Book Review: God’s Feet are in My Sandbox by Rick Anderson


God’s Feet Are In My Sandbox  By: Rick Anderson

Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC, 127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang,Oklahoma73064, 978—1617398100, $ 17.99, 2011, 226 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (07/2011)

The Struggle to Reconciling Faith and Justice, Love and Hope

Author Rick Anderson openly chronicles his spiritual journey. His story begins as a twenty-one year old loser with an alcohol problem contemplating suicide. He goes on to candidly share the events that led to divorce and remarriage. He describes how he surrendered to preach the Gospel. He relates the experiences behind a decision to adopt a Chinese orphan, of losing his wife to breast cancer, and of later finding love again.

In my review I have tried to go beyond the information shown on the back cover of the book to alert the potential reader that much of the story leads up to the highlights of his ministry on Death Row. For other readers, the subtitle “Faith Chronicles of a Texas Death Row Chaplain” may lead to similar expectations.

Rick tells of his experiences as a Chaplain ministering to condemned men on Death Row at the Polunsky Unit of aTexasprison.  He details the events that led to his being made a scapegoat by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in their effort to place blame on him for an embarrassing death threat against a Texas State Senator which was posted on the internet.

I personally was drawn intoAnderson’s narrative right from the beginning. The prologue beautifully explains the basis of the title “God’s Feet Are In My Sandbox.” I also was very impressed with the wayAndersonintroduced encouraging words from the Psalms and other selected scripture passages that added spiritual insight and encouragement, promise, and inspiration to the incidents of the preceding narrative.

Many readers will appreciate the clarity with whichAndersonpresents the Gospel message. Other readers may be looking for more detailed insight into the role, duties, and policies applicable to prison chaplaincy. Anderson draws attention to on going discipline practices often prevalent behind the scenes in the prison environment, of the need for prison reform, restorative justice, and into the ongoing debate regarding the death penalty.

I have been moved again to re-examine God’s involvement in the “Sand Box” of my life.


Book Review: Mended by God – The Tony Pack Story by Don Smarto

Mended by God: The Tony Pack Story  By: Don Smarto

Frontline Press, P. O. Box764499, Dallas,Texas75376-4499, 9781424323432, 357 pages

Review: By Richard R. Blake

Prayer, Perseverance, Recovery, Rehabilitation, Hope & Triumph

“Mended by God” is the story of Tony Pack’s miraculous recovery from a closed head injury as a result of a death defying auto accident. Twenty-four year old Tony is plunged into a deep coma after hitting a spot of black ice which sent his car careening out of control into a freeway overpass pillar.  Although the prognosis was often pessimistic his family resolutely clung to their faith in God. An album of 60 pages of photos and the detailed one year journal kept by Tony’s mother, Carol Pack, faithfully chronicle the events from the fateful day in 1986 through the trials of Tony’s three month coma, his recovery, and the months of rehabilitation.

I quickly became engrossed in Tony’s recovery process which included a support team made up of his family, his pastor, chaplains, members of the medical profession as well as countless friends and prayer warriors. Don Smarto carefully weaves examples of family love, the importance of their faith in Tony’s healing, and spiritual guidance for others going through the testing of adversity.

“Mended by God” is not only informational it is an uplifting and inspiring testimony of God’s grace. The attractive cover, quality binding, photos, and inspirational message make this an ideal gift book for anyone going through the challenge of difficult circumstances whether it is an illness, family crisis, unemployment, or the loss of a loved one.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The views expressed are my own.

Book Review: Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal – A Boy, Cancer, and God by Michael Kelley

Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal – A Boy, Cancer, and God by Michael Kelley

B& H Publishing Company, Nashville, TN, 2012

Review by: Richard R. Blake

A Spiritual Journey Into the Unknown  – Childhood Leukemia

At two years old Joshua Kelley was diagnosed with Childhood Leukemia. “Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal – A Boy Cancer and God” describes the day to day struggles Michael and Jana Kelley faced during the three year ritual of chemotherapy, steroids, transfusions, ongoing medications, and the ever present concern for the Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC).

A gifted communicator, Kelley’s writing is articulate, candid, honest, and realistic. He writes openly of the anger, fear, anxiety, and tears he experienced during the times of waiting, of the stress and exhaustion of caregiving, their daily and of the astronomical costs of hospital care.

The Kelley’s story is a strong message of faith, guarded hope, and optimistic despair. Michael shares his own struggle with human frailty, doubts and questions, self-worth, and personal identity. He contrasts confidence and brokenness as he receives comfort from the scripture. He speaks of his doubts and questions and the lessons he learned from the Biblical examples, through the lives of: Moses, Jacob, Jeremiah, Jesus, Paul, Mary and Martha, and many others.

Michael’s writing is highly informative, spiritually inspiring, and empathetic, neither whiney nor preachy. He tells of looking for miracles, complaining to God. while going through Joshua’s periods of remission and relapse. He relates his own repentance and redemption as he learned to trust in God’s divine power. He tells of the wholeness and peace after conflict, as well as the completeness in Christ and the wholeness of the Gospel.

“Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal – A Boy, Cancer, and God” is a heartwarming story of courage, perseverance, in the face of crisis, conflict, and adversity. It is a book for anyone in their own “moment of absolute crisis.”

A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the Amazon Vine program for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: Vicki’s Key by p. m. terrell

Vicki’s Key

By: p. m. Terrell

Drake Valley Press, Richmond, VA, 978-1935970033, $ 16.95, 2012, 327 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Intrigue, Action, Romance, and Mystery

“Vicki’s Key” takes place in the S. E. corner of North Carolina’s Robeson County.  Vicki Boyd possesses a unique physic gift of remote viewing. She is employed by the CIA in a physic spy program. Plagued by nightmares after participating in a failed mission, Vicki resigns her position with the CIA. In an attempt redefine herself, Vicki takes a summer job assisting an elderly woman, Laurel Maguire in a business enterprise.

She soon discovers that Mrs. Maguire has had a stroke and his being cared for by a nephew, Dylan Maguire. A romance develops with Dylan which further complicates Vicki’s dilemma and confusion over her work with the CIA.

In a frenzy of plot twists Vicki finds herself at a new level of involvement with former CIA associates Christopher Sandige and Sam Mizzoli. She is evaluated by a parapsychologist, attacked by a lurker, and drawn into the drama of murder and the roiling black water of the Lumber River.

Terrell is a master at skillfully combining drama, action, suspense, and romance to engage the reader in an adrenaline rush of page turning adventure.  Her careful research into psychic phenomena, CIA procedures, and terrorist activities add credibility to her writing.

Vicki’s key also provides the reader with insight into the trauma experienced by young children when they lose parents through tragedy, and the impact this has on their development.  Terrel introduces the question of how a physic gift like Vicki’s may be considered a “curse” by some in terms of social development, self-worth, and building intimate relationships.

It is a refreshing experience to read good writing. I can always count on p. m. terrel to come through with a good story.

p.m. terrel’s suspense/thrillers are recognized for their unexpected plot twists, page turning action, unforgettable characters and breathtaking descriptions. “Vicki’s Key” is no exception. I am eagerly anticipating each new book in the “Black Swamp Mysteries” series.