Review: Common Stones: A glimpse into several different worlds, in an effort to become more acquainted with our own

Common Stones: A glimpse into several different worlds, in an effort to become more acquainted with our own Common Stones: A glimpse into several different worlds, in an effort to become more acquainted with our own by Alicia M. Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I eventually realized that every day was a choice: A choice to get out of bed, a choice to decide to take one minute, one hour, one day at a time; a choice to brighten my surroundings for myself and for those whom I love; a choice to enjoy life despite any guilt, fear, or void that may still remain; a choice to trust God fully knowing He holds the entire puzzle in His hands while I only see a handful of pieces.

This is the crux of Common Stones, the thesis if you will. Alicia Smith has gathered several stories (including her own) about some blindsiding events that people face during life in this fallen world. She walks with you through several horrific events (such as her beloved father's war with cancer), and then gives you a nutshell filled with succulent seeds of growth. After we hear Ben's story (in his own words, mind you) -- a young man's fight after a debilitating car crash -- Alicia points out some wonderful truths. Surround yourself with good company! And then she outlines characteristics of a true supporter: listens, speaks with respect, supports the need for laughter.

The book is packed with the marvelous life lessons that would help us over those troublesome stumbling blocks that cobble our maturing faith if we'd only take them to heart. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather learn from someone's mistakes rather than stubbing my own toe. Pain is a great teacher, but why must we bear repeated pain when someone else has graciously shared his or her life changing event?

We absolutely should bear each other's burdens. God declares this. One reason is so that the burden does not weigh down our sibling in Christ. Another reason is so that we learn from their mistakes... or hardships... or accidents... or we learn compassion. Whatever the lesson, we grow.

Just as Chappy learned that there were blessings for him and his family from Hurricane Katrina. He just had to stop and listen for the Holy Spirit's urging. Listening to God a few men were able to build a ministry that had far reaching effect on "un-accepting" people. People who found Christ in a coffee shop rather than a formidable church setting.

Words of wisdom abound in this book. Notice the miracles... Let God hold you up... Celebrate the milestones no matter how big or how small... However, one thing that shines throughout this book is that faith is our binding cord and common stone that solidly holds siblings in Christ together. Together we bring Him glory, and together we hold each other up. There's nothing as satisfactory as the family of God.

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Review: Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation

Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation by James Runcie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh, my goodness... I can see most of the reviewers, like me, have watched the series on PBS so are familiar with Sidney as a young priest. I can also see that most did not have a problem with Leonard and Sidney's "explanation" how homosexualism is an accepted kind of "love".

I had a problem with it. I had a problem with the last show that I watched in the TV series where all the strong hints about Leonard's angst about his tendency toward other men. Oh, everything is quite ok because the Church of England doesn't require priests to never marry. You would think that a person who reads his Bible would have come to terms with what God says about that kind of lifestyle, and recognize how the Church's position was a bit more aligned with the Bible than his skewed view of it.

Sidney's problems have never been resolved. As we grow and mature, our problems are resolved and we acquire other problems. That is what's so uncomfortable about this series. The underlying problems are never wrestled with and just fester undercover of the idyllic life.

I enjoyed the references of pop culture because I grew up during the period of the late 60s and early 70s. However, Sidney's old girlfriend, Amanda, said she wore a black and white dress because that is what he is, no gray, all black and white. She doesn't know him at all, because Sidney is all gray taking justice in his own hands by not revealing the culprit who stole the necklace, just as he did not reveal who murdered who in the last TV show. Who set him up as judge and jury?

The whole thing skates along the edge of a dark pit, and I keep seeing that for everything to turn out righteously correct, the whole thing needs to tumble into the pit.

The mysteries were light, fluffy things. They didn't even seem to be well thought out, especially the one in Germany where Gunter was killed. If you enjoy the TV series, just keep watching the series and don't waste your time with the books. They really do not give you any greater insight into this complex character of Sidney Chambers.

I am glad I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review because I'd be really angry if I'd spent so much money on it. If you are a stickler for biblical principles in your spiritual leaders (archdeacon, priest, pastor, friend) then you probably won't enjoy this book.

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Review: Saving My Assassin

Saving My Assassin Saving My Assassin by Virginia Prodan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the absolute best non-fiction reads this year!

When you think of communism, you think of Russia or North Korea or East Germany. I just never thought of Romania. Virginia points out so many hurtful things about communism, and these things are in such stark contrast to how wonderful we have it here in America.

She says, "I should be dead. Buried in an unmarked grave in Romania. Obviously I'm not. God had other plans." Then she tells you all about her childhood; how she was left at home at the tender age of six years while her family went to visit a favored aunt. There is something entirely wonderful about that aunt, but I won't tell you. I'll let you find that out on your own.

Amazing things happen to Virginia, and she gives God all the glory for each one. In her story, she tells you exactly how God touches lives in the most treacherous places. The story is gripping, uplifting, engrossing, and enlightening. Well worth every penny you spend on it. It's definitely a keeper. It is a super read for all ages, but I think teens would be enthralled to read and discuss this book as a group. In our society, Christianity is is easy. This book shows how hard it can be in other societies. It would be an excellent challenge for teens to hold fast to their faith.

I am so glad I got this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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