Great Summer Read: Soul’s Gate

Soul's GateSoul’s Gate by James L. Rubart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was drawn to Soul’s Gate by the fascinating premise of being able to enter into another person’s soul. I kept reading, compelled to see how it would end. I love a book in which anything can happen. In Soul’s Gate, just about anything did. Jim takes you on a wild adventure, but he also makes you stop and think.

The theme of the book is Freedom, and the key to that freedom is taking God at His Word instead of believing the lies. Most of us are trapped in some way by a lie(s) we’re believing that once replaced with God’s truth, leads to freedom and thus peace and joy. But will we believe? Are we even willing to face those lies or to call them what they are?

Don’t think this is about a positive mental attitude overcoming stinking thinking. It’s an all out spiritual battle for our minds, souls, and lives. Who will win? Who will survive? Jim tackles these issues in a high energy, entertaining adventure.

Now to start reading his book Rooms. I already read his book Book of Days.

Have you read it? Have you read a great book you’d recommend?

View all my reviews

Did My Packing Pass the Test? You Be The Judge


Coordinate Your Clothes: My Grade: 95

There were only 2 items of clothing I didn’t wear on my trip?

1) My little black dress! But that’s because I bought two even better dresses in a little French market in the village of Vernon, outside of Giverny.

(I’m not taking points off my score for that since I didn’t know that I’d find such treasures when I originally packed.)

2) My grey and yellow blouse. I broke my rule because I just had to have my favorite shirt (claiming the Pack Your Favorite Clothes rule over-rules the Coordinate Your Clothes Rule, but since it didn’t coordinate, I forgot I even had it.)

(I should probably take off more than 5 points for breaking my own rule, but since it was extremely thin, it barely took up room in my packing folder.)

Take Advantage of Modern Technology in Fabrics: My Grade: 90

My winter jacket was very warm, but light and easy to pack. Worth the cost!

My shirts were thin, synthetic materials that dried almost instantly. It made hand-washing a breeze, and made the change in weather from cold to warm manageable as they layered comfortably.

My pants did not make the modern fabric technology grade, but because they were durable, they looked fresh even after days of being worn.


Pack Your Favorite Clothes: My Grade: 100

While Karen and I fantasized about throwing some clothes away to lighten our load, I cheerfully wore the same outfits simply because I loved them.

For Long Trips, Wash on the Road: My Grade: 100

I kind of feel bad about taking credit for this grade. My friend Julie washed our clothes half way through our trip. We washed a few items a long the way, though, and hung them up on the sink to dry during the day. Easy! (Note: On colder days clothes don’t like to dry.)

Pack e-Books: My Grade: 75

I saved valuable space in my carry-on by having only e-Books, but I didn’t consider that I’d most want to read when we weren’t allowed to use electronic devices. Then when we were given the green light, I discovered I’d not actually downloaded the books. They were only “ready to download,” so I had nothing to read on the flight over. On the flight home, my battery was low. I’m back to packing a paperback.

Unavoidable Mishaps: Grade: Pass

Plan all you want, you’ll still have unavoidable mishaps. (Mishaps are basically Pass/Fail. I managed to overcome, so I gave myself a Passing grade.)

Europe’s weather taught me I could have packed even less clothes. I packed for very little cold weather and lots of warm. We got the opposite. I wore the same two cold weather outfits like a revolving door. Sounds bad except I loved the outfits.


On our flight home, US Airways baggage handlers in Munich mutilated my suitcase, breaking one wheel completely off which left a gaping hole. Another wheel barely hung on, but was useless without its twin, anyway. Carolyn and I taped it up in Pittsburgh and hoped for the best for the rest of its flight home. At our final destination, US Airways gave me a brand new suitcase very similar to my mangled mess.

I’ve never thrown my suitcase away at the end of a trip. It was an interesting, somewhat sad, feeling. My trip was over and so was my suitcase. But I have a brand new suitcase ready to take on a brand new adventure!

Do you think I passed the packing test? What packing tips can you share? Please leave a comment below!

How to Pack for a Long Trip in a Small Suitcase


You never know what you’ll find in this section. Since my journey currently involves actual travelling, I thought I would share some helpful travel tips.

  • Pack tight.

I am trying a new system of packing: Packing Folders by Eagle Creek Travel Gear and Packing Cubes by eBags. They promise to keep your clothes virtually wrinkle free and your packing and unpacking organized and tidy. Check back and I’ll let you know if they’re as great as they say.

  • Coordinate your clothes.

Pack clothes in complimentary colors so you can easily mix and match. Avoid items that won’t go with any other outfit in your suitcase. Ladies, don’t forget the little black dress. It’s a sure winner.

  • Take advantage of modern technology in fabrics.


With today’s technology in fabrics, there’s a plethora of choices for thin, but warm clothes.

Of course, another option is to travel to only warm destinations. Southern Italy is sounding enticing after hearing Europe is having their coldest spring in about 40 years. My Southern blood is shivering already.

  • Pack your favorite clothes.

You’ll be much happier wearing the same clothes over and over again when they’re your favorite.

I had friends who packed only clothes they wanted to leave behind as they traveled. They came home with a light suitcase but photos of themselves wearing ugly outfits. No thanks.

  • For long trips, wash on the road:

If your accommodations don’t have laundry facilities, pack travel-sized laundry detergent and a suction cup laundry line and turn your bathroom into a laundry room.

Want to know my favorite country for when I need to hand-wash clothes? France. Their bidets make great washbasins. Don’t judge.

If you need to hide a coffee stain on white clothing, you could use my mom’s method, if you’re brave enough. It involved tea bags (nature’s dye), a readily available swirling pool of water in our hotel bathroom, and a now tan sweater with no obvious signs of an earlier collision with a coffee cup.

  • Pack e-Books:

Your smart phone and iPad can weightlessly hold several novels and the entire Bible. I never leave home without my Bible and a gripping novel.


Carry-On Considerations:


  • Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on. The airline would never lose your bag, of course, but…
  • Pack all valuables in your carry-on, even if they hold only sentimental value. (One of my best friends “lost” all of her jewelry she’d bought in Italy.)
  • Remember the 3-1-1 Rule:

Currently TSA allows you to carry-on as many liquids as you want as long as each liquid is contained in a …

  1. 3 oz. (actually 3.4 oz.) or less, container, and placed inside…
  2. 1 clear quart-sized zip lock bag.
  3. 1 quart-sized zip lock bag is allowed per person.
  • Check with your airline for their regulations.

They seem to change the rules continually.

All airlines have a weight and size limit per bag. Over-sized or over-weight bags will result in over-priced fees. Anything over 50 pounds can cost around $100 extra.

Pack light on the way to your destination so you can fatten your suitcase with souvenirs and still remain under the 50 lbs. limit for your return trip. Two suitcases most likely won’t solve that dilemma. Most airlines charge for more than one checked bag.

Watch for hidden costs. Our oldest daughter is flying on Ryanair from Strasbourg, France to London in June. Her ticket cost 16 Euros. (Yes, about $20!) That’s a staggering price, as long as she doesn’t bring a suitcase, buys her ticket on-line, flies at 3:00 am, and doesn’t sit in a seat. Ok, those last two aren’t true, but the deal does have added costs we had to consider before committing. (The final price ended up still being less than $90. Impressive…or cause for concern?)


Do you have any packing tips or mishaps to share?
Please leave a comment below.