book review, christian, entertainment, reading, theater, WWII

From My Bookshelf

During the month of July I read 3 books. I know most of you are reading 3 books a week, but my little heart is just happy that I have managed to stumble back into something I have always enjoyed and yet somehow stopped doing!

The one good thing that came out of COVID is that I’ve managed to rediscover my love for books.

This month I tackled: When I Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent, Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon and The Sea Before Us by Saran Sundin.

When I Lay My Isaac Down was a very thoughtful gift from Naomi Rogers, a dear friend of mine. I had mentioned to her that I heard Carol Kent speak at a writer’s conference I attended on-line and was so moved by Carol’s story. Naomi heard my words and gifted me the book so generously.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/161291442X/ref=olp_product_details?_encoding=UTF8&me=

This book outlines eight transformational power principles Gene and Carol Kent learned in the process of facing the news that forever changed their lives: their twenty-five-year-old son, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with an impeccable military record, shot and killed his wife’s ex-husband.

This book forever changed the way I will think about hope and faith and most of all community.

The book starts with this quote from Eric Liddell:

“Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.”

Carol tells her personal story explaining the loss she and her husband felt. She tells of her melted pride, her destroyed agenda and a heart sacrifice that she never dreamed she would have to make. With each step she reminds us that God is always in the middle of each circumstance whether we recognize Him or not.

Each chapter tells the story of what Carol and her husband learned along this journey and ends with discussion questions that would make this book a very interesting Bible study.

This is a convicting story of hope….not in our lives and personal goals, but in the God who is always working out His plan of love.

I also found it interesting to read the comments that people made to the Kent’s out of ignorance and how unfeeling it would seem to the person going through such loss. I have personally always struggled to say the “right” thing. It was so helpful to see the other perspective. I loved seeing the examples of how friends and family could minister in such creative ways.

One last thought. I LOVED the example of Abraham and what God asked of him when God asked him to “lay his Issac down.” What a wonderful thread that tied her whole story together.

Thank you, Carol Kent, for your wonderful testimony and inspiring all of us in so many different paths.

Who should read this? This book is good for all those who want to be challenged past their comfortable walk with Jesus. It is also great for those who are experiencing the pain of disappointment and loss. It isn’t a hard read, but it is a heart read.

Where the Lost Wander By Amy Harmon

In 1853, newly widowed Naomi May sets out for the West with her family on the Oregon Trail which is filled with hardship, danger, and loss. During this travel she meets John Lowry. As the journey progresses and becomes more harrowing, they grow closer but their relationship is tested in intense and emotional ways.

After you have read a few of my book reviews it will become clear to you that Historical Fiction is definitely my favorite genre to read. This book did not disappoint. This book is filled with wonderful historical details and is really quite beautifully written. As a bonus the author gives notes at the end with extraordinary details of her own family history and what inspired this story.

This is definitely a love story, however, there is hardship and loss and survival that makes you keep turning page after page. I loved the characters and found myself cheering their loves and mourning their losses.

I loved learning more about Native American culture and giving myself time to consider how certain actions would have made them feel. I have always felt that pioneers did so many of them wrong. Looking back, we have made serious mistakes with other races and nationalities time after time. This is another book that will make you think about those actions.

I’m sure we will never know exactly how difficult the early pioneers had it when they traveled across America on the Oregon trail, but this book gives you a wonderful painting of what that could have been like.

My one negative is that the book began with a Prologue that was a serious spoiler so I kept reading the book anticipating the one big event. I wonder what it would be like to skip the prologue and just read from Chapter One? If I could go back and do that over, I would.

Warnings: There are several passages that are quite difficult to read. There is violence, massacres, a rape as well as other things. If you are sensitive to those things this is not a book for you.

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France – including those of her own family’s summer home – in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.

This is Book #1 in a series SUNRISE AT NORMANDY. Of the three books I read this month, this was the easiest, fastest read. Hmmm. maybe it was an easy read because I enjoyed the story so much?

The story is well done. The characters drew me in and I was fascinated by the back story of both of the main characters which led to the reason they would act and react the way they did. In spite of that, they were lovable and I wanted them to be able to get past the mistakes they had each made individually and bask in the forgiveness of God!

Sarah writes with just the right amount of detail. You can lean into the time period and facts about the war and military so that the words paint an incredible picture. I loved the new British phrases I learned as well as the quirkiness of the cute Texan! I also loved thinking about all the backstory of preparations for D-Day about procedures I had never even given thought about.

If you are looking for a book that is a light romantic read with a touch of history thrown in or love books set in WWII. Then, I think this book is for you.

In case you wondered? I will be ordering the next two books in the series. I mean, we all need a little light romance read every once and awhile don’t we?

Warning: There are some mentions of premarital relationships.

That is it for this month. I hope you are reading. I know that it isn’t a past time that some enjoy, but it is so good for you! Will you try to read any of these?

Until next time,

Reba

anne frank, book revi, book review, reading, theater, titanic, WWII

One Book Can Change the World

“Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know.–Alberto Manguel

At the beginning of 2020 I read page after page of posts on Facebook from friends who beautifully recapped all the books they read during 2019. I was ashamed, informed, entertained and inspired. You see? I love to read, but somehow I’ve gotten out of the habit. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but after reading post after post I decided that the bad habit needed to be broken and I resolved to read at least one book a month during 2020.

I started off great during January and February, but as I was working on “Trip to Bountiful.” reading became a huge luxury because I needed to spend so much time on my lines. I vowed that I would still get back to reading. I just needed to make sure my lines were firmly embedded in my brain before moving on.

Then, our world stopped and reading…well, reading became everything. I must admit, I spent the first part of quarantine reading about the virus and the dangers and all the theories behind it, but slowly I pulled my head away from that and decided I wanted to be entertained instead.

Why is it that some of us love to read and others make ourselves read and still others don’t do it at all? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that subject because I’m not sure I know the answer and I’d love to hear theories.

For now, I’d like to share my January-March reading experience with you.

I had the honor of being in a production of The Diary of Anne Frank last year. I actually started this book at that time, but just couldn’t fight way my through it. I finished it this year. I’m not sure I could have picked a better book to begin my new journey with books.

BY Anne Frank

Do you know the story? It is the real life account of a young girl during WWII. Anne’s father, Otto, has the forsite to prepare a place for his family and one other to hide from the Germans. Anne faithfully writes in her diary the day-to-day activities during their time in hiding. She was thirteen when she began detailing her accounts. Most of us think of reading this book for school, but I think I learned even more reading it as an adult. I’m inspired at Anne’s intelligence and how prolifically she writes. Was it because she was trapped with adults for such a long time or has the world been robbed of a bright mind that would have given us such immeasurable greatness? When Overshadowed produced this play last year, we talked about living in cramped spaces with people who would grow to get on our nerves. We talked about eating the same things over and over and the idea of not being about to go outside and how that would feel. We talked about the fear of the unknown and dependance on others…..who knew that we would be experiencing a little of the same things? It makes me so thankful for what we DO have. Freedom at the top of the list.

Favorite quote:

As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?–Anne Frank

This book is available at Amazon! There are also other books that you might be interested in. Some of them are also in the photo above.

In February I read –The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor. https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Came-Home-Titanic/dp/0062316869

I loved this book! I am a fan of all things Titanic and this story about fourteen members of a small village in Ireland who journey towards America is captivating. We instantly love, Maggie, who is torn as she heads to a future that must be better, but ache for her as she leaves her true love behind. The story blends the past with the present as we meet Grace Butler who struggles to find focus on the future until her great-grandmother decides it is time to tell the story of….The Titanic.

This story is inspired by true events and the blending of history, fact and fiction reminded me of so many tragic decisions involved in the sinking of that great ship that changed the world forever.

Favorite Quote:

That night when Titanic went down was so terrible that some survivors, like me, wanted to stop talking about it. I suppose people move on, history moves on, and there will, sadly, always be something more terrible waiting around the corner.--Maggie

Why is that my favorite? Because it reminds us to talk, because stories teach. And it reminds us that life has wonderful times and terrible ones. We need to find the good in all of them.

In March I read News of Our Loved Ones by Abigail DeWitt https://www.amazon.com/News-Our-Loved-Ones-Novel/dp/0062834746/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

This one was a struggle to read. In fact, I had to make myself read a chapter a day to get finished with it. I found the disjointed way that she introduced her characters hard to follow. I continually went back and reread portions to see if I had missed something. It finally all came together in the end, but that’s too long to wait for the story to make sense. It also touched upon being very inappropriate at times. She didn’t go into detail, but it just made me feel uncomfortable and I don’t want to feel that way when I read!

By the way, I do NOT receive anything for the recommendation of these books. This is just me…sharing things with you!

I’m not sure why I chose these three books for the beginning of this year. They all involved very deep topics and all three brought me to tears at times. My title for this blog was One Book Can Change the World. I truely believe it can. I think The Diary of a Young Girl did that. What books have your read that changed you or the world? Or…should you write one?

During this time of darkness….why not pick up a book and read!

Please take a moment to like and share this! And please let me know about books you have read!

Until next time,

family, memorial day, theater, WWII

Memorial Day–Remembering the Cost of Freedom

 On Monday we began the week by celebrating Memorial Day. I began wondering what the history of this special day was. I was surprised to learn that it was originally called “Decoration Day.” I guess it dates back to 1866 when the women of the North and South began to honor those killed in the Civil War by placing flowers on their graves. After WWI those ceremonies began to honor those who were killed in all the wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday and we began to officially observe it on the last Monday in May. This day is different from July 4th where we celebrate freedom. This day we observe the cost of freedom.

At the first Memorial Day ceremony held in Arlington National Cemetery, small flags were placed at every marker, starting a tradition that is carried on to this day.

Have you ever been to Arlington? I have. My father, a hero in my eyes, is buried there.

Richard E. Ruffin was born on August 24, 1927, during WWII he was in the Navy and as

18765747_10155248332564831_6786388097962464756_n
My dad’s funeral. Arlington National Cemetery.

the story goes as soon as my 6 foot four inch tall dad got off the Navel ship he walked across the street and joined the Army. During the next years he was in Korea, two deployments in Germany and one tour in Vietnam. He received the Bronze star, the Purple Heart and several commendations. How I wish I had somehow asked the right questions to learn more about that time of his life.

My dad loved America. He taught me to value the freedoms that we have. I might not like everything America does or the decisions that some of our leaders make, but I know that we have freedoms that other people do not enjoy. Why? Only one reason. Because, people like my dad fought for those freedoms, died for them, protected them.

Since this is supposed to be a blog about things on and off the stage…I’d like to remember that we have the freedom of speech.

“Freedom of speech is the right to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction.”

Freedom of speech allows me to write this blog freely–to express my opinions about God, if I so desire–and to not fear government censorship. This is just one of the reasons I’m thankful for America.

This week let’s join together and remember the cost of our freedoms and the people who gave their all for us.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.”– George S. Patton

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”    – John F. Kennedy

I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day.  I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it.  We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.  ~Benjamin Harrison

These heroes are dead.  They died for liberty – they died for us.  They are at rest.  They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines.  They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest.  Earth may run red with other wars – they are at peace.  In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.  I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead:  cheers for the living; tears for the dead.  ~Robert G. Ingersoll

Do you know someone that served our country? Do you have a favorite story about them? Do you have a thought about freedom or Memorial Day? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time!

Reba