Monday, June 27, 2011

Giving God the Helm: Overcoming Storms of Adversity

Mark Kuhne
Overcoming For Life, LLC (2011)
ISBN 9780615429038
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views


Mark Kuhne likens life's trials and tribulations to facing the turbulence of the open sea in a row boat. In his book "Giving God the Helm: Overcoming Storms of Adversity" Mark shares from his own life experiences to encourage the reader to make Jesus the Captain of their lives. He goes on to show the reader how; by turning over the helm of their life to Jesus, He will lead you into safer waters, in the midst of tumultuous life difficulties and adversities.

Throughout his story Mark refers to "The Parable of the Pontoon Boat." He candidly tells how blinded by circumstances and enticed by visions of ownership and pleasure, against his better judgment, he became the owner of a pontoon boat. What started out as a "free gift" became a costly lesson, revealing Mark's vulnerability, his weakness, and his stubborn heart.

Later, in a similar instance, with much more at stake, Mark discovers the hard way that he has not learned his lesson and once again finds himself accepting what he thought was a favor (or free gift) which turned out to be a nightmare, the worst storm of his life.

Mark Kuhne's writing is founded on proven Biblical principles, examples, and faith building lessons leading to spiritual growth and living victorious Christian lives. He uses the Old Testament story of the spirit of Jezebel to help the reader understand the forces of spiritual battles and the armor to fight these battles. He has a unique way of clearly articulating how to use the energy from your adversities to transform your life by applying your faith to help you proactively avoid the worst of storms to overcome anxiety, fear and depression.

Throughout the book are bold highlighted tips, advice and inspiration, for example: "No matter how difficult the circumstances, the experience will prepare you for something greater if you determine to learn and accept the lessons from God, your Captain."

The selected scripture passages that offer promise and possibility are another source of inspiration. Other important features are the comprehensive selection of Bible affirmations and suggestion resources.

Mark relates how, on occasion, he has found direction from the interpretations of dreams in the midst of a particular trial. This may raise a flag from some readers. However, I found Mark's foundational theology to be solid.

After 25 years in banking, Mark Kuhne left his position as Community Bank President to pursue painting and writing full-time. He has included black and white replicas of many of his original paintings. These dramatically reinforce and impact a number of the Biblical examples included in the narrative.

"Giving God the Helm: Overcoming Storms of Adversity" is a strong reminder of the power and possibilities available to the person willing to turn their life over to God as their Captain.

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Drawn to Danger

Jeff Burton
Jeff Burton (2011)
ISBN 9781460980361
Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age13) for Reader Views Kids

"Drawn to Danger" by Jeff Burton is the story of Andrew, a boy who finds himself caught up in a storm of events when his drawings are sucked into another world and become real.  Andrew's Uncle Bob mysteriously disappeared and was given up for dead.  As the family was cleaning out his apartment, Andrew found a small leather pouch with an eagle insignia which he kept.  He started storing his drawings of ships inside the pouch.  The next day he opened the pouch and found, not his drawings, but a letter from a certain Mr. Sprottle thanking him for some ships.  Will Andrew find out what is happening to his drawings and who Mr. Sprottle is?  Will this help him find his lost uncle?

After losing several drawings to the pouch, Andrew wrote a letter and put it into the pouch asking about what and who was on the other side of the pouch.  Mr. Sprottle responded.  He told him that the small country of Eagleslea was under attack from an evil pirate chieftain named Scarcliff, and the country was in desperate need of reinforcements and supplies.  He thanked Andrew for the new warships that arrived in their harbor overnight (they were his drawings come to life).  He begged Andrew for more supplies and ships.  Andrew enlisted his friends to draw supplies. 

Soon after his correspondence with Eagleslea began, Andrew remembered a special trunk that his parents had sold.  He had reason to believe that the trunk had the ability to transport someone to Eagleslea.  He set out to find the trunk.  When he found the college student who had purchased it, she was more than willing to give it back because the trunk had "eaten" her cat, Miss Kittums.  During this escapade Andrew continued correspondence with Eaglslea and had reason to believe that his uncle was there.  This made Andrew more determined than ever to try and save his uncle.

After arriving in Eagleslea, Andrew was swept into a battle between the greatly outnumbered forces of Eaglslea and the evil pirate hordes.  In the battle, the Eagleslean trunk was destroyed taking with it Andrew's escape route home.  Andrew decided that even if his chance to go home was destroyed, he would at least try and save his uncle.  Stocked with several bags of chips and a few cans of soda, he set out ready to take on the entire pirate army in order to free his uncle.  He arrived at the pirate camp where he was apprehended at gunpoint and brought before Scarcliff himself.  The evil pirate rambled on for a while about Andrew's world and how he, Scarcliff, had found Eagleslea and the pirates.  He then demanded chips and soda in exchange for Andrew's uncle's release.  But will the dread pirate stay true to his word and free Andrew and his uncle?

I would recommend this book to people who like adventure and pirate stories.  It was a very entertaining read and I didn't want to put it down until I finished it.  This was the author's second book and I hope he keeps writing more.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Finding Badger: The Evolution of Doing Nothing

Holly LaMora
Jeanne D'Arce Press (2011)
ISBN 9780983106708
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

The year is 2330, and the story begins on a dying planet that only has children for survivors.  Well, children and rats.  After destroying the environment on the planet, the adults have killed each other off.  Struggling to survive, the children have learned to be very resourceful. It is kill or be killed.  Living on rations, rats and whatever they can scavenge, they have only known this way of life. They cannot begin to imagine the concept of restaurants or grocery stores.

When two people are sent to rescue a child, they have no clue how much is actually involved, or that there are others on the same mission.  Armed only with the information given by a badger, they are in shock when they arrive on Planet X and discover how bad things really are there.  They also have to overcome mistrust from others to gain information about the whereabouts of whom they seek.

As the story unfolds, so does the history of how the people involved are connected.  When I mention history, I mean from generations ago.  Each person in the group has interacted in past lives.  They have always had the same mission to complete, and failed each time.  Now that their time is running short, they are desperate for everybody to recover their lost memories so that they can finish what needs to be done. They also have to overcome anger and hurt from their past lives so that they can work together and figure out who their real enemies are.

"Finding Badger" is an incredibly well written novel.  Not only are the ideas behind the story very unique, but there are also a lot of metaphorical and philosophical components interspersed throughout the writing that add a great deal of depth. Because of the different levels of complexity, "Finding Badger" is a novel that can be enjoyed by both teenagers and adults.  As I read the story, I felt that this would be an excellent tale for family members to read and to share. It would be interesting for both parents and their teens to discuss what their perceptions were of the events as they were happening in the story.  The underlying philosophical and metaphoric touches would also lead to some very interesting conversations that would give each person a chance to share their views. I highly recommend Ms. LaMora's book!

The Whole Youth Worker: Advice on Professional, Personal, and Physical Wellness from the Trenches, 2nd Ed.

Jay Tucker
Loving Healing Press (2011)
ISBN 9781615990788
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views


"The Whole Youth Worker" is filled with practical pointers for the potential or practicing youth worker: professional or lay, paid or volunteer. Jay Tucker covers the entire spectrum of advice from personal and physical wellness and professional conduct, to dealing with difficulty, balancing family while creating a clear vision of ministry.

In his holistic approach, Tucker considers not only the ministry aspect of worship, teaching, and fellowship but includes the importance of personally living a Christ-honoring life. Jay notes that the job description of the youth worker includes being spiritual advisor, parent, friend, and therapist, a 24/7 type job.

The chapter titled "Lock-in 101" presents the pros and cons of sponsoring a lock-in event. The chapter includes unique ideas for games, activities and programming with a sample 12-hour lock-in plan. Another important chapter deals with "Senioritus" and the symptoms that accompany this transitional year prior to high school graduation.

Tucker maintains that success and cutting edge ministry differs among churches and generations. He discusses looking at traditional programming in light of changes in contemporary, culture, time constraints on students, and family lifestyles. He also encourages taking a realistic look at teen relationships within the youth group, the problems that arise when good kids make bad choices, and the importance of creating a parent-friendly ministry. He includes some keys for dealing with criticism, making the most of board meetings, the importance of creating friendships, and communicating with the congregation.

The author counsels the reader on the importance of staying healthy through diet and exercise as an important element to effective worship and ministry. He talks about health and diet. I found his menus and nutritional comparisons of fast foods informational, interesting, and helpful.

Jay looks at questions about ethics for the Youth Worker in light of both personal and professional standards. He talks about the "call to youth ministry," the reality of the possibility of unexpected job change, and the interview process.

I enjoyed the format of the book, the organization of the material as well as Jay's practical approach and realistic analysis of youth ministry today. This second edition of "The Whole Youth Worker" has been updated and includes an additional five chapters offering up to date "advice on professional, personal, and physical wellness from the trenches."

This book contains highly practical advice. "The Whole Youth Worker, 2nd Edition" should be read and on the resource shelf of every youth worker, professional or lay, new or seasoned. This is a resource that should be on the reading list of every college, seminary, or Bible school for every student considering a Christian Education major, or considering a career in youth ministry.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

The Source

Diana Bastine
Helm Publishing (2010)
ISBN 9780983010906
Reviewed by Sydney Clark (age 13) for Reader Views Kids

"The Source," by Diana Bastine, is the story of Caitlin, an Irish teenager interested in folklore, who, while on a hike, discovers a strange man named Fortescue in a cave in the Irish countryside. As she finds out more about who he is and where he comes from, Caitlin gets thrown into an adventure that carries her to a strange, subterranean world she never dreamed existed. Suddenly, Caitlin finds herself critical to the survival of Fortescue's people.

As they get to know each other better, Fortescue begins telling Caitlin about the reason he came to the surface -- to find an ancient amulet that is said to restore nutrients to the drink that sustains all of Fortescue's people ... the Source. For decades, the Source has been becoming less and less nutritious, and Fortescue must find a way to restore its vitality or see his people die. But when another of Fortescue's kind, Mortimer, comes to the surface, Caitlin worries that he is not to be trusted. Will Mortimer turn out to be trustworthy? Or will he try and thwart Caitlin's and Fortescue's plan, and gain power for himself?

When Mortimer betrays them and runs away to Dublin, Caitlin, Fortescue, and Caitlin's father must try and stop him. But when they finally discover an injured Mortimer, they are at their wit's end. After realizing that Mortimer doesn't have the amulet, they begin a massive search all over Dublin. The fate of Fortescue's people is threatened by a chance encounter with muggers, and then with a common merchant. Will they recover the amulet and save Fortescue's people? Will the people survive?

I enjoyed reading "The Source" because it was an interesting take on the classic myths and legends of vampires and the famous story "The Pied Piper." Caitlin is a smart teenager interested in old folklore and is willing to fully commit herself to helping her friends and family when they are in need. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes folklore and adventure. "The Source" was an enthralling book and someone from practically any age group would enjoy it.

Crisis In The American Heartland: Disasters & Mental Health in Rural Environments: An Introduction (Volume 1)

George W. Doherty, MS, LPC
Rocky Mountain DMH Institute Press (2011)
ISBN 9781615990757
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views


"Crisis In The American Heartland" is Volume 1 in a series of books for Crisis Intervention Training for Disaster Workers, for mental health workers and first responders who deal with related stress and trauma situations, specifically as they relate to disasters in rural environments.

These issues are taking on new proportions as they relate to the question of whom and how the challenge of dealing with mental health counseling will be met in the next rural crisis. The uneven distribution of population, the potential of high levels of immediate need in the event of a disaster occurrence, limited availability of rural services, and the trend of populations relocating to urban centers all impact intervention planning. 

Unique mental health issues may result from stress, anxiety, and cross-cultural variables brought about by changing roles, unresolved trauma, and a declining farm economy. The impact of these issues may be demonstrated in domestic violence, youth violence, murder or suicide.                                                                                                                                      

In the rural area of Southwest Michigan where I live, severe storm warnings are frequent; heavy rains may result in flooding, lightning damage or death, as well as the possibilities of destruction by high winds and tornados.

As I write this review, news reports are coming in updating the devastation impacted by a massive tornado, covering a 7-mile-wide area in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as the result of winds over 200 mph. State and Federal Agencies are setting up disaster relief for physical needs. Mental health personnel will move in to assist with post-traumatic stress and critical incident stress management and other related areas. Multiply the difficulty in providing these services in a rural situation where the results of trauma, crisis and disaster cover a much wider area and cannot be as readily implemented.
For these reasons it is critical that mental health professionals and first responders in rural areas become aware of recent research, and training approaches to crisis intervention and traumatology. I am impressed with the depth of material provided in this overview and the articulate communication in transmitting a new awareness of the specific applications to the reader.

A comprehensive bibliography of resources and references is provided to help the reader gain a better understanding of disaster mental health faced in rural areas and various cultural situations including: Physical issues such as land, air, and water resources, chemicals and pesticides, animal rights, food distribution; Quality of life issues such as rural America's declining share of national wealth, problems of hunger, education, and rural poverty among rural populations; Direct and indirect service issues; Professional training and development issues; and personal issues.

"Crisis In The American Heartland: Disasters & Mental health In Rural Environments: An Introduction (Volume 1" is a momentous breakthrough in disaster relief awareness and is destined to become a model for training manuals of the future. This is a monumental accomplishment for George W. Doherty, and Rocky Mountain DMH Institute Press.

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