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.