TJ’s Ride by J.R. Hamilton (Book Review #280)

I am proud to be the publisher of TJ’s Ride by J.R. Hamilton, reviewed here by Jeyran Main. Read the review, buy the book, support indie publishing.
ebook: http://www.amazon.com/TJs-Ride-TJ-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00IHG09V4
Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/TJs-Ride-TJ-1-Hamilton/dp/0692678514

Review Tales by Jeyran Main

TJ’s Ride is book one of ‘The TJ Series.’ This action adventure novel is about Petty Officer Thomas Hamlin (TJ). He works for the Navy and is brought back to Corpus Christi after being away for almost two years, in Vietnam. TJ is then blackmailed by Captain Joseph. He sends TJ to fight against some drug traffickers forcing TJ to go undercover as a bouncer, just to get down with the drug rings and to expose them.

I found the story to be full of action and to possess an intense amount of substance. The most enjoyable part of the work was the main character and how humanized he has been described. The story resembled strong and smart Hollywood movie characters such as James Bourne or James Bond. However, he had a realistic form to it, and that is what made this book special.

The literature was superbly blended with…

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Ashes in a Baggie

mom

Death is a strange thing. Today would have been my mother’s 89th birthday. Instead, it’s her first birthday since her death last August. Almost a year ago. In about five weeks, I will have experienced all the “firsts” — the first holidays, the first Mother’s Day, the first birthday.

My sister, two brothers and I took some of her ashes to the gravesite tonight. It’s the first time I’ve been there. And that’s when I realized how strange death is.

This woman lived 88 years. She had four children, numerous grandchildren and even more great grandchildren. She lived through the death of both parents and two husbands. She married, divorced, gave birth, attended school plays, had sex, danced, drank more than she should have, said that giving up smoking was the hardest thing she had ever done, rode a motorcycle with a lover. Her favorite picture of her mother was at her and my father’s wedding and her favorite memory of her was in a smart red suit.

She told me, on the last night of her life, some of her feelings about her life. A lot of them had to do with her mother. Maybe we are defined by our mothers in ways we can’t explain, ways we sometimes hate. But it’s who we are, and who they are.

And tonight I held the container that held her ashes. All of her 88 years, all of her memories, all of her life, loves, hates, fears, joys, laughter and tears contained in a baggie surrounded by a nice leather container.

Yes, really. That’s all that life boils down to. Ashes in a baggie.

Please tell me, I want to cry out, that there is something beyond. Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief.

At the grave, my brother dug a small hole (yes, illegal). Each of us there — my brothers, my sister, my sister-in-law, my brother-in-law, my husband, my son and me — took turns putting a handful of ashes into the ground. As I left, I felt the residue of ash on my hands, making my skin strangely soft.

I haven’t washed my hands, haven’t brushed them off. Like a teenage girl who won’t wash her cheek after a kiss from a celebrity, I want to keep my mom close. Don’t leave! I feel the ashes coating my palms, feel them sinking into my creases, perhaps becoming a part of me.

And even as the evening goes on, as I type these words, longing to memorialize her in some way that I can’t hope to accomplish, the ashes fade. And life goes on.

Yes, Homosexuality Absolutely is A Choice

Very insightful and articulate post about hetero- and homosexual choice.

john pavlovitz

FingerCouple

Confession time.

To all of my Christian brothers and sisters who insist that homosexuality is a choice, I need to break down and finally admit something: I agree with you.

I believe that it absolutely is a choice too, only not in the way that you may have meant.

But I guess that’s largely the crux of the problem we have here. I think you use your terms too loosely without really thinking them through. When you say quite matter-of-factly that homosexualityis a choice, I’m not sure you really know in that moment, just what you mean by “homosexuality”.

Far too often Christian, when you make the statement that being gay is a sin, what you’re really doing without realizing it is reducing all LGBT people down to a sex act; as if that alone defines sexuality.

You’re denying any emotional component in their lives; any capacity to feel real love or show genuine affection toward someone…

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Deeper Levels of Stigma

Great post. As many of you know, my son Joshua has autism. I have never once considered him a burden. We have our good days and bad days–as does any parent. This article highlights the need for society to not think that those with disabilities are better off dead. Joshua has enriched my life and the life of those around him since his birth. What I want to ask to those who think this, who is the disabled one?

Lessons From the Bike

ImageI’m not crazy about hills. My legs get weary, my lungs burn, and I feel that the air I’m taking in isn’t enough. My pace gets slower, and if the hill is big enough, I almost think I could outpace myself by walking. I refuse, however, to let the hills beat me.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live somewhere where the roads and trails are always flat. I think it would probably be wonderful. At least for a little while. But eventually, I would get tired of always knowing what lays ahead. There is something charming and eventful in the surprises of what lays over the crest of a hill or just around the bend.

There is also the reward of coming downhill after the trek up. Did I say “coming downhill”? I meant screaming downhill. It’s exhilarating to race down a hill, your heart thumping wildly as you command yourself “Do not brake!” Wind tangles my hair and cools my sweat-drenched face, and I reach the bottom with a strong urge to shout “YEAH! Let’s do it again!”

The exhilaration comes from the previous effort.

Some will be happy with straight trails and serene, uneventful vistas. I wish them good travels. But for me–whether in my talents, my career, my faith, my ambitions, my dreams, my passions, and yes my bike rides–I want to scream downhill.

And so I climb.

Lessons From the Bike

ImageIt’s been a long winter. I didn’t get a chance to ride as much as I wanted to. (Unlike some of my friends, I’m a wimp when it comes to snow and ice.) But on my ride today, I started noticing flowers. Tulips surrounded the base of several mailboxes and dandelions dotted the park. The smell of blossoms on the trees intoxicated my senses and made me absolutely giddy to be on my bike. No matter how long the winter, it always gives way to spring.

And while it is true that winter gives way to spring, it is also true that spring, summer and fall will eventually give way to another winter. But I can’t think about that now, not in the midst of spring, not with flowers dotting the grass and trees casting their blossoms in front of me. If I think about that now, it robs today of its joy. During spring, it is time to live in the present and focus on the glorious feel of my legs as they push the peddles, the wind in my hair as I scream down a hill, the tiredness that feels so good when I get off the bike. Live in the present. I can live in the future when it is winter when it might be best to not focus on the present and instead know that no matter how cold it is, spring will eventually come.

It’s a matter of balance, this living in the present and looking toward the future.

In the past month, I’ve had some things happen that have left a winter coldness in my heart. I’ve been depressed, angry at God, lashing out at friends to try to assuage the pain, punching out at life as though I could knock it out. I’ve raged at friends but maintained a chilly silence with God. And yet, winter gives way to spring.

Albert Camus in The Stranger said, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back.”

Here I am in this present moment. I am pushing back.

Good thing I rode my bike hard today. Snow is coming tomorrow.

Easter Devotion

ImageThere is a saying I’ve seen a few times on Facebook: “If life doesn’t break you today, don’t worry. It will try again tomorrow.” And in the end, it seems, brokenness wins. Like a contagious disease, it has visited all of us. Like a thief, it robs us of peace, of joy, of life. For some of us, it has visited very recently, and we turn our tear-stained faces to heaven and hold our empty hands to God and ask why.

Jesus has been dead for three days. The “problem,” according to the religious leaders, has been taken care of. Jesus has been dead for three days. It was expedient for them for Jesus to die. It was necessary. In fact, it was necessary for US as well for Jesus to die. And Jesus has been dead for three days.

Brokenness. We talk about brokenness and what that means, of what we can expect from brokenness, of what beautiful stories, strong faith and dependence on God may come through the anguish of brokenness. And we have found that we are not alone. Our Lord was broken.

Like all of us, Jesus suffered and endured brokenness. Isaiah tells us in a prophecy about Jesus that he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, that he was smitten and afflicted, pierced and crushed. He endured what St. John of the Cross called the dark night of the soul. Have you felt like that? Have you felt plunged into a darkness that will never end? Do you long to cry out, but your mouth is filled with sand?

Jesus has been dead for three days.

And so we join Mary on an early morning journey to the tomb. We know what it feels like to walk that road with Mary. Her heartbreak is universal. The reality of brokenness, despair, and grief are as near as the loss of loved ones, the heartache of children with disabilities, the failure of our marriages, the sinking feeling of never quite measuring up to our own expectations, and the deep grief of death. Mary’s sorrowful walk that Sunday morning is our walk on many a morning.

But whatever else is to be said, it is clear that the grave is not the end, that the tomb does not have the final say.

A shaft of light breaks through the darkness. Mary struggles to believe, not knowing what to make of the empty tomb, of a message that brings hope to her aching heart, of her Most Loved One calling her name. Mary!

We are so like her that at times it is painful. We believe, and yet we are overwhelmed with grief and loss. We believe, and yet we mourn at how awful the world is and how pointless some things seem. We believe … and yet we are not sure.

Our path of faith is similar to Mary’s as well. At the tombs of our life the risen Lord calls our names. Lift your head when brokenness, despair, and deep grief settle in and defeat seems sure. Look for the victory of Christ. It is at hand. You are His, you are engraved on the palm of His nail-scarred hand, and He will never let you go.

Death is defeated. Brokenness is defeated. Oh, to be sure, they are real. But they are not the end. The story is not finished. Through the victory of Christ who was broken FOR US, we are not alone.

On Friday, Jesus said, “It is finished,” and the temple curtain that separated sinful man from his holy God was torn in two.

On Sunday, the stone at the tomb was rolled away and He calls our names. It is the beginning.