Monday, October 22, 2018

Finding Her Heart - Donna Wittlif

Only true love can help Allison conquer her Asperger's Syndrome and loneliness. Can she find it?

Allison is a talented artist, but she has no friends. The school psychologist diagnoses her with Asperger Syndrome. All she wants is to be understood and loved, but her life is a mess. Then she meets David, and his blue eyes and kind smile capture her heart. David, who makes her world seem so much bigger. David, who says he loves her. But does he? Or will a terrible secret concealed in this strange man's past dash her hopes of finding true love forever? She risks everything to find out the truth and to gain love.

A Christian romance for adult and young adult readers. A must-read for anyone who has ever been lonely. (website)

My Review: This is a new author for me, and the Asperger story line intrigued me, so I was eager to discover what Donna Wittlif had to say. Finding Her Heart is part of the Heart of the Family series.

A gifted artist at an early age, raised by a reclusive uncle and aunt, and friendless, Allie faced obstacles most of us cannot imagine. Her search for friendship, love, and happiness is one many of us seek, but her background and Asperger Syndrome do add to the challenge. Despite numerous setbacks, God's provision is always noticeable... even if she does not recognize it immediately.

In the beginning chapters I had several questions that I wanted answers to and that was a bit distracting, BUT... the answers did come and I became more caught up in Allie's unfolding story. The characters came alive for me and I found myself wanting to weep with the losses and celebrate the victories. Watching Allie's growth and strength of character with each development is a major encouragement for so many who will read this story. The people in her life, each there for a certain reason, were a good blend of people who cross into our lives and change it.

I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I will just leave it at... the book's ending was very satisfactory and a hopeful, encouraging way to end Allie's story. I highly recommend reading it for yourself.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, TCK Publishing, but was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Familiar Stranger

Sometimes the pain of losing a loved one is most profound and painful when the loss occurs among the living. When it's a person you have known literally her entire life... she's known you both inside and out--- yet your relationship is that of strangers. Worse, a stranger you are leery of being around for fear of emotional assault. I hear, "I love you" but, as I have always told my family (and everybody else), "Actions speak louder than words." I want to believe, but there is no evidence to back the claim.

I see her, but am nervous to approach. Speaking is even worse. Will I be treated as family or friend... or quickly be put in my place for daring to speak? It's like attempting to cross a minefield that contains both live ammo and duds; I may escape unscathed or I may endure emotional battle scars that are never allowed to heal. If she has to come to my house, it's almost always when she knows I am not home or probably asleep. So I hate to go to hers where she is obligated to be near me.

One of the hardest parts is that I have never known what I did wrong. I guess that makes me even more intolerable in her eyes. I know she is loved by many and has a reputation of being wise, caring, compassionate, giving, and willing to do anything for anyone and I am very proud of her. Sometimes I even get to be "anyone" but only enough to give me a tiny bit of hope. Goodness knows I am very far from being the person I want to be yet no one else on earth makes me feel like I should apologize for everything I do. Especially if that something requires her to spend time with me. Over the years I have learned to set emotional boundaries with everyone, but I do find a bit of ironic humor in the fact that the main person who most frequently tells me I should be more trusting of others is one of THE main reasons I don't trust people with my heart.

Although it breaks my heart, the familiar beloved face of one whom I would willingly lay down my life for avoids me as much as possible, I love her too much to force myself into her life. Unless she ever wants more, I will keep my distance from the familiar stranger I will occasionally see.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Caitlyn the Giver

Caitlyn was mischievous, beautiful, exasperating, opinionated, stubborn, optimistic, and more... but most of all she was a generous giver of time and resources.

The first time I noticed her desire to give was when she was about 3 or 4. She heard about the "March for Jesus" our church was participating in, which included a food drive. That afternoon she told me she needed bags. I walked into the kitchen to find my cabinets and refrigerator completely emptied. When I asked why, her reply was, "Jesus needs food!" 

A couple of years later, when she learned of the Building Fund for our new church building, she rushed down to the Sunday School class I taught and breathlessly exclaimed, "Quick! I need a quarter!" In response to my, "Why?" Caitlyn excitedly told me, "We're building a new church! Somebody has to pay for it!"

In 5th grade, I was not at all surprised to hear her class gathered the
most food for the canned food drive. My cabinets were emptied more than once. At least she did not grab the perishables or open containers this time.

Once she became a teen, my refrigerator was sometimes emptied because she noticed friends in my neighborhood had no food. She would also tell me of clothing needs because I volunteered at a local clothing ministry.

For several months, she would stop by my house before her Youth Group to ask for $5 to buy a drink. When I once asked why she needed that much, she explained that one girl who came never had money so she always bought hers too. 

As she became an adult --- a wife and a mother, her compassion grew even stronger. She would give to anybody who had a need if she had it to give... or knew of someone else who had it. A few months ago she became aware of Cullman's Little Pantry and encouraged others to donate food.

She genuinely cared about her friends, and even strangers she encountered. Caitlyn was the one person I could depend upon if I needed to go to the store, or my computer or phone worked on or just to see if I wanted to get out of the house for a bit. She was more than my grandchild, she became my friend. She was far from perfect, and we had some strong differences of opinions more than once, but I never doubted her generosity and love of me and others. I doubt the hole in my heart and life will ever be completely filled but the memories will encourage me to try to be more like her generous spirit... and to let her babies know the kind of mama they had.

Caitlyn Paige Burton Ross
Oct 3, 1995 ~ Sept 27, 2018