Book Review of "The Day He Left for Iraq"

Going across the world to another country is not only difficult for military members on deployment but for the families they leave behind as well. This memoir is revealing about what both parties go through during the distance.

In “The Day After He Left for Iraq”, Melissa Seligman opens the reader’s door to her world. Her family’s story reflects that of so many others who share similar experiences. Being free to share it and hear it allows us to acknowledge that we are human.

Melissa’s husband was deployed to Iraq while she was home with a baby and a toddler. The toddler understood more than adults would imagine. It makes you think about how important it is to prepare children for deployment and the return.

I am thankful that Melissa shared her family’s story. I’ve always wanted to know what a soldier goes through in war but was afraid to ask out of respect for their privacy.

As a young woman dating enlisted men in the military, I was discouraged by their immaturity and disregard of respect for young women. I guess I didn’t meet the good ones. I later married an Army Officer and he is a good man.

Now, as the mother of a young woman who is a Naval Officer on deployment and soon to be mother in law of her fiancee, also a Naval Officer just returned fro deployment, I pray every day for their future and that they will be safe and know they are loved.

I pray that when they have children I will be able to be a support during any deployments. I pray that the young men will become gentlemen who respect women and the families of the other side in the same way they would wish for their own families.

Many returning Veterans do have to seek counseling and their spouses as well but sharing their stories is a huge step in understanding their world. I will still respect privacy but do desire to find out how I can support our military families. As my daughter marries and shares her experiences, I hope to become involved in healing the heartaches of those returning from war.

I hope I never have to experience war. There are valid views on all sides. Americans who serve willingly need to be supported. Objectors during drafts need to be understood, such as what happened during the Viet Nam era. Those fighting against us may not have good cause but their mothers grieve for lost children just the same. The innocent on both sides still hurt.

I am glad I read this book. It is a start in knowing how we as citizens can help.

Book Review of "A Heart for Freedom"

Chai Ling shares her story in “A Heart for Freedom”. She has a first hand account to the abortion issue in China. Her cause is worth one supporting. You may have more in common than you think.

I would never have thought that I would have anything in common with someone who has gone through unimaginable hardships in another country. As I read her story and thoughts, I saw some similarities and alignment with my views that made me feel like I could share something with others from different backgrounds.

Chai was one of the students involved in the Tiananmen Square incident. She escaped and built a new life in America. In China as a young woman, she had troubled relationships and four abortions.

Chai accepted Christ but had to help friends understand that when witnessing to Chinese women about abortions, they needed to refrain from telling the women to confess their sins and just let them know they are loved. She went on to say that we need to do the same in America and for anyone we are trying to witness to. I agreed with that.

A similarity I felt was in her struggle finishing her story. She attempted to write it twenty years ago but was unable to finish it. Something was holding her back. Once she fully went through the healing process, she was able to finish it. That is something I think many writers go through.

At the end of the book, she shared an email she had received from a friend about an image of Jesus being with them. It was similar to a poem I had written about fifteen years ago.

Although her’s was an experience different from ours, as humans here are some common shared experiences by people in general: Many young women have dating difficulties, many women have abortions, many refugees have emotional struggles when coming to a new country, many Christians with good intentions, can be insensitive at times when attempting to share the Gospel. Many people are searching but don’t know exactly what they are searching for. Many authors have difficulty completing their stories.

Jesus finds us where we are at. Grace is for us all. Healing can take many years. We all have something to offer.

My story may not be the same but I can reach out to others in my every day life and help in small ways that mean so much. We never know the impact we have on others.

"My Journey With Maya" Book Review

Maya Angelou has now passed but her memory lives on through those who knew her and share their stories. Tavis Smiley met Maya in 1986 at the age of 21. For his job, he was asked to deliver a letter to her from the Mayor. That chance encounter led to 28 years of mentoring.

Maya permitted Tavis to ask tough questions and challenged him to think deeper. Somehow she was always right but was gracious in her responses and gave room to let things go.

The only issue she would never back down on was use of the “n” word and profanity. She was able to impart how our choice of words affect how we are seen and the impact it can have on our futures.

Tavis’ journey began with an invitation from one of Maya’s lady friends to join them on a trip to Africa and they provided the resources to make it happen. That trip changed his life.

Maya followed his career and lovingly encouraged him throughout nearly thirty years. When she disagreed or thought something could be done differently, they would have intelligent debate. Sometimes, it was after a period of time went by that he would remember something she said and contemplate how he could grow from it.

She shared stories of other well-known people who had crossed her path. She never judged others but was able to make them better people just by speaking to them. She also listened before she spoke. When she did speak, she had their attention.

I was so inspired by the stories Tavis shared, I wish I could be like her. Yet, she would tell me to just be the best “me” I could be. She genuinely built people up no matter the paths they chose.

Although Maya was a hero to African citizens and African-Americans, her wisdom is such that we can each aspire to reflect. There are probably treasures like her in every cultural group. I would like to see more of this kind of mentoring cross all boundaries. Kindness and wisdom unite race, religion, education or financial stations.

The wise person will grow from their mistakes, make correction, let others see a difference in them and develop others to be the best they can be. I am not known to the world and have never traveled abroad. I hope I made a difference to someone and when I get to Heaven get to meet people I didn’t even know who share stories of how we intertwined.

This was a good read. I finished it just in time for sweet dreams. Have a blessed night.