Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Product Details

Evergreen by Susan May Warren was given to me by Tyndale House for the purpose of reading and writing a review about it.

Yes, I have found another publisher who offers free books in exchange for my opinion about the books.  I cannot pass up a good deal like that.  Evergreen was a short novella based on the Christiansen family in upper Minnesota.  The timing of this book was perfect because I have read the previous book in her series and this one seemed to play into the right timeline.  I like the Christiansen family--they seem down to earth, practical, and overall a fun, normal family with normal family struggles.  In this book, the two brothers are estranged because of a fight they had.  Because I read the other books, I know what the fight was about, but the book didn't elaborate at all on it.

This book was about the parents, John and Ingrid and their dimming relationship. The root cause stemmed back to a miscarriage or stillborn, I wasn't sure which.  The overwhelming sense of responsibility and the fear of losing his wife had overwhelmed John and he had taken matters into his own hands and made sure there would be no more children.  This distressed Ingrid and she allowed bitterness to harbor in her heart for years.  This was very sad to me--I know how much havoc grief and death can wreak on a family and it was disheartening that she had allowed it to fester and yet, I know how easy it could happen.  Husband and wife grieve in very different ways and one of the ways John grieved, in my opinion, was by taking care to make sure the same thing never happened again.  Very much like a man to fix the problem and very much like a woman to feel like she should have been consulted and allowed an opinion.  Both had valid arguments.  Mistakes were made on both sides and in the end, as happens in all good fiction books, peace and harmony was restored and they fell back in love again.

I really do like Susan May Warren's books and will continue to look forward to reading them.  I have started to really try and dig out things that I can learn and apply to my own life from the fiction books that I read.  That is why I really emphasized the grief aspect in this book because that speaks to me right now.  I know how differently a man and a woman grieve and if you don't talk about it, it can quickly drive a wedge between you because you don't understand or think that your spouse even cares about what you are going through, so my plug to everyone who reads this review is to talk it out with your spouse.  Don't let it fester for many years as it did for John and Ingrid until it finally comes to a head.  Get it out in the open and talk about it and then you won't have to go through the winter of your relationship like John's had to.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wave of Light

Today, October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  If tonight at 7:00 PM, everyone in every time zone across the world would light a candle and leave it lit for at least one hour, there would be a continuous WAVE OF LIGHT over the whole world.  How awesome would that look if you could see it from above.

To those who have lost littles, they are not forgotten.  May God give you comfort and strength for each day as they live forever in your heart.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tried & True

Product Details

Tried and True by May Connealy.

This book was given me by Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reading and writing a review about it.

Well, the picture on the front cover gives you a hint that it just might be a romantic chick flick.  And that is pretty much what it is.  Kylie and her two sisters, Bayley and Shannon are basically forced by their dad to fight as men in the Civil War and then to go out West and claim land.  This was all in honor of their brother Jimmy who was killed in the War.  Reality?  It's very sad because the dad has no love or concern for the safety of his daughters, he just wants land to build his "Jimmy" ranch.  I just think it's sad that their dad, Cudgel, couldn't see the beauty of his daughters and the blessing they could be to him if he would be willing to accept them as daughters instead of wanting them to represent the son that was killed.  It's a challenge to me to value each of my children, if God chooses to give us living children, as an individual person and to accept and love them for the talents they have and what they can contribute.

So, back a bit to the story.  Of course, it is discovered that Kylie is a girl and not the man she was trying to be and she falls in love and gets married and is harrassed first by someone who wants her land in hopes of winning the big rancher's hand in marriage and then by a lunatic best friend ofher husband's who is determined to kill her family.  But, of course, everything works out and they will live happily ever after.

As far as a good chick flick, it was a good story and I will likely try to get a hold of the rest of the series when it comes out.  Hopefully, it will be on Bethany House blogging review list. I do like to find something besides the romance that can be commented on and for me it was the rude, insensitive way their dad viewed his daughters.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Breaking Point God's Turning Point

Product Details

By Ricky Texada

This book was given to me by Bethany House for the purpose of reading and writing a review on it.

These days I find myself drawn to books that talk about grief and healing and tough times.  This is a book that talks about the loss of Ricky's wife in a car accident, his subsequent remarriage and then the loss of at least one child through miscarriage.

Ricky had a lot of good points in this book, but I'll be honest.  There were parts that left me disillusioned and maybe that is to my shame.  While I believe he really did grieve deeply the loss of his wife, he describes his experience as though it was just a big drawing closer to God time in his life. As I read it, immediately upon hearing that his wife had died, he chooses to draw closer to God, he asks God to not be silent and he prays that Debra's death is not in vain.  I am not doubting his sincerity in all of this, but I just wonder where was the anger, the grief, the "whys", the tears?  And I think he does allude to those things a bit in his story.  I also have to realize everyone processes things differently; for me I found myself almost unable to pray and to seek God and feeling God carrying me along through the prayers and support of His people around me.

Another thing he said that really puzzles me is this: "I'm no longer grieving, though I miss Debra terribly."  This was written about 6 months after she died.  Again, this is something I cannot really fathom.  How do you decide when you are done grieving?  Grief for me is sporadic--I expect to grieve Nicole the rest of my life--not as intensely as I did at the beginning, but I will always miss her. Is grief and missing someone two different things?  Am I trying to make mountains out of molehills and it really isn't a big deal?  I don't know--I just remember reading that and going, "Whoa, who decides this?"

Otherwise though, it was a great book.  One of the things that I really needed to hear, but didn't necessarily like was the encouragement to reach out through community to help those around me.  It has been difficult for me to reach out in the last 7 months--I tend to close in on myself, but I do think there is benefit to be gained in reaching out and allowing our hurts to strengthen us and in turn strengthening and encouraging others.

So that is my take on the book--I would recommend it as a good book.  It had a lot of good things to be learned, but remember that everyone has a different journey, a different perspective, a different way of grieving and processing.  I do feel I could use the challenge to draw more closely to God through my grief rather than using it as a road block to growing my spiritual life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Two poems

It might appear that I am on a grief kick again and maybe I am, but I don't think you ever really know when grief is going to hit.  For instance, I came home from work today feeling good.  I opened the TLC (Together Learning to Cope) newsletter and read two poems and they both made me cry.  And I want to share them here.  I don't expect everyone to be able to relate to them or to even appreciate them, but they touched me.

Before that though, mark your calendars: October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and if everyone would light a candle at 7PM on that day and let it burn for at least one hour, there will be a continuous wave of light over the world on that day.

Strength by Terry Jago

In the early days of my grief,
A tear would well up in my eyes, 
A lump would form in my throat, 
But you would not know-
I would hide it.
For the strong do not cry--
And I am strong.
In the middle days of my grief, 
I would look ahead and see that wall
That I had attempted to go around
As an ever-present reminder of a wall yet not scaled.
Yet I did not attempt to scale it.
For the strong will survive--
And I am strong.
In the later days of my grief,
I learned to climb over that wall step
by step, remembering, crying,
And the tears flowed steadily as I
Painstakingly went.
The way was long, but I did make it--
For I am strong.
Near the resolution of my grief,
A tear will well up in my eyes,
A lump will form in my throat, 
But I will let that tear fall
And you will see it.
Through it you will see that i still hurt
And I care--
For I am strong. 

Broken Dreams/Different Me
(Remembering Kaitlyn Mae, August 17, 1990 written by Mary Updike)

I dreamed and waited for you for so long
    before you finally were a part of me.
The dreams I had for you were so much bigger
    than you would ever get to be.
You left before I even got a chance to tell you what they were.
I dreamed of seeing you grow and play and learn.
I dreamed music and dance lessons,
    of watching you play on school teams
I dreamed of mother-daughter outings and shared secrets.
I dreamed of confirmation, graduations, a wonderful career
    and someone special for you.
I dreamed of a wedding...and grandchildren.
And I dreamed that you would have made a difference in this world, 
    not only for me but for others.
And I would have been proud to have been your mom;
    but you never had the chance;
    and neither did I
Instead, you made a difference in my life that many
    people can't see or don't understnad.
It's taken a lot of time to feel happy again.
And sometimes, I'm still not
People who didn't know me still do not know me
    as I used to be; before you.
And now I know I'll never be like that again.
Not a day goes by that I don't think of you, miss you,
    and dream of what might have been for you.
    ...and I miss the me I used to be. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I saw this on Facebook this morning and decided to share it.  I never thought of it in this way before, but it is so true.  It would sometimes irk me when people would express sympathy and offer condolences and their arms and/or belly was full of baby.  And I would vent to D and say, how easy it is for them to tell us this is all part of God's plan when everything seemed to be going good for them.  And yet, I did want to accept their heart and their well-meaning wishes despite the frustrations you could sometimes feel.

A comment on Facebook said something to this effect: God doesn't need anything, but He welcomes His children home.  That is a beautiful thought.

Okay, I'm done now and should get back to the myriads of work I need to be getting done today.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions

This book was given to me by Bethany House for the purpose of reading and writing a review about it.

You may wonder why I chose a book about answering my kids' questions.  In reality, Nicole doesn't need any questions answered, she could answer many for me if I were given the opportunity to ask her.  Someday, I will have that opportunity and I will have questions.  But, maybe someday, we will have children that do have questions and besides I am always interested in hearing an author's take on the big questions of life.

Elyse Fitzpatric and Jessica Thompson are a mother/daughter team that wrote this book and I would have to say they did a good job.  They talked about each question first and then broke it down into age groups and gave age-appropriate answers to the questions.

The questions were as follows:
1. What is sin?
2. Why do people die?
3. What is Satan? What is hell?
4. Why do people get divorced?
5. Why does the Bible say that? (difficult Bible stories)
6. Why and how do some people sin sexually?
7. Why does God let natural disasters happen?
8. Why do people fight and kill?

It was very interesting to read their perspectives on these questions.  The divorce chapter was of interest because it is rare to get someone who believes as I do, but I would have to agree with some of their view points.  They allowed divorce on 2 stipulations: adultery/fornication and and unbeliever wanted to split with a Christian.  They also allowed that some Christians make no allowance for divorce.  They would also have been okay with remarriage, I think.  They went under the clause of "most Christians" and I assume they included themselves in this mix.  While I don't agree with the remarriage option, I was impressed that they were as strong as they were on the subject.

One other thing I liked about this book was on question 6.  They gave some concise, but not overly explicit guidelines for talking to your children about sexual abuse and the areas of  your body that are not okay to be touched in any way.  This is something I have thought a lot about--how do I teach my children to be aware of these things without creating an unnecessary awareness that they are too young to handle.  I don't know if that makes any sense.

I can spend a lot of time analyzing and questioning and discussing with D about child training and teaching our children about God and about His truths.  One thing the book stressed is you are not your child's salvation.  You are responsible to show them Jesus, but their salvation is through the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and not your words.  So, if you stutter or are eloquent, it's about grace and being an example, but also stepping back and letting God work in your child's life.  I thought that was a very good point.