Review: Lost December by Richard Paul Evans

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At first I thought this book would be another story like A Winter Dream by the same author (a re-telling of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors) but based on The Prodigal Son instead; however, this prodigal son tale was pretty original for a re-telling. I thoroughly enjoyed it and actually had sympathy for Luke, the son who left home, squandered a million dollar trust fund, and ended up homeless on the streets. Luke didn’t actually spend all the money himself, which helped in the sympathy department; he trusted the wrong people who took advantage of him. Nevertheless, Evans does an excellent job of showing how gradually one’s values and priorities, and even personality can change in the right (or wrong) environment.

This feel-good “riches to rags” story operates well on another level as well. Not only does it remind us to remember what is really important in our lives and that the source of true happiness is not found in material possessions and in short-lived experiences, but it shows how impossible it is to break out of the cycle of poverty and homelessness without help, while still emphasizing the value of hard work and determination. Maybe a little too much on the side of ambition.

Evans builds up Luke’s father to angelic heights as a decent, caring, and ethical corporate executive, which I guess is understandable since he would be “God” allegorically speaking since the father in the original represents God. Kind of an allegory within an allegory in this case. Evans seems to idealize the honest businessman, but at the same time, he acknowledges the all-too-familiar greedy and immoral tycoon. Of course, Luke realizes the value of an honest day’s work and sacrifice, but once on the street, he isn’t given a chance until a charitable do-gooder gives him a hand up. Evans does a great job of showing the reader the hopelessness of the plight of many.

You probably know the story of The Prodigal Son, so it won’t be a spoiler to let you know that Luke finds his way home into the forgiving and open arms of his father. It’s not as corny as it sounds. This book was a wonderful holiday read without being too preachy or saccharin. It thoroughly delivered on Christmas spirit. 4 out 5 stars.

HOW DID SOMEONE LIKE ME COME FROM SOMEONE LIKE HER?

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I love my mom SO much it hurts.  Her name is Nora, and she is in a nursing home by herself since my father, the love of her life, Harold, passed away last April. Before he died, they lived in there together. The staff of the nursing home thought they were so cute because they had been married 61 years and looked out for each other in every way. When he passed away, no one thought my mother would hang on much longer. Especially since the doctors told us she had only about three months to live over a year ago.

Last night I went to visit her. I try to go twice a week, but I confess, sometimes I only make it once a week.  I justify it because I’m busy with a full-time job as a teacher and a part-time job as a writer. I leave work late, work long into the evening, and work on weekends. She has visitors everyday because I have a big family who all visit regularly. But that’s no excuse. She deserves better. She never complains when she hasn’t seen me in a week. Instead she tells me how proud she is of me and how she loves me so much.

As I said, last night I went to see her. Suddenly she teared up and told me she was worried about the staff of the home, the nurses, the CNAs, the janitors. My mom has always been a very religious person, a Christian. My brothers and sisters and I were raised in the Baptist church, and my mom took it seriously. I, on the other hand, have always struggled with faith and had trouble believing the bible. I always hid this from my mom because I wouldn’t hurt her or worry her for the world. And she does worry–because she cares so much. She was crying over her worry that all the CNAs, nurses, and other staff might not be saved. She told me she asks everyone if they know Jesus and if they have given their lives to him. Sometimes they say yes, and other times they talk to her in depth about what they do believe. She prays for them, she cries for them. She tells them that Jesus died for them and that he loves them. This is typical of my mom because she always thinks of everyone else’s needs before her own. My mom told me that she believes that the only reason God has not taken her home to be with her beloved Harold is because she is supposed to tell the people in the home about Jesus. This is the first time my mom mentioned to me wanting to go to be with my dad. She is always cheerful and sweet, kind to the staff and to everyone. She doesn’t complain, so much so that the staff says they don’t even know when she is having a medical issue until she is really in pain because she doesn’t say anything.

She isn’t concerned for them out of any sense of superiority or condemnation. She cares. She loves them. She hurts for them. She tries to make their lives easier. She once told me that they have a terrible job, cleaning up accidents, bathing and dressing the residents, lifting them out of bed, helping them on and off the toilet. She said she wants to make their lives easier and happier by always saying thank you and being nice, polite, and not complaining. Personally, I think they are lucky to take care of her.

No matter what your personal beliefs are about Christianity and people who “witness,” sharing their views with others who may not want to hear them, you have to give her credit for her love. My mom loves them, regardless of their beliefs, with a true and sincere love. She is in this nursing home, crying for people, for some who are not always as nice and gentle as they could be, who are not always kind or helpful. This is her amazing gift, her soft heart, her unselfish love for others. She is an amazing example of love to me. She is true Christianity. She is being Jesus to the world. When I look at her, I am in awe of her. Then I ask myself how someone like me came from someone like her.–Christina Knowles

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