Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner

Ephesians 5:33 says, “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Paul's advice essentially explains some primary needs in a marriage. Most wives want to feel loved and most husbands want to be respected. Simply concept, difficult application. What does it really mean to respect your husband? Should you respect your husband even if he's lazy? What about if he's irresponsible and the electricity gets turned off? What if he doesn't deserve your respect? Nina Roesner challenges wives to take 40 days to learn to respect your husband – whether he deserves it or not.

The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband by Nina Roesner is similar to The Love Dare, popularized by the Christian movie, Fireproof. It's hard for me to review The Respect Dare because I feel like it is a mixed bag. It has some awesome marital advice. There are things that I absolutely agree with and things that I want to implement into my own role as a wife. However, I felt like some of the example stories didn't resonate with authenticity. I don't doubt that they are true, but maybe in the retelling some of the genuineness got lost. I also didn't agree with some of the advice and the small snippets of Scripture supporting those pieces of advice weren't enough to convince me. I needed more explanation and to see how those verses really related to my marriage and personal walk with God.

I also felt like there were some mixed messages. One one hand, the author made it very clear that a wife does not need to stay in an abusive situation or become a doormat. On the other hand, there were several times that it seemed like the message was to respect your husband no matter what he does.... even if it means leaving your child with someone you don't feel is safe, or letting the power get turned off, etc. I understand that people sometimes need to learn by experiencing consequences, but I also believe that the wife's role as helpmate does not mean that you have to let yourself and your children suffer because of your husband's poor choices. In fact, I believe a wife has the responsibility to help her husband grow by respectfully being the “iron sharpening iron” and likewise for the husband.

Like I said, The Respect Dare had some great advice and some not-so-great advice, in my opinion. For that reason, I give it three stars – it's okay, but I just don't believe/agree with some of what's said.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, April 19, 2013

Books & Tears.... Hmmm.

Every week Coffee Addicted Writer hosts the Book Blogger Hop. Participants answer a question and then visit other blogs of fellow participants. This week's question is:

“What was the last book you read that made you cry?”

My answer: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  The heroine had experienced terrible pain in life and her journey toward healing was nothing short of amazing. 

What about you?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

OED Word of the Day: Padiddle

Every day the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has a "Word of the Day."  I thought today's selection was interesting and wanted to share.

Padiddle - An exclamation shouted in a game by the first of a group of people who spots a motor vehicle with only one working headlight, this person being entitled variously to kiss or hit the others.

I have never heard of this, but perhaps it's related to the Punch Buggy game. :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Taming the Wind by Tracie Peterson

Carissa Lowe's first marriage ended with a disaster that would have taken her life if not for the heroic actions of Tyler Atherton. Little more than two years later, Carissa finds herself living near attractive, vengeful Tyler. As Tyler struggles with his father's murder, Carissa is bound by fear and mistrust. Although drawn to each other, their inability to move forward with their lives holds them apart. It will take a cattle drive, the danger of the Texas frontier, and a miracle to hold them together. Read more in Taming the Wind.

Taming the Wind by Tracie Peterson is the third book in the Land of the Lone Star Series. Somehow, I read the first book, Chasing the Sun, but missed the second book, Touching the Sky. Taming the Wind worked reasonable well as a stand alone novel since some background information was given. However, even with that information, I felt a disconnect from the main characters. Perhaps it would have been different if I had previously read the second book.

To me, Tyler Atherton was the shining character of the book. When the romance element of the story seemed to stagnate, Tyler's personal struggles and the resulting development kept the story moving. In addition to the romance and character development, there was an element of suspense. Unfortunately, during the height of the suspense, I put the book down and didn't read it for several days. The plot just never hooked me and when I should have been glued to the story, there was no pressure drawing me back to the book. I do love the gorgeous cover of this book, but for the aforementioned reasons, I recommend renting it from the library before buying.

Click here to read an excerpt from Taming the Wind by Tracie Peterson.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ordinary Heroes: A Devotional Thought from Ring of Secrets

To correlate with my review of Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White, the publisher was kind enough to send the historical information the book was based on here (read it here) and this small devotional:

We are a people of technology. A people of opinions that are soon emailed, tweeted, posted to our walls, and sent off into the ether for the whole world to see. We are a people in a nation that has been shaken, shocked, stirred, and divided. A nation of poles, where neither side can understand the other. And yet when we see a wound in need of healing, a change in need of making, all we know how to do is update our status...and shrug. What else can we do? How can we effect actual change?

We don’t know. And so we go about our lives and let the world keep on spinning however it will. Then we wonder why we don’t like it’s direction.

This is a problem most of us ponder today, and one with no easy answer. But you know, sometimes answers 
aren't meant to be easy—and sometimes the lessons we need, hard as they are, wait for us in the past.
In 1779, with the Revolution dragging on and Patriot resources all but nonexistent, George Washington looked out over the sea of weary soldiers and knew he needed change. And so he sat at his desk, drew out a vial of invisible ink he had dubbed “the sympathetic stain,” and penned a message to the Culper Ring, his most trusted intelligencers. Then he waited for a word of hope.

Who are these people in whom George Washington placed his trust? They were not trained spies. They were not brilliant strategists. They were not well-equipped scouts. One of them was a farmer. One was a sailor. One was a shopkeeper in the British-held city of New York. There was a soldier willing to make the treacherous ride into the city, and an officer sworn to serve as liaison between them and Washington. The farmer was sickly, the sailor was reckless, the soldier was always late, and the shopkeeper suffered from “black moods” that made him anxious. No super-spies here, no masterminds, no action heroes. Just a motley collection of men willing to risk their lives and reputation for their country. Men who chose to offer what little they had, and in so doing turned the tide of the war.

Despite the image we have of our forefathers rising up united to fight the British, it wasn’t a unanimous decision to revolt. Half the citizens were opposed to independence. And more, convinced that there was no point in trying to secure it, because it was a lost cause. And so they shrugged and went about their lives and wished things could be different.

Sound familiar?

But our forefathers weren't content to leave it at that in 1779, and we ought not be content to do so today.
Our role today, just as theirs was then, is to be exactly where we are, where God has placed us, and to stand up. To be an ordinary hero. One that does what should be done, not in the crisis moment, but in the everyday.

I daresay everyone in the world is happy to do something nice, something good...so long as they didn’t have to go out of their way. Then we have those a step above, the genuinely good people who want to help their neighbors, who run to help you with a door when your hands are full. Who pick up the box you dropped. Who go out of their way for you.

But the ordinary hero—the ordinary hero doesn’t go out of their way to help. Because helping is their way. It’s a subtle but crucial difference, a vital change of perspective. And just think what it could achieve if each and every person stopped thinking about their agenda, about their goals, about their needs and started seeking out opportunity to serve others. If they actively sought, like the members of the Culper Ring did, chances to help.

People today are so busy with all our technology and time-saving devices that, while it’s become easier to hear a call to action, a call to prayer, and think it’s a good idea, we forget to hit the “pause” button on our lives and do it. Still, there are always a few who feel that tug inside so strongly they can’t deny it. A few who fall to their knees. A few who stand up. A few who risk all they have because they know if they don’t, that “all” won’t be worth having anymore.

Who are the few today? Are we content to let it be someone else, pray that someone else steps up...or are we willing to fall to our knees and say, “Here I am, Lord, send me”? Send me into my own life. Send my into my own day-to-day. And show me where to change.

I will be the farmer I have always been, but I will use it for You instead of myself. I will be the shopkeeper with the nervous disorder, but I will put it aside and do what You ask of me. I will make the difficult journey. I will stand up and be a hero exactly where I am. Not for gain, not for advancement, not to escape this place into which You have put me. But because I know that change doesn't start in the capital. It doesn't start in town hall. It doesn't even start in my church.

It starts in me.

The Culpers risked a shameful death, a loss of all they had worked for, to help their would-be nation. They got up each day not knowing what they could do, and not knowing if the Redcoats might knock on their door and put an end to it all. But they got up each day looking. Looking for the chance to serve.Let’s all pray that the Lord opens our eyes to those chances. Let’s not go out of our way, let’s make it our way. Let’s be more than good people.

Let’s be ordinary heroes.

America's First Spies: The Historical Background to Ring of Secrets

To correlate with my review of Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White, the publisher was kind enough to send me a small devotional (read it here) and the historical information that the book is based on.

When we think of spies today, we usually conjure up images of debonair men in tuxedos, or perhaps action heroes with razor-sharp instincts. We think of technologically advanced gadgets, intimidating weapons, and carefully plotted missions. But until recently, espionage wasn’t considered a glamorous or even interesting profession. It was filthy. Shameful. Would only be entered into by the lowest of the low—because how could anyone who sold information possibly be trustworthy?

In the days of the Revolution, General George Washington found himself in a familiar but tight spot. He desperately needed to know what the British were doing, and the information he got from military scouts was not enough. There were, as always, those base creatures willing to sell what they knew to the highest bidder, but Washington knew well how inaccurate their information usually was. And whenever he did locate good sources, it seemed the British always found them out and arrested them. What he needed were trustworthy spies. Honorable spies. Anonymous spies.

Washington turned to one of his officers with a proposition—if Benjamin Tallmadge could put together a group of men who were virtuous and could devise a system for them to remain undiscovered, then he would be put in charge of all Patriot intelligence.

Tallmadge had never had a day of training in this sort of thing, but he knew well the consequences of failure—his friend from Yale had been hung by the British when he was caught scouting out of uniform. The penalty for espionage was, quite simply, death. So secrecy was his top priority. And when one wants to keep a secret, to whom does one turn but one’s closest friends?

Soon Tallmadge had put together his band of honorable men, men willing to take a great risk to aid the country and the cause they so loved. His primary intelligencer at the start was Abraham Woodhull, a Long Island farmer who grew up in the same town as Tallmadge. Woodhull had recently been arrested for sneaking produce to the black market trade in the British-held city of New York, and he was happy to be released in exchange for his assistance. He was given the code-name Samuel Culper, and all correspondence pertaining to “the business” called him such. Woodhull had a sister living in New York, which gave him a perfect excuse to make frequent trips to the city where he could observe British movement for Washington and Tallmadge. But the trips were expensive and the expenses never repaid, so he was soon looking for someone else to take over behind enemy lines.

Woodhull had become well acquainted by that time with a Quaker shopkeeper by the name of Robert Townsend. Townsend owned a popular dry goods store, stock in a popular Loyalist coffee shop, and also worked for a newspaper—all of which put him in a perfect position to overhear sensitive information from the masses of soldiers. Dubbed Samuel Culper, Jr., Townsend joined the Culper Ring and became its star. Here was a man of integrity, one who reported solid facts without opinion, without exaggeration, without fear. Here was a man with his pulse on British New York.

Here was a man with an anxiety disorder as yet unnamed, which he referred to as “black moods.” A man who spent much of his life governed by nerves, by fear, by melancholy. A man we today would deem a most unlikely hero. Yet it’s the information he passed along time and again that gave the Patriots the edge they needed to win a war.

Other members of the Ring included a die-hard sailor who was such an adventurous, robust character that he refused to use any code name. He was Caleb Brewster, he said to his childhood chum Tallmadge, and would be nothing else. Caleb Brewster the fisherman, the sailor, the soldier, and now the transporter of information. He was the one who took the messages from Long Island, across the pirate-infested sound, and to Patriot territory. Where he put them into the hand of Austin Roe, a farmer-cum-soldier from the same Long Island town.

They had only a tossed-together code that Tallmadge devised, one that would have been easily cracked. A handful of men willing to take risks. And a recipe for invisible ink that could only be developed with a specific counter-agent, which saved their necks time and again. But they had a will, a faith, and a determination. And most importantly, they had a bond of friendship that guaranteed that most important tool of all—anonymity.

Though they operated for years under the very noses of the British, the Culper Ring was never discovered. The Redcoats knew there were spies among them and sought them out relentlessly, but never once did they stumble upon the truth of the agents’ identities. The Culpers remained, till the end of the war, General Washington’s most trusted spies. And so they redefined the very word. No longer was it a badge of shame—they had made it into a badge of honor.

And because they were protected by bonds of blood and friendship, they remain so shrouded in mystery that no one is quite sure what became of them after the Revolution...or if perhaps their successors still walk among us today.

Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White

Winter Reeves moves among New York's elite, most of whom are British Loyalists, posing a brainless, harmless beauty. Her true self is a daring, intelligent, young woman with dangerous Patriot ties. Her budding romance with Colonel Fairchild of the British forces allows her to covertly uncover information and pass it to her contact. Bennet Lane comes to New York as a future heir to a wealthy British estate who is in need of a wife. His true mission is to find the Patriot spy hidden among the aristocrats. When Bennet and Winter engage, he sees the intelligence that lies below the facade of innocence. Intrigued, he finds in Winter a captivating mystery. As feelings deepen between Bennet and Winter, both become more committed than ever to their hidden causes. Is there any hope for a future of love? Or will circumstances and loyalties keep them forever apart?

Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White is the first book in the Culper Ring Series and I am already looking forward to reading book two, Whispers from the Shadows. I absolutely loved the author's use of language in the beginning of the book. Even though I felt the writing style became more plain as the book progressed – an unfortunate occurrence, but certainly not a reason to discard the book – there is no doubt that Ms. White can write. The author's use of wit, not only in Winter's conversations, but also in the narrative was refreshing. The authentic characters, blossoming romances, and intriguing narrative created such a captivating story that I was hooked from the first chapter to the last.

The publisher was kind enough to provide me with some historical information that the book was based on and a devotional based on the underlying message of the book, both written by Roseanna M. White. Also, you can click here to read an excerpt from Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."