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From Nancy–My apologies. Something went amiss when we posted the following review. It was fine when we previewed it. It was only this morning that we noticed that the left edge of the post was being cut off. Ugh! (I like a mystery and maybe you do too, but not when I’m reading a book review.) I hope the post is fixed now, but if not please bear with me. I will climb this hill and reach the top.

From Nancy– Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 14, and I thought it appropriate to re-run Patsy’s review of this book that celebrates motherhood.

21 Days of Joy, compiled by Kathy Ide and published by Broadstreet Publishing Group, LLC (2016), is the fourth book in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. This one is all about mothers. The most wonderful aspect of this book is that you don’t have to be a birth mother to find great joy in its pages. It is a wonderful read for those wishing they were mothers, those who have fostered or adopted children, or those who have lost children. It gives women hope that they can be used as a mother in a child’s life.

I loved reading the book and seeing how each one of the twenty-one stories was so varied and touching. The main thread that winds through this incredible little book is that God loves and honors mothers of all kinds. He loves our children and hears our prayers for them.

There were two stories in particular that stood out, and I would like to share about them. “Here With Us” by Nancy Ellen Hird is about an adoptive mother. I love the idea of adoption because my daughter has a desire to adopt someday. Kristie, an adoptive mother, has rushed home from a business trip after learning that she and her husband have been given a baby. She is overjoyed, but more than a little nervous as she reaches for the newborn in her husband’s arms.

She and Matt love their new little bundle of joy, a sweet baby girl. In a private moment with her sister Lisa, Kristie expresses fear that the birth mother might change her mind and want her baby back. Lisa reassures her, but also offers that all children go away someday, and that we are just borrowing them from the Lord. Kristie relaxes and rejoices at the amazing gift she and her husband have received. As our children grow, we need to learn to let go, and place them into God’s loving care.

Another story I particularly enjoyed is “Haiti’s Song,” by Deborah Raney. It is about a young woman, Valerie Austin, whose fiancé, Will, has just called off their wedding after most of the arrangements have been made. He comes to realize he never wants children, and yet Valerie does.

From a young age, Valerie had dreamed of having children. She had sewn many children’s clothes as a young teen, placing them in her hope chest for the future. Heartbroken when her wedding is called off, Valerie donates the clothes to charity.

In Haiti and working at an orphanage, she begins to love the children around her, and finds herself at peace with God’s calling. All of a sudden, she starts to recognize the clothes she had made years ago, worn by the children she works with. She knows that God is giving her a message. She believes He is pleased with her sacrifice and will use her in a mighty way, even if she never has children of her own. I found this story to be particularly heartwarming.

This little book is filled with all kinds of stories about mothers. It is sure to inspire you to do your best wherever God has called you.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

Lent begins next week on March 1st and so we begin to think about Easter and new life. I looked up “lent” (words interest me) and it came from a word that meant the time of year when the days lengthened. It  also was their word for spring, since that is the time in the Northern Hemisphere when days lengthen. Patsy has discovered a wonderful book that will enrich your days no matter what the sun and the earth are doing. – Nancy

Deeper: Living in the Reality of God’s Love, by Debbie Alsdorf and published by Revell (2008), will certainly jump start your walk with the Lord. An uplifting read, it will challenge you to get closer to God and go deeper into His Word, to discover the treasure of wisdom He has for you. After hearing Debbie speak at a women’s retreat, I have felt a revival in my own relationship with Jesus. She speaks on timeless truths. In the beginning of the book, Debbie shares the words her mother kept repeating at the time of her death, “Live like it is real, because it is!”

Debbie describes her youth, her struggle to feel worthy and “good enough” for parents who were difficult to please. She felt their acceptance was based more on her performance than on unconditional love. At a young age she became a singer, hoping and anxious to gain the approval of others. When she became a Christian in her youth and when she later married a pastor, she felt her worth depended on being “Pretty, Perfect and Polished.” She tried to live up to how church members and family felt the perfect pastor’s wife should be.

One day her husband came home and stated that he didn’t love her, he never had, and he wanted a divorce. Debbie’s perfect world crumbled. She was heart-broken. Her mother moved in with her to help her raise her two young sons. Shortly after, her mother had a stroke. Debbie became the caregiver of everyone, trying desperately to survive her emotional traumas.

Over time and through counseling, Debbie realized that God never expects us to be perfect. Rather He loves us unconditionally. We are secure in our position as His cherished, adopted children. A wonderful quote from the back of the book says, “It is time to get honest with God and live like his love for you is real–because it is!

Deeper shows you how to live four core truths from Psalm 139– God knows me; He protects me; He made me, and He values me.  Debbie expounds on each one of these truths, helping others to view themselves as God does. She gives many examples of times in her life when God’s Word changed her thinking. She shares how He worked all things out for the very best in her family and helped her to start a ministry for other women.

Debbie founded Design4Living Ministries. She leads conferences and retreats that encourage women in their faith. I found her to be an excellent speaker and author. This amazing book is particularly helpful for women age eighteen and above.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

 

Nancy — Patsy, as you will read, really appreciates this non-fiction book.  And while it is not written for children, (though its principles can certainly be used to help children), I thought it appropriate for a new year and perhaps our common longing for a new beginning. Lord, I Feel So Small might be just what you need for your journey.

 

Lord, I Feel So Small, written by Jon Drury and published by Wine Press Publishing (2010), will speak to anyone who has ever felt unworthy, small and insignificant. Pastor and writer Jon Drury shares candidly about times in his life when he struggled to feel accepted and worthy.

Drury tells much of his life story, explaining how he has struggled with fear and rejection. Even though he became a Christian at a young age, his parents often fought and it would frighten him. But as the Lord continued to pour His unconditional love and healing over Jon, things improved. He learned to resist listening to any voice but God’s. God’s voice brings peace and encourages us. On the other hand, Satan will use our unworthiness to slander and discourage us. He will also use our failures.

The book explores twenty battlegrounds of significance. Sharing his own experiences and those of others, Jon exposes the world’s false yardsticks that demean us. He also looks at Biblical characters who overcame great weaknesses. Drury directs his readers to many scriptures and points of action to help them resist the voice of The Enemy.

Some of the chapter titles include, Feelings that Immobilize Us, The Flesh that Hinders Us, Externals that Frustrate Us, and Experiences that Hamper Us. Drury states that God releases the oppressed, and that the Cross is the basis for victory. Near the end of the book, there is a chapter on “Exchanging Daily Misery for Joy.”

One of my favorite parts of the book is when Jon says, “The most potent antidote for rejection is acceptance by God. When we come to faith in Him, we are embraced by the Lord God Himself.  ‘Ephesians 1:6, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.'”

Everyone can learn something from this book  It is extremely helpful and practical. I was inspired and uplifted by it, and I know you will be as well.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. It is the second book in the series that began with I Get a Clue. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your Space by Kathi Lipp and published by Harvest House Publishers (2015) is a book you can’t do without. Since I began reading the book a week ago, I have gotten rid of six bags of clutter and twenty extra dinner plates. I am experiencing a new sense of freedom because I don’t have to deal with so much extra stuff around my house. This book could change your life in an amazing way.

Kathi’s basic idea is that if you have so much extra stuff lying around, it will rob you of your peace and keep you from enjoying the things in your house you really appreciate. She gives three magic questions to help set the reader free from the pressure of having too much. They are: 1) Do I currently use it? 2) Do I really love it? and 3) Would I buy it again? If not, donating it, selling it or giving it away to someone would be helpful.

The book is full of many short, practical how-to suggestions for the clutter-minded individual. There is also a chapter about what to do if you live with someone who has a tendency to keep clutter. She brings up spiritual aspects of living clutter free. There are helpful Bible verses and reasons why people get themselves overwhelmed with clutter in the first place. There are also chapters about how to control your spending.

This book would be very good as a ministry tool. For the unsaved person who won’t read an outwardly spiritual book, this one has Bible verses and spiritual principles throughout. I have a coworker who wants to read it. It is very easy to read and doesn’t make you feel guilty, like other books on the subject.

Overall, I am so thankful I read this book. As Kathi says, it gives us quick and easy steps to simplifying our space. The reason most of us want to do that is to bring us less stress and more peace in our home environments. May this book bless you as it did me.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

When I opened my email on Saturday morning this was in my Inbox. It’s from National Center for Biblical Parenting. I thought the info was so helpful that I want to share it. I hope it helps you with the children in your life and I hope its thoughts encourage and strengthen you in your own life. BTW: I regularly receive parenting tips from this group. If you would like to get them as well, you may sign up. https://www.biblicalparenting.org/parentingtips.asp  –Nancy

Dealing With Fear After Tragedy

Day to day life provides opportunities to teach children about God. It’s the job of parents to frame the picture of world events, to help children understand life from God’s point of view. Teachable moments become available in times of crisis. That doesn’t mean that you preach or lecture. It means that you ask questions and carefully share information that can guide your children to right thinking.

Keep your child’s developmental stage in mind. Teens need to wrestle with conflicting values and benefit from open honest discussions. Younger children are concrete thinkers and see the world differently than adults. For example, a young child may not understand that the repeated videos on TV are all showing the same scene that is now over – it’s not happening over and over again.

So what do you say? How do you respond to their questions? How can you draw your children into productive discussions? What kinds of things can you do that will help your kids during this time?

Here are some ideas to consider when helping children deal with fear and questions about world events:

•  Explain that the world isn’t out of control and help put these events into perspective. Pray with your kids for those directly involved in the tragedy. Pray for those who are hurt, those who are grieving, those who are frightened, and those who are “the helpers” onsite caring for others.

•  Be careful about lying to your children by saying, “It’s all okay.” Your children can see that things aren’t okay. In fact, this kind of statement can be counterproductive and cause children to feel like they can’t trust you, further increasing feelings of insecurity.

•  God is with us always. We can trust him. His angels protect us. God loves us and cares for us and he is in charge (Psalm 46). God is not surprised or caught off guard. God is very present in times of tragedy and available to touch hearts and bring comfort.

•  Answer your child’s questions. Explain the details briefly in clear terms and then focus on the good that we see in God and in the people who are helping.

•  The solution for fear is to learn to trust. Trust is the ability to release control to another. Children can learn to trust when they take small steps of risk and have positive experiences over a period of time. Gently encourage children to take small risks of separation and then provide the comfort they need. During that process children need a lot of parental love, patience, encouragement, and support. Remember, it’s God’s presence that helps us through difficult times.

For other suggestions about helping children deal with anger, fear, and grief, consider the book Parenting is Heart Work, by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. After all, emotions reside in the heart, and learning to connect with kids on a heart level can help them explore emotions in a healthy way.

                                           

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is I Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

21 Days of Joy, compiled by Kathy Ide and published by Broadstreet Publishing Group, LLC (2016), is the fourth book in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. This one is all about mothers. The most wonderful aspect of this book is that you don’t have to be a birth mother to find great joy in its pages. It is a wonderful read for those wishing they were mothers, those who have fostered or adopted children, or those who have lost children. It gives women hope that they can be used as a mother in a child’s life.

I loved reading the book and seeing how each one of the twenty-one stories was so varied and touching. The main thread that winds through this incredible little book is that God loves and honors mothers of all kinds. He loves our children and hears our prayers for them.

There were two stories in particular that stood out, and I would like to share about them. “Here With Us” by Nancy Ellen Hird is about an adoptive mother. I love the idea of adoption because my daughter has a desire to adopt someday. Kristie, an adoptive mother, has rushed home from a business trip after learning that she and her husband have been given a baby. She is overjoyed, but more than a little nervous as she reaches for the newborn in her husband’s arms.

She and Matt love their new little bundle of joy, a sweet baby girl. In a private moment with her sister Lisa, Kristie expresses fear that the birth mother might change her mind and want her baby back. Lisa reassures her, but also offers that all children go away someday, and that we are just borrowing them from the Lord. Kristie relaxes and rejoices at the amazing gift she and her husband have received. As our children grow, we need to learn to let go, and place them into God’s loving care.

Another story I particularly enjoyed is “Haiti’s Song,” by Deborah Raney. It is about a young woman, Valerie Austin, whose fiancé, Will, has just called off their wedding after most of the arrangements have been made. He comes to realize he never wants children, and yet Valerie does.

From a young age, Valerie had dreamed of having children. She had sewn many children’s clothes as a young teen, placing them in her hope chest for the future. Heartbroken when her wedding is called off, Valerie donates the clothes to charity.

In Haiti and working at an orphanage, she begins to love the children around her, and finds herself at peace with God’s calling. All of a sudden, she starts to recognize the clothes she had made years ago, worn by the children she works with. She knows that God is giving her a message. She believes He is pleased with her sacrifice and will use her in a mighty way, even if she never has children of her own. I found this story to be particularly heartwarming.

This little book is filled with all kinds of stories about mothers. It is sure to inspire you to do your best wherever God has called you.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

Harriet Beamer Strikes Gold, written by Joyce Magnin and published by Zondervan (2013) will keep you in stitches! The main character is a hoot. Harriet Beamer is a spunky lady in her early seventies who travels across the country with her donut-loving basset hound, Humphrey, to live with her only son, Henry and his wife Prudence.

Adventure follows Harriet, but at the moment she is feeling homesick and missing her best friend Martha. Martha also has an only son, but though she raised him well, he made some wrong choices. He is now in prison for armed robbery. She has handed the entire situation over to the Lord, and He has granted her peace in the midst of her heartbreak. Harriet also knows the Lord, but she tends to jump to her own ways and solutions when it comes to some of her choices. Harriet convinces Martha to come and visit her.

Henry, a stay-at-home writer, and Prudence, a busy lawyer, have several surprises for the-newly-arrived Harriet. The first one being that they will soon be adding a suite for Harriet onto their small house. She is thrilled as she learns she will now be able to unpack her beloved salt-and-pepper shaker collection. The second surprise is that after two miscarriages, Prudence is expecting again and Harriet will finally be a grandma!

Henry encourages his mom to get out into the town, make some new friends and engage in her hobbies. Harriet hits it off with a neighbor, and together they visit the Empire Gold Mine. Harriet is fascinated with the mine and wonders what it would be like to own or rent a gold mine herself.

Within the week, Harriet is dining at the cafe in town where she one day meets a seventeen-year-old named Lily. She feels sorry for the girl who seems lonely and appears to be in need. Her mother died quite a while ago and she lives with her father, Winslow G. Jump, or Win for short.

He soon shows up at the cafe and Harriet feels he is lacking in his parenting of Lily.In the course of conversation, Harriet learns that Win desperately needs a backer for a mine he will be leasing from a man named Old Man Crickets. The mine is a placer mine about forty-five minutes away.

If Harriet would agree to be a backer, her name would be on the lease and she might soon just come into lots of money. Harriet is intrigued. Before she knows it, she has volunteered to be the needed backer, handing over about five thousand dollars to Win.

Harriet, Win and Lily visit the mine, and then agree to stay in touch. She is promised paperwork giving her details about her newly leased mine. She decides not to tell her son and his wife about her investment, thinking they have enough to deal with.

In a few days, Harriet’s friend Martha arrives for a visit and Harriet spills the beans about the mine. Within the week, she has handed over even more money to Win and still has none of the promised paperwork. Martha worries about this situation and even though she has promised not to tell Harriet’s son, she tells him one day when Harriet is out. She asks him not to tell his mother where he found out.

Without divulging the outcome of the story, I’ll just say that in a very clever way, and with a moral to the story, all turns out happily. Harriet learns a valuable lesson about prayer, and her friend Martha finds the hope of a possible new start for herself.

All the characters in this story are adorable, but especially Harriet with her quirky ways and Converse sneakers. I’m sure you will fall in love with her and enjoy her adventures as I did.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

21daysof christmasSometimes during the Christmas season, I feel and act like the Gingerbread Man. I am running, running as fast as I can. But I am not running away from things, I am running to keep pace with my to-do list. Know the feeling?

The running can be fun–exhilarating, exciting. However, if I keep it up, panic sets in. I begin to feel that I am losing my sense of what matters; I am losing my sense of me. I need to step away from my list, sit down, and just be loved.

Reading 21 days of Christmas, compiled by Kathy Ide and published by BroadStreet Publishing Group, LLC (2015) is like sitting down in your favorite chair with a cup of hot chocolate (tiny marshmallows melting into creaminess) and breathing, just breathing, life back into your being. The 21 stories from 21 writers have various themes and settings (first century, 19th century and contemporary). The stories all take place at Christmas and explore life at this time of year with its joys and its real challenges. For example, one story looks at a young wife whose military husband will be away for the holidays. Another lets us listen in on the questions Joseph may have had about being the father of the Son of God. Another story shows a young teen hoping for a place to belong.

The stories are brief, under ten pages. Each story is followed by a   a short reflection (Life Application) that connects with it and takes the reader deeper into the story’s theme. These reflections gave me something to think about and something to savor.

I like it that 21 Days of Christmas is an anthology. I love hearing the different voices of the various authors. Reading their different stories, with different circumstances and different settings gives me a sense of community and the breadth and depth of God’s love for us all. So . . . anybody else for hot chocolate for the soul?

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) Two of her published works for children are Marty’s Monster and Jessica Jacobs Did What?  Her latest work is I Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

Do you need a little R&R? Patsy has a fun suggestion for our women readers. — Nancy

The novel, Sisterchicks on the Loose, by Robin Jones Gunn and published by Multnomah Publishers (2003), is a fantastic and funny read for women in their late thirties to late sixties. It encourages us to look outside of our normal day-to-day world for ways we can grow and change, growing closer to the Lord in the process.

The main characters are Sharon Andrews and Penny Lane. They have been friends for many years, although at the moment, they live in different parts of the country. Penny is the one with the outrageous ideas, and this time she has offered to take Sharon on an all- expense-paid trip to Finland. Penny has very little family, both her parents have passed away and she wants to reconnect with her mother’s sister who lives in Finland.

This story is the hilarious and profound tale of their trip, and the experiences they encounter. They meet relatives, make new friends and have some fairly wild adventures.

After connecting with Penny’s Aunt Marketta in Finland, Penny decides they should end their stay in Finland early and spend a few days in England, visiting Marketta’s daughter and Penny’s cousin, Elina.

They encounter a bit of a rough start at Elina’s house, where she reveals some family struggles and her recent bout with depression. They convince her to come traveling with them. She agrees.  The manager of the hotel where they stay turns out to be a lady they met on their initial plane flight. She offers to pay for their dinner one night. Sharon wants to surprise Penny and take her to Liverpool and the famous street, Penny Lane. They enjoy their time there, taking many pictures and delighting in God’s goodness and creativity.

The trip turns out to be enlightening for both Sharon and Penny. They encourage each other to live the second half of their lives, drawing closer to their Lord and to their friends and families. Sharon also becomes aware of some unhealthy patterns she had settled into and seeks to change them. She begins having a vision for a ministry with young mothers and their babies. Penny feels a renewed sense of peace and family connection. She is more able to move on with the ministries the Lord is opening up to her in the area of hospitality and encouragement.

I was challenged and cheered by this story, and I know other women will be as well.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

In Finding Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn and published by FaithWords (2009), Miranda Carson journeys to England in hopes of finding her father. A photo in her mother’s belongings takes her to the town of Carlton Heath on Christmas Eve. Through the kindness of the residents, Miranda is led on a path of forgiveness and discovery. And, while searching for her earthly father, she develops a relationship with her Heavenly Father and finds a family that she has always longed for.

Miranda returns to England in Engaging Father Christmas to celebrate the holidays with her new family and friends. Miranda hopes that her boyfriend, Ian will ask her to marry him so that they can make a home in Carlton Heath’s Forgotten Rose Cottage. But, complications arise when Ian’s father is taken ill, her beloved cottage has a new owner, and Margaret, her father’s wife doesn’t seem to accept her. Miranda reaches out to share the grace and peace that her Heavenly Father has given her and finds the love she has always wanted.

We are recommending these treasures for women to take a break and enjoy as they prepare for the busy Christmas season. Each chapter can be read in about five minutes. My mom likes reading these novellas  from Robin Jones Gunn and FaithWords  year after year.

J. D. Rempel is a graduate of Simpson College. She is endeavoring to pen a preteen science fiction novel and an adult fantasy series. She loves to read and started a library at her church. She enjoys working with her husband in youth ministry.

 

 

Book Reviews

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