Tuesday, October 31, 2017

When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?

Indignities, Compromises, and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife

Jennifer Grant
Herald Press, 2017
               In her book When Did Everybody Else Get So Old Jennifer Grant writes of life in her 40s, so-called midlife.  She attempts to discover what midlife really is, or even if there is such a thing as midlife.  And if it does exist, exactly when does it occur?  What does this time of life really mean?  She uses her own life to try to expand these ideas.
               Based on the title of the book, I expected it to be full of humor, causing many belly laughs.  Ms. Grant did not deliver on the laughs.  Instead, I was often left confused, trying to follow her train of thought from one idea to the next, and then back again.
                Needless to say, I was disappointed in the book.  Ms. Grant’s style of writing is not one that allowed me to logically follow her ideas.  There were also many, many quotations supporting and explaining Ms. Grant’s thoughts, a reminder of the old college research days.  And Ms. Grant’s idea of religion and theology were much removed from my own understanding of Scripture.
                I do not like giving negative reviews; however, I honestly cannot recommend this book.

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of Herald Press.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

In the Middle of the Mess

Strength for this Beautiful, Broken Life

by Sheila Walsh
Nelson Books, an Imprint of Thomas Nelson
Publishing Date:  November 2017

In her new book, In the Middle of the Mess, popular author and Bible teacher Sheila Walsh reveals her life-long deep shame over her battles with depression and suicidal thoughts, and how learning to bring the mess to God and to confess to Christian sisters helped her deal with her depression.  She does not teach how to overcome the depression, but how to live with it through God's grace.
Sheila teaches that every Christian has things they hide.  Things we don't want brought out of the dark.  Things we deny we deal with, much less want to acknowledge them before God, let alone our Christian sisters.  However, she explains that the Bible over and over again teaches that we are to help each other bear our burdens.  And how else can that be accomplished than by revealing our burdens to someone else, so they can share our load?  She teaches that we are not confessing or sharing to be absolved of our burden, but merely to have the load shared.  She warns, however, that we wisely choose who we share our burden with.  We certainly don't want to share with someone who will take it upon themselves to share with others! 
There is a truth about salvation, God's plan of redemption, that most people don't think about.  Salvation is in the past -- when you accept Christ to save you from your sins and hell.  That's a one time lasts forever deal.  But salvation is also a gift that is in the present.  Sheila quotes Nicky Gumbel, vicar of Holy Trinity Church in London, as saying "'Salvation'. . . is a huge and comprehensive word.  It means 'freedom' . . . There are three tenses of salvation: we have been set free from the penalty of sin, we are being set free from the power of sin, and we will be set free from the presence of sin" (my underlining). 
Sheila explains throughout her book, using her own story, how Christians forget this principle of salvation.  We forget that God wants us to share our burdens with Him and with fellow believers.  We wander through life with so much guilt and shame, mistakenly believing that Christians should not be burdened this way, making us feel alone.  There must be something wrong with us!  All the time forgetting, or maybe not even knowing, that God has created a way for us to find relief.
I have to say that this book was incredible.  There were several times when tears came unbidden, and even a gasp or two.  I have heavily underlined the book.  Even if you don't battle with depression and/or suicidal thoughts, this books is excellent.  Although depression and suicidal thoughts are heavy throughout the book, that is not the theme.  The main theme is summed up in the last paragraph in the book -- "God's love is hope and life.  It's confession and prayer and silence and gratitude.  It's telling the truth and exposing the secrets.  It's being known and coming into community.  It's life!  It's saying out loud, 'I am not alone.  I am loved, and I am strong.'"  I would highly encourage Christian women to grab this book, study it, and apply it's truths!
In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of Handlebar Publishing.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Awakening of HK Derryberry

The Awakening of HK Derryberry:

My Unlikely Friendship with the Boy Who Remembers Everything

By Jim Bradford with Andy Hardin

Published in 2016 by W Publishing Group, An Imprint of Thomas Nelson

In his book The Awakening of HK Derryberry, Jim Bradford tells the true story of a boy who met a man, forming a strong, unexpected bond of friendship. The story begins with a thirst for coffee after an intense Saturday morning tennis match. Instead of going to his usual Starbucks for coffee, Jim Bradford ended up at Mrs. Winner’s Chicken and Biscuits, where he learned he qualified for the senior citizen’s discount! On preparing to leave, Mr. Bradford took a closer look at the young boy he had seen sitting in a booth, leaning forward and listening to his patched up radio. On questioning the young woman behind the counter, Mr. Bradford found out the young boy was blind and had cerebral palsy, and that he came to the restaurant every weekend and stayed during his grandmother, Pearl’s, nine hour shift. The boy’s name was HK, he was nine, and he was wearing a breakfast stained shirt, shorts (in October!), white tube socks, and white plastic leg braces. Continuing the abnormalities of the day, Jim approached HK and struck up a conversation, which began with HK asking questions such as what’s your name, where do you live, what time did you get up, what did you do, etc., and Mr. Bradford patiently answering those questions. When he left, Jim felt the boy had pickpocketed his heart. He knew he would be back for another visit.

Over the course of time, Jim made many Saturday visits to Mrs. Winner's Chicken and Biscuits, and each time he would visit with HK. Eventually, Pearl suggested that HK could leave Mrs. Winner's and visit with Jim for the day. They had grand adventures trying out steak burgers at Steak and Shake, learning about chocolate milkshakes, visiting the hardware store, and many more places. The bond they formed was strong. One day Jim took HK to meet his wife, Brenda. Once again the pickpocket struck, and Brenda's heart was stolen.

Jim and Brenda hatched a plan to begin taking HK to church with them. It would require HK to spend Saturday night at their home. It would also require a lot of preparation and adjusting, because of HK's multiple physical needs. But it was worth it. Soon HK was a regular at their church, and he began stealing other hearts, as well. He also began advancing beyond questioning people and actually holding conversations with them. During this time, they learned that HK had an amazing talent. One of the first questions he always asked a new acquaintance (after asking for their name) was when is your birthday. Once he learned the date, he surprised them by telling them on what day of the week they were born, something interesting that happened in history on their birthday, or what day of the week their next birthday would fall on. Eventually it was found that HK has an autobiographical memory, called Hyperthymesia, which allows him to remember everything that has ever happened to him.

HK, Jim and Brenda continued to share weekends, but soon HK and Jim began adding Thursday nights to their routine. One such Thursday night HK met a reporter who was working on another story. The story of HK and Jim so impressed her that she asked if she could tell their story. The article was eventually published, and H K became "famous."
Because of their unusual story, HK and Jim have spoken many times before large and small groups. They have set aside money for HK's care once his grandmother Pearl and Jim are no longer around. HK uses his story to encourage others. Never does he use it to complain about his lot in life.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story of HK and Jim Bradford. The book is not long, only 216 pages. I found that it was a fast read, probably because I didn't want to put it down!  I recommend you read the book, it will be an encouragement to you. 

This book was provided to me by Handlebar Publishing in expectation of an honest review. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Friday, January 20, 2017

You Carried Me – A Daughter’s Memoir
Melissa Ohden
January 2017
Plough Publishing House

Can you imagine finding out that you were aborted?  What kind of feelings would that create in you?  What about your self-worth?  You might feel you weren’t wanted even before you were born, even before anyone knew you…
Abortion is a hot topic, and has been for many years. You are for abortion or against abortion. You might be against abortion but feel it is okay under certain conditions.  You might be for abortion because you feel it is a woman’s right to choose. You may feel that the fetus is not a human life, just a blob of tissue, and that life begins once birth has occurred.

Whatever the case may be, most people don’t think about abortion from the child’s standpoint.  That aborted child never had a say on whether or not it would choose life.  It would never grow up to have children of its own.  So not only is that life lost, but the lives of future generations.
You Carried Me is the almost unbelievable story of a Melissa Ohden, woman who actually survived a saline infusion abortion.  Not only did she survive, she thrived. The book talks of how Melissa learned she had been aborted, her struggles not only with her identity but also with her sense of worth, the struggles to learn why this happened, and eventually acceptance, forgiveness and grace.

Melissa gave forgiveness long before she knew her birth parents.  Her father’s aunt and father’s father gave her acceptance and became good friends, loving her and accepting her into the family.  Eventually, her mother’s side of the family – including cousins, half sister and her mother – became a part of her life as well.
Melissa has used her life story as a platform to speak against abortion.  She is a very much sought after speaker, speaking even before Congress. She is not only an advocate for women, but also for unborn children.

If you would like to learn more, you can visit Melissa’s website at melissaohden.com or youcarriedmebook.com. She also has a public speaking/figure Facebook page.
You Carried Me is an eye opening book.  I recommend it, but warn you might need a tissue or two to get you through.

In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of Handlebar Publishing.