Sunday, August 28, 2016
A book review
Every now and then you run across a book that affects you to your very core. It was that way with me when I read Lisa Lickel’s book, Innocents Pray.
To begin with, the setting in Innocents Pray seems like any other with what looks like an average American family, complete with their own struggles and quirks. We have a father who works away from home more than he’s at home, a teenage son dealing with the struggles of being a teenager yet fighting fears and demons no teenage boy should face, and a mother who must yet again fight the battle with the dreaded C word, along with trying to decide whether or not to put her family through another battle. Add to the story a live-in companion/nurse who becomes more than just a caregiver, but a friend to the mother, a spiritual advocate who has secrets of his own, a doctor who is searching for a cure and a whole lot more, and a few other surprises thrown in for good measure, Innocents Pray is a book that keeps the reader not only intrigued but wondering what’s going to happen with the next turn of the page.
Liberty Davis (more affectionately known as Libby), an avid artist who runs her craft and art business from a studio inside her home, is fighting the gnawing in the back of her mind that her cancer may have returned. Passing it off as a strained muscle from walking the beach of her Wisconsin home, she ignores it and tries to hide it for as long as she can. However, her companion and nurse, Nona sees right through Libby’s façade and calls her husband Vic home from his work abroad.
Vic Davis, Libby’s husband has been secretly called home by his wife’s companion. She fears Libby is sick again. Catching a private flight with Brother Abel of the Alexian Brotherhood and spiritual advisor of Paradise House, a hospice facility stationed in California, Vic and Abel strike up an impromptu but distant friendship in the few hours of their flight. Neither knows that they’ll ever meet again, nor how connected their lives will become.
Through the journey of Innocents Pray, you watch as first Libby, then Brother Abel detail their life events, always wondering how one plays into the other. However, there are also a couple of mysterious blog posts from different blogs to contend with that lead the reader to wonder exactly who is posting these things and how distressed their life must be to write the things they do.
Innocents Pray is a very intriguing book. I kept reading, trying to decide if Libby was going to succumb to the cancer invading her body. Would Vic, her husband ever realize that keeping his home and family together was important, rather than jetting off to who knows where to install medical equipment for the company he works for? Not that his job isn’t important, but doesn’t God also desire for one to keep his family together? How were Libby and Vic missing the vital issues that their son Jordan was struggling through and why were they passing it off as just everyday things a teenager goes through? What part did Nona, Libby’s companion and nurse serve in all this? And how was Brother Abel connected?
Of course, add in the mysterious research that Dr. Rich Bernard is doing at Paradise House and it’s a web of mystery, intrigue and deception…or is it legitimate? Who will live and who will die? That’s one question I wanted to know. The outcome was surprising. Through it all, faith in God flows through the undercurrent throughout the entire book. Whose prayers will He answer? How will He answer? Does He even answer? As the pull of the book claims; “One wants her to live, one wants her dead, one wants her cells.” Who will get their wish? Whose prayer will God answer?
Having lost my mother to cancer over twenty years ago, Innocents Pray tested my comfort zone. However, determined to read this with an open mind I finished the book and was glad that I did. It was a great story with twists and turns, lots of people, lots of opinions and a little bit of drama weaved in for good measure.
It also led me to research the Alexian Brothers, a healing mission of the Roman Catholic Church. They engage in *“a prophetic, holistic approach to healthcare, rooted in Gospel values.” The Alexian Brothers have an 800-year legacy. I had never heard of the Alexian Brotherhood, however found the organization quite interesting.
Lisa Lickel does a great job of keeping you entertained as well as wondering what’s next.
I recommend reading Innocents Pray, especially if you’re struggling with your faith, loss, or just want to be kept on your toes. You don’t have to be Catholic in order to understand the depths of faith and questions we all ask God periodically throughout our lives; especially the question of, when several people are praying different prayers for the same person, whose prayer does God answer?
Innocents Pray is scheduled to release on September 1, 2016 and is currently is available for pre-order. You can secure your copy by going to any of the following links:
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer and editor who lives with her husband in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction. Her novels include the Buried Treasure mystery series (The Last Bequest, The Map Quilt and The Newspaper Code) and the award-winning romance, Meander Scar; A Summer in Oakville, co-authored with best-selling author Shellie Neumeier, Healing Grace, The Last Detail and a series of historical early reader books, First Children of Farmington. She has a novella in Brave New Century, a historical anthology, and a radio play in the anthology A Wisconsin Harvest, Vol II. A novella, Everything About You, released as part of the Love Is series from Prism Book Group. She also writes short stories, feature articles, and radio theater. She belongs to the Chicago Writers Association, the Council for Wisconsin Writers, Women’s Fiction Writers of America and Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp & Retreat. Lisa loves to encourage new authors through mentoring, speaking, and leading workshops. Lisa also is an avid book reviewer and blogger, and a freelance editor. She is married to a high school biology teacher, and they have two sons and daughters in law, grandchildren and a grand-kitty. Find more at LisaLickel.com.
*For more information on the Alexian Brothers healing mission check out the following link:
Sunday, August 7, 2016
A few years ago I was traveling to speak at a weekend ladies retreat which was six hours away from my home. The journey was not only eventful but I was thrown every detour I could possibly run into. The GPS was telling me to go one way, while the printed directions said to go another. I knew the direction I had to go, was following the printed directions, yet the GPS kept telling me to make a U-turn and go in the opposite direction. None of it made sense. I felt like Alice down the rabbit hole.
This trip was a new adventure for me. For the first time I was driving solo. I had never ventured out of my home area by myself any further than a couple of hours away. I knew my area, how to get to where I was going, and how to get myself home. This trip however, was into the Great Unknown for me. To say I was a little apprehensive would be an understatement, yet I was completely calm.
On this trip I ran into one road construction project after another. There were detour signs galore. Yet, I always ended up back on the right road in the direction I needed to be going. At one point even a huge thunderstorm and hard rain pelted my new car as I tried to navigate the highway and keep myself on the road and from running into another vehicle. But that didn’t stop me from moving forward toward my goal.
On the final stretch of road I knew I was nearly there. Yet, once again a detour. This time there was a complete road block with a detour sign which was pointing the opposite direction. I stopped in the middle of the road and looked at the sign. Really? Left? The place I was going, I knew in my heart, was not that direction. I looked left. Nothing. Then I looked right. There was a road. In my heart I heard, “Turn right.” So I did.
Up and over a set of railroad tracks and down this dusty road I went. I wasn’t sure how far I would go, but suddenly there was a gravel road going to the left and I heard again, “Turn here.” So I did. Now I’m in the middle of a huge corn field, on a gravel road, in the middle of nowhere, out of my area and alone. Great.
Suddenly though, there was a stop sign in the middle of the corn field. Who put that there? I stopped. I looked to the left and instantly saw the rail road track that I just had crossed earlier. Hm. So I turned left, crossed the tracks, and then stopped at the stop sign there. When I looked to the left, there was another barricade with a detour sign. I was on the other side of the road block. I had gone around it without having to take the opposite direction.
I turned right and was back on the road I had come in on and back on track to my destination. Within minutes I was where I was supposed to be. At my hotel. Safe. Secure. Relieved. And yes, I was thanking God for getting me to my destination.
That was several years ago. The ladies retreat was amazing. It was small, but for a first time speaking engagement, it was just what I needed, just what they needed, and I made a brand new friend and discovered a sister in Christ.
That trip taught me a lot about trusting God to get you where you’re supposed to be. The enemy throws many detours our way to trip us up, put us on the wrong road, send us in the wrong direction and just really mess with our lives. But when we absolutely know which direction we’re supposed to go, those detours won’t deter us at all, even if they tell us to go in the opposite direction.
Not even Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, can keep you from doing what God has called you to do. But along the way, those interruptions and detours can become an entertaining and fun adventure if you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you.
My point is this; if you stay focused on your Tour Guide (God), then all the other distractions will be just the sights you get to see during your tour. By staying focused on Him, you will reach your destination safe, sound, and better than when you began… and you just might have a laugh or two along the way.