Love Stays True by Martha Rogers — A Review

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Love Stays True by Martha Rogers

So many of today’s books are filled with action, suspense, nail-biting terror, page turning frenzy, a gazillion sub-plots and details, twists and turns to keep us guessing that we barely have time to breathe, eat, and sleep because we don’t want to put the book down for even a moment. Then suddenly the story is over, leaving us gasping for breath and reluctant for it to all end. We may think, “Oh my, what a ride!” I’ve read many books like that. Sometimes I want t go back and re-read the tale because I was sure I must had missed something. Don’t get me wrong…I enjoy reading them from time to time. They are great for an adrenaline rush or a change of pace.

Love Stays True

I also enjoy reading a variety of story lines in a variety of settings, times, and paces. For example, some stories specialize in providing a historical background with details that place us right into a genuine timeline. Some tales take time to explore a person’s character by allowing them to work through a series of obstacles. Perhaps the character development is entirely internalized. There are some famous pieces of literature where there is no action at all. The development is entirely driven by the character’s internal musings. “Love Stays True” by Martha Rogers has wonderful historical realism for its setting, and the two types of character development I just mentioned.

This story is a leisurely stroll down a country lane lined with fragrant shrubs and trees on a warm sunny day. It is a pleasant cooling breeze on a lazy afternoon in the garden. It is derived from actual events that occurred to two people of the author’s ancestry. Sallie Dyer and Manfred Whiteman were real flesh and blood persons. The author found her inspiration in letters exchanged by the two young people while they experienced the events told in the story during the War Between the States.

Manfred and his brother Edwin were taken prisoner in battle in Tennessee and transported to a prison in Maryland for several months in the cold of winter. They slept on the chilly floors and ate the meager rations given them surrounded by many of their compatriots. In an effort not to dwell on their unsavory situation, Manfred and Edwin encouraged each other and kept their faith in God strong. The day the war ended, those left in the prisons were released. The story of the brothers’ journey home began. With no means of transportation they set out to walk the distance from Maryland to Louisiana by foot. Their adventures in the subsequent weeks were both heart-warming and sobering as we catch glimpses of post war destruction throughout the South.

Sallie Dyer and her sister Hannah were frightened when Union soldiers attacked their small town in Louisiana. While their father and brothers stayed to help defend their home and village, the rest of the family was forced to flee to their grandparents’ home in a village a short distance away. By this time Sallie had not heard from Manfred for nearly a year. She wondered if he would ever return to her. After the army left, her father and brothers began repairs on their home. Her mother tried to keep the girls from dwelling on the frightening conflict by involving them in a variety of projects. Nevertheless, Sallie experienced troubling dreams and even nightmares that reflected how difficult it was for her to reconcile her faith in God with the horrors of war. How would Manfred feel when he discovered the troubling truth about her that she must tell him when he does return?

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Martha Rogers has successfully created an opportunity for her readers to get a glimpse into the heart of the everyday man and woman of the South as they picked up the pieces of their lives and livelihood in the aftermath of war and devastation. While we draw closer to Manfred and Sallie, we witness their transformation from young idealists to mature adults ready to face the world together. If you enjoy historical fiction and character driven stories, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this series. I’m looking forward to book two when it comes out.

A complimentary review copy was provided to me by The Booketeria website which serves Charisma House Publishers (Realm Publishing). I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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New Blog Series — 12 Week Kids Bible Study and Giveaway!

TITLE: New Blog Series – 12 Week Kids Bible Study {Giveaway!}
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Join us over the next 12 weeks (starting August 29th) as we share Bible study topics, discussion questions,
suggested reading, and activities that you can do with your kiddos!
The writers at CSAHM are so excited to share with you the wonderful “Deep Blue Kids Bible” and Bible Studies that will encourage you to include regular Bible Study
time with your children that isn’t overwhelming and is a A LOT of FUN!

Today we are celebrating by hosting a giveaway launch!

Be sure to enter the giveaway below and share the news with your friends in order to gain extra entries for
the prize – which is a $200 USD Amazon Gift Card!

Before you enter the giveaway…

Be sure to subscribe below to our update list where you will receive weekly updates about our 12 Week
Kids Bible Study and you will also receive a FREE PDF version of each week’s Bible Study!

Giveaway {$200 Amazon Gift Card!}

Be sure to enter below for your chance to win a $200 amazon gift card sponsored by the “Deep Blue Kids Bible!”
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Live Without Stress: 30 Days to Finding Christ’s Peace for Your Soul by Shelley Hitz –A Review

With God All Things Are Possible

Live Without Stress: 30 Days to Finding Christ’s Peace for Your Soul by Shelley Hitz

Most of us who experience stress in our lives already know that it is dangerous to our minds, our spirits and our bodies. But most of the time, we are too busy to set aside time to de-stress, unwind, and disentangle ourselves from our extremely busy schedules…that is, until something happens to drive us over the edge and we crash and burn. Wouldn’t it be better to head off a crisis? But how do we plan ahead? This book shows us a way that only takes a few moments at a time each day. Many talk about choices like eating well, sleeping enough, and getting some exercise. That’s good for the body and helps keep our minds alert. But what do we do for our spirit? Well, first of all, it is important that we understand that taking care of our spirit is as important as taking care of our minds and our bodies.

The Bible teaches us: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) How do we guard our hearts? One way is to gain control of our thoughts. I know, our western culture today gives us the impression that our thoughts are our thoughts…we can’t really control them. And whose business is it anyway what we think? Years ago I read this Bible verse that changed that worldly mindset for me and gave me a new direction: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). I realized that God doesn’t ask us to do something that can’t be done. Jesus gave us authority to defeat invading and divisive thoughts, the attacks of the enemy. “I have given you authority to…overcome all the
power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19).

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Stress and anxiety are destructive bedfellows. The Scripture gives us tools to help us fight anxiety and stress. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Those tools are prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. The result is peace of mind, the opposite of stress and anxiety. Who wouldn’t like to experience peace of mind?

You worry too much

So how do we capture our thoughts? Two things come to mind. First, prevention. By rejecting stressful events, thoughts, and exposure to sin, we can prevent some thoughts that add to our stress. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9). Second, whenever negative, destructive and stressful thoughts get through to you, reject them. Don’t dwell on them, but cast them out of your mind and replace them with positive, truthful, life building thoughts. Be deliberate and purposeful about your thought life. It takes practice and work. But it can be done.

That’s exactly what Shelley Hitz’s book, “Live Without Stress” does. It implements all the tools I mention above and helps the reader focus our thoughts in the direction that prevents or battles stress and anxiety. I call this book a guided exercise or devotional. There are 30 days of devotions, each with Bible verses and positive statements on how to view ourselves through God’s eyes. There are suggested positive statements that replace negative statements we commonly say to ourselves without even realizing it. They give us direction and aid us in moving away from the flotsam and jetsam of random defeating attacks and forward to thoughts that help us achieve our daily goals. [For example: “I trust God with the things I cannot control”…”I accept that trials are an inevitable part of my life and I let go of the idea that life in this world will ever be perfect.”] Each day we are directed toward prayer and thankfulness, the tools God gives to us to fight off stress and anxiety.

Each day’s segment is short and only takes a few moments to complete; at the conclusion of each devotion are a few questions. They help direct our thoughts toward putting into practice the principles focused on for the day and keep our minds centered on Christ. To make stressful thinking history for us, we need the 30 days to practice, to establish this way of thinking as a habit that will accompany us all the rest of our days. If you’re anything like me, you may have to follow this guided activity from beginning to end periodically. But this interactive course is general enough that repeating it a few times is not only possible but life changing.

His ways are not our ways

His ways are not our ways

I wish I could have had access to this book years ago, especially in the early years of my struggle with bipolar disorder. I’ve just recently gone through the course and love everything about it. When I was young, people used to call this type of attitude “Pollyanna” thinking–or “pie in the sky by and by.” People would ridicule thinking this way as avoiding reality or just plain being naive. This course doesn’t just lead us into positive thinking but into Godly thinking. And God’s ways work. I highly recommend this book as an effective way to deal with stress.

A complimentary review copy was provided to me by the author and Body and Soul Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Compassionate Jesus: Rethinking the Christian Approach to Modern Medicine by Christopher W. Bogosh — A Review

Wrap_arms_around_hurtingCompassionate Jesus: Rethinking the Christian Approach to Modern Medicine by Christopher W. Bogosh

“My medical education and work in the health care field exposed me to a worldview distinct from modern medical science that is radically anti-biblical. I call this worldview ‘modern medicine’, and it is different from medical science. Modern medicine possesses guiding philosophical principles, whereas medical science is merely an empirical method. All the sciences require a philosophical foundation to build on, and medical science is no different. As I pursued my theological education and continued to interact with the health care field, I started to see how these underpinnings challenged the major pillars of the Christian faith.”

In this book author Christopher Bogosh uses his medical experience and his theological training to fine tune his viewpoint of modern medical science. He points out to us the difference between the Christian worldview of life and death and today’s secular worldview of life and death. He explains how today’s modern culture has infiltrated its belief system into the Christian worldview, specifically in the medical field. Christians are often caught up into this philosophy unwittingly, and he calls us to take a closer look at how we view life and death. Two such viewpoints stood out to me: the monistic view of humanity…what you see is what you get. Medical instruments can measure what the physical body does. It can’t however measure the mind, which is part of what Christians call the soul. Most Christians are dualistic, we believe in a body and a soul. No one has access to my soul except for me and God. So how is it that modern medicine claims a person is brain dead when they can’t really tell if the soul has departed or not? All their instruments can tell you is lack of electrical activity in the brain. Their philosophy, or interpretation, tells them it indicates a person’s death. But is that really true?

Compassionate Jesus

The second viewpoint that struck a nerve with me personally is the assumption that some Christians believe it is God’s will to prolong life at all costs. When Jesus came to earth, He accepted the fact that he would only live to be thirty-three, which even in the time of Roman history was still a short life span. But Jesus came to do His Father’s will, and when it had been accomplished, He said as He hung on the cross, “It is finished.” So when Christians start grasping at anything to prolong our lives to the point of ruin or harm to the rest of our family and/or relationships, are we really following God’s will for us? Could we possibly be treating our lifespan as more important than doing what God wants us to do? If so, isn’t that a form of idolatry? Or to put it in other words, when is enough enough? This is especially true to consider when we are dealing with end of life treatments and care.

Back in the mid 1970’s my brother was 17 when it was discovered that he had leukemia. At the time, staging was a new concept. But when he arrived at the University of Michigan hospital, it was evident right away that he was in stage 4 already. His red blood cells were virtually non-existant. Before official chemotherapy was a household word, my brother came home a few times with a shoebox full of medications to take. He was sick all the time. His last week was spent in the cold inhospitable rooms of the hospital–alone. It wasn’t my parents’ fault he was alone. There wasn’t good communication or experience to know that my brother’s life was at an end. And so only 4 months after his diagnosis, he died alone in a room with no family around him. No one had believed it could happen that fast. If I had to do it over again, I would have wanted him to be home with his family around him. None of us at the time had ever heard of hospice care. And even at stage 4, we thought medical science could cure him or prolong his life.

Fast forward 30 years later, and my father had emergency valve replacement surgery. When his recovery did not move along at the rate the doctors expected, more tests were run. They discovered he had abdominal cancer, and as you may have guessed, he was also in stage 4. A lot of medical decisions later, and in spite of family discouragement, he was taking treatment with chemotherapy. It changed his quality of life drastically. Food didn’t taste good. He was more tired. He lost his hair. He slept all the time. He hurt everywhere and was cranky. Finally his body just couldn’t handle the chemical stress and he moved into Hospice care. From diagnosis to death, we were given only 6 months. Fortunately, Hospice helped to educate us on what to expect and we took full advantage of that knowledge. Had we any say about his chemotherapy, however, I would have recommended him not to take it since his body was already unhealthy and weak. My siblings and I would have opted for better quality of life with his family around him the last few months, rather than to prolong his life only a few more days or weeks.

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Four months after Dad died my mom had a stroke. After rehab, she still couldn’t walk and ended up in a wheelchair and in an Assisted Living Facility. Fast forward to two years ago when Mom began losing ground. Normally able to move around on foot in a limited capacity, Mom could no longer do even that. When she appeared to have another stroke the hospital ran tests and discovered left ventricular aortic stenosis. She ended up in CCU intubated and heavily sedated, completely dependent on the ventilator to breathe for her. She was stressed; we were stressed. But she was still alert enough to make decisions for herself, and when the doctors offered a surgical alternative procedure that fit her physical state, she grabbed the opportunity. It didn’t work, and we had many decisions to make as siblings. Her insurance was good, and she also had some government insurance, being 81, but they were pressuring us and giving us little hope where she could live in her condition. As long as she was alert, she would not allow DNR orders. Just a week or two before the insurance would have forced us to move her to a facility out of state where they could have handled both her breathing tube and stomach tube, where it would have been a hardship for us to be by her side in her last days, she slipped into a coma, dependent on life support. My siblings and I struggled how to handle that. How long could she have survived in that condition? How much was enough? We opted for DNR and notified her family members to come and visit her. After a week, the life support was turned off, and a few minutes later Mom was in the arms of Jesus.

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These accumulated experiences had my husband, my family and I discussing limits, living wills, hospice care, how to decide when enough is enough, and our wills and wishes if we should be hit with similar debilitating health issues. It would certainly have been the time to have this book to read. Before my mother’s situation, I had never even heard of palliative care, palliation, palliative teams, the difference between that and hospice care, what facilities can/cannot and will/will not do for certain stages of health and so on. And I was the informed member of the family since I’m the oldest (and unhealthiest) of my siblings. With the complexity of health care and insurance the way it is today, we all need to be forewarned and forearmed with information. But most of all, we need to keep all these issues within the purview of our Christian belief system.

The author, through this helpful book, guides our approach to medical science in the light of biblical teaching. In chapter 1, he expresses a Christian worldview for modern science, giving the name to this approach “Compassionate Health Care.” In chapter 2 Chris Bogosh considers some of the blessings and challenges medical advances make for Christians who desire to live out God’s purpose in their lives. He aids the readers in chapter three in the use of modern medicine in the biblical sense. In chapter 4, his focus is how to pray in the midst of illness, disease and death. In chapter 5 he discusses the pros and cons of the Hospice care movement which he believes comes fairly close to his own compassionate health care approach to medical science today. Finally, the last section of the book is a suggested reading list for those of us who wish to flesh out these thoughts a bit more.

Cross Focused Reviews

Cross Focused Reviews

While some may say that experience is the best teacher, I’d like to suggest that informed and prepared experiences are much more effective. This book is short enough to be read in a few sittings, yet pithy enough to provide us so much content to ponder and pray over. If you have aging parents and/or grandparents, you should read this book. If you are approaching a riskier stage of life with debilitating health complications, you should read this book. To know how to face death and serious health problems or help someone else face them, please, read this book. Then you may desire to take it a step further and create a living will for yourself and specific instructions for your loved ones. This book suggests you open dialogue with your family about your wishes in worst case scenarios. I pray that this book will guide you in your prayers for yourself, your friends and your family’s futures and above all else, aid you in staying in the center of God’s will.

A complimentary review copy was provided to me by Reformation Heritage Books and Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC). I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Dear Dad: Did You Know I Was A Princess? by Sundi Jo Graham — A Review

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“How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:2 NIV)

Broken people suffer from abandonment issues, childhood trauma, sexual abuse, bullying, rape, trust issues, inability to connect and make friends, shyness, outwardly acting out in violence/violent emotions/violent behavior, disrespect for authority figures, alcohol addiction, drug addiction, fear, control issues, nightmares, and more. Broken people run when things get hard. Broken people lie to others and to themselves. How can broken people be healed from their wounds? This book is one person’s journey from brokenness to healing as she journaled her thoughts and experiences, in letters to her dad, through the process.

The journal entries are in chronological order although sometimes Sundi Jo would write about something in her past as a flashback. These entries invite us to join her as she struggles to confront her insecurities and ferret out the lies and half-truths she has buried deep within. We walk along side her as her focus shifts from her pain, her trauma, her unhappiness and anger to a transformed life relying on God and what He wants for her and for others.

Scared child

Scared child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even when there is a significant breakthrough, Sundi Jo perseveres; there is still so much hurt to slog through. At one point, it took her four months to create a Fear List. I can imagine that each admission was a hard fought, and won, victory. Fear is a lack of trust, and for Christians a slap in the face for God. Yet fear is one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome.

In one of her entries, Sundi Jo related a story she heard about a little puppy. The owner was trying to coax the puppy out of the cage, leaving the door open. The owner waited patiently for the puppy to leave. One of her friends queried, “How long will you sit in the cage with the door wide open?” In a pivotal moment, the author realized her fears kept her inside a cage with the door open. She could have left any time, but her fears were keeping her inside. I definitely understood that analogy…could even see myself sitting inside unwilling to come out. So many of us can relate to that!

This book is not for our entertainment, although it often reads like fiction, but an invitation to partner with the author in a restoration for emotional and spiritual health. If you are hurting, perhaps Ms. Graham’s journal of recovery may encourage you in your own soul searching experience. We can come away from reading this story knowing that the process is painful, exhausting and humbling, but well worth it.

A complimentary review copy was provided to me by the author, Sundi Jo Graham, the Social Media Strategist for New Leaf Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Book Launch: Keeper of Reign by Emma Right

I am pleased to feature a book launch and giveaway on my blog for my first ever blog tour participation. Enjoy!

TITLE of POST: Book Launch: Keeper of Reign by Emma Right {Giveaway – $100 Amazon Gift Card!}

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About the Book:

Books written in blood. Most are lost, their Keepers with them. A curse that befell a people. A Kingdom with no King. Life couldn’t get more harrowing for the Elfies, a blend of Elves and Fairies. Or for sixteen-year-old Jules Blaze. Or could it?

For Jules, the heir of a Keeper, no less, suspects his family hides a forgotten secret. It was bad enough that his people, the Elfies of Reign, triggered a curse which reduced the entire inhabitants to a mere inch centuries ago. All because of one Keeper who failed his purpose. Even the King’s Ancient Books, did not help ward off that anathema.

Now, Gehzurolle, the evil lord, and his armies of Scorpents, seem bent on destroying Jules and his family. Why? Gehzurolle’s agents hunt for Jules as he journeys into enemy land to find the truth. Truth that could save him and his family, and possibly even reverse the age-long curse. Provided Jules doesn’t get himself killed first.

Download today on Kindle for only $0.99!
(offer ends August 16, 2013!)

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Be sure to subscribe below to receive a FREE PDF download titled “Devotional Questions for Keeper of Reign.” This PDF is a great guide and help on how you can use Keeper of Reign as a tool to help teach your children about Biblical principles that are found in the book Keeper of Reign.

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The Button Legacy by Ginger Marcinkowski – A Review

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The Button Legacy by Ginger Marcinkowski

“When the weather was bad and we couldn’t work, Mother would make a batch of chocolate walnut cookies and we’d all gather ’round that old box. Every time Mother pulled a button out, she’d have a story to go along with it. Dad said the button box contained a secret, but I never found it.” [told by young John early in his marriage to Ellen]

This story focuses on an item that in and of itself was not very remarkable. At first glance, it was only a brass colored metal box with a squeaky hinge. Inside were just buttons. Today, we don’t think about saving buttons, because plastic has made this item disposable and ordinary. But in the early 20th century, and hundreds of years earlier when buttons were works of craftsmanship, they were necessary, expensive and saved for future use. As far as legacies go, buttons don’t rate very high on the scale, but in John Polk’s family, the buttons had memories associated with them. Memories, even sad or tragic ones, are potent stories. In John’s family storytellers wove vibrant tales worth retelling because of the life lessons they carried. They moved the legacy forward from one generation to the next.

John’s great grandmother handed down this button box to his grandmother, who handed it down to his mother, who handed it down him (he had no sisters). While he didn’t appreciate the significance of this inheritance at the time, his new wife did. She began adding buttons (and memorable stories) to the box long before he learned to love the tradition himself. Some of the stories were told to his two daughters. But the true legacy wasn’t just the reminiscences of the “good old days.” It was in the intangible element found in those stories.

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When John’s girls had children of their own, he continued to collect buttons and tell stories from the special box when his grandchildren visited. He hoped the lessons learned would stay with them the rest of their lives. But more importantly, he prayed for his girls, and he prayed for his grandchildren and their children. When he passed away, the box was given to his daughter Carol. In time her sister Moreen visited, and when she reached into the box and pulled out a button late one night, she finally understood the desire in her father’s heart that he tried so hard to impress on her through those family stories. Even after his death his legacy, tucked in among the buttons and tales became important to her. Before she died, she asked her sister to give the box to her rebellious daughter, Emily. Would the legacy continue?

Reading this book was like experiencing warm honey on a freshly baked biscuit hot out of the oven. I loved this short story! It is a work of fiction but had special meaning for me since I had a grandmother with a button collection I used to play with as a little girl. My grandparents had a pantry/closet in the big kitchen where they kept theirs. It wasn’t in a box, it was a large jar of buttons. On rainy days when I was little, my grandmother allowed me to take down the container and play with the buttons.

Cross Focused Reviews

Cross Focused Reviews

Unlike today’s buttons–the usual plastic round buttons–these buttons came in all shapes and sizes and materials. I remember some very heavy coat buttons, metal buttons, pearl-like buttons, ones that looked like jewels, oval ones and square ones, wood buttons, some were covered in fabric, some belonged to furniture, and every other type you could possibly imagine. They didn’t always come with a story, but often taking out the buttons triggered some memories of family members I would never have heard about if it weren’t for these reminders. I think I came about my love of history through those interesting family stories.

What good stories like these encourage are bridges among the different generations within a family. All families need connectedness to help us gain a sense of belonging, our roots, where we come from. Sometimes we don’t see the necessity of that connectedness until we are older. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I have. Perhaps it will stir up some memories of your own to share with your family.

A complimentary review copy was provided to me by the author and Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC). I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.