Friday, September 27, 2013

I am 'Overwhelmed' (book review and giveaway)

I was given the opportunity to receive the book Overwhelmed as well as the Study Guide and a Small Group Study Leader Guide. I received the books, as e-books, for free so I could review it for my blog. Even so, the thoughts in this post are my own and are truthful.

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

This is a hard world we live in. We have all be overwhelmed at times.

The book's subtitle is Hope and Help for the Financially Weary. The book has stories from a number of women who have been through a variety of financial difficulties. The study guide has very good questions to help you think things through. The leader guide gives you suggestions about how to manage a small study group, if you wish to have one and the leader guide is free right now.

Overwhelmed is a resource designed to meet both the spiritual and practical needs of those struggling to overcome financial difficulties. In the first section, nine women share their testimonies, faith, and financial counsel to help you go from being overwhelmed by your finances to being an overcomer through Christ. As an added bonus, the second section offers more practical advice on frugal homemaking, women in business, and financial resources such as handling credit card debt and so much more.

My review of the book

 Overwhelmed? Some days I am!! First... before reviewing the book, I will tell you a little about me. 29 years ago my hubby and I married. Since then we have moved 6 times, he has had 13 jobs, and we had 4 children.

9 years ago he injured his back while working. Our kids were daughter age 18 (our first to graduate from our homeschool just a few months before his injury), daughter age 15, son age 10, and son age 7.  My husband went to our doctor and she sent him to therapy. The therapy made him worse. Then we started an almost four year battle with insurance companies, Dr.'s and lawyers to keep my husband getting the help he needed from a Dr. who was both a Chiropractor and a Neurologist, He sent him home to the recliner and started working on him, slowly, and once my hubby had healed some he started therapy with the Dr.'s brother. My hubby also had regular shots for pain from a pain specialist. With the Dr.'s recommendations and our lawyers help we kept hubby from getting surgery that had high probabilities of failing. We finally settled with the insurance company. He was out of work just about 3 years.

When my hubby was cleared by the Dr., he started looking for work. He had many new restrictions. No driving jobs. No bending or stooping repeatedly. No standing for long periods. No lifting more than a gallon of milk and no jobs that had repeated lifting. And, I may be missing a restriction or two... there were a log of them. He needed a job where he could sit mostly, but also get up and down during the day and not be 'chained' to a desk was best. He had 2 jobs, one that lasted two weeks and then one that lasted 90 days, after that he found a job, that he HATED, that lasted 3 years until they had hard times and let a bunch of people go. Since being let go from that job he has been unemployed for 3 1/2 years and we are still counting.

I have had a lot of ups and downs during this period of unemployment. I cry. A lot. I read my Bible and pray and feel strong for awhile. Then, more things happen (or nothing happens and I just feel unsure or fearful, or...) Unexpected things happen. Little things. Bigger things. Broken things, and with no money to fix them it is hard. 'Normal' family needs, like new shoes, can be a big deal. My family has been through financial trials many times. God has met our needs all the way through... that does NOT mean I trust God fully, each minute, I have had times of SERIOUS doubt. Yeah, I'll be honest. I doubt God. I don't doubt that God can do it. I doubt that he will do it for us... again.

Reading books has been a big help in keeping up my spirits. Reading for fun, but also reading spiritual books. God seems to bring me just the book I need when I need it. This was one of those books for me this year.

I have to admit. Some of the stories the ladies shared helped me more than others. That is natural. Some people's stories will resonate with us more than others. Ones that may not have hit me as hard may be just the thing you need. I liked the variety. Although some impacted me more than others all the stories illustrated the glory of God and His care for His people. It is amazing to me how many different kinds of financial trouble there are and how differently God is dealing with these troubles in the writers lives. Also, the differences in the emotional/spiritual troubles and the lessons God is teaching different ladies/families through their trials. He know just what our deficiencies are and just how to work in our lives to make us more like his Son. Trusting in that process is still HARD.

Those stories that impacted me are full of highlights. Picking a favorite quote of two from this book is very hard. But here goes.
"God wants you to rely on Him, not an income. Deliverance will come but in God's timing and for His purpose. Make no mistake--our trials are soul deep." pg 11
Soul deep... that's for sure. Many are the times during this trial that I have cried out to God in anger, doubt, not understanding, fear or with such emotion that I don't even know WHAT I feel.
"I know right now you think things look really bad. I know you think that you can't possibly take any more trouble than is already on you. I know that you might feel like sadness and despair have moved into your bedroom, setting up residence alongside shame and confusion and that they are all totally disregarding your comfort, hopes, and dreams. I can imagine you probably feel like you just don't know where to turn. There may be a cloud of darkness all around you, pressing in and testing your faith in a way you never dreamed possible. In a moment, all at once, you have found that you, like the subject in Robert Frost's "Road Not Taken", have taken the less traveled, more difficult, and less popular road and that has made all the difference." pg 46
"I know you are probably thinking something like, "When did I choose the road not taken?" You see, the day you said, I do! to Christ, you also said, "I will." pg 47
"This-yes, even this-is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in His sight. No matter the current circumstance, the truth is that if you are a blood-bought saved child of God, you can stand, and you can take every punch the enemy throws. Yes, you can make it because your life is His to care for, and His grace and mercy, faithfulness, and everlasting love are all yours for the asking. I know you may feel like the world is caving in all around you; it can seem that way. Believe me, I know because I've been there, too. But, be of good cheer because when it comes down to it, God is in control, and He knows what is best for you." pg. 47
It is good to know others out there understand what we have gone through. They have been through similar circumstances and had similar feelings. They dealt with their feelings and with the troubles that come from financial difficulties. They dealt with marriage struggles caused by our sin and magnified by our circumstances. Even though they are children of God they struggled with feelings of fear, that God didn't love them, doubts about what he was going to do for them in the future and more. It is great to know I am not going crazy. It also gives me hope for my future too.

I could go on with the quotes.. and on and on and on... but I will stop and move on to other things from the book.

Section 2: Financial Resources - most of this was not applicable to our situation. We own a habitat home and it is the low payments and zero percent interest that has allowed us to keep our home this long. Other than our mortgage we have ZERO debt. That is one thing my hubby is strict about. We had financial training before getting our habitat home, and we did learn a few new things there, but we have not been irresponsible with our money. It has always been jobs and/or bosses that have been our problem. Another area they talk about in this section is used cars. My hubby fixes our cars himself, he is very handy in many ways, and so we have always gotten good deals and had good luck with quality vehicles for the price we pay... and we ALWAYS pay cash... hubby will NOT borrow.

Section 3: Women in Business - I can not make money blogging. It is just not my gift or my passion. In fact, I am blogging less now than ever. I only blog what I feel like blogging because of the emotional stress this trial has inflicted on me. I have homeschooled for 22 years. I have thought about making my unit studies into sell-able items, but I lack confidence and feel there are so many other products out there, better than what I could write. I just don't feel like now is the time the Lord has for me to pursue making money for the family. I am still homeschooling one of our children and don't really have the emotional strength to begin something new. Maybe it will help others, but not me, not right now anyway.

I have to be honest with my readers. I felt like some of the information in the Women in Business section was just so that the ladies who wrote their testimonies in the book would have a place to advertise. I do not begrudge them this opportunity. They worked hard on this book and if their families are helped by someone knowing about them and their businesses then they deserve it. I just wanted you to know my feelings on it. I found no new information or things that would help me, but like I said maybe it would help someone else.

Section 4: Home Business Guide and Resources - since I am not planning to start a home business any time soon this section really didn't help me with anything either. There are some good things here... just not for me right now. Some of the topics were: Home Business Opportunities (a list with places/ideas for work from home); Maintaining Your Vision (this was good); and Simple, Not Easy.

The last section, Section 5: Frugal Homemaking - has tips, mostly for cooking, but also some for cleaning and even Christmas. I have to admit I have not tried any of the recipes, but some of them look really good. Some of them seemed overly simple. Like a recipe for pancakes. We have lots of recipes, including a favorite one for from scratch pancakes, but like I said some of them look good. I have been married a good long time. We make most things from scratch. We don't even buy the cheap brownie mixes... we make them from scratch. Most of the recipes will have to wait until our trial is over because we do not even have some of the most basic of ingredients, most of the time. We are eating very simply these days. A few of the tips they give for saving money would not save money for us... for instance they say to make your own butter, but heavy cream is more expensive than butter in our area and won't make as much either, unfortunately we have had to switch to cheap margarine, for now. Save on organic foods??? we would not afford organic foods when my husband was working. Some of these tips are just not for those on such a tight budget as we are.

Homemade Deodorant recipe - that is something I might try. I HATE the aluminum in deodorant and have tried one organic one, but I had a reaction to it. Finding the money to buy the Coconut oil may be difficult. to be honest, these days I do not even bother wearing my deodorant most days. Go ahead and judge me, I don't care. My family has never told me I smell. I only wear it when we go out, and that is not often, so a stick lasts me a few months. Some of the other non-food cleaners I would like to try as well. They look like they would save us some money.

Also some of the tips don't apply to me because we have 5 adults and one teenager in the house. We eat more than a family with 2 adults and 2 little kids. I can't make one chicken go for 3 meals. I just can't. So, we do what we can and save where we can and we have all cut back on our eating. I can't wait until the day I can go to the store and buy anything we want to eat... at least once in a while. I don't want to waste our future money on food, I just would like to satisfy some of my cravings and some of the kids cravings.

The Study Guide

I really enjoyed the study guide. Since the testimonies were my favorite part of the book and this was to enhance that part, it is also a favorite part. For each chapter there are 2 pages in the study guide. The first page has a summery, a verse of the Bible to focus on and then some reflections... things to think about and questions to answer based on the things the author of that chapter talked about. The second page was lovely. It is a little notebooking type of page. At the top is a space to write what you learned from that testimony... no questions just your own thoughts. Next was a doodle with a space to write what God is impressing on you to start or stop doing. Lastly a place to write a prayer, surrounded by fun doodles and a border. The questions were well thought out and really made me think more about what I read and how it could help me to deal with my own circumstances and my relationship with my Lord. Such a great way to get a lot out of this little book. The study guide was my favorite part.

Small Group Study Leader Guide

I did not use the Small Group Study guide because I did the study on my own. But, I did read it. There are a lot of good tips in there that would be great for this study, or any study you were doing with a group. This part is FREE for everyone so you can it check out and it costs you nothing.

I recommend this book and it's guides. The pdf is VERY reasonably priced, and that is good for those who are having financial troubles. The prices for each part are listed below. I think the testimonies of the ladies, and my favorite part, the study guide; make this worth the money. It certainly was an encouragement to me in some areas and a challenge to me in other areas where I needed the kick in the seat.

You can find the book, the study guide, and the small group leader guide, and order them, here – Overwhelmed

PDF: $4.99
Kindle: $7.99
Print: $12.99

The Study Guide
PDF: $2.99
Print Copy: $7.99

Leader Guide - FREE

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1 comment:

Rosann Cunningham said...

Debbie, thank you so much for taking time to read the book and for writing up this very detailed and lovely review. I know I speak for all of the authors when I say we truly appreciate you! :)

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