Book Review: Seven Miracles That Saved America

I finally finished an adult-length book!  It took me a few weeks, partially thanks to Miss Henley and partially thanks to the depth of the book.  I loved the book, Seven Miracles That Saved America by Chris and Ted Stewart.  As you may have guessed from the title, this book discusses seven events in the history of the United States and their imperative importance to the development of this country into what it is today.  The events discussed include: Columbus’ discovery of America, Jamestown, Battle of New York during the Revolutionary War, writing of the US Constitution, Abraham Lincoln and the Battle of Gettysburg, Battle of Midway, Ronald Reagan and the end of the Cold War.  I liked the depth of the history found in the book as well as the overwhelming optimism the authors embrace.

I’ve always liked a good story and what better place to find one than in a history class?  This book discusses details of US history that were pretty new to me.  For example, the very near tragedy of the Jamestown colony.  Perhaps my schools didn’t cover the cannibalism and almost failure of this colony in order to spare young students from such horrible things.  Probably a good move.  Someone more knowledgeable regarding our nation’s history may not be surprised at the depth of this book, but I bet most of you, like me, will learn a thing or two from this book.  If nothing else, this book is a good history lesson, but if that’s all it was I wouldn’t have enjoyed it so much.

The truly wonderful part of this book is the positive attitude the authors take toward the US and its future.  Events in the present world, especially as of late, seem to have cast the United States in a very poor light.  It seems like people throughout the world and within our country doubt the US and hold very little respect for this country anymore.  While it’s true that the US is not a perfect nation, it is also true that its formation has led to incredible things.  The freedom allowed here has been instrumental in medical advancements, scientific discoveries, industrialization, and liberation of much of the world.  To quote the book, “No man is perfect.  And neither is any nation.  Yet, despite our weakness, we are still, as Abraham Lincoln said, the best nation ever given to man.”  I truly believe this will all my heart.  The US is an incredible country and I am proud to call myself an American.

In the midst of the bad things happening in the world today, it can be easy to lose sight of such things.  It’s much easier to go along with the pessimistic attitude of others and take a negative outlook.  Reading this book encouraged me to look instead at the good surrounding us, to take a positive view of things and hope for the best.  I encourage you to read this book, it is excellent!

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Book Review: The Berenstain Bears

This review is of all the Berenstain Bears books in general.  To be brief, these books are awesome.

To be not so brief, these are wonderful books about morals, values, and dealing with a variety of hard things.  The illustrations are very colorful and well done and the writing is detailed enough to make a point but simple enough children can understand what is being said.  Henley loves to look at these books with me and I love reading them to her.  I like how each book is centered on some principle–honesty, forming good habits, health, family relationships–and how artfully the authors teach those principles.  I haven’t read all of the Berenstain Bears’ adventures, but those I have read are wonderful.

I just purchased “Too Much Junk Food” and “The Truth.”  Henley and I read both of them within the first thirty minutes after arriving home from the store.  Such good books!  I would highly encourage any parents out there to actually buy these books for your children’s home library.  I know it can get spendy–believe me, I have a three month old and have already spent too much on literature for her–to buy books for your kiddos and you want to make sure you have quality over quantity.  These books are well-worth the expense.

And I’m not getting paid to promote these stories, I just love them so much!  Have a great Wednesday, enjoy a book with your little ones.

Book Review: Financial Peace

Yep, I’m nerdy enough to read Dave Ramsey’s book Financial Peace for fun.  I’m that girl.  In my defense, I never really had a chance of escaping Dave’s influence, after all my mom forced me to listen to him every day, on our way home from school.  In my tweener years, I seriously despised getting picked up and listening to all of his financial wisdom.  Talk radio, especially the Dave Ramsey show, was totally boring and lame…sound like any twelve-year-olds in your life?

Now that I’ve had a taste of the real world, I must say that the very practical, common-sense Dave Ramsey plan is quite comforting to read.  Mr. Rancher and I are working very hard to build a successful ranch, and that is no small nor easy feat to accomplish.  We try very, very hard to live within a very small budget for personal expenses and channel as much money as possible into our business.  This means having patience, saying “no” to ourselves…a lot, and prioritizing our actual needs over our wants.  Reading an entire book devoted to singing praises  to this kind of lifestyle is oh so validating for me.  I can honestly say that I love reading Dave’s plan for building financial wealth.

I recommend all of the Dave Ramsey materials–books, classes, and radio show–to anyone and everyone.  We live in a spend-happy society and thrive off of the instant gratification that comes with swiping our credit cards anytime we want something.  And that is why debt and financial ruin are so common in our society.  Money management, saving, and sticking to a budget may seem like old-time concepts, even so, these really are the keys to making your finances work for you.  I could go on and on about how our money habits are a great reflection of our character and the importance of teaching kids how to handle money–obviously I would be speaking from the child’s perspective since Henley is way too little to be learning about finances–and yadda yadda yadda.  I’m not going to because I’m not an expert and the whole point of this post is to review a book which covers these subjects in detail.  Read the book.  It’s awesome and it’s encouraging, especially if you are living on a tight budget and need some affirmation.

Book Review: My Story

Last week I spent three, anxiety-filled days reading Elizabeth Smart’s book entitled My Story.  While it was a fascinating, gripping read, I would not recommend the book to anyone else, particularly anyone with children.  Here’s why:

1. Her abduction and following nine months of rape, captivity, indoctrination, and abuse were truly horrible, evil events caused by horrible, evil people.  She doesn’t mince words and tells her story how it really happened, thus the book includes horrible evil events.  However, the author does a truly wonderful job at describing her faith, the love of God and His tender-mercies, and the love of her family throughout the story.  This part of her story is inspirational and, for me, an encouragement to strengthen my personal relationship with God and my family.

2. I felt on-edge throughout the entire book.  Ty would ask me simple questions and I would snap back at him.  I would have nightmares of Elizabeth’s experiences happening to me, or worse, to Henley.

3.  I am so nervous about Henley being abducted now.  Not something I was worried about before.

4. When Ty read the book, just after I had finished it, he was stressed and tense for a few days.  Me being anxious coupled with him being anxious made for some rough days in the Hawkins household.

All in all, I think I came through the reading of My Story with inspiration to do better in my own life more than with feelings of dread.  It was a fascinating re-telling of her experiences and I gained a deep respect for her as an individual.  Her ability to tell her story is amazing and her path to healing is almost unbelievable.  It’s hard to classify this book as good or bad.  There are a lot of very awful things discussed but the very same chapters, pages, or sentences which describe the evil also describe the good.  It’s a story of abuse.  It’s also a story of love and mercy.  My recommendation to not read this book comes solely from the anxiety it created in my family life.  On all other levels, it was a good read.

One last suggestion: if you do decide to read this memoir, make sure you read it when others are around!  It is scary and you will feel like someone is going to jump through the window and grab you as you read.

My utmost respect and admiration goes out to Elizabeth Smart and others who have survived similar experiences.  Thank you for your courage in sharing your stories.  While it is challenging to read about such evil deeds, sharing those experiences is what creates enough discomfort in the general population to spark change in laws and policies.  Thanks for changing my perspective and encouraging me to be a better person.