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.