Friday, October 11, 2013

A Riviting Parable of Dramatic Loss Leading to Victory

A Fictional Tale Loaded with Truth

It wasn't that long ago that I went from a life rarely interrupted by any type of negative circumstance to one where I can remember worrying over the single dollar it was going to cost me in gas to drive to the gas station.  It was a time when my 20 year marriage was on the rocks with divorce papers drawn and ready for signature.  A time when my adult daughter stated:  "You're like a country western song; even your dog died."

Jackie Macgirvin
So the story that Jackie Macgirvin tells hits very close to home.  It tells the story of a woman of greater means than I possessed even at the top of my financial time, who is brought lower by far than the lowest day I endured.  The devastation I experienced brought havoc to my life in every way, including my spiritual walk.  Why had Jesus allowed this to happen?  Where was He?

The author doesn't let her heroine off the hook in any of this.  She certainly asks the same questions, shakes the same fist, and feels sorry for herself.  She comes ever so close to giving up on the promises God has made to her, to me, and to every saved individual.

The story is fiction, but has the power of seeming all too real.  Jackie Macgirvin brings her characters alive and makes you feel their emotions, deprivation, hopelessness, and then hope and wonder at God's wonderful works and grace. 

I would give this book any number of stars allowed.  Beautifully written, wonderfully inspiring, incredibly insightful, and a joy to read. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Man Bites Dog? Woman's Prison Story and Christian Non-Fiction Come Together

Book Review: "Treasures of Darkness, a Prison Journey"

Who'd a Thunk it?  A No-holds-barred Personal Journal of One Woman's Journey

It's all there.  The violence, the drugs, the power hierarchies, the payoffs, the intimidation, the lesbians, and the crooked guards.  Enter a suburban housewife who admittedly "did the deed," and was sent to real prison for a complex financial fraud, that offered her no potential gain, but inadvertently caused others loss.  How does she negotiate the world of professional criminals, mentally and emotionally challenged, and often desperate women in prison?

Trish Jenkins wrote letters home to her husband a young girls all during her ordeal.  What she couldn't send them for fear of retribution by staff or fellow inmates, she recorded in a journal for later.  After serving every day of her sentence, she turned the detailed history of her life behind bars into a compelling honest book that will chill you and sometimes thrill you.
Trish Jenkins, author, "Treasures of Darkness, a Prison Journey"

You see, Trish Jenkins is also a Bible believing Christian, sold out for Jesus.  She determined to make every facility where she did time into a place of ministry.  Her constant thought was about how she could take this awful experience, and like Paul, make it into something good and eternal for Jesus.

I'll be the first to admit that at times her faithful acts seemed to good to be true.  Who knows, she might have embellished here and there.  However, there are many, many witnesses to what she did.  I suspect that if she's not telling it straight, some of those would be challenging her.  So, I'm taking her at her word.

The other thought that kept coming back to me was "what would I have done, given her circumstances."  I'm 150 pounds soaking wet.  I would be a big target in a men's facility.  Could I hold it together, keep my focus on Christ, and not merely crumble?  Would it be on my mind to tell those around me about Jesus at every possible chance?

Trish didn't pull it all together every day or even every hour on any given day.  She shares her heartbreaks, depression, and more.  She gives us a momentary glimpse into the re-entry into the real world afterwords, which in some ways seems to have been worse than the time in prison.  You start to see why some criminals prefer the inside, with clear rules and three squares.

Usually, book reviews cover the quality of the writing long before this.  However, the real power of this book is in the first person narrative, honestly and completely revealed.  Having said that, Trish Jenkins is a fine writer who tells the story clearly, and with passion.

While there were many lessons and takeaways from this work, my favorite line was:
"Many of us dream of having a great ministry; but we want it on our terms.  We don't really count the cost, because we cannot really see what the cost will be.  Yet only by willingly paying the cost can we appreciate the joy and satisfaction of fulfilling our call."

I also appreciated her oft repeated prayer regarding a situation or ministry:  "Lord, help me to be effective."

"Treasures of Darkness, a Prison Journey," is available on