Thursday, September 21, 2017

Book Review: The Awakening of HK Derryberry~My Unlikely Friendship with the Boy Who Remembers Everything by Jim Bradford with Andy Hardin

Matthew 25:40

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’


The Awakening of HK Derryberry is the inspiring story of how one man was willing to step out of his upper middle-class world into the life of a young, disabled boy with a dismal future. Little did Jim Bradford know the transformational potential of that friendship—for HK and himself.

HK Derryberry came into the world with the odds stacked heavily against him. He was taken from his unmarried mother’s womb three months prematurely when she was killed in a car wreck. After ninety-six days of seesawing between life and death, HK’s grandmother took him home.

One Saturday morning Jim Bradford, a successful businessman in his mid-fifties, happens into Mrs. Winner’s Chicken and Biscuits and sees a nine-year-old’s head pressed down against a black plastic boom box with a crooked antenna and three strips of silver duct tape stretched across the battery cover. He can’t help but notice the long, white plastic braces on each of the child’s legs. Mr. Bradford learns that HK’s grandmother is forced to bring him to the fast-food restaurant where she works, leaving him to sit alone all day at a small table, with only his boom box for company. On subsequent Saturdays Jim feels drawn back to the restaurant to meet with HK and begins spending every weekend with him.

Eventually it becomes apparent that buried beneath HK’s severe disabilities is one spectacular ability. He is diagnosed with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), which involves superlative powers of recollection that enable him to remember everything that has happened to him since the age of three. Less than one hundred people have been diagnosed with HSAM, but none of them have the physical disabilities of HK Derryberry.

My Personal Review

The Awakening of HK Derryberry by Jim Bradford with Andy Hardin is a unique work that will both inspire and enlighten you! It is definitely a book to be read by all those who have the privilege of working with people who have special needs, anyone who has a child with extra challenges, as well as anyone who would simply like to understand some of the complexities and mountainous battles that this population tackles on a daily basis.

I enjoyed the narration of this book, immensely. As I read it, I felt as if I were sitting at the table having a cup of coffee with the author as he tells the story about meeting and doing life with his friend, HK Derryberry. Before the book is complete, the reader feels like they personally know both Jim and HK. I think this is because the author's tenderness and compassion are tangible! As HK's physical challenges are unveiled, I found myself feeling protective of him and completely encouraged by his zest for life. 

In addition to the wonderful narration, reading The Awakening of HK Derryberry is an educational experience. I appreciated learning about the latest computerized reading device to assist readers with braille, called Braille Lite, as well as developing a new awareness that people with cerebral palsy often react the opposite ways in highly charged emotional situations. HSAM (Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory) was another area of completely new information to me.

Finally, and what makes this book a winner in my mind, is the tenacious spirit of HK and his grandmother, Pearl. HK's life has been anything but simple and yet he choses to concentrate on joy and share it with others. HK focuses on what is good and pure about our human existence. He takes the raw painful things that humanity has thrown at him and flips it into an expression of love, hope, compassion, perseverance, ambition, and redemption. His optimistic spirit is contagious!! His grandmother modeling a selfless life filled with determination, courage, and grace is no doubt the catalyst that ignited the prevailing "can do" attitude that defines HK. Simply beautiful. 

I have never left a message for the characters in my books when reviewing them before, but there is always a first time for everything! 
I don't know if they will ever even read this review, but here it goes...

HK~ She would have definitely loved you!
Jim~Your sensitivity and obedience to the leading of the Spirit is bold!
Pearl~Thank you for stepping into the unknown!

Thank you to W Publishing Groups, an imprint of Thomas Nelson for this review copy of The Awakening of HK Derryberry by Jim Bradford with Andy Hardin. I was not required to give a favorable review, but only to read the book in it's entirety and give an honest opinion of the contents.

Friday, August 18, 2017

God's Word Will Never Become Obsolete

Oh, how I love all you’ve revealed; I reverently ponder it all the day long. Your commands give me an edge on my enemies;
they never become obsolete. Psalm 119:97-98

The Word of God never needs an update!

I love when the Lord reveals His majesty through the beauty of nature! It's difficult to miss the connection to His creative spirit when I am running through a grove of trees in the middle of the forest. Nothing can clear my mind quicker and allow me to focus on the greatness of our God than moving through a quiet piece of the woods.

This physical setting brings to the forefront of my thinking, the enormity of our God and the complexities of His working in and through every situation in my life. Sometimes the Lord reveals His purposes...and other times He does not. I cherish the times when He does unveil His reasons, however, in those times that He remains silent and seemingly unwilling to explain His decisions, I must trust Him all the more. Those are the seasons of my life when following Him translates into the tangible faith of the scriptures. They are the times when I must believe without seeing. I must cling to His word and His promises and know that I have prayed...and He has heard. I must stand up...and when I fall back down...stand up again. As the verse above says...I must know that His words will "never be obsolete". I must breathe in and breathe out and stand firm on His promises.

Father God~
You are the beginning of all things. You are the end of all things. You have spoken us into being and we are Your children. May You continue to reveal your perfect will into our hearts so that we may accomplish Your purposes through our lives each day. Equip and empower us to carry through with Your plans with awe and reverence.
Praise be to the mighty name of Jesus!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Book Review: REMARKABLE FAITH by Shauna Letellier

Hebrews 11:1 
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.


This book will draw you into the
Word of God where you
will find rest for your
weary soul.
This collection of inspirational vignettes, based on eight of the Bible's unlikely examples of faith, will give readers a fresh intimacy with Jesus.

REMARKABLE FAITH tells the stories of people whose faith was of such quality that Jesus himself marveled at it-people who were broken, needy, and dependent. These eight inspiring vignettes weave history, theology, and fictional detail into their biblical accounts to bring relief and a new perspective to those whose faith feels unremarkable. Written to encourage and relieve discouraged Christians who wonder if their faith is a disappointment to God, this book will demonstrate that remarkable faith-the kind Jesus marveled about-isn't about achieving or performing. Readers will discover they can exchange their performance-based evaluation of their faith with a fresh, life-giving intimacy with the Jesus who delights in transforming inadequacies into irrepressible affection.


Remarkable Faith by Shauna Letellier is a touching book filled with Biblical truths and written with deep conviction. It's an encouraging read for both the Christian and non-Christian alike.

As described in the previous publisher's description, Remarkable Faith highlights eight unnamed figures in the Bible whom the Lord defines as having amazing faith. At first glance, these people may appear to have an insignificant part of the Bible story, but Letellier contends that their lives are marked by an outstanding belief in Christ that sends them running to Him with open arms. After reading and pondering each of their stories, I would absolutely agree.

The book is very thought provoking in that it makes the reader stop and analyze each of the actions and presumed motives of the chosen characters. As your imagination flows thinking about each day that the characters come in contact with the Lord, much is revealed within their hearts, as well as our own. 

Each chapter is devoted to the story of these individuals and ends with a meaningful prayer that begs reflection. The author is continually thankful throughout the book for Christ and the gift of worship, the ability of the Lord to hear us, and His exchange on the cross for us to be given new life. The assertion that "remarkable faith is often grown in the broken soil of desperation," is made clear by her eight illustrations. 

This is truly a wonderful read filled with hope and encouragement, in addition to the word of God. Remarkable Faith is a must read for anyone who is searching their heart for the true meaning of Christianity or struggling with their sense of significance. Letellier doesn't shy away from tough questions as it relates to suffering or rejection and the role each of these play in our lives as Christians. As is stated within the pages, "Remarkable faith is not an archaic memory. It is a present reality. Will Jesus find faith when He comes again? Yes, He will."

Remarkable Faith by Shauna Letellier will be released July 11, 2017. This great book can be pre-ordered by clicking here. Thank you to FaithWords a division of Hachette Book Group Inc for this review copy of Remarkable Faith. I was not required to write a favorable review, but only to give my honest opinion of this work. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Book Review: Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray

Jeremiah 31:3
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."


Life is noisy. But what would happen if every day - for the next 40 days - you soaked in God's love as He intimately whispered words of rest just for you?

WHISPERS OF REST is a 40-day devotional detox for your soul, a spiritual journey to refresh you and guide you to greater peace, while helping you discover who God truly made you to be: His beloved. Renew your spirit with powerful affirmations of God's love with uplifting words of Scripture, journaling prompts for reflection, and practical challenges to spark joy. Bonnie will lead you to places of rest, where you can deeply experience the Savior's presence in your everyday life.

This beautiful guidebook will create space for your soul to breathe:

Soul Care Tips & Trail Notes - Reduce stress and nurture your body and spirit.
Daily Beloved Challenges - Brighten your day by taking simple soul care actions.
A Simple Prayer Practice - Deepen your intimacy with God through easy-to-enjoy prayer prompts, inspired by classic devotional practices.

A lot can happen in 40 days. A new rhythm. A new heart. A renewed faith.
Transform your life as you take the journey to say yes to God, embrace your true identity, rediscover your dreams, and begin your healing. Dare to enjoy each day fully and celebrate your calling as the beloved.


Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray is a beautiful forty day devotional organized in an easy to follow format. The book draws the reader into a more active awareness of the Lord's presence and encourages a deeper relationship with Christ. It is a work designed to be lingered over and journaled through, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and quiet your heart to experience the truths found in the Word of God.

This journal/devotional is arranged in a forty day sequence rather than the popular 30 day readers, because as the author points out "there's something special about forty". Bonnie Gray explains that "in forty days, Jesus found His voice in the wilderness intertwined with God's words. In forty weeks, the seed of life in a woman's womb transforms into flesh, a baby with a heartbeat and a name. For forty years, God whispered 'Good morning' by sending manna falling like dew, nourishing the body and soul." This concept of the significance of the number forty has always intrigued me, and therefore, this book was an automatic draw. I was not disappointed.

Whispers of Rest is meant to be read on a daily basis. The idea is to develop (or redevelop if you've gotten out of the habit) a quiet time with the Lord whereby you will hear God's personal words to you. The book also instructs the reader to take time for Him to hear your expressed heart in return through  "private conversations" with God. The author also challenges the reader to work through the devotions with friends.

The daily reading of scripture, reflecting on where you are with God through journaling, praying, and resting enough to refocus on Christ are the model Gray provides. She uses inspirational quotes and scripture, prayer prompts, a daily prayer, a one word prayer (to be a touchstone from Scripture throughout the day), a soul care tip and practical suggestions to decrease stress in your life.  

My takeaway from this 40 Day Devotional is what you would expect...and then some. In a noisy world of hurried, worried, competitive, social media frenzy this book will give you permission to stop and shut the door on all of it...if only for 30 minutes a day. During this time, you will be transformed; you can not help but be changed as you quiet your heart and mind and openly come before the throne of God. The scripture that floats into my head from Romans 12:2 seems ever so fitting to describe this book.

Romans 12:2(NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This book is a winner! In fact, I liked the book so much, that I ordered an extra copy to give a friend so that we can experience the closeness of Christ together. Bonnie Gray has successfully managed to communicate who we are as a child of the most high King. We are BELOVED. We are Christ's BELOVED sons and daughters and as such, we have the distinct honor of abiding in that love. While dwelling in the love of Christ, it is there that we will learn to live as a beloved child of the Lord. Taking this 40 day journey through Whispers Of Rest by Bonnie Gray has the potential to rekindle a flame in your heart, renew and refresh a latent passion, and to "dare, dream, and shine" as Christ whispers His good, pleasing and perfect will into your life! 

Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray will be released on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. If you would like to preorder at an amazing price, you can do so by clicking here.

Thank you to Faith Words a division of Hachete Book Group, Inc for this review copy of Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray. I was not required to write a favorable review, but rather to give an honest evaluation of the work.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Book Review: The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco

Just in time for Easter, this endearing read
will capture your heart.


No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah. He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.

Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea.

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.


The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco is a creatively sensitive work that will capture your heart. This quick read is filled with beautifully descriptive writing and well written narrative. It's an excellent choice to devour on a relaxing and reflective weekend. 

The main character, Barley is a sweet and loving dog. Hearing the interpretation of life through the eyes of a canine, in and of itself would be entertaining enough, but because the book is set in the Judean countryside during the first century, it adds yet another layer of interest. The instant attachment to Barley begins within the first few chapters of The Dog Who Was There and grows as the pages proceed. 

What I love about this read is the ability of the writer, Ron Marasco, to draw you into each moment of the dog's experiences. From the beginning of Barley's journey until the end (which is a fantastic surprise, I might add), I felt like I was there with him. The depiction of the "greatest story ever told", being the crucifixion, is a very touching and insightful fictional narration which closely parallels the gospel story in the book of Matthew. The overbearing theme throughout the book is one of forgiveness. At one point, the question is posed..."How do we overcome evil? The answer: "Look for the good and forgive." 

This is an excellent read. I would highly recommend it! Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishing through the BookLook Blogger program for this review copy of The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco. I was not required to write a favorable review, but only to give an honest opinion after reading the work in it's entirety.