Sometimes, we need to step out of our own peripheries to see that there are other things that matter and other people who matter more. It’s estimated that 90% of global goods are transported by sea. I was one of those who relied on the shipping industry for just about everything, yet hadn’t considered the human beings behind the vital vein we all depend on; the largely unseen individuals who toil hard and sacrifice greatly at mentally and physically taxing, and often spiritually challenging, high-risk jobs on ships at sea.
When this book, The Seafarer’s Mind: The Questions I’ve Always Wanted to Ask, popped up out of nowhere as I was busy doing something else, I glimpsed at the cover and knew I was meant to read it before understanding the context. Then I found the words inside gave deeper insight, as well as affirmed what the Lord had already spoken to me.
I am not a seafarer, but I am an intercessor, and many months ago, the Lord asked me to commit to praying and fasting for seafarers, as one part of a three-strand cord of intercession. At first, it seemed like a strange request from the Lord for little ole me in landlocked Tennessee, who has always feared water, to venture into my “prayer closet” for seafarers. But I didn’t question the assignment for long; the persuasion was strong. Besides, the Lord asks for obedience often when the big picture is not clear or understood. At the surface, with human eyes, my prayer cord doesn’t look as if the strands are related, and yet the Lord keeps assuring that they are connected, and I have to trust.
The aforementioned book is expertly crafted for the sake of seafarers. The impassioned testimonies are inspiring, the resources offer help and support for various challenges that many seafarers face. So if you work in the maritime industry, The Seafarer’s Mind is truly an anointed aid for thriving in your environment. And if you’re in a landbound profession, this is an expander of knowledge and understanding; should be read by all lest we forget the largely unseen individuals on whom we depend.
I’ve found that there is very little literature in the way of ministry to seafarers, and I appreciate this author, Rev. Martin Otto, who helped fill a gap. So I went on a recent binge-reading journey, as I felt like I was meant to read all of the following titles. The Lord asked me to be still, draw in, and absorb highlights of the seafaring world. I gained some clarity into visions I’d seen and dreams through which the Lord had already spoken. Sometimes what doesn’t have shape, form, or sense in the beginning, if you focus on God, filling your mind on things above, and with a heart full of lovingkindness and thanksgiving, eventually the fog will dissipate and you see what you before couldn’t; and comprehend what made little sense. And then sometimes, it’s a crash-course in faith-building, to believe though we can’t see.
As I am learning about and appreciating the crucial international community of mariners and their families, praying for their spiritual edification and encouragement, I’m also praying for those serving at ports in missions to seafarers, an area of ministry that still needs expanded.
Back at the start of this segment of my intercession, the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that there are individuals who the Lord has planted a seed for specific ministry that is emerging from the oceans. Where cultural background, work experiences, and particular exposures lend to a uniqueness of testimony only God could orchestrate and use—for all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). But the devil has been especially hard on these ones in the past season, trying to trip up and discourage to thwart the call and birthing of ministry in service to others upon and between the waters. In some cases, mistakes in the flesh-vs-spirit barrages have almost caused a giving-up, a falsity propounding disqualification. The only perfection any of us has is Jesus’ perfection within us; we are holy as he is holy within us. Works and/or clean behavior can’t save us, but Jesus, who unconditionally loves us and by his grace forgives seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22), each day renewed, can. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). We fall down; we get back up. Even when circumstances feel overwhelming, there are people who are praying, lifting weary arms like Aaron and Hur to Moses (Exodus 17:10-13). Appointed to pray healing and strengthening words, to intercede, instill hope and encouragement, stand as watchmen on the walls, and help battle principalities and strongholds. A company of Christians you’ve never met are called to your cause; I’m only one in the appointed mix. And an invisible force of angels has been assigned to your spiritual welfare to help carry you through your life’s purpose.
So this blog today is more than another book review, but these titles are spurring standouts. There is much to embrace within the pages. I highly recommend each one.
Old Bones by Douglas Preston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Neat to see in this book a few cherished characters from the beloved Pendergast series. And, wow, was I shocked about the Pigeon's Ranch location as a tie-in to the Donner Party of Sierra Nevada. I had lived in the wild wilderness of Pigeon's Ranch steeped in the history (and hauntings) of the Battle of Glorieta Pass in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Other than huge history buffs, few people knew about that area. I guess this book changes that. Anyway, superb writing, as always. Captivating, well-researched, and interesting to read.
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The Unseen Anthology has released and is now available at your favorite bookstore. Twelve short stories of the speculative fiction genre by twelve authors, focus on encounters with the Unseen: God, angels, demons, spirits, the supernatural, and more.
View the official book trailer:
For those who don’t yet know, my contribution for this volume is an individual in-the-shadows glimpse at suicide in Suspension, The Troubled Life of Ralph Specht. Within enters “Specter,” the famous frontman for the rock band, Ghosts of Fleas. In the eyes of the world he led a good existence, talented, successful, and spoiled. Nobody thought he could do such a thing, fling himself over the edge of the bridge, even him. Not until the dark impulse. His verdict awaits.
My story is but one of a dozen very diverse, original, fictive accounts by intriguing authors I’ve had the privilege of joining in this project.
The Unseen Anthology. Pick up your copy, digital or paperback, via one of the convenience buttons below.
Look for it soon at Barnes & Noble, as well.
If you have yet to read Warm My Heart, an inspirational romance and the first book of the Hearts in Africa series, complimentary copies are available for download through Amazon until Thursday (9/28/17). Here is a recap of the storyline:
Sarah finds herself heading into the bush of East Africa as a short-term missionary to the Maasai, a trip she initially took in an attempt to get over a broken engagement. Her trust in men forever marred, she is challenged when she serves under her team’s magnetic leader, Mitch.
Mitch finds a home in Africa, but is driven to serve God out of a guilt-ridden past. Hiding from wasted years spent carousing and chasing women, running from his weaknesses, he is stopped in his tracks when he meets the beautiful “Miss Sarah.”
Forced to serve together, they struggle through their crippling issues of trust and guilt. In the process, their faith is challenged. Together, in a harsh and often dangerous environment—including tribal skirmishes—they examine themselves, and learn that it takes more to survive than just a profession of faith. It takes the abandoned day-by-day trust in a living God. Sarah and Mitch become a sweet solace for each other and reach an understanding. They believe they belong together. But when the hindering issues of the past resurface stronger than ever, with a secret rising up to stand in their way, they find it difficult to carry on. Can they retain the power of love between them when they have so much to overcome?
The nature of book reviews is akin to human nature. We scrutinize, develop opinions, find faults, and praise. All of what are expressions articulated in varying facets and levels about the literature we read. Some would suggest that if you don’t have anything positive to say then don’t say anything at all. Is this because it might hurt the author's feelings?
No doubt, it can smart to be on the receiving end of criticism on something you’ve worked so hard. But the longer a writer is in the business those kinds of censures have a way of stinging less. We make our friends and are challenged by our detractors, our social and media circles are diverse and our audiences fluctuate. We can’t please everybody all of the time. Some are going to love our work, gifting us with those oh-so-good golden moments. Some aren’t. There’s wisdom in paying attention to matters that might need addressed, changed, or developed in our craft, but all in all, we still have to do what we do and, hopefully, find joy and fulfillment in doing it.
As an author, I’ve received my share of both good and bad reviews. As a reader, I can dish out the same miscellany about the books I digest. In the past, I’ve pondered if I should post a review or rating that is far less than exemplary. Then again, I’ve actually chosen books to read based on bad reviews. That’s the crazy curiosity alive in me. I want to see what others see. Like a twisted treasure hunt. Funny thing, I come to my own conclusion each time and what others have stated doesn’t sway my vote one way or the other. Therefore, honesty is I think the best policy because reviews are
relative. They’re definitely interesting…but they’re also conditional and
Having the following in mind keeps things rosier: “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”—Aristotle
One of the most darling stories from my reading
list, now, this one. I had the opportunity to read Keturah and Lord Death during the past week, and wow—the magic took my breath away.
This is a story I wish I had written, nevertheless I cherish this masterful fairytale spun by another. I’m anxious to explore more work by the author, Martine Leavitt, because this particular piece made such an impression.
Dark yet inspiring, intensely romantic, and burning with symbolism on mortality, loss, life, love, meaning, sweetness…this story carries all of the elements that impel me to categorize it as one of my most treasured reads, ever. How my library survived without it up until now, I wonder.
Keturah, renowned for her storytelling, follows a legendary hart deep into the forest, where she becomes hopelessly lost. Her strength diminishes until, finally, she realizes that death is near—and learns then that death is a young lord, melancholy and stern. She is able to charm Lord Death with a story and gain a reprieve, but he grants her only a day, and within that day she must find true love. A mesmerizing love story, interweaving elements of classic fantasy and high romance.
Following in the fashion of Spinal Tap’s own Nigel Tufnel’s words, “Eleven is one louder than 10” —I’d give this book six stars.
Remarkable is the work of Brazilian-born German author, Lya Luft. By grasping the concept of death, she bestows greater appreciation for life. In aging, she compels us to embrace every season of our span. At 40, 60, 80, she urges us to defy the pressures of society, which suggest that happiness, love, passion, joy, fulfillment belong only to the young.
The depth of perspective and wisdom is mindboggling in her Losses and Gains volume subtitled, “Reflections on a life.” Her novel, The Island of the
Dead, proves painfully introspective as does The Red House.
Inspiring are the author’s inflections to progress through life’s throes; allow not our psyches get swept this way or that, cracking, shifting, folding to the superficial forces in which we don’t wish to bow. It’s our perspective that counts (for me, with God’s help), the stabilizer of any event—tragic or blessed.
We cannot predict nor control life. Whether we like it or not it ever changes, circumstances alter. We age. Our days are filled with losses and gains. That’s a haunting yet reaching truth. That is the profound work of Lya Luft.