The 60-Minute Health Literacy – common sense approach to informed decision making By Jo Kline, J. D.,  


Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Preparing for Decision Making – Managing the Long Range Treatment of Multiple Chronic Conditions

In her new book “The 60-Minute Health Literacy” attorney and bestselling author, Jo Kline, J.D. provides the reader with the practical tools of managing health care decisions for yourself or a loved one. Kline describes health literacy as “the tools and resources needed to make informed decisions regarding preventative, routine, emergency, and end of life care.”

I found the Index of decision-making dilemmas and the medical profile forms, as well as the chapters on The Building Blocks of Health Literacy, Palliative Care, Assembling a Health Care Team, and Keeping accurate Paperwork, especially helpful.

As an aging senior and designated as the durable power of attorney for health care for my wife, an Alzheimer’s patient, I plan to keep my copy of “The 60-Minute Health Literacy” within arm’s reach of my desk for easy reference at all times as I put into practice this “common sense approach to informed medical decision making.”

In today’s complex world of modern technology, advanced research in medicine, new life-sustaining pharmaceuticals, and artificial means of life support Jo Kline’s “The 60-Minute Health Literacy” is important reading for every senior adult, caregiver, designated executor or guardian.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Providentia Publishing, West Des Moines, Iow978-0692955062, $ 14.99, 2017, 80 pages





Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy By Becky Baudouin – a Book Review

Product DetailsReviewed by Richard R. Blake

Finding Hope and Help in Seasons of Grief and Suffering

Becky Baudouin was devastated when she learned of an inoperable tumor on her mother’s lung?  Her fear triggered an alarm, followed by apprehension and anxiety.

In her book “Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy” Baudouin relates stories from her childhood, and expresses her fears and insecurities at home, in school, and in her relationships. She tells of how, as a teenager, she became a follower of Jesus and the impact this has made in her life.

A central theme of lessons learned from her mother is beautifully woven throughout the tapestry of the book. Each fast moving chapter is filled with faith building examples and scriptural promises.

Lessons I learned from reading “Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy” include:

  • A willingness to become vulnerable
  • To respect the feelings of other family members
  • God never intended for us to walk alone
  • Our times are in God’s hands
  • To be joyful in hope and patient in affliction
  • The peacefulness of our mutual faith drawing together in a unique closeness
  • Accepting the process of death and the conflicting feelings of loss and agonizing dread, and the wonderful new life awaiting in heaven

“Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy” is an important and meaningful resource for anyone experiencing suffering or facing the uncertainties and grief brought on by a terminal illness.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Kregel Publications, Inc., 2450 Oak Industrial Drive N.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49505,  978-0825444746, $14.99, 2017, 176 pages

Dementia Grief – A Unique Experience – From My Journal

An entry from my journal – Saturday, May 13, 2017

by Richard R. Blake

Dementia Grieving

Today I talked to a bumble bee. Well maybe not a real conversation, I talked. He buzzed. I directed him to the red colored nectar in my humming bird feeder. Never once did I see his wings stop. I wondered if he, as I do, ever experienced shortness of breath. He left me to ponder this as the sun peeked out between the clouds in an unpredictable pattern above the trees.

I continued in my reverie as I relaxed in my pre-father’s day gift, a “slider rocker” stationed on our deck enjoying the peacefulness, and the stunning back drop of trees that surrounded me.

My thoughts turned to Thelma. She is fragile now, weighing less than 100 pounds. Attentive to my gentle words of encouragement, I softly urge her to share her thoughts with me. Her smile is my reward. Her way of communicating, “I do love you, Dick.”

In the midst of my loneliness, I sense the quiet gentle whisper of the heavenly father, through the cooing of a mourning dove.  I look up in awe at the thought of His waiting, too, for me to respond, maybe with a soft smile to acknowledge my love, and the awareness of His presence.

The shrill of a redwing blackbird, at the birdfeeder, calling for his mate, became another reminder of the wonder of God’s creation, and of His desire for our fellowship. The bumble bee returned, buzzed at me, flew on by, destination unknown.

I am now addressing the bee as “honey” as I smile – contentedly alone – but not alone. Thelma and I are still sharing the miracle of life, and I want to treasure these remaining days, weeks, months, or years, one day at a time.


Alzheimer’s research and independent studies reveal a relationship of pre-death grief in the experience of dementia caregivers. These studies address issues of ambiguous loss, as this relates to the grief process brought on by stress, the burden of caregiving, and the consequent tendency to develop depression.

Ambiguous losses include the loss of friends, loss of social life, loss of flexibility, loss of aspirations, and the loss of hope. [i]

In the early days of our journey questions by well-meaning friends often threw me off guard. Questions begin with “Are you aware of Thelma’s (implying Thelma’s advancing stage of dementia)?” were asked at social gatherings or in a group setting including Thelma, I became deeply hurt or offended.  How could I not be aware? I lived with Thelma twenty-four/seven.

I tried to cover for Thelma’s inadequacies in similar groups. We both became pretty good bluffers. However, it became increasingly difficult to enter into meaningful conversations as the “breadth” and scope of our world continued to shrink.

I began to withdraw. Soon we were foregoing church dinners for our own private dinner dates at Denny’s, or the “all you can eat buffets.” Our dates often included a quick tour of the Dollar Store or grocery shopping at Safeway. I begin to withdraw.

Getting together with the family has taken on a new dimension.  The great grandchildren’s enthusiasm, high energy level, giggles and laughter bring pure joy. Fast paced conversations, catching up on family news, and lots of delicious food, are all important.  Little by little I am get recognizing a unique sadness, a missing piece, so close to my heart. Thelma is not with us. I miss her dearly.

Now that Thelma is in an Assisted Living Care Facility, I face new challenges. In social gatherings, I am no longer able to include Thelma. I become envious of those couples who sit by side by side with their wives in comfortable conversation, and I am guarded in my conversations with women in the group who have lost their mates.

I try to compensate for these loses by reaching out to others in the community with a sincere smile, a word of encouragement, expressions of appreciation, sharing a current story of ways Thelma can still express her love, her simplest needs, or maybe a humorous observation of how I may have displeased her in some small way.

Thelma’s example has taught me to recognize that there are no strangers in our world, only unintroduced friends.

I am intentional about building a balanced life, by putting an emphasis on the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional prerequisites of a well-rounded whole being. I keep hope alive by setting new goals, enjoying the natural beauty of Southwest Michigan, the lake, the wonder of the changing seasons, and I try to compensate for the demands of caregiving through the flexibility of retirement, the gift of imagination, and the rewards of self-discovery.

A positive look at these ambiguous losses have given me new hope, challenged me to be alert for opportunities that will nurture emotional stability, spiritual growth, and creativity. I continue to remind myself that caregiving is love in action.


Questions to consider:

  1. Have you found it harder to stay in touch with friends? How has this impacted your sense of loss?
  2. How do you meet your social needs?
  3. How have you built flexibility into your heavy responsibilities as a caregiver?
  4. Do you still have dreams, a “bucket list” for the future?
  5. Did you see yourself in my reverie and observations of the birds and the “honey bee”? Or did you feel, “I think Richard is in serious need of therapy.”
  6. How do you keep hope alive in these difficult days of “grief” over ambiguous loss?

[i] Ambiguous Losses come with Caregiving, Harriet Hodgson

Why Bad Things Happen to God’s People Today – Making Sense of Trials & Tribulations in Your Life,” by Derek Prince – A Book Review

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake


Comfort and Strength in the Midst of Life’s Greatest Trials – Lessons from the Book of Job

In his book “Why Bad Things Happen to God’s People Today – Making Sense of Trials & Tribulations in Your Life” Derek Prince addresses questions from the life of Job that you may have asked or are asking: If God is good, why is there so much misery, suffering, and persecution in the world today. Prince goes beyond the simplistic answers to explore Satan’s trap of the sin of independence and the trials brought on by righteousness.

Academically brilliant, scholastically trained in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, and in several modern languages; Derek Prince had a life changing encounter with God while with the British Army during World War II. Anointed by the Holy Spirit, Prince is a gifted communicator and Bible teacher. His ministry continues to impact people’s lives today. Prince’s non-denominational emphasis adds to the relevance and acceptance of his teaching to Christians around the world today.

“Why Bad Things Happen to God’s People Today”  reveals God’s intimate concern for his faithful, and has an important message for anyone facing grief, in times of testing, financial needs, or in tense relationships with family or friends.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768411973, $12.99, 2017, 170 Pages
















A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Sun Still Rises, Surviving and Thriving After Grief and Loss by Shawn Doyle, CSP – A Book Review

The Sun Still Rises – Surviving and Thriving After Grief and Loss

By Shawn Doyle, CSP

Sound Wisdom, P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257,  978-0768405279, $ 14.99, 2014, 188 Pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

One Man’s Story of Dealing with Grief and Loss – Steps to Healing, Recovery, and Hope

Professional speaker, author, and advocate for life-long learning Shawn Doyle describes the emotions of his “soul crunching feelings” and the “painful agonizing soul searching” grief at the loss of his wife of 32 years in “The Sun Still Rises – Surviving and Thriving after Grief and Loss.”

Doyle helps the reader recognize and accept the fact that grieving is a personal process; there are no set formulas that work for everyone. He demystifies misinformation and the dangers of trying to fit into society’s rules. He shares his own experiences to help readers know what to expect and some pointers on evaluating their status and formulating plans while designing a new life.

Shawn writes with passion. Every page is infused with hope, empathy, and motivation. Chapters may begin and end with a motivating concept dealing with the specific theme of the material. I found these to be especially uplifting and reassuring. Doyle’s wring style is well organized and formatted filled with thoughtful descriptive phrases and a comfortable and a communication style that draws in the reader. I am looking forward to reading more of Shawn’s books.

Shawn’s goal in writing this book is to help others who are suffering through their loss. “The Sun Still Rises – Surviving and Thriving After Grief and Loss” is a personal story of love and hope including practical guidelines for coping with the process of grief and moving on to find a new life.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.




Bronner – A Journey to Understand – A Book Review

Bronner – A Journey to Understand
By: Sherri Burgess
New Hope Publishers
P O Box 12065, Birmingham, AL 35202
978-1625915009, $ 16.99, 2016, 222 Pages
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake
Finding Triumph in the Midst of Tragedy

‘’Bronner – A Journey to Understand” is a memorable, heart wrenching story that will impact the reader and linger in their thoughts long after the books’ covers are closed.

Sherri Burgess challenges the reader to find triumph in the midst of personal adversity through God’s limitless grace. Sherri’s writing is sensitive, filled with beautiful descriptions of defining moment, inner struggles, and personal victory.

A supplemental interactive reader’s guide: a resource for personal growth with life changing questions for application, contemplation, which will lead the reader to pursue a pure heart, manifest by a passion to know the heart of God, The study guide is designed for individual or small group use.

“Bronner – A Journey to Understand” will resonate with every parent and family who has experienced the loss of a child through death.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.