Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sak Saum - My Way to Help End Human Trafficking from Branson, MO

I AM AN ABOLITIONIST.  Since learning about human trafficking for the first time in September 2010, I have been looking for a way to help end it.  My initial gut reaction is to grab a machine gun and go on a rescue mission.  But I know that will never be my reality. 

Last weekend Tom and I visited Yobel Market in Colorado Springs, CO on our brief visit for my sister's wedding.  That's where I learned about Sak Saum.  Sak Saum is a rescue and rehabilitation organization located in Phom Pehn, Cambodia.  There is currently 13 girls in the safe house.  They have provided counseling and then taught them how to sew and financially support themselves in a desperate economy.  When I bought this bag, I knew that it had been sewn by one of those 13 girls.  I knew her hands had crafted it, and I rejoice with her about her new opportunity.  By buying the handbag, I am helping the ministry continue.  They have plans to expand with a new location, whereby they can double the number of girls they house. 

The purchase of the handbag was not a donation, it was a "fair trade."  I say this because the handbag itself is superior quality and completely adorable.  It fits my personal style to a tee.  I paid a square price and got a fair bargain.  Even though this was, in fact, a fair trade for me, that's only half of what "fair trade" means.  "Fair trade" is a newer phrase that indicates that the craftsmen (read: crafts-women) were paid a reasonable price for their labor.  They were not taken advantage of.

I am happy to say that one of these bags from Phom Pehn, Cambodia has made it all the way to Branson, MO -- two, actually, since my mom bought one also!  It's a long drive to Colorado Springs, but if you want one you can go to and order one straightaway.  Be a part of something great!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fighting for Your Family - Steve Carlson

"Fighting for Your Family" is an insightful, straight-to-the-point book from Steve Carlson about fighting the spiritual war for family unity.  This book is short, encouraging, and strongly written.  I did not find it repetitive or rambling.  You move quickly through the topics, and the author still thoroughly covers each one.  On a side note, I loved the way the Contents section was laid out.  It provides a complete outline of the book and allows you to easily find and refer back to a section you wish you read again.
Steve begins his writing with a brief autobiography and a transparent look into his life including his earlier divorce.  I found this refreshing.  Since none of us can claim to live perfect lives it was good to see Steve open up about his past and unselfishly provide the rest of us an opportunity to learn from his experiences.
I also appreciated the note in an early section that God does not ask us to surrender our family.  Too many times we see people place their families farther down in their priorities than what could be considered healthy.  Often this is done in the name of ministry.  I was happy to see this topic addressed specifically so there was no chance of misinterpretation.   
On a technical note, I noticed a few grammatical errors and typos.  Overall, the writing was on the proper level (my guess was 6th grade, which is the industry standard and considered ideal) in order to be easily read by the majority of our culture. 
My only critique is that initially the perspective of the divorce seemed slightly biased, but once I got farther into the book the impression faded.  Again, I appreciated that all instruction was given in a humble way from the perspective on someone sharing their personal testimony. 
This book targets Christian men age 25 - 55.  Will there also be a book released that approaches fighting from a woman's perspective?  If you choose to pick up a copy of "Fighting for Your Family," then I recommend you also grab a highlighter, because there is so much of the good stuff you'll want to make notes in the margin as you read!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where Hearts are Free - Golden Keyes Parsons

Golden Keyes Parsons is a relatively new author that has written three books, all of which have been published by a leader in the Christian women's fiction world -- Thomas Nelson.  "Where Hearts are Free" is the third in her"Darkness to Light" series.  This group of books is so captivating that once you start you won't stop reading until you reach the last page.
The first two books track the story of Madeleine, a childhood friend and love interest of the King.  Through her friendship with King Louis she is able to protect her Huguenot family from persecution until King Louis removes his protection and becomes a harsh enemy.  It is evident that the author did significant historical research before writing, and the book will transport you to a different era.  The second continues Madeleine's life, and the third -- which I am reviewing here -- changes its focus to Bridget and Phillippe as the main characters.  I think this was a smart move for Golden, and it keeps the story moving.  To refresh your memory, Phillippe is the son of Madeleine who became an indentured servant after the family lost all their money on board the ship to America.  The book begins as Phillippe finishes his time as a servant to Bridget's household.  This well-thought-out mystery provides the framework for the plot, with romance written in so that the balance is about 60/40 (mystery/romance). 
Books that are this well crafted are hard to come by, and I can only beg that she continue writing so the rest of us can continue to visit the world of early French royalty and American immigration.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Too Rich for a Bride - Mona Hodgson

"Too Rich for a Bride" is a short novel, and is the sequel to "Two Brides Too Many."  This is a fun, upbeat, cheerful romance with a happy ending.
My suggestion to the author is this... the main storyline was the growing and changing relationship between Ida and Tucker.  However, my favorite part was near the end when the villain is introduced.  The stock market debacle, almost-kidnapping, possible hostage situation, and the results of those events really spiked my interest and held it there.  Unfortunately, the mystery wasn't introduced until the last quarter of the book, and it was over quickly.  The stock market mystery could have been the main storyline right from the beginning in lieu of the romance.  Writing in more mystery would require more research and would be more difficult to craft, but that should be no problem for Mona Hodgson. She is a talented writer and keeps the story moving.
I would recommend this to someone who wishes to relax, enjoy a lightweight, conservative romance over the course of a couple days.  However, if you like to think through your books, this one isn't for you.
This book was a gift from the published in exchange for an honest review.