Review: Chronicles, Volume One

I received this book from my son Kristopher for Christmas way back in 2004. The book is a lot like Bob Dylan … different and genius. We start in 1961. We witness some history in him signing his first record contract.

It is an odd memoir that is as inspired, impulsive, and to a degree as eccentric as Dylan’s greatest music. He never tells us what he is about.

Biography lovers will find it wanting. You get near, but not close to Dylan. He chases “rabbits”. It reminds me of someone talking in to a tape recorder and then having it transcribed – word for word.

With a title of “Chronicles, Volume One”, when will we see Volume Two? Save your money. Borrow the book from the library, unless you are a big Bob Dylan fan. Read in January 2005.

Poem: An Army Dad

An Army Dad

Once he lived at Fort Lewis Washington.
It was mostly cloudy, cool, and rainy.
Through his window was Mount Rainer.
With a snow capped top all year around.

Young soldiers came into the army,
And in the morning they would be running.
You could hear the sergeant calling cadence,
Troops with antiphonal voices responding.

So far from home and yet not lonely,
Many others would miss their family.
His wife was there to love him.
He never asked if she missed her family.

The thump and boom of artillery,
Could be heard during the night hours,
As could the whoop whoop of the helicopters.
He had America to defend.

She found a church and had her faith.
Tobacco and alcohol helped with his stress.
She would pray and cry for him,
While he volunteered to deploy again.

So far from home and yet not lonely,
Many others would miss their family.
His wife was there to love him.
He never asked if she missed her family.

He could run almost forever.
She ran to her friends at church.
He was named the outstanding young officer,
Married to the army more than her.

Then he became a first-time father.
By four months, she was not a teenage mother.
Then he volunteered to deploy again,
Volunteering without ever thinking about them.

“Who’s that?” the little boy asked as he pointed to his father?
The boy didn’t have a clue who the man was exiting the airplane.
And it broke the heart of the Army father,
As he realized the years he had thrown away.

© 2007 – Jimmie A. Kepler

The poem was originally published as: “An Army Dad,” Poetry & Prose Magazine, June 2011. Volume 1, Issue 9, Moonchild Designs, page 35.

Writer’s Life: Thinking and Liberal Arts Curriculum

Albert Einstein said, “The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.

“My undergraduate education is a liberal arts education. My major was history and my minors were English and military science. My Master of Arts degree is in Religious Education. My broad-based liberal arts education did more than prepare me for a job. It allows me to compete in the marketplace of ideas.

It has been thirty-seven years since I heard then university president Dr. Wendell Nedderman say I had met the requirements for my bachelor’s degree. Within minutes of his pronouncement, I raised my right hand and received my commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Army through the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

I did not make the military a career. Three years of active duty followed then I headed to graduate school. I was amazed at how ready I was for graduate work. I knew how to read, write, study, do research and research papers, and how to think.

My University of Texas at Arlington liberal arts education taught me how to think independently and make sound judgments. I learned how to expand my horizons, discover new perspectives, and acquire the tools to defend my point of view. My education helped me learn to reflect on life, have a moral and historic compass where I can distinguish good from evil, justice from injustice, and what is noble and beautiful from what is simply useful.

How have I paid the bills? Working as a commissioned officer in the US Army, a minister, corporate trainer, Internet Coordinator, IT Support Analyst, and IT Systems Administrator have been my day jobs supporting my thirty-one plus years of freelance writing.

Employed in Information Technology I find it interesting to see how many persons have an undergraduate degree in the liberal art disciplines. These people know how to think outside the box. They have excellent critical thinking skills. They have great oral and written communication skills. They accept, embrace change and know how to successfully deal with it.

What else have I done with my history degree? All the above plus I have published over two dozen magazine and trade journal articles in over a dozen publications though the years. I have published poetry through the years. I have written over one-hundred book reviews. I have a website “Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews”. The site is a 100 best websites for history buffs. I read and review military history books published under more than a dozen different imprints. I have a publisher/editor reading the first five chapters of the historical fiction novel I am working on.

Younger coworkers often ask how I know so much about a variety of disciplines. They say I am a modern renaissance man. My answer: I have a liberal arts education from UT Arlington.

How committed am I to liberal arts education? I have three grown children and a son-in-law – all have liberal arts degrees. One is employed in a senior business management position, a second is a teacher, and the third has worked in customer service and information technology fields.

Devotional: Proverbs 21 and God’s Sovereignty

Proverbs 21 and God’s Sovereignty

In my Bible reading this morning I read Proverbs 21. Proverbs 21 verse 1 immediately caught my attention. I meditated and reflected on the implications of Proverbs 21:1.  I read the verse in several different translations. It oftentimes helps me secure the meaning of the verse. Proverbs 21:1 deals directly with the attribute of God’s sovereignty.

Proverbs 21:1 (King James Version) – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

Proverbs 21:1 (English Standard Version) – The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.

Proverbs 21:1 (New American Standard Bible) – The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.

Proverbs 21:1 (New International Version) – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

Proverbs 21:1 (New Living Translation) – The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.

The verse is a reminder, no, a wake-up call that God is in charge. He is in control. I recalled a couple of Bible verses that point this out, God being in control. Romans 8:28 is the first verse that came to mind.

Romans 8:28 King James Version says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”.

Next Ephesians 1:11 was remembered.

Ephesians 1:11 King James Version says, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:”

The phrase “all things” means everything.  It tells us that God is over everything. So, if we go to the Bible and look for specific examples of the “all things” that God is sovereign over we can find a never-ending list.

Here are ten examples of God’s Sovereignty found in the Bible (italics mine):

  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE DECISIONS OF KINGS – Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. — That was the verse I read this morning.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE LOSS OF OR THE GAINING OF WEALTH – Deut. 8:18 ; But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth…”
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE LOSS OF FAMILY, WEALTH AND HEALTH – Job 1:21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL DECISIONS – Proverbs 16:33 – The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE BIRDS – Matthew 10:29 – Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them(the sparrows or birds) will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL KINGS AND NATIONS – Daniel 4:35; All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven      And among the inhabitants of earth;    And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER TRAVEL PLANS –  James 4:13-15 – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”; yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER SUFFERING IN THE LIVES OF CHRISTIANS – 1 Peter 4:19 – Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right,
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE REPENTANCE OF A PERSON – 2 Timothy 2:25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
  1. GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER THE SPIRITUAL MATURITY OF THE BELIEVER – Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits.

What I was reminded of this morning was God is sovereign. He is in control. His plans ultimately are accomplished.

This is an original devotion written by Jimmie A. Kepler on March 21, 2012.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License by Jimmie Kepler.

Devotional: Proverbs 20 and The Sin of Pride

Proverbs 20 greeted me this morning as I had my morning devotional and a cup of coffee. Solomon’s wise sayings in Proverbs 20 teach about:

  1. how drinking too much wine isn’t wise,
  2. respecting authority,
  3. the need to work and not be lazy,
  4. walking in integrity,
  5. respecting parents,
  6. honesty in business practices,
  7. the value of a good reputation,
  8. and much more, etc.

The more I read the more I thought to myself, “I don’t touch alcoholic beverages. I respect authority. Heck, if I don’t like or respect the person in an office or position I at least esteem the office/position they hold. I usually don’t speak bad things about them.”

Then I read the following proverb and was convicted: “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin?’”  (Proverbs 20:9)

As soon as I read this verse, the Lord chastened me by bringing up recent sins to mind.  He reminded me of the sin of pride. I battle pride daily … pride of education, pride of where I live, pride of my intellectual capabilities (see, I am prideful just in listing them!) …

He reminded me I am only a sinner saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. He reminded me of my secret sins that I sometimes forget He knows. He stabbed my heart reminding (no, convicting me) of my need I need to confess and repent. “If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.

Instead of just reading verses this morning and patting myself on the back because of how good I am, I realized how I’m not good enough.  None of us is good enough to deserve God’s grace.  I’m realizing more and more each day that authentic Christianity isn’ t about being a good person.  To me, it’s about realizing my need for Christ, being thankful for what He did for me by dying for my sins, and having a deep relationship with him by spending time with him and pursuing him.

How are you doing today?  When you read Proverbs 20:9 above, what sin does the Lord bring to your mind?  Spend time confessing those sins to the Lord, and be thankful for his grace when we weren’t good enough to deserve it. And like the rain falling in north Texas this morning, God’s forgiveness can wash away the confessed sin from your life.

This is an original devotion written by Jimmie A. Kepler on March 20, 2012.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License by Jimmie Kepler.

Writer’s Life: The Personal Nature of a Rejection

Click on picture to read rejection email.

You’ve heard it all before … never take a rejection personally … send out that manuscript (poem, story) to another market and keep on keeping on when you get the rejection.

We’re constantly told by day job co-workers, family and friends that less than one percent of all writers “make-it”. “Make it” is defined as being able to quit the day job and live on the earning from their writing.

You know the stories. You’ve heard the tales. You could share all the negative garbage well-meaning others have dumped on you.

It’s hard not to take the rejection personal. I received two rejections this week. One was especially hard to accept. The magazine had sent me an initial email back in January saying they liked the short story enough they were referring it to a “review committee”. I wish they had never told me it was going to the review committee. That got my hopes up just to be shot down two months later.

I chuckled a little when the rejection email arrived. I had this bizarro version of Sally Field’s second academy award best actress acceptance speech come to mind. I could see myself with tears streaming down my face screaming “you hate me, you really hate me”.

I knew they were illiterate and didn’t recognize good speculative fiction … then I was honest to myself … it didn’t meet their current needs. I knew what I had to do. I would rework it, pray over it and ship it out to ambush the next unsuspecting editor.

The editors have a heck of a job, don’t they. I would hate to read all the wanna be writer fiction they get.

What am I trying to say? Hang in there. In the last week I sent the first five chapters to a publisher who only agreed to read them because one of her authors recommend me to her. This is either a kind, courtesy read by the editor/publisher or a massive example of good luck or providence on my part.

On the flip side, I am looking for some computer contract work to help pay the bills. I have two writing conferences I want to attend later this year. I need a sale or two, a contract with a nice advance, or some contract work to get the needed conference money. One of the conferences is near my home in Dallas, Texas this September. It is the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference.

Even if you’ve heard it before I want to remind you — don’t give up your passion for writing. I was told in a  college senior level creative writing English class that it takes about 10,000 hours to master a craft. That’s true for playing the guitar, piano, writing poetry, or writing the next great novel. If one works 40 hours a week for the 52 weeks in a year that’s only 2080 hours. 10,000 = 5 years+ of full-time work.

So, get to writing … and master your craft. I’m still working at it. As an editor told me back in the 1980s … you’re not the best writer, but you write saleable copy, write to specification, and meet deadlines. It’s writers like you that will ultimately succeed. I’m still trying … and I’ll make it.

Sacrifice On the Steppe: The Italian Alpine Corps in the Stalingrad Campaign, 1942-1943

As a lifelong history buff, military history enthusiast, former US Army officer and holder of a BA degree in history, I find myself pleasantly surprised from time to  time when I encounter a book that fills a void in my historical education. “Sacrifice On The Steppe: The Italian Alpine Corps in the Stalingrad Campaign, 1942-1943” written by Hope Hamilton and published by Casemate is one such book. The idea for the book originated when the author listened to her uncles’ reflections of his participation in World War II.

When Hitler had Germany invade Russia in June 1941, Prime Minister of Italy Mussolini declared war on Russia. He quickly sent a hastily organized Italian Expeditionary force of 62,000 men to join the Russian campaign even though Adolf Hitler discouraged such a move. Italy was unprepared militarily. Mussolini’s motivation was to join Hitler in receiving the spoils following an imagined rapid Nazi victory against Russia.”

Hope Hamilton’s book draws on personal interviews, exhaustive research and the written accounts of Italians who participated in and survived Mussolini’s tragic decision of Italian involvement. Mussolini compounded his mistake by sending even more troops the following year. The author does a good job of showing the human side of the Italian involvement on the Russian front. This is not a scholarly work on the tactics and logistics of the Italian involvement. Rather, it is the story of the people who made the terrible trek from Italy to Russia to support their German ally. The German’s had little trust of and kept the Italians minimally informed and I believe misused the Alpine troops by not maximizing the troops mountain fighting ability by their placement along the Don River.

The author does a great job of telling the soldier’s story. Her writing style focuses on the individual accounts of the soldiers. She discusses how the Alpine Corps was caught up in the German campaign capture Stalingrad in the autumn of 1942. She takes us through the Soviet offensive that followed in late November. We experience the collapse of the entire Axis front and the Alpine Corps’ withdrawal to the Don. I could have used a more background about the Stalingrad Campaign. The book does not take a strategic view of the campaign. Little attention is given to the big picture. The story is told from the Italian point of view instead of looking at it from the Axis point of view.

The book includes good notes, is well indexed, and has a great bibliography. I enjoyed the book. If you are looking for an after action report of the Italian participation or a critical analysis of the campaign this is not the book for you. If you’re looking for a good overview and an understanding of what the Italian soldiers experienced then you’ll enjoy the book. I give it four stars. It is a must addition to any military historian’s library. It is a good first volume to fill a long void of an English language account of the Italian involvement on the eastern front.

Interview: Author Susan Elaine Jenkins (Scandalon: Running From Shame and Finding God’s Scandalous Love)

I recently conducted an interview with author Susan Elaine Jenkins.

Susan grew up in California as a PK, (“Preacher’s Kid.”) The eldest of three children in a parsonage gave her an early passion for knowing the Lord and studying the Scriptures. She was also given a unique view into what goes into church life behind the scenes.

She began to travel the globe in 1980, as a part of a Study Quest, where she – along with forty-nine other young graduate students – spent three months traveling to twenty-eight countries, studying leadership styles of people making a spiritual impact in the world. In fact, it was on this trip that her love affair with China began.

Susan moved to Asia in 1997, where she taught performing arts, first at the International School of Tianjin and then in the southern region of the country at The American International School of Guangzhou. She is now beginning her twelfth year of teaching in China, at a school not far from Shanghai.

Prior to moving to Asia, she taught for nineteen years, mostly at The Dorris-Eaton School in Walnut Creek and the San Ramon Valley Christian Academy in Danville, near San Francisco. She also served a public school district as a Resource Specialist and coordinator of a Gifted and Talented Program for public school district in northern California.

Susan recently spent one year back in America, living, teaching and writing in the ski resort community of Park City, nestled in the Wasatch Mountains. She taught music in a mountain school where classes ended every Friday just after lunch so that students could hit the slopes.
(From her biography)

You can buy Scandalon by clicking HERE. A review of the book is HERE as well as until 3/9/2012 get a free Kindle download by clicking HERE .

Question One: Tell us about yourself, your family growing up, and your interests in life.
Answer One: I grew up in a family of preachers and teachers. I used to play school as a child and always knew I’d become a teacher when I grew up, just like my imaginative, story-telling Mother. I was encouraged and surrounded with books, and I grew up loving to read and write stories. My favorite toy was an old, heavy, black typewriter and I lugged it around with me everywhere I went, typing stories like mad to share with schoolmates and patient grandparents.

My family was also a very musical group – creating music was something my parents did all the time and my brothers and I sang together from the time we were small children – in three-part harmony.

My father was a preacher and my two brothers and I loved going to church three times a week (or more). Church was fun! We enjoyed the atmosphere of loving support and spiritual joy, never dreaming that all would be changed dramatically someday.

I naturally followed in my Mother’s footsteps and became a teacher after graduating from Point Loma Nazarene University in 1977. My career has taken me into the hearts and lives of many unforgettable students. Much of my time is occupied with continuing education and professional development opportunities, which opens up new areas of thinking and learning as I go.

After teaching in California private schools for 19 years, I moved to China, where I have focused on teaching performing arts in 3 different international schools. I am a seasoned foreign expatriate these days and yet, the daily adventures of living in Asia continue to surprise me.

Question Two: What motivated you to write your book?
Answer Two: A friend from the UK convinced me to begin a blog. The idea of sharing my stories was inconceivable, at first, but as time went by, I got to know my readers. Little by little, I opened up the pages of my journals with them, interspersed with a few of the details of daily life in Asia. To my surprise, my online friends began commenting and sending me private letters filled with their own pain. I wanted to let them know that there really is healing and light ahead, that God’s promise really is authentic: He is a God who heals.

Question Three: Do you journal? When I read your book some sections seemed like I was getting an intimate look into your private thoughts. Did you use your journals as a primary source?
Answer Three: Yes, I have always journaled, for as long as I can remember. And, yes, much of my book was taken directly from those journals – especially the conversations between Dr. Travis and me. Those three difficult months were mind-numbing days. Writing everything that happened at the end of every confusing day helped me make more sense of it all.

Later, once I was in China, the conversations with Ouyang were important to me, as well, and I also kept detailed accounts. I knew I needed to have those talks recorded somewhere where I could retrieve them – they were too special to forget. The experiences I was having with my Chinese friends were very precious; China was rapidly developing and nothing would be the same again. I recently visited Tianjin and was stunned to see the progress made – the sleek commercial buildings and tall apartments that have replaced the ancient hutongs near the streets where I once lived and worked.

Question Four: In your book did you change any of the person’s names to protect their privacy?
Answer Four: I did change most of the names, yes. The only names I did not change were Ouyang’s and Mrs. Hua’s. I gave Ouyang a list of three possible names I wanted him to choose from, and he said he preferred I use his real name. My brothers each selected their names for the book, as well. It was important to me to allow for as much anonymity as possible, as the issues in this book are very intimate and potentially embarrassing.

Question Five: Your mother has passed away since you wrote the book. Was she supportive and/or understanding of you writing such a personal memoir?
Answer Five: My Mother was extremely supportive of this book, absolutely. She always encouraged my dream to become a writer, ever since I was a child at play. Later, when I mused about writing a book someday about the changes our family life encountered, I’d express hesitancy at discussing my Father’s issues in such a public way and she used to dismiss that, saying, “I don’t think you should worry too much about that, Susan.” When I was finally busy compiling all my journal notes into the actual book, I did much of the work while visiting her that last summer. She lay very ill in bed and encouraged me throughout the process. I left a copy of the manuscript with her when I returned to China and she told me a week before she died that she had read it. She gave her blessing to me, expressing that she hoped its message would find its way to the hearts of those who needed encouragement.

Question Six: The obvious follow up question is how did your two brothers and father respond/react to the book?
Answer Six: Do you know if your ex-husband has read the book or had any comments concerning the book? I sent both of my brothers copies of the manuscript and asked them to make any editorial changes before it went to print. I really desired their input and suggestions, because I knew that my point of view might differ from their recollections. ‘Steve’ who teaches in China, chose not to read it at all and says he probably won’t ever read it. He has been very positive, however, and has told me many times, “Whenever someone writes a book about their family, someone is bound to have hurt feelings.” Steve is not just a brother; he’s probably my best “male” friend and confidante. He has been so supportive.

My youngest brother, ‘Paul’, also elected not to read the manuscript, giving me a verbal “go-ahead”. At the time, I questioned, “Are you absolutely certain you don’t want to check it first?” He said, “Don’t worry about my opinion. Just focus on the message of the book.” I thought that was quite generous of him at the time. Later, when he actually picked up a copy, he was very upset with me for putting so much of our family’s private story into the book. He didn’t read any of the sections about China at all – he only read the portions that referred to our family life. I have phoned and written to him many times this year in an effort to understand his thinking and to discuss his feelings, but he has been unwilling to communicate. He is really quite upset. I am praying about this and hoping our relationship can heal from this pain the book has caused him.

I emailed my former husband to tell him the book was coming out and sent an additional message to him via Facebook (that incredible social phenomenon). He has not replied to my letters. I do not know if he has read it or not, but I would doubt that he would. He remarried four years after our divorce and is, by all accounts, happy. I hope he is and I wish him well.

My Dad has been truly incredible. Very supportive and understanding. He and I have a very special closeness that I treasure and this book has only brought us closer together. I am grateful.

I was disappointed that the final version of the book had the last chapter completely omitted. In that chapter, I explained the way my Dad had been taking such amazing care of Mom during her last days. I also talked about the wonderful changes in my Dad. I am still sorry those pages were left out of the final copy. I have had to learn that publishers make decisions based on many factors, and some of those might not be to my liking…but I am still thrilled with Cladach Publishing and the spiritual approach they took towards this book.

Question Seven: While your book tells of your personal journey it is a book about China. Why a book about China?
Answer Seven: I used the double journal literary device to portray my story as it occurred both in America and in China, where I’ve lived for the past twelve years. It is really a combination of two lives: my life in California and my life in Asia; two very different worlds.

I think it seemed very natural at some point, to write of a remarkably poignant journey that met in a healing point while living in a crumbled country, broken by its own history. My life at that point seemed very much the same – broken, falling apart, and dark.

Question Eight: You moved to China. How has living away from the United States assisted in dealing with the memories of the difficult situations you have experienced?
Answer Eight: Living in Asia has been wonderfully healing for me. I am certain God would have gradually healed me wherever I was living on this earth, but life in China gave me a unique perspective. There was space, for one thing, which helped me to gain both emotional and physical distance, affording me a better look at what had happened to me in California and what God wanted to do within me. The new friends I made in China taught me all kinds of lessons that illuminated God’s truth from Scripture and caused me to see the person of Jesus Christ more clearly.

I was surprised to finally feel “at home” in China. That, for me, involved a great spiritual healing and coming back to a point of rest within God’s heart; being glad to be in His loving presence; knowing that all my sins are utterly forgiven and cast away; and, sensing His divine heart of grace. Home has literally – for me – become His own Heart.

I am so thankful that God used some humble people in this vast country to teach me so much about His love and grace.

Question Nine: Music is very important in your life. Please share what music and the piano mean to you.
Answer Nine: Yes, music is important to me! Especially the piano, which is my instrument of choice. I have found that God speaks through music, and especially so – at least for me – here in China. When I sit down by myself and play through the old gospel tunes and hymns I learned as a child, it’s as if the words that He wrote into my heart come back to mind on fresh winds of renewal. I often teach these same songs to worshipers at house or countryside gatherings of praise. It sometimes feels as if God has taken all the early interests of my childhood – teaching, music and writing – and is weaving an unexpected tapestry of ministry and beauty that I can share with many.

Question Ten: Your experiences are such that you may have questioned your faith in God and decided that men cannot be trusted. Have you given up on God or every having a meaning relationship with men?
Answer Ten: Another good question. (you ask hard questions, by the way!) As Scandalon points out, I have struggled with my faith in God, yes. But, never to the point where I stopped believing. I believed He was God, I just didn’t believe I was “welcomed” into His presence anymore. But as the book also reveals, I learned the glory of His grace in specific ways and began to enjoy a close walk with God once again.

I have known a string of men who were not trustworthy, yes. That is sadly true. My father, my former husband, and “Dr. Travis”. And there have been others along the way who have shocked me in one way or another, as well.

I am circumspect when it comes to relationships, yes, but I have not given up, by any means. I still hold dreams of a wonderfully strong and happy intimate marriage. I pray for the right man to come into my life, although it is difficult meeting people while living here in a semi-remote region of China. I pray about this and trust God. I really do.

I have hope in the future because I hope in the Lord. Without Him, I have nothing and with Him, I have everything. That brings me huge joy and great hope.

Voices of the Bulge: Untold Stories from Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge by Michael Collins and Martin King

Oral histories are fashionable these days. When the oral history is tied to a battle or events that have been reported on repeatedly it is a challenge. “Voices of the Bulge: Untold Stories from Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge” by Michael Collins and Martin King is a book where the writers have used a dozen years’ worth of research and interviews with veterans along with historical accounts of the battle to tell the story through the eyes of the participants.

The book is a clear and direct account of the Battle of the Bulge. The authors give good coverage to the first ten days. As I read the book, I was at first taken aback by the redundancy of many of the soldier’s accounts. Their interpretations of the events were focused on the weather and retreating or being away from the front lines, either for rest and recuperation or on leave and then riding or marching to the recuse of their fellow Americans. So many of the G.I.’s included a mention of Bastogne that I wondered if this was coverage of the Battle of Bastogne. The personal recollections included are general experiences of the common G.I. There is token coverage at best of the German side of the story. If that’s what you want, it isn’t here.

The book has a number of issues I won’t address in detail.  One I will mention is when a veteran’s memory of events don’t match what actually happened (e.g. saying soldiers of the 3rd Parachute Division were dropped well behind US lines and then telling apocryphal tales) they needed to have a note saying the events recalled were incorrect and then tell what actually happened. There are a few sidebars included in the book. Unfortunately, they are somewhat redundant.

The book needs a bibliography. It needs a listing of secondary sources. It would be helpful to have both a listing of the interviews with the units of service for the individuals. Did they verify the individuals were actually in the unit at the time of the Battle of the Bulge?

The inclusion of the DVD is nice. I was disappointed at the brevity of the DVD. I was expecting more. Yes, Oral histories are fashionable these days. All in all, it could have been better.