4 out of 4 stars
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The way to build a massive, roaring fire starts with the gathering of small branches and putting them together. While an individual stick may not produce an inferno, a bundle assembled all together will create a crackling catalyst for a blaze that will draw in a crowd seeking warmth and comfort. Just like those twigs, David A. Jacinto has compiled sixteen short stories in his book, Christmas Kindling, to exemplify how self-sacrifice, a giving spirit and a love for humanity can ignite a servant's heart.
The collection begins with a young college man who desires to be with the love of his life for Christmas, so he embarks on a journey that involves sneaking into empty boxcars on trains with only $5.28 in his pocket. He depends on the kindness of strangers and the grace of God to get him to his destination. The adoration he has for this girl pushes him to endure many uncomfortable conditions to make her wish come true.
Other stories include the lessons learned by taking in a battered rescue dog named Sadie, a young girl diagnosed with cancer who joyfully gives away her most prized possession, and the work of many to restore a woman's home after devastating life events have brought her low. In each chapter, readers will find themselves laughing at the light humor one minute followed by flowing tears as the author has a wonderful ability to touch the heart.
While the writing does emphasize the Bible and Christianity, the stories stand alone as testimonies to the goodness of people. In this time of social upheaval, the message is a welcome break from discord as the focus is purely upon this verse: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Whether a Christian or not, we all should adhere to that principle.
My favorite part of the book was the ease of reading its short chapters and coming away with a quick life lesson. The demonstrated acts of kindness can easily be replicated in any community so more of us can be the hands and feet of God reaching out to those who are in need. Also, the black and white sketches at the beginning of each chapter gave this an old-fashioned feel that I found enjoyable.
There wasn't anything I disliked about this collection, and I would recommend it to all who like positive, uplifting reading material. I know that some readers are completely against anything that remotely includes religious ideas, so this would be one for that particular person to skip.
I did find a few errors in punctuation and spelling. However, they did not interfere with the quality of the writing. I am giving this a 4 out of 4 star rating for its ability to promote unity not only at Christmas but all year long.
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