Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Review: My Gentle Barn

Title:  My Gentle Barn
Subtitle:  Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope
Author:  Ellie Laks, with Nomi Isak
Genre:  Personal Memoir
Publisher:  Crown Publishing, a division of Random House
Number of Pages:  266
My Rating:  4.5 out of 5

It was a no-brainer for me to choose this book from a menu of multiple choices offered by the publisher. Because I love animals and can't bear to see them mistreated, and because my husband and I adopted an older child who had already lived through a difficult and dysfunctional first eight years, it seemed like a perfect fit. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this woman's story.

The journey from the author's loving but lonely childhood in which her deep love for animals was misunderstood and under-appreciated to the eventual founding of The Gentle Barn where both abused animals and at-risk children can find physical and emotional healing is richly detailed. It is unlikely I'll forget the dogs, cows, horses, goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens, etc. who came into her life through a variety of ways. In fact, I wanted to drop everything and fly out to California just to meet the author and her four-legged family face-to-face and to participate in their daily care. And apparently many people spend their vacations doing just that.

Ms. Laks faced many challenges along the way to fulfilling her dream of providing a sanctuary for unwanted or unhealthy animals, including a troubled marriage, a devastating fire, and a nasty neighbor. But she was also blessed and assisted along the way by an ever-growing number of volunteers and celebrities who championed her cause.  Today, The Gentle Barn is a thriving venture thanks to a woman with the determination to make her dream a reality.

The only small criticism I have about this refreshing and inspiring read is the author's continued comments about her parents' lack of support throughout her life. Mentioning it once or twice is important to the story, but more than that seems unnecessary and awkward.

Learn more about the author or The Gentle Barn at

Disclaimer:  I received this book from for review.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Don't Let the Devil Do His Thing

Ever have one of those days (weeks, months, years, lives)?

You're breathing. You're blinking. Undeniable proof that you are a living being. So what's up with the overwhelming feelings that you're invisible? unimportant? unnecessary?  Those feelings may seem true, but they are not truth. The devil is lying to you.

If the devil can get you to believe that nobody -- especially God -- gives a hoot, he's done his job. You will swallow the deceit he is feeding you, and you will wallow in the misery he is piling on you.

Don't let the devil do his thing.

Cut through the clamor of his hollow hogwash with the one thing that can open your eyes, ears, mind, and heart to the truth -- God's Word. You are *not* invisible. You are *not* unimportant. You are *not* unnecessary.

Because God says so.

You were created by Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
You are His workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)
He calls you His child. (1 John 3:1)
He commands His angels to guard you. (Psalm 91:11)
His love for you is unfailing. (Psalm 33:18)
His love for you endures forever. (Psalm 100:5)
He gathers you in His arms and carries you close to His heart. (Isaiah 40:11)
His eyes are on you. (Psalm 33:18)
He turns His face toward you. (Numbers 6:24)
He delights in you. (Psalm 147:11)
He has a purpose for you. (Romans 8:28)
He has plans for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)
He makes your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6)
He is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
He never lets you fall. (Psalm 55:32)
He meets all your needs. (Philippians 4:19)
His grace for you is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
He fills you with joy and peace. (Romans 15:13)
He gives you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
He carries your burdens. (Psalm 68:19)
He renews your strength. (Isaiah 40:31)
He shelters you from the storm. (Isaiah 25:4)
He turns your darkness into light. (Psalm 18:28)

He laid down His life for you. (John 3:16)

When the devil starts to sing his tired old song, and he bends down to whisper sweet nothings in your ear (and that's just what they are -- nothings!), sound the trumpet and strike up the chorus of God's truth, and you will cast off the devil's misery and deceit and know -- *KNOW* -- that you are visible, you are important, you are necessary.

Because God says so.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Stay Tuned

This bibliomaniac has decided the time is ripe to try her hand at book reviewing.  I love to read, and I love to write, so it makes sense to marry the two. I won't lie -- I'm rather nervous about this new venture and my ability to do justice to the publisher, to the authors, and to readers. But I'm a warm body who's willing to try, just like every infant at the moment of birth.

My first requested book is expected to arrive in about ten days, and I hope to post a review a couple of weeks after that (I'm not a fast reader).

Stay tuned!

Friday, June 20, 2014


My beloved father flew away from this temporary life into eternal life on June 7, 2014, at the age of 87. This song, written in 1829 by Albert Brumley, is dedicated to the man who raised me, introduced me to the Christian faith, and has landed at long last on the shores of the promised land.

"I'll Fly Away"

Some glad morning when this life is over,
I'll fly away;
To a home on God's celestial shore,
I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, oh glory,
I'll fly away;
When I die,
Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away.

Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away;
To that land where joy shall never end,
I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, oh glory,
I'll fly away;
When I die,
Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away.

I'll fly away, oh glory,
I'll fly away;
In the morning
When I die,
Hallelujah, by and by,
I'll fly away.


And because both of us believe in Jesus -- His birth, death, and resurrection -- I'll join my precious Daddy on that celestial shore by and by. Oh, glory! Hallelujah!

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. ~ John 3:16

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Gift

 For my mother on Mother's Day...

 The Gift

I watched the bluebirds,
royal in hue,
painted skyborne,
and wished them for you;
but no matter how sweet
their song might be,
their song is from God
and not from me.

I gazed at the daisies,
yellow and gay,
whirling like gypsies
on the brightest of days;
but no matter how happy
their dance might be,
their dance is from God
and not from me.

I stopped by the meadow,
cool and still,
smelling of spring,
at home by the mill;
but no matter how soothing
the peace might be,
the peace is from God
and not from me.

I might have despaired
at my sorry plight,
at not being able
to catch bluebirds in flight,
at not being able
to pick a bouquet
or capture the peace
of this glorious day;
but God, in His mercy,
has given to me
a gift that is greater
than all of these three.

From the mountains that tremble
to the oceans that roar,
I give you my love
for ever and more.

(I wrote this poem years ago, but it is still relevant every single year.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

When You're Weary

Jesus Christ is my...

"Bridge Over Troubled Water"

When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, 
I will dry them all;
I'm on your side. 
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

When you're down and out,
When you're on the street,
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.
I'll take your part.
When darkness comes
And pain is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

Sail on silvergirl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine.
If you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

(Simon and Garfunkel)

Friday, March 7, 2014

God Speaks

God speaks to us
in ways familiar,
in ways foreign;
He is never silent.

His voice is
the clap of thunder
the screech of hawk
the roar of waterfall;
His voice is
the flutter of wing
the gurgling of brook
the mew of kitten.

He speaks
worlds into being
lightning into striking
winds into blowing;
He speaks
sun into shining
plants into growing
cows into lowing.

His words
are the power
that create life
that summon death
that fill the heart
that sorrow the soul
that give
that take
that every season
that every purpose

God speaks to us.

Man can do naught
but listen
and bow down.