Jean was watching from the sidelines when I met my husband to be. At that stage of the story he was called ‘Prince Mentor.’ A friend of his, she saw the way God brought us together and witnessed the fireworks; “Sparks flew between Princess Joanna and Prince Mentor, but they were not sparks of attraction…” I wrote.
Jean has a degree in lingustics, and with that and her personal involvement I asked her to read the book. Here’s her valued review;
Every journey starts with a single step, and such is the case for Jo Rolston as she recounts her journey from heartbroken, love-starved child to fully adopted daughter of the King of Kings in her book “The Kingdom – Here be Dragons, Here be Dreams’. Only in Jo’s case, the first step was taken by her great, great grandmother.
Anna arrived in New Zealand from Germany as a young wife, profoundly deaf but with a deep and personal relationship with God. As she rested at the top of a steep hill in the Hawkes Bay on her arduous journey to her little family’s allotted land, little did she know that her future great great granddaughter would be born there. Anna prayed for the future generations to know God in a real way, to come into His promises, and to share their knowledge about Him.
Jo goes through a very shaky start, but reaches out to God. Her relationship with Him is at first coloured by her perception of Him as dominant and punishing, like her earthly parents. But her hunger to know Him in a real way leads her to write “stories” in which Jesus is the King and she is a princess. Thus “the Kingdom” is born. In the kingdom, she can take the, at times, overwhelming events of her real world to the King and seek His input and advice. Whether she heeds or disregards His advice and guidance is up to her.
Jo’s writing is personal, in her own language, yet speaks of life lessons in such a way that it is accessible to all of us. Her style draws us in, we can almost taste the food and smell the flowers,; feel the sunlight on our face. I identified with her so much that at times I found myself saying to her, “For heaven’s sake, Jo! Get rid of him!” Or, “stand up for yourself. You are worth more than that.’
As Jo gains insight into her own situation through her time in the Kingdom, she relates valuable lessons for all of us about what a real relationship looks like, traps and temptations, and boundary-setting. The book has great practical application as Jo takes us through her successes and failures, and humble pie eating times.
There were times when I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing down my face at the heartache some of Jo’s decisions caused her, and other times when I was howling with laughter, especially with the beginning stages of Jo and Bert’s relationship.
I am “Big Sis” to Bert and helped him to interpret one of his dreams in which he saw paths of different colours representing his lady friends. He was supposed to choose the golden one, but didn’t know who that was. I’d had conversations with the Lord and knew it was this lady who had two kids he had vaguely mentioned. She was supposed to tell him “I am the gold”, as she mentions in her book. Instead she said, “I am top shelf” which threw a spanner in the works, as Bert had first hand experience with family alcoholism.
Finally, after fighting with God, Jo sent Bert a copy of the relevant chapter in the Kingdom not quite naming him as both Prince Mentor and Isaac. He gave it to me to interpret, which Jo was very nervous about. I totally understand that, given her past experience of gossip and ridicule. But it confirmed what I knew. She was the one. Bert and I discussed it. He still wasn’t sure and emailed Jo with the three questions mentioned in the book. The rest is (very pleasing to a big sis) history.
“The Kingdom – Here be Dragons, Here be Dreams” begins and ends with Anna. With Jo as her spiritual heiress, Anna passes the baton to Jo to continue running the race with focus, dignity and faith. There have been many challenges along the way. But Jo chose the “difficult but interesting path”. She knows that she does not walk it alone, as she now has Bert and a strong church family, and that she, Warrior Princess Joanna, can always take any problems to her King.
I give this book a 9/10. While very personal it is insightful and contains practical and real advice on how to live life, not just survive. Jo’s insight on boundaries and positive friendships has proven very helpful to a lot of people who have crossed her path and I’m sure that will continue.