A Boy back from Heaven by Celeste and Matthew Goodwin (Review, Giveaway)

Mommy, are you sure you’re not mad that I didn’t want to come back?” 
Celeste and Billy Goodwin sighed in deep relief when their four-year-old son Matthew finally came to consciousness after critical surgery. But just when they seemed to be in the clear, Matthew’s eyes rolled back in his head and he became unresponsive for several harrowing minutes. 

Doctors called the episode a medical anomaly, but what really happened can only be described as a miracle. When Matthew returned it was with a perspective and wisdom about life and love that was far beyond his years. Experience the serenity of heaven through a child’s eyes as you read Matthew’s true account of his walk with angels and his shocking revelation months later about the angels’ identities.”

Celeste Goodwin: (From Goodreads) As much as we plan and prepare, there are times when our lives simply don’t turn out as we anticipate. If someone would have asked me at 20 where I saw myself at 40, I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams the mountains and turns that were ahead for me. 

In 2007 my little boy, Matthew, nearly lost his life to hypertension. In the spring of that same year, Matthew shared a very real and life altering experience with our family. On the day his little body almost lost it’s battle to live, he took an amazing walk with four angels. It was an experience filled with peace, calm, and healing. He visited a place he said he never wanted to leave. My book, A Boy Back From Heaven, shares Matthew’s insightful journey.

I discovered much about myself and the strength that can be pulled from places I never knew existed deep within my soul. My faith was tested, but Matthew’s health crisis brought me closer to God and gave me a deeper understanding and perspective of the importance of Christ in our lives and the unending love He shows to us all. I find healing through sharing with others just how powerful and life affirming prayer can be.

Now I find myself as a Christian speaker, patient advocacy presenter and educator in healthcare forums, mom, wife, activist, author, and motivator.

Leave a comment below with your name and email to be eligible to win a copy of A Boy back from Heaven!

My Review:

One afternoon following his visit to school, we were playing on the floor with Conner when Matthew had an unusual request. He asked for me to read from the Bible. He had always liked story books, but it was different for him to ask for a reading from the Bible…I went to his room and grabbed his children’s Bible from his bookshelf…Mathew said, ‘No , Mom, I want you to read from your Bible.’…’Where do you want me to start?’ I honestly had no idea which scripture or book to read from. I wasn’t sure what was troubling his heart at that moment, but thought that maybe text regarding healing and God’s power to make the sick well would be something appropriate…Matthew took the book, opened it, and pointed firmly at what he wanted me to read. It was from the book of John. John 3:16 to be exact. ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ He looked completely content after I finished the sentence. I was puzzled, surprised, and amazed all at once.

I asked, ‘Matthew, do you understand what those words mean?’ He looked at me like I had completely lost my mind and said, ‘Of course, Mom! Do you know what they mean?’ I giggled and said, ‘Well, I’m not sure. Can you help me out and explain it?’ He proudly sat up with his little Hot Wheels car in his hand and gave me an explanation that God loves each of us so much that He sent his very own Son to die on the cross for all of the bad things we have done. He asked, ‘Mommy, do you know what sin is?’

‘Yes, it is when we do something wrong or bad that God would not like,’ I replied. He smiled again and, with the amusement of a teacher whose student just answered the most difficult of questions, gave me a huge hug.

The story isn’t long, one hundred forty-four pages, but it packs a wallop. There is a saying, ‘Out of the mouths of babes.’ God says we need to have a child’s faith. This book provides a value lesson in just that way.

The book is written by mom, Celeste Goodwin, as she takes us back several years to a tumultuous time in their lives as little Matthew, after a battery of illnesses and tests, is finally diagnosed with childhood high blood pressure and kidney failure that threatens his very existence. Family photos scattered throughout the book bring the book alive.

Celeste writes of her family’s journey as they nurse Matthew through sicknesses and non-diagnostic tests, until finally Matthew is diagnosed. Where a diagnosis should have brought relief, it instead brought more questions. Just as Matthew was being prepped to make the trip from one hospital to another, he slips into unconsciousness. It will be months later before his parents learn of his journey during those precious moments of trying to bring him back.

When Matthew does open up, it is with a story of walking with angels and glowing white lights. Upon exiting his mother’s office one afternoon, he is drawn to a photo and identifies the people in the photo as the angels. It is a picture of his mother’s grandparents whom he has never met. Through many telling’s of the story, Matthew’s words have been consistent, and his family believes he was one of only a few whom God has chosen to show a glimpse of eternity.

Matthew’s story is a powerful one, and he is not afraid to talk about it. His faith runs deep and his words show maturity far beyond his age. It is a story that will show a test of faith and a parent’s will to put her child and trust in God. A Boy back from Heaven will inspire your own journey on this earth.

On another note, while the book has a powerful message to tell, I thought the writing was redundant at times. I had no problems with the grammar, but I thought parts of the book could have benefited from further editing. Having said that, I am giving A Boy back from Heaven four stars.

Purchase A BOY BACK FROM HEAVEN in Kindleor Paperback

 

Leave a comment below with your name and email to be eligible to win a copy of A Boy back from Heaven!

 

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book was provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

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Tribute to my Mother’s Strength – repost from Coming of Faith

This was too touching a story not to share. I hope you enjoy.

SabinaKhanIbarra

When she took my dying son from my arms, I let her.  I held my breath until I felt myself leave my body, only coming back because my baby needed me. I ignored the chemical smell of the hospital and instead focused on how much my son’s hair curled like his father’s. I watched my mother whisper prayers to him and adjust his newborn hospital hat making him look presentable, as if he were getting ready for a special meeting.  She took a tissue from her purse, wet it with her spit and wiped the blood from the punctures in his little hands and arms.  When she was done, she swaddled him and told him that she loved him.  She kissed him on the forehead before placing him back in my lap.  She tucked my too long bangs out of my face and leaned over me.  I kissed my child goodbye and prayed over him until he took his last breath.  My mom held me as I held my son, and as I felt his energy leave me, I felt hers heal me. 

In the small social group my parents were a part of, my mother’s independence and self-reliance were the butt of many jokes.  But she didn’t care.  She just did what she had to do.  She came from a village where she was the only girl who left to pursue higher education.  She married at the ripe, old age of 23 instead of marrying the most eligible bachelor in the area when she was 17.  She ignored the whispers when she left the home of her in-laws to live with her husband.  She worked while my father went to school for his Masters.  She drove to run errands while the rest of my aunts waited for their husbands to come home, or if my mom was available, for her to take them.  She took care of the finances and it was her we turned to when making major life decisions.  Mama’s practical ways and strong presence kept our family together.

I was constantly embarrassed for having the only mother in the family who spoke up when things were unfair. Some uncles frowned in dismay but my mom held her head high and stuck to her beliefs.  She also didn’t let anyone tell her that she shouldn’t be taking care of the household finances.  It was a running joke, amongst the very same uncles, that my mother had my father controlled by a leash.  But Baba smiled and squeezed Mama’s hand in front of everyone, only offending the conservative uncles further.  

Once, as she cleaned the dried, caked blood out of my hair she told me to stand up for myself and hit Junior, our neighbor, back, for striking me with the rock. I cringed and said, “No.”  The next morning, when I asked her to walk me to school so that she could protect me, she gave me my lunch and kissed me good bye before shutting the door.  I walked with my sister to school, terrified.  I made a silent promise that if he hit me again, I would kick him in his knee, just like I learned from my second grade teacher Mrs. White, a karate black belt who taught us self-defense.

Another time, while shopping, Mama told me to ask where the ice cream cones were located in Lucky’s.  I shook my head and shrank behind the shopping cart.  She shrugged and told me she liked her ice cream in a bowl, anyway.  She walked away looking for the next item on her list.  In a panic, I hunted down an employee and found the cones.  Mama was in the detergent aisle by then.  I proudly showed the cones to Mama, who placed it in the cart and asked me to help her look in her purse for coupons to use on Tide.

In the sixth grade, she decided that she would make shalwar kameez for my sister Saira and me to wear to school, instead of buying us clothes from Mervyn’s like we usually did.  I cried in protest.  She told me to be proud of my roots, that being different was beautiful, but I dreaded facing the kids at school.   I ended up getting in a fight on the first day of school because James called me a Camel Jockey.  The Principal was sympathetic; he told my mom that I was only defending myself.   I expected a lecture when I got home, but instead Mama asked me to change my clothes, pray Zuhr, and do my homework. 

I married young the first time and became the servant my husband’s family wanted.  Spending most of time in solitude, I only came out to do housework.  I cleaned, cooked, and ironed myself away to a shadow of what I used to be. It was my mother who recognized me and my pain by looking into the dimmed light of my eyes.  Like when I was seven years old, she held my chin, and once more told me to stand up for myself.   Terrified of my unknown, dark future, I left my life of hell, the only life I thought I knew.

When my son died in my arms, I didn’t scream or wail.   I urged him to go peacefully and not fight.  I couldn’t bear his pain anymore, I knew his little body was tired and couldn’t take anymore.  It hurt to say good-bye, but I was ready to accept the pain so my son wouldn’t have to. When he finally left, I cried until the tears dried and I succumbed to exhaustion, my shirt soaked and mouth dry.  Mama watched me.  She walked over to me, held me and told me that God would fill my barren lap once more and that I would meet my son in heaven where he waited for me at the gates.  But new, hot tears fell from my eyes into my open palms.  I wished he were in my arms, alive instead of in a cold morgue preparing to go to his tiny, dark grave. 

 I knew I needed to be strong, like Mama.  She squeezed me against her bosom, where I felt at home – where so many times I went when I was lost or hurt.  When she let me go, she looked at me and said no more.  I looked at my hospital wristband, the only physical proof on me that I was a mother to a child.  My husband walked me out of the waiting room.  As I turned the corner to leave, I looked back into the room and saw my mother with her shoulders slumped, face towards the sky, and tears streaming down her face, into her hair. 

__

Sabina Khan-Ibarra is a freelance writer and editor.  She regularly contributes to her blog, Ibrahim’s Tree, which she created after the loss of her infant son in 2011, and I Am the Poppy Flower, where she writes about little things that go on in her life. She created Muslimah Montage as a platform for women to share their stories and inspire others.

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Beyond the Precipice by Eva A. Blaskovic

A YOUNG MAN WITH A DARK SECRET MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN HIS FAMILY AND THE GIRL HE LOVES.

For six years Bret Killeen is trapped by the wishes of his dead father, blackmailed by his brother, and rejected by his uncle. Meanwhile, he watches his mother descend into the depths of poverty.

As Bret wrestles with guilt over the death of his father, he is helped by Nicole, a young cello player with big dreams. She stirs the embers of his longing both for music and for her — and ignites a fire he can’t extinguish.

But can he brave his past in order to seize his future?

The award-worthy debut novel by Eva A. Blaskovic is a riveting blend of suspense, dark humor, and compelling inter-personal drama. Once you engage this roller coaster read you won’t be able to stop.

  • File Size: 638 KB
  • Print Length: 406 pages

ACCLAIM FOR BEYOND THE PRECIPICE 

“Outstanding! It would make a hell of a movie.”

~ Tom Hyman| Former magazine and book editor, is the author of Jupiter’s Daughter and five other novels, and has written screenplays for Paramount.

“Storytelling mastery … Compelling tale … A must read!”

~Patty Wiseman| Author, The Velvet Shoe Collection.

“Exquisite!”

~Louise Harnby| Proofreader, 666 Park Avenue, The Stepford Wives, and A Visit from the Goon Squad.

Eva Blaskovic was born in the Czech Republic, grew up in Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where she raised four children. Eva has worked in science labs and has taught literacy, writing, math, and science. She is both an accomplished writer and editor of non-fiction articles on business, education, how-to, parenting, and travel. She is also an author of short fiction. Beyond the Precipice is Eva Blaskovic’s first full length novel, but it has already received rave reviews from literary professionals and aficionados the world over. When Eva hasn’t buried herself in writing or editing, she may be found taking her teenagers to Taekwondo, exploring the Farmers’ Market, listening to Celtic music, or sipping a latte.

Connect with Eva A. Blaskovic:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eva.blaskovic.author?ref=stream

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlaskovicWriter

Website: http://www.siriusword.com/ebblog/beyond-the-precipice

**Tour sponsored by Worldwind Virtual Book Tours

Excerpt from Beyond the Precipice
by Eva A. Blaskovic
Chapter Eighteen
The Noose Tightens

 “Great,” Bret said, his body sagging as he let out his breath. “What about the theory part? Did you have to know all the fancy music lingo?”

“You already know all that stuff. Learning the terminology is the easy part.”

He closed the web browser.

“Wait!” Nicole’s hand shot out, but the page had already closed. Her lips pinched into a tight line.

“Longer program, two degrees?” he said. “How long do you think I can keep it up?”

“Well, if it’s what you really want to do, there will be a way. Just stop throwing everything away before you’ve even looked at the options!”

“Options? People like you have options!”

“What do you mean—people like me?”

“According to my dad, I had two choices. Science or Business.”

She stared at him for a long time and finally took a deep breath. When she spoke, her voice was calmer. “Okay, what am I missing here? I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but he’s been dead for six years, right?”

He nodded, resting his chin on his hand.

“Look, I’m not saying disregard his wishes. I mean—I don’t know what it’s like to lose a parent, God forbid. But why can’t you decide for yourself—especially now?”

“Because everything in my life is strung together. Like a web. Each thing is connected to something, which is connected to something else. The course of my life has been set and now I have to see it through.”

She kept staring at him. “Why? What is all connected together? Why can’t you tell me?”

To explain, he’d have to start at the beginning. The very beginning, whenever that was. Maybe it went back to the time of the Oliver play. Maybe when Drake stopped thinking of him as his best friend. And then he’d have to tell her about the accident. Even his mom didn’t know that yet. He’d have to explain about Drake and Galan—and that would surely do it. How could she consider going on with this relationship knowing he was tied to a ball and chain? How could she feel the same about him after she knew what he’d done?

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Lessons I’ve Learned

        There was time in my life when I allowed another’s lies to define who I was.

       That was a lifetime ago; and that time has ended.

       I don’t know why God put this on my heart today. Maybe with all the violence and ugliness going on in the world, we all need to be reminded to love one another. Maybe someone needed the message I had to impart.

       We learn, as Christians, to see Jesus when we look at people; but how many of us actually have that thought running rampant through our mind every second of our busy days?

       My former mother-in-law never missed an opportunity to voice to my mother that she told her son he should not have married me – and this was while we were married. Do you think she was seeing Jesus when she spoke those words to another mother? Truth be told, it would actually hurt me to voice that sentiment to another mother. I identify with other’s feelings on too deep a level to ever consider voicing such a hurtful comment. 

        I remember a time when my former husband and one of his co-workers went fishing for the day. At the end of the day, after cleaning the catch, we shared a meal with the other family. As women will do, we talked as we stood in the kitchen preparing the meal. I was surprised – or perhaps not – when she very candidly told me that her husband had told her of a conversation he had with my then husband. In that conversation, he said that I was a bitch. There is no other way to phrase that particular word – my apologies. She went on to tell me that her husband said that he was told I did nothing but scream and yell and fuss all of the time.

       Anyone who knows me will tell you I do not handle matters in that particular way. I am a person who holds their anger inside. I rarely ever show my anger or hurt. I detach and become very quite. That doesn’t mean I am not human. I am, and I have been known to slam a few doors – loud and hard – did I mention loud and hard – but screaming is not something I do. I do not like confrontation, and I avoid it whenever possible.

Ephesians 4:29 – “Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.” 

        I asked this woman, if after getting the chance to know me, if she still thought that I was this kind of person. I did not let on, but I was extremely hurt when she replied that she did in fact still believe all that she had heard, because she did not feel that my former husband would lie – which said to me that she thought I was lying when I denied the allegations. What I wanted to do at that time was grab my daughters and leave. I did not want to stay in a place that was detrimental to my emotional well-being. I could feel myself shutting down, and pasting on that fake smile.

       What I did was hide my hurt and anger inside of me, and stayed for dinner. I never told anyone how devastating that conversation was to me. Little did I know that it would become one of many such conversations in the years to come.

Colossians 4:6 – “Your speech should always be gracious and sprinkled with insight so that you may know how to respond to every person.”

        Ever since that night, when the thoughts come back to haunt me, I get angry with myself. I am angry because I did not stand up for myself. I am angry because I did not confront my ex-husband. I am angry because another person believed his lies. I am angry because I let what this person believed bother me. I am angry because I wish the memory would vanish. And, that, is not very Christian like either.

       And, then I think, maybe the memory comes back to remind me that I am worthy. I am worthy of Jesus’ love. I do not need people like this woman in my life because they make me feel like less than. And, to feel less than, is an insult to God. It is also a lesson that we need to know and remember. Lies hurt; lies maim; lies destroy; and lies kill. Lies destroy a person’s spirit; what lies within.

Proverbs 14:1 – “A wise woman builds her house, while a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands.”

       For a while, the WWJD – What would Jesus do – bracelets were extremely popular. It seemed as though everyone was wearing some form or another of the symbol. I wonder if our actions would be significantly different if we had WWJD branded on our foreheads. While it sounds like a farfetched idea, I urge you to think about it for a moment. When we opened our mouths to lie, or to gossip, would we continue or would we close our mouths?

A "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD) bracelet

        This story brings me to a lesson we need to remember. Everyone is of God. And, to insult or lie or belittle another person, is to belittle God, our creator. For that reason, when we see or speak to others, we need to remember one of the greatest lessons of all – look for Jesus in each face we see and not be led astray.

       As always, I encourage you to share your opinions and experience, and/or questions. Remember to show courtesy to others in your comments.

 

Donna

 

 


 

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Lessons I’ve Learned

There was time in my life when I allowed another’s lies to define who I was.
       That was a lifetime ago; and that time has ended.
       We learn, as Christians, to see Jesus when we look at people; but how many of us actually have that thought running rampant through our mind every second of our busy days?
       My former mother-in-law never missed an opportunity to voice to my mother that she told her son he should not have married me – and this was while we were married. Do you think she was seeing Jesus when she spoke those words to another mother? Truth be told, it would actually hurt me to voice that sentiment to another mother. I identify with other’s feelings on too deep a level to ever consider voicing such a hurtful comment.
A "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD) bracelet
A “What Would Jesus Do?” (WWJD) bracelet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
       I remember a time when my former husband and one of his co-workers went fishing for the day. At the end of the day, after cleaning the catch, we shared a meal with the other family. As women will do, we talked as we stood in the kitchen preparing the meal. I was surprised – or perhaps not – when she very candidly told me that my husband had told her of a conversation he had with my then husband. In that conversation, he said that I was a bitch. There is no other way to phrase that particular word – my apologies. She went on to tell me that her husband said that he was told I did nothing but scream and yell and fuss all of the time.
       Anyone who knows me will tell you I do not handle matters in that particular way. I am a person who holds their anger inside. I rarely ever show my anger or hurt. I detach and become very quite. That doesn’t mean I am not human. I am, and I have been known to slam a few doors – loud and hard- did I mention loud and hard – but screaming is not something I do. I do not like confrontation, and I avoid it whenever possible.
Ephesians 4:29 – “Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.” 
       I asked this woman, if after getting the chance to know me, if she still thought that I was this kind of person. I did not let on, but I was extremely hurt when she replied that she did in fact still believe all that she had heard, because she did not feel that my former husband would lie – which said to me that she thought I was lying when I denied the allegations. What I wanted to do at that time was grab my daughters and leave. I did not want to stay in a place that was detrimental to my emotional well-being. I could feel myself shutting down.
       What I did was hide my hurt and anger inside of me, and stayed for dinner. I never told anyone how devastating that conversation was to me. Little did I know that it would only be one of many to come.
Colossians 4:6 – “Your speech should always be gracious and sprinkled with insight so that you may know how to respond to every person.”
       Ever since that night, when the thoughts come back to haunt me, I get angry with myself. I am angry because I did not stand up for myself. I am angry because I did not confront my ex-husband. I am angry because another person believed his lies. I am angry because I let it bother me. I am angry because I wish the memory would vanish.
       And, then I think, maybe the memory comes back to remind me that I am worthy. I am worthy of Jesus’ love. I do not need people like this woman in my life because they make me feel like less than. And, to feel less than, is an insult to God. It is also a lesson that we need to know and remember. Lies hurt; lies maim; lies destroy; and lies kill. Lies destroy a person’s spirit; what lies within.
Proverbs 14:1 – “A wise woman builds her house, while a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands.”
       For a while, the WWJD – What would Jesus do – bracelets were extremely popular. It seemed as though everyone was wearing some form or another of the symbol. I wonder if our actions would be significantly different if we had WWJD branded on our foreheads. While it sounds like a farfetched idea, I urge you to think about it for a moment. When we opened our mouths to lie, or to gossip, would we continue or would we close our mouths?
       This story brings me to a lesson we need to remember. Everyone is of God. And, to insult or lie or belittle another person, is to belittle God, our creator. For that reason, when we see or speak to others, we need to remember one of the greatest lessons of all – look for Jesus in each face we see and not be led astray.
       As always, I encourage you to share your opinions and experience, and/or questions. Remember to show courtesy to others in your comments.
Donna
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