Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Blaze of Light: The Inspiring True Story of Green Beret Medic Gary Beikirch, Medal of Honor Recipient

Blaze of Light: The Inspiring True Story of Green Beret Medic Gary Beikirch, Medal of Honor Recipient by Marcus Brotherton is a book I couldn’t wait to read! I am an emeritus flight medic, and I love stories about special ops and Vietnam (especially helicopter pilots and medics). This book sounded right up my alley! I figured it would be one of those books that I couldn’t put down and finish in one day.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. The author managed to take a riveting story and make it drag. Still, I’m grateful I read it.

Gary Beikirch has a truly remarkable story to tell. He had an amazing experience in Vietnam among the indigenous Montagnard people. He was one of 12 special forces troops, along with 400 Montagnard fighters, tasked with defending 2,300 women and children inside the village of Dak Seang when it came under siege by 1000 enemy soldiers. This siege was brutal, protracted, and bloody.

Gary personifies the courage and fortitude of the special operations fighters trained by our military. Add to that his love for the Montagnard people he had lived among for many months, and you see a picture of a fierce fighter and a loyal man who would not quit when there were wounded to be tended to — even after his own grave injury!

One of the additional heroes of Blaze of Light was Gary’s Montagnard soldier bodyguard, Deo. Deo (pronounced “day-oh”), the Latin word for God and a name that can mean “god-like”, was a fitting name. Deo was 15 years old, but he had the loyalty and bravery that exceeds most mortals. He truly deserved a posthumous Medal of Honor (if that were possible for a foreign ally fighter). He literally dragged a partially paralyzed Gary around from patient to patient so that Gary could treat the wounded. Ultimately, Deo sacrificed his life shielding Gary from an enemy rocket. The loss of Deo was one of the most moving and heart-wrenching moments in the book for me. So young and so brave.

Gary’s adjustment to civilian life was not easy. Vietnam veterans were routinely harassed as ‘baby killers’ and vilified, especially among young people at colleges and universities (who had, ironically, in all likelihood, gotten out of being drafted by being privileged enough to be enrolled in a post-secondary school). He had PTSD (though they didn’t have that name for it back then). His marriage was marred by behaviors resulting from his PTSD (his wife deserves a medal for sticking with him through those ugly years).

God was truly with Gary throughout his life, and he has gone on to share the love he was shown.

The downside to the story isn’t the STORY — at all. It was the writing. The author managed to take a riveting story and make it dull in the telling. I’ve read many memoirs of special forces operators and this was by far the dullest and hardest to get through for me. This makes me very sad, because the story deserved to be told in such a way that the reader really got a sense of what Gary’s experiences were — like they were there witnessing it, or watching a movie. This didn’t give me that experience.

The author made stupid mistakes like saying “Gary heard the explosion, then saw a flash of light” (For those who might not understand why this bothered me…you see the flash long before you hear the boom. The speed of sound in air is ~ 343 m/s and the speed of light is 3×1010 m/s.). It may seem petty to point that out, but it jerked me out of the suspension of real life I had begun to achieve and planted me firmly back onto the page of a book (when a book is really good, I forget I’m reading…I’m in the story).

To Gary Beikirch I would say: Thank you, Sir, for your brave service to our country, and for the character that you have shown throughout your life. Your story is truly one of bravery and perseverance. May you be blessed.

***I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.***

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Filed under Action-adventure, biography, Christian, Non-Fiction

May It Be So

May It Be So by Justin McRoberts & Scott Erickson

May It Be So. This little book is a forty-day journey in praying the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer. It is divided into week-long sections that focus on praying in the pattern/theme of each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer. It contains Guided Prayers, Contemplative Imagery, Meditations (short stories that reflect something the authors gleaned from this particular section of the Lord’s Prayer), and Suggested Practices (ways to apply the insights that the week’s images and prayers have brought to you).

Maybe I’m just too left-brained, but I struggled with some of the imagery. Some were really profound. Some just left me going, “huh?” I love the simplicity of one or two-line prayers. I’d love to have a 365-day calendar that has these sorts of prayers on it. Some examples:

  • May even my grief and brokenness become, in some way, a gift to the world around me. May my whole life be an offering.
  • May I have vision in and through my trials rather than search for ways to escape them.
  • May I learn to take joy in what it costs me to share my life with those I love. (wow!)
  • May my initial posture toward strangers be kindness and grace rather than suspicion and fear.

I really enjoyed the meditations at the beginning of each week. They really bring the week’s ‘theme’ from the Lord’s Prayer in to focus and set the tone for the week.

The one thing I don’t like about this book is the price! On Amazon.com it is $9.99 for the Kindle edition and $12.15 for the hardcover. That’s a lot of money for the content. Maybe I’ve just been trying to balance my tight budget for too long, but that’s a hefty chunk of change for me. Maybe the library will have a copy to check out?

I’m blessed to have received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I’ll definitely be using it from time to time as a way to streamline and intensify my prayer life.

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Filed under Non-Fiction

Eat Live Thrive Diet

Eat Live Thrive Diet: A Lifestyle Plan to Rev Up Your Midlife Metabolism

Most women who are 45 or older struggle to keep their weight under control, or at the very least struggle with “middle age spread” around their waist. I’ve done a lot of reading on intermittent fasting and, from my experience, and the experiences of friends, there’s really something to it! It works!

Eat Live Thrive Diet incorporates intermittent fasting with carbohydrate reduction and food sensitivity screening, among other things. The authors assert that some women gain more weight from certain categories of food (dairy, grains, etc.). These recommendations make a LOT of sense to me. While the experience of an elimination diet is complicated and difficult, it seems a worthwhile pursuit for women who are struggling to lose weight.

The authors also recommend a “cleansing” component which consists of a vinegar/lemon juice drink, and a cranberry drink (unsweetened pure cranberry juice, water, and stevia or other non-caloric natural sweetener), along with fiber and vitamin/mineral supplements.

Although I’m currently following a low-carb diet coupled with intermittent fasting, I’m not seeing results as fast as I’d like to. I thought I would try the recommendations of the Eat Live Thrive Diet to see if they’d help boost my weight loss however, the more I read, the more complicated the regimen sounded and the more overwhelmed I felt. I’ve decided that the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle was the best approach for me, so I’m still using low-carb coupled with intermittent fasting. I’m OK with weight loss of 5 pounds a month (although it would just be nice to lose all the weight I want to lose in 4 weeks and go into “maintenance”).

Having tried every diet under the sun since I was a preteen, and after doing a lot of research on intermittent fasting and the role insulin plays in gaining weight, I’m convinced that fasting to lower my insulin resistance, and fasting to maintain low insulin levels going forward, is the only workable plan to achieving and maintaining weight loss. For me, a simple plan that has lots of flexibility is the way to go right now. Sadly, Eat Live Thrive Diet doesn’t fit that paradigm. Maybe when life is less complicated…

**I received a complementary copy of Eat Live Thrive Diet from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Filed under Christian, healthy living, Non-Fiction, Self-help, women