Having a Martha Home the Mary Way By Sarah Mae

I have loved Sarah Mae since I read her first blog! I am thrilled she is publishing books! Keeping an orderly and clean house is a challenge for most women. (Me included!) Sarah Mae gets it!! She is one of us! She doesn’t shame you, guilt you or push you into improving as homemaker but gently guides you. I appreciate her transparency in sharing her story.
The Bible instructs us to do everything “heartily as unto the Lord.” However there are things we don’t even think about doing as if we were doing them for Him. One of those is housework. Most of the times I know I am in the mode of just get it done! As women we can be like Martha and get so wrapped up in our “to do list” that we forget to make time for the Lord and include Him as Mary did. I have often thought about the story of Mary and Martha. I understood putting God first, but there are things that have to be done, so where is the balance? This book helps define that very question. Each chapter contains two challenges. “Martha Challenges’ breaks your home care into manageable realistic steps. “Mary Challenges” are Bible readings with questions to answer to prepare you spiritually as you work. One of the most beautiful homemaking books I have read. It helps me put God not only in my home but in my work to maintain it.
I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Midwife’s Dilemma by Delia Parr

I was sad to see this was the last book in the At Home in Trinity series. I have enjoyed all of them. As I read it, I couldn’t help but think about when I met Martha in the first book, The Midwife’s Tale. It was like thinking back on the life of a friend.
Midwife Cade has faced many changes in the three books. She is a middle aged widow and these new chapters in her life hold true for women even now: children becoming adults, letting go of control in their lives and ours, realizing we cannot keep up our youthful pace, confronting new decisions about the future, and most of all accepting the time of life we are in.
There were moments I became aggravated at the Martha for her overbearing, bossy attitude toward others. Then I realized taking control of situations was just part of her calling as midwife spilling over into other relationships.
I admired her for waiting on God’s guidance in the choices set before her, and I could relate to how much harder those are later in years. A lesson that ran throughout the book was how God provides for us even before the need arises. I experience this in my life as a widow. I continued to enjoy the fascinating facts about medicine and midwifery during that era. Ms. Parr’s solid characters and wonderful sense of humor made this another great book. I loved the ending!!
I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Sometimes We Have No Choice By Marilyn Starzer

When I finished this book, it was so moving that I hugged it to my chest and tears filled my eyes. It isn’t a suspenseful novel but it is a romance story in a way. Not as the world exhibits it, but the kind of true love that transcends problems, difficulties, and continuing to give to your spouse when you have nothing left to give. Simply written and transparently honest, it is one woman’s story of dealing with life after her beloved husband’s stroke. This is a true story!
I had the privilege of getting to meet and know Marilyn when I attended Grief Recovery Method and she was the grief specialist to my group. When I heard she had written a book, I knew I had to read it! She shared a few things that I recognized in the book, but her story in its entirety is mind boggling. Looking back, I am amazed that the beautiful, compassionate, kind, tranquil woman that sat before me all those weeks and endured so much. And here she was helping me through the devastating loss of my husband.
She told me she wrote the book with the purpose of helping others who care for loved ones who have suffered strokes. There is so much to learn and many unexpected challenges. She had no clue when she started her journey what lay ahead in a great number of areas she would be required to deal with.
Although I have never had the responsibility of caring for a stroke survivor, the book spoke to me in numerous ways. When one tragedy in life happens, there may be others and you just have to keep going. When you are depleted physically, mentally, and spiritually, you cry out to God and keeping going. Caring for someone you love with several medical problems can make you feel alone, no matter how many people are there to support you. I realized in my own life, that it is painful to let go of the healthy person you knew and accept the changes that are taking place.
As the title says; Sometimes We Have No Choice. Even if you are not faced with any of these situations you will want to read this book. Ms. Starzer is a courageous woman that will inspire you!

Door to the North By Elizabeth Coatsworth

It is 1360 AD., and King Magnus Eirikson is monarch over Sweden and Norway. His lands are vast and far stretching. Communications and travel in this era are very slow as you can imagine. An alarming report reaches his majesty. One of the farthest areas of his domain, Greenland, has return to heathen worship and his Western Settlement has strangely been abandoned. Homes, farms, and churches are left empty.
He sends Paul Knutson and 40 of his best men to confirm if this is true.
If you haven’t heard of Bethlehem books, you are missing a treasure of wholesome historical adventure stories for children of all ages! Young Olav is sailing with them. His goal is to clear his father’s name after being falsely accused of pagan worship, and to prove his valor. He is young but very courageous and determined. The travel is dangerous and difficult. By sea and by land it is very slow. The author does a brilliant job of taking the reader back into this perilous time in history. The ease of our modern comforts makes life in these times unimaginable! I enjoyed experiencing what it was like to live and travel in the 14th century. It made me thankful to live in this day and time! Along with a wonderful lesson in history, there was a lot of adventure and suspense. It is rare to find fictional books written about this era but especially for children. Bethlehem books are a wealth of wholesome reading material for all ages!
I received this book free from Bethlehem Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Yes, Dear, There Really is a Devil Chris Rader & Johnnie Coley

Yes, Dear, There Really is a Devil
By Chris Rader & Johnnie Coley
This is the first book have ever seen for very young children about the devil. I applaud the authors! There are books about angels, Jesus, Heaven and God, and rightfully so. But Satan is a real and our enemy; therefore our little ones should know about him according scripture. If we as Christian parents so not teach this, they will have the world’s view of him; red suit, horns, and rather silly. It would be easy for him to become a cartoon or mythical character to them.
There are several things to like about this book. First and foremost for me is the fact that they introduce just enough information for small hearts and minds to grasp. I definitely was happy to see scripture included! This was not in the King James Version though and that is my personal preference. It is written in rhyme which always helps children comprehend. The explosively bright colors and realistic characters will spark interest. I also feel that some of the realism may be too frightening for youngsters. We want to warn them not scare them about Satan’s wiles. Also one page insinuated that one might lose their salvation. It reads, “There’s so much to do, so many choices to make, better make it good because your soul is at stake.” This may not have been the intent of the author’s but that was my understanding of it.
Over all the book is very good, but due to the last two things I mentioned I would not be comfortable reading it to a little child.
I received this book free from Hopkins Publishing as part of the BookCrash program, in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Beyond the Silence By Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Lillian Porter was not your typical wealthy young woman. Being orphaned as an infant and raised by her affluent, doting grandparents, she had lived a very sheltered and privileged life. After the death of his wife, her grandfather had become a bitter, angry man who did not want her out of his sight or even to leave the house. Lillian longed to serve and help others. Against her grandfather’s wishes she accepts a job from an ad to be a nanny to a young boy that did not speak. Determined to go where she believed God was leading, she took the job even though her grandfather disowned her.
She travels to an olive farm in California to work for Woody, caring for his son Jimmy. This was a drastic change for her; from the big city of Indianapolis and servants at her beck and call, to a rural olive farm in Angels Camp, California! Ms. Porter was totally undeterred and excited about this new chapter in her life. Upon arrival she finds her new employer has been accused of the murder of his wife and is ostracized by the entire town!
Her fears are put aside once she meets Woody, his longtime house keeper Mrs. Goodman and of course little Jimmy. She learns his silence began after his mother died. Jimmy has his reasons and no would be able to guess why! Her positive effects on the household and Jimmy are immediate. Though he continues not to speak. She quickly becomes a part of the family. Her love grows by leaps and bounds for Jimmy, Mrs. Goodman and Woody. Little do they know the dangers they facing or the problems ahead. The book is full of surprises!
I love Lillian’s courage and spunk. She has such character and fortitude! I liked how the authors made God the center the individuals lives and collectively as a household. They were a reminder that even the strongest faith can be questioned or doubted in extremely difficult times; real trust in God always shines through! This book is beautifully written, a real page turner!!
I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Amish Sweethearts By Leslie Gould

Childhood best friends, that was the way it was supposed to stay as they grew older, but the heart doesn’t listen to reason where love is involved. Zane and Lila lifelong friendship turned into a deep love and respect. When her mother died he was the one that helped her through it. She knew all his deepest secrets and dreams. How could they not draw so devoted?
Their families have always been close and supportive of one another too, despite the fact that Lila’s family is devout Amish and Zane’s are not. Lila is torn. She could never leave her faith and her father and siblings depend on since her mother is gone. Yet she knows there is no way she can marry the Amish boy her father has decided is the one for her.
Zane decides to share his true feelings and the possibility of them being married. The attempt blows up in his face when Lila tells him to leave and not come back! In a burst of youthful foolishness he joins the Army! He is sent to Afghanistan and she fears he may not come back alive and it would be her fault.
I loved the depth to all the characters and how the author expressed their myriad of thoughts and feelings. There was so much going on in their lives and minds! Lila’s had such a heavy burden of responsibilities and dealing with her family member’s personalities and issues. Ms. Gould made Zane’s experiences and emotions come to life in the book. I found myself wanting it to work for them, but wondering is it possible? A very different love story!
I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.

What Do I Say About That? Coping With an Incarcerated Parent By Julia Cook

In 2015, 2.7 million children in the United States had a parent in prison. That means that 1 in every 14 children. Almost everyone is aware that our prison population has alarmingly increased throughout the years, but the youngsters of these parents are often overlooked. Their tender hearts and minds find it difficult to deal with these changes in their families. Confusion, shame, anger, grief, feeling unloved and hurt bombards them. Many of these are in school and feel they have no one to talk to. The lack of support can lead to having emotional, behavioral, and mental problems that can affect their futures.
Ms. Cook does a remarkable job of putting into words what they are facing and feeling. This is comforting because they know someone understands. She also equips them with ways to face the crisis. Gently she encourages the child to understand the parents need for their love and forgiveness. These 2 things are ultimately healing for the child. I loved the way the book was written from the child’s perspective and allows the coping skills presented to be discovered by the boy in the story, not just told to the reader.
Ms. Cooks’ books are usually light and fun, with humorous illustrations. This book has her usual high quality writing and art, but handles the subject with the sensitivity and seriousness it deserves.
I asked my 13 year old grandson, J., to read the book and his responses were surprising. He recently befriended a boy at school who shared with him that his father was serving time. The boys didn’t want others to know. J. said he understood why the boy acted so sad and quite, usually avoiding other classmates. He didn’t know the boy might feel anger toward his Dad. J. felt glad he read the book, because he now realized how much his classmate needed a friend and how he could better support him. At the end of the book are 7 tips for the parent left behind to help their children.
This is a must read book for all children, teachers, parents, and grandparents. It may be a children’s book but has a powerful message or everyone! Go to http://www.juliacookonline.com to see more of the author’s books!

I Want to BE the Only Dog By Julia Cook

Ahh sibling rivalry, the scourge of every home with more than one child. The cause is unknown but the repercussions are most strongly felt. Growing up as an only child, I could not understand my friends’ discontent with their siblings. I would love to have a brother or sister. . . . Or so I thought. In a lighthearted and amusing way Ms. Cook helps children see the blessing of having their brothers and sisters. I know I didn’t like being the “only dog”.
Three dogs are the “siblings” in the story. Angus is the oldest, Chihuahua, followed by Jake a dachshund and Kirby, the baby girl and also a Chihuahua. Each fur family member shares their frustrations about the others and tells why it would be better if they were the only one. All the complaints are what are commonly heard from human counterparts. The fussing and fighting reaches a peak and the “skin” mommy (owner) calls a halt to it. She begins to share the important points children usually overlook as to the blessings of not being alone. The illustrations are super cute. I read the book to a 4 year old and she wanted to linger over each page discussing every detail in the pictures.
At the end of the book the author shares 5 tips on dealing with this familiar family matter. An excellent book for children and parents! Go to http://www.juliacookonline.com to see more of the author’s books!

I Can’t Find My Whatchamacallit! By Julia Cook

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard my children or grandchildren cry out in a panicked voice, “I can’t find my . . . “, expecting me to find what they need. One of a moms’ biggest headaches and battles is motivating children keep their rooms clean and orderly. With her wonderful gift to get straight to the heart of the matter, Julia Cook engagingly deals with this challenge.
The story centers around Cletus and Bocephus (love the names!), two very devoted cousins. While their relationship is close, they are polar opposites in other ways!
Bocephus is neat and tidy to the extreme, while poor Cletus is disaster in the neatness department. His chaos and confusion affect the entire household!
His mother declares an ultimatum. “No clean room, no playing with Boephus!” Mom’s know the sensitive spots don’t’ they? Bocephus shows his cousin not only the benefits of being organized but also guides him step by step how to accomplish the goal.
My 10 year old granddaughter suffers from this issue; she is a female Cletus! I asked her to read the book and share their thoughts. She immediately acknowledged that her room was much like his. Here is what she said she learned.
Her being organized would make it easier on the entire family.
She wouldn’t have as many disagreements and problems with Dad and Mom.
The idea of having a place for everything was new to her, and labeling boxes to sort.
She liked that the important words were super big and colorful. She said they popped out and helped her see the main point. She also enjoyed the “weird” words “whatchmacalit, Bocephus, and Cletus.”
At the end are 12 tips to teach a child organizational skills. This is the perfect organizing book for kids! And as always with Ms. Cook’s books, adults can benefit from the basic ideas.
Go to http://www.juliacookonline.com to see more of Julia Cook’s amazing books!