Book Review: Under A Desert Sky


Full Title:
Under a Desert Sky: Redefining Hope, Beauty, and Faith in the Hardest Places
Lynne Hartke

I love this book—cover, content, everything about it. This became an addition to my favorite books right away after reading just a few pages. The introduction got me crying so early.

I do not know anyone close to me who has cancer, but that did not become a hindrance in any way for me to be able to relate to this “difficult beautiful” story.

All throughout the read, I was so amazed at how the author used ordinary words to convey her and her lovely family’s extraordinary story. Her writing was creative, dramatic yet so genuine.

I love how the author incorporated the Word of God into her actual experiences that were written in this book. I also appreciate the author’s candor to tell her story as precisely as possible.

Under A Desert SkyThis made me realize how life can get all too complex and impossible but still beautiful and pleasurable because of who God is and what He does. My emotions got so mixed up that I’ve cried countless times during the entire read.

Even before I got to the end of the book, my hope and courage got reactivated. I was reassured that God is going to be with me in all seasons of this life. I’m more than grateful to have had the chance to devour this book.

I recommend this amazing work to people who are desperate for hope or those who want to see life in a different light. You’ll find what you’re looking for UNDER A DESERT SKY. You’re welcome! 😉

P.S. I thank God for Ms. Lynne Hartke (the author) for answering my questions and assuring me (when I thought the book got lost somewhere as it took a long time) by sending emails to make sure the book would reach me by any means. Awesome, isn’t she? I’m also grateful for the wonderful note cards (made by her daughter) that went alongside the book. Wow!

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Pick up a copy of Under a Desert Sky through the following links:
Baker Book House

Barnes & Noble
Christian Book
Powell’s Books

Book Review: The Real God


Full Title:
The Real God: How He Longs for You to See Him

Receiving a print copy of this book was more than a delighting surprise. It’s got a simple book cover. It’s kind of thick—almost 300 pages, but it’s never a boring read. All throughout, I’ve been eager to devour its every page, albeit the author did not have a sense of humor.

Ingram_RealGod_wSpine.inddThis is the first Chip Ingram book that I was able to read. I didn’t know much about the author; but through this book, I got to know him—and the real God even better. The author succeeded in making the attributes of God more comprehensible for ordinary people like myself. It made a number of subjects—justification, sanctification, and glorification—clear to me.

My tears have welled up many times while devouring the gems in this book. It was able to draw me again and again to the God who’s so loving and faithful yet just.

I love the “Live It Out—B.I.O.” portions. This is where readers are encouraged to pray about what has been covered by certain chapters. These include practical tips that we can apply to our lives and things that we can do alongside others. These prompted me to have the stuff written in these sections printed out on a few index cards for easy access.

Part of Chip Ingram’s life story, which he generously shared in this book, has encouraged me and even helped increase my faith in God.

Even before I read it in its entirety, it has already become one of my favorite books of all time! It even made me look forward to reading all of Chip Ingram’s other books.

Here are some of my favorite excerpts from this amazing book:

Pick up a copy of The Real God through the following links:
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book

Living On The Edge Website

Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Book Review: Shaken

Full Title: Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms

I was super excited to own a copy of this book because I thought it was going to be a great read, and I was right! This book went over my expectations.

Prior to reading this book, I didn’t know much about Tim Tebow although I’ve already been hearing and reading about how he’s been living out his faith. Then there goes football. What do I have to do with football? I know not a single thing, not to mention playing the game itself. I neither want to watch it on TV.

On the contrary, this book made me admire Tim Tebow—how he’s kept his faith in Jesus despite all the pressures of being a celebrity, how proud he is of being a Christian, and how he turned down a million-dollar deal… Whoa! He made me admire Jesus more than I admire him, so mission accomplished!

And oh, I was so delighted to discover that Tim was born here in the Philippines, and how much his father loved the Filipino people. I never thought I’d be able to identify with Tim Tebow at all, but through this book, I did. As I go through circumstances similar to his, his life story gives me hope.

I love Chapter 3: “Love Matters.” The story about the guy in the suicide watch is my favorite. What a powerful encounter that was!

I so love the fact that I can watch on YouTube the games that Tim Tebow was talking about in this book. Oh, the quickest overtime win in NFL history—Broncos over Steelers!

This book had me crying here and there as it reminded me of Jesus’ perfect love. The last pages were so awesome that they were able to take me back to my first love.

Order the book here:
Official Website
Amazon | Hardcover, Ebook, Audiobook

[I received a copy of this book from the Blogging For Books program in exchange for this review.]

A Brother Worth Imitating


In the past years, I’ve noticed that tributes have oftentimes been given to people when they are already dead. To me, that idea is as good as a chocolate teapot! The now dead person would have felt honored and appreciated if only the kind words have been told when he or she was still alive! Wouldn’t he or she?

Now let me pay a tribute to someone who’s very much alive!

…to someone who’s touched so many lives!

I’m talking about Mr. Dennis Rodriguez!!!!!

According to our mother, he’s the largest baby she’s ever delivered! He weighed 9lbs when he came into the world exactly 28 years ago today.

“He looked like a one-year-old baby back then,” she would recall.

He was BIG! Oh wait, let me correct myself here. He IS big for until now, he’s the tallest and the heaviest among the four of us. (Ooops… I think I’d have to apologize! I know I’m supposed to make him happy and not make fun of him today.)

Yeah, he seemed healthy during his infancy. However, something’s changed when he turned 4. He grew thin, so skinny that you would think he could make a great fit for your banana cues! Oh well, kidding aside, our parents thought he wouldn’t make it for he’s been coughing so hard and he’s really having a hard time to breathe. They’ve already tried almost every option to have him healed, but it just wouldn’t work.

Then one day, out of nowhere, it came to our father’s mind to take him to the Baywalk located just behind Quirino Grandstand. He’s taken him there for four consecutive mornings. He had to carry him on his back for he couldn’t walk for a long period of time. He would splash water over him and even take him to a ferry ride. The water there’s a thousand times cleaner that it is nowadays I suppose.

It was a leap of faith he’d made right there, and this faith made my brother well.

In his very first year in school (1990), there have been times when he would wake up, dress, and go to school all by himself. The other times, when our father wouldn’t come on time because he was recovering from lack of sleep due to work, he would opt to go home from school by himself.

During his elementary days in Shalom Learning Center, Inc. (now called Shalom Akademeia of Cavite), he would sell Dunkin’ Donuts and some toys to his classmates. Little did we know that this was already a sign that he would later venture into entrepreneurship.

We’ve got one young businessman in the making!

In the same school, his skills were developed which made his schoolmates and teachers recognize him. He’s been known for his creativity, diligence, brilliance, responsibility, leadership and many more. These characteristics he still possesses to date, and I can attest to that!

He really is amazing!

Even when he needed to transfer to a different high school, this didn’t make him any less of what he once was. He continued to show what he’s able to do regardless. He’s gained many friends and even teachers got fond of him.

He really is one sociable dude!

Before he reached his twenties, he’s already tried working for a number of companies. That hasn’t been a problem with him because he’s persevering and hard-working. This he did for the very purpose of helping our parents financially. He’s made a lot of sacrifices for us, which I’ll always be very proud of and thankful for.

I still remember how he would take care of us (his siblings) when our parents were not home. He would even cook for us. He’s started cooking at a very young age, which made him a good chef to date (even without a formal education). Actually, I’ve been missing the foods he used to prepare for us. They’re just so delectable!

He sings well, too! I don’t know if you’ve already heard him sing in the past, but he’s just got better! He sings with feelings. I suggest you try listening to him if you haven’t! Go look for him somewhere in Dubai! I bet he’s singing while preparing some pastries right now.

I’ve learned a lot through his life. I’m absolutely a fan of him. When I was younger, I knew I wanted to be just like him. He’s a living proof that educational attainment doesn’t define a person, but rather his faith defines him.

He’s the epitome of one who performs beyond expectations.

He has innate power to influence people in a positive way. Wherever he goes and whatever he does, a life or two is impacted by him. He’s also able to communicate his message effectively just like during our Bible studies, devotions and fellowships at church.

Despite his serious facade, he has a funny side. You may not be aware of it, but he does have that. When he went home from Abu Dhabi in 2011, he, along with Kuya Erwin and myself, would share a bunch of stories and jokes with one another. We would sing and laugh the night out and thus sleep in the morning of the next day. How I miss those very fun times!

At church, he used to take care of the Praise & Worship Ministry and Youth Ministry. He was also the one who kept the church documents. He’s just so organized.

He’s eager to serve God in almost every way.

I admire him so much. I wish I was as creative, sociable and flexible as he is. I’ve always wanted to be the leader that he is. I’m amazed at how dedicated he is to everything he does. Despite all these, he’s managed to remain humble. He knows that it is God who deserves all the glory in whatever good he does, and I couldn’t hold him in any higher regard for this!

He has this mark which he unconsciously leaves in almost every person he encounters. This is why his erstwhile classmates, teachers and Sunday School students cannot just forget him even after a few years have gone by. He’s just one of a kind!

Keep shining His light through your wonderful life!

Now, let’s see what some of our relatives, his friends, workmates, former workmates, former churchmates, former classmates, former teachers have to say for his special day!

To the coolest people in the world who have taken their time to send the birthday messages that are published here, I couldn’t thank you enough! May you realize how blessed you all are today!

Acknowledgements go out to Kuya Bobby, Ate CristinaKuya Rodel, Ate Aihlza, Ate Djherrie Lhynn, Kuya Jomer, Kuya Philip, Ate Rachel, Ate Mae, Kuya Frederick, Kuya Jesus Ray, Kuya Jonathan T., Kuya Glenn, Ate Cielo, Ate TereAte Yumi, Tchr. Alona, Tchr. Edna, Tchr. Perla, Tchr. Mary-Ann, Tchr. Glenda, Tchr. Minerva, Tchr. Alpha, Mam Mapanoo, Mam Simon, Mam Alvaran, Ate Lily, Kiko, Kuya Marlon, Marielle, Ninang Nheng, Tepp, Ate Isang, Hazel, Sarah G., Elaine, April, Elphee Heart, Tchr. Lumen, Ate Didang, Klause, Jane, Tiffany, Jenny, Kuya Christian, Ate Christian Joy, Kuya Jonathan A., Ate Jocelyn, Ate Zandra, Kuya Zenen, Kuya Duke, and Ate Ei Mon.

I count myself blessed to have known God at an early age, to have a family like the one I have now, and to have a brother like Kuya Dennis. He’s one of the reasons why I’ll forever consider myself blessed!

Here is a poem I have just made. 🙂

A Brother Worth Imitating

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This is what LOVE can do!


Among all the websites I’ve visited more than a week ago, this one struck me! Scenes like these not only put a smile on my face but also make my eyes brim with tears. It’s so delighting to see people doing good to others. It inspires me. It gives me hope. If only every person would do that for another…

There are times when I find it hard to believe that people can still get along. Our differences in appearance, color, beliefs… (Ooops! I’ll stop here because they are too many to mention) pull us apart from one another, but hey! We can stop this from happening! We can choose to overlook whatever dissimilarities we have! Here, we get to see a glimpse of many wonderful things that can happen if we do so. I’m so glad that there are still a lot of people who did. I may not know anyone here personally, but I’d like to thank all of you for doing what you did. I hope that you’ll continue to do so for the rest of your life.

With all the bad things that are taking place in almost every part of the world, this is one of those that we need to see in order for us to remember that there’s still good in all of us. Another good news is that we can choose to let it (the goodness in us) outweigh our evils.

Lastly (but the most important part), I believe in my heart that these acts of kindness have been prompted by love–the Love which originated in Him. Let’s not forget that:

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 NIV

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