Enjoy Married Life Without Kids

The following is shared with permission from Celebrate Marriage.  Celebrate Marriage is a website dedicated to making a big deal of something God loves: marriage.  For more great articles on how to make your marriage awesome, visit Celebrate-Marriages.com

There’s a tendency for some couples without kids to get focused in on what life will be like with kids and dreaming of the future. These can be good things, but when they prevent you from enjoying your life now, they prevent you from doing what God really wants you to do. As a couple without kids, my wife and I find we have much more freedom to do what we want when we want than our child rearing friends. If we want to go to the movies, blaze a trail in the Olympics, or run away to Vancouver for the day we need only get up and go. For those with kids, this is much more complex. No matter the stage of life, it is important to take advantage of the freedoms God’s given you.

Here are three things you can do to best enjoy life now:


Photo by Samantha Sophia / Unsplash

Become Who You Ought to be in Jesus

How you spend your life now will determine who you become. In the end, we all grow up to be what we are based on the choices we make when we are younger. Apart from the working of the Holy Spirit, how you spend your life now will determine who you become. Do you like who you are now? Do you have room to grow and become more like Jesus? I would suggest that we all have room to grow in this realm and the best time to get started down that path is now. Putting it off until later is an endless cycle. Work on your character and relationship with Jesus now, you will have less time in the future.

When we train up our souls in the way we should go, we prepare ourselves to be the awesome parents, grandparents, and family friends we’ve known in our youth and know now. How do you practically work on these things? You’ve heard it said, “Read your Bible and pray” but I would say there’s more to it than that. You must actively evaluate your life. Find the places where your character is not in line with the Bible. Study what the Bible has to say about those weaknesses, pray that God would change you, and put in the effort daily to change your behavior.

If you can’t think of an area that needs to change in your life, ask your spouse. We are often blind to our own sins, but our spouse is not. I heard a sermon once where a pastor asked his wife for one thing to work on and she replied “Let me think about it” and then came back the next day with three things he could work on. We all have areas we need to work on, and no one knows that more than our spouse.

There are always sins that we need to be rid of; and when we do, we can echo the words of the psalmist:

“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.”
Psalm 119:97-100

Every Christian should be focusing on their walk with God as a priority, but without kids, we have more time and opportunity for it. We can afford to spend hours now studying the word each week, where later in life in our study time will become shorter. Focusing on growing now will make life later easier.

A couple holding two small shells next to each other to form a heart shape
Photo by Aaron Burden / Unsplash

Love Your Spouse

Sometimes we may be tempted to think that loving our spouse is all about focusing on the long term. Will she be financially set in old age? Will she have a home they can cherish? Will she have kids to take care of her in the end? Will he be healthy? Will our friendship remain strong? Will we be good parents? After the kids leave will it be awkward? These things are good things to think about, but it is also good to think about where you both are now and love each other in the present.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

How are you doing at loving your spouse right now? Love by this standard is hard. We all may feel we have great success at one or two points of God’s definition of love, but if we’re honest none of us has mastered it all. If you want to get the most out of life, love your spouse more than yourself. Not only is this what the Bible commands us to do, but when we live it out, our spouse is often inspired to love us back in the same way. How are you doing at loving your spouse right now?

When I take my wife on dates, I always try to think of what she would enjoy and plan around that. I know she likes music far more than I, so I’ve taken her to the concert hall. She enjoys seeing new things, so I’ve taken her on short road trips to places she’s never been. Making our dates about my wife’s enjoyment makes them fun and memorable! Truth be told, when I make dates about me, I can’t help but feel guilty and have a nagging feeling that I’m being selfish. Making dates about her preferences shows her I love her more than myself and it lives out Philippians 2:3-4 (“count others more significant than yourself”).

While dates are a great way to show love to our spouse, it is even more important to show love in the way you live day to day. Do you look out for your spouse in the little things in life? Here’s a few ideas of how you put your spouses needs above your own in the day to day:

  1. Turn on the seat warmer before they get in the car.
  2. Do chores without being asked.
  3. Surprise them with lunch at work. (Who doesn’t love good food?)
  4. Grab treats for them when you go shopping.
  5. Make them coffee/tea before they leave for work.
  6. Text her unprompted.
  7. Invite each other into your free time. (Men can have just as much fun knitting and women can enjoy power tools too.)

These are just simple ideas. Each person is different, what’s important is that you think about what your spouse enjoys most help them attain it and to think about what they dislike most and help them not have to worry about it. Serving your spouse in the little ways, helps you to fulfill Jesus command: “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26).

A collection of old vintage photos, postcards, and envelopes from Europe.
Photo by Joanna Kosinska / Unsplash

Make Memories

I was talking with an older woman recently who told me she had more memories of being a kid than she did from her 20’s and 30’s. She had thrown herself into her work, working toward the future. In her tireless effort, she forgot to have fun. She forgot to make memories. Her efforts caused two decades of her life to be a memory-less void. She mentioned this with some regret and encouraged those of us listening that one of the best things we can do at our age is to make lasting memories.

I try to remember that the future is not the only or most important priority. How sad would it be if my wife and I could not remember the first twenty years of our marriage, because we wasted it away working toward our future instead of enjoying each other and making memories? Live out what Jesus commanded; do not worry about tomorrow for it will take care of itself (Matthew 6:34).

Be spontaneous. Be creative. Memories don’t require excesses of cash. They only require the thoughtfulness of someone who loves their spouse and wants to give them something special. Here are a few inexpensive date ideas that will also build memories:

  1. Go the Funko Store in Everett and take a funny picture with each life sized statue.
  2. Take a stroll through downtown Kirkland. High Five every time you see a public piece of art! (Or kiss… that may be even more fun!)
  3. Go for a hike to the Big Four Ice Caves.
  4. Watch the sunset at Kerry Park.
  5. Make new traditions together.

Conclusion

If you want to get the most out of life now, as a couple without kids, be studious in your zeal for Christ, love your spouse, and be spontaneous in your zest for life. If you work on these three things, you’ll find fulfillment and peace that can only come from God. You’ll discover things you love about your spouse you never noticed before. And you’ll learn to make the most of any situation. Keep your priorities right; God first, Spouse second, and you’ll be on the path to enjoying the life God has given you.

For more great articles on how to make your marriage awesome, visit Celebrate-Marriages.com

Advertisements

Review: The Kill Order

The Kill Order by James Dashner is terrible.  Dashner didn’t do any research before writing about topics he knew nothing about.  I caught a few of them, but I’m sure I missed many more.  At one point he writes about a person who’d been dead only a few minutes as having “the blue face of death,” which is just not how that works.

At another point he wrote about a plane window being smashed with a wrench, glass shattering and going everywhere…. listen, planes don’t use glass.  They have to worry about bird strikes, and the possibility of the glass shattering and going into the pilots eyes.  I’m sure you’ve noticed before that the windows on one of the many passenger gets you’ve flow in has plexiglass.

Dashner also writes one of the main characters as a former military person, but writes their behavior and knowledge to be inferior to what it ought to be.  He says and does things a well trained military person would never do.

On top of that, the grammar in the book is terrible.  He writes chapters of dream sequences in present progressive, but does so inconsistently.  So it’s hard to read and follow along.  I also found a fragmented sentence…. six words long with no subject or verb.

Honestly, I can’t blame Dashner for all of this.  All of us write terribly in our first drafts of things, and I know when I edit my own stuff I often combine sentences improperly making them completely confusing.  That said, his editor should have caught all of this, and didn’t. What I can blame Dashner for is how terrible his allusions are.  It felt like reading one of those top ten worst analogy articles (like this one here).

I finished the story because I’m a completionist, and not because it was readable.

The story itself starts off rather slow and it was hard to connect with what was going on, but the story did turn out to be interesting if incredibly hard to read.

Overall, I give this one star.

Up next: Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols by Brad Bigney

Review: A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23

41Zmzl0dznL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_

Psalm 23 is one of the most quoted Psalms of all time. It’s been used at funerals and as a rallying cry for the depressed and brokenhearted. As the Bible was written largely to shepherds, nomads, and countrymen many of the references in the Bible are largely missed by the modern, city-dwelling technofolk. The result is that we modern readers misinterpret and poorly handle the Bible when it comes to passages like these.

As I began to read this book one of the first things that struck me was:

I don’t know jack about shepherding.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

I’ve always heard this verse had to do with God preparing a banquet before us. Setting the table with the finest foods and all our enemies could do was helplessly watch from the sidelines. Keller points out that the table was what they called the mountains.  Every summer they would take the sheep up to the table to keep them cool and partake of the fresh grass.

Preparing the table involved endless hours of hard manual labor: pulling deadly weeds, laying out grass seed, and making sure you know exactly where to take your flock to protect it. Preparing the table wasn’t about a luxurious meal, though that did happen, it was about the hard labor that God puts in to keep us well fed and protected as we go about our lives.

Your rod and your staff they comfort me.

A rod was a shepherd’s weapon and a tool to guide the sheep where they ought to go? A skilled shepherd would throw his staff great distances with surprising accuracy to scare off would be attackers or scare his wandering sheep back to the fold. He would also use the staff to bring a newborn to its mother without contaminating it with his smell, rescue sheep from brambles or from drowning, and guide the sheep down the right path. When Scripture says, “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me” it’s saying that God is both protector and compassionate caregiver. He is both a loving laborer and a watchful sentry. He is fierce warrior-protector and dedicated savior.

It’s safe to say. this book shattered my image of what Psalm 23 meant and replaced it with something better and much deeper. Each stanza is broken down into a chapter dissertation into the life of a shepherd and the meaning God has for us in that specific analogy.

This book gets an easy 5 stars from me. It’s short and deep. I have no doubt I will return to this book often to be reminded of what shepherding life is really like and what God wants us to learn from His analogies about Himself as our Shepherd.

Up next: The Kill Order by James Dashner

Review: The Art of War

27162013

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is a classic. It talks about how the principles of warfare and how to to guarantee success. The principles are sound for business and war and the master of these will certainly have success. Consider some of these poignant phrases:

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself not not the enemy, for every victory you will also suffer defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

One may know how to conquer without being able to do so.

The victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

In still other points, Sun Tzu talks about the brilliance of capturing your opponent alive and winning them to your side of the war. By doing so you have defeated you enemies forces and enlarged your own at the same time.

The brilliance of these little proverbs is beyond words.

Up next: A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller

Review: Praying The Bible

41lqTumrDVL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

The following is shared with permission from Celebrate Marriage.  Celebrate Marriage is a website dedicated to making a big deal of something God loves: marriage.  For more great articles on how to make your marriage awesome, visit Celebrate-Marriages.com

 

Do you feel like your prayer life is boring? Repetitive? Dead? Donald S. Whitney has a powerful idea to change all those negative qualities you experience in your prayer life.

WHY THE BOOK IS GOOD

Whitney’s talks about how those of us that fail to pray often do so out of boredom, praying the same thing every day. It’s become a monotony. As he puts it, we tend to ask ourselves “How should I adore the Lord today? And since we don’t have the time or the mental resources to think every day of new ways to adore the Lord, we tend to fall back on the same old ways, words, and phrases we habitually use to adore the Lord.”

To overcome this common pitfall, he shows us a very simple tactic that remedies the boredom we fall into in prayer. Pray the Bible. By praying the Bible, You’ll have prompts of what to pray for that will help you probe your mind and heart for things to bring before God. You’ll naturally use the words you just read to pray to God, thereby breaking the habit of praying the “same old ways, words and phrases we habitually use.” You’ll also have a clear path of what to pray which will keep you from getting too distracted with the random thoughts of life. Your prayer will incorporate God’s ordained, divine words; you’ll be breathing out the same breaths He breathed into the Bible. “Basically what you are doing is taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God.”


Photo by Ben White / Unsplash

If you pray from the Scriptures you’ll find new things and new ways to pray every day. Your prayers will be new, exciting, and more God focused than they tend to be without the Bible. This kind of prayer will refreshen your soul as you turn your heart more and more to God.

WHY THE BOOK IS GOOD FOR MARRIAGE

Our marriages have their best success when we put God first and our spouse second. This book is full of practical advice on how to put prayer at the forefront of your life. As you read about and try this method of prayer, your personal walk with God will grow.

As you become more proficient, I would challenge you to start to praying more with your spouse. Praying with your spouse is one of the most intimate things God has given us in marriage. It allows you see their heart and what they’re struggling with, while at the same time revealing your own vulnerable heart. Vulnerability with your spouse has the capability to bring you both closer together as you pursue Christ.

HOW TO READ IT

This book is short (89 pages), and a quick read (only took me 90 minutes, and I’m slow). You can read this in one sitting or break it up a chapter at a time (with ten chapters it’ll only take about 9 minutes to read one chapter). As you read it try the new skills out. In chapter seven, Whitney provides a suggestion in the book of praying through a Psalm a day.

I tried this Whitney’s method and on the first day I did not enjoy it. The method he prescribes is that as you read you stop and pray about whatever comes to mind. This bothered me as I was afraid I’d lose sight of proper Biblical study. Once I got past this initial fear, I discovered as I kept trying this prayer method it became incredibly easy to pray for seven uninterrupted minutes. Last night, as I tried this again, I found that I was only able to get through half of Psalm 19 before my timer went off. This method of prayer makes long prayer sessions seem more attainable.

Praying with your spouse is one of the most intimate things God has given us in marriage.

Husbands read this book. God wants to change you into a man more devoted to Himself. When you pray Scripture you will constantly be reminding yourself of the attributes he wants you to adopt.

Wives read this book. You dedication to the Lord will work wonders in your heart, in your marriage, and in your life. Seek the Lord in prayer and you’ll find yourself forever changed.

Do you have a method you use for prayer? Comment below!

For more great articles on how to make your marriage awesome, visit Celebrate-Marriages.com

Serve Your Spouse

Everyone wants to be great. I want to be a great husband, man, employee, etc. I want a great marriage. Don’t you? Jesus said that if you want to be the greatest, you must be a servant (Matthew 23:11). Do you believe that? This is an interesting truth. When we think of ourselves lowlier than those around us and serve their needs, we become more noticeable to God. Humility in our service is important (Matthew 23:12). Sometimes this greatness is noticed here on earth too, think of the great servants of history: Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, and Nelson Mandela, these names did not become well known for being leaders, they became well known first for serving. They served the people around them until the world couldn’t help but take notice.

Jesus demonstrated that same servant leadership here on earth. He didn’t consider Himself too important to heal the sick, fix the broken, or tend to the tender hearted. He came to serve, not to be served (Mark 10:45). If God humbled himself to serve us, it should inspire us to humble ourselves even more.

Paul wrote that we should serve one another through love (Galatians 5:13) and submit to one another out of reverence for Jesus (Ephesians 5:21). Serving is something we’re all called to do, not just those that have the gift of service (Romans 12:7). Serving our spouse should be an act of obedience and deep respect to our Creator, Jesus. It is through our love of Jesus that I can serve my spouse.

Service should be self-sacrificing. There’s no humility in service that doesn’t require you to give up anything. Jesus humbled himself “by taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men, and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death even death on a cross” (Philippians 1:7-8). Godly service requires that you give up your expectations, pride, and desires and do what needs to be done. This means that you do the chores, not when it’s convenient for you, but when it’s decidedly inconvenient for you.

You know what’s inconvenient and hard for me to give up? Sleep. I don’t head to bed until I’m tired, and somehow that always happens to be when chores need to get done. (Usually this is a result of my own procrastination and forgetfulness.) My wife will ask: “Where are you going?” and I’ll reply, “To bed.” “Can you unload the dishwasher first?” Everything in me wants to say “I’m tired, can’t this wait?” But that’s not the loving sacrificial servant’s heart that Jesus demonstrated toward us. He didn’t get to crucifixion day and say: “I’ve had enough of humbly serving you all. Angels come rescue me!” We know he didn’t want to be there that day, as He prayed in the garden for another way; but he faced his last days in obedient, good spirits and ransomed us from death. His death was a form of service to us. He did the most important thing for us, that we could never do for ourselves: reconcile us with a just God.

In light of all of that, how can you best serve your spouse? With Jesus example in mind, here are some ways to serve.

Serve with compassion

Just as Jesus took our biggest need into consideration when He chose to die for us and save us from hell, we should consider what our spouse needs and desires. We should think about what they do out of obligation and not out of joy and serve them there in that obligation. Do for them the things they feel need doing, before they have a chance to. Help free them up from the obligations of this world so they can spend more time enjoying it. Serving goes beyond mere obligations to also considering our desires. Jesus did not need to heal the sick to save them from hell, he did it out of compassion. Show compassion in your serving too, think about what your spouse desires and help them in those desires.

Serve them practically

Do they hate being cold? Without being asked, bring them a blanket, turn up the heat, or turn on the car seat warmer. Cook them dinner and have it ready when the get home from a long day at work (yes, you too men). Surprise them with a lunch sent to them at work on a busy day. I did this one once for my wife when she forgot to bring a lunch and wouldn’t have time to leave the office. It’s amazing how many times her coworkers asked what’d I’d done wrong. Their reaction shows just how uncommon it is for love to be shown the way God commanded it. If you have kids, serve your spouse by watching them so they can go on a friend date. Whatever you do, do in love and in consideration of your spouse above yourself.

Serve them daily in the little things

Sacrificially serving your spouse is a daily calling. It may not feel sacrificial to grab your spouse a soda when you get up to get yourself one, but it is an important aspect of obedient, faithful living. Everyday, we should be seeking out opportunities to lovingly serve our spouse and to consider their needs as often as we consider our own (Mark 12:31). Think of it like this: your marriage is a service station, and you’re the only employee. It’s your job to make sure your spouse is well looked after.

Serve when you don’t feel like it

The day will come when you ought to serve your spouse, and your heart is not in it. In that day, remember that Jesus served you with his life and death. There can be no burden in taking out the trash, scrubbing pots and pans, or getting on your knees and cleaning a toilet when compared to the greatest act of service Jesus did for us. Jesus served us, even when he hoped for a better option, and even though we didn’t deserve it. Serving your spouse isn’t about whether they deserve it or not, it’s about whether you are willing to be obedient to God in every aspect of your life. It’s about demonstrating the same love that redeemed you from hell. When you serve your spouse in that humble, sacrificial way, you will begin to understand more fully how hard Jesus’ sacrifice for us truly was.

In all these things, we must always be thinking about how to stir one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). When we serve one another, we help fill each other with love and in abundance of love our hearts will be stirred to love and good deeds. Sacrificially serving our spouse allows them to see Jesus working through you and points their hearts back to the ultimate example of sacrificial service: Jesus’ death on the cross. There’s a reward in this for you too, you are also helping train your own soul to be obedient to the call of Jesus, which will result in you feeling more joy.

Love your spouse by humbly and sacrificially serving them.

For more great articles on how to make your marriage awesome, visit Celebrate-Marriages.com

Review: 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You

41jFcTyVFtL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

Today, when we think about how connected we are to our phones and how old the Bible sometimes seems to be, we can be tempted to think that the Bible doesn’t say anything about how we should interact with our phones. Tony spends this book showing us just how wrong we would be to think that thought.In this book Tony unpacks 12 ways that are phones have changed us and what the Bible has to say about it.

I am not my own. I am owned by my Lord. I have been bought with a price… And that leads to my point: I do not have “time to kill” — I have time to redeem.

As Tony begins to dive into this book he writes about problems that have faced mankind since the dawn of time. He points out that there is nothing new under the sun, the issues that face us today have always faced us.

You see, our phones have the power to amplify our addictions to distractions and sins, which in turn causes us to lose track of time. Our phones can cause us to get wrapped up in a technological world (missing what’s going on in the here and now); filling us with anger at what we see behind the pixels. Our phones scratch our itch for instant approval and feeling of not wanting to miss out. They undermine our reading comprehension and make it harder for us to find and identify the true meaning of this world. With our phones, we also find ourselves in a sea of new things to see and hear, and we can drown in the lure of our vices. Our phones also help us put on a fake identity and draw us to a place of loneliness.

To help combat that, Tony provides Biblical principles to help us fight off each one. If our phones distract us, God calls us to be silent and know that He is God. If the social media tries to draw us in to anger and useless debates, the Bible calls us to live in relationship with one another, to put others needs above our own. When we desire to have our needs met now and to not miss out, we know that God calls us to seek our joy and fulfillment in Him… On and on he goes, calling out sin and temptation while pointing to the Biblical solution that God designed long before we were born.

The easiest work in the world is to find fault ~ Spurgeon

The truths Reinke points to in this book have instant ramifications on our lives. We often need to be reminded that making passive aggressive posts about our other’s failures is wrong. We need to be reminded that our job as godly men and women is to lift up and support others. God did not command us to pick apart every little thing people do and tear them down, he commanded us to lift up and encourage.

This book points to so many pitfalls in our lives. As you read it you will begin to realize that some of your struggles in life are related to your phone use. Once identified you can work on the issue and begin to take steps to making yourself right with God.

I found myself reading this and wanting to throw my phone away and dig in deep to the Word. Every chapter was written with such care and contemplation, that my mind kept playing the words back for days.  This book is a winner!

Tony Reinke is the senior writer for Desiring God. He’s written a large number of articles for Desiring God and has a beautiful way of analyzing content deeply and approachably. With this book he dives in deep to how our world has been changed in the last ten years starting with the release of the iPhone. Never before has a technology so quickly changed our lives.

Overall I give this book 5 stars.

Up next: Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney

Review: #RUHooked

41fLPxokpZL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

#RUHooked by Jonathan Smith is a book written towards teens and those who work with teens about the dangers of social media. Jonathan writes about the benefits of social media, as one who’s been to secured NASA facilities and the White House because of social media he is well acquainted with the benefits and joys of social media. But he has seen many people get absorbed into social media and lose sight of what’s important in life. Through this book he hopes to engage youth and help them put their priorities right.

I know in my own life that social media has at times become more important to me than being in proper relationship with people around me. Think about how you interact at restaurants nowadays… do you engage in meaningful conversations or do you instagram your food so everyone can be jealous? There’s certainly benefit to sharing your life with others on social media, but where we put our priorities while we do so is imminently important.

I found this book to be pretty engaging and insightful, but I also found it to be too short. Being too short is really a kind of compliment when you really think about it. It’s saying that the book was good, but you wished it went into more depth and kept going for a bit longer.

I give this book 3 stars, mostly because it is so short.

Up next: 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

1000

I am not usually a fan or reading plays. Plays are 99% conversational text and 1% stage set up. There isn’t the description of people’s faces, expressions, and reactions to their world that you find in a typical novel. This leaves a lot of the interpretation of events to your imagination. When I read this book, I certainly did miss all of the descriptions Rowling usually puts in her writing, but I did find a delightful story that I was able to enjoy.

Reading a book written in play format takes longer than reading a novel as well, or at least it feels like that for me. As such this play, which is shorter than Rowling’s other novels took my 2-3 times longer to read.

While this isn’t a book I would like to read again, I would be interested in seeing the play in the UK, as the events in this book would require some very creative set building. And the way the events play out take full advantage of a theater, so it should be a fairly immersive experience.

Overall I give this book 3 stars. I would recommend seeing this in person, if possible, over reading the book.

Up next: #RUHooked by Jonathan Smith

Review: The Scorch Trials

28536517_983126431229_1665611461_n

The Scorch Trials is book two in the Maze Runner Series. Click here to read my review of the first book, The Maze Runner.

Dashner starts off book two in a place of safety. The group that survived the maze has been rescued and fed well. Satiated, they’re given a nice bed to sleep in, but during the night all that safety disappears. In the morning they awaken to find that one of them is kidnapped and all their rescuers are dead. Shortly thereafter they are given a mission by the same organization that put them in the Maze to begin with.

The group is predictably unhappy about it, but the incentive is huge. They all carry a disease that is only to be cured if they finish their objective. As they set off on their adventure, everything goes wrong. They face hardship and trials on every side and victory over one trial leads to another. They travel a long corridor in complete darkness, attacked by creatures they cannot see. When they find their way out of the corridor it is into a blisteringly hot desert. The sun blindingly bright, and insanely hot. The test assigned to them from the Maze makers takes them through this desert to a town impossibly far away and over the mountains to safety. Every inch of their journey threatens to kill them with unseen and unknown dangers.

Dashner did a better job in this book than he did in the first one at making things that should be grim, grim. He kept that tension in the book palpable which made reading it a breeze. The tension he creates is not quite up to the standard of Scott Lynch, but it is good.

By this point his weaknesses as a writer are less troublesome for me as I’ve already had a book to get used to them. The issues are still there, but they blend in more with the background as you get used to his writing.

Overall I give this 5 stars for being an engaging story.

Up next: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and J.K. Rowling