Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book Review: An Exceptional Arterburn Read

    Bethany House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of The Exceptional Life: 8 Powerful Steps to Experiencing God's Best for You in exchange for an honest review. After authoring so many books one would think Stephen Arterburn would run out of topics to cover. Yet, in this volume he delves again into the human psyche and all of the baggage people pick up in their lifelong journey. In The Exceptional Life Arterburn shows you how to dump your emotional baggage and gain what you have been missing out on. For instance, if one gives up the guilt and shame that has been hunkering them down, they would gain hope. Or how about isolation in exchange for connection. Between the other topics of resentment, anger and addiction there is truly something that will strike a nerve in everyone. Who wouldn't want to trade those in for a life marked by love, forgiveness and freedom?
     I really appreciated the order given to each topic covered. He explains what guilt and shame are, why they need to be released from our lives, how to, what God will grant you in return and the empowerment gained to accomplish life's journey in new ways. The chapters are all sprinkled with personal experiences in relation to the issue at hand from different people. The brief summaries of these experiences aren't from one set of people, but are derived from people of all walks of life. The issues covered are universal.
     Overall, The Exceptional Life was an enjoyable book beginning to end. Arterburn's gift to understand the internal workings of our minds and hearts is astounding. It is nothing less than a gift from God to be able to be such a prevalent voice in the Christian self-help arena. Often, I have found self-help books to be wishy-washy and vague. They tell you that you can feel better if you do this with steps one to three and you're good to go. Arterburn respects personal disposition and leaves room for you to manoeuvre your healing as long as you do so with Jesus at your side. Complete healing comes only in and through Him. Arterburn points the reader in the right direction while giving guidelines, not strict rules, to utilize during the journey.
     One other thing I would like to point out is that though you may at first think some of the topics won't apply to your life, they do, did or will. Even if you are not personally suffering from a drug addiction, chapter eight can still speak to you if you allow it to. I was amazed and humbled as I read, realizing the information I did glean from it I can carry with me throughout my life. Maybe I won't even use the insights tomorrow, but someday I will. God didn't put us here to help ourselves, but to help others as we glorify Him. Anyone would be wise to want The Exceptional Life.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Book Review: Love this Book

     A big thank you goes out to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers for blessing me with a complimentary copy of Love and War: Find Your Way to Something Beautiful in Your Marriage by John and Stasi Elredge, in exchange for an honest review. In this latest release, the Elredges draw parallels between God and his love for the church and the love between a husband and wife. Every marriage is part of a great love story set among a war. Often we miss this and mistakenly believe that our spouse is the enemy, rather than battling against the Enemy who wants to destroy our strong bonds. God gave us one another to support and uplift each other as we face the battles in life.
     The Elredges go on to dismantle preconceived fairytale notions that as long as we love each other all will be well. Both partners in a marriage are broken.Examples and help are provided throughout the book, though they always leave room for the gray area. No marriage is the same as we bring in our own dispositions and baggage. While at first we marry for selfish reasons, it is through learning to selflessly love that we become the people God intended us to be. Trying to find how to love and why to love can be risky, but well worth it as God creates beauty from ashes.     
    Love and War is beautifully written as it portrays the beauty and strength in a marriage. The portrait painted left me wanting to work on my good marriage and make it better. It's like taking a black and white picture and suddenly seeing it in vivid color. How often do I overlook my husband's feelings and allow my own selfishness to blur my vision? It is shocking to think of the things I may have missed, decisions I overlooked and opportunities lost to have a beautiful marriage.
     This book cannot be read in one sitting, but rather ten or so, to be able to absorb what John and Stasi are relaying. In fact, they recommend reading it though more than once, which I would agree would be well advised.  I would only recommend Love and War if you are willing to look at yourself and your motives, more than your spouse. You can only be concerned with how God is using your marriage to transform you. It'd be a great book for couples to work on together, but certainly can be beneficial if only one partner is willing to read and observe.
     There are a couple of prayers included at the end of the book that I am already finding helpful. The reader will perceive the Elredges genuine love for one another and for the marriages of God's kingdom. We can't return to Eden, but through love and choosing to love your spouse, your marriage can become a bit closer to paradise.

Click here to purchase from Amazon!

Read the first chapter of Love and War here.

Read about John and Stasi Elredge

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Building on Discontent

      I know when I pray God may not answer according to my desires, but always for my good. Then there are other times, I realize as I pray the answer may cause some growing and discomfort. I sit now feeling a bit more at ease. Earlier was another story. God humbled me and shook me awake from a stupor I have been in too long.
      I look around my home and am ashamed. I have too many possessions. These things have sentimental value or are simply pretty. Needless to say, I like cute little things. However, the harsh reality is someday they will burn up and all that will be left is ash. That's fine because the items' inherent value is nonexistent and I am left today with clutter. If they burn tomorrow I will still be rich because I have my Lord at my side and salvation in Him. There isn't a greater gift than that.
     It began about two to three years ago when I began to ask the Lord for guidance. I felt I was controlled not by the things themselves necessarily, but by the desire to buy things I did not need. Slowly, but surely, I have been convicted here and there as I go to purchase an item and end up leaving it at the store. The Spirit whispers, "You don't need that," or something similar. Yet, I am still surrounded by worthless, earthly treasure knowing my real treasure is in God's kingdom.
      Fast forward to Thanksgiving as I am sitting at my in-laws' with my appetite satiated watching the news in their warm living room surrounded by family. I almost couldn't stand to watch. News reports of people serving dinner to the homeless and needy in the streets of Los Angeles, a woman praising their efforts in gratitude for a warm meal, a child displaying the meager contents of his family's refrigerator - all of these raising my barometric pressure. I wanted to explode in fury, in disbelief. An internal storm had been born. This can't be in America. Why am I so blind and negligent of my neighbors? Why couldn't I just jump in my car or beam myself down to the shelters and help serve? There I was warm, comfortable and wanting to be out helping with strangers, or rather  my neighbors.
      Naivete, injustice and disgust pulsated through every minute vein. It truly infuriates me, yet I still haven't acted upon it. I keep wondering where God wants me. Bill Hybel in Holy Discontent poses the question to the reader: What makes you tick? What stirs you up to the point of anger? Well, I have found my discontent. One in five children in the grand United States go to bed hungry. What? Why? This staggering statistic drives me nuts.
      I have been blessed with so much. God never intended me to hoard it. I could certainly allow God to bless others with what He has lent me. Is it not all for His glory? Not my comfort. We have donated clothing and items to a resource center around our area, but discontent fills me. It's not enough. I need to be actively doing something about this.
      Last night, my husband asked what I wanted for Christmas. Sure, there are things I want. But, for what purpose. They will fill me with a moment's pleasure and then the item will collect dust. So, I tried to read a book and relax for a few minutes today. Like I said, I tried. The Spirit didn't whisper, but seemed to shout, "Look around. You don't need anything." This year I am giving instead. I'm not trying to earn praises for myself. I love how God has taken two to three years to answer my prayer in His timing. The money my husband was going to use for me is going to be donated to a foreign mission, while the Salvation Army will be receiving some things for the people around here.
     All I know is that is barely a start, a drop in a very large bucket. I am grateful my Lord is patient.  I cannot wait to see how God continues to sanctify me in this process called life. As this is God's doing, I am sure this is only the beginning of something beautiful. Until He comes what ever we can do will never be enough, but at least it shows people a glimpse into God's kingdom. Merry Christmas and Many Blessings to All!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tyndale/ New Living Translation Bible Giveaway

Now thru December 24th you can enter for a chance to win prizes at  the New Living Translation Facebook page.

You can win one of the following prizes.

•One random person each day will win a Life Application Study Bible Family Pack (Guys Life Application Study Bible hc, Girls Life Application Study Bible hc, Student's Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible Large Print hc).

•One Random person each week will win an Apple iPad 2!

Just enter your name and e-mail on the page and automatically receive a free download copy of the Life Application Bible Study – Book of Luke!!! By the way that alone is 158 pages!
Good Luck and God Bless! A big thanks to Tyndale Publishers!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Review: Wonderful Depression Era Novel

     First, I must thank Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of Wonderland Creek in exchange for a heartfelt review. Lynn Austin transports the reader immediately to the Depression Era. As the young woman, Alice Ripley, gives a first-person account of her comfortable life to the adventures that await her in Kentucky, you are drawn to her naivete. It's only when she gets to the run-down town of Acorn where she realizes she was living vicariously through all of the books she read. Through the likes of the wise, centenarian Lillie, kind-hearted Mack and the plethora of other characters in Acorn, Alice becomes a woman wanting to live the God-given life she has with the people she loves.
     Alice began her journey to donate books to the Kentucky library from the drive she started as a librarian in Illinois. When she lands on the steps of Mack's door, Alice finds herself dizzy and bewildered in Wonderland Creek. Through a set of precarious predicaments and contrived circumstances Alice sees God can work in mysterious ways for the betterment of His beloved. Between Mack's injury, Lillie's wisdom, Maggie's grief and June Ann's tumultuous endurance of motherhood, Alice quickly finds herself involved in their stories and lovingly wanting to help bring the feuding town together again.

     I really enjoyed Austin's writing style and sense of humor. The depth of emotions explored can only come from a seasoned author who has experienced life and is willing to share. The emotions brought to the table range from joy to fear to anticipation to love, with many more running the gamut.
     Alice's love of reading spoke to me immediately, as an avid reader myself. She mentions her love of words and the smell of a new book- all classic symptoms of a book lover. However, her voracious appetite for the fictitious world proves to be more enticing for Alice than the reality surrounding her. Honestly, I think many people, myself included, can allow things suck the life out of us, as we give more attention to the unimportant. As Alice eyes were opened to her fallacious misconceptions of life, the readers may be too, if they allow themselves introspection a bit. Slowly, but surely, Alice begins to see the possibilities in front of her, rather than through the pages of another dusty volume.
     Every page was interesting in itself, yet was a part of an exciting epic. I will warn you, this book is a tad over 380 pages long, but the last half of the book in particular, flew by way too quickly. I immensely enjoyed this story. Wonderland Creek is a beautiful, sometimes a bit unbelievable, adventure geared for the woman that explores human emotions, as well faith in God. I only hope that this book by Lynn Austin will expand your perspective to what lays beyond your viewable horizon.

Purchase through Amazon here!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Mother like Mary

     As I read the account of Christ’s birth I often stop and ponder what that evening was like for young Mary. From the visit of Gabriel to visiting Elizabeth to that fateful, starlit night, it must have been a whirlwind of a pregnancy to say the very least. And then, the beautiful happened. The Savior of the world made His grand entrance in the night in the most humble accommodations possible. As Jesus was placed into her arms delicately wrapped in cloth, I am certain, joy and peace filled her washing away any misplaced inhibitions as Mary looked into her helpless son’s eyes.      But, then what? She had children after Jesus. So, I wonder. What was the day to day like for Mary knowing she was raising not just her son, but the Son? How did she judge success? How could she measure if she was mothering “right”? Although Jesus was sinless, Mary couldn't have allowed that to intimidate her from mothering. Imagine the implications of trying to be the "perfect" mother, as a sinner, to Christ, the spotless Lamb. Impossible. Mind-boggling.
     How can any mother know if she is a successful mother? We can’t take empirical data and compare the numbers. Straight As don’t signify life success for anyone. What if our kids sign-up for every extra-curricular available? That does not equal success. We could simply conclude our children are active or social butterflies or inquisitive, etc. There isn’t a result that determines successful mothering.
     Successful mothering can be based on some determining qualities though. Our success can be based upon the process, faith and obedience. We place so much burden upon ourselves as mothers, but honestly God can only lead them to where they are going. We can try to point our children in the right direction, leading them to Christ. Yet, it is the Spirit that will do the convicting.
     Mothers have to realize all is for God. It doesn’t matter what the world thinks of our parenting, it is the Father’s affirmation that matters. 1 Corinthians 15:58 also proclaims, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Every morning let us remind ourselves who our boss is and who we answer to. We are not of the world, therefore their standards are certainly not ours. John 15:19, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
     Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,…” Let us parent with diligence and an ardent effort. 1 Corinthians 15:58 also proclaims, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Parenting is our work for the Lord, in the Lord. As we labor for His kingdom let us do so with fervor and passion that can only be driven and sustained by His strength. It all lies within our hearts. Where is our treasure?
     Mary didn’t know the path Jesus’ life was going to take. She knew though that she must live in obedience to God’s commands and walk in faith. In fact, that is all we can do as mothers. Children learn by imitating. If they see us walking with God, we can pray they will find their stride with Him, too. Rest assured in Philippians 1:6. “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Don’t let the weight of mothering pull you down. We can only do as much as God calls us to do. God will fill in the gaps and complete His work. We are humble servants in His kingdom.
     Proverbs 31:26 states, “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” We need to stay in the Word, dig deep into the riches therein and live out God’s instruction daily. If we want to speak with wisdom, our children need to see the wisdom lived out in practical, tangible terms daily. Are we loving our neighbor as ourselves? Are we loving God with all of our soul and heart? Joshua 1:8, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
     Mary didn’t foresee the Cross or Jesus’ miracles as she raised Him. She saw undeveloped potential. God gave her passion and joy through her obedience and faith. She disciplined and guided with love and compassion. Success isn’t found in numbers on the report card or numbers on a child’s future paycheck. Success is found in a mother’s heart, in her conviction to lead and in her arms as she caresses her babies.

Book Review: For the Young Too

      BookSneeze recently provided me with a complimentary copy of Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for a review.  Billy Graham never disappoints. Building on his experience of growing older, Graham extends his gained wisdom to the reader to embrace life's journey. He encourages everyone to adapt to the challenges age brings with, while maintaining hope in Jesus Christ. Every person leaves a legacy, whether it is a lasting legacy is entirely up to how each individual lives their out for the world to see. As people near retirement they also need to decide to keep living a life pleasing to God, rather than slipping into the abyss of retirement from life.
     I have to say, Billy Graham has written another eye-opening, thought-provoking book for all to peruse. As he points out, the young often don't think to plan for the future. Some may plan financially, but even these days that it proving hard. But, Graham hits upon spiritual, emotional and physical preparation. What happens when we find ourselves alone later in life because we were too busy living the "good" life to bother with our soul's welfare? The consequences will be dire and bleak. Even as we grow older, we are still called to influence others and leave a legacy that will have eternal consequences for generations to come.
     I appreciate the ease of language he uses, particularly if the chapter doesn't suit your fancy. It makes some topics easier to ingest. As my body seems a bit frail now, it frightens me to think of what it will be like in 20 or 50 years. Using himself as an example, Graham placated my fears of decreased vitality, reminding me that this body is temporal and imperfect. Then he proceeds to bring hope to the reader allowing the content to all land upon the Gospel, as it well should. Sixty years of preaching the Good News has definitely come through in this volume, yet I didn't find it overwhelming at all.
     Mr. Graham's personality shines in Nearing Home as he allows you glimpses into his well-lived life. He is humble and still passionate for Christ. We should all take heed to his advice to run this race with perseverance and hope bringing glory to Him. Every day we are all one step closer to home. This book presents us with a realistic perspective from someone who acknowledges he is Nearing Home.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Book Review: A Book with Heart

     Tyndale Publishers blessed me with a complimentary copy of LEAD...for God's Sake in exchange for an honest review. Todd G. Gongwer penned this book with conviction and passion that all believers should take to heart. Why do we do what we do? What motivates people to live? In this fictional account, Coach Rocker, a Kentucky high school basketball coach finds himself in the midst of life struggling along with his players' game, not knowing why he is even alive. From his career to his family Steve Rocker's life seems to be ripping at the seams, in need of more than a quick fix.
     Then, a godsend in the form of Joe Taylor, school janitor, begins mentoring Coach and in effect, the entire school and beyond. Through Taylor's guiding hand and genuine care for others he transforms the lives of everyone he possibly can and whomever will allow him the opportunity. Taylor is the hero of the story, but it's the deep void in Coach's heart that is the driving force in this modern-day parable. Every pursuit in our lives must start from within the heart. People can't live their life with lasting meaning if they are only pursuing worldly treasures. Those are fickle and will perish when the person does as well. What lasts beyond our lives here? Only with God at the center of our hearts can we lead to leave a lasting legacy.
     Honestly, I would have normally passed by this book on a store display. However, as an option to review it, LEAD...for God's Sake seemed appealing enough to give it a chance. Had I not read it, I would have never know what I was missing sadly. I am not a sports fan my any means, so I was relieved that basketball only comes through as the background in the book. It's the wisdom of Taylor that reaches the other characters' hearts, as well as the readers.
     By the end of the book, I was crying, so prepare with a box of tissue at your side. This volume would be wonderful for any believer or seeker or maybe someone who is questioning their very being. We all lead in some manner, whether it's at home, school or the workplace. Everyone can LEAD...for God's Sake.

Todd Gongwer has spent nearly twenty years developing his expertise in leadership, team, and cultural dynamics. He has held executive positions in companies ranging from entrepreneurial start-ups to public entities. He also served as an assistant college basketball coach for over a decade. He lives in Indiana with his wife, Traci, and their two children.

Click here to purchase your own copy of Lead...for God's Sake.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book Review: Great Guide to Fasting

     I owe a big thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of A Woman's Guide to Fasting in exchange for an honest review. Lisa E. Nelson, author and speaker, presents a guide to not only fasting itself, but to the preparation and aftermath as well. Fasting is not a commandment, but a discipline practiced throughout the Bible. To modern ears, fasting may seem antiquated and daunting. However, Nelson breaks down the physical and spiritual aspects of fasting for the reader.
     In A Woman's Guide to Fasting Nelson makes it a point that one only begins a fast for the proper reasons. As Jesus came to fulfill the Law, we are not bound to any specific fast. We are to make sure our fasts are done at the Spirit's prompting. There are various reasons to practice fasting and this book covers those reasons adequately, among them to request healing, protection and humility. Nelson also includes different fasts such as liquids-only, partial fasts, Daniel fasts and twenty-four-hour fasts. I particularly liked the fact those are each hit upon in subsequent chapters as to the different preparations needed for each type.
     I was truly excited to start reading this volume. I have always been intrigued by the discipline, but have been intimidated by fasting. No longer will I be intimidated by fasting due to Nelson's encouragement throughout. In fact, in the last portion of the book she uplifts the reader by relating the mistakes she has made along the way her fasting journey. Sometimes she has tried to do fasting in her own strength rather than relying on God's. We have all done that in some way in our walk with Christ.
     A Woman's Guide to Fasting certainly will not be a dust-collector upon my shelf. As much as it was pleasurable to read, it is useful as well. This book would be great for anyone who practices fasting or has a desire to begin. It only is a mere 147 pages and is well written. I hope anyone who picks this book up is on their way to deeper experience with God. Again, thank you to Bethany House for this wonderful read.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review: Empowering Read?

     WaterBrook Multnomah Press gave me a complimentary copy of John Bevere's soon-to-be released Relentless in exchange for an honest review.  Bevere wants to convey to believers that they have been given more than they realize through God's grace. Christians have been empowered through grace to rule over this life, rather than being ruled by circumstances and occurrences. This empowerment is the key to have a relentless faith that leads to the finish line.
     Everyone has those days in this life where they find themselves ready to throw in the towel and walk away. But, God has called believers to continue with a tenacity that only could be Christ-powered. Bevere reminds Christians what armor is at our disposal to resist the devil and his ploys. Through wielding the armor, obedience and prayer Satan won't even win a battle. In closing, the author points out for what end and why believers are called to live relentlessly.
     This book is not to casually glance over. Relentless is a book that challenged my beliefs and uplifted my spirit in the process. My biggest challenge was figuring out how to apply what John Bevere was teaching me. How do I feel empowered, yet stay humble, without losing my dependence upon the Father? Many of the questions that arose were addressed in the subsequent pages. I would caution readers not to lose sight of Christ. Satan would love to use the teachings in Relentless for his advantage. He did to Eve, he could do it to us.
     I finished this book a couple of days ago. I waited to write my review to sort my feelings out. Ambiguity still is plaguing me. I'm not sure if I could ever feel comfortable yelling out loud to command Satan to flee as suggested. Maybe it's just the idea that I am not comfortable with. There were definitely portions of the book that I found harder to swallow. Could it be that the western world's Christianity has been so watered down that we are luke-warm and don't realize it? Is this God's call to live life more abundantly?
    Grace is a gift given to us. Many Christians take it, yet don't use it. It's as if someone was given the most wonderful Christmas present ever. The one treasure that they waited years for to receive. Once it is in their hands they set it down on the shelf, only to collect dust. God wants us to live this life with Him. His grace is in abundance and freely given. Relentless is a great tool to use to understand what grace can mean to every Christian in the world. Through Bevere's easily-grasped anecdotes to his personal life and musings to biblical teaching, this book can propel you further in the race, guiding you closer to the finish line. I only hope your faith will be Relentless!

Order your copy of Relentless here!

About the Author
John Bevere is the author of such bestsellers as Extraordinary, The Bait of Satan, The Fear of the Lord, Under Cover, and Driven by Eternity. His books have been translated into over sixty languages, and his weekly television program, The Messenger, is broadcast around the world. John is a popular speaker at conferences and churches and his ministry, Messenger International, offers resources to those who want to understand and apply God’s principles. John’s wife, Lisa, is also a bestselling author and speaker. They live with their family in Colorado.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Life Lessons from the Emergency Room

“9-1-1. State your emergency.”

“Yes, my 5-year-old son is having a severe asthma attack.”

“Is he alert and breathing?”

“Yes. He is. It is very labored.”

“Okay, we have paramedics on their way.”

     This is how our weekend began on an all-too-recent Friday evening. As usual my husband was working and I found myself praising the Lord that my in-laws live only minutes away to watch my other kids. As I called the fire department, I was packing my purse with some extras (Bible, Tylenol, water and snack bars, etc.) knowing we were in for a long night. This has become a “normal” routine for my family and over the course of four years I have learned the emergency room provides a great opportunity to spend some time with my Bible and Heavenly Father.
     As I see my son wheeled past other patients on stretchers waiting their turn in the emergency room and hear a nurse calling out “Trauma Bay B,” I then realized the gravity of the situation. The nurses, doctors and respiratory therapist all came streaming in and began hovering around Jacob assessing his situation. I stood to the side, as to not become an obstacle, answering the same set of questions to various staff. Intermittently, I prayed for my baby to be okay and soon found God restored my peace.
     Fast forward, nine tedious hours, we are told he has pneumonia and will be in for at least a few days. As soon as I entered the pediatrics ward God sent a little gift of encouragement to keep me going. The lead nurse happened to be one of the mothers from Jacob’s soccer team. I hadn’t had a chance to meet her and here she was smiling, letting me know she cared. Hence, my Father cared. Let me just say, at 2:30 in the morning this mama’s brain was fried and I was running on pure adrenaline. We get up to his room and are asked another series of questions.
     After an hour’s sleep, I was almost to the point of hysteria. As soon as I saw my husband, I began to cry for no other reason than being emotionally exhausted. I went home to go shower, rest for a bit and to take snack for Jacob’s soccer team. I felt I was truly on my last leg and here we were not even 24 hours into this ordeal. As I am driving to the fields, this song I never heard before began to play on the radio. For the better part of the song this man sang to the Lord, “I need You. I need You.” Over and over. The song ministered to my heart as it was able to put words to my feelings. I was literally too tired for much, except to pray, “Help me.”
     Jacob stayed a total of three nights and was administered eight medications to stabilize and to begin his healing. We came home with an astronomical eight medications to finish his healing. I am more thankful than I have been in a very long time. Sure, we deal with asthma all the time. But, the severity of this episode demonstrated a few things to me.
     First and foremost, the fragility of life is as delicate as an eggshell. You never know when your shell is going to crack. Life is such a gift many take for granted everyday. It’s easy to get stuck in the grind of life and forget that every breath God grants us is precious and beautiful. We are each living miracles and works of divine art. May we treat ourselves as such.
     Our Father is faithful beyond comprehension. Deuteronomy 7:9, “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” In fact, a couple of days before Jacob’s hospital stay I was reading a book and God’s faithfulness was pondered. That chapter really stuck out in my mind. Little did I know that I would be getting a first-hand lesson in the matter. I always get a kick out of the ways God can teach us. I knew every step of the way He was there faithfully standing by us, looking out for us and blessing us with His love and presence.
     Building on that, our Lord will sustain us through it all. It’s in the thick of things, God shows himself the most. If it wasn’t for Him, I would have broken down this time. Yet, my family is still standing because He held us up by His sovereignty and might. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.
     Another thing I learned over that weekend was it is all in God’s timing. He chooses when trials come our way. Just when we think we cannot handle another trial, setback or heartbreak, God allows us to face the situation. Whether we choose to face it head on or not is really a matter of faith. We will either submit to His will, endure the trial and come out a little more like Christ or we can choose to submit to fear and the ploys of the Devil. It is when we are weak, we can choose to have the best Defense or not have one at all.
     God is faithful all of the time. It doesn’t matter if you are hurting at home or in the emergency room, He is there. This Thanksgiving I am not only going to be thankful for what I have, but for my life itself. May we not only be thankful on this one day of the year, but rather be thankfully living every day to the fullest. John 10:10b says it so well, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Review: Wow! A Must Read Work

     First, I must thank the wonderful BookSneeze Team for allowing me to review Hank Hanegraaff's book, Has God Spoken?: Proof of the Bible's Divine Inspiration, from Thomas Nelson Publishing. In Has God Spoken? Hanegraaff, host of Bible Answer Man, cites a plethora of evidence to prove not only is God's Word inspired, but also infallible truth to be grasped and lived by. Within its 290 pages, he relies on biblical manuscript copies, archaeology's finds, fulfilled prophecy and scriptural principles to disprove the world's cynical disbelief.
     Hanegraaff makes use of acronyms throughout to allow the reader to not only peruse the book, but hopefully grasp its knowledge. The author's desire is for the reader to be ready to share with unbelievers the treasure trove of eternal riches contained in Scripture. The four parts of the book are labeled Manuscript C-O-P-I-E-S, Archaeologist's S-P-A-D-E, Prophetic S-T-A-R-S and Scriptural L-I-G-H-T-S.  Between the array of acronyms far and wide, as well as Hanegraaff's eloquence, this book was a joy to read. The chapters are of manageable size, so you don't feel you need to pause your reading in the middle of a chapter.
    This volume truly is  a "Wow" book to be read by anyone who is a believer and wants an awesome lesson and overview of the Bible. Why do Christians have such hope? The seeker and skeptic alike would do well to pick up a copy of Has God Spoken? to see if the Bible fits their vision or not. "In place of a sign, Jesus presented a prophecy. Not just a prophecy---the prophecy. The prophecy demonstrating that the whole of the Law and the Prophets pointed forward to him. The prophecy signifying that the Word of God cannot be broken. The prophetic star shining brightest in the constellation of biblical prophecy." (pg. 169)
     Another point that must be made is that if anyone has read a book by Professor Bart D. Ehrman, this book is definitely one to enlighten you. I had read his books in the past and apparently escaped his mission to shake the faith of believers. Ehrman takes things for face value in the Bible, rather than using methodical research to derive conclusions. A former believer, Ehrman presumes fallacy in the Bible and the Christian faith, making use of material improperly scrutinized, if at all. Thank the Lord for Hanegraaff's strong and poignant rebuttal found throughout Has God Spoken? I mention this only for the reason that Hanegraaff uses Ehrman's book as fodder for his own. Well, that and I was utterly amused.
     Hank Hanegraaff has encapsulated years of arduous study in Has God Spoken?: Proof of the Bible's Divine Inspiration. May believers use this as a guide along side God's Word to be ready with an answer for an unbelieving, darkened world. As 1 Peter 3:15 states, "being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review: A Passionate Memoir

     I am very grateful for the complimentary copy of A Heart for Freedom by Chai Ling from Tyndale Publishers. I was eagerly awaiting this book's arrival. The content seemed different, interesting and waiting to be read. A Heart for Freedom exceeded my expectations tenfold. The reader is immediately drawn into Ling's story and captured by her innocence. Her account is marked by passion, grief, love, hope and triumph- all key ingredients of a memorable story.
     Chai Ling was brought up in an oppressive, stifling culture that was hinged upon tradition and familial devotion. Early on she realized the one way for her to obtain her father's love and favor was through scholastic merit and achievement. As Ling continued to strive for love and found herself as a young college student at prestigious Beida University in Beijing, far from home, she found her calling as a voice for change and hope for the people of her homeland.
     There she discovered she could make a difference by standing firm for what she felt was right. Even as a young girl she wasn't easily persuaded to join the Party as her Communist parents had. Seeking reform in government, a group of dissident students asked for dialogue with government officials. Eventually, they received far more than they bargained for.
     Thousands of lives were lost in Beijing around Tiananmen Square in the Spring of 1989. Chai Ling as one of the leaders of the growing movement had to hide for months among strangers before seeking refuge in America. Now, 22 years later, Ling is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and now a philanthropist. As she has found healing in Christ, Ling is now trying to help extend Christ's love to her beloved China and bring awareness to oppression of China's one-child policy and the female's inherent value to society through her non-profit organization.
     A Heart for Freedom reached deep recesses of my heart and soul, leaving me to wonder what do I do with all of what Ling shared? To hear of the harsh realities of forced abortion, inhumane treatment of life and the deceptive lies that the Chinese people are inundated with is astounding and incomprehensible.
     Ling's love for her people, the passion and hope she tenaciously clings to and her honesty are beautiful and enough to change the lives of many readers. I only hope that I am among them. For her to live in and endure an oppressive culture is hard enough, but to stand up in the face of the opposition is monumental. A Heart for Freedom is Chai Ling's gift to us, the beauty in the ashes.

Click here to purchase from Barnes and Noble!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review: Nice Look at God's Love

     WaterBroook Multnomah Publishing Group has provided me with a complimentary copy of The Perfect Love in exchange for an honest review. What does God's love encompass? How does it apply to you? What are the costs? Ruth Myers addresses all of these questions and more in The Perfect Love. This book begins by pointing out the shortcomings of the love we are use to in a fallen state and shows how the love of God not only fills what we are missing out on, but lavishes His love upon us in abundance. Then Myers gets personal and explores the depths of love we can all experience and abide in.
      More often than not, believers included, are told that God is love. What does that mean if it is never discussed as a how-to? The Perfect Love isn't a manual, however it is such a concise look at His love, any reader will gain some insight into their own relationship with God , whether they are new to the faith or seasoned believers looking for more. Myers use of Scripture and bits of poetry enhance the overall book. There's a great discussion on the Trinity's handwork in the mercy that God extends to us in chapter nine.
     So, what does His love look like for believers? "He is our complete answer for wisdom and knowledge, for life and growth, for forgiveness and fullness, for deliverance from every hindrance to our spiritual lives. And since we are in Him and He in us, we have a fresh new identity."(pg. 190) I really enjoyed that quote. We can live in His love. We are free to become our true selves when we abide in the love of Christ.
     I have to admit, at times I found this volume a bit long-winded. Although, that was to my advantage. As an avid reader I can read anywhere from six to ten books a month. I devoted two weeks to this book alone. Myers wrote in such a comprehensive manner, I found myself pausing to reflect in between paragraphs. I dissected my personal relationship to God more than I normally do, which is quite often. Her ponderings led me to my own. The Perfect Love isn't your run of the mill book on God's love. It is meaty, weighty and enjoyable.I hope any reader who picks this book up will appreciate the wisdom of a lifetime that Myers has shared. May the love of Christ flow in and through you.

Purchase your own copy here at Barnes and Noble!

Take a peek inside The Perfect Love here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: A Beautiful Strength

     On behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing, BookSneeze provided me with a complimentary copy of One Call Away by Brenda Warner with Jennifer Schuchmann. This memoir is a beautiful portrayal of a woman who has allowed God to carry her through any storm that passes her way. Throughout Warner's life she has received many phone calls that have changed her life in a moment's time, taking her from the routine to the unexpected. From having a special-needs son to enduring infidelity to losing her parents to a tornado and beyond Warner faced each situation with srength, courage and integrity. After having to make a fresh beginning in her home life she met Kurt Warner and together they have built something lovely.
     First off, I have to say, Warner is more of an inspiration than she can even fathom. I was immediately engaged to her story and drawn to her. Looking at this beautiful image of her on the cover, one would never expect to find that she was a marine and an excellent one to boot.  It is obvious her experiences have only humbled her, apparently God prepared her well for the fame that ensued. When she described the trust issues that plagued her after her divorce, it made me realize she is human. I think that is what keeps her story real and her strength approachable.
     I had the privlege of meeting her at the Women of Faith Conference over the weekend. As my mother drove I was reading One Call Away. Only until she appeared on stage did I realize she was the author. What I saw of her on stage and when she signed my copy is what comes across in the book. She still sees herself as a farm girl, though she is much more. It is definitely a well-written memoir. I really enjoyed looking at the pictures in the middle of the book. There are enough pictures to allow the reader to feel they are flipping through her family album next to her.     
     Brenda Warner is incredible; she is a wife, mother (of seven!- that is courage), nurse, former marine, daughter of the Almighty and a fabulous author.  Every woman could be inspired by the character she displays in life. Every woman will relate to her in some capacity. Every woman may be One Call Away.

The Holy Spirit: Sometimes a Girl's Best Friend

Titus 2:3-5: Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

  Well, I just had a  "Titus 2 moment".  As I am scrubbing off dried-on peanut butter from a couple of forks and knives I was truly convicted by the Spirit. You see, last night I politely, nonchallantly mentioned to my darling husband that though I really do appreciate his help when he loads the dishwasher, I would really love it if he could wipe the dishes and utensils off before placing them in the dishwasher.
      I took the utensils out of the dishwasher I had to start this morning, oh the indignation. I inspected them and to my dismay I found specks of crusty peanut butter. What to do, but use the sponge. As I swipe it off without any effort, I think, "How hard is that to do?" Yes, Deanna, how hard is it? CONVICTED!
     Case closed, my dear. Can you feel the stabbing pain of my heart here? Is David perfect? No. Am I? Certainly not. So what is the problem? My heart is in the wrong place. Jesus came to serve, as should I.  Matt. 20:28, "even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve." I am honored to be my husband's helper. Unfortunately, I let the petty, trivial nothings get in the way of sober thinking.  I am thankful that my children didn't witness that one, but God did.
     Thank you Lord for the Spirit to guide me right back onto the straight and narrow.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Weekend to Remember

     It's astonishing the amount of fun, laughter and encouragement that can be had in less than 24 hours as thousands of women come together all for the glory of the Lord. Women of Faith's Over the Top Conference was just that, Over the Top! The likes of Lisa Welchel- as in "Blair" from the Facts of Life, beautiful, strong Brenda Warner, pint-size, hilariously funny gal, Patsy Clairmont, Sandi Patty and Amy Grant graced the stage Friday and Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim. The limelight of center stage always focused on God and the extravagant Over the Top grace He lavishes upon each and everyone of us in all circumstances.

     Though I can't carry a tune worth, well, anything I love sharing the worship time with all of those shining faces I stand amongst. The Women of Faith Worship Team, which Mandisa joined in with often, truly uses their glorious voices to lift such exalted praise unto our Savior, Jesus Christ. As Mandisa sang, I realized that these women give their all to God, God returns the favor, filling the hearts of the ladies in attendance with His love. I often glanced over at my mom and saw tears trickling down her cheeks. When I heard my mom quietly affirming Marilyn Meberg's invitation to Christ and saw tears in her eyes, needless to say, that was the sweetest moment during the conference for me. Even if you're a believer, the Spirit seems to sweep over your heart everytime you hear a call to faith. It's a beautiful moment for a renewal of your commitment to Him. I wonder how many women came to saving faith that day? No doubt angels were rejoicing.

      Every year as I sit in my seat, my heart captured as the ladies share their hearts, realizing we are not only not alone because God is with us, but we are surrounded with good company. Everyone can relate to the speakers. The topics are wide-ranging, since they have experienced life in an array of ways. Lisa Welchel spoke about friendships in adulthood and how difficult, yet necessary they are. That struck a deep chord in me. With some work I hope to be a more vulnerable friend. I'll let you know my story in five minutes, but I keep my heart just over the hill out of sight. I am a work in progress and I think Lisa awakened a project.

     Every woman in Anaheim I can guarantee, walked away with something of great value. It doesn't matter if the sun is shining in their life right now or if they are in a wintry, cold season in their lives- God is with them. We are all loved, valued and esteemed by Our Awesome Creator. I hope every woman drove home with at least that truth burning in their hearts and souls.
     I look forward to 2012 as the Women of Faith Celebrate! God's love and sovereignty is always cause for celebration. You better believe it, my mom  will be there at my side celebrating.

Thomas Nelson Publishing and Women of Faith provided me with two complementary tickets to the conference for honest, heart-felt reviews and posts of the event. They in no way endorse my views and opinions.     

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Review: Engaging Western Romance

      I received a complimentary copy of A River to Cross from Bethany House Publishing. A River to Cross by Yvonne Harris captures your heart immediately. In this historical western romance set in 1886, the reader is transported to El Paso, Texas when tensions ran high between the still-blossoming United States and Mexico. Manuel Diego, a scoundrel-of-a-general,  wants to take over the Mexican government.  Diego motivated by vengeance due to an article naming him suspect in the goings-on of El Paso kills Lloyd Madison, newspaper publisher. Elizabeth Evans witnesses the murder of her brother, Madison, and becomes a pawn in Diego's scheme.  Consequently, Elizabeth, a senator's daughter is kidnapped by Diego's men, as he tries to build hostility between the two countries.
     And now the romance comes in for the romantic-at-heart. Jake Nelson, Texas Ranger, comes to Elizabeth's rescue and in the process rescues her heart. As a widow, Elizabeth is bent on not allowing any man capture her heart. Love ensues as the Rangers grab Elizabeth in the middle of the night and head back for the border to the United States. When all is said and done, A River to Cross ends on a happy note.
     Yvonne Harris evidently put a lot of time into her writing. I was impressed with the historical accuracy and research used in this volume. There is an inherent cultural flair to the book from beginning to end. She vividly paints the scene for the reader without bei\ng overly wordy. " From a distance, the whitewashed mud houses looked swept together against the mountain, their tile roofs touching. A sandstone church with a modest cross stood at one end of a large arcaded square; the school the two Romero boys attended, at the other."
      The character portrayal is consistent throughout the chapters, though you can identify the characters' development and growth. Elizabeth Evans begins as a widowed woman, out of her element who is thrown into a dangerous situation, causing her to draw on her own strength. In the process she finds her heart opening to a man she intended not to love. She began searching for herself in timidity and came out strong and assured.
     The only aspect I found odd while reading, was that in the middle Harris seemed so focused on the development of the romance between Jake and Elizabeth, I almost forgot about the surrounding political story. Then in the last third of the book when the Mexican general and military come into play, it seemed like a surprise. That said, Harris did a lovely job and the history of the book made up for any shortcomings. A River to Cross is filled with realistic characters, historical accuracy and a romance that would make any woman swoon. If you are die-hard, gooey, romance addict this volume probably isn't for you. However, if you are like me and can appreciate a romance novel without the fluff, then A River to Cross would certainly benefit your shelf. Happy reading!

Click here to purchase A River to Cross from Barnes & Noble.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Countdown to Women of Faith

    What do thousands of women from different walks of life have in common? Faith - and plenty of it. Sitting in the Honda Center last year for my second conference was a very humbling experience. It's almost overwhelming to see so many come together and worship our Lord under one roof at a Women of Faith Conference. You can feel the impact of all of those hearts humbled and filled with love and joy. I always leave filled. This year I will arrive a bit more empty than normal.
     I really wanted to go this year, but not just for myself. I wanted my mom to be able to go and be filled with God's love. She works hard as a social worker, mom, wife and grandmother with a 2-year-old grandson living with her. Well, we were going to sit this conference out due to finances. It weighed heavily on my heart. BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson answered my prayers to God. I was blessed to receive two free tickets for promoting the Women of Faith Conference in Anaheim on my blog. Psalm 37:4 promises, "Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart."
    Friday evening cannot come soon enough. The past two weeks have been difficult, yet necessary. My husband was gone more than he was home. As a fire-fighter's wife, I am use to chaotic schedules normally. Within one-and-a-half weeks David was home a day and a half. My youngest son was having asthmatic episodes left and right, we all came down with a cold, and my oldest son had a temperature of 104 degrees over the weekend. Oh, in between that I was scheduled to go to a conference. I attended one day and watched the other sessions via live-streaming. It's not pity for myself in it, just utter exhaustion.
     In the midst of it all I have learned that God uses these circumstances to sanctify me. I learn patience and understanding. Romans 5:2-4, "... through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope."
     Best of all, I am reminded to lean more assuredly on Jesus. He pulls me through. He fills in the gaps. This weekend is needed more than I realized previously. God always leads us where He wants us to be. God is sovereign and He truly knows what I need. Right now, a heart-warming, love-filling weekend with Women of Faith is just what the Doctor ordered.

Disclosure: Thomas Nelson Publishing and BookSneeze provided me with two complimentary tickets to the Women of Faith Conference in exchange for heart-felt blog posts before and after the event. All blog content is based on my personal views and opinions. Thomas Nelson Publishing, BookSneeze and Women of Faith do not endorse any of my posts.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review: Almost as Good as Gold

    Many thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for providing a free copy of As Silver Refined in exchange for an honest review.  Don't you love how God can take a mess of a human being and transform them into something pure and beautiful? As I read As Silver Refined I realized Kay Arthur, the author, is one such Christian. God can take the worse of us and begin to refine us into the person He created us to be. We can allow God to use life's afflictions for His glory or we can fight against Him and fall into what Arthur calls the five Deadly D's- disappointment, discouragement, dejection, despair and demoralization.
     Every person is bound to face trials and tribulations, but what we do with them determines the type of person we will be. If we react in anger that fans the flames. However, if we turn to our Lord's Word seeking to discover His will for our lives, God in turn will refine us to the character of His Son. Submission to His will never comes naturally for us; we must always fight against our Adversary and cling to our Lord's sovereignty and might.
     This is my first Kay Arthur book and frankly I didn't know what to expect. It was exciting to know she is a well-renowned Bible teacher and author of over one hundred books. Her writing certainly proves her extensive experience. Better yet though, was that within the first half of  As Silver Refined I felt I knew her so well that if I actually ran into her I might accidentally call her "Kay."  The book is intense study, yet she manages to be so personal and inviting that that must be part of her success.
     Arthur's use of language grabs your attention and holds it. "Whatever the disappointment, it is God's appointment- and that assures us it's His gift, bestowed upon us in the rich outpouring of His grace." That is one of several line's I want to remember always. Mrs. Arthur makes good use of parentheses as she inserts little side notes and quips, such as, "Where there is hope there can never be despair. (You may want to pause and think about that one!)."
      Reading As Silver Refined will take you into a sanctuary with Kay Arthur seated by your side as she delves into the Word. This isn't a book for a quick perusal, but one that will etch itself and God's Word upon your heart. If you do want to dig in further, there is an accompanying 13-week study in the back of the book. I am sure with any effort and prayer God certainly will work within you and refine you as silver.

About the author: KAY ARTHUR founded Precept Ministries International with her husband, Jack, in 1970. What started as a fledgling ministry to teens is now a worldwide outreach with Inductive Bible Studies in nearly 150 countries and 70 languages. Arthur has written 100-plus books and Bible studies, including the Gold Medallion-winner Lord, I Need Grace to Make It Today. Arthur reaches over 90 million viewers and listeners through her half-hour television program Precepts for Life and the one-minute radio feature Precepts from God's Word, aired on nearly 1,000 radio and television stations worldwide and available online at
     Kay received the National Religious Broadcasters "Best Television Teaching Program" award in 2004 and in 2009 for Precepts For Life, Precept Ministries' half-hour television program. She holds an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Tennessee Temple University. For more information about Kay Arthur and Precept Ministries International, visit

Read Chapter One of As Silver Refined

Click here to order from Amazon.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: Walk with God

     BookSneeze has provided me with a copy of With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God on behalf of Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.  With by Skye Jethani may be a simple title, but its content is anything but simple. Where do you stand with God? Do you view yourself and your life under, over, from or for God? We tend to pick one of these four postures as we relate to God. However, Jethani proposes a better way, a more intimate relation to God- with God. At the beginning of Creation God intended to walk with us along our side. As we try to come into closer communion with God we will find that our eternal joy can begin now, rather than later.
     Though the first chapters that dealt with the common four postures were informative, I didn't find myself engaged with the book until the middle. I guess Jethani worked up to the meat of the book and served the potatoes first.  That said, I did enjoy the "with" chapters in the latter half. With God isn't some set formula that works for one and all. Jethani suggests trying different means to attain a more intimate communion with our Father. In Appendix A he provides various prayer techniques and questions to help you engage yourself more with God.

     I always wonder if I am not "doing" prayer right. People often speak of prayer, but rarely do you hear the details. I sit there doubting my time. Is there something more? With allowed me to affirm my communion time with God. It's about experiencing that utter joy and bliss before our Maker, not wondering what to say next, but simply enjoying each other's presence.
    Jethani did an excellent job providing the reader with a clear view what it means to walk With God. This volume is for any Christian wanting to gain a clearer, more concise perspective of their walk with the Lord. I am sure the first several chapters may open many eyes to possible frustrations in their walk. I hope and pray that anyone who picks up this book will not peruse it for amusement, but use it to analyze their lives and make any necessary adjustments to walk With God.
To purchase "With" from Barnes & Noble click here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Leaving a Legacy: Good, Bad or Maybe in the Middle

     Not that today has been a "bad" in itself, but I have had a few "melt-down-mommy" moments lately. Of course, I beat myself up about it. Then after that I realize I have a Heavenly Father waiting for me to run to, to accept His open-door invitation. I do. I run into His arms and give it all to Him. He has just witnessed my bad. He hears my sad and then something transforming happens. God's love pours into me, comforts me; reminding me I am a human mom- not superwoman.
     How I wish that was different? Imagine never crumbling under pressure or crying until I look like a raccoon. Everything I attempt I could do with gusto and a signature flair. The kids would thank me every instant I was around and my husband would never get annoyed with my habits. Life would be perfect.
     Well, I have news for myself. Perfection is not my middle name-not even close. I come back to reality as I look around and there is another laundry heap to tackle, more toys to corral and dinner, oh yeah, dinner....uh, I'll get to that...later. The only choice in the matter that I actually have is: if I am going to be a mother of grace and love or a mother that doesn't realize the inherent value in her job?
     My Heavenly Father is perfect and I am not. Case closed. However, my Father has granted me another opportunity to demonstrate His love and grace to my children when they mess up or often when I mess up. When I make a mistake I can try to hide behind a facade and act arrogant or I can choose to admit my faults and witness to my children God's ultimate forgiveness. When they see me pray for forgiveness and see the transformation of my heart they are seeing what God openly offers to all of His children every day.
     That is the legacy I want to leave them. Sure the kids will probably remember some tears or words that could have been spoken with a lot more grace and ease. But, more than likely they will remember a mother who is transparent and freely loves and surrenders herself to her Lord over and over again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review: A Strong Book

     Tyndale Publishers provided me a free copy of Muscular Faith by Ben Patterson in exchange for an honest review. What does it look like to run the race that Paul envisions for the faithful Christian? What should our faith look like and how are we equipped to do that? Patterson explores those questions in this uplifting volume as he includes personal life excerpts and biblical examples. As the Apostle Paul would encourage us to persevere through the thick and thin of life knowing our hope is in Christ alone, so does Ben Patterson.
     As an athlete doesn't dive into his sport as a professional, so should the Christian look at his life. An athlete trains strenuously before competing with an ultimate goal in mind. Likewise, believers are to keep their eyes focused on the prize of an eternal reward that is worth putting our all into to claim as our own. We will be stetched and endure pain. Just as Christ knew of the Cross, our labors will lead to sweet fruit later
      I was engaged with Muscular Faith from page one. Patterson's easy-going style made it a pleasure to sit down to peruse his thoughts on a strong Christian life. As most can see this life isn't filled with lackadaisical pleasures, but often deals us painful, time-consuming experiences that can either make or break us. The only way they will have eternal value is if we allow the Spirit to strengthen us as we endure these trials for the sake of the Cross.
      Muscular Faith would be a great library addition for most Christians wanting to further their understanding of their personal walk with their Savior. Patterson's masculine analogies of camping, marathon running and wrestling would be well-suited for the athlete or man in particular. I being a thirty-year-old woman still enjoyed his use of analogies, despite not be athletically-inclined. In a bit over 250 pages Muscular Faith can certainly strengthen your own life in Christ.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

An Over the Top Experience

     Women of Faith here I come...with my mom! I am excited every year I am able to attend this conference for a number of reasons. This  year it isn't any different. We have a countdown of a month and I am ready to roll. First, let me tell you of my first experience with Women of Faith and the surge of faith that has reverberated through me ever since.
     The spring of 2008 I decided I would not only attend Infinite Grace, but I would be willing to lead a group. Let's just say a bit of spiritual warfare tried to stomp on my heart to no avail. I felt God was  leading me. He was, but God always has bigger plans for us. Instead of a group, only one lady was going to attend with me. I was disappointed, yet I wasn't going to let that ruin my weekend with the ladies.
     I drove down Friday afternoon by myself. The other lady couldn't make it the first day. I drive over to the Honda Center after taking the scenic route. I hate to say I made wrong turns- the scenic route sounds smarter. Here's where our Heavenly Father worked his love and grace. As I walked up to the arena alone, I realized I was completely in His freedom. I wasn't nervous or fearful to be alone. I almost cried tears of utter joy. You see, since I was 12 years old I have suffered from clinical depression, anxiety (particularly in crowds), and panic attacks. This was my moment of triumph with God! Better yet, God's triumph in me! I was set free from everything that held me captive.
      So I find my way to my seat. The music from the Women of Faith Worship team moved every happy beat in my heart it could muster. Then to witness the sheer magnitude of women come together from all walks of life, all ages in every array of the rainbow is one of the most God-given surreal experiences in my life. In fact, maybe I should say one of the most real experiences of my life. Glory to God is our purpose. Thousands of ladies coming together singing, in tune or not, was astounding. It felt like a sliver of a glimpse into what our eternal worship of the Almighty will be like.
     In September of 2008 God did pour out His Infinite Grace upon me. It didn't matter who I brought to the event. That freedom of attending the first night by myself allowed me to see that with Him I am never alone. I never needed anyone else's approval or accolades to be a person. I need only His acceptance. Jesus does walk with me and I with Him. In Him I have everything!
     Some women come to be refreshed, others come to meet their Savior and others want to get away. No matter the reason, every women sees God's glory, hears the stories of these women whose faith has been made stronger through trials and in turn can relate to one another. Maybe you are sitting in a valley of your journey and need God to bring you Over the Top. Or maybe you want to thank the Lord for bring you to the top.
     If you have never been to a Women of Faith conference or have, but are indecisive I would invite you to pray about it. Allow God to move your heart to join us as this year the ladies take you Over the Top. Stay tuned for more posts.  Don't forget to check out the preview video. May His love reign always in your life!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Review: Calling All Animal Lovers

     I was very excited when I received a courtesy copy of Thunder Dog from BookSneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I can honestly say that the authors of this book, Michael Hingson and Susy Flory, did an excellent job on changing my perception of life as a blind person. In Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero, Hingson who was blind since birth invites the reader into his life through vivid accounts of life as he grew up and the harrowing experience he encountered with his guide dog, Roselle, during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The two worked as a team to lead each other and encourage others to descend the staircase of stairwell B in the first tower to be attacked at the World Trade Center.
     As an avid animal lover, I am particularly drawn to stories recollecting inspiring accounts of animals and their heroic efforts. That is what first drew me into Hingson's story. However, within the first few pages I realized this was not just Roselle's story, but Michael's life story as well. Throughout Thunder Dog you get a glimpse of what life is like to be blind in a world that exalts itself on the visual. I wonder if my family treated my grandmother as an incompetent child when she suffered a stroke and subsequently lived out her last years in the dark. Hingson certainly accomplished bringing awareness for the blind to light.
     I also had the pleasure of joining a Facebook conversation with the authors on the day of the book's release. I was humbled to see his humility and passion for life. As I read Thunder Dog afterwards I wanted to know more of this man who perceives himself as living out his purpose to the glory of God. It's not too often you come across an individual who exudes a down-to-earth compassion wanting to reach out to others. That kept me drawn to the book.
     Of course I can't write a review without mentioning Roselle. Despite the chaos that enveloped them that terrible, fateful day, she remained calm at Hingson's side waiting for direction. As they made their way down from the 78th floor, she stayed faithful never flinching. Throughout the day Hingson and Roselle both drew on each other's strength resting in the assurance that they were together. Shouldn't we all be depending on one another, guiding each other to eternity?
     I read this book within two days, going to bed late because I couldn't put it down. Hingson and Flory relate the material in such a way that you feel you know Hingson personally. The words flow well, even as they take you from September 11th to his childhood days to his adult memories and back again. It never seemed to be choppy. The chapters are small enough for a quick reading break and captive enough to hold your complete attention. Thunder Dog is a book that one must read for themselves to understand why I love this book. I can't do this book justice with my words. Pick up a copy to be inspired for yourself!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Review: Worth the Read

      WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing has provided me with a copy of Andy Stanley's Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Four Emotions That Control You, in exchange for a review.  Stanley, son of Charles Stanley, provides ways to overcome the four main emotions that when left unchecked can dominate our lives.  Taking the reader through the four- guilt, anger, greed and jealousy, Enemies of the Heart, subsequently has the reader examine his/her own heart.  Exercises that we can incorporate into our daily lives are then offered as counter-weights, such as confession and forgiveness.
       This isn't my first Stanley read. I find his writing to offer bits of humor interlaced with his practical guidance.  Overall, this volume is a valuable resource to manage the conditions of our hearts.  Often people, myself included, tend to bury emotions and/or experiences deep within themselves.  As these enemies take root in our lives we allow our thoughts to center on people and circumstances, rather than engaging our hearts and digging out the disease. All emotions can be handled as we turn our problems over to Our Lord.  He is the ultimate Healer, the greatest Physician.  "But in the shadow of the cross, forgiveness is merely a gift from one undeserving soul to another."
      I enjoyed most of the book, even when I found myself convicted in some areas.  Using the exercises I did find the conviction, but I also was freed from those emotions as well.  I am a very introspective person and try to keep my emotions in check.  I was a little surprised of the discrepancies that were harboring in my heart.
      However, my favorite part of Enemies of the Heart was the chapter on guiding our children to keep their hearts free from the debris life can throw at them. As a parent, whatever information I acquire I attempt to implement it in my parenting.  Hopefully some things will last for generations to come. Any believer would be well-suited to peruse Stanley's Enemies of the Heart. May God help you clean up any emotional debris and bring your heart to His freedom!

Order a copy of Enemies of the Heart here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Review: Gear Up with This Book

     Bethany House Publishers sent me a courtesy copy of Spiritual Warfare for Women: Winning the Battle for Your Home, Family, and Friends in exchange for a review. Leighann McCoy, author, is a straight-talking, to-the-point lady who wants to empower women with God's spiritual armor for when the enemy attacks. She particularly wants to engage the enemy when women are prone to listen and take heed to those inner whisperings that they aren't measuring up, that they aren't good enough to be the daughter of an awesome King. This book is filled with God's Word and fictional stories to relate some of the verses more definitively to  a woman. The latter fourth of the book she informs us how to keep our defenses up and shows women that victory is ours.
      Spiritual Warfare for Women consists of four parts in a bit over two hundred pages. McCoy connects to the reader as she underscores her own battles that she has encountered. If it wasn't for her personal accounts I would find her book a little more difficult to digest. I wasn't brought up to believe in Satan; it has only been in the last few years when I finally submitted my will to the Lord's that I have seen the enemy at work. That being said, the more stringent points were still uncomfortable subject matter for me, though I do agree with them.
      McCoy as a pastor's wife, knowing the talk of Satan is often taboo, emphasizes the need for believers to be aware of their spiritual surroundings. The church doesn't need believers running around in ignorance. The Bible pointedly declares that we are indeed engaged in spiritual warfare. Hats off to Mrs. McCoy for standing her ground! "Because you are a child of the King, you are a target for attack."
      Anytime I pick up a book that even remotely implies that the subject matter is of a darker nature I start cautiously. Due to the fictional stories and the personal accounts of the author I did warm up to the book. I ended up with a lot more dog-eared pages than I imagined. Spiritual Warfare for Women isn't a book for everyone, though it should be. Some ladies just may not be ready for the heavy subject matter. I do hope that if you are ready for battle that you draw on God's power and engage the enemy!

To purchase from Barnes & Noble Bookstores click here:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review: Extraordinary Read

     NavPress sent me a free copy of Doug Sherman's book, More Than Ordinary, in exchange for an honest review. Mr. Sherman takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of the ups and downs of his spiritual life. As he shows you these milestones the reader is also given insights into improving their own spiritual well-being. More Than Ordinary encourages deeper communion with God rather than leading an ordinary life solely trying to placate the reader's vision of their God. Living with God can be a fresh adventure beckoning you everyday. God never intended life to be "normal," but rather filled with a tapestry of vibrant colors woven into one's experience of living.

      I am excited to share my experience with this book. Over the course of my reading I challenged myself to apply the material to my own life. Rather than getting caught up into my day to day routine, I found a greater awareness of God's presence in my life. Sherman advises to invite God into regular conversations as you do whatever and any activity you  are engaged in. Live life with Him by your side, instead of in obscurity and loneliness. I realized how much I could see the attributes of God in nature surrounding me or in the kindnesses of strangers. The still, small voice of our Lord will grow a little louder as you become attuned to Him.
      Anyone who desires a deeper love of our Heavenly Father and a more intense purpose in life would be well-advised to pick a copy up of More Than Ordinary. Who wants to settle for the mundane when they can have a taste of heaven on earth? God wants to share His abundance with everyone out of His plenteous love and grace. It's when we humbly realize what God is capable of giving that we will graciously begin to allow Him to fill our lives for His purpose. Life truly can be More Than Ordinary- extraordinary.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review: Inspiration at Its Best

      I recently read Life, In Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice By Kristen Jane Anderson, that was provided free from WaterbrookMultnomah Publishers in exchange for an honest review. Anderson takes you along her spiritual journey as she seeks to find purpose in life. After a failed suicide attempt, she must answer questions and issues she had been previously ignoring, in the face of new physical challenges and adversity.

      This book is wonderful, heart-warming grace at its best. Anderson walked around numb to the world wanting to find a means to end her internal tempest.  It is amazing, to say the least, how God can be patient and understanding waiting for someone to finally submit their lives to His will. It took this failed attempt to enlighten Kristen of the love that always surrounded her.
      It was a little disconcerting to read about Kristen's attempt. "I clenched my fists, crossed my arms under my head, and braced myself, closing my eyes tight. My head and body lay between the tracks, my legs hung over the rail. I could feel the cold metal against my thighs and the wood and rocks under my stomach. As the train closed in, ...." (pg. 5) Anderson is brave to share her ultimate triumph of finding meaning in life.
      I can only imagine the positive effects Life, In Spite of Me could have on a person dealing with their own personal, volatile trials. This book is great for anyone, particularly young women whom may be searching for themselves and subsequently find their identity in Christ. This book was so intriguing it captivated my attention from the first page. I had seen this cover repeatedly and was excited to read it. It was a pleasure to read and breathed life into my heart. God has certainly made a beautiful, new creation out of a desperate girl wallowing in ashes. May it do the same for more hurting hearts.

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To purchase Life, In Spite of Me here is a link to Barnes & Noble.

Book Review: Gain a Deeper Prayer Life

      Are we praying, as Christians and children of God asking for His will to prevail in our lives? Or are we asking according to our fleshly desires? I often have wondered what prayer can look like. Is there more to it than what I know? Many Christians could stand to find deeper intimacy with Our Lord. T.W. Hunt's book Seeing the Unseen published by NavPress can encourage one to do just that. He gives a vast array of information to assist the reader to gain not only a deeper biblical understanding of prayer, but also practical advice to assist in one's spiritual maturation.

     I often second guess myself and wonder if I am praying "properly". T.W. Hunt makes God seem approachable through Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If a person does not know where to begin, they can initiate a deeper level of prayer by asking for that to occur. We can ask God for spiritual maturation, a godly perspective and the ability to discern the Spirit's promptings.
     Seeing the Unseen reminds us that God already hears and knows every word you utter and/or think. In His omnipotence and omniscience , God understands what we need and what we are going to pray for. Why should we be afraid to approach our Creator in communion and request our heart's desire? (Psalm 37:4) God is just waiting for us to vocalize our desire in humbleness and meekness.
     I discovered Seeing the Unseen is a volume of work that has culminated from Hunt's life-long pursuit if God. It can be a great starting point for new believers to begin their search for God or a timely reminder for seasoned believers to refresh or deepen their prayer lives.In approximately 100 pages, Hunt gives a plethora of knowledge in a compact way that doesn't intimidate the reader. I was impressed by the immense amount of information condensed in an easy-to-read book. Every chapter is approximately ten pages that are easily comprehended, yet can be perused again as a refresher. May Hunt guide you on your quest for a deeper, intimate prayer life with our Lord.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."