Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Company - a Litfuse Review

The Company, a Christian allegory novel written by Chuck Graham, is a solid 249 pages, a pretty fast read that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

At first, it was hard to get into. I struggled at first trying to figure out what it was a "picture" of. This is not a book whose ending can be predicted, which I LOVE--it kept me glued, fascinated, spellbound! Knowing that this book was an allegory--it says so on the back of the book :P--I kept trying to put the puzzle together. Slowly the picture revealed itself, and the more that was revealed, the more I wanted to keep reading.

The story began explaining that a meteor impacted the earth, causing death and total darkness. Only a small community of individuals remained alive, and they struggled to survive in the darkness, without power, natural resources, and limited food stores. When a Voice appears out of the darkness to offer assistance, they take him up on his offer. The main story takes place seventy years after the Yonders bring the residents of Brigon Glen power and light. When arguments and attitudes leave three parts of the Power Company fighting over how the original Plan should be followed and/or adapted, six individuals selected from the separate factions are selected to meet with the leader of the company regarding terms of the future. All six individuals have different opinions and ideas, and one individual Sam--ironically the lowest person on the totem pole of the six--has all of the responsibility placed on his shoulders to develop a progress report regarding the others' positions in the Company.

Fascinating read. I loved it!

About the Book:
A meteor strike plunges the world into darkness. A stranger to the village of Brigos Glen restores power and light, supplied by three businesses, known as “The Company,” located beyond the forbidden mountains. The stranger reveals a plan so the Brigons can maintain the power and share the light with outlying territories, which remain shrouded in darkness.

Now, seventy years later, The Company summons six Brigons, including the young engineer Sam Mitchell, to attend a conference in the mountains of the forbidden Outlands. 

Responsible for compiling a report about Brigos Glen from his five companions, Sam learns how managers and villagers largely ignored the plan or compromised it to self-interest, forsaking their duty to share the light. They also took for granted The Company responsible for generating and transmitting the power.

In an ordeal fraught with failure, revelations, and judgment, Sam discovers the true identity behind The Company and learns the fate that may befall Brigos Glen . . . that is, unless he can stop it.
About Chuck:
Chuck Graham's legal career as an attorney in private practice spanned more than thirty-one years. He represented many local, national, and international clients, acquiring intricate knowledge about the often-overlapping structures of the corporate world. He also worked against those seeking to create racial division, including the Ku Klux Klan. He has served as a member of the state bar of Georgia since 1979 and an instructor to attorneys and judges through the Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE). He received the Medallion of Appreciation from ICLE. Chuck is also a speaker and the author of Take the Stand (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996) and the compilations, A Year of Encouragement (Xulon Press). In 1997 he founded Ciloa (Christ Is Lord Of All), a ministry devoted to sharing God’s encouragement with the world and teaching those who follow Him how to encourage others. Today Chuck serves as executive director and principal author of A Note of Encouragement, a weekly e-zine reaching 175 countries. He and Beverly, his wife of thirty-four years, have lived in Lawrenceville, a suburb of Atlanta, for fourteen years. God has blessed them with three children. In his free time, Chuck enjoys backpacking and hiking (especially on the Appalachian Trail), playing the guitar, dabbling in photography, and reading extensively about the Christian faith.

If you'd like to read other reviews of The Company, click on this link!

I received The Company as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to give a favorable review; my opinions are my own.

Monday, July 23, 2012

This Scarlet Cord - a Booksneeze Review

This Scarlet Cord, written by Joan Wolf, is a story about the young Canaanite girl Rahab as told in the book of Joshua in the Bible. When the Israelites were preparing to take the land of Jericho, Rahab turned to the God of Israel and hatched a plan to save her family from certain destruction.

Since Rahab's story in the book of Joshua only encompasses a small portion of her story (her and her family's escape from death), Joan has decided to fictionalize Rahab's story. Through what she imagines may possibly have been her life, Joan weaves an interesting story based on historical research that will leave you interested to continue reading.

This Scarlet Cord is a story that weaves the story of Rahab, a Canaanite girl, and Sala, a young Israelite. Torn by different religions, the two must either face their differences and go their separate ways or come to a compromise. When Rahab finds herself forced into a pagan ritual that will defile her, she turns to the God of Israel for help. Knowing that her family will possibly reject her for disobeying their god Baal, and that Sala's family will reject her for having a pagan background, Rahab must hope that God will make things right.

This was a really good story. If you enjoy reading Christian historical fiction, I think you'll really like this.

I enjoyed another Biblical fiction story of Joan's called The Reluctant Queen.

I am a member of BookSneeze, a fabulous program through Thomas Nelson. BookSneeze sends members free books to read and keep in exchange for written reviews on a blog and on a major retailer's website (such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble).

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Use for Leftover Shampoo

Today I was down to the last little bit in my shampoo bottle, but I knew that there was a good bit left, but probably not enough for a shampoo. It's hard to glean that little bit of shampoo that's left because of the narrow mouth at the top, so usually I just toss it. However, I'm a frugal girl and hate to not use everything! I wondered how to put that little bit in there to use. Then the light bulb went off!

I use a foam soap dispenser (I get the cheap antibacterial hand soap, pour about half a tablespoon full in there, add water till the dispenser is about 2/3 full, then shake. My dispenser had only about a third left in it, and so I added some water inside the shampoo bottle, gave it a good shake, then opened my foaming soap dispenser and added it to it. Simple as that! I wish I had thought of it sooner!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Through Rushing Water - a Booksneeze Review

Through Rushing Water, by Catherine Richmond, is a great novel. I'd already read Spring for Susannah, Catherine's first novel, and I'll say that Through Rushing Water is not a disappointment!

When Sophia Makinoff, teacher at a girl's college, was disappointed to learn that she would not be the wife of a future Congressman, she decided to become a missionary to China. When the Board of Missions sent her to minister to the Ponca Indians in the Dakota Territory instead, she was quite disappointed.

However, Sophia was world-traveled and understood cultural differences, so she had no trouble adjusting to the Ponca ways. Quite quickly, she began to love the children she taught there and felt protective of them due to their horrific treatment by the US government.

Willoughby Dunn was a carpenter hired by the Ponca Agency to build homes, barns, and other buildings for the Poncas so they could learn how to provide for themselves. He had worked for them for a few years and taught them how to build. He learned their language, their customs, and became close friends with them. When the new teacher arrived, he determined to be her protector.

When Sophia learned the plight of the Poncas--their lack of money, food, clothes, and other essentials--she and Will determine to help get them through the winter.

When the government decided to move the Poncas to the southwestern territory, Will and Sophia are unable to stop it.

This story is engaging. Catherine effectively weaved the emotional trauma of the Ponca in a way that will make you angry and sad. If you like historical fiction, or specifically fiction centered around the 1870s and American Indians, I think this is one you'll enjoy reading.

I am a member of BookSneeze, a fabulous program through Thomas Nelson. BookSneeze sends members free books to read and keep in exchange for written reviews on a blog and on a major retailer's website (such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble).

Friday, July 6, 2012

Life Afterward - It's ok to talk

In three days, it will be two months since I found out that we were expecting a third child. I waited until now to write about it all, because--frankly--it's been too hard to write about. I've been too angry, bitter, sad--you name it. I think it's safe to say now that I'm healing well emotionally.

There are days that I think about what it would have been like. This Saturday I would have reached the thirteen week mark. No doubt, like his/her brothers, I'd have felt movement by now. At first, each Saturday that marked a new week brought grief and despair. Sundays were awful, because everything fell apart on a Sunday.

It's strange the depth of emotion that losing a baby brings. One day, I would be a heaping mass of tears and sobbing. The next day I would be fine, and that made me feel so guilty. Brad felt the same way. I almost felt during that first couple of weeks like I had to grieve for a certain amount of time, because if I didn't, I would be a horrible person. But I didn't make myself grieve--trust me, it came whether I wanted it to or not.

For the first two weeks, phone calls were awful to bear. If someone called, I cried. It was inevitable. Talking about losing the baby was just unbearable. Talking about it made it more real, and part of me wanted to deny it. At one point about a month afterward, I felt like it had all not been real. I had only known that I was pregnant for four days before things fell apart. I'd not had enough time to really feel like the pregnancy was real before I found out that it was over. The emotions from the loss are all over the place. I can't begin to explain to someone who's not experienced it how it literally takes over your mind. Everything else fades in importance. Retreating inward. Eating, eating, eating in my grief. No one had to worry that I'd starve to death--no, I responded in the opposite way. The scale bears witness.

The physical pain was quite awful. On Mother's Day when I went to the ER and was told that I was miscarrying, I went home and tried to accept it. The pain was maddening. It hurt to sit--it felt like I was sitting on a knife, especially if I sat on a hard surface. Days went by, and I saw my ob/gyn. Had two ultrasounds which neither confirmed a sac anywhere. It was unofficially determined that I had an ectopic pregnancy. No idea where the baby landed. That explained my pain.

D&C. Methotrexate. Sent home to heal. And wait. I didn't realize that it would take so long for hCG to lower. My hCG was so low--only got as high as 89--but it took three weeks to get back down to 0. No folate, no vitamins. Methotrexate depletes the folate in the body so that fetal tissue that is remaining is reabsorbed by the mother's body. I didn't realize how much food had folate, and it was frustrating to not be able to eat any of it until my hCG was 0. Three weeks eating chicken and rice, crackers, and cheese. And lots of prunes. I think you can figure out why with that diet.

For a month after the D&C, I had pain. A good portion of the pain was in the area of my ovaries, and it would come and go. Sharp little needle-like sensations that would show up, and then ebb away. And then there was the cramping that was similar to post-partum cramping. And I learned that methotrexate causes a lot of abdominal pain. You'd better believe it. Some days I remained in my recliner for hours. Some days I didn't want to get out of bed.

This week, my ob/gyn gave me the all-clear. I'm back to normal now physically, and now I feel like I can move on. People have told me that I never will forget. That there will be times when I'll just cry. The due date--January 12--may be a hard day. Mother's Day will always be hard, because that was when I lost the baby. I take comfort in the fact that my little one is with my Lord. That makes it easier for me to bear, even though it hurts that I'll never get to hear his/her first cries, watch it make bubbles out of saliva, make little cooing sounds or watch in fascination as Jacob plays the Star Wars theme on the piano. (Because any child of mine would HAVE to love Star Wars, right? :P) But it's ok--my mind takes me to heaven where one day I'll see that little person that is a part of me and a part of Brad and hug him/her and have forever to talk and laugh.

And now, it's ok to talk about losing the baby. I want to talk about the baby. I think there's this unspoken understanding that I sense among some that a miscarriage is not a real loss. That there's nothing that can be done, and so you should just accept it and snap out of it. Does someone just accept and snap out of it when a relative dies? A spouse? A child? Of course not. To suggest that a woman shouldn't grieve the loss of her unborn child is insensitive. No one is going to tell me that I can't talk about my child that I lost.

Have you suffered a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy? Don't be silent! Share your story with me--share your pain, your own "what ifs", your life afterward.