(Review) Healing the Wounded Heart: The Heartache of Sexual Abuse and the Hope of Transformation by Dan B. Allender

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Publisher and Publication Date: Baker Books. March 1, 2016. First published in 1989.
Genre: Nonfiction, sexual abuse.
Pages: 288.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon

The Allender Center

The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology-this link gives a bio on Allender

Further links for sexual abuse survivors:
Cecil Murphey, an adult male abuse survivor
Facebook page for Overcoming Sexual Abuse
Journey to Heal by Crystal Sutherland-website
Unchanging God-Changing You by Kristin Robinson-a Christian life coach
RAINN
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology 

Review:
The back cover synopsis of the book states “millions of people” have “suffered abuse in the form of rape, incest, molestation,” and other forms. That statement is hard to grasp. It’s hard because a million abuse survivors is unconscionable. However, I now know I do not stand alone. One of the aspects of being abused is shame, but another is the feeling that I’m all alone in this horror. Shame causes isolation and this exacerbates the alone feeling. In 2015, I finally acknowledged, and aloud, that I had been sexually abused as a teenage girl. This began a pivotal moment in life. Counseling, journaling, reading books, and prayer helped. I even wrote anger letters, pouring my heart out on paper, vicious acerbic words, and then I shredded them. I have a good friend who said, “Annette it is like emptying your suitcase. Your suitcase is filled with memories both good and bad. You sort through those bad memories, working through them, and then you can remove them from the suitcase, it lightens the load, and you now have room for good memories in life.” Healing the Wounded Heart has been a strong tool in helping me recover. I want to clarify something about recovery. Sexual abuse harms not just the body but the soul. Working through what happened and forgiveness is necessary. However, I will spend a lifetime dealing with “other” elements that came from the abuse. For example: taking things personally, mistrust of men (the feeling that men want to abuse me), I don’t deserve a decent man, I don’t deserve anything good, and many others. I can intellectually say these are all lies, but it is the old patterns that are the hardest to break.
In Healing the Wounded Heart, Dan B. Allender, divides the book in two sections: “Part One The Wounded Heart,” “Part Two The Healing Path.”
I took ten pages of notes. I will point out a few strong points I liked.
In “Part One The Wounded Heart.”
•Chapter Two. This is a chapter to read again and again because it shows a goal of evil: lies and bondage.

The more freedom we gain from evil’s brutal lies, the clearer we will see how past events have been used to capture and kill parts of our heart. Evil is a killer that delights in taking life and destroying hope. It does so through mocking our sense of powerlessness to escape the harm that evil has inflicted. Page 39.

Page 42 follows up by saying, “Evil destroys.” This is a strong chapter telling what abuse survivors are up against. It is a necessary chapter even if it causes uncomfortableness, because evil does not want the survivor to talk about “it” or recover.
•Chapter Four talks about the “groomer” and what coercive techniques they use. I was groomed. He sought me out. I was his prey.
•Chapter Six addresses men who have been abused. Illustrations from the people in the men’s lives are shared. If you want to read another book that addresses men who have been abused I recommend: Not Quite Healed by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe. I read this book a few years ago and highly recommend it.
Part Two is the section titled, “The Healing Path.”
•Kindness, hospitality, gratitude, honest grieving, inviting God to mature us, the stages of the healing journey, and our lives both good and bad are “revelatory” are in this section.
Healing the Wounded Heart is a book to be read cover to cover and kept for reference. It is a strong tool in recovery.

A few profound quotes:

Sex has the power to touch the deepest dimension of what it means to be human and alive to God; therefore, it stands to reason that it is hated more than any other dimension of humanity by a kingdom that opposes the glory of God. There is a power that uses sexual violation as its choice means to turn the human heart away from the Creator. This opposition to beauty and innocence is at the core of all sexual harm. Page 31.

When a perpetrator uses tenderness and care as part of the dynamic with his or her victim, the victim loses the ability to separate delight and beauty from harm and evil. Page 76.

As simple as it may sound, love heals the heart and every dimension of life to which it flows. Page 153.

Gratitude is one of the strongest weapons against the work of evil. Page 161.

Remember a core principle: we change at the level we are willing to enter reality. Page 162.

This is a photo of me during this terrible time in my life. I’m smiling on the outside because it is my senior photograph. However, I was a broken young girl.

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(Review) Irena’s Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children From The Warsaw Ghetto by Tilar J. Mazzeo

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Publisher and Publication Date: Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books paperback. 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction, Poland, World War II, Holocaust.
Pages: 352.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.

I’d first heard of Irena Sendler after watching a film titled, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler.

There is a project and film about Irena’s life: Life in a Jar

Summary:

Preface: Page xii. But while Irena Sendler was undeniably a heroine-a woman of immense, almost unfathomable moral and physical courage-she was not a saint either. To make her a saint in the telling of her story is, in the end, to do a kind of dishonor to the true complexity and difficulty of her very human choices…She was at once a heroine-although she disdained that word, too-and a flawed and average person.

All humans are “flawed and average.” A hero is someone who is ordinary in every way yet rises to the challenges set before them. The challenges set before Irena were immense. She was given an opportunity, and because of her career, to make a difference in the lives of children. Some people would have said no. Irena said yes.

Irena Sendler was age 29 when Nazi Germany attacked Poland in 1939. She was married and had a boyfriend. Irena was not Jewish. She had grown up with Jewish friends and neighbors. Most of her friends were not religious. They were educated leftist thinkers. She was a social worker. During the war she became involved in the underground network of helping Jews survive. Irena specifically worked to help Jewish children escape and survive the Holocaust.

My Thoughts:
One of the few things I disliked about the book was Mazzeo’s direct quote I gave. I don’t believe it was necessary to state Irena was a “flawed and average person.” However, I believe this was stated to show one of the elements of the book: Irena was a normal person who became a heroine by rescuing Jewish children during the Holocaust. I believe the story itself showed me the kind of person and character of Irena.
What I loved about the book:
1. I was given a broad and detailed view of the city of Warsaw-it’s people specifically.
2. The book gave me a view of the Jewish people I’d not seen before in other stories. For example, the Jews are not a 1 type people. They are as varied as any other people group. Some Jews are orthodox, some are educated, some had businesses, some were intellectuals; and some had Jewish blood in their ancestry but did not consider their religion to be Jewish. Some of the Jewish people were not religious at all, and were leftist thinkers leaning towards communism.
3. The events leading up to and during the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany.
4. The network system of getting children out of the Warsaw Ghetto.
5. The individual stories of those children Irena helped.
6. Irena’s story showed me the immense task, suffering, brutality, fear, and betrayal of what she endured, as well as the other people who worked to save the Jews.
7. The after affects of surviving the Holocaust is looked at in brief. The two stories shared gave a great impact on this aspect.

 

 

(Review) Choices: The True Story of One Family’s Daring Escape to Freedom by J.E. Laufer

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Publisher and Publication Date: Little Egg Publishing Company. May 15, 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction, memoir, novella.
Pages: 116.
Source: Complimentary paperback copy from Little Egg Publishing Company and Smith Publicity. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.

A map of Europe is included for the time period of the 1950s.

Seven family photographs are located at the end of the book.

Choices is a novella, and a story for both adult and young adult readers.

For more information from the publisher about the book: Choices.

Summary:
J.E. Laufer has written a true story of her family’s escape from communist Hungary post World War II and the Hungarian Revolution. She was age two when the family left. She has an older brother named Gyorgy. Their parents names are Adolf and Kati Egett.
The story centers on the love and sacrifice the parents made for their beloved children.

The time period is the mid 1950s. Adolf and Kati Egett are aware of people leaving the communist country of Hungary. Some of the people leaving are known to them. People are afraid to tell anyone they are leaving. Some people leave with only the clothes they wear. Adolf and Kati contemplate leaving. They want a safe and secure future for their children. They hate to leave family, friends, job, and home. The escape itself is difficult and risky.

My Thoughts:
I love big books. I love long stories. I love a well-developed story and characters. Choices is a small book. A small package with 116 pages of written material. Before I began reading, I wondered, will Laufer be able to share this important story in so few of pages? The answer is yes!
I love this story!
I did not know anything about life in Hungary post World War II and after the country became communist. I have been given a glimpse of what the people endured.
Several reason led me to give Choices an excellent rating:
1. The story builds with anticipation as to what Adolf and Kati will do. Will they leave Hungary? How will they escape?
2. The story shows the dramatic events of leaving Hungary. Several questions are answered about their defection:
-how much money do they take and what it is spent on?
-how do they dress for the trip and what belongings do they take?
-who do they trust on the journey and who do they tell before leaving?
-how do they keep their children calm and quiet?
-what will they do until they can work and earn money?
-how will they leave Europe?
3. Kati reflects on the story of her experiences during the Holocaust.
4. A teenage girl is met on their journey. She takes a risk in helping them. They took a risk in trusting her. The relationship is tantamount to their survival.
5. The love expressed between Adolf and Kati. They have commitment and tenderness towards one another. They show patience and self-control. One does not make a decision without the other. I feel they are a beautiful example of a marriage and family.

 

 

 

 

 

(Review) Poetry and Ponderings by Diamante Lavendar

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Publisher and Publication Date: W D Publishing. February 2017.
Genre: Poetry.
Pages: 120.
Source: Complimentary paperback copy from Diamante Lavendar. I was not required to write a positive review.
Rating: Very good.

From award-winning author of Breaking the Silence, Poetry and Ponderings: A Journey of Abuse and Healing Through Poetry by Diamante Lavendar.

A raw collection of religious poetry and prose based on one Christian woman’s experiences of being abused, and how she healed herself with God’s love in order to move past the assaults.

In this rare collection of nonfiction Christian poetry and prose based on real life experiences, Diamante Lavendar, a victim of abuse, shows the reader the raw emotions of pain, hate, and denial that occur before a victim of abuse can find a way to heal from the pains of assault. Knowing herself the very difficult journey of being a victim, Diamante was abused as a child, and turned to alcohol and drugs to numb the pain. Many years later, she started to heal under God’s watchful eyes and was able to find love in her life again. She shares these truly inspiring, religious poems in the hopes that it may help other victims heal their hurts, as she did while writing the poetry collection.

Advance Praise:

Poetry and Ponderings is the most loving and beautiful dedication to Diamante Lavendar’s daughter.  Anybody who has gone through a grieving time needs to read this classic expression of love and devotion.  I tip my hat to the author for this marvelous collection of wisdom, insight and truth.  -Mel Novak, Actor, Best known for his role in Bruce Lee’s Game Of Death.

Tragedy turned triumph.  Poetry and Pondering’s beautifully leads the reader from gut wrenching pain to glorious freedom and healing.  A must read for survivors and those who love them.  -Sarah Boes, Founder of More Precious Than Rubies, reaching victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

Diamante’s Poetry and Ponderings are an affirmation, and flow to the close of her book with the summation of her awakening.  She has, in each poem, walked us through to her understanding and acceptance;  we are the creation of God’s breath, as souls to live life to the fullest, and with forgiveness…’Writing is her way of leaving her mark:  one poem, one story at a time.’ This book achieves this endeavor.  -Sam Eastwood, International Poet

About the Poet: Diamante Lavendar has been in love with reading since she was a child. Diamante believes that everyone should try to leave their own positive mark on the world, and to make it a better place for all. Writing is her way of leaving her mark—one story at a time. She began writing in college and has published poetry in anthologies over the years. Most of her writing is very personal and stems from her own experiences, and those of her family and friends. She writes to encourage hope and possibility to those who read her stories. To learn more about Diamante Lavendar and her books, please visit her website at: www.diamantelavendar.com.

My Thoughts:

I consider Poetry and Ponderings more than a book of poetry. It is a treasure of encouragement, comfort, and wisdom.

Some of the poems are Christian based. Most of them are memories of life experiences, and how she felt and what she learned. They are a journaling of her life.

The poems are powerful. Lavendar pours her heart out on paper. Whether those feelings are anger or sadness.

Most of the poems are non-rhyming or free verse.

One of my favorite poems is on page 73. Enlightened Affirmations. I love this poem, because it moves past the anger and pain, and focuses on the healing of forgiveness.

Lay down your weapons; embrace and be one;

Forgiveness will reign when the battle is done.

A second favorite poem is on pages 106-107.

The Journey is the title. Two favorite lines are, “To forge our paths through the dust and darkness, To rise up and become what we were meant to be.” And the last stanza, “And that is when we will know our journey has been worthwhile, And we are much richer for having taken it.”

At this point in my journey of recovery from abuse, these lines spoke to me. I have come a long ways since I began recovery. It feels very good to be where I am!