I know; Thanksgiving is next week. Somebody–actually a number of somebodies–have told me so. I can’t get my brain wrapped around it. But whether I am ready or not it will happen next Thursday, a week from today. So Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends in the States!

Here at Books 4 Christian Kids we’ve discovered some great books that might just add to your celebration of the day and the days following. – Nancy

What is Thanksgiving?  – a board book that takes the listener to the heart of the holiday

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving – a picture book about God’s hand in the first Thanksgiving. The whole family will enjoy this one.

Thanksgiving Graces – a picture book about extending ourselves to family, friends and strangers

Molly’s Pilgrim – a first chapter book with illustrations for children in lower elementary grades that may help children consider modern day pilgrims.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving – a gentle story about family life at Thanksgiving from 19th century author Louisa May Alcott.  This short book with illustrations would be enjoyed by children ages five to twelve.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels 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.

 

 

 

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Louisa May Alcott, who wrote Little Women, also wrote short stories, many of which have been rediscovered in recent years. Some collections were released in the 1990s as small gift books. Kate’s Choice contains three short stories that take place at Christmas time with themes focusing on kindness, generosity, and contentment in one’s circumstances, no matter how humble.

The main characters are girls and young women, who must make choices about how their attitudes and behaviors will make life better for themselves and the people they care about. The stories have that romantic historical feeling of a time long past. The book is charming, definitely G-rated, and geared for upper elementary to middle grade readers.

In Kate’s Choice a wealthy orphan from England must move to America and live with relatives until she grows up. Kate visits the different homes of her relatives, trying to decide where she wants to live. Her choice may surprise you! What Love Can Do tells of Dolly and Grace, sisters who became poor after their father died. Sadly planning a simple Christmas with what little they have, they are overheard by neighbors. Then we see what a little generosity can do to both the giver and receiver! The third story, Gwen’s Adventure in the Snow is about a group of boys and girls on a sleigh ride. Caught in a winter storm, they must work together to get safely home again.

The book contains interesting notes about the life and work of the famous author. Alcott’s stories reflect the values and social roles of her time, which are more traditional in comparison to today’s society.

Currently, it is available in hardback (Riveroak Pub, 2001) with pretty illustrations and a presentation page from Amazon. (It is temporarily out of stock at Barnes and Noble and Powell’s.) New or used, Kate’s Choice is a treasure.

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

 

Suddenly Single Mom, written by Jeanette Hanscome and published by Worthy Inspired (2016), is a power-packed devotional with 52 messages of hope that will encourage single moms in any stage of parenting.

Each devotion begins with a Scripture to remind the reader there is a Heavenly Father who promises to stand beside her through every challenge. Hanscome also includes scenes from her own journey, an encouraging thought for the coming week, a prayer and a “practical survival tip.” As a visually-impaired single parent, Hanscome faced abandonment and an uncertain future armed with very little but her faith in God.  As a result, in each devotion she delivers remarkable depth that will touch hearts, promote healing and awaken faith.

While every single mom’s story is different, certain facets of single parenting are undeniably similar. Hanscome covers such topics as stress, exhaustion, financial hardships and loneliness.

There are lighter moments too, such as when she bands together with other single moms for a ”girls’ night out at Costco.”  One can smile along with her at the kindness of her supportive church family and laugh as she takes advice from her oldest son on how to avoid ‘creepy’ guys who try to hit on her.  Perhaps most importantly readers will relate to the sacrificial love she has for her children as they, too, learn to cope with their changed lives.

I highly recommend Suddenly Single Mom because the author’s transparency takes readers on a journey from shock to acceptance, and from anger to forgiveness. She does not shy away from difficult subjects, such as dealing with her ex-husband, the courts and even future dating. Hanscome’s unflinching self-assessments and course corrections give readers a godly friend with whom to travel.  The poignant vignettes prove single parenting is not an easy path, but her sage encouragements and trust in Christ’s continual grace reveal great gain.

This uplifting book would make a wonderful present for any single mom, especially during the holiday season when an understanding heart is the greatest gift of all.

Pamela Walls is the author of the historical adventure series for girls, “Abby and the South Seas Adventures.”  Abby–Lost at Sea (South Seas Adventures #1)  is the first novel in that series. Pamela has also written over 400 articles, which have appeared in such publications as “Woman’s World,” “Today’s Christian Woman,” “Guideposts,” “Angels on Earth,” and the “San Jose Mercury News.” Originally trained as a science writer, she began writing for God after finding Christ at the age of 28. 

Like Hanscome, Pamela later became a handicapped single mom who found God to be faithful, kind and generous–the best partner for life and all eternity!

From Nancy –

October 31, 2017, Tuesday, is Halloween here in the States. It is also the 500th anniversary of what many people consider the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther, so it has been said, on the eve of All Hallows (All Saints Day) attached a document with 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. Everyone had to attend church on All Saints Day, so Luther, a university professor of biblical studies, tacked up his theses expecting people to read them, to consider them and even to debate them. From what I’ve been told, he didn’t expect an upheaval or a radical change in the culture. However, that is what happened.

Luther was an interesting, complex man. His life and times were both exciting and challenging. Donna reviewed a book about him. She thought it a good read. I think she’s right. I’m re-running her review below in case you missed it.

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When Lightning Struck: The Story of Martin Luther was written by Danika Cooley and published by Fortress Press (2015). This historical novel on the life of Martin Luther, the German theologian credited with starting the Reformation movement in the 1500s, is impressive. Danika Cooley works hard to combine storytelling with historical fact, weaving period details into narrative and quotes from historical documents into dialog. The book does an excellent job of making history accessible to the reader.

It begins when Luther, on his way to law school, scurries under a large tree for protection during a thunderstorm. Lightning strikes the tree, raining down fiery debris around him, and Luther vows that if he survives he will become a priest.

Martin’s father, a successful businessman, is a strict man whom Martin equally fears and loves. His mother tells him tales of superstition and myth. His father has sent him to school to become a lawyer so the boy will be able to support them in their old age.

When Luther tells his family and friends that he is changing professions, they are stunned and angry. They try to dissuade him, but Martin enters a monastery. He works his way up, through study and self-discipline, to priest, Doctor of Theology, and university professor.

Luther is pursued by a sense of guilt and the fear of an angry God. He fasts himself into gauntness, sleeps on the cold stone floor of his cell, and confesses sins constantly. He is consumed with hopelessness at his inability to shorten the time after death that he expects to spend in purgatory before entering the realm of heaven.

A mentor gives Luther a copy of the Bible. In it, Martin Luther begins to see glimmers of God’s love and grace. He spends hours studying it and teaching from it to his students.

Sent on a trip to Rome, Luther is shocked by the sin and luxury he sees among the priests and nuns there. He also finds little comfort in the holy sites he visits and the holy relics he views.

After this he discovers in scripture that salvation comes by faith alone. He also begins to see God as a source of love. He teaches this “New Theology” in his classes and writes about it.

When the buying of indulgences to shorten one’s time in purgatory or to purchase forgiveness from sins begins to empty the pockets of his poor neighbors, Luther writes a list of objections to their sale and posts it in his town—Wittenberg—for local debate. A printer makes copies and sends them far and wide, creating shock waves across the Roman Catholic Church.

Luther tries to bring change within the Roman Catholic Church, but arguments between him and its leaders become so strident that Luther and the leaders break with one another. The Protestant Reformation begins with sweeping changes to the priesthood, to forms of worship, and to theological teaching across Germany. Luther’s personal life is transformed as he works out what biblical teachings mean for himself and the society in which he lives.

This dramatized biography describes a man who transformed Christendom by his teaching, writing, Bible translation, song compositions, and the very force of his life. Yet it also paints a picture of personal struggles and flawed character. It shows the life journey of one trying to balance the spiritual and secular powers of his time, as we all do.

Approximately 250 pages, this book is best for Young Adult readers. It is sold on Christianbook.com and Amazon.com in hardcover and e-book formats.

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Nancy here again – A few weeks back I caught a docudrama on PBS, Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World. I thought it was thoughtful, informative and well-balanced. It was worth my time watching it. There may be a  re-broadcast in your area. A DVD of it will become available through Amazon. com, but not until November 21.

 

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels 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.

 

 

 

A Grief Observed, written by C.S. Lewis*, is most definitely a book that embodies what so many other books can’t–unflinching honesty. And whether that’s due to Lewis’ candid and confessional writing style, or that he did not write it intending for it to be published, is hard to say. What can be said, however, is that the unguarded approach to such a topic breaks down personal borders that other attempts in the genre simply can’t.

A Grief Observed is a chapter by chapter walk-through of the author’s encounter with his wife’s death. I’m not married, nor has my spouse passed away, however I find that this particular book holds value whether you’re in the process of bereavement or not. Told in four parts–each section is more like a journal entry than a chapter–with time passing in between each one. Even among the thick sense of dread that fill such pages, it’s somewhat comforting to see the gradual process of healing in Lewis’ heart. It reminds us that even in times of emptiness, we can always hold tight to the fact that time truly does heal all wounds.

Throughout this short book, Lewis wades through questions of his faith, humanity, and the intense weight of love. As if fading in and out of consciousness, we see Lewis (for the first time in any of his works) truly question the faith and ideals that he had held and defended for so long. We see a man beaten, broken, and on his knees through most of the book. We can feel his weakness in the text, as he relives the nostalgic and bright memories that he shared with his wife, whom he refers to as “H.” These memories are rejoiced and delighted in by Lewis, only to be shot down by the heart-wrenching reality of loss–then denial, then loss again. A painful redundancy that many of us have felt the sting of.

There isn’t much detail given about their relationship, however what we do know is that Lewis and “H.” were passionate, intimate carers for each other. I refer back to chapter one here, as Lewis explains, “… her voice is still vivid. The remembered voice–that can turn me at any moment into a whimpering child.” This childlike tenderness isn’t one generally displayed by grown men–and it’s an example of the firm, overgrown, mossy walls that can shatter in an instant during those few times in life. The antithesis of our greatest moments and memories.

Like most trials in this life, we eventually see healing begin to take place. Even if it takes months, years, or the rapture, God promises that He will leave no stone unturned, which is a point that Lewis himself echoes in the later sections of the book. Overall, the text cannot be looked at in a vacuum, but is best used with larger and much wider perspectives. Scrutiny and analysis of a work like this will only leave you with confused ramblings of a discombobulated spouse–it is when you zoom out that you begin to understand it’s purpose.

Now most people can boil their lives down to their best and worst experiences, and even to specific moments within those greater contexts–but in this particular work Lewis concentrates the healing process of a tragedy to only the most necessary of thoughts and considerations. There isn’t a single word in this book that need not be there. Every sentence is essential to its greater message–one that I find crucial to any self-respecting adult, and one you’ll just have to find out for yourself.

*Note from Nancy: This classic was first published in 1961 under a pseudonym. After Lewis’ death in 1963, it was published under his name. A Grief Observed can often be found in libraries and is available on Amazon.com from several publishers.

 

Hey there! I’m David. I’m 20 years old but I feel a lot older on the inside because I was raised in a wonderful home, conversing with others older than myself. My parents and three siblings have always supported my interests. I film weddings for my day job, but I love the occasional non-fiction. As a Christian, I enjoy reading books about observations on God – however I can never deny myself a good thriller. English was by far my favorite class in school, and it seems as if three years later the love of essays hasn’t stopped. 

 

The news has been full of scary stuff–storms, shootings and wildfires–these last months. I dearly hope you have not been directly involved. May God wrap His loving arms around you and comfort you if you have been involved. May you know His care and His provision in the deepest places of your heart.

I write to you from northern California. Wildfires are raging and have been since the early hours of Monday morning. And while we are seeing some good progress in the fight it has been so sad and frightening. I am re-running a post from last year that might help all of us.

July 12, 2016

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 works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels 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.

 

Brush of Wings, written by Karen Kingsbury and published by Howard Books (2017), will be very difficult to put down. It is suspenseful and exciting in many ways. High school students and adults will want to keep reading to find out what happens in this third and final book of the Angels Walking Series. (The second book contains some material related to gang violence and may not be suitable for young teens.)

In the series four angels, Beck, Jag, Aspyn and Ember are commissioned to keep two couples and their future children alive and well. There are forces at work trying to break up these couples and destroy their friendships and relationships with each other. There are even threats to their lives.

One of the angels’ most serious assignments is to make sure these young people marry and have the children whom God has ordained will someday be great servants in His Kingdom. Throughout the books, the four angels come alongside these characters, praying and often intervening as helpful citizens.

Sami Dawson and Tyler Ames are introduced in the first book, Angels Walking. Tyler is a major league baseball player until he is injured. Through his life experiences, he returns to the Lord and to his high school sweetheart, Sami.

In the second book, Chasing Sunsets, Tyler’s friend and LA Dodger pitcher, Marcus Dillinger meets Mary Catherine Clark who is Sami’s roommate. For both Marcus and Mary Catherine, it is love at first sight. However, they are both reticent to become involved. Mary Catherine knows she has a heart condition and will someday need a valve transplant. Marcus admires Mary Catherine and is very attracted to her, but he is involved in a relationship with his coach’s niece, Shelly. Tyler, Sami, Marcus and Mary Catherine are involved in a local youth center. They want to help young people involved in gangs, hoping to keep them out of prison.

Lexy, whose mother is in prison, is one of the young women who comes to them for help. She is the girl friend of the gang leader of the West Knights, Dwayne Davis. Lexy wants to leave the life of gangs, but she is afraid that if she does they will hunt her down. Through her grandmother’s admonishment, Lexy seeks the Lord and accepts Mary Catherine’s offer to mentor her. Lexy’s boyfriend Dwayne ends up in jail. Before she is fully ready to surrender to the Lord, she begins a relationship with another gang leader, Ramon.

Marcus soon breaks up with Shelly who is quite young and very shallow. He admires the spiritual depth he sees in Mary Catherine. She relates well to young people and leads them to the Lord.

Mary Catherine’s story is at the center of the third book. She has dreamed all of her life of working in an orphanage in Uganda. Her doctor is against her pursuing that dream. Her heart functions too poorly. She needs a heart transplant, not a heart valve as was formerly thought. She promises him she will tell those in her family about the true condition of her health and that she will return as soon as she feels worse. Mary Catherine is determined to spend whatever time she has left serving the Lord. Her roommate in Uganda, Ember, turns out to be one of the angels. (When the angels show up in the lives of the young people, the young people don’t guess that they are indeed angels.)

In this book Lexy moves in with Sami while Mary Catherine is in Africa. In this way, Lexy hopes she can separate herself from the gang and from Ramon. Lexy has become pregnant by Ramon. She has the baby which she has decided to give up for adoption.

Mary Catherine does not follow through on her promise to her doctor. Several months into her trip, Ember is very concerned. Mary Catherine is getting much worse. Finally she sends her former roommate, Sami, an email, disclosing the truth about her condition. Sami alerts Marcus right away and he flies to Uganda to bring Mary Catherine home. She is  ready to come home. The trip is difficult, but the angels’ prayers are constant, and the Lord is with them.

Mary Catherine realizes she has made a grave mistake by taking her life and decisions into her own hands, against the advice of others. The angels work overtime to keep her alive. She is admitted to the hospital, and the doctor introduces her to a devise he has just discovered. It is called a LVAD–Left Ventricular Assist Device that can act as a mechanical heart in place of her own, which is rapidly giving out. She is intrigued and agrees to the surgery. She will need to charge the devise daily and be a little more cautious than usual. Her parents, Sami, Tyler, Marcus and Lexy are all there to support her. She apologizes for not being honest with them, and all is forgiven.

There are more events and exciting happenings in this final book of the Angels Walking Series, but I will leave you to discover them on your own. I really enjoyed this series, and was more thoughtful about how angels really do intervene in our lives. It is a blessing to know the Lord and His Angels are always watching out for us. His will shall be done in His way and for His glory.

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.”

 

Sir Maggie the Mighty is a very cute book about obedience for children, ages two to eight. It is written by Michael P. Waite, illustrated by Jill Colbert Trousdale and published by Chariot Family Pub (1988). It is still available at Amazon.com or perhaps you might find it in a church library.

Sir Maggie the Mighty, told in rhyme, is about a bug named Maggie who disobeys her mother while on an errand and experiences the consequences. The story includes a related Bible verse, “Children, obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord.” When my children were young, this book was one of their favorites.

Maggie McBuggins lives with her parents in a large yellow squash. One day, her mother sends her on a shopping trip to get bug juice and honey. Maggie puts on her favorite outfit, a baggy knight suit and boots. Her mother tells her the outfit is not practical and asks her to change. Maggie complies, yet she puts her favorite outfit in a backpack, and as soon as she is away from her mother’s sight, she changes into the clothes she loves. That is one area of her disobedience.

Another is when she uses most of the money for candy, instead of the bug juice and honey. On the way home, she feels sick from eating too much candy. She also has no  money for what her mother had asked for.  An ugly Drogg threatens her. While trying to get away, Maggie trips and falls in the mud because her boots are too big.

Mrs. McBuggins is shocked to find her sad, muddy little girl walking into the house. Maggie apologizes, and her mother forgives her, giving  her a nice bath. Mrs. McBuggins explains that the rules she wanted Maggie to follow are for her own good, and not meant to spoil her fun. All is forgiven, and Maggie is given another chance to obey her mother. She has learned a lesson, and follows her mother’s instructions to the letter.

This is a book that will explain obedience in a way that young children will understand. The illustrations are darling, and the rhymes are fun to read. I have loved this book for many years.

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.”

People can sometimes be foolish and sometimes they can even be mean. They can put labels on us. And we wear those labels, allowing  them to define us. School, sadly, can be one place where children acquire labels–sticky, icky labels that can last even into adulthood. School can also be a place where children become skilled at labeling others. Max Lucado in You Are Special, illustrated by Sergio Martinez and published by Crossway Books (1997), tells a simple, but profound fable about the Wemmicks, who are very good at labeling.

The Wemmicks are small wooden people. They were all carved by the same woodworker and each Wemmick is unique. But the Wemmicks have a poor understanding of the value of being unique. They spend their days giving gold stars to those they think are beautiful or talented or both and giving gray dots to those they think defective or inadequate.

Punchinello has been given many gray dots and it makes him afraid and sad. His life begins to change when he meets Lucia who surprisingly has no marks at all. She tells him that her daily visits to the wood carver enable her to stay free of marks. That Punchinello will eventually make a visit to the master carver seems inevitable for such a forlorn character, but what Punchinello learns on that visit will delight and soothe a child’s heart. It may even bless your own.

One story element that may surprise the reader/listener, and sets this book apart from other books with a similar theme, is that Lucado includes “stars” in the labels.  Aren’t “stars”  a good thing to receive? But Lucado puts them in the same category as he does gray dots.

It can make you stop and think. When you do, you remember that labels, even “good” ones, can wound or be troublesome. Beautiful children can become obsessed with their looks. Smart kids who want to keep wearing the “brilliant” label can retreat from asking questions and learning. Gifted children, trying desperately to live up to their talent, may lose their joy as they continually try to prove that they are indeed gifted. Lucado wisely offers a way to avoid those traps.

Martinez’s illustrations are subtly humorous, colorful and evocative. They capture the busy life of the village and the sadness that labeling can bring. I particularly like the depiction of the wood carver. He is kind, gentle and yet strong. The golden light present in his workshop and around him invites us into a warm, friendly, safe place.

This picture book for children, ages four to eight,  flows nicely, making it easy to read aloud. That should be good news because your children, I think, will ask you to read this wise, encouraging book again and again.

Older children also experience some “serious” labeling and some are even bullied. In an earlier post, Mean Girl Makeover, I talked about three novels for upper elementary and middle school girls that explore this topic. Written by Nancy Rue, one novel looks at the problem from the point of view of an onlooker. A second book tells the story of the girl being bullied and how she begins to overcome her labels. The third takes a deeper look at the bully. I thought all three were great reads.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) You can learn more about her and her mystery novels for pre-teens, I  Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, at www.nancyellenhird.com .

For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

The Ebb Tide written by Beverly Lewis and published by Bethany House Publishers (2017) is a good read for young women, especially for those who love to travel. I am not young anymore, but I certainly love to travel.

The main character of the story is Sallie Riehl, a nineteen-year-old Amish girl who lives in Paradise Township, Pennsylvania. She has not taken her vow yet to join the Amish Church and remain in the fellowship of the People for life. She figures she will splurge with her hard-earned money from waitressing and take a two-week trip to Australia. She has been dreaming of far away places since she was little and for several years she has been saving money to travel.

She makes arrangements to leave, but then she learns that her two-year-old nephew Aaron has a heart murmur and needs a valve repair. His surgery will cost much more than is available in the Amish Medical Fund. After much prayer and angst, Sallie decides to donate her trip money for his surgery.

Sallie wants to keep what she has done for her nephew a secret, but word gets around and the family is very grateful. Her mother wants her to join the church right away, but Sallie just isn’t ready. Soon she hears about an intriguing opportunity through her boss, Lyman Sullivan. Len and Monique Logan, friends of Lyman and frequent customers to the restaurant, have a nine-year-old daughter, Autumn, and a newborn son, Conner. They need a nanny this summer at their home near the ocean in Cape May, New Jersey. Lyman recommends Sallie.

Sallie is thrilled with the turn of events, but she doesn’t think she will gain her parents’ approval for a trip like this. She is also becoming interested in Perry, a kind Amish man. After prayer and discussing the opportunity with her parents, Sallie is permitted to go with the Logan family. She has always dreamed of seeing the ocean. Although Cape May is not the Great Barrier Reef that she had studied and dreamed of, she is thrilled at the prospect of seeing the ocean for the first time.

During her first few weeks with the Logan family, Sallie and Autumn take a boating trip to view fish and birds. A marine biology student, Kevin Kreider, helps lead the trip. He is a Mennonite and takes an interest in Sallie. In the weeks that follow, they meet at the beach and become friends. They have much in common, including their love of travel and marine life. During this time, Sally and Perry are communicating by letter, but soon Sallie realizes that her relationship with Perry pales in comparison to the one she has with Kevin.

As the time draws near for Sallie to return, she feels she has no other choice but to break off her friendship with Kevin. She is starting to have stronger feelings for him, but can’t see how it could work out.  She is planning on returning to the Amish way of life.  On one of their last times together, Sallie accompanies Kevin to the Mennonite church service, where she hears the pastor mention that God leads each person’s life individually. He explains how others may not understand the way He is leading us. Sallie takes this to heart, and wonders if she will ever be ready to join the church at home.

Back home, Sallie and Perry begin seeing each other, but Sallie quickly realizes that she does not care for him in the way she would need in order to marry him. He is more of a friend to her. She also comes to see that with her love to explore God’s creation and travel, perhaps God has another plan for her that may just lead her away from the Amish lifestyle. She is eventually honest with her parents about this and is surprised to hear that they really do understand. They are disappointed, but they know that only she can make this decision.

Other events come to pass, and the story ends on a very happy note. Sallie’s questions are answered and the Lord leads her on a wonderful path, one she could never have imagined had she not waited on Him and listened for His leading. She realizes how important prayer has been to the entire process.

This is a very helpful book for young women, ages 18 to 26, who are wondering about their own futures and what God has planned for them. With all the choices available, it can be confusing at times. The book will encourage young people to seek the Lord above all other voices. It will show them the vital role prayer plays in their own lives. I enjoyed it very much. BTW, my favorite place to be is at the ocean.

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.”

 

Book Reviews

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