My Story – Elizabeth Smart


Elizabeth Smart lived through a nightmare that few of us can begin to imagine: taken from her bed, while sleeping next to her sister, at knifepoint, chained to a tree, raped daily, starved nearly to death, threatened regularly (not just harm for herself, but threatened harm for her family if she didn’t comply), and all this over 9 months time. All this at 14 years old. MY STORY is Elizabeth’s tale of those nine months.

Elizabeth Smart is truly a remarkable young woman to have followed her mother’s advice. Her mother told her soon after her release from captivitiy to not let (her captors) have control of one more minute of her life. She told her to live from then forward happily. She pointed out how, even though those nine months were hell on earth, they were only a small percentage of her life on earth. Wise words.

I know that most survivors of abuse (let alone kidnapping and serial abuse) need professional counseling and years and years of time to begin to recover. Some never do. Elizabeth’s case is the exception, apparently. Still, she acknowledges that everyone processes trauma differently.

I’m touched to read of Elizabeth’s current work through the Elizabeth Smart Foundation (.org). People who are puzzled by Elizabeth’s recovery process probably aren’t aware of the healing properties of service and of a Heavenly Father who can and does work miracles. Elizabeth is able to use her horrific experience to change the world for the better. That’s what God can do if we let him…take our trials and redeem them – even the worst of them. Yay for Elizabeth!


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Filed under Autobiography, Christian, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized, women

The Hidden Enemy


The Hidden Enemy: Aggressive Secularism, Radical Islam, and the Fight for Our Future by Michael Youssef addresses such questions as “Why are suicide bombers attacking our cities?” and “Why are shooters invading our workplaces?” Michael Youssef is uniquely qualified, as an Egyptian Christian, to address the former question. He has known both moderate and extremist Muslims throughout his life. He takes issue with extremist, radical proponents of Islam who are attacking all who do not agree with them (even more moderate Muslims).

There are many, many solid points made in The Hidden Enemy, and Dr. Youssef wanders through discussions of many of the things that are contributing to the downfall of western civilization. He points to some mindset differences between Muslim fundamentalists and the western politicians who are trying to negotiate with them — the result of widely divergent world-views.

Dr. Youssef has a great guide, smack in the middle of the book, to make sure we’re not taken in by biased reporting, Internet rumors, and “fake news”. Here are his suggestions:

  1. Don’t automatically believe early reports.
  2. Don’t believe information from anonymous sources.
  3. Don’t believe stories that simply cite other news outlets.
  4. Watch and read multiple news outlets, and compare their coverage.
  5. Pay attention to the language and tone of your news sources.
  6. Be sure your news sources correct their mistakes promptly and fully.
  7. Don’t let the news media manipulate your emotions, your behavior, or your outlook on life.

I think these are awesome suggestions!

The book does have a distinctly evangelical Christian tone, but don’t let this dissuade you from reading it. Just bear that in mind and try to overlook some of the more typical evangelical verbiages and look for the other content of substance. I am a former evangelical, and I am probably more sensitive to the language that is often subtly used to pit people against others, not like themselves. That is my one problem with this book. I don’t think it goes far enough in reminding us that there are MANY good, honorable Muslims among us who DON’T want to see a global caliphate and sharia law.

We definitely need to be aware of what changes are happening in our world and the ramifications of decisions that are made by our politicians. This book can be an important tool in that regard, but we must be very careful not to lump all Muslims together with the fundamentalist radicals who do seek our destruction.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Filed under Christian, Non-Fiction, politics

Patriot Number One


Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown is the true story of Zhuang Liehong, a Chinese immigrant, and activist. The story begins in Wukan, a small fishing village in Guangdong Province in China. Zhuang, incensed by the corruption in his town, spearheads a movement that he hopes will bring change. Instead, it becomes obvious that he is a marked man. He defects to the United States along with his wife, Little Yan, leaving their infant son with relatives.

The saga winds through the frustrating and often confusing bureaucracy of the asylum process and centers on the Chinese-American community in Flushing, NY. Patriot Number One highlights the immense challenges that immigrants face when they come to the United States, along with the sacrifices, suffering, and tenacity that are necessary parts of the process.

Patriot Number One really reminded me how blessed I am to live in a free country. In China, social media accounts are tracked and censored. Zhuang’s father was imprisoned on trumped up charges and his mother and disabled older brother were regularly visited by security forces. People who escape China to Thailand worry that the local police will send them back to China. China’s human rights violations are widely known, but I still appreciate the reminder this book gave me.

I found the book hard to follow, however. The big picture was clear, but I often got lost in seemingly disjointed details. I admit I’m a detail-oriented person and I might pay more attention to small details that might not be important to the story, but there were numerous instances where I just went “what?” One such instance is where Zhuang tells Tang (another activist) that he “…had so many Facebook followers….but my Facebook account has been closed down.” The very next page it says “…more than two thousand people were following Xhuang on Facebook. People were supporting him in the comments, clicking “like” and leaving behind emojis of crying faces.”

I also wish that the book had pictures in it of the people that are in it. I’m a visual person and it really helps to see a face to go with a name. I finally went online and found some articles and that helped me envision who the author was talking about for at least Zhuang and Little Yan.

Patriot Number One was a disappointment for me, but it is still a valid picture of Chinese immigrants and the issues they face both in China and in the US.

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


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Filed under Non-Fiction