Psalms Alive! (review)


Psalms Alive!Psalms Alive! by David Kitz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Psalms Alive! author, pastor, and dramatist David Kitz takes us on a journey through thirteen selected psalms. In the Preface Kitz explains why he wrote the book:

“For the past number of years I have been bringing the Psalms to life for audiences through the medium of live drama. Here now in book form, from a dramatist’s perspective I provide a glimpse into the prayers and praise of the psalmists” 18.

Each of the book’s 26 chapters begins with the quoted scripture passage under discussion. This is followed by Kitz expanding on it in a variety of ways that include personal stories, explanations of biblical customs and settings, devotional inspiration, and challenges to apply the scripture’s advice to life. Each chapter ends with a “Bringing Life to the Psalms” section consisting of three to four discussion and personal application questions.


Bible art journal on Psalm 19:14 using a quote from Psalms Alive! (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

Kitz’s writing is lively, picturesque, and wise. He expands liberally on the ideas presented in the Bible passage. He doesn’t leaves us in the theoretical clouds though, but makes sure his conclusions connect to everyday living. My book is full of underlined sections. Here are a few of my favourite quotes:

From the Preface: “When we handle the Word of God, we are handling life. When we take hold of the Word of God, it takes hold of us” – 17.

From a chapter on Psalm 19: “Your heavenly Father does not need a stethoscope to check on the condition of your heart; he needs only to listen to the words coming out of your mouth” – 43.

From a chapter on Psalm 103: “Relationship is always the wellspring of all revelation. It is while we are in God’s presence that we discover the mind of Christ” – 149.


Bible art journal detail (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly)

I used this book, along with others in an online creative Bible study and found much inspiration in it for Bible art journaling. It has deepened and broadened my appreciation of the psalms discussed. It would make an excellent textbook (along with the Bible, of course) for men’s or women’s Bible studies.

I received this book as a gift from the author for the purpose of writing a review and participating in the study.

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Twenty-One Candles (review)

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Twenty-One Candles: Stories for ChristmasTwenty-One Candles: Stories for Christmas by Mike Mason

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mike Mason (Canadian author of The Mystery of Marriage, Champagne for the Soul and the Blue Umbrella fantasy series for kids) has a personal tradition of writing a Christmas story every year. This book is 21 of those stories, collected into a “wonder-full” volume of tales, as different from each other as each Christmas we live is one-of-a-kind. Some stories are short, others long, some playful, others serious, some fairy-tale-like, others as real as photographs. What binds them all together, though is the way each reflects some facet of the deepest meaning of the season.

From the one with the earliest date, 1981’s “Christmas Rocks”—in which the narrator and his friend, weary of the commercialism of a Winnipeg mall, drive to Gimli to choose a unique water-lucent rock for each person on their list—to 2014’s “In the stillness of the Night”—set in Hope BC with a local tourist attraction, the Othello Tunnels, playing a major role—these tales are recognizably Canadian, yet have a universal, parable quality to them that sets them beyond time and place.

The two that touch me most deeply are “Born with Wings”—about a sick baby expected to live just hours, born on Christmas day. Any parent who has lost a baby to miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death will relate to this poignant, tastefully told tale and its Christmas message.

The other favorite is the 1984 tale that closes the collection, “Bound for Glory.” Its tame yet mysterious beginning:

“A light rain was falling as I set off across the platform. … It was Christmas Eve, close to midnight, and the station was unusually busy, though not with the bustle of a daylight rush hour but with the trance-like commotion of darkness…” Kindle Location 2939.

soon reveals a carload of citizens fleeing for the border, among them a couple with a newborn baby. Enter soldiers with guns, making threats and culling group by group from the coach. Of course there is a surprise at the destination.

Stories in this book have been read at the Vancouver Pacific Theatre’s annual Christmas Presence programs. Now that they are available to all, they’re sure to add their special light to the Christmases of many more individuals and groups. I, frankly, love this book. It’s the kind of volume I feel like buying as a gift for friends and family members because I just know they would love one or another story in it.

My one gripe with the Kindle version of the book is that there is no table of contents. Actually there is a Table of Contents, but it’s not listed under the “Go to…” options in my Kindle reader’s “Menu.” I found it when I paged onward from the cover.

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Ready … Set … for NaNoWriMo

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A week from today the hordes of writers who signed up for this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge will be logging their first word counts on the way to 50,000. Three years ago I was one of them.

I had decided to sign up a few weeks before that. The decision was not taken lightly. The fiction project I wanted to tackle had been on my mind for years. I had spent months, seven years earlier, researching the setting of the story I wanted to tell and went back to it from time to time. But I always ended up dropping it because it seemed I would never know enough.

I had begun to realize, though, that perhaps I just needed to write the story and fill in the gaps later. NaNoWriMo with its built in hype, inspirational newsletters, and accountability might be just the thing to get me over the great hump of producing a first draft.

To help make sure this would happen I spent the weeks between making my decision and November 1, 2009 doing some groundwork. Here are some things I did pre-NaNoWriMo:

1. I found and printed Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method for writing a novel. Then I worked at fleshing out my plot and characters.

2. I re-reread the research I had done.

3. Since my story was Bible fiction it had events that needed to occur in a specific order. I made a document of the Bible script of events, formatting it with the print filling the left half of the page, leaving the right half blank for my notes. When I got ideas of how my character would handle these events, I made jottings on the right.

4. I broadcast my intentions on the forum of The Word Guild, a Canadian writer’s group to which I belong, asking if anyone else was planning on doing the NaNo thing. We soon had an accountability group which included Sara Davison (The Watcher), Marcia Laycock (One Smooth Stone and A Tumbled Stone) and Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts).

By November 1st I was chomping at the bit to get going!

Are you planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you ever done it? What preparations would you suggest?

Because We Prayed by Mary Haskett (review)


Because We Prayed – Mary Haskett

In Because We Prayed, author Mary Haskett examines many aspects of prayer: faith, forgiveness, the help of the Holy Spirit and the need to be sensitive to Him, spiritual warfare, what to pray for, and more. She shares her own experiences of prayer with candor and transparency and along the way weaves in her own interesting story of coming to faith.

Her delight in finding Jesus and her often child-like faith are inspirational. Here, for example, is her memory of the day she accepted Christ as her Saviour:

“Were my feet still touching the ground? I looked down—yes! But I swear I felt as if I floated down that hospital corridor. How many times did I grin to myself? How many times did I have to force myself to concentrate on the task at hand? How many times did I have to suppress the urge to hug everybody in sight—to shout ‘He’s real! He’s real! …. I had met Jesus. He had let me know He truly existed” (Kindle Location 166).

I especially liked the questions and prayer that concluded each chapter, pressing home the chapter’s personal application. Her anecdotes witness to the fact that she is herself a seasoned and sensitive pray-er who teaches from firsthand experience.

This easy-to-understand little volume would make wonderful personal devotional reading. I can see it also being used in group Bible studies.

Title: Because We Prayed
Author: Mary Haskett
Publisher: Word Alive Press, May 27, 2009, 108 pages, paperback (Kindle version also available)

  • ISBN-10: 1926676165
  • ISBN-13: 978-1926676166