Category Archives: Non-Fiction
Dabney Hedegard has an amazing story. She defied death again and again, and recognized that God’s providential hand was instrumental in the miraculous events. Most people in Dabney’s situation would be shaking their fist at God, asking “Why me?” and having a royal pity party. She was diagnosed with Hodgkins when she was only 25 years old — and also SIX WEEKS PREGNANT — and her daunting medical trials were only just beginning.
Dabney’s story is rich with details. As an RN, I cringe when I read most books with medical details. They are notoriously inaccurate. Dabney’s book was well researched and the medical details were consistent with the situations presented.
Dabney’s husband writes a powerful epilogue to Dabney’s story. He expresses incredible humility as he explains how watching Dabney suffer bravely caused him to love and cherish her more. Truly, Dabney has changed many lives by not just enduring her suffering, but by emerging stronger and with a rich testimony of the power of our Heavenly Father.
A friend lent me this book recently and I think it is so encouraging! If you’ve ever wondered what happens after we die, this book is amazing. The author suffered severe complications after an accident that left him comatose for some time. During this time, he visited the Spirit World three times and returned with a message to share. God lives and He loves us as His precious children. I loved the idea that we will speak spirit-to-spirit, as well as verbally, on the other side of the veil. There are times when we feel a hint of that closeness even here on earth…when we hold a child or sit with a loved one. How wonderful to contemplate that this intimacy and feeling of ‘oneness’ is just a sample of what we will enjoy in the hereafter.
I’ve read reviews that said that the book is disjointed and poorly written. I disagree. The book is well written given that Mr. Richardson isn’t a writer. It is clear that he is telling the story of what happened to him in an honest and straight-forward way. He was instructed to share some things and he is obeying that instruction in his writing.
I was surprised to read a message specifically directed at Americans in The Message. Mr. Richardson writes that Liberty (free-will, free-agency, agency, free choice) is one of the, if not THE, most precious gift God gave us apart from His Son. Without the freedom to freely choose right or wrong, we are simply fancy pawns in a supernatural chess game, at best. Likewise, our nation is built on the principle of Liberty and we are tasked with protecting that divine right.
The end of the book has a wonderful chapter devoted to our task “in the mean time”: Service. We are to serve one another, and in doing so emulate Christ.
I loved the book (much preferred it to the current “best sellers” about near-death experiences). It was easy reading (I finished it in about 3 hours with interruptions) and has a powerful message, not only about what life will be like after we die, but about how we should live while we’re HERE.
She’s Got Issues DVD Curriculum
Nicole Unice’s book “She’s Got Issues: seriously good news for stressed-out secretly scared control freaks like us” was released in April 2012. Now the study can be used in a group thanks to the release of the DVD curriculum. Like the book, the DVD curriculum addresses 5 issues that most women face in their lives:
I was especially impressed by Nicole’s sense of humor in both the book and DVD curriculum. Let’s face it: ‘issues’ can be heavy stuff to deal with. It’s pretty easy to get down on ourselves and become discouraged. A little comic relief is a welcome addition to the process of self-examination! Nicole shows us ways to allow Christ to heal our issues.
The DVD curriculum allows women to come together to encourage one another as we battle the traps we all find ourselves ensnared in from time to time. Through personal assessment and self evaluations, women can share the strength that comes only through Christ’s power to transform our lives.
Total running time: Approx. 160 minutes
Christian counselor, ministry leader, and regular mom Nicole Unice shines on video in this inspiring seven-session She’s Got Issues DVD Curriculum—perfect for churches and small groups. As she does in the book, Nicole talks candidly about how the everyday issues that drive you crazy affect you . . . and why you don’t have to settle for letting them win. Some days living up to the whole good-Christian image seems impossible. You do the right things (well, most of the time), but you just don’t feel changed by your faith. Deep down, you’re still dealing with the ordinary struggles—control, insecurity, comparison, fear, anger, and unforgiveness—that hold you back from living free and loving well. The good news? You don’t have to “fix” yourself. You have access to the power of Christ. His power can transform your everyday weaknesses into your greatest strengths and gifts. (Curriculum includes leader’s guide and group handouts.)
**I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House. The opinions expressed are solely my own.**
Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 is a fascinating and thought-provoking book. In it, Charles Murray makes the case that there are diverging classes in America and that, rather than a division based on race, the division is most acutely indicated by trends in what he refers to as “white America”.
Acknowledging at the outset that there are “lies, damned lies and statistics” Mr. Murray uses ample statistical analysis to paint a picture of two divergent worlds, existing simultaneously yet seldom-if-ever intersecting. Metaphorically existing in a “thick bubble,” the “upper class” (his term for the top 5% in both education and income) have no concept of how the “lower class” lives. There is even a “quiz” in mid-book that allows the reader to determine how thick of a “bubble” they live in. With scores from 0-99, the quiz categorizes the expected results for various people/classes. He asserts that the main readership of the book will likely be “OES” (“Overeducated Elitist Snobs” — a group to which he assigns himself), and judging by the two most “helpful” reviews on Amazon.com (positive and negative) he is correct. Obviously, some people with good educational backgrounds have read and reviewed “Coming Apart”.
He creates hypothetical communities to anthropomorphize his numerical arguments. The white, highly-educated, wealthy world is deemed “Belmont” while the world of high-school dropouts and ambition-less workers is “Fishtown”.
The conclusion drawn is that there has been a decay in four areas causing an immense discrepancy between the “upper class” and the “lower class” in America. Those four areas are: marriage, industriousness, honesty and religion.
I would encourage people to read Coming Apart. While all the issues may not be as clear-cut as they might seem at first glance, there’s little denying that that the fabric of American society has changed — and not for the better.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
Beans. It starts with beans. I was raised in the south with dried beans on the menu several times a week so I love them, but for many people the simple use of the word invokes visions of boredom and blandness (at best) and off-color jokes (at worst). Heirloom. That’s some dust-catcher your grandmother gave you, right? Beans + Heirloom = Heirloom beans called Good Mother Stallard from a company called Rancho Gordo New World Specialty Food, delivered by mail order. That is the improbable start of a book that examines the way we eat in America. For most of us however, comfort food means something other than Good Mother Stallard beans. That’s bad news.
There is bad news almost everywhere we look these days — and that includes the shelves of our local grocery store. Ingredient lists with words we can’t pronounce, let alone explain the meaning of, are commonplace. Entire industries exist that analyze taste-bud tissue reaction to artificial ingredients (never mind that some of them use cells from aborted fetuses to culture that tissue). Sure, it might taste like cheese on those chips, but it’s all a chemical illusion. More frightening still is the fact that those ingredients may be simultaneously making us sick and making us addicts — addicted to the very chemical that is threatening our health.
Along comes a writer, Katherine Gustafson, who sets out to see what alternatives there are to the highly-processed, chemical concoctions most of us call “food”…alternatives to food coming from half a planet away…alternatives to having to use a detective to find out the source of what’s on our plate. As a “foodie”, I was interested in what Change Comes to Dinner was all about. As a skeptic of activists, I was apprehensive about reading Change. Sure, all that fake stuff is bad for us…but let’s be realistic here. We live fast paced lives, where a “home cooked meal” likely comes from a bag in the freezer that is usually just heat-and-serve. Was this book going to be one more exercise in guilt and frustration for those of us who don’t grow our own organic produce, wear only organic natural fibers and ride our bikes everywhere?
I’m happy to say that it was anything but an exercise in frustration and guilt. Change Comes to Dinner is well written and captures the depth and breadth of alternatives to the industrial food complex in a readable and entertaining way. Ms. Gustafson writes of rooftop greenhouses, inner city farms, a hospital that uses local produce and serves gourmet meals, student programs, small farm co-ops and everything in between.
If you’ve ever paid a high price for a store-bought tomato that was completely tasteless, you’ve been party to what has come to be known as commercial agribusiness. Rather than simply lamenting the “efficient” but often nutritionally void food we often find at our mega-marts, Katherine Gustafson shows that there are myriad choices for healthy, tasty, locally grown foods and that those non-mega-producers are actually good for the local economy and for the community as a whole. “There is value in diversity…[and] people deserve more than the tasteless schlock their corporate overlords deign to provide,” she writes. She searched for “…people who dared to strike out on their own to build a new vision of an alternative food universe….In Virginia, an entrepreneur sells the products of local farms to city dwellers in an old school bus cum roving produce market. In Iowa, an extension agent helps retiring farmers pass their farms down to younger ones. In Missouri, an organization doubles the value of food stamps used at farmers’ markets. In Arizona, a company develops a high-yield, low-risk method of growing food in shipping containers. In Washington State, a cooperative uses a mobile slaughterhouse to give small farmers access to needed facilities.” There are alternatives out there!
Whether you are concerned about the environment, troubled about your health vis a vis the food you eat, or simply someone who wants to eat food that tastes good, Change Comes to Dinner is worth reading. It will change the way you look at food. The book was so good, I may go back for seconds!
Change Comes to Dinner is published by St. Martin’s Press and will be released on May 8, 2012.
“Blood brothers and blue bloods. Bloodletting and spatter patterns. The idea of blood flows through human culture the same way the real stuff flows through our veins. In almost every religion, there are blood sacrifices or blood rites. In almost every culture, there are rules for whether or not to eat blood, and how. There are blood ties, blood oaths, and countless blood-soaked legends. Why was blood so important to our ancestors, and why does it retain such emotional power today?”
Blood and guts are part of being a paramedic….Once a paramedic, always a paramedic….And I was a paramedic….so when I saw “Red: The True Story of Blood” by Tanya Lloyd Kyi (Annick Press, 2012) I knew I had to read it. It didn’t disappoint.
From sociological, religious, psychological, medical as well as physiological angles, “Red” addresses the history of blood throughout the world. In a youth-friendly red-and-black style, “Red” uses anecdotes, from history and science along with clever comic-strip style to examine blood.
While there is some graphic content, the topic of blood is tastefully addressed throughout the book. There are controversial subjects touched upon, including AIDS, transubstantiation (the term itself is not used in the book), gangs and ritual human sacrifice, so this book isn’t for young children. Read in proper context with good adult guidance, there are vast seeds for discussion and further study.