Review of, The Prince And The Prodigal, by Jill Eileen Smith

As I look out the window, all I can see is brown . . . but that’s a good thing! Yesterday the ground was being struck by hail and sleet and today there’s nothing but clear skies. 🙂

Please let me steal you away to a place where snow never falls, and the earth bakes to a crisp under a hot desert sun. I’m talking about ancient Egypt.

The Details:

Joseph is the pampered favorite son of the patriarch Jacob. His older brothers, deeply resentful of his status in the family, take advantage of the chance to get rid of him, selling him to slave traders and deceiving their father about his fate. It seems like their troubles are over. But for Joseph and older brother Judah, they are just beginning.

While Joseph is accused of rape and imprisoned, Judah attempts to flee the memory of his complicity in the betrayal of his younger brother. After decades apart, the brothers will come face-to-face in a stunning role reversal that sees Joseph in a position of great power while Judah begs for mercy. Will forgiveness or vengeance win the day?

Bestselling and award-winning author Jill Eileen Smith brings her considerable research and imaginative skills to bear in this vivid retelling of one of the most popular stories found in Scripture–a story of jealousy, betrayal, and a reconciliation that only God could bring about.

My Thoughts:

I am extremely familiar with the Biblical account of Joseph’s life, so I was excited to read this book. Let me tell you, I’m glad I did.

This was an excellent ‘behind the scenes’ story of what must have been the dramatic, and traumatic, lives of Joseph and his family. Jill cleverly weaves scenes throughout the story that bring these historical figures to life and through her words, those Sunday School lessons leapt from the pages to become three dimensional.

The book sticks to the main facts but allows the reader an insight into the possible mindset of people who lived thousands of years ago.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Bible, history, the supernatural, adventure, or stories with great outcomes.

I’m giving this one Five Stars!

Meet Jill:

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Wives of King David series, Wives of the Patriarchs, Daughters of the Promised Land, The Heart of a King, Star of Persia, Miriam’s Song, and the nonfiction When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams, and She Walked Before Us. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read stories that take her away, ride her bike to the park, snag date nights with her hubby, try out new restaurants, or play with her lovable, “helpful” cat Tiger. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Grab a copy of one of her works and connect with her:

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Some Beautiful Artwork For Your Friyay!

Happy Friyay! I have a special treat for you today, an interview and artwork from a very talented artist. She’s not just an artist, but also my Mom. 🙂

What you’re seeing here today is but a fraction of the wonderful oil paintings that grace the walls of my parent’s home, and that of our families. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to comment. Have a great weekend!

This painting celebrates the trees in a farmer’s field down the road. The farmer had trouble with wolves. The trees were destroyed because the cows were too attracted to the Crab Apples. Glad I painted a picture of those lovely trees.

How did you get into painting?

As a timid child, in a large immigrant family, I started school at the age of six. I had teachers that encouraged my drawing ability. My love of art grew, as I grew. After my marriage, I moved to a farm, where my husband and I raised four children. It was a good time, and I did try to find time for art, but at first it was water colors. Later, I discovered my real love was oil painting. It is such a relaxing and forgiving medium; no rush, and if I don’t like something I can just paint over it. Oil painting is best done in layers, anyway.

Lighting is everything on a finished painting. The daylight gives it an authentic sheen that becomes more mysterious by lamplight, so the picture is never quite the same. That is what I love about oil paintings.

Taken from a photograph. MacDougall Mill in Renfrew, Ontario, Canada.

What is your favorite subject to paint?

I try to diversify, but the easiest for me is trees. I love doing skies and landscapes. Bright, cerulean skies, with whitish puffy clouds and shadows, is a great way for me to start a painting.

A peaceful fall scene. Again, from my imagination.

Do you enjoy listening to music while you paint?

Music is a staple in my life. I especially love listening to beautiful hymns. I am so thankful for easy access to talented, Christian musicians. I almost always listen to music as I paint.

No longer used by humans. Left for wild animals. A sad and lonely painting.

If you could go back in time and learn from a famous artist?

I would love to learn from the 16th century artists, who mastered skin tones and shadows. Someone like Rembrandt. I like art that attempts to portray the natural world, over modern art, though some of those can be quite striking also.

A playful winter scene from my imagination. Happy times!

This scene is from our backyard, on a calm winter evening.

A peaceful scene, and something from the past. A farmer’s wife wife bringing him an early supper. They are offering up a prayer of thanksgiving to God.

Thank you, Mom, for being a guest today, and for everything you’ve done for us over the years. We love you very much. But, there’s one last very important question. How did you manage to raise such an angelic, oldest son?

Ummmhmmm . . . (nods and smiles) 🙂

Meet Wendi Bierman:

Wendi Bierman was born in Holland and immigrated to Canada at the age of four, as part of a large family. She grew up in Pembroke, Ontario, Canada, and had a happy, busy childhood, with church every Sunday. She became a follower of Jesus at a young age, and has remained a Christian all her life.

As a teen, she loved roller skating, reading mystery books, learning to play music, and singing. Wendi married a farmer and moved to Athens, Ontario. They have raised four children, now married and enjoy eight grandchildren. Each one of those grandchildren has received a painting of themselves, at age seven, doing something they liked to do. Something for them to remember their grandmother in later years. Grandpa has added to this by making the lovely frames.

Wendi is thankful for everyday, along with the gift of art and painting that is in her soul.

Cassie’s Wishes

This was originally posted back in April of 2021. As I sit here today, thinking about what’s going on in my nation’s capitol (Ottawa, Canada), just a few hours drive from here, I thought it could use a reposting.

Cassie took a deep breath and blew her wishes into the wind. It was getting dark and Mommy wanted her home for dinner, so she got up and watched them drift into the sunset. Satisfied, Cassie went home, washed up, and sat down at the table.

“So, Miss, what did you get up to today?” Mother smiled.

“I blew some wishes out into the world.”

Mother handed Cassie a plate of spaghetti, her favorite, and winked at her. “I’d ask you what those were, but I know that takes away their magic.”

Later, as Cassie laid her head against the soft pillow, listening to the crickets and the hoot of Chester, the barn owl, she prayed that her wishes would find the right people.

As Cassie, slept, a great wind picked up and blew those wishes around the globe, over miles of ocean and into every country of the world.

One landed the shoulder of a grieving father, as he stood at the graveside of his ten year old daughter who’d died from leukemia. An inexplicable peace began to fill his heart.

Another drifted past an ICU nurse, as she left the hospital, exhausted and discouraged from a never ending battle against COVID. Hope renewed some of her energy and lifted her spirits.

One landed in the lap of a little girl, as she sat in threadbare clothes, eating the last meal she’d have for awhile. Her rumbling belly ceased and her heart was filled with the promise of a better tomorrow.

One landed on the uniform of a police man. The years of service for his community, had lately seemed to be overshadowed by the horrific actions of a few, and the media relentlessly pelted them with negative stereotypes. He felt his discouragement fade.

The last wish will land on you, wherever you are, and whatever you are going through. It will give you strength and resilience.

Cassie woke the next day, to a better world.

Review of Open, Shut, by Nonnie Jules

Happy Friday! It’s the last weekday of Spring Break (changed from March by the government), due to COVID. As we deal with a third wave, staying home and writing has become more of a priority than ever.

Today I’m reviewing, Open, Shut, A Short Story, by Nonnie Jules. She is the President and Founder of Rave Reviews Book Club.

What Amazon says:

Darcy Lynn has a few problems: her sister, Lola, killed by a drunk driver, leaves her with an eerie message right before her death; her parents are atheists; her father drinks a little too much, and her brother, Bud, is just annoying. But, her most pressing issue is that things are mysteriously opening and closing around her and she hasn’t a clue as to why…or how.

My Turn:

This story is told from the POV of Darcy Lynn after her sister, Lola, was killed. Too young to remember the horrific details of her sister’s death, years later, Darcy seeks answers from Lola’s diary. What she finds is staggering. Her parents, sworn not to divulge a terrible secret to her younger siblings, by Lola herself, had never revealed the whole truth.

But has Lola really left? Soon after her sister’s death, Darcy Lynn experiences strange phenomena that cannot be explained by science, or her atheist parents. Darcy Lynn begins to question her own beliefs and comes to understand that the visible may not be all there is. Open, Shut is an invitation to consider this possibility.  

Nonnie does a great job in the creation of realistic and ordinary characters, who encounter the extraordinary. There is plenty of growth in all of them, a key ingredient for a great story.

The central message was that good things can come from tragedy. The story flows evenly and logically to towards that end. As a man of faith, I really enjoyed this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who has experienced great loss and for those who struggle with the ‘big picture.’ I’m giving this one, FOUR STARS!

Meet Nonnie Jules and connect with her:

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Closing the door on 2020

Years ago, when I was a Correctional Officer at Kingston Penitentiary, separating the two worlds of prison and personal life was vital to maintaining mental, physical, and relationship health.

Access in and out of the massive complex was via a heavy, eight-inch-thick, steel door, that could only be unlocked by an officer working a control inside. It would close with a thunderous bang. This entry/exit point was called the North Gate.

The North Gate, Kingston Penitentiary

When I arrived, the sound would remind me that I’d entered a different world, one in which the abnormal became normal. After a shift where anything and everything did happen, the sound of that door banging shut would be my cue to leave the day’s drama behind. I’d step out onto the sidewalk where cars and cyclists sped by, and parents pushed their babies in strollers, oblivious to the walled world they passed. I had just reentered the normal.  

This post is not about prison or my past life, it’s about you and how you choose to close the door on 2020 . . . a year of abnormalities that became normal.  How do you heal from this and move on?

Unfortunately, we will all carry some scars from this past year, depending on your experience and resilience . . . everyone will be affected.  I’m not trying to be negative, just realistic, that’s just the way the human brain works.

Now for the positive . . . you can heal from this and move on. Yes, I know that the abnormal continues into 2021, but there are some signs that we are turning a corner. Vaccines are rolling out, and hopefully those who need it most will receive it soon.

So many things happen that we are not in control of, but we are gifted with the ability to control our thoughts, and if we cannot stop the obsessive ones, to seek help.

Thoughts beget emotions, which beget actions.

My father, a wise man, used to say, ”Garbage in, garbage out.” If you feed your mind bad thoughts, your emotions will follow.

So now might be a good time to think about a way to close that heavy door and move forward to a life of peace.

A few things that may help:

-develop an exercise routine and stick with it (plenty of exercise videos available, if you are confined to an apartment)

-get professional help; many clinics offer virtual meetings

-find positive distractions

-develop an attitude of gratitude; there is still good in this world and always something to be thankful for

-practice mindfulness; live in the present

-talk to a trusted friend

-meditate

-pray

-use the Capture/Check/Change method for dealing with negative thoughts. This one takes some practice. It works like this: As soon as a negative thought comes, you Capture it, then Check to see its validity, finish off with Changing the thought with a positive (might I suggest the attitude of gratitude)

-seal off those bad thoughts in an airtight container. It was a heavy metal door for me, yours could be a large safe, an indestructible bubble made from Hubba Bubba gum, or a titanium box . . . whatever you choose, try to stuff all those baddies in there and seal them off.

You are not alone in all of this and it too, shall pass. There is still hope and good in this world.

I wish you  and your families all these best in this upcoming year. Stay safe!