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

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Well – Healing Our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa, By Sarah Thebarge – A Book Review


Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Lessons You Can Learn when Love Looks Around

After reading the editorial reviews on Sarah Thebarge’s new book, “Well – Healing Our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa” I knew I had to read the book for myself. I thought I was ready to consider the hard questions we seldom want to face.

Author, Sarah Thebarge, a spokesperson for Compassion International, describes the seemingly hopeless conditions in Togo, West Africa, including the suffering, disease, the cultural conditions, and the discomfort of the climate extremities.

Chapter after chapter, Sarah kept me spellbound as she related her experiences. From baggage claim at the airport in Lomé the capital city of Togo, her first shift on the job at the Hospital of Hope in Togo, right on through her three months of Medical Ministry, I was drawn into the reality of a broken world and burdened by a deep concern to find my place in making a positive difference in the healing process.

Sarah writes with candor and an intense vulnerability that draws the reader into the conflicting reactions of the physically demanding, and emotionally challenging trauma of her experiences and in her search to find hope in an intolerable situation. Sarah’s writing grips your heart. Her sense of compassion becomes contagious.

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

Faith Words, Hattchet Book Group, Inc.1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N. Y., 10104, 978-1455553198, $20.00, 2017, 322 pages

 

 

 

Healing in His Presence – The Untold Secrets of Kathryn Kuhlman’s Healing Ministry and Relationship with the Holy Spirit By Joan Gieson – A Book Review


 

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Glimpse Behind the Scenes, a Supernatural Compassion, and a Miracle Working Impartation

“Healing in His Presence – The Untold Secrets of Kathryn Kuhlman’s Healing Ministry and Relationship with the Holy Spirit” is written with the express purpose of sharing unique salvation stories and miraculous healing testimonies with important secrets of Kathryn Kuhlman’s ministry to reveal important transferable concepts available to all believers.

Joan Gieson humbly relates experiences and observations of her relationship with Kathryn Kuhlman over an eight-year period of association with the healing ministry. “Healing in His Presence” is an unassuming story with a dynamic power and a life-changing message.

Gieson describes Miss Kuhlman as a captivating presence. The spirit of God was with her all the time. She never stopped pursuing God’s heart. Generations were reached and continue to be touched by Kathryn Kuhlman’s childlike faith in God’s healing power.

After her dramatic healing from blindness through Kathryn Kuhlman’s ministry Joan Gieson, with her husband Frank, worked closely with Miss Kuhlman, They also actively arranged bus and other transportation for sick the sick, physically impaired to attend the healing services.

A concluding prayer of impartation challenges the reader to step out in compassion to be the person God created and designed them to be. Skeptics, seekers, and Spirit-filled Christians will all sense a touch of the miraculous as they read of lives changed by the healing power of Jesus.

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, 978-0768414141, $15.99, 2017, 178 pages, Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

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


The Shattering II – Breaking the Silence

By: Marsha Barth

Reviewed By Richard R. Blake

A Memoir Written as a Novel – A Shattering Story of Child Sexual Abuse

In her book “The Shattering II – Breaking the Silence” Marsha Barth uses a fictional character, Julie, to relate her story of overcoming child sexual abuse. Through Julie, Marsha, tells how she tried to bury the hurt, pain, and heartbreaking trauma of parental verbal, physical, and sexual abuse.

Marsha’s writing is candid, open, realistic, and forthright. She helps the reader understand the devastation and intense traumatic sense of shame and hopelessness of the victim of abuse. Marsha tell how the aftermath of abuse shatters the spirit, robs its victims of self-worth, value and inadequacy, and an understanding of the meaning of true love. The social stigma and emotional scars of shame and guilt that follow are demeaning and unspeakable.

Marsha Barth is an inspirational speaker, author, and advocate for breaking the silence of the ongoing cycle of sexual abuse. She offers hope to victims in their quest for wholeness.

“The Shattering II” is a story with spiritual implication, an amazing story of a survivor of the hurt, pain, and brokenness of abuse, of her steadfast faith and her determination to overcome the hopelessness of a being victimized to claim victory, inner peace, and healing.

Deeply moving, clearly insightful, an important relevant message at a time when there are reportedly over 60,000,000 survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and countless other victims of rape, domestic abuse, and bullying.

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

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P . O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon, 97411, 978-1944297053, $16.95, 2017, 360 Pages

Teaching School is a Scream! Confessions of a Career Substitute By Judy Woods-Knight – A Book Review


Teaching School is a Scream! Confessions of a Career Substitute
By Judy Woods-Knight
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake
The Art and Challenge of Creating a Win/Win Teaching Situation

Using a memoir writing form Judy Woods-Knight tells of her experiences as a career substitute teacher. Her book “Teaching School is a Scream! Confessions of a Career Substitute” is filled with practical advice, lots of humor, and actual classroom experiences.

Judy’s enthusiasm, optimistic spirit, and subtle sense of humor help her face the uncertainties, and hassles so often prevailing in contemporary classrooms. Judy tells of the excitement and challenge “of daring children to cooperate and have real fun learning.”

In her preface Judy talks about the reasons she chose to become a substitute rather than having her “own classroom and all the benefits that go along with a full-time job.”  She goes on to develop some of the advantages for anyone who may be in the process of change or in the early stages of preparation for a career in teaching.

In a natural and logical progression Judy offers recommendations for creating a “Tool Kit” as well as back up plans for your first day as a substitute. She then moves into Part 1 of the book which is filled practical ideas for dealing with unforeseen dilemmas, with humorous and heartwarming stories, and with those unexpected miracles that bring joy and hope back to the classroom.

The final sections of the book deal with hands-on suggestions and illustrations for defusing problems and preventing disasters; she concludes with dozens of resource ideas and valuable suggestion for making learning fun.

Whether a Regular Classroom teacher or a Career Substitute you will resonate with Judy Knight’s heartwarming stories, real-world examples, and fun loving sense of humor.

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

Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411
978-1944297077, $ 12.95, 2017, 136 pages

It’s A New Life – Mom is Gone – A Memoir about Living Independently with Severe Cerebral Palsy – By Steven Salmon – A Book Review


It’s A New Life – Mom is Gone – A Memoir about Living Independently with Severe Cerebral Palsy

By: Steven B. Salmon

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon, 97411, 9781944297152, $ 12.95, 2017, 154 Pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

A Candid Message of Living with the Difficulties of Severe Cerebral Palsy

“It’s A New Life – Mom is Gone – A Memoir about Living Independently with Severe Cerebral Palsy” is Steven D. Salmon’s story.  This is an amazing Story of the aspirations, determination, dedication, and diligence that have motivated Steven in his passion to become a recognized, successful, and accomplished author. Steven shares his story of overcoming challenges to write about the physically disabled. He serves as a voice and advocate for the many who do not have a voice that is being heard

Steven’s mother dedicated her life to help him succeed. Steven has a Bachelor of Science degree in English with a writing minor from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens point and a Liberal Arts degree from Madison College. All these years his mother served as his primary care giver, so he could go on to pursue a writing career

When his mother could no longer meet all of Steve’s physical needs, health attendants were hired to become a care team. Things dramatically changed the day his mother fell several times. Steven alerted the family with a call for help. When help arrived his Mom was taken to the Emergency Hospital, she never returned home. She died of a cardiac arrest.

The realization that “Mom is Gone” thrust Steven into a new stage in his story. He now had to face the challenge of living independently with severe cerebral palsy.

I found it hard to put Steven’s book down. There were other times when he was so gut wrenching honest it was hard to go on reading.  I felt uncomfortable. As I continued to read Steven’s story, I begin to see life through a new set of eyes. I felt ashamed and embarrassed for living in an uncomfortable vacuum of hypocritical empathy, without recognizing the dignity or character of the individual in a wheel chair, quietly seeking acknowledgement, affirmation, or maybe even an act of friendship.

Steven has ignited a new flame and refueled my passion to write with the reminder to:  Believe in yourself, be patient, never give up. He encourages us to exchange our fears, failures, and impatience for hopes and dreams of success. This is the advice and encouragement he received from his friends, and now passes along to his readers.

I am left with an indelible picture of Steven at his computer, in four hour blocks of time, using a Morse code word choice program.  Since he cannot use his hands, he uses his head to tap out his words.

“It’s A New Life – Mom is Gone” is a gripping story of the severe physical limitations, the pain of loneliness, of feeling being lost, scared, and tired; all while in the pursuit of bringing an influential message of hope to a unique people who have been looked upon as unemployable, who are relegated to become wards of the state living in group houses, highly medicated, forgotten victims of the “system.”

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

 

 

 

Lessons from Zachary – A Book Review


Lessons from Zachary – Turning Disability into Possibility

By Sandy Scott

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake, richard330@yahoo.com

Engaging and Releasing Hidden Powers Within – Standing Strong Through the Storm

Just twelve days after his birth Zachary Scott was diagnosed as severely physically and intellectually disabled. This news began a journey into the uncharted territory of the unknown for Sandy and Jonathan Scott; a heart-rending journey plagued by unexpected disappointments and uncertainties. The daily stresses of hectic schedules, social pressures, and the demands created by Zachary’s disabilities became overwhelming.

Sandy was devastated and frustrated by an unexpected and unusual combination of strained relationships and in desperation was forced to look within herself and to choose a new perspective – one that unleashed in her the power of love.

Sandy reached into the resources of unexplored potential to become a leader in coaching leaders in healthcare, to parents of children with disabilities, and to train professionals in the healthcare and educational fields.

Sandy’s writing is authentic, genuine, realistic and relevant. Her premises are well thought out, her choice of words stir the imagination of the reader and enable them to relate personally to her journey through a complex set of circumstances. As the reader becomes deeply involved in Sandy’s story; her insights and the lessons she learned become personal and identifiable and provide a new understanding into the complications, experiences and unknown potential of their own lives. Dozens of well-chosen pictures and good photography add a whole extra dimension to the heart felt emotions of love, pathos, and positive impact of Zachary’s life.

“Lessons from Zachary” will resonate with readers who have been touched by the challenge of disappointment in broken relationships and other personal tragedy; readers in need of a message of hope, and a strategy for tapping into their unknown potential.

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

International Publishing Works, P. O. Box 415, Bellevue, Colorado 50512-0415, 978-097759205, 1995, 2017, 264 Pages

 

 

 

 

 

My Story in Black and White – The Autobiography of Jesse O. Thomas – A Book Review


My Story in Black and White – The Autobiography of Jesse O. Thomas

by Jesse O. Thomas/ Rosemary Braxton

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake, Richard330@yahoo.com

A Marvelous Story of Persistence in the Face o Adversity and Injustice

“My Story in Black and White” presents an absorbing account of a period in Black history, including antidotes that reflect a vivid observation into the relationships, behind the scenes drama, and an overall picture of the progression  made possible by the cooperation these personalities (black and white) that influenced the direction and motivation taken by educational institutions, government agencies, and economic environment during the first 50 years of the 20th century. The book is adapted from original autobiographical notes of Jesse O. Thomas, facilitated by his daughter Rosemary Braxton.

The author captures an amazing glimpse into the life, brilliance and accomplishments of George Washington Carver’s scientific imagination, and of the impact of Booker T. Washington’s life and influence on government officials.

While an undergraduate at Tuskegee Institute, Jesse Thomas came to the attention of Booker T. Washington and President Theodore Roosevelt. The results of these contacts opened doors for Thomas to become an outstanding influence and spokesperson for educational causes, for the underprivileged, for racial inequality and for integration, and desegregation.

Readers will find nuggets of truth which lie hidden away in Braxton’s detailed account, begging to be discovered, mined, polished and recognized as true gems of treasured wisdom.

““My Story in Black and White” is the story of a man who believes that regardless of the circumstances of birth, racial identity, or heredity it is man’s purpose to fulfill his destiny by making a contribution to make toward advancing the world during his generation. Jesse O. Thomas is an example of this kind of man; a man of accomplishment and purpose.

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

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411, 9781934759981, $ 14.95, 2015, 360 pages

From the Heart – The Life of a Jewish Boy During World War II in Palestine By Alexandro Modena – A Book Review


From the Heart – The Life of a Jewish Boy During World War II in Palestine

By Alexandro Modena

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411

978-1944297022, $ 14.95, 2016, 120 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Important Lessons Learned During the Hard Times

Alexandro Modena captures the essence of the adversities he and his family faced while existing in poverty at a time when Jews, Arabs, and Christians lived together in Palestine, when the cultures were changing and during a time the country was occupied by the British Army.

Modena’s memoir “From the Heart – The Life of a Jewish Boy During World War II in Palestine” focuses on his values and perceptions he learned as a fourth grader under the tutelage of Mr. Cohen,  the only male teacher in his elementary school.

These observations are narrated by Alex voice expressed form a 10 year old’s perception level, but with amazing insight. Each chapter details an experience revealing his progress and development as seen through his: improved grades, confidence, self-esteem, and lessons learned about genuine friendship, envy, greed, forgiveness, and deception.  Alex recorded these lessons in a special journal that ended with a short poignant summary statement.

Preteens, teens, and adults will benefit from reading “From the Heart” a heart touching real life story modeling good citizenship, establishing genuine friendships, and living as a community. A fast moving story told with pathos, including Alex’s personal setbacks, and victories.

“From the Heart – The Life of a Jewish Boy During World War II in Palestine” is timely reading for today’s challenges, ideal for opening family discussions with contemporary applications. Highly recommended.

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