A Place Called Blessing by John Trent and Annette Smith

A Place Called Blessing

“I was a long way from being brilliantly lit, but I was beginning to feel a small glimmer of something that might turn out to be light.”

His whole life has been a story of hurt and rejection. Is one family’s love enough to turn it all around?

Josh lost his parents in a drunk-driving accident and lost track of his two brothers after a tragic fire. By age eighteen, he is an angry young man who only wants a job, an apartment, and to be left alone. Instead, he meets Mike and Anna, an unusual son-and-mother team who draw him into their lives. For the first time, Josh receives unconditional love and something every human being craves, the gift of “the blessing.” But tragedy strikes again, and a shocking secret is revealed. Can Josh hang on to what he’s learned about blessings, curses, and family?

The life-changing message of the relational classic, “The Blessing”–now in compelling story form. Complete with a reader’s guide to help you identify and apply the five elements of the biblical blessing to your own life and relationships.

Visit http://www.TheBlessing.com for more information and an opportunity to join The Blessing Challenge, one million people choosing to change the life of one child–their child!

Personal Thoughts:

A Places Called Blessing is a fictional story that easily tug my heart. It actually feel more real than a fictional work as the story can really happen to anyone.

The story begins with Josh as a young boy with his two brothers almost living on their own because they are often neglected by their parents. When their parents died into a car accident, Josh and his brothers are put into foster care system. They move from one home to another usually part from each others until he was six, where a wife and husband can finally accommodate all three of them. For the first time, Josh is finally happy and contended because he has his brothers once again and a place to call home, but his happiness doesn’t last long. A fire accident happens one afternoon because of his undoing which cost a life of a young friend, and a possible happy life together with his brothers. Immediately after tragedy, Josh and his brothers are sent back to foster care until his two brother finally adopted, leaving him alone, angry, and distrustful.

The author weaved a raw and moving story in a simple yet engrossing way that will connect readers hearts to the main character, Josh. As Josh struggles in dealing with his past failures, and painful memories you will experience every ounce of hatred and pain of this young boy. You will feel sorry for him and maybe at one point just want to hug him real and tell him that it isn’t his fault and that he needs to forgive himself and move on. It’s so easy to relate to Josh and understand where he is coming from even if you don’t actually experience any of his past experiences. The author created him as real as possible that you may got a hard time believing that what you are reading is a fictional story instead of a chronicle of a life of real young man named Josh.

“When you have gone without something all of your life, then you get it in abundance, it can feel like too much. Maybe like sitting down to a huge meal after not having to eat for a couple of days.
Sure, it’s good, and it fills you up.
But it can make you hurt too.”

Mike and Anna are the epitome of love and forgiveness. I’m sure if there are more people like them, this world will be a better place, too bad they are just fictional characters. These mother and son is the real “blessing” not just to Josh but also to readers. If not for them, Josh maybe still living a life full of regrets and self-hate, and readers won’t rediscover the fact that there still people out there who are willing to put others above self.

The revelation near the end shocks me, not because I didn’t see it coming but because it is painfully heart wrenching and heartwarming at the same time. Sometimes it is hard to understand how someone who had all the rights to hate choose to care and forgive wholeheartedly. If I knew from the start the real connection between Josh, Mike and Anna, I might think that Anna is too good to be true. With Mike case, I may believe it since he was young when the accident happens but with Anna, who lost more than anyone, that is just too much for me. But since I am fully acquainted to Anna and Mike’s before the revelation it is easy to understand Anna and Mike motivation. I can’t imagine if I am in Anna’s situation, I’m not sure if I can do what she did for Josh. Though I believe that people like her still exist I can’t consider myself as one of them. I wish I can and hopefully I encounter more selfless person like Anna not just in fiction but also in real world.

A Placed Called Blessing is a story that I can say a real blessing to its readers. It is a beautiful story that will open your heart and mind into the real value of forgiveness, love and acceptance. It is about learning to forgive ourselves and others, letting go of past mistakes and accepting love. This book is truly inspiring and uplifting which at the very least will let you think and compare your own life blessings. It can also restore your faith to humanity, and reminds you that your past doesn’t define who you really are. Because everything is a choice – a choice to let go, to forgive and to love. To those who are losing hope and faith or just want to rediscover the beauty of love and forgiveness this book is for you.

* This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.com in exchange of honest review.

In My Mailbox: February 22

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren and was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. This meme is about books that you received or bought over the previous week, either in the mail, from the bookstore, or from trades.

For a change I decided to post non-fiction books for this week. I love reading self-help books as much I as I love novels, fictions and technical books. My early collection of books merely comprise of non-fiction (self-help, leadership, business, and biography) books. So here are the new addition to my list:

  • Peaks And Valleys by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
  • Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife
  • Millionaire Zone by Jennifer Openshaw

The Art Of War For Women by Chin-Ning Chu

“The Art of War is…about how you deal with the cards that life has dealt you – it is a holistic approach to winning.”

Sun Tzu‘s Art Of War is one rare book that never fails to teach me something every time I read it. So when I saw the book “The Art Of War For Wowen” from Ate Beb’s house few weeks ago, I can’t help myself but ask her to lend it to me, even if I already got file of books at home that I need to read. I’ve seen lots of translations of the original Art Of War in the bookstores. There are many books that uses this approach to many non-military areas such as The Art of War for Executives, The Art of War for Managers and The Art of War for Business. I never read any translations other than the original until now. Chin-Ning Chu‘s Art Of War for Women leads me back to the original Art Of War except that it concentrate more on applying the strategies in a womanly approach. It discuss how women climb the business world and the challengers we usually encounters.

Honestly, I wasn’t fully aware how women are treated differently in business world. I never experienced it personally nor entertain the idea. For me, everyone is the same, no gender, race or color can distinguish one from another in corporate world. It’s all about skills, talents and knowledge. At least thats what I believe before reading this book. I only knew a little about office politics, I’ve seen a few sometimes but I never consider myself involve in any of those issues. This book offers a number of examples of women who claimed they were helpless, mistreated, and unfairly turned down for promotions and career advancement. But sometimes these women had actually sabotaged their own chances.

This book encourages women to be honest with themselves. What makes us happy? What do we want out of life? What are our strengths and weaknesses? There are no right or wrong answers. Like Sun Tzu’s Art of War this book doesn’t offer specific answer. It is all about strategy. An art in which all of the factors are interrelated and every situation is so unique.

One part of the book that I like is the analogy between the glass slippers and combat boots. Some women want glass slippers. Their perfect world includes prince charming, a castle and princess life. Some women want combat boots. They want to enter the battle and conquer the business world. Each option is fine and good. But sometimes women tried to wear glass slippers with military clothes or coordinate combat boots with a ball gown. That’s where the conflict is. Neither of the two situation works. Because deep down, we’re not being honest with what makes us happy. The question is “What kind of shoes do we want to wear: combat boots or glass slippers?

“We still have that Cinderella syndrome, and have a glass slipper somewhere in our heart.
We’re all waiting around for our Prince Charming to rescue us from the workplace. Certainly, this attitude is not for the battlefield of business. In business, you need a combat boot mentally.”

Climbing the ladder of success in stilettos is not as easy as it sounds and this book is a simple guide for women who wants to make it on top. There’s a lot of practical ideas and relevant advice that will surely worth every women’s time.

The Twelfth Angel by Og Mandino

“Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better.”

In writing this review, I decided not to focus much on the technicalities of the book but on the lessons it tries to deliver. In this book we come to know Timothy Noble, an eleven-year-old child who try to live his life to the fullest. He is not very good at baseball, but he kept on trying, the whole time with determination and a big smile on his face. Although some of the older and better kids laughed and smirked at his constant mistakes and misses, he was never put down and never stopped. He was by far the worst player of all the kids who tried out. But he never never give up.

Let me tell you about my friend Rose. She used to call me “Little Angel”. I can’t remember what is the reason behind that nick name she gave me. But once in awhile,  when I did a little something for her she said to me “anghel talaga kita” (you’re really my angel). I guess, we can be like my friend Rose. She managed to see some of her friends as her angel. She try to appreciate every little good thing in a person. And in a way, it makes that person feel appreciated. I believe that each person we encounter in our lives is given to us for a purpose. They are meant to teach us something no matter how little it may be. We just have to be more open. Like with children, there are so much to learn from them. They are young, vibrant, full of hope and optimism. They live in the moment without much worries of what’s next to come.

As for the book, Og Mandino is one of my favorite authors. I love every book of him that I’ve read and The Twelfth Angel is no different. It’s uplifting and simply moving. It’s an easy book to read. An enjoyable and entertaining story with easy to recall characters and not complicated plot. The story is not something unique but the purposed it serves as an inspirational tale is clearly accomplished (at least to me). There are so much to learn from this book. It reminds us how to fully live our lives. To enjoy everything every moment of everyday. To never lose hope and be brave. It teaches us that life is full of purpose and wonder. That we are put on this earth for a reason, to make a difference and find our purpose. And when we find that purpose we will have every reason to keep going even when the going looks impossible and hopeless.

Today Matters by John Maxwell

“Most of us look at our days in the wrong way: We exaggerate yesterday. We overestimate tomorrow. We underestimate today. The truth is that the most important day you will ever experience is today. Today is the key to your success”

I have read several John Maxwell‘s book in the past and he never fails me. This time I listen to his audio book entitled Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices To Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success. Like with Spencer Johnson‘s The Present this book discuss the importance of living in a present moment except that Today Matters offers more. Maxwell discuss 12 decisions and disciplines which he calls his daily dozen. These twelve disciplines or daily practices includes topics such as attitude, priorities, health, family, thinking, commitment, finances, faith, relationships, generosity, values, and growth. It will help you control your daily agenda, make time for people you love, find success in your career and nature your personal growth.

I really enjoy listening to this book, it’s like I’m in a cozy place sitting with my mentor in front of me talking about life. Most of the teachings from this book are we know already, it’s in our minds all the time but we just need someone to remind us and this book take that part in an exciting way.

Below are some of the book messages:

  • Prioritize your agenda – put the most importance first. Decide every day what’s important to you and then get it done.
  • Stretch your creativity and thinking — generate new ideas every day to become a more valuable employee or boss
  • Manage your money — manage your money every day, instead of letting it manage you
  • Improve and build relationships — connect with others every day and know how much the human experience revolves around our daily routine / habits.
  • Nurture your personal growth — find out how to make yourself more valuable every day, and enjoy the payoff tomorrow.

There’s a great time to begin a more successful life and it’s called today.

The Present by Spencer Johnson

This book was written by the same author of “Who Moved My Cheese” which is an excellent short little motivational book for people who need a better perspective on life. The Present can easily read it in a few minutes. It is written in a simple way that is easy to understand even by young ones.

It tells a parable of a young man who is mentored by an older gentleman. The gentleman tells the man about “The Present”, and he does all he can to figure out what exactly that means. He finally realizes the “present” is not a physical gift, but a concept involving being totally involved in whatever you are currently doing.

I found the book more of a children’s story with an inspirational bent rather than a self-help book. The story is too simple and predictable. The concept is very simple and just a simple reminder for readers. It simply tells us to live in the present. The past is done which we cannot redo while the future we cannot predict. What we can do is learn our lessons from the past and move on, and take action in the present to obtain our future desires. By learning how to learn from the past and prepare from the future, we can be much happier and productive in the present.