Fear. Faith. Family. A SPARROW IN TEREZIN by Kristy Cambron


Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection through one survivor’s story of hope in the darkest days of a war-torn world.

Present Day—With the grand opening of her new art gallery and a fairy–tale wedding just around the corner, Sera James feels like she’s stumbled into a charmed life—until a brutal legal battle against fiancé William Hanover threatens to destroy their future before it even begins.

Now, after an eleventh-hour wedding ceremony and a callous arrest, William faces a decade in prison for a crime he never committed, and Sera must battle the scathing accusations that threaten her family and any hope for a future with the man she loves.

1942—Kája Makovsky narrowly escaped Nazi-occupied Prague in 1939 and was forced to leave behind her half-Jewish family. Now a reporter for The Daily Telegraph in England, Kája discovers the terror has followed her across the Channel in the shadowy form of the London Blitz. When she learns Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the continent, she has no choice but to return to her mother city, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom and peace.

Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, these two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains them and fight to protect all they hold dear–even if it means placing their own futures on the line.   [from back cover]

For some people there are hundreds of things that spark hope and joy. But for Europeans living during the 1940s, choices, safety, and reasons for optimism were shrinking.

800px-monmouth_regimental_museum_-_qrpedia_5In A Sparrow in Terezin Kristy Cambron works her alchemy of words and brings her story world to life in my living room—even more so in my mind and heart. While stories set in WW II may seem already too familiar, Cambron’s impressive research allows her novels to brim with new information, twists, perspectives. As in The Butterfly and the Violin, the first of the Hidden Masterpiece series, Cambron introduces places and incidents that were new to me. And her writing style with fresh images makes the stories even more enjoyable. For example, in all the WW II movies I’ve seen or reading I’ve done, I had never been shown an infant in a pram covered tip to toe in a special suit to protect him like the adults carried gas masks. *

I’ve enjoyed numerous split-time novels. But in A Sparrow in Terezin, as eras shifted I was at times reluctant to leave. I felt less engaged in Sera’s present day story than in Kája’s. I wondered if spending more time in each story before switching eras might have solved that particular problem, but I’m not certain. As the stories progressed I did become more engaged. And Cambron’s gift for making the horrors of war real yet tinged with hope is a big reason.

Numerous themes are presented: hope, love, faith, sacrifice, family. These interplay and inspire. And the book includes many surprises. While not all loose ends are tied up at the conclusion, I found the ending satisfying. Though I must say, closing the cover of a Cambron book is never a complete pleasure because many months will pass before another of her tales is available. I highly recommend this book.

*1939 Second World War-era baby’s gas mask in Monmouth Regimental Museum. This design covered the whole of the baby except for its legs. Photo By Rock drum – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19528798

God’s Message in a Redwood Tree


GLEN EYRIE - Garden steps

EL CAP in Winter color cprt







“Never pass up an opportunity to enjoy nature’s beauty ~ it’s the handwriting of God.” *


ED n Karl w giant redwood copyLast week we talked about nature speaking of God and focused on redwood trees. Those magnificent giants live hundreds of years, grow hundreds of feet into the heavens, and have roots as shallow as 5 to 10 feet. But those relatively shallow roots stretch 60, 80, even 100 feet out and intertwine, sometimes even fuse, with the roots of neighbor redwoods. They literally hold each other up. What a perfect metaphor for us.

Psalm 68:6 says:  “God sets the solitary in families” [KJV].  We’re born into families and seem to be wired to need others.  In fact infants recognize faces within hours, and are drawn to animated faces. When their adults suddenly presents a neutral facial expression, signs of distress are seen in children as young as 4 days old. **

ED climbing in JTAnd like redwoods, most of us thrive in a supportive community. This should be no surprise, I guess. Jesus has commanded “Love one another as I have loved you” [John 15:12, KJV].  We’re even told why He chose to link humans together:  Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.   [Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, KJV]

So how do we do this?  Here are just a couple examples:

In the Bible we read that Aaron & Hur held up the arms of Moses when Amalek fought the Israelites [Exodus 17:12].

Also when David and his men were hungry, Abigail generously provided food. [1 Samuel 25:18-20]

And from life ~ Years ago my young son regularly dragged the trash can belonging to our elderly neighbor back after the garbage men left it in the road.

A wonderful mom and an awesome friend, Ellen,  who’s been fighting a life/death health struggle for years, reaches out and mentors other young mothers with great generosity and love.

Katie Davis graduated high-school and went to Uganda to help in an orphanage during a vacation ~ and stayed, adopting over a dozen girls and starting a ministry that reaches thousands.

My friend Jill just held a dying baby who’d been left alone in a utility closet after an “unsuccessful” abortion. You can read more about her and other everyday heroes in my post from Feb. 4, 2016:  Basic Training for Heroes.

Many years ago, I suffered a miscarriage; and some months later my mother died. My friend Carol called and came by often, refusing to let me collapse into the black-hole of depression that beckoned me.

When my dad was still alive, he lived thousands of miles from us. Every time I went to see him, my sister-in-law opened her home for as long as I wanted to stay. Even from afar, she helped hold me up.

Ed + redwoods COPYLike the redwood’s roots, we reach out from where we are planted. There are countless ways in which we can be part of such a network of support ~ giver and receiver. And like the myriad, intermingled roots, each of them is important and amplifies the others.

Please share your thoughts. It’s another way we can intermingle our roots!  In what way has someone been part of your “root system” and held you up?

How can you be a steadying root for someone else? 

* poster seen on Tumblr

** http://www.parentingscience.com/newborns-and-the-social-world.html

Redwood Tree ~ God’s Ambassador


Max Lucado calls nature “God’s first missionary.”* And it’s true, isn’t it? So many things in nature cause me to think about God whenever I see them.


One sight  that never fails is glorious redwood trees. The first time my husband and I saw them, we stepped from our car at John Muir Woods, north of San Francisco ~ and began whispering. Later we both described that moment as feeling as if we were in a cathedral. Those gentle giants inspire awe in me.

And studying them this week, I learned an astounding thing~


Redwood trees, though hundreds of feet tall, have very shallow roots—perhaps 5 or 6 feet deep. 

Did you know that?

So how do they stay upright over the centuries?

Though shallow, the roots stretch wide, sometimes 100 feet from the trunk. The trees thrive in groves where the root systems intertwine, sometimes even fuse, and actually hold each other up.

Think of that. Inanimate trees, designed to hold each other up. A picture of inter-dependence. A picture of humans woven together in families and communities. Of humans’ need for God to hold us up. Nature can’t help but speak about God ~



Standing on a beach and feeling the powerful waves reverberate

The view from high on a mountain with the quilt of land below

The glory of a sunrise or meadow of flowers


The majesty of a sunset or a whale playing

The tiny intricate jewel-like view of grains of sand

A shawl of stars flung across the sky

I’m grateful God gives us peeks at Him through his creation. Vision to learn about him. They are such tiny slivers, certainly. But still, they speak to us. For me, they comfort. Strengthen. Encourage.

What particular aspects of the natural world speak to you about God?

TAHOE - above emerald Bay

photos copyrighted 2016

*Grace for the Moment, April 25