Two local authors offer books that inspire
by Roger Hines
December 14, 2013 11:54 PM | 1254 views | 0 0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In case a winter storm keeps you at home for two days or so, or even if it’s ideal weather, there are two brand new books penned by local writers that will engage and benefit their every reader. One of the writers, Gary Bottoms, is from Cobb County, the other, Louise Flanders, is from Cherokee.

A well-known Marietta native, Bottoms has written a book titled “Getting It Right / 10 Strategies to Avoid Regrets.” The book focuses on the generational impact of our financial lives and decisions, but goes far beyond offering financial advice. It relates brief, true stories of both good and bad financial decisions, some of which are heart-rending.

For instance, Bottoms’ story of how his father’s father committed suicide is a riveting two and a half pages that would cause any reader to pitch his thoughts toward the future instead of living just for the day or for the next vacation.

A rich foreword by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson sets the tone for the book. The senator’s splendid phrase, “preparation for life’s unknowns,” foretells that Bottoms will urge readers to ponder and obey the biblical injunction to “number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

The book’s organization is one of its many strengths. Each chapter, after offering a specific financial strategy, closes with two brief sections titled “Generational Impact” and “Avoidable Regrets.”

The book is not a manual for getting rich, but a sincere and effective manifesto which argues (in Isakson’s words), that “peace of mind comes when life’s inevitable tragedies are met by thoughtful preparation.”

Laced with substantive quotations, one of the book’s best is a quote from Lincoln: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”

Broaching the subject of insurance beneficiary designations, Bottoms includes a story titled “A Happy and Surprised Ex-Wife.” The gentle irony of this little story’s “regret” (a deceased husband forgot to change his policy beneficiary from his first to his second wife) will not be missed by any reader.

The tone of the book is equally serious and entertaining. Rarely does a financial writer put complex subjects such as finances on a plane that is both instructive and enjoyable, but Bottoms does just that.

A Woodstock resident, Louise Flanders is an active member and past secretary of the Christian Author’s Guild. Her book is titled “I’ll See You in the Morning / Where Do You Turn When the Miracle Doesn’t Come?” It is the story of their 37- year-old son Jonathan and his 32-year struggle with medical problems that all began with ulcerative colitis.

Johnny and Louise Flanders first learned of Jonathan’s problem when he was 5. While the family was at Disney World, Jonathan began to notice small amounts of bleeding. Soon after arriving home, the Flanders began medical tests for Jonathan.

Doctors were shocked to find that a 5-year-old’s colon was filled with ulcers. The condition necessitated the removal of Jonathan’s entire colon. Initial surgery took most of the colon, but inflammation prevented removal of the entire colon at once.

Only after a 16½-hour second surgery was the full colon removed and the ulcerative colitis halted.

With precise detail and pathos that only a mother could describe or chronicle, Flanders walks her readers through the years of Grand Mal seizures, blood clots, tubes and countless extended hospital visits, most of which were weeks in duration.

Even after the colitis was arrested, her son’s mental state was altered, presumably because of the incredible amount of medicine his body had required.

Describing her son’s “mental fog,” Flanders writes, “I was grieving: grieving over a son who had not died but was nevertheless gone.”

In a later chapter, with exquisite prose, Flanders writes, “The Jonathan we had previously known would never exist again.” These are heavy words, but they are tempered by the beauty and the bright hope of her unalterable faith and the faith of her husband and daughter.

Flanders’ book will sadden, gladden and tickle every reader’s funny bone. Remarkable Christian faith has never been so vividly or richly illustrated as it is in her book. Her account of Jonathan’s ordeal, which continues today, pictures a roller coaster of emotions undergirded by hope, trust and optimism.

Flanders takes away all of our excuses. She is honest regarding her questions for God and her times of weakness, but resolute in her Job-like spiritual tenacity.

Bottoms and Flanders make you forget you’re reading a book. You think you’re listening to them in your living room.

Both writers deal with struggle and how to interpret it. Georgians should be proud that two more of their citizens have joined the ranks of stellar writers.

Roger Hines is a retired high school English teacher in Kennesaw.
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