Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Treasure of the Golden Cheetah

This morning after I helped Mia get dressed for school, I brushed her hair. It's an unpleasant chore that we both dread because her hair is so fine that it tangles easily. We use a lot of Suave Detangling Spray, and that helps, but there is always one stubborn snarl that I have to work through with my fingers. As I gently worked it out, Mia said, "Mommy, who invented snarls?" I was caught off guard for a moment, and then answered that it was one of those things that probably happened when Adam and Even ate the apple. The world, which had been perfect, became full of all sorts of little annoyances, including snarls. Mia and I have a long list of things that we look forward to on the New Earth (Heaven) and this morning we added no more snarls to it.

Then I turned on the morning news and saw the devastation in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti. Mia who is normally a chatterbox became silent as she saw the images of shattered buildings and frightened people. When she asked me what had happened, I explained that it was an earthquake. She continued to get ready and was soon out the door on the way to the bus stop, but I couldn't tear myself away from the horror of the scenes shown. People's eyes in photos seemed to show only two emotions: terrified shock and empty numbness.

As I replayed my conversation with Mia about snarls, I started counting all of the things I saw on the news that no one will ever experience on the New Earth. Pain from injury, grief from loss, shock from natural disaster, fear of not knowing where loved ones are, anger, shock, horror, numbness, the death of a child/parent/sibling/spouse, the list goes on and on.

I don't know how I would react if forced to face such a traumatic circumstance, but I know that tonight my heart aches for those I've never met and that I have to admit to feeling just a hint of fear. I don't live in earthquake country, but natural disasters can happen anywhere...except New Earth. There the earth will be restored to its original, perfect state. There will be no wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, flash floods, droughts or tsunamis. It will be a place of perfect peace, of complete safety, and I am so grateful to God that I know that someday I will be there.

Take a moment and think about the little things that annoyed or aggravated you today: frustrating bosses, nosy co-workers, back-stabbing friends, traffic jams, snarls in your hair, dogs who refuse to house train. Whatever it is that ruined your day today, it won't exist on New Earth. Doesn't that make it sound like a place you want to live? You know what you have to do to get there; what are you waiting for?

The Treasure of the Golden Cheetah by Suzanne Arruda is the fifth book in the Jade del Cameron series about a female photographer in post-WWI Africa. Jade has never been afraid to live outside of people's expectations of her, which is what makes her such a fascinating character, but in this volume, it endangers her relationship with Sam Featherstone. Jade has been hired to accompany safari leader Harry Hascombe as he leads a crew from Hollywood up Mount Kilimanjaro to shoot footage for an upcoming movie. The trip quickly takes a tragic turn when the producer is murdered the night before their departure. Despite the tragedy, Harry and Jade take their crew up the mountain facing one crisis after another. Meanwhile, back at home, Sam takes a closer look at the murder and discovers some suspicious evidence. While he digs deeper, Jade is warned by an African wise man that she is in danger. Her trip up the mountain becomes a struggle of life and death and just when she thinks she's figured out who is behind the deception, someone else drops dead. I'm a huge fan of historical mystery series, especially those set in this period. Arruda is getting Jade back on track again after the derailing of book three and blah plot of book four. Golden Cheetah recreates chemistry between Jade and Harry while looking deeply into the relationship between Jade and Sam. It also gives Jade the opportunity to act like the intelligent headstrong heroine of the first two books. The fast paced action zips along until the murderer is revealed. I didn't feel that the motive was strong enough for all of the damage done, and it felt a bit out of left field. Aside from that, Arruda adds more mystery to the Jade mythos and sets up a great deal of interest for the next book with her ending.

I hope you'll join me in praying for the people of Haiti. There are also a ton of charities out there where you can send financial help like Red Cross and Heifer International.