for lunch at least once a week. We have a mutual admiration society, she says I understand her. But we also have to gain understanding for what God wants for our lives.

Live by confession. Something I learned later than I should have learned is to keep short accounts with God, to keep my relationship on good terms with Him. But confession means more than just listing our sins and saying "Oops, I'm sorry, Lord." Confession as a word is from the Latin meaning, "to say with," or in a more modern rendering, "I agree." There are many confessions that our Christian lives demand, including the fact that Jesus Christ is the source of our salvation.

Live the good life. In a worldly context, the good life means a nice house, nice cars, a country club membership, a successful business, and I could go on and on. Here in Teresa's book, the good life means living a life with purpose, with communion with God, in a learning obedience to God, and reaching out to share what we have to those who need what we can supply.

The ultimate item on this list is to fall in love with God and put Him first above all! Falling in love with God means we have to get to know Him in a way we have never known anyone else in our lives. We do that through Bible study, through interactions with other believers--including our pastors, theology teachers, etc.

There is one quote from the book that really sums up the whole theme: "Once we tap into God's calling for our life, it should feel like home."

Teresa gets five stars, two thumbs up, and a check-mark on her bucket list.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Prime of Life

I don't know what I was thinking when I chose to read this book to review, it is so far off from my normal reading style, but it still caught my attention, and so choose it, I did. I have absolutely no regrets from this choice.

Ben is the janitor for a retirement/assisted living complex, but he has a secret and tries his best to keep that hidden. He enteracts daily with a random group of residents who keep his life interesting, to say the least. There's Sam, who sits in his wheelchair in the common room asking people if they speak Spanish; Jerry, the one Ben calls the Professor; Frank, mortal enemies with Marvin; Jane, who is in love with Frank; Betty, the newbie with whom Marvin falls in love; Lex Kentucky, the podiatrist who treats the residents; and Junior, the owner of the facility.

As soon as Betty moves in, she creates a stir among the male population of the facility, including increasing the competition between Frank and Marvin. But what she doesn't intend to do is bankrupt the facility by recommending an investment that is actually a scam. Junior has mortgaged the facility to cover his gambling debt, and invested the money in a real estate scam in Costa Rica. The residents start brainstorming to save their facility with ideas including calendars, gifts to sell, and playing the lottery. When the lottery idea comes up, Ben remembers that he had bought a lottery ticket and he hotfoots it to his home to find that ticket and to see if it won. When he finds out his numbers were the winning numbers, he tears his apartment apart trying to find his ticket, with no luck. He remembers that he had eaten dinner with Lex the evening before and goes back to the restaurant to see if the ticket is there. The twenty-three million dollar jackpot was going to be the answer to the facility's problems.

Ben's idiosyncracies add to the plot in a way that makes him fit right in with the residents, his love of prime numbers especially adds to his character. P D Bekendam has written an edge-of-the-seat book that will captivate any and all readers. Prime of Life is a MUST read. Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and a winning lottery ticket.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mississippi Brides

Beginning in 1815 and moving through to 1864, three generations of women grow up and find their true loves in Mississippi. Alexandra Lewis has to move in with her grandmother in Natchez after her father dies in disgraced in Nashville, Tennessee. She is shunned by "Society" and considered unworthy of the young bachelors available. Her grandmother insists that she marry Lowell Sheffield, but Alexandra doesn't want to marry for anything but love.

Jeremiah LeGrand has been taking care of his friend Judah Talbot who was wounded in the Battle of New Orleans and lost his leg. When Jeremiah's uncle decides to open in a branch of his shipping business in Natchez, Jeremiah escorts his friend home and helps him bring in his crops so that he doesn't lose his plantation.

Those are the seeds planted for love in Across the Cotton Fields.

Abigail LeGrand has decided that she doesn't need marriage to have a fulfilled life until she meets the circuit riding preacher, Nathan Pierce. He has come to the area to take over the circuit, and has been given lodgings on the Magnolia Plantation. Abigail has been raised to use her own mind and believes that marriage will hold her back from her goals for her own life. But after going to the pastor's meetings in Jackson and going to the Summer Camp meetings, she finds that maybe Nathan won't hold her back but will enrich her life.

That's how love grows in Among the Magnolias.

Caroline Pierce has traveled with her family from Jackson to Natchez for her father's evangelical meetings and meets Captain Luke Talbot who has brought his grandmother to the meetings. During the week, the two become acquainted and find an attraction they cannot deny or overcome. They persuade her father, Nathan, to marry them and then the fun begins. Luke's grandmother has her way of doing things and nothing Caroline can do is right. Luke is too preoccupied by the War between the States to help Caroline settle in with his grandmother. As a way to keep her sanity, Caroline begins teaching her maid, a slave, how to read and Luke finds out. Caroline has a long family history of believing it is wrong to own another person and cannot come to terms with Luke's absolute disagreement. It's as though their love dies before it has a chance to grow. When Luke is injured in a battle and his own slave keeps him alive, Luke begins to see Caroline's point.

And love begins to bear fruit in As the River Drifts Away.

Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver are a great dynamic duo in writing historical romance. The history is accurate, the characters are believable, and the stories never drag. These two authors are worth the time to read. A very definite four stars.