The Sound of Distant Thunder By Jan Drexler

This book is a very unusual historical fiction. Many of the Amish steadfast beliefs are well known and one of those is non-resistance concerning military service. Any form of violence even self-defense is avoided. The story is centered around the time of the Civil War. When men in Jonas’s community were drafted the elders received permission to pay $200 per man to excuse them from fighting. Twenty year old Jonas has been hearing a lot about the war on slavery, even sneaking newspapers to learn more. His heart becomes conflicted between the principles his faith holds dear and what he believes God would have him do. His brother, Samuel, boasts that if he were drafted he would not pay the fine because it would be contributing to the war. You guessed it, his name is drawn. His bravado turns to fear. Not only would he have to leave his wife and children, but if he went to fight he would be shunned. Jonas having settled what he should do tells his brother he will take his place.
Jonas has no doubt he is doing the right thing, but his sweetheart Katie is heartbroken. All that stood between them being married is her 18th birthday and him finishing their home he is building. As with any man going to war it is horrific for his family, but in this case the family is even more distraught because they believe the young soldier is sinning against God.
I admired Jonas’s courage not only to go battle but also facing his family’s disapproval to do as he felt God led him. The historical detail was incredible. What had a great impact on me was seeing the eyes of not only the world but war’s horrific experiences through the eyes of an innocent, sheltered young man. My heart ached for Katie, waiting at home, fearing the worst and facing some battles of her own without her beloved Jonas. I saw both of them grow up quickly in many ways. There are also unexpected twists and turns you won’t want to miss. A wonderful heartfelt read.

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Sacred Holidays By Becky Kiser

I don’t know even where to begin to review this book! It is so much and more! I wish I had it when my children were younger. I always tried to center our holidays on Christ and make them special. This book would have been a goldmine for me.
I liked the unique approaches she used; not only in planning but also in how we view the celebrations. Everything we do and every day should be focused on the Lord. He is to be our number one priority. This book will help you do exactly that. I saw it as a spring board to specific ideas tailor made for a family. Ms. Kiser’s suggestions are wonderful and easy to implement, but you can also add your own personal touch.
I was impressed that she covered not only what we consider religious holidays but other memorable times you share as a family you might not have thought of such as birthdays and summer. Why not develop your own for fall, spring and winter! This isn’t just a book to read but one to keep and use over and over for reference and a workbook too! Each holiday section has pages to write down ideas, what worked and what didn’t; future plans, and struggles you faced. Alongside each struggle listed, there is a reference to the chapter in part 2 of the book that covered it. Very helpful!
She does briefly touch on Santa, the Easter bunny, and Halloween that are debated among Christians, very graciously. She gives ideas on how to be a part, but not be a part. Personally I choose not to participate in any of them. The author includes prayers and L0TS of scripture which one definitely needs if God is to be the center of our plans! I found her emphasis on not getting carried away very helpful for us OCD types. This book is not a quick fix, do it right away thing. The author is clear that you are to take “baby steps’, doing it prayerfully and slowly. I agree because it is a making traditions and important quality time with your family. Yes “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, not just Christmas but every season! This book would get way more than 5 stars if I could give them!
I received this book from the B&H Bloggers/Lifeway Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.