Book Review · jews, nazis, holocaust · Uncategorized · war

The Last Girl

The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State

by Nadia Murad


Nadia grew up in a small Iraqi village called Kocho with her large family. In 2014, she was 21 years old and aspired to be a beautician She was innocent and protected, like all of her family, as well as the entire village. They were Yazidi, a small minority religious group without written text, but oral traditions and worship sites. They lived hard, poorly, and quietly, hurting no one. They were massacred, raped, and pillaged for not converting to the radical muslim faith practiced (loosely) by the militants demanding their property, and their very lives.

ISIS militants attacked the village after a siege in which they lied to the villagers, tricking them into thinking if they gave in willingly, they would be allowed to run to a nearby mountain to safety. Instead, the men were all shot Nazi-style into mass graves, the older women too. Adolescent boys were brainwashed and turned into militant soldiers after the trauma they experienced. The younger women and girls were sold as sex slaves to other militants. Beaten, raped repeatedly, humiliated, starved, and treated worse than we can imagine, Nadia, only one of thousands of girls, escaped. She has since dedicated her life to telling her story to bring ISIS to justice, and to help prevent other women and children from enduring the torture she lived through.

What a harrowing journey you will take with Nadia and her family in this book, but really, I have said before, and say again, such tales take courage to be told, and shouldn’t we then, at ease in our safe lives, be willing to listen? Hopefully of course, we will seek out some way to be helpful if we are touched enough to respond. So often we sit in leisure, and this is how the genocide of the Yazidis in Iraq happened. As always, history shows that it is the complacency of ordinary people turning their eyes away that help evil to stir itself and devour the innocent.

I found this memoir hard to read, but equally hard to put down. It was well-written, and clear. Informative but deeply intimate and personal. I think this story is worth reading, and re-telling, until there are no more women and girls like Nadia.

  • I received this book from the publisher for free and agreed to an unbiased written review

Watch a YouTube interview

Read an excerpt 


A bit of Q & A w/ Nadia from the above website:
Why do you feel so strongly that it’s critical to fight ISIS not only on the battlefield, but in the courtroom?
It’s not enough for ISIS to be destroyed militarily. In order for the world to see who they are, they need to be held accountable in international courts on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. This is the only way Yazidis will possibly be able to move on with our lives, mourn our dead, and try to rebuild what we lost. It is also the only possible way to prevent a future genocide. What else are international courts for if not to stop another Holocaust, Rwanda, or Sinjar? A trial tells the militants that the world in the twenty-first century is built in a way that values life and humanity above mere power and fear, and that not only are we capable of protecting the most vulnerable, but that we will, no matter what.



Through Another’s Eyes

Sometimes, (or often) for me, we take what we have for granted until we see someone else admiring it. Nothings brings our blessedness into focus quite like seeing it through someone else’s eyes.

When I am feeling particularly overwhelmed, or tired, I will take a look at the photos on my phone or my Instagram account and get a reminder of how beautiful my life is. Being a very visual person, I take pictures of everything. Everything I see that is beautiful, interesting or of value. These photos serve as a fantastic reminder of all that is beautiful and valuable in my own life.

Those snapshots of daily life represent the love and beauty I’ve attempted to impart to my children. Like little treasures I’ve tried to leave lying around for them to find and appreciate. Whether or not they ever do, at least I know I have made an effort to bring something I value to them. What else can a mother do? Aside from loving them, protecting them, training and teaching. I was bent on showing them how creative God is and how amazing an abundant and productive life can be; lived close to nature and books was something I felt I needed to share with them. I wanted them to be deep and wide souls, not shallow little cultural graves of self- interest and small-mindedness with too much entertainment. So, they were raised on a ranch surrounded by what their mother deemed important. Right or wrong, I tried to capture what I loved and hand it to my babies. Mostly because I was a poor example in many other ways, coming into marriage and motherhood with few practical tools.

Recently I went ahead and printed out about 100 of these photos to make into a photo book to keep handy for myself, the children and our grand daughter. Nothing but good could possibly come from having a tangible and constant reminder of the lovely things in our daily life at my fingertips.

Life gets hard sometimes. It’s in the dark times, the valleys, that we need a reminder of what is good and true and beautiful. Being purposeful to jog my own memory is one way I combat destructive feelings. Sometimes if I’m pretty deep in a pit, I don’t have the presence of mind to start sorting through photos until it has gotten pretty dark inside.

Having a photo book that I can leave out on the coffee table or my desk as a reminder, an object right there I can pick up in my hands, seems like a holy weapon to cast truth and light on the darkness. Much like God’s word. I need that foremost, obviously.

I believe and have been told gratitude is the first step to happiness. Looking over at the non-staged, real life, every day images captured by the camera on my cell phone have the medicinal effect of curing my ingratitude.

Also I like the fact that I’m preserving memories. I have, like you I’m sure, people I love struggling with cancer. Taking pictures is a way to keep something of these people close.

We all comfort and pep-talk ourselves in different ways. This is one of my methods, aside from daily reading the Bible and prayer. What are your ways?

christianity · Uncategorized

New, Old & Whatever

It’s almost a New Year. Time for a new notebook, a new Bible reading plan, and a time for setting a few goals. Like lose 30 lbs. I’ve recycled that goal for a few years now. I don’t often accomplish all of my goals anymore, but I have always loved to make them. I like a new start. A blank page. Usually because I feel the last one is sullied. It’s time for a new story.

I know many people mock New Year’s resolutions, but, whatever. I’m often feeling in need of a fresh start and a little turn of direction by the time the present year is ending and getting stale.

This past year has had it’s share of burdens and not quite enough joy to balance that out. There has been the conflict of relationships we all know so well. The loss of friends for one reason or another, has left me feeling pretty lonely. The slow crumbling of my marriage this year has been at first distressing, then depressing, and now just mind-numbing. I’m really preoccupied with other things right now anyway. Like the seemingly constant battle with keeping the faith and a positive attitude for loved ones and known-ones with cancer. It seems to be overrunning the human race lately. At least in my circle. I’m traveling today, crossing the snowy mountains to support someone I love very much in that battle. Cancer is mean. Nasty.  I hate it. I love so many people who have to deal with it, I can’t bury my head on that one, unlike the marriage thing.

I’ll be glad to see 2017 go. “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out” sort of glad. It was a demoralizing year.

2018 doesn’t scare me. There’s enough promise of good to excite a little anticipation for 2018. I feel we might be on friendlier terms than 2017, which wasn’t particularly good to me. Except that I did find out I have another half -sister, and the bonus of an uncle and two aunts. These are siblings of my father, a man I never got to know. 2017 did bring me those relationships, as well as pictures of my dad, which I have never had before. What a relief to have even one, but I have several now. He was beautiful. So, there’s that.


So, I leave 2017 in the dust, grateful for a few things, and shaking off  quite a bit more.

A new attitude, and new resolve. I know I’ll need it, as my people still have cancer, and my kids still have their struggles, my neighbors still have troubles, my marriage is still on it’s last leg, but my God is still present. I know that I will face hard things this year, like you will. We all do. But I hope I’m going in to face it all strengthened, with more wisdom, resolve, and a little stronger faith to get me through. Hopefully something nice will happen. Maybe some lovely surprise, some beautiful inspiration. We all need hope. Something to look forward to can keep you going when it’s all looking pretty bleak.

Christians aren’t supposed to have those kind of troubles, right? I wish.

We still live in this nut-job world, and struggle with sin, lies we believe that tear us down, diseases, and emotional upheaval common to all people. I just pray as I’m wading knee-deep in the muck with all the rest of the shmucks I can do a little good for someone else.

Relieving another person’s burden surprisingly lightens one’s own. With Jesus everything is the opposite of what makes sense. Helping someone helps me? Yep. About the time I feel I’m drowning in misery and self-pity, if I can just reach out a hand to someone else I’ll save myself. Not by dragging them down here with me, but somehow it lifts us both up out of the ditch. Super natural. That’s one of my favorite things about Jesus. He’s always doing the unexplainable in the unsuspecting. So, I’m definitely on the look out for what He’s going to be up to in 2018.

I leave 2017 with a broken over right before Christmas dinner needs to be prepared, a broken dishwasher, two broken pellet stoves and a cold house, and a few broken relationships. Bring on 2018, I think I’ll kick it’s butt. After all, I’ve been watching YouTube videos on make-up and skin care for older women. I have all I need to know, right?

What about you? Glad to see the back of 2017 or sad to see it leave?


Book Review · christianity · Uncategorized · war

Fire Road

The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace

Who doesn’t remember or has at least seen this iconic photo of Kim Phuc (pronounced fook) Phan Thi running naked down a dirt road in Trang Bang, peeled skin hanging off her arm? Her clothing and skin literally disintegrated off by napalm.

She was so much in the media over the years, and even used in communist propaganda that her true story isn’t as well known as her photo and the propaganda fueled by it. She despised this photo growing up because she felt robbed of an education due to it’s existence. In the end though, God used it to make a way for better things than higher education.

It turns out this astounding woman, left for dead 3 days in a morgue after this shot was taken and she was rushed to a hospital, has survived not only napalm burns over 1/3 of her body, but a hopeless life in communist Vietnam, then Cuba before she was freed by defection. But it still took years for her to find freedom and wholeness for her soul. Living daily with agonizing pain, told she would never bear children, and abused and handled by communist “minders” forcing her to tell media lies for the government, she considered suicide. Seeking strength in a false religion helped her not one bit. If anyone ever tried to work out their salvation and get some relief, it was Kim in CaoDai. (pronounced cow die)

This story was engrossing, and beautifully told. Kim had to learn to forgive to find true freedom. Remarkably, out of war, came a message of peace. The thing really brought home in Kim’s story is that God really does use all things for good. Including being left for dead in the morgue when she was a child.This was one of the bitterest wounds she carried well into her adult years. When you read Kim’s story you go on a faith journey with her, and it’s an intense ride.  So much more happened than what that one picture portrays. At the end of the journey you see the way to peace and how much power the love of Jesus really does have in our lives if we embrace Him.

In this book, Kim gets to tell her own story through her own words. God’s faithfulness shines through the haze of rubble and smoke, crosses the borders of various countries, and  eases the pain of scars bore on the physical body but more so on the human soul.

This is a book you don’t want to miss. We all have struggles and our own “Fire Road” to walk, if we take a leaf from Kim’s book we can walk with more wisdom and grace.

I thoroughly recommend this book for a thought provoking and faith building read.

Go to Tyndale Publishers for an excerpt and videos

*I was given a free copy of this memoir in exchange for an unbiased written review. all opinions are my own.*

country living · flocks and herds · writer, homemaking, homeschooling, farm, ranch, christian, Bible, lifestyle · Writing

November Writing & Blethering

So…I have often wanted to join the National Novel Writing Challenge, and this year I’m doing it! I have been out of town, and even had a procedure done that took up some time, and I’m still a little bit ahead of schedule which is amazing to me. I had been so intimidated and here I am doing this thing. I took some advice that turned out to be a real gem, and took the time to prepare in October. I researched and outlined and it has kept my head above water, so ya, I’m going to try to make this a habit. If you want to follow my progress look on the right hand sidebar at the bottom of the page and you will see a little badge with my word count.

My WIP (work in progress) is a biblical historical fiction. I have a devotional started too, so I’m feeling pretty productive, at least in my writing chair.

In other news I’m getting my goats and sheep bred for 2018 babies, and planning sheep milk carmels and cheeses next year. Oh my.

I have some milk in the freezer for winter soaps, and I’ll probably start those in a week or two. I’m trying to keep my schedule as clear as possible for some dear people that are battling cancer. I’d like to be able to visit more, and since both live across the mountains, it takes a little doing.

Speaking of…

I had a colonoscopy a couple days ago (Don’t be jealous). Colon cancer runs in my family, unusually often. I’m two years younger than the recommended age to start getting those horrible procedures done, and I already had six precancerous polyps removed. I was a little stunned. Somehow I figured to escape that. Sigh. Anyway, there was one large one that got sent to pathology and I’ll hear back on that in a week or two. I’m sure I took a breath and blinked once or twice over the doctor’s news, but then that was that. I have a novel to write.

I’m wanting to go to a writer’s conference next year. If you’re a local writer do you go to conferences? If so, which do you like best?


I’m also feeling like I need to add a Nigerian dwarf doe and a llama to my ranch. This urge may pass. It’s kind of like baby fever I guess, but maybe I should be satisfied with the goat kids and lambs coming next year. After all, animals are hard work.

What I’d really love is to travel on camel to various inns close to good European coffee houses where I could write novels that would make Hemingway jealous. And when I wasn’t writing I’d shop and get massages and pedicures.

Ya. That sounds like a good idea. Maybe I better learn to be a better writer first though.



When God Lets You Know

Sometimes God let’s me know He’s aware of my condition He wants me to know that He cares, and He’s on my side.


I’ve kind of been going through the wars lately. I’ve been praying hard and recently told Him I really need Him to give me something to hold on to.

God really is very nice.

There’s a lovely elderly couple at our church who greet you at the front doors every Sunday morning. They have been there for decades and decades. They spill love out all over everyone and they are the kind of people that you know really love the Lord and are full of the Holy Spirit.

This morning my youngest son and I got to church a few minutes late. The darlings were still there at the door, and the gentleman immediately smiled at me and reached out his arms towards me and let me know he had been praying for me last night. He said the Lord had told him specifically to pray for me. He was very concerned and asked if I was okay. Bless him, Lord!

Oh! The sweetness of that. How precious that he obeyed the message from the Spirit. How precious to me that God wanted me to know.

He gave me enough to keep going.

Sometimes life is grand. Sometimes quite frankly it just bites. Thank goodness that we have a God who cares.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

Mathew 7:7

2015-08-24 20.24.14



My Favorite Days

My favorite days are the peaceful days of fall when it’s sunny and warm outside without much of a breeze, if any at all.

Sitting in the sun barefoot and soaking in the D while getting the soul therapy of a quiet mind, just observing and being outside. With the animals of course. I love each group and they all offer their own brand of companionship.

The sheep are calming. The goats are enthralling. The chickens as well. The horses in their majesty are inspiring.

The key is being quiet and only sitting amongst them observing. It’s like a medicine.

If you don’t have your own or at least a friend or neighbor’s animals to be with, try being alone in the woods, at a pond or lake, or even in your own back yard watching birds and squirrels at feeders.

It’s cheaper than therapy with a counselor 😄

bible · christianity · Devotions · writer, homemaking, homeschooling, farm, ranch, christian, Bible, lifestyle

The Elixir of Esther

Ever have something so hard going on in your life that you struggle to wrap your mind around it? Me too.

Right now I have three of those things happening.

I’m working on controlling the thoughts I allow to settle in my mind. Working to clear space and be okay with grief and trusting God when things look dismal and there may be no way out of a hard thing.

I’m chewing on some truth to sustain me, until such time as the hoped-for deliverance comes, knowing that if it doesn’t, there must be a reason why.

In the book of Esther, I am dazzled by her ability to live above her feelings, which she so clearly had to do. If you really get into research like I do, you will see that at every turn she had to face things that she wouldn’t have chosen, and walk through them with grace and dignity and wisdom. I know, I know, you are taught to read that story with a certain amount of romanticism, but Xerxes was no Prince (King) Charming, and life in a Persian harem was no picnic.

She was a girl who had to play at being a woman, and a clever one at that. She managed to do it very, very well. I believe God anointed her to carry what burdens she did.

I’m constantly going before my King’s throne lately too, trying to obtain favor, seeking grace. For others and myself, I’m asking for a measure of Esther’s spiritual elixir.


I was comforted this morning by Psalm 127:2 which says:

It is vain for you to rise up early

To sit up late,

To eat the bread of sorrows (emotional pain)

For so He gives His beloved sleep.

Parenthesis mine.

Here’s my favorite:

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT).


Your Thoughts Please

I’d be grateful if you would help me out on your thoughts about the Proverbs 31 passage and the woman portrayed. Does she intimidate you? Inspire you? Are you familiar with her? Do you even want to be? What do you think about the roles of wife and mother today? Do you consider them to be important still, in our day and age? Or do you feel they are outdated, not necessary, or becoming obsolete in our culture?

Please leave me a note in the comments and be honest about your personal opinions/insight, or whatever you think about this portion of Scripture.

Thank you in advance!


Proverbs 31:10-31


The Virtuous Wife

10 Who[b] can find a virtuous[c] wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.