Monday, December 26, 2016

Of Poetry and God by Daniel Kerdin – Enjoyed reading this book; it’s one I’ll read again.

Recently, I was contacted by author and poet Daniel Kerdin to see if I would be interested in reading his new book of poems, Of Poetry and God.  As a fellow poet, I was excited to read Daniel’s new book in which he shares about his faith.

I am so glad that I was able to read this collection of Daniel’s poems.  I especially liked the ones that focused on people and events from Scripture.  Some of the poems sparked my imagination and others caused me to reflect on my own life and God’s work in the lives of His people.  As I read the poems based on the Bible, it made me want to reread those passages Scripture again, so I could better understand and appreciate the words Daniel used in his poems to capture the scenes. 

Some of my favorites are A Shepherd’s Tale, One the Road, The Blessing and Redemption.  In his poem, Wordsmiths, Daniel put into words the experience what writing poems is like. 

In the poem, Hail, Queen of Heaven, you will see the view of Mary from a Catholic view, which contrasts greatly from the Protestant view of what the Bible teaches about Mary.  There were a couple of poems I didn’t really connect with or understand.  But overall, I really liked Daniel’s poems.

If you like Scripture or poems about faith and life, you may enjoy Daniel Kerdin’s book, Of Poetry and God.  This is a book I will read again.  It was an enjoyment to read the work of this wordsmith.

I would like to thank Daniel Kerdin for an opportunity to read his new book, Of Poetry and God.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Word Clouds

Word Cloud from QuizzStar on Facebook

Word Clouds on Facebook are fun
As I wait to see what words I use most

But it got me thinking, what would the Word Cloud reveal
If it followed me around each day

What would be exposed if it recorded every word spoken
Every word shared in a text or email or online

Would they be words of life or death
Words that build up or tear down, truth or lies

Would it reveal my sinful, selfish heart
Or my love for the Lord

Would it be good and pleasing to You Lord
Or would it reveal why I so desperately need a Savior

Even more sobering
What if there was a Word Cloud that captured my thoughts

The thoughts I edit out, because even this sinner knows
There are some things that shouldn’t be said

Lord I know that You record my every word, thought and deed
There will come a day when I will give an account to You

Thank You Lord for providing Your Son, my Savior
To pay the penalty for my sin debt

If I were to be cast in to hell for eternity
I could never pay for all my sins against infinite Holy God

Thank You, Jesus, for dying for my sin
That I might be forgiven and granted eternal life

Thank You for the gift of Your Word which sanctifies me
Thank You for the Holy Spirit who dwells within

Help me to live each day
Mindful that I will give account to You

For every thought, word and deed
Help me to choose well and live out of love for You


Susan Wachtel
December 22, 2016


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Candidate by Lis Wiehl – A Mixed Bag

Since I like books with mystery and intrigue, I decided to read author Lis Wiehl’s new book The Candidate – A Newsmakers Novel written with Sebastian Stuart.  I’ve watched Lis on Fox News and like her keen legal analysis and hoped that would translate into a good book.  Unfortunately, I found The Candidate to be a mixed bag.  

What’s  good?  I found the plotline intriguing.  Is top Presidential candidate, Mike Ortiz, as good as he seems at first glance?  Or will Erica discover there is something nefarious going on behind the scenes when she takes a closer look?  Coming on the heels of a very contentious election cycle this should be a very interesting book. 

The story is action packed and the main character, Erica Sparks, is somewhat interesting.  Her background is revealed during the course of the story but there was not a lot of depth to this character.  I liked her fiancé Greg, while not perfect, he showed himself to be there for Erica in the end.  But overall I found the characters were not well developed.  What the reader learns about the characters is very surface level details, some action of course, but there seemed to be an obsession with physical appearance.  In fact, it was almost to the point of distraction.

What’s not so good?  The story was predictable.  After the first big event in the book, I found myself guessing what the next plot development would be throughout the book.  

While somewhat veiled, there were some rather sick sexual relationships in this book that cross the line in a book released by a Christian publisher.  While not described in detail, enough is said that makes it clear what’s happening.  Also, Lis took a swipe at Donald Trump by including a nasty comment from one of the characters about him.  It was unnecessary to the story and not value added.  My overall impression was Lis tried to be edgy. 

If this book had been published by a secular publisher, I would only put a cautionary note about some of the content which may be offensive to people of faith. 

I have higher expectations from Thomas Nelson Publishers.  On their website, this publisher is self-described as, “Thomas Nelson is a world leading publisher and provider of Christian content and has been providing readers with quality inspirational product for more than 200 years.”

There was nothing whatsoever Christian about this book.  There was nothing about faith.  There was one curse word as I recall and I appreciate that there was very little profanity.  But some of the content of this book was not fit material from a Christian publisher.  

I would like to thank BookLook for the opportunity to read The Candidate by Lis Wiehl.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Chosen for Greatness by Paul J Batura – Fascinating, Interesting & Heartening

As an adoptee, I’m always curious to read stories about people who are adopted or parents who adopt children.  That’s why I was excited at the opportunity to read author Paul J. Batura’s book Chosen for Greatness – How Adoption Changes the World.

I found Chosen for Greatness fascinating, interesting and heartening.  In this book, Paul tell about the lives of sixteen famous people who were adopted, including Steve Jobs, Babe Ruth, George Washington Carver, Scott Hamilton, Leo Tolstoy and more.  They come from various walks of life and over hundreds of years.  The chapters are short, but the reader learns about the adoptee, their pre-adoption circumstances, birth parents and adoptive parents.  Most fascinating is to see God’s providential hand in the life of each of these people.  In their lives, you can see how perfectly God brought these orphans to just the right parents. 

It was sobering to read about the difficult circumstance these children were born into.  It made me pause and give thanks for the times we live in.  I also saw a resilience in the human spirit.  Children and parents who could have easily given up, though perhaps wayward for a season, found a way to persevere and achieve greatness in this life.  I found it encouraging to read about parents who adopted children, made a lifelong commitment and sowed into these young lives the seeds that God would use to make the children into the men and women He called and gifted them to be.

Since I’m adopted, I found it particularly interesting to read about what these adoptees felt about their adoption and birth parents.  Though sometimes drawn to meet and know their birth parents, they knew their parents were the ones who adopted them, cared for and raised them.  Parenthood is less about blood and more love and commitment.

This book is written from a Christian perspective.  Many of the people whose story is told were Christians or exposed to the Christian faith.  I appreciated the reminder from Scripture and the life of the Lord Jesus Christ that adoption is part of God’s story.  For His only begotten Son and for those whom He has chosen and adopted as His own. 

I highly recommend Paul J. Batura’s book Chosen for Greatness – How Adoption Changes the World.  This would be an ideal book for someone who is adopted, or those who have adopted children or know someone who is adopted.  Or if you just want to read an interesting book and learn what shapes people’s lives, pick up Chosen for Greatness

I would like to thank Regnery Publishing for the opportunity to read Chosen for Greatness by Paul J. Batura.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

#ChosenForGreatness



Monday, November 07, 2016

Praying for America



Amen and amen! May we humble our hearts, come to the Lord in repentance. May we stay in God's Word daily and submit to the Holy Spirit's work in us. May we honor and glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father in all ways.

A Day in October





A few weeks ago my friend Julie and I were able to make a trip to the Dallas Arboretum. Not only did we see a plethora of pumpkins of every kind, but we saw beautiful flowers, butterflies and bees.  A beautiful day!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

One of the Few by Jason B. Ladd – A book about one man’s journey to answer a call and challenge to be one of the few

I was contacted by author Jason B. Ladd, to see if I would be interested in reading his book One of the Few.  I’m so grateful for the military and their sacrifice, so I was excited to read about the life of a Marine fighter pilot and how he came to faith in Christ Jesus the Lord.

One of the Few, is Jason’s story, not only about his life but also his spiritual journey.  How he went from being an unbeliever, to someone who looked into various world religions.  Nothing was quite right, nor really answered his questions about the purpose of man.  That is until Jason took the time to investigate Christianity more closely. 

Jason’s spiritual journey is interwoven throughout this book.  As a Marine he drew on his experiences in the military and shared interesting spiritual analogies that he saw from his training and work. 

When talking about drinking, drugs, marriage and sex, Jason talks plainly.  He gives a good high level overview on different world religions and contrasts them to Christianity. 

I appreciated Jason’s seeing the high and holy standards that men and women of God are called to live.  It is so worth walking that narrow road for Christ and to live a life without compromise or regrets.

Who would I recommend this book to?  I think men would especially appreciate it, those who are in or have an interest in the military.  Perhaps those who have questions about the Christian faith.  Women can gain insight into how men think and struggle in today’s culture with immorality being thrown in their face.  I found it interesting to read about Jason’s journey of faith and how he went from being an unbeliever to a Christian. 

I recommend One of the Few by Jason B. Ladd.  Not only will your faith be encouraged, but you may come away bettered equipped to answer questions others may have about Christ and Christianity. 

I would like to thank Jason B. Ladd and Boone Shepherd, LLC for the opportunity to read One of the Few.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Monday, October 17, 2016

The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow - A Gifted Storyteller

I’ve read some of Robert Whitlow’s previous books and was thrilled at the opportunity to read his newest release, The Witnesses.  While reading this book, I was reminded why Robert Whitlow is one of my favorite authors.  This man is a gifted storyteller and he knows how to weave a story together with intrigue, mystery and characters you want to get to know better. 

The Witnesses tells the story of two generations of the House family.  Frank is from Germany, a former Nazi and grandfather to Parker who is an attorney in a small town in North Carolina.  Both men have a unique gift that they can use for good or evil.  How will Frank reconcile his past participation in unimaginable horrors?  Will he ever find rest and peace for his soul?  Parker’s career is just beginning, he’s the new man on the totem and working long hours.  How long will he have to wait to sink his teeth into some weighty cases and prove himself as an attorney?

As the storyline develops, Robert slowly unveils the characters, layer by layer.  He has keen, thought provoking and honest insights into people and their circumstances.  His characters are very relatable.  I especially liked the relationships: between Frank and Parker and their love and respect for one another, the friendship between Frank and his longtime friend Lenny and the instantaneous bond between Layla and Frank.  As a Christian, I appreciate how Robert weaves the Christian faith into his character’s lives.  He did a great job in presenting the Gospel message and showing the Christian faith lived out in everyday life.  I would never have guessed that I would like a story that involves a former Nazi, much less like the character; but I did. 

This book is well written, with interesting characters that will draw you in.  I found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn’t reading, they kind of come alive.  One thing I love about a book is when a character perfectly expresses what you’ve been feeling, but didn’t quite know how to put into words. 

I highly recommend The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow, a tale of two men who have a unique gift of seeing what will happen in the future.  One man is looking back on a life with some very ugly sins he can’t seem to get away from and the other just starting his career.  Will he put his career over and above love?  To find out what happens in the lives of these men you will want to read The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow.

I would like to thank BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing me a free copy The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 


Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Bible Habit by David Ramos – Mixed Review

I’ve had the opportunity to read some author David Ramos’ devotionals and enjoyed them very much and appreciated some of his insights.  That’s why I was excited to read his newest book, The Bible Habit.

After reading The Bible Habit, I had some conflicting thoughts and observations about this book.  When David sticks with the Bible and shares some of what he’s learned from studying the Bible it’s good, thought provoking and challenging.  When he delves into secular studies, science or philosophy to encourage or prompt people to read the Bible, I think he got off course.  There were a couple of times, he referenced sources that are not Biblically sound writers or teachers. 

The good…I appreciated that David started with the importance of people understanding the Bible in context and he went on to explain what that means and why it’s important.  In a day and age when context is thrown to the wind, it was refreshing to see David reinforcing this important truth. 

The chapter on The Memory Boosting Tactic had some good ideas on how to learn, remember and memorize the Bible.  I didn’t care for the secular references on learning.  The Beginner’s Ultimate Toolbox referenced some good study tools that people can use to better understand the Bible and dive deeper.  I take issue with David’s opinion that there is no wrong translation to start with.  Absolutely, it makes a big difference on starting with a translation that is accurate and sound.  If you don’t, you can more easily be led astray with false teaching. 

The chapter Two Souls Are Better Than One was a great reminder, we shouldn’t be solo Christians.  God calls us to be part of a community.  David did a good job in sharing some of the benefits and challenges of being part of a church or Bible study or Christian community.  I would like to add that it is important what community we are a part of.  We need to make sure that it has Biblically sound teaching. 

The chapter on Prayer, The Truth Igniter, had some good insights and references.  But I was concerned about with the reference of Richard Foster in how to pray the Bible.  Richard Foster is part of the spiritual formation and contemplative prayer movement.  Foster is not biblically sound.  Steer clear of his teaching.   

The not so good…the chapter on Building Blocks of a Habit had some practical tools to help you develop the beneficial habit of reading the Bible.  But this chapter seemed to miss the boat in acknowledging that the Bible is from God and the primary source that God uses to reveal Himself and it is a privilege to read it.  I felt this chapter downplayed the authority of God’s Word and made reading the Bible seem common and lowly.  So much so, that you should put incentives in place to read the Bible like you would when starting a new exercise program.  Also, I disagree with David’s suggestion to not read a book of the Bible chapter by chapter, but aim for reading by story.  Reading a book of the Bible helps you to read and understand it within context.  The mix of secular and Bible in this chapter didn’t mix well.  

To sum things up, I had some mixed and conflicting thoughts about The Bible Habit by David Ramos.  He had some beneficial thoughts and tools for people to consider as they learn to study the Bible.  However, I was concerned with the secular studies and science that he cited to incentivize reading the Bible as well as a Christian writer who is not biblically sound.  At times, I felt like he was making the Bible palatable, when in fact it is the perfect and inerrant Word of God. 

Would I recommend it?  Maybe.  Some of the material is beneficial for a new Christian or an unbeliever wanting to know how to read God’s Word.  But I would also be concerned that they start with a biblically sound foundation, have a high view of Scripture and steer clear of false teachers. 

I would like to thank author David Ramos for the opportunity to read The Bible Habit.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 



Sunday, October 09, 2016

A Morally Confused Election




Lord, I can’t help but believe
Both candidates are part of Your judgment
On the wicked morally bankrupt nation that we’ve become

What a sorry state we are in
The top two candidates
Reflect the state of our moral confusion

It’s more than just ideological differences
It’s bigger than choosing between left and right
Democrat or Republican

We are a nation divided
Even within our political parties
We have splintered and are spinning out of control

Can I just say
Trump was my number 17 choice
Out of a field of 17 candidates

After his nomination
I was depressed
In a quandary as what to do

Over time
I accepted my choices are limited
Trump, Clinton, Johnson, Write-in or Not Vote

I asked the question
Does Never Hillary
Trump Never Trump

The best thing about Trump
He’s not Hillary
The worst thing about Trump, he’s himself

The campaigning and debates revealed
Not just a flawed candidate
But a man who was morally bankrupt

Remember the awful, wretched things he said
About the candidates, their wives and families
Let’s not forget the reporters and anyone else within range

The man has no filter on his mouth
He speaks before he thinks
Some find it refreshing, I find it appalling

He brought the discourse of debate
To a new all-time low
Vile name calling instead of focusing on issues

Boastful pride and arrogance
Bragging of his sexual conquests and body parts
He doesn’t classify adultery as sin, but God does

Hillary feigns outrage at Trump’s antics
But let’s not forget Clinton’s corruption 
Both personal and professional

Over the years, Hillary’s complicit in covering up
Not just Bill’s sexual immorality
But shutting down the women he’s sexually assaulted

Remember Benghazi…what difference does it make
Was it incompetence or negligence
That left four Americans dead; and why the lies

Personal email servers for convenience of course
Classified…what’s that?  Never received them
National security at risk, all for what

State Department and influence for sale to the highest bidder
Clinton Foundation coffers grow by leaps and bounds
Got to cover our tracks...delete, delete, delete

Corruption long-lived and far reaching
The Justice Department and FBI
Once agencies of integrity, now aid and abet

Corruption abounds
Moral bankruptcy knows no bounds
Lord, what’s a Christian to do?

Not vote?  Men fought and died for that right
Vote for the lesser of evils
Throw away my vote with a write-in who won’t win

With all the noise and rhetoric
I don’t know how to vote
Lord, what would you have me to do?


By Susan Wachtel
October 8, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Vow to Remember




Fifteen years ago
I made a solemn vow
That I would always remember

That day is etched
Imagines seared
Permanently in my mind

The horror of planes
Filled with precious human souls
Lives extinguished in an instant

What kind of person would do this
Intentionally crash a plane into a building
That’s the day, I left naïve behind

Oh the living hell they must have endured
Above the points of impact, now left to choose
Do I jump or die in this inferno

Desperate phone calls and messages went out
Pleas for help that would never reach them
Love proclaimed by voices that would soon be silenced

Firemen and police officers
Dedicated to serve and protect
Answered the call that day and laid down their lives

110 story skyscrapers don’t collapse!
Not just one, but two towers came down that day
Dust clouds chasing those who miraculously survived

Unthinkable evil struck again
Another plane filled with precious human souls
Used as a missile, plowed headlong into the Pentagon

Lives extinguished
Devastating injuries
Wounds, far deeper, scared the souls of those who survived

The war against evil began that day
It started on United 93
Courageous, heroic passengers said, “No!  We’re taking it back.”

On that day it didn’t matter
Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Native American
We were all one…Americans United

Can it really be
There’s a generation that wasn’t alive
Or those who don’t remember that fateful day

There isn’t a day that goes by
When I don’t remember
Recall afresh the horror of that day

It may be a plane overhead
A tall building on the horizon
A police officer or firefighter passing by

An American flag flying in the breeze
Saying the Pledge of Allegiance
Singing “Oh, say, can you see” evokes tears

To those whose lives were extinguished
Those who lost family or friends
I vow to always remember


by Susan Wachtel
September 11, 2016

Sunday, September 04, 2016

A Living Testimony


In eternity past
Before God formed this world
He planned for two hearts to become one
Their love for Christ
The Solid Rock foundation for their lives
Desire to honor and glorify the Lord
Unwavering trust
In both good times and bad
God is praised
Not only with their lips
But with their very lives
When trouble’s strong winds began to blow
Waves threatened to swamp them
They clung to Christ all the more
Their hope in Him could not be quenched
Though pain and suffering threatened to extinguish the flame
Hope’s light burned brighter in the darkness
Like Paul they believe
Our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared
To the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ
This present life is passing away
It’s only when we die, that a Christian will be truly home
Until that time
Eyes focused on Christ
Hearts fully committed
Trust in the unfailing source of their strength
For each day, Christ is walking with them
Their young lives, a living testimony
To Christ their Savior and God
He alone is their hope
The proof and evidence of the resurrection to come
Of life everlasting, without end

For Tyler and Mariah

by Susan Wachtel
September 3, 2016

Picture a Day - Wild Yarrow

The yarrow in our garden is one of my favorite plants.  In the wild, it's just as pretty.