The River By Beverly Lewis

If Beverly Lewis is the author, you are assured 100% you will be reading a good book. This one is another in a line of many of excellent stories! The River is a wonderful example that all families have conflicts, even the Amish.
Tilly left her Amish life and married an Englisher. Her sister Ruth also made the choice to leave. She and Tilly have a close bond, but still love and miss their family. Tilly is very happy with her twin girls and her new life. You can only imagine the discord this created with their Amish family.
A brother calls and invites them to come to a celebration of their parent’s anniversary. Due to the difficult relationship with her family, especially her father, both girls decide not to attend. Ruth receives another call telling of their father’s bad health which influences them to go. Having been several years since they have been home, they are understandably anxious about the reception they will receive.
As I read I could actually feel the tension and uneasiness Tilly felt. Some of her family received her with open arms, others were distant, but her Dad was as he had always been toward her, unloving and critical. She was the only child in the family he treated so harshly. She decides to stay and her uncle and aunt’s house to ease the situation. Tilly not only is confronted with her father’s lifetime rejection of her, but also guilt involving the death of her younger sister years ago. She blamed herself for the little one’s drowning, when she was supposed to be watching her.
Misunderstandings and unknown facts can cause a family to fall into a trap of living in conflict, hurting one another, and never experiencing the closeness they could have. Ms. Lewis weaves a beautiful story of a family finding their way back to each other amid great conflict with in and among themselves. Through forgiveness, love, and confronting their inner hearts, they find their way back. The story has many surprises and made me think of how longstanding secrets can cause people to act in ways we don’t understand. You will want to read this book!

received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Honor By Lyn Cote

Honor was a very appropriate title to this book. Honor Penworthy is a young Quaker woman, completely devoted to her Lord and faith. Due some cruel and unfair circumstances she goes from life abundance to being penniless and homelessness. Her stance against slavery, and her desire to free Royale, her maid, costs her a vast inheritance, yet she did not back down. Raised in wealth and sophistication, Honor has no way to support herself. She is at the mercy of a remote relative to take her in. Arriving upon her aunt’s doorstep she finds more challenges. Her aunt is dying, they are caring for her orphaned grandson, and Honor’s cousin, Samuel is a deaf and mute. Having lost his hearing in childhood, he is withdrawn and self-conscious, thinking no one will ever want to be with him. His glass making trade affords him the opportunity to isolate himself even more. It was sad to see how people looked down on those with handicaps, and treated them so poorly.
Not long after her arrival her aunt dies. The only way for Samuel and Honor to survive is to move west. To travel and work together they must be married. There is no love or courting. Honor believes with time she could love Samuel as a husband, but he thwarts it with his lack of self-worth. Although freed, Royale accompanies them with some other servants and Samuel’s nephew.
Nothing in her upbringing prepared her for the difficulties and ruggedness of living out west. She never complains, but just meets each test with courage, kindness, and heavy reliance on God. She faces, danger and hardship most would shrink from. Nothing stands in her way of staying true to the Lord’s principals, not matter what sacrifice she must make.
All the historical details are fascinating on their own, but her work in the Underground Railroad introduced me to things I had never realized were involved in helping runaway slaves. A fascinating historical novel!
I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

To Everything a Season By Lauraine Snelling

 The time is 1905, in the fast growing, prosperous town of Blessing, North Dakota. 

Miriam Hastings finds herself in Blessing, to work as a nurse in a very small and primitive hospital. It is an honor and great opportunity to further her skills.  She is torn between staying in Chicago with her family, a sick widowed mother, and younger siblings and going. Her family is very poor and she decides this training will benefit them financially.  She is surprised and delighted at the closeness of the community, not only to each other but to God. At the center of the community is the Bjorklund family, immigrants from Norway.

When Trygve Bjorklund meets the nurses at the station to escort them to living quarters, he is immediately drawn to Miriam, and wants to pursue a relationship.  Miriam on the other hand wants to get her training and get home to her family.  Romance is the last thing on her mind.  Trygve doesn’t give up, and his character and strong faith gradually draw her to him.

The story drew me into the residents of the town, especially the personal lives of the Bjorklunds.  Their trust in the Lord, high standards, and meek spirits drew me to them.  I loved being a part of their daily existence.  It gave me a warm happy feeling.  The characters and story weren’t saccharinely sweet or fake.  They were very real and I was encouraged by their constant reliance on the Lord.

As peaceful as the town is, there was lots of excitement.  Losses, deaths, robberies, and even more challenges. The author follows the characters in detail in how they turn to God not matter what they face.  Miriam not only learns a lesson in what true commitment is, but also who Christ is.   She also discovers that life has a way of changing our plans. I wish the town of was a real place! I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s descriptions and challenges in practicing medicine, not only in that era but also in such a small town.  Reliance on the Lord for healing was as much a part of being a doctor or a nurse, as the knowledge, tools and medicine.

I would definitely go visit.  The book was so great and made me feel such a part of it, I was disappointed when it ended and missed the people!  A well written, engaging book!

I received this book free from the publisher from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

When Mountains Won’t Move: How to Survive a Struggling Faith By Jacob Hawk

I loved the title of this book. I can look back at so many times in mine life when I have been faced with a “mountain”. They never are small, usually more like Mount Everest or Mount Kilimanjaro. As I think about my seemly impossible problem, I am reminded of the children’s play song, “Going on a Bear Hunt”. Each obstacle is met with the chant, “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, can’t go around it, got to go through it!” This so describes those moments when you wrestle with your faith, unable to see how God is going to take you through it and to the other side unscathed.
We will face many kinds of “mountains”. Maybe it is the death of a loved one, terminal illness, divorce, bad health, loss of possessions, financial setbacks, etc. You can fill in the blanks with your own summits. I found this book both a comfort and encouraging. Jesus tells us that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can move mountains. When look at a mustard seed, I can’t help but wonder how very small my faith must be!
It’s hard to know where to start when you are faced with the seemingly insurmountable. The author gives you a place to start, to take hold of God’s hand, and begin your journey through the mountain. He emphasizes that this will take time, more than we want to commit to, and there at times we may not feel much progress is being made. He doesn’t leave you hanging though. With scripture and biblical insights he shows you how to soldier on and not grow weak.
He points out that it is okay to feel helpless, because it guides us to the realization that we CAN’T do it alone. Only God can see us through. Often when a person’s faith is tested, they find fault with their church and reject it. I especially like the fact that he emphasizes that the church is a gift and a help. His illustrations really aided me in seeing the points he was making even clearer. A big plus for me was that all the information was biblically and scripturally based. Many of the scriptures would be great to copy and memorize for when you are struggle. One of my favorite parts was the questions “For Reflection”. They helped me to really look inward,

received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

The Heart of the Amish by Suzanne Woods Fisher

There have been a multitude of books written on the subject of forgiveness, but this one’s approach is very different. Forgiveness is a struggle for everyone at one time or another, and there are those that find it impossible. I found this book more powerful than those with all the “dos” and “don’ts” because the author used real life stories. The reader can relate to the people and circumstances in different accounts that will remind them of times they have not forgiven. Seeing God’s grace in action really touches your heart. You find yourself thinking, “If they can do that so can I.” In many cases the wrongs done to the person will make the personal offenses you experienced seem small and trite. The Amish have a special corner on forgiving in that they have made it a part of their foundational beliefs and worship of God. For them, it is not optional; it is a must to obey the Lord. In reading this book and in the past, I am awe struck at the magnitude of injustices they truly and completely forgive, in comparison to the small offenses most people hang on to. Each story begins with an Amish proverb. They were so profound I wanted to copy them! Some I plan to use in our church bulletin. All the testimonies were interesting and powerful. They are all followed by “Reflections of Peacemaking” and “Plain Truth”. “Reflections” asks thought provoking questions for the reader to look into their track record concerning forgiving others. Some even draw you back into people in the story comparing yourself to the one wronged and their response to being hurt. “Plain Truth” shares interesting facts about the Amish. This book touched my heart and inspired me. It is a great read for anyone, but especially if you struggle with holding grudges and not others. Everyone may not be Amish, but the Lord expects the same degree of forgiveness from us, His children. No one could ever do to us, what our sins did to Him. We owe it to Him to forgive others. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. I am not required to write a positive review, the opinions I have shared are my own.