Book Review: Miracles in American History by Susie Federer

Miracles in Amer History coverMiracles in American History: 32 Amazing Stories of Answered Prayer by Susie Federer does contain several amazing stories that I suppose most Americans have not heard. It begins in 1731 and continues with stories through the Apollo Missions, ending with 2010. I enjoyed reading the book and I can recommend it, but as I read through it, I felt its presentation was a bit disjointed. It would have helped to have smoother transitions, both from one story to the next and within chapters. Some of the entries needed more explanation and background information. The book also could have used better editing. In one case, a sentence because of its structure implied the opposite of what the author intended. The author also began several sentences with numerals instead of spelled-out numbers. But I guess only an English buff or an editor would notice these problems.

I enjoyed and felt inspired by many of the stories, especially ones about valiant soldiers and George Washington Carver. However, most of the “miracles” came from early American history. I would have enjoyed reading more accounts from later times, especially from the two World Wars. As I was reading, I thought the book was misnamed. Many of the prayers resulted in what one would deem miracles, but most simply recounted how our leaders and our nation went to their knees in times of trouble and how God answered their prayers.

Interestingly, many times in our history, presidents have called for days of “Public Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer” and encouraged citizens to confess both personal and national sins. This is just the kind of message we need to hear from our leaders today. I will end this review with a quote (from the book) by Abraham Lincoln, with some paragraphing removed for brevity, because it is pertinent for Americans in 2013:

“Whereas, it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord . . .

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven . . . preserved these many years in peace and prosperity . . . grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. . . . we have become . . . too proud to pray to the God that made us!

“It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”

Buy this book to read the rest of the story and learn about the religious history of the United States. But most of all, heed Lincoln’s words. It’s time for America to get back on her knees.

Children’s Book Review: Can’t-Wait Willow

Can'tWaitChristy Ziglar, my latest guest on Heritage of Truth TV, shared insights on the show about teaching children good choices. Her first picture book, Can’t-Wait Willow, released in April. It tells about a little girl who has money to attend the circus but spends it all on other things. This hardback book from Ideals Children’s Books has a glittery dust cover and wonderful illustrations.

In this tale for young children about making good choices, Willow, who looks no older than seven, heads through town alone. No parent accompanies her as she walks to the circus. There she talks to three strangers, two carnival barkers and the circus master. Although we wish our children could tour their towns and cities alone safely, in this day and age, wise parents teach their children not to wander off alone and not to talk to strangers. Parents who use this book might want to reinforce their training in these areas.

Through her poor spending choices one day and wise choices the next, Willow learns the value of delayed gratification—an important lesson for children to learn. However, as a friend of mine pointed out, she runs out of money on the first day, so the reader is left wondering where she gets money for the second day.

Although the plot of the book is fun, Willow doesn’t solve her own problem. In this story, the circus master solves her problem as he gives Willow a second chance and some good advice. She applies his advice the next day with better results. In a day when children rarely have to suffer the consequences of their own actions, this story reinforces the idea that someone will come in and fix whatever problems they have. Children build character when they have to deal with the trouble they cause, and I’d like to see more stories that encourage this kind of perseverance. On the other hand, the circus master’s kindness does provide an opportunity to teach children about God’s grace.

I see great potential in this series by Christy Ziglar for helping parents teach children valuable lessons in a fun way. However, parents need to consider how they will deal with the issues I mentioned before they share the book with their young children.

Christy was a great guest, and I hope you will enjoy her interview.

Copyright © Jeanne G. Dennis