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Review: Leave a Well in the Valley

First, I must offer a disclaimer. This is an unsolicited review of a book the author and some of the content of which I am connected personally, so in that sense it is not completely unbiased. On the other hand, I am not receiving any form of compensation or remuneration in return for my comments. I also must admit that I edited the manuscript of the book (again without remuneration, other than a copy of the published book), and that forced me to look at it with a critical, impartial eye.

Nonetheless, I believe that I can write this review honestly and in good conscience, and I think that anyone who knows me would expect nothing less than my honest assessment, which is what I am doing.

The author, Dale Peterson, is my brother. For the first thirteen years of my life, we were like–well, brothers. We played together, fought and bickered and quarreled together, worked with our father together, etc. But then he went away to college, and we didn’t see each other very much after that. When he finished with college and came home, I was leaving to attend college. Then he moved north, and we saw each other even less, perhaps once a year for a day or so–if that. In the course of his travels, he sometimes blew into town for a day or so and then he blew out just as quickly.

We are about as different as brothers can be. He’s outgoing and gregarious, able to carry on a conversation with just about anybody, a doer, and he’s a frequent traveler, both domestically and internationally. I, on the other hand, am quiet, bookish, a studier, an introvert, a loner in many ways, and a homebody.

Yet, we are both writers, both of us having published books. Mine is about long-dead historical figures and his about his personal journey through some deep valleys. I was with him in some of those valleys, so I know whereof he writes.

Dale’s book, Leave a Well in the Valley (available online) relates the story behind those valleys, how he made his way through them, and what he has learned as a result of those experiences.

But it’s about more than him and his valley experiences. It’s about you, the reader, and how you can learn some valuable life lessons from your own valleys. But it’s also about the many people whom you can touch and influence and help in their own personal valley navigation.

The theme of the whole book is that we all go through valleys of myriad kinds and for various reasons. That’s life. But the key is what we do as we go through them. Dale’s main point is that every time we go through one of those valleys, we should “leave a well” behind us, something that will be a help and encouragement to others who later will walk the same path.

Those valleys might include the death of a parent, a spouse, or a child. They might include a divorce, dashed dreams, unfinished goals, disappointments in people, or countless other problems. Dale’s story is not unique; everyone goes through such valleys. The details of the problem or the scenery in the valley might differ, but the essence remains the same. How we respond in the valley is what makes the difference.

The title for Dale’s book (which was published in 2010 but is an “evergreen,” timeless and applicable for any time) originated in the words of a song to which he often refers throughout the book:

Leave a well in the valley, the dark and lonesome valley; Others have to cross this valley, too: What a blessing when they find the well of joy you’ve left behind; So, leave a well in the valley you go through.

The 332-page book is a fast read. Parts of it will remind you of some of your own valleys and will bring tears. But other people will shed tears of joy if you have left for them a well of refreshing water by your example in that valley.

Dale’s friend Dr. Elmer Towns wrote the foreword of his book. Another pastor friend, Dave Brown, wrote the back cover copy. They both highly recommend the book, not because they are Dale’s friends but because they know what a difference it can make in the life of anyone who is going through one of life’s valleys. And that’s the same reason I recommend it to you. If you read it, I think you will agree.

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