Here is the 2016 Promo video for the mission trip Jonathan and I are attending in less than a week!
Greetings all! In my last update I mentioned that one of my main concerns was that we wouldn't have enough money by the June 15th deadline. Well now I have a big favor to ask you guys...
STOP SPENDING MONEY!!
We have MORE THAN ENOUGH to cover our Chosen People Ministries fees, airline tickets, meals, and extra travel expenses! I'm so overwhelmed by what all we've been blessed with because to be honest, I wasn't expecting to raise more than $100 before our deadline. But by 3:00pm on June 15th we were completely paid off to CPM with promises of more funds to come for the travel! This was actually MY first confirmation that I was suppose to go on this trip, because to be honest I had enough saved up for all my expense (would have wiped me out but I could have done it); it was really for Jonathan that we were asking for money. Up until then I was feeling that I was more or less only suppose to go as my brother's babysitter. But when the donations added up to where I didn't have to pay a cent on my behalf it was almost like GOD was saying "I've got a plan for you on this trip too. Just trust ME"
So thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU to everyone who's graciously given towards our trip! We will never be able to thank you properly and repay you back for all you've done!
And to those who have been praying for us I've got news for you as well!
Anytime someone does something for GOD there will be attacks from the devil to try to stop that person from continuing. This has been very true for me. These past two weeks have been a giant mental and emotional battle that has left me physically exhausted to the point that I couldn't focus on preparing for my mission trip. But on Friday pieces were laid in place that helped me to confront my distractions and put them away from me. I know there were people praying for me that day and to those who were thank you very much for giving me strength to move forward past this big distraction and road block in my journey.
So yes GOD is on the move here and doing amazing things to prepare Jonathan and I for this seemingly insignificant trip but as we believers know, nothing is unimportant to our Heavenly Father. Even if all we do is plant a seed in someone's mind to get them thinking more about GOD then I will have done my job well and HE will take care of the rest. There is a song that I've been listening to lately called The Sower's Song by Andrew Peterson that perfectly describes what all is happening to me with preparing for my trip (click the link to hear the song, lyrics listed below). It's based on Isaiah 55: 10-13, 62:11 and John 15:1-11 and talks about GOD preparing us for HIM through the image of a sower in a garden.
Please continue to pray that GOD will prepare us, the rest of the mission team, and the people we will minister to for all HE has in store. Pray that unnecessary distractions will continue to fade away and we will be able to keep our focus on our Savior Yeshua (Jesus) ONLY. And praise HIM for providing everything we need to go on this trip and for removing a big hinderance for me! GOD is not unaware of all these things and I know you guys know that, but just think of prayer as you requesting weapons on mine and Jonathan behalf in order for us to complete our journey as I know you will faithfully do.
The Sower's Song
By: Andrew Peterson
Oh God, I am furrowed like the field torn open like the dirt
And I know that to be healed that I must be broken first
I am aching for the yield that you will harvest from this hurt
Abide in me let these branches bear you fruit
Abide in me Lord as I abide in you
So I kneel at the bright edge of the garden
At the golden edge of dawn at the glowing edge of spring
When the winters edge is gone
And I can see the color green I hear the sowers song
Abide in me let these branches bear you fruit
Abide in me Lord let you word take root
Remove in me the branch that bears no fruit
Remove in me Lord as I abide in you
As the rain the snow fall
Down from the sky and they don't return
But they water the earth and they bring forth life
Giving seed to the sower and bread for the hunger
So shall the Word of the Lord be with a sound like thunder
And it will not return and it will not return void
We shall we lead in peace and go out with joy
And the hills before us will raise their voices
And the trees of the field will clap their hands as the land rejoices
And instead of the thorn now the cypress towers
And instead of the brier the myrtle blooms with a thousand flowers
And it will make a name
Make a name for our God
A sign everlasting will never be cut off
As the earth brings forth sprouts from seed
What is sown in the garden grows into a mighty tree
So the Lord plants justice
Justice and praise to rise before the nations until the end of the days
As the rain the snow fall
Down from the sky and they don't return
But they water the earth and they bring forth life
Giving seed to the sower and bread for the hunger
So shall the Word of the Lord be with a sound like thunder
And it will not return and it will not return void
And it will not return and it will not return void
It will not return It will not return void
We shall be lead in peace and go out with joy
And the sower leads us
And the sower leads us
And the sower leads us
***Note from Susan * Hi People!! So between getting ready for my mission trip to NY and my day job I've been REALLY busy lately! So my wonderful Mother agreed to help me out by doing a book review. Hope you guys enjoy and I'll see y'all in my next NY update!**
A Ladies of Harper Station Novel
She Trusts Him for the Job,
But Can She Trust Him With Her Heart?
Men are optional. That was the credo Emma Chandler's suffragette aunts taught her and why she established Harper's Station, a women's colony that offers
a fresh start to females in need. But when a dangerous and shadowy assailant tries repeatedly to drive the women out, Emma is forced
to admit they might need a man after all. One who can fight. And there is only one man she trusts enough to ask.
Malachi Shaw has finally earned the respect he's always craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma's telegram arrives,
he rushes back to Texas to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she's not a girl any longer. She's a woman with a mind of her own
and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn't deserve.
As the danger intensifies, Emma, Mal, and the ladies of Harper's Station must choose safety or whether to risk everything to fight for their future.
I (Susan's mother) should probably start this review by stating that just prior to reading this novel, I read two other stories over the last week or so. One was a mystery-historical romance so that was a little different from the norm and the other was an extremely well written story that ended up having the romance as a backdrop to the setting instead of vice-versa and was very refreshing to read.
I've read my fair share of fiction. In fact, I LOVE to read. When my children were little I had to be careful with my reading. Once I opened a novel I became so absorbed in it that everything else around me just faded away. "Just one more chapter" was often heard coming from my lips as my children ran around me doing pretty much what they pleased because I was so distracted. I still am this way; the children are just older now so it's not such a big deal. As I said, I've read my fair share of fiction, much of that Historical Romance. I've even read some of Ms. Witemeyer's work before. And it is not that she is a bad writer; in fact, I prefer her work to some others. It is just that there was very little "uniqueness" to this story. I pretty much could tell you everything that was going to happen before the third chapter was finished. I will say that I did not know "why" the town was in danger until she revealed it, but it really didn't matter to me because I could predict so many other parts of the story. Even little "hints" were so obvious.
Emma Chandler thinks that men are optional. Unfortunately for us, as is with sooooo many Historical Romance novels today, a unique storyline is optional as well. Don't get me wrong. It's not that this story is bad but it is predictable.
The first line on the back of the book hints that this is to be a series of novels: A Ladies of Harper Station Novel
There were several other characters in the story that I wouldn't mind reading more about IF they could be more original. However, I would probably never find myself re-reading this novel. It just didn't have enough to draw me back to it again and again.
As I mentioned before, Ms Witemeyer isn't a bad author, she just needs something new and refreshing. Much like many other authors of today.
Overall, I would give this 2 stars out of 5 (see side bar for review scale). I wavered between 2 and 3 but honestly, I know I would not keep it to re-read and really could have used my time more wisely so the 2 stars fit better.
**NOTE* A word to the discerning parent of pre-teen or teen readers, even though most of the "physical romance" is limited, it is a little more detailed than I would prefer my unmarried daughter to read. Unmarried girls don't need any help in the romance-fantasy department in my opinion and the less they read about the tingling on their arms, flipping in the stomach, husky breaths on their neck, and intense kissing the better. Just my opinion though.**
P.S. I was given No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion
38 more days! That's how many day sI have left before I leave on my mission trip to Brooklyn New York! I'm so excited but at the same time I'm anxious about the trip!
Will we get the money in time?
How am I going to witness to people of a completely different denomination than me?
What if I get lost at the airport?
I have so many concerns but I know that my Heavenly Father sees the future, I don't (see Jer 29:11), and that there are people (like you!) out there who are praying for me every step of the way. So I wanted to post a few prayer requests so that those of you praying for us have something specific to pray about. I know it helps me when I'm praying for someone to know specific needs, that way I'm not just saying "Lord please help this person." It somehow makes it more personal in a way that really helps me "bare my brother's burden" as commanded in the Bible (see Gal 6:2).
Please pray for:
*The safe and on-time travel to and from NYC and to and from all our NYC destinations. Neither Jonathan nor I have ever traveled by ourselves before (let alone fly!) so this aspect makes us VERY nervous! Please pray that our travel will go smoothly and that GOD will send HIS heavenly arm to protect us.
* The health and wellbeing of all the Shalom Brooklyn participants and staff. I (Susan) tend to have some digestive issues if I eat out for a long period of time. Please pray that this will not be an issue and that if it is that I will be given the strength to press on regardless of how I feel.
* The successful support raising for every one the Lord has called to this ministry. I'm not going to lie, money is a BIG issue right now and we really don't want to go into debt over a mission trip. Please pray that the funds will be provided before our deadline.
The below requests have come directly from Chosen People Ministries in relation to Shalom Brooklyn:
* The Spiritual preparation of all our hearts. Pray that we will yield our hearts to the control of the Holy Spirit so we may be motivated always by love for HaShem (The Name), and each other.
* For a spirit of unity and cooperation as we work together all week
* We will all catch a vision for what the Lord is doing among the Jewish People in Brooklyn and beyond
* That we will learn new skills and gain new knowledge for His Kingdom
* For our open, loving hearts toward the Jewish people and our team
* For the Jewish people's spiritual eyes to be opened, and their hearts to be softened to the love of God in the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), and the truth of the Gospel
* For spiritual fruit that will last for all eternity
* For anything else that comes to mind about our time together:)
Again thank you to everyone who is praying and supporting us through this journey. May you be blessed a hundred fold for your efforts!
Hey Everybody! I know it's been a while since I've last posted, life has been crazy this 2016!
But I did want to take a moment to tell y'all about something exciting happening in just a little over a month!
My brother Jonathan and I will be going on our first mission trip and anyone want to guess where? I’ll give you a hint: “I want to be a part of it...” come on, you know this song! That’s right!
On July 22nd we will be heading to Brooklyn, NY for 8 days to work with Chosen People Ministries and the Jewish community there. Neither of us have gone on a mission trip before, so this makes us both nervous and cautiously optimistic. We’re excited to see how GOD will use us, but at the same time it is very sobering to be a part of the Great Commission. GOD told us to take the gospel to the Jew first and then to the Gentile (see Rms 1:16; Matt 28:19-20; Rms 11) This is an important commandment which we are trying not to take lightly.
A lot of what we will be doing will be street ministry in the Jewish community of Brooklyn through the program, Shalom Brooklyn. One person out of every four in Brooklyn is Jewish so we should be busy! Most don’t even know that their Messiah has come. Chosen People Ministries will be teaching us how to witness to Jews using Isaiah 53. This chapter is a prophecy outlining what the Messiah looks like. In particular it shows that the Jewish Messiah has indeed come, and that He IS Yeshua (Jesus).
Before you ask, yes, we are raising funds for this trip. Together we will need about $4,800 which includes our travel fees. Due to some family circumstances, we are getting in on this trip at the last minute. Thus, our fundraising time is short; our balance is due on June 15 (That's TOMORROW!). However, we feel led to step out on faith and proceed with this trip. If you would like to donate towards our trip please leave a comment below and I can send you more details.
We are excited about the trip ahead and would love for you to be a part of this journey by praying and interceding for us! I will be posting updates here on the blog so be sure to check them out! (NOTE: I will not be able to post while I'm actually in NY but there will be post coming!) . All prayers and donations are very much appreciated and we can’t wait to share with ya’ll what GOD does.
So “start spreading the news!” We’re leaving soon!
Shalom soon from Brooklyn,
Jonathan and Susan
My family attends a Messianic congregation. By Messianic I mean that we believe that Jesus was a Jew and we study the Bible through a Jewish mindset. We look at the traditions and customs of the Jewish people and through that we are given a better understand of the way the Bible was laid out and the way Jesus taught while HE was here on earth. It's been a big eye opening experience to study with this mindset because I use to read certain parts of the Bible (mainly Paul's letters) and be very confused by how certain things were laid out. But by looking at the culture and time frame these events and letters of The Bible were written in it has opened up new meaning and a greater understanding to GOD's truths for me.
So naturally I would be drawn to a book about a Gentile going through the Biblical Exodus and how GOD adopted her into HIS family. The Bible says in Exodus 12:38 that "A mixed multitude went up with them (the children of Israel) also, ..." (parenthesis are mine). What would it have been like to be the average non-Jew leaving Egypt? What would they have felt like? What might be going through their minds? These questions intrigued me to dive into Kiya's story.
After the first few chapters introduce you to the main character, an Egyptian slave named Kiya, the story starts off with the first of the ten plagues of Egypt; the Nile turning to blood. The author wastes no time in throwing Kiya, and you the reader, into the chaos that invaded Egypt but, at the same time, allows you to experience what all exactly was going on during the time of the plagues. While I wish a little more time was given to the plagues as a whole Mrs. Cossette stays true to the timeline of The Bible where it mentions how long each plague lasted (ex, one week for the water into blood, three days of darkness, and so on...). Most of the time I feel (or at least I know I myself do this) we tend to overlook the "time" parts of The Bible when it mentions how long certain events took place and view it as only a day or so in our minds. This can greatly distort our idea of The Scriptures so I was very pleased with how Mrs. Cossette handled the timing element of the story.
About halfway through the book the actual exiting from Egypt begins. The hardships of living in the desert and the challenges the Israelites experienced almost gives the reader a sense of pity and understanding towards the complaints of the Israelites (almost, but not quite). You can really see how their patience with GOD would run out and despair would set in. But, like in the original account, GOD always took care of HIS people and the amazement of those miracles was magnified and made personal to Kiya and the reader.
I would encourage you to read the original Exodus account (found in Exodus chapters 1-19) as you read along with Counted With the Stars. While the author does a very good job of keeping true to the original account, this is NOT The Holy Scriptures. She does use creative liberties in some parts (like in the parting of the red sea and the giving of the covenant at Mt. Sinai) that add to the development of the story, but they are not Biblical truths.
Overall Counted With the Stars by: Connilyn Cossette is a great story putting names and faces to the original Exodus. I give it a 4 out of 5 rating (see side bar for review scale). I didn't give it a 5 because I felt like the story needed to be a little bit longer. While the author did a tremendous job overall, I felt some areas of the book needed a little more time than was given to them. Also, while she did create some great points and drama to add to the story, and it is evident she did her research, like I said before this book is NOT The Bible and I was afraid that by giving it a 5 that people would read it with the mindset that it was 100% accurate to Scripture. As with everything in life we should do our research so that we can present OURSELVES as "... approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2 : 15 NJKV
P.S. I was given Counted With the Stars by: Connilyn Cossette by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion
Eight setups. Eight awkward dates. Eight things God tried to teach her along the way.
(Some of which she’s still trying to figure out.)
Stephanie Rische was starting to feel invisible. All around her, her friends were getting married, and she found herself decidedly alone. Stephanie couldn’t help but wonder if there was something broken in her—was she not pretty enough? Not fun enough? Not dateable enough (whatever that meant)? So she started praying in earnest for God to bring the right man into her life. And instead, He brought her matchmakers. Eight of them, to be precise.
Beloved blogger Stephanie Rische debuts with this charming, vulnerable, and (who are we kidding?) often mortifying true story of a girl who tried really hard to find someone to fall in love with—even when she mostly just ended up falling flat on her face. But amid the most cringeworthy setups and awkward encounters, Stephanie found God’s grace and love meeting her there in ways she never could have imagined—once she opened her eyes to see.
I read this book for one reason:
Because of the title.
I mean come on! If you saw a book with a title like I Was Blind (Dating) But Now I See by: Stephanie Rische wouldn't you pick it up just to see what it's about? But even though I had only one reason for reading this book I have thousands to re-read it and for recommending it to others.
Most books about singleness (at least in my experience) seem to fall in one of two categories: the You're-Single-But-Jesus-Is-All-You-Need book and the Here's-How-To-Get-You-a-Good-Christian-Man book.
This one is neither.
This is a book chronicling one woman's journey through the ups and downs of singlehood and how God taught her lessons about life and living it abundantly. The author is very personal and as you read you begin to feel that you're not reading a book as much as you're sitting down with a good friend being open and honest with each other. Ms. Rische also is not this famous person who has experienced life in a way we as readers haven't. She's your average woman going through a life very similar, if not exactly like, yours. Her struggles are not the far off ones like battling a foreign disease but the everyday I-don't-even-want-to-get-out-of-bed-because-I'm-single-and-I-hate-it battles that take place in the moment by moments of our day. So many times I would be reading a chapter and I would think "I feel the same way at times! Wow! I thought I was the only one!". Ms. Rische is very relatable and personal to her audience.
Secondly this book is very easy to read. The author divides her book into 8 parts consisting of 6 or so chapters about 5 pages long each. The book is laid out very much like a devotional in the fact that each chapter is a story that stands by itself but goes along with the part its in. You can read one story (but I bet you can't ;) and feel satisfied with putting the book down for the night and not have the "need" to finish it in one setting because the main character is hanging off the edge of a cliff about to die. I actually didn't want to rush this book; I wanted to let it play out in the way the author's life played out in reality.
And finally, this book is funny y'all! I mean FUN-NY! It takes a rare kind of book to make me laugh or cry out loud but this one accomplished that with no problem. I would be sitting on the couch reading and then all of a sudden start belly laughing and my family would just stare at me like "What is your problem?" Oh if only they knew what I knew at that moment!
The only downfall I had was that I wish there were more references to scripture throughout the story. The author does use a few to make a point (and honestly a few of them I thought were a stretch) but I personally wish there were a few more than what she did use.
I Was Blind (Dating) But Now I See by: Stephanie Rische brings home the grand prize of 5 out of 5 stars from me (see side bar for book rating scale). With humor, relatable experiences, and beautiful honesty this book is an excellent reminder of the all familiar truths we so easily forget. I'm honestly debating on keeping this book for my singleness survive kit (am I the only one who has one?) or giving it away to someone I know on their own singleness journey. But either way this will be one purchase that will be worth every cent you spend.
***Note and spoiler alert...
Although the author does get married her happy ending does not come from meeting her husband. It's almost like she finished the book and remembered "Oh yeah! I got married!". This is actually my favorite part (not because it's romantic) but because the author finds true happiness in life (and realizes it) before she even meets her soulmate. One of the biggest pit falls that women (and men) fall into is that we have to have a mate in order to be truly happy. Mrs. Rische shows that she experienced completeness in life when she finally accepted the life GOD had planned for her and stopped trying to make it into what she thought it should be. What a beautiful ending to a beautiful story and that same ending can be yours too...
If you so choose it.***
Additional Note: I was given I Was Blind (Dating) But Now I See by: Stephanie Rische by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.
**Note from Susan: Hey guys! I hope everyone is staying warm this winter. There is nothing like getting all nice and cozy inside with a great book and a warm cup of tea (or hot chocolate, or coffee, whatever your taste may be :). This review doubles as guest post because it is actually written by my brother Jonathan. Jonathan is an aspiring author who, you will find out quickly, has a beautiful way with words! I asked him to write this review for me to see if book reviewing is something he might be interested in. I hope you guys enjoy his review and I'll catch y'all later in another post!
P.S. Also, be a dear and write Jonathan a nice little comment telling him how he did :)**
The Shadow of War.
A Clash of Brothers. A Terrible Sacrifice.
In the Face of Powerful Darkness, Who Will Prevail?
The island of Seare is at war. The Red Druid is gathering strength and power to stand against Conor, Eoghan, and the brotherhood. But there is strife within the brotherhood as well. Eoghan still refuses to claim his rightful rule, and the resulting conflict creates an uncomfortable distance between him and Conor. When Conor leaves to find the key to defeating the Red Druid, Eoghan and Aine worry he will succumb to the danger, and they attempt their own mission to defeat the Red Druid through Aine's magical gifts.
But Nothing--And No One--Is As It Seems.
I'm always fascinated to see a book which belongs to a series that boasts "a novel" proudly on the front cover (I say "proudly" though it is usually typed in teeny print below an eloquent title such as The Sword and The Song). My thinking goes along the lines of: "Oh boy! A series comprised of novels that can stand by themselves but united are even better!" And the fact that the declaration is so small makes me feel like I am in on a privileged secret that possibly no one else knows about. What could be better?
Needless to say, I have been let down more than once, and I realize it is largely based on slightly unreasonable expectations.
Such was my approach to The Sword and The Song. I was expectant and slightly wary. Naturally, I was not prepared to be wary about everything, though, so the first line smacked me in the face (metaphorically, like a limp fish). The author, C. E. Laureano, started the book off with no reserves. The first sentence states that our hero has just dodged a swinging sword by a mere couple of inches (a mere couple of inches more than I am able to dodge limp fish). Engaging right? Well, it might be.
To me it would have been fine if not for the fact that The Sword and The Song makes the third (Third!) book I can give you the title of that starts off in that way, and the second to use almost the exact same sentence to do so. The other two (which were both from separate series) didn't go over with me quickly either. I'm fine when an author goes all in in the first chapter. I think it's great. But certain ways that authors try to go all in make me feel like maybe I've just experienced the best that they had to offer. Ernest Hemingway and Baby Shoes aside, if an author can contain the best they have to offer in a single sentence I find it, well, small.
Not a good start, I'll admit. But other than a few of my own misgivings (mostly concerning fish and my slow reflexes) the story was well rounded and fascinating to a point. It does take a minute to get up to speed. Politics rein for a few short chapters, and confusion abounded as I learned a million new words. It took a while but soon I was reading "Hm-hmm" and "Ahrrd-dard-dard-hmmm" and "Fi-fu-hmm" like a pro (and proudly doing so, though I'm glad I wasn't reading out loud).
The author throws magic in a lot (At times I felt like I was reading a video game). Largely she used the idea that magic was the infestation of power from the character she used to represent GOD. But unlike C. S. Lewis' Narnia she didn't seem to capture the theological aspects of that. She only got the wow factor.
In an interview with the author she says:
"...Of course, the addition of magic changes things, so I got to imagine how the existence of supernatural gifts and blood magic might have affected their culture. I also re-envisioned the faerie mythology from a neutral, mischievous role into something more malevolent."
Characters and Such:
As the book progressed I learned to respect the main character, Conor (In my opinion he is the best part of the book). He is discerning and relatively knowledgable. And, according to an interview with the author, Conor is also her favorite character:
"...He’s definitely the one I find most personally relatable. He knows he was created for something greater, but he doesn’t always make the right decisions—he lets his emotions sway his thinking and he lets down the people who depend on him—but he always comes through in the end. In that way, he’s something of a Biblical hero than a superhero...David was described as a man after God’s own heart, but he still did some seriously stupid things. "
Conor struggles in meaningful ways that feel far less half hearted and half developed than they could have easily been, and I can only imagine how much more meaningful they would be if I had read the other two books in the series first.
Which may bring us to the problem. I have not read the first two books in the series.
Which may have brought us to the other problem. I find myself able to pass on the other two.
While I don't regret reading the book exactly, it was not my style. The character development, while not as outstanding as J.R.R. Tolkien or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was, in fact, developed well. Certain characters really stood out to me in their own way. The problem is their own way just wasn't to my taste.
What I'm saying here is this: Too many things got in the way of me enjoying The Sword and The Song. It has themes of sacrifice in it, but it also has random threads of selfishness. It has people strongly devoted to their moral code and to their religion, but it also has awkward acts against that same religion and code (I am referring to things that I found too common to just be explained away as "contrast"). Between that and a couple of sexual references, though they were relatively tastefully handled, I find it hard to recommend. Going by the rating system on the side bar, I would give it a 2 (and three quarters) out of 5.
Here are some additional insights into the author from the above mentioned interview:
What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
"I didn’t want to write a “safe” story where you know that everything is going to be okay and everyone will come out unharmed—because real life isn’t like that. It can be scary and messy and unpredictable. But through it all, if you look hard enough, is the ever-present thread of God’s grace and provision. My greatest wish is that readers come away with the understanding that they have a purpose, that they matter, that God cares for them as individuals and not just as a face in the crowd. I’ll consider my job done if readers walk away with hope."
P.S. I was given The Sword and The Song by: C. E. Laureano_ by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.
**Note- Hey guys! I know you're probably tired of only reading book reviews on this blog, but Clothed in Righteousness is going through a lot of changes that isn't giving me much time to blog about. I am working on several post that, hopefully, when these changes are complete, will give me a better posting schedule. Until then, please keep me in your prayers as I seek what The LORD's will is regarding my life and business and enjoy this review!**
With Her Future In Jeopardy, This Unforgettable Heroine Won't Go Down Without a Fight!
Strong and adventurous Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers, but her parents view her only as a marriage pawn. When her domineering father makes plans to see her wed to a brutish man, Gwendolyn must fight for her future.
She's surprised, however, for that clash to include a handsome, good-hearted newcomer. Allen of Ellsworth arrives in Edendale searching for his place in the world, but he finds in Gwendolyn the most unexpected of women.
Tournaments, intrigue, and battles--along with twists and turns aplenty--await these two as they struggle to find love, identity, and their true destinies.
If you will remember when I did my review on Dauntless I mentioned that Allen was my favorite character and I hoped that he would be in another book because I wanted to hear the end of his story. Well guess who is one of the heroes in Dina L. Sleiman's second book in The Valiant Heart Series? I was so please to be able to continue Allen's story as he now searches for his place and identity in this world.
Chivalrous also tells the tale of Gwendolyn, a young girl who, very much like Merry in Dauntless, struggles with her identity as a women in a world where females are viewed as marriage pawns. Because of this there is that whole "I-can-do-anything-a-man-can-do" attitude in Gwendolyn's character. But much like Merry in Dauntless, she learns how to be as chivalrous as a knight while not being the one in charge. There is even a scene at the end where Gwendolyn goes to fight for her own right but ends up allowing a man to fight for her showing that, even though she is quite capable, she is choosing to stay in her role as second in command and allows a man to be the leader.
I was very pleased that there was less kissing in this book than there was in Dauntless. But because one of the main themes of the story is that women were viewed at that time as marriage pawns, sex was discussed more in this book than in the other. This subject could not be avoided. But the author did a fantastic job handling it never going into detail, but still addressing the topic in a respectful manner. One of the characters in the book you find out does commit sex outside of marriage. But because the author did not finish their story I am assuming this means it will be brought back up in a later book since this character took on the same role as Allen did in Dauntless.
Gwendolyn's spiritual journey was a very refreshing one compare to all the other books I've encountered in this genre. Most of the time in a christian romance either the main hero or heroine is not a born-again christian and the other is and the whole book seems to be centered on trying to get the other character saved so the two can live happily ever after in the end. However this is not the case in Chivalrous. You see from the very beginning that GOD is wooing Gwendolyn to HIMself and in the end she chooses HIM of her own accord; not because she must in order to end up with Allen. Allen is a tool used to help draw her to GOD but she does not choose GOD because she loves Allen; she chooses GOD because she loves GOD (she even is willing to accept not being with Allen if that is The LORD's will for her because she knows that HE is going to take care of her in the end). I believe this is how every relationship must be. GOD is your first and main love Who is far more important to you than any other, even your spouse, and I think Mrs. Sleiman did a fine job of showing that in the end.
There is one part in the book that I'm very disappointed in. At one point Allen is caught saying something that he does not necessarily believe to be true. When confronted Allen states that, quote "... the truth wears many faces." then proceeds to defend his previous statement that he is being confronted on. I do not believe this statement is true at all. Lies wear many faces, but there is only one Truth and that Truth never changes. If you are speaking the truth, then you either are speaking the whole truth or speaking part of it mixed with something else which ends up turning it into a lie. I had hoped that the author would come back and make Allen correct himself, like she has a tendency to do, but she did not this time thus leaving the audience with a false assumption.
Over all though Chivalrous was a pleasant read which gave me the ending for Allen that I was wanting in a way I was not expecting. I was a little disappointed because there were several spots were I felt like I was re-reading Dauntless and not experiencing a whole new story. But maybe that was because some of the themes were along the same lines. Anyway, I'm awarding Chivalrous by: Dina L. Sleiman a 4 out of 5 rating (see side bar for book review scale). I can't wait to see what Mrs. Sleiman comes out with next in her Valiant Hearts Series!
P.S. I was given Chivalrous by: Dina L. Sleiman by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.
Ray and Betty Whipps both served in Europe during WWII: Ray as an infantryman under General Patton in the trenches of Normandy, Paris, and Belgium, and Betty as a field nurse in Cherbourg, France. The two met when Betty tended to Ray after he was injured in a mortar blast. Both strong Christians, the two bonded over their shared faith, and as Betty nursed Ray back to health, they fell in love and vowed to marry after the war. However, soon after Ray returned to his unit, he was captured by German forces and held captive in Stalag VII, Germany’s largest prisoner of war camp. It was there that Ray’s faith was put to the ultimate test as he endured the most horrific weeks of his life—weeks marked by brutality, malnutrition, back-breaking labor, and near-constant death. The only thing that kept him alive was the dream of someday reuniting with Betty.
Told in first person from Ray’s perspective, with personal wartime letters from Betty interspersed throughout, ’Til We Meet Again is a sweeping love story set amid the backdrop of WWII. The perfect combination of “in the trenches” battlefield accounts and classic 1940s romance, this memoir reads almost like a novel. It is an epic story of faith, hope, and love, and a nostalgic look back at one of the most memorable periods in American history.
I am very proud to be able to review this book because I come from a heritage of veterans. My two great-grandfathers fought in WWII, one of my grandfathers served in the military during peace time and the other fought in the Vietnam War. I am honored to be able to live in a free country because my forefathers fought for the freedom I now have and getting to hear stories from them about their time in service is something I thoroughly enjoy. 'Till We Meet Again is no exception.
Even though this is a non-fiction book, it reads like a fictional story; which is one of the aspects of this book that I loved. There are very few non-fiction books I like so I enjoyed the fact that I felt like I was reading an actually story and not a history book full of facts. There were even times I forgot that what I was reading really did happen because of the "story like aspect" of the book. Having the letters inserted at the end of the chapters helped "bring me back to reality" and give a more personal feel to the story.
This book did, in my opinion, a good job at taking the violent aspect of war and making it palatable. It didn't hid from the blood of war making this story into a "fairytale", but it did put it into a way that was easy for the reader to digest.
While the book itself is a great WWII drama I felt that it was marketed wrong. 'Till We Meet Again is the story about Ray and Betty's romance but I felt more so that it was about Ray's personal wartime story. The book starts out when Ray is just a little boy in Ohio and takes you through his teenage years, the day he is drafted, and on through his time spent in training and service. He does not meet his future bride until over half way into the book. After that the rest of the story seems to but put into high gear as it hurries to get to the end. The description on the back of the book (see above) describes the time Ray spends in Stalag VII-A (Germany's largest POW camp) as the most important and climaxing part of the story. However, this is not the case and the spiritual journey of Ray was down played here. The time Ray spends in captivity is greatly rushed and without much detail. While marketed that this time was Ray's most trying test of faith, we barely get anything out of the author(s) as to what exactly was going on inside his head and heart other than he was just "tired and defeated". Throughout the entire book the author(s) mention and show how Ray's strong faith in GOD was the main thing pulling him through, but we don't get much back ground on how he got to this point. In the beginning the author(s) describe a point where Ray began to struggle with his faith but the very next thing that happens is Ray is drafted and suddenly all of his doubts seem to be forgotten as he clings to the hope he has in Messiah. While the authors did a wonderful job pointing the finger back at GOD and how HE worked through the whole story and giving HIM all the credit, I wish they would have spent some more time developing Ray's spiritual progression to the point of his unshakeable faith than they did.
Over all 'Till We Meet Again is an exciting, epic. The ending I felt was a bit rushed and a few key elements I felt were not full developed like they should have been. But the book does a great job showing a real life war through the eyes of a real, ordinary soldier in a way that we as civilians who have never experienced such can stomach. I'd give 'Till We Meet Again by: Ray & Betty Whipps with Craig Borlase a 5 out of 5 (see side bar for rating scale).
Ray mentions at the end of the book, he not "any kind of hero". If we view a "hero" as someone to be idolized as a god than no, Ray is not a hero. He is a victor. A conquer who by following the orders of his Heavenly General persevered through, in my opinion, one of the worlds most spiritually testing times in history. And through his and his wife's story, and the stories of my grandfathers and other veterans, I am given the courage to stand strong in the face of danger. For my GOD is with me wherever I may go.
"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
Joshua 1:9 KJV
P.S. I was given Till We Meet Again by: Ray & Betty Whipps with Craig Borlase by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.