Habits of the Heart By Katherine J. Butler

I truly like a good devotional book, especially one that covers 365 days and carries me through the entire year. I found this one a bit different but in a good way. Each week has a specific spiritual discipline addressed, daily there is a scripture, and a focus comparable to other books of this type, but that is where the similarities end. At first glance I was surprised to see the actual devotionals were very short. I thought, “That makes it quick and easy to read but how will I get much out of it?” Then I read my first one. It wasn’t just something to rush thorough, but ask me questions, stirred my heart toward thoughts to self-examination, and encouraged me to actually write out my answers to apply the scripture to my life.
Each one directed me to the Lord inspiring me to not only make Him first in my day, but I other areas of my life. I feel the questions (and they were very to the point and excellent!) made the difference. The author encourages the reader to prayerfully consider what God would have them do. I found myself digging deeper within myself and not just “reading” the scripture. This book will gently train your heart and mind to see, think, and become like Christ; to ultimately have a closer relationship with him.
The book is small and easily tucked into a purse or put nearby but print is not tiny and is easy to read. I was impressed by the quality of the binding and pages. A very nice, treasure of a book!
I received this book free from Tyndale, as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? By Jennifer Grant

We have all thought this from time to time, after seeing old friends or school mates we have not seen in a while, or possibly adults from our younger years. Until we have seen the effects of the passing of time on them, they are frozen in our memory as we saw them last. Seeing ourselves daily we don’t notice our own aging.
I am past the midlife but since our 60’s is touted as the new 40’s I thought I could garner some new insights from the book. I have pretty much already experienced or am experiencing some of her topics. The author takes the reader what to expect in the midlife journey and rites of passage with a mixture of hope, wit, surprises, sadness, wisdom and details by sharing true personal stories. When thinking of aging we tend to focus on the physical, but those changes are connected with mental, spiritual and emotional adjustments. They cannot be separated and are all tied together.
Though a well written and enjoyable book I could not recommend it to of Miss Grants biblical and doctrinal references which do not match up with what I have studied in Scripture.
I received this book from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

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All She Left Behind By Jane Kirkpatrick

Happy dance!!! A new book by Jane Kirkpatrick always excites me! Not only is she an incredible author but I love that her books are based on true stories. The real life women she chooses are so varied and interesting!
Jennie Lichtenthaler’s story is proof that your circumstances and education have nothing to do with your ability to succeed! She was one of the first female doctors in the state of Oregon. That in itself is an amazing achievement considering women doctors in the 1800’s were shunned and not accepted. As I read her story, her success became extraordinary! Since her childhood her interest in herbs, medicine and natural healing had been a driving force. Not only to learn but to heal others. She never gives up her dream to become a doctor even in the face of insurmountable odds. Jennie’s family and husband drag her confidence even lower with the criticism and treatment of her. Married at a young age to an abusive alcoholic and drug addict her life held few opportunities. She has a learning disability, though the story never really says what it is. It makes reading and retaining written material difficult. Her son suffers the mental effects of the father’s addictions and is challenging to handle.
After her first husband divorces here which left her in poverty and social shame during that time, it opens the door to meet the love of her life, her second husband Josiah Parrish. He was a wealthy, influential minister. He had children that were grown and grandchildren so he was many year older than her. The vast difference in age had no bearing on the depth of their love and devotion. Each brought the other much joy and fulfillment. His love and belief in her led her to accomplish her dream and become a doctor.
As usual Ms. Kirkpatrick does an in-depth historical research, she leaves no stone unturned about her characters. I admired Jennie’s strength and faith in all the sufferings she was dealt. No matter what was thrown at her or how her heart broke, she kept moving forward, doing what needed to be done to survive. She never gave into self-pity or bitterness. Her loving attitude and sweet spirit was not affected by abuse or adversity. An extraordinary book!

The Promise of Dawn By Lauraine Snelling

This book was amazing! It is 1909 and immigrants from all over the world were coming to America seeking a better life. Many family members went ahead and made the way for others to come. This was the case for Rune, Signe Carlson and their 3 sons. Their dream was to come to the U.S. from Norway to own land and have their own farm. Their opportunity came when Einar Strand, Rune’s uncle sends a letter to his parents. He has settled in Minnesota. The land he is homesteading is covered in huge pine trees. He needs help logging them and sending them to mills. His wife Gerd is ill and he requests for Rune and his family to move there and help. There is the promise of a home already built and large enough for all of them to live in, a school for children, and the understanding that after their tickets were paid back they would receive their own land. The
Carlson’s had never met the Strands, but they were family right? Norwegian Families were close and caring, right?
The summer voyage is very difficult and uncomfortable and to make matters more challenging, Signe is pregnant with her fourth child. After previous miscarriages she is concerned about losing the baby. The worse is yet to come though. Arriving at Uncle Einar’s is when the nightmare begins. There is not a proper room other than the cold attic for the family to sleep in. The house is filthy and Aunt Gerd is bed fast and declining because of lack of care. Einar is hateful, uncaring and demanding. He has not concern for the young family’s needs or even health. Aunt Gerd is constantly hollering for something and speaks little otherwise. She is also ungrateful for any kindnesses and very uncooperative. The promises go up in smoke and the Carlson’s find themselves as nothing more than slaves with no end in sight.
The author captures the minute details of day to day life in this era and the emotions and struggles of Rune and Signe. I even got tired reading about all the work they did, especially Signe and with expecting a child! I hurt for her missing and needing her loving family. She was so alone.
In addition to being a delightful read, the most powerful part of this book is their Christ like attitudes Carlsons (even their children) in the face of constant cruelty and abuse. What a testimony!!! They kept their words kind, and continued to do their very best work. The patience the family displayed was incredible! Yes they became aggravated and upset but chose to give a soft answer or turn the other cheek. Their children followed their example in word and action with maturity far beyond their years. A strong faith in God and living His Word were their foundation. I admired them so much! I cannot wait for the sequel!
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Master’s Mind By Lance Hahn

The title of the book expresses one of the things I want so much to have in my Christian walk: the mind of Christ. I was hoping to find guidance and answers to that desire but I found much more on a very personal level. After the loss of a loved one, I also experienced a health issue that resulted in horrible anxiety like I have never experienced. These incidents made me truly look closer at how even in years past, my racing mind and anxiousness had been a part of my life. Proverbs 23:7 came to mind, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is…..” Our actions, attitudes, responses, and so much more all begin in our minds, with just one thought.
The author does an incredible job of helping the reader not only confront their thought life but also how to bring it under control my using scripture and Christ’s example. I saw how just as our bodies can get weak and out of shape, so can our minds if we let them go. Exercising our bodies takes effort and habit and the same applies to our minds. I realize that as crazy as it sounds, we don’t think about our thoughts but just accept them as “being there’. He points out that anger, depression, self-pity, anxiety, addictive behavior, begin in the mind, not outward circumstances as we assume.
The fact that the author is a pastor gives makes the book such a great study source. I liked huge amounts of scripture that was included and that his solutions came directly from God’s Word, not just opinions and ideas.
Through the Bible he gives clear steps to reshape your mind to think as Christ did. Mr. Hahn had so many “ah hah” points that helps you see not only what your thought life is doing to you but how Satan is attacking at so many points.
This is no easy fix and will take work but is so worth having peace on your life and pleasing God. It is not a book you can rush through, it will take time but the rewards will be great!
I received this book from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey By Carolyn Miller

Clara DeLancey is part of the wealthy elite of the mid-1800, or rather she was. Wrong choices and actions of her and her brother has cost her family their wealth and position, even Clara an excellent match in marriage. Spurned by her future fiancée, friends, and the entire family by the influential and privileged, she has hit rock bottom. Her family continues on pretending as if all were the same as before despite the ridicule and rejection of their peers. Considered an old maid at 25, and unmarriageable due the family scandal her parents only care about getting her married off to anyone with even the least amount of status.
The disastrous events and her parent’s persistent pushing her into the limelight, and constant criticism, Clara becomes severely depressed even to the point of attempting to take her life. This is compounded by a deep resentment taking over her heart.
She finds herself befriended by his two sisters, one a minister’s wife. Being beneath her station, her mother does not approve. She is drawn to them not only by their warmth but love and true acceptance as she has never experienced. Their handsome, naval hero brother also captures her attention. Through these friendships, she finds Christ as her Savior.
The characters are entertaining and realistic, and the story will definitely keep you turning pages, but there was much more for me in this book. Although the setting was in another era, 100’s of years ago, many attitudes and mindsets still exist today.
Just as the people in Clara’s social group looked at money, position, and material possessions as the way to happiness and fulfillment, so does the world today. Their emptiness and lack of fulfillment is echoed through the centuries, it has never changed. The Kemsley’s show the love and joy of Christians no matter that is displayed by true followers of Christ today. They did not look at Clara as above them but someone who needed the Lord.
I really liked the way the author made the Christ the center of the book and the answer to whatever problems the characters faced. This is the third book in the Regency Brides series. I have read all of them! They are all stand-alone reads and outstanding books!
I received this book from Kregel publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Polygamist’s Daughter By Ann LeBaron

I cannot even imagine the courage it took for Ms. LeBaron to write this book, and I thank her for it. My only ideas of polygamy were seen on television depicting large families by multiple wives all living in separate homes being fed and cared for. Not that I agreed with it or thought such conditions were ideal for the children. I was obviously grossly uninformed because I never dreamed such horrific circumstances existed.
The author’s mother was the wife of self-proclaimed prophet Ervil LeBaron. I couldn’t help but notice that only one letter kept his name from being “Evil” which after reading her story I find much more appropriate. She had 49 siblings! She was only 9 years old when she begins her story. There are no dolls, games, or spending time being held and snuggled. Her life was one of unimaginable neglect, abuse constant fear and hideous poverty. These were considered the norm not only for the adults but for the children. My heart broke for her and her siblings. They were treated more like animals than children! Being taken to other countries and left in the same poverty with people she did not know and who did not care for her. She never felt loved or safe. It hurt to read about how she was always seeking and craving that tender relationship of a parent and child. All this she endured until her teens when she remarkably escaped from the cult. Another great act of courage for one so young!
I find it even more incredible after enduring all this that she has become the beautiful well-adjusted woman she is today. As sad as the book may sound (and it is), hope, love and forgiveness are what stands out. How the love of God can heal all wounds and bring beauty from ashes.
I received this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

How to Overcome Worry: Experiencing the Peace of God in Every Situation By Dr. Winfred Neely

I love small power packed books like this! I will confess I have always been a worrier and I know it isn’t good. Times of trouble only escalate it, making things even harder. Worry is hard work; it drains you emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. It robs you of the peace and joy God has for you. Most of all, it is sin because it is unbelief and reveals we do not trust the Lord or His promises to care for us.
Dr. Neely takes a close look at Philippians 4:6-7. A familiar verse to Christians has the remedy but one most worriers forget to apply. If anyone had a reason to worry and have anxiety it was Paul! He was imprisoned and would stand before the sadistic, cruel, Emperor Nero! What’s amazing is that he didn’t worry! Paul gives us God’s simple cure: giving everything to Him in prayer! The choice is ours, and believe me it is a choice. He is the only one that can take care of our problems and has the answer!
This book puts “handles on your wheelbarrow” so to speak and shows you how to conquer worry once and for all. The illustrations helped me put concepts on a personal level. The entire book is firmly grounded in scripture and lots of them; something very important to me. I also liked that Dr. Neely helps one distinguish between concern and worry which is often a confusing, fine line for a habitually anxious person. There is a section on how to put those prayers into action. Included are scriptures to overcome worry and question to reflect on.
This little book is all meat and no fluff, a real asset to read over and over again, and for reference. High five to Dr. Neely for a truly helpful book!
This book was provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Whispering of the Willows By Tonya Jewel Blessing

The Ashby family lived in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1920’s. This was an area and time of great hardships but the Ashby family had more than most. Their fun loving, happy father that made so many wonderful memories came back from the war a changed man. He was injured in battle and confined to a wheelchair, but the greatest damage was done to his spirit and heart. He had become an angry, bitter and abusive man. Unable to support his family financially, the family cut corners and did all they could. Being a large family there wasn’t a lot to go around.
The story centers around one family member, Emerald age 15. She finished the 8th grade and according to tradition that is the end of her education and her father will choose her spouse. His choice brings harm to his daughter’s life and future. She is victim of horrific violence.
She flees to Aunt Ada, not a relative by blood but by love. Supported by Aunt Ada and her lifelong friend, Ernie, she begins to heal and build a future for herself. I don’t want to say anymore because the book is full of so many surprises and I don’t want to spoil it for the readers.
The superstitions and folklore were fascinating! I loved reading about their simple ways and especially their resourcefulness. The people had so little but never hesitated to help or share with those that had even less. No matter how serious their problems were they were always put aside to reach out to others. What a testimony! Strong Christian faith was predominate and total trust in God was constantly in the forefront of their hearts, no matter how bad the situation. Aunt Ada’s solid biblical advice and sweet spirit made her one of my favorite characters.
Ernie sang hymns when he was found himself in despair or pain. What a wonderful idea rather than wallowing in despair and hopelessness! I found the book inspiring spiritually and very uplifting.
I applaud the author for the delicate way she handled the subjects of death, physical and sexual abuse, showing that through God we can overcome anything! A book you want to read!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Bookcrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

These Healing Hills By Ann H. Gabhart

As I have mentioned in past reviews, I love historical fiction, medicine, midwifery, and the Appalachian people. This book checks all those boxes! To say the least I was excited to start reading it, but I had no idea incredible writing skills of Ms. Gabhart!
I had never heard of the Frontier Nursing Services before reading this book. The character Breckinridge was a real person and founder. The author read these midwife’s real first-person accounts of their services. This gave the book the realism and authenticity that allows the reader to experience the unique lifestyles of the Appalachian families and the experiences of the nurses.
I thoroughly enjoyed the unusual Appalachian words and sayings! I found them very clever and entertaining. Ms. Gabhart’s research not only made the people in the story come to life, but also gives a deep glimpse into the mind, personality, beliefs, and strength of these amazing people. After reading the book, the term “hillbillies” is such a derogatory term to assign to these incredible Appalachians.
After Fran hears the man she thought was to be her husband is coming home engaged to an English girl, all her plans go up in smoke. Her dreams of being a wife and mother are shattered. Her overbearing, critical mother isn’t very sympathetic.
When she hears of the midwife training in the hills of Kentucky she feels this is where she needs to be. She falls in love with the hills, the mountain people, and the many challenges of “catching babies” and tending to varied medical emergencies.
Ben belonged to the hills but had been away at war serving as medic. Much had changed in the years he had gone, most of all, his father’s death. Part of him wants to stay and the other wants to use the GI Bill to further his education. He meets Fran and his feelings for her only add to his confusion.
I liked the way I could see the mountains through Ben’s eyes, his appreciation and depth of having grown up there, but it was also a delight to see them through Fran’s. She observed everything with freshness, newness and innocence. It was her observations of both mind and heart that made me feel a part of the hardships, difficult weather and learning to live a totally new way of life.
I cannot pick a favorite character, they were all delightful. The book has romance, suspense, adventure, and humor. I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed this book and cannot wait to read more writings by Ms. Gabhart!
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.