Justine Johnston Hemmestad
In 1990 my car was broadsided by a speeding city bus as I turned out of
a parking lot – I was in a coma and had sustained a severe brain injury.
I was paralyzed when I woke up from my coma, though I worked hard to
walk again within a few months, and to relearn how to perform the basic
functions of life.
I began to write when I was carrying my first child Megan, less than two
years after my accident, as tool or a way to cope with feeling so alone
in my disability and misunderstood. Writing, throughout the darkest part
of my recovery—when everyone looked down on me and I had no one to talk
to or relate with me—helped me to get my thoughts in focus, to learn new
things, and to remember what was important to me. I felt bullied, my
thoughts and perception were skewed, and I felt emotionally alone,
isolated by my personal lacking (my speech was slurred; my reactions
were slow, etc.).
But writing was my Savior. When I was so afraid and so filled with guilt
for being disabled, writing offered me a safe and comforting place to
go, where I could cry and feel loved. Writing was my confidante and gave
me hope when the world was crushing me. Writing even helped me find out
who I was, since everything about “me” seemed to have melted away with
my TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Writing helped me find my words to
speak again. Writing was my purpose, and writing was my healing.
My novella, Truth be Told, is essentially the story of my
recovery wrapped up in fictional characters in a different time and
place. Everything is symbolic in my novella because symbolism itself
taught me how to travel deep inside my thoughts and search until I found
the answers. Symbolism aided my memory by the weight of its meaning.
The old man in my novella is symbolic of God, prayer, love of my
children, and the inner truth I found when I dug deep, the challenges
that stretched my mind and that I knew I had to face when I wanted to
give up on life completely.
The Lady is the aspect of my recovery in which I felt lost, even to
myself—I didn’t know who I was—but in prayer and meditation I learned to
focus my mind, calm my thoughts (which were drowning in the guilt I felt
for being disabled) and listen to God’s answer…what defines me?
The knight is the aspect of my recovery that was assaulted by PTSD. Not
only was I recovering, but I was recovering amidst a torrent of fear,
pain, and false persecution. He represents the survivor’s guilt I had
for living as brain-injured, and the part of myself that felt I deserved
the lies that people told about me simply because it was easy to lie
about me. I illuminated my purpose— the purpose that any recovering
person needs to be able to climb out of the darkness—symbolically as
Jesus. When people lied about me, writing defended me and made the truth
immortal. My purpose, as writing, was the well within me; writing saved
me and gave me direction in life (even when I no longer had any sense of
direction due to my TBI). There were people who tried to point me in the
wrong direction, but my prayer, and written prayer, was always brimming
My purpose in writing raised me out of the darkness and set me on a new
path. As my characters in Truth be Told founded one of the first
Universities in Europe, my purpose led me to enter into college, to
study tirelessly, and to set goals and reach them. For a person with a
TBI, these things stretched my mind to the breaking point. And yet my
savior, writing, was always there, so much that my purpose and my goals
became intertwined. Every class I’ve had brought me new challenges;
every professor’s pushing has helped me more than they were ever aware.
My husband and I now have seven children and I’m still writing, for both
have truly been essential to my recovery. I’ve also earned a BLS through
The University of Iowa and am now working toward a Master’s Degree in
Literature through Northern Arizona University. I’m grateful to have
written a book that I felt so strongly, all along, could be of help to
survivors, for them to recognize themselves in the characters and to
know that they’re not alone. I would have recognized myself in this
story and it would have given me hope. My mission now is to give other
Arab Spring, Christian Winter will help you tie newspaper headlines to your scriptural knowledge of the Last Days. Ralph Stice draws a clear link between the Arab Spring and the rise of a worldwide power that appears to be ushering in the coming Antichrist.
This book will also show you what you need to watch for in tomorrow’s news and guide you on how to fortify your faith for stormy days ahead. The Western Church has much to learn from Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Familiar Scripture passages are unfolding with new clarity to believers everywhere.
• Why the Arab Spring had to happen to fulfill scriptural prophecy
• How the Arab Spring led to the unleashing of pure Islam
• Which nation could be the crucial link between East and West and produce an Antichrist figure
• The responses of Middle Eastern Christians to intense persecution and what we Western believers can learn from them
Fear not! He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We will discover Jesus in a fresh way when we face true persecution. How will your faith withstand the great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again (Matthew 24:21)? Brothers and sisters in Christ are facing this reality every day, right now.
I can’t think of a book more timely to read than Arab Spring, Christian Winter. The author explains events that took place in the Middle East that started “Arab Spring.” Since then there have been uprisings and tensions reverberating across the globe that have ties to these events.
The author gives a comprehensive look at life in these countries and the current state of things. Although I found a lot to be more opinion than Biblical fact or proof, the author is sounding a warning bell we all need to heed. He wrote this last summer, long before our headlines were dominated by the word, “ISIS.” Opinion or not, he’s right to be aware and want us to be, too.
Although there is a lot to be concerned about as the reader turns the pages, the author doesn’t lose sight of Scripture. Jesus is the victor here in a war that’s already been won. I don’t think the intention is for anyone to be afraid, but to take our country, our world, and God’s people to prayer, and for the utter defeat with those who plot for our destruction.
I recommend you read Arab Spring, Christian Winter.
To purchase Arab Spring, Christian Winter, click here.
I received a copy of Arab Spring, Christian Winter in exchange for an honest review.
Did you know I have my own book available? Entrusted is my contemporary romance about surrendering fear, loss and change. Read all about it and find out how to purchase it here.
Each year I enjoy looking back at the books I’ve reviewed and choosing my favorites. I choose a fiction and non fiction book that I’ve reviewed plus a Kindle or paperback read I enjoyed as a reader that I was under no obligation to review.
Today is non fiction.
The book I chose took a contemporary look at God’s Word and I was mesmerized the entire time. I’m always looking for fresh ways to be challenged without watering down God’s Word and this book not only delivered, the entire series this year has.
The inScribed series.
Most people have prayed for something or someone in earnest, seeking God’s will, only to be left confused by God’s response. Sometimes we ask, “Why would a good God allow bad things to happen to good people?” In Amazed and Confused, Heather Zempel tackles this question head-on by exploring the book of Habakkuk.
When the prophet Habakkuk prayed that God would bring change to the backsliding nation of Israel, this issue came to the forefront. Habakkuk begged God for revival and that He would turn the hearts of faithless people back to Him.
God’s answer to Habakkuk was, “Take a look at the nations and watch what happens! You will be shocked and amazed” (1:5, The Voice). The vision God gave Habakkuk was one of warfare and exile. How do you respond when God answers your prayers in a way that seems out of line with his character and promises?
Amazed and Confused proceeds systematically through the book of Habakkuk, exploring the prophet’s prayer, God’s response, and the prophet’s journey from confusion to worship. This interactive Bible study is the perfect choice for those who are hurting and confused about God’s responses to their prayers.
Helpful guidance on a question without an easy answer
Practical tools for studying the Minor Prophets
Easy-to-understand, accessible language
This is just one of many Bible studies in the series. I’ve also enjoyed Living So That and Dive Deeper.
To purchase Amazed and Confused, click here.
To learn more about inScribed Bible studies, click here.