The Storm Book

9780692716403

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Some 5* Reviews at Amazon.com

“Can’t wait to read it again” – “Candid, heartfelt, beautifully written” – “The message is PHENOMENAL. I couldn’t put it down” – “Inspirational, from the heart” – “Great book for anyone who struggles with life” – “Uplifting story of faith, family, and love.”

The Storm: A Time of Mercy, Choices and Hope is a book of 22 stories of faith, intergenerational love, life struggles and storms, from the moment he was born in the Deep South of the United States of America, then as a son, husband, father, and grandfather in Louisiana; needed choices, personal and familial sacrifices, loss, grief, prayer, hope, peace, and joy, in the life of successful Catholic entrepreneur James A. Toups. Written by a man unafraid to express his true feelings, who has witnessed poverty and known suffering first-hand, and is an evacuee of the deadly Hurricane Katrina, the deep narratives found herein provide readers with a rare kind of insight and lived wisdom in how to survive and thrive in the face of whatever storms may come one’s way, including but not limited to the major societal storm that is arising at present in the world and escalating with rapidity both in and across nations.

The Storm: A Time of Mercy, Choices and Hope will resonate with the young and the old alike, male and female, across cultures, by illustrating for readers a personal process through which hope can be retained no matter the arising situation or condition, without falling into the depths of human despair and more. The Storm: A Time of Mercy, Choices and Hope is available in paperback and ebook editions from Amazon worldwide, Acadian Religious in Louisiana, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, and other booksellers.

EDITORIAL REVIEWS

Business thought leader James Toups has penned a fast-moving account of growing up in love and Louisiana. This coming of age speaks to the trials that all young men will remember – and the Biblical solutions. Toups reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses and the protection and accountability that is community. The plot is of loss and near loss and recovery governed by Faith on this side of eternity, in the Hope that is to come. The story of hurricanes and avoiding Hell and high water will help and encourage any reader of any Faith Tradition –Jack Yoest, M.B.A., Clinical Professor of Management, The Catholic University of America.

A truly honest book, which is rare . . . especially recommend the book for adolescent boys on the verge of manhood. James’s open heart and narrative, the likes of which many Christians keep for prayer and growth, would lead boys into the new world of love, sacrifice, and responsibility –Marie Ann Dean, author of The Jeweler’s Polish, teacher, poet, and Catholic homeschooler.

Poignant, moving at times to the point of tears, James Toups has provided a rare book of lived wisdom so necessary for the people who feel so lost in today’s relativistic age. He has written an inspiring and inspired narrative of strong women and strong men unafraid to hold hope, through their faith in God, and do whatever it takes to raise their children to become adults with solid principles and virtue ethics, despite the successes and intergenerational losses and tragedies in their lives. Commencing with the love of women ready to die, if necessary, so that their children can be born and live; through the conflict of interracial tensions in the American South, the allure but emptiness of the fast life, the harrowing pain of stillbirth, the pure witness of refugees from the former Soviet Union and Vietnam, and living through personal, relational, and natural storms, including the deadly hurricane Katrina of which Toups and his family were evacuees, the author has beautifully illustrated how hope, held onto by prayer from the heart and watered by the grace of faith, manages without fail to effectively resolve any kind of situation, interior or exterior, no matter how painful or overwhelming things may be –Marcelle Bartolo-Abela, author of Deification of Man in Christianity.

Toups offers a moving account of love and mercy amid the storms and stresses of life. Beginning with his difficult birth and mother’s determination to have six children regardless of medical risks, Toups relates his spiritual journey within the distinctive Catholic subculture of the Deep South. Raised within a close-knit, devout family, Toups relates his upbringing in New Orleans against the backdrop of the Cold War, Vietnam, and racial tensions. His father’s work ethic, providing for the family no matter what, and his mother’s loving support for her family and community, as when she helped cook food for the neighborhood after a hurricane, are lovingly related. His father’s prescient warning that New Orleans might not ultimately be safe from flooding shall return to haunt this book. Considerable space is given to his paternal grandmother and the equally caring, although strict when necessary, maternal grandparents, Mimi and Big Daddy. They loom large as Toups develops an understanding of adult responsibilities, particularly male ones. His experience of Catholic education is treated in detail, his successful struggles to cope with bullying and mature academically and otherwise through his teachers testifies to their paternal ministry, as well as his family’s efforts. Toups discovers Scripture and starts appreciating spiritual and material poverty, as found, for instance, within the Black Catholic church to which MawMaw takes him. His encounters with refugees from communism also alert him to the widespread persecution of Christians.

University is a time when mortality strikes. Big Daddy and MawMaw die, but their influence remains. Even after university, Toups cannot escape the Church, thanks in part to warnings from an old friend concerning his immortal soul. The young banker edges away from worldly distractions and finds a wife, Robin, from a similar background who shares his desire for six children. This they accomplish, although not without difficulty, the harrowing misery of stillbirth and its emotional aftermath being an important chapter. The self-sacrifices of a mother prepared to sacrifice her life for her baby are warmly admired. His own mother’s death is fittingly described.

There is plenty of light and shadow in this work. Although outwardly successful in his career, Toups struggles with depression, no thanks to long absences from his family.  Following a marital ultimatum, he changes work and sets up his own business, which experiences some success, although 9/11 raises a threat to Toups and America in general, against the apparent calm. Soon enough, Hurricane Katrina strikes and the Toups family only escapes in the nick of time. Thanks to help from the community in Lafayette, Louisiana, particularly the very generous Catholic parish which offers them a home at reasonable rent and places in Catholic schools for the children, they get back on their feet. After this catastrophe – the American Government’s response to which is not larded with praise – Toups decides his family must settle there for good.He does not gloss over the difficulty of this decision, not least for his oldest daughter. Nonetheless, the family puts down roots and lives are rebuilt, although there is an episode involving boiling hot crawfish to aid Toups’s spiritual development via the hospital burns unit.

This is a book full of sentiment and moral conviction, but not sentimental or moralistic. Relevant Biblical quotations are weaved within the narrative,reinforcing a sense of personal salvation-history, and the simple words God is Good continually serve as a touchstone. Toups shows the importance of loving Christian witness within the family and an increasingly anti-Christian society,reciting the poetry of divine providence in ordinary lives. Reading this one senses the truth of this book’s final words: “God is good, all of the time” –Christopher Villiers, award-winning British Catholic theologian and author of Sonnets From the Spirit.

Copyright (C) 2016, James A. Toups – All rights reserved.