books · Christian · non-fiction · Uncategorized

Raw Faith…

A Black Cat Book Review


Raw Faith by Kasey Van Norman

Thirty something Kasey, is happily married with two children.  She and her family have just moved to a new town, joined a new church, are making new friends.  She has a thriving ministry, and a book about faith.  Her life is good.  Then the phone call comes. She has an aggressive form of cancer.

Now there are questions, lots of questions. Not just about the cancer and treatment but about faith, about Kasey’s faith.  What is faithraw and what is her faith. She has taught bible studies and wrote a book about faith.  She has told others that in crisis there is nowhere to go but to God.  Now she wonders; can she, will she, live what she has taught.

After the diagnosis there is chemo.

This shows Kasey that sometimes God does give us more than we can bear to prove we cannot handle things on our own.  We need Him when there is nowhere else to turn.  She tells of her doubts and learning that Satan uses doubt to separate us from God.  She tells of knowing that the power of Satan cannot beat God’s power.  She tells of drifting and depression. Drifting and not trusting God fully but going her own way.  Depression that makes her draw into herself and learns that when there is nowhere else to go then she draws closer to God.

Through her cancer treatment she finds that the true foundation of faith is not what we experience of faith but in the person of Jesus Christ.  We choose what to believe; God does not  force us one way or the other.  We choose where to place our confidence; in our emotions or God.

There are no “weak” or “strong” chapters but I found the one about prayer had the greatest impact on me.  Kasey emphasizes that prayer is more than the spoken word. It is  conversation with One we have a relationship with.  There are two parts to prayer: speaking and listening.   Both are important.

There are many personal moments shared in her book and many stories from the Bible.  Everything she writes she reinforces with scripture.  The book is one that can be read quickly, which I did.  But if you to go back and read it more slowly and let the lessons Kasey learned speak to you, which I did, you will find depth and encouragement for your struggles.  You may not have cancer but everyone at some time will find themselves in a fight that only God  can win.  This book is a good starting point to help you focus on the Victor.

As Kasey says, “Raw faith is not based on what God does but on who God is.”


This book was sent to me free of charge by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in exchange for this review.


Black Cat · books · fiction · NaBloPoMo · Uncategorized

You might like one of these…

Black Cat Book Review


Today instead of doing a review I am going tell you
just a little about some books I have recently read.

maidThe Maid’s Version by Daniel Woodrell

A bitter woman, estranged from her son, tells a story about a tragic fire to her grandson. I liked this book, although, I did find it hard to get into.  Once on my way I became interested in the characters and was quite surprised by the ending.

testTestimony by Anita Shreve

A sad story all around.  There is an incident at a boarding school involving 3 boys and a girl.  Because it was recorded and put on the internet it becomes a major crisis in many lives; the 4 students, their parents, the Head Master, friends, and community.  Each chapter is a testimony of the people involved and at times seems a bit simplistic but it does add to the character study of each person.

waterWe Are Water by Wally Lamb

A story about marriage and family and the secrets in them.   Anna, a successful outsider artist, has left her husband of twenty-seven years and is getting ready to marry her lover, a woman.  The turmoil this causes in the lives of her ex-husband and grown children is understandable and Shreve deftly tells each side of the story.  I came to like everyone in the family and wanted all to be happy.  There is a ghost in the story, part of a story within the story. Not spooky or eerie it makes the book richer.

neverNever Go Back by Lee Child

This is a Jack Reacher story.  Child has written tales of Reacher for years but this is the first I have read.  I like Reacher even though he is a bigger than life kind of tough guy and I usually prefer underdogs and normal folks. There is lots of action and intrigue and some humor.  I will say that after reading this and getting to know Jack Reacher I cannot image why Tom Cruise was ever cast to play him in a movie.  I am glad I read a Jack Reacher novel and now have no plans to see the movie.

dollycat_thumb.gifSo there you have it…books I liked and recommend to fellow readers.
Happy reading.


Black Cat · books · fiction · Monday · Uncategorized

Monday, keeping the porch light on…

A Black Cat Book Review


Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank

When life throws a curve ball and you don’t know what to do the best thing to do is to go home.  That is what this story is about, going home to family to heal heartbreak and to be strengthened by the love of family so you can go on again.

Jackie was an Army nurse serving in Afghanistan when her firefighter husband was killed.  When she goes back to Brooklyn to bury her Jimmy and help her ten-year old son, Charlie, comes to terms with his father’s death she is overwhelmed.  Devastated by their lossporch Jackie decides to take Charlie and go home to Sullivans Island for the summer.

Though Jackie and her mother, Annie, haven’t always gotten along, Annie is happy to have them come.  Annie is opinionated and outspoken and not easy to live with but she has a big heart and loves her family and wants to help them.  After Jackie and Jimmy married and moved to New York Annie’s husband and Jackie’s father, Buster, left.  That was over ten years ago and though Buster lives nearby the beach house has been too big and too empty for too long.

Jackie is a strong independent woman and worries that going home even just for the summer maybe a bad idea.  Much to Annie’s credit she accepts that Jackie and Charlie will leave at the end of summer but believes it would be best that they stay and make their home on the island.

As the summer goes on Charlie begins to again be the bright, funny, and smart kid he was before his father’s death.  As Jackie grieves she knows she must start making plans for herself and her son’s future.  She wants to go back to Brooklyn so they can begin to build a new life.  But Charlie wants to stay on the island and does something surprising,  and uncharacteristic, to assure he will stay.

The summer is filled with island beauty, stories of pirates and Edgar Allan Poe, good food, friends, family, and learning about what is important in life.  Annie and Jackie tell the story, each seeing things in her own way. Though they see and experience things differently they both learn about family and the ties that bind.

I have read other novels by Dorothea Benton Frank and have never been disappointed.  I enjoyed this book, too.  It is realistic in its portrayals of the characters and events.  There is honesty and humor that is refreshing. If you are looking fo a happy ending this is it.


Black Cat · books · memories · non-fiction · Saturday · Uncategorized

Saturday, an Amish man’s journey…


Black Cat Book Review

Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler

This is a true story of a man who was born into the Amish life.  It is a story of family and all the dynamics that make up a family, any family, not just Amish families.

Wagler tells his story simply without shocking disclosures or the telling of family secrets best kept in the family.  He tells of what life was like, for him, in an Old Order Amish community with its restrictions and regulations.  He writes about his journey to discover where he belongs.

His journey of self-discovery takes him away from his family and friends more than once.  When away he misses home but when home he longs to be away.  His greatest fear is that if he renounces the Amish way of life he will be forever damned with no hope of heaven.  For about ten years he wanders in and out of Amish life desperately seeking his own identity and happiness.

This is not a tell all book of sensationalism.  It is a memoir of a man who found his way home.  Told with honesty and self-depreciation it is at times funny and at times achingly sad.

Wagler writes with rare humility and respect that is inspiring.