Sunday, May 20, 2018

Book Review: The Audacious Molly Bruno~Amazing Stories from the Life of a Powerful Woman of Prayer by Marie Armenia

Molly's "Life Lesson List" has the
ability to change your life!

PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION

THE AUDACIOUS MOLLY BRUNO, written by her daughter MARIE ARMENIA, is a holy and hilarious mentoring resource for women who desperately long for wisdom from a Godly mother-someone who is a living example of practical experience and steadfast faith. It is also a wakeup call for older women of faith, encouraging them to embrace the calling of Titus 2:3-5 to mentor younger women about what's truly important in life.

"When I think of my mother's prayers," author Marie writes, "I remember the prayer she prayed every morning without fail, 'Lord, please send someone my way today that I can tell about you.' Everyone (and I mean everyone) who met Molly Bruno fell in love with her. This includes the Kendrick Brothers, who wrote and directed the film War Room. During filming of the movie, they met Molly, calling her the modern-day Ms. Clara of War Room. She inspired them, just like she inspired everyone around her. When she prayed, she got answers.

Molly lived a lifetime of believing she could boldly approach the very throne of God 'with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.' My mother didn't teach me how to pray any more than she taught me how to breathe. I saw her pray REAL prayers, using REAL words addressed to a REAL God. I learned by observing my mother's prayer life that the last thing on earth that should be edited is a prayer. Shameless audacity. Those words remind me of my mother's approach to prayer. She had no fear of God's displeasure or that He might scold her for asking for impossible things. She had no need to edit her heart to the One she loved. She knew He knew her heart. Having settled this between herself and God, she asked. And asked again. And got incredible answers time and time again."


My Personal Review

The Audacious Molly Bruno by Marie Armenia is a beautifully written book that will encourage your heart and fuel your faith! Marie Armenia (daughter of Molly Bruno) shares her story of growing up in a home where prayer was at the heart of everything. Watching her mother carry all burdens to the Lord in prayer served to teach Marie that she could trust in a loving Father for all of her needs as well.

My take-away from this relaxing and recharging read was threefold. First, it is extremely well organized, as the author tells you what she is going to say, says it by thoughtfully breaking down the chapters in a sequential and easy to follow format, and then winds it all up with a simple list of "Molly's Life Lessons" to remind us what we just read. This methodical journey allows the reader a higher level of retention and thereby increases our level of potential application. I love this, because so many times I come away from a book thinking how great it was, but when I actually try to sum it up, I stumble because it was not presented in a systematic way. 

Secondly, I am taking away a sense of feeling loved and accepted by Christ. After reading these sometimes humorous and always authentic stories about Molly's adoration and commitment to the Lord, I feel inspired that Jesus is truly wanting my devotion! I have a greater appreciation for just how much God desires for us to have Him at the center of our life. After reading her stories, I get a sense of His longing for us to come to Him in prayer for everything!

Finally, this book solidified the importance of a mother's role in her children's lives. Marie communicated so clearly how her mother lead by example; Molly lived out what she believed. This genuine spirit of honesty and openness is what allowed Marie to know Christ in an intimate way. Watching her mother witness to others and pray with and for them is what drew Marie to the foot of the cross. This is so empowering to hear as a mother. I think sometimes we diminish our impact on our children's lives. This book certainly creates a clear picture of the responsibility that we have as parents to model what we want our kids to live!

Thank you to FaithWords Publishing for this review copy of The Audacious Molly Bruno by Marie Armenia. I was not required to give a positive review, but simply to read this work and give my honest assessment.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Book Review: THE RESCUE~Seven People. Seven Amazing Stories....by Jim Cymbala with Ann Spangler

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Luke 19:10


An encouraging read and hope filled book!

Publishers Description


A Wall Street broker, a party girl, a student, a homeless man, an addict, a teenage mom, a drug enforcer - all of them spiraling out of control. Each has a reason to despair and a wound that won't heal. Until something unexpected happens - something that will change their lives forever.

The Rescue by Jim Cymbala tells the powerful, true stories of men and women whose lives should have ended badly but didn't. What happens to each of them will take you by surprise and give you hope. If you or people you care about are facing challenges beyond their strength, it may be time to experience The Rescue.





My Personal Review

The Rescue by Jim Cymbala with Ann Spangler is an inspirational book that is certainly worth your time and money. It is a quick read, but is packed with some extremely powerful stories of people going through immeasurable hardships. Each individual account reveals a season of difficulties and trials in their life. Each chapter is a new story and is narrated by the person in much the same way as an autobiography.  (I liked this type of presentation, as it gave a depth of authenticity that would not have been there otherwise.)

The beauty of each chapter is revealed in the end, as the reader discovers that the answer to each of their circumstances is the rescuing power of Jesus Christ. Some of the stories within the book are very difficult to read. They're perspectives are full of such darkness that frankly, I had to put it down and take a break occasionally, because the depth of despair is a bit overwhelming. Pushing through to see how Christ brings His redemptive love to the dilemma is the reward, however, and is undeniably worth it!

Thank you to Zondervan & Handlebar Publishing for this review copy of The Rescue. The opinions within this review are my own. I was not required to write a positive review, only to provide an honest assessment of this work.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

I Am With You In All That You Do



Matthew 10:29-31

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
His eye is on the sparrow....& I know He watches me.

Phew! What a day! If you're like me right at this moment, then you feel a tiny bit frazzled. Or maybe a LOT bit frazzled. Don't worry...don't stress...do NOT come unraveled. It will be okay....
Off you go now and get a warm cup of tea...decaf of course...and return here so you can read this amazing devotion found in Sarah Young's devotional book: Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace In His Presence
Remember my sweet friend, He is sitting right beside you...you are never alone!!

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I AM WITH YOU IN ALL THAT YOU DO, even in the most menial task. I am always aware of you, concerned with every detail of your life. Nothing escapes MY notice--not even the number of hairs on your head. However, your awareness of My Presence falters and flickers; as a result, your life experience feels fragmented. When your focus is broad enough to include Me
 in your thoughts, you feel safe and complete. When your perception 
narrows so that problems or details fill your consciousness, 
you feel empty and incomplete. 

Learn to look steadily at Me in all your moments and all your circumstances. Though the world is unstable and in flux, you can experience continuity through your uninterrupted awareness of My Presence. Fix your gaze on 
what is unseen, even as the visible world 
parades before your eyes.

Matthew 10:29-31; Hebrews 11:27; 2 Corinthians 4:18
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Lord,  
Please continually remind me of Your loving presence in my life. Slow my anxious heart down and let me see this world and the people in it with Your vision. Allow each of us to know that we are never without You. Even in our darkest place, shine Your word of truth into our hearts.
In the mighty name of Christ,
Amen

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Book Review: The Chords Of War by Christopher Meeks and Samuel Gonzalez Jr.




I'm very excited to be a part of this Book Tour for the book The Chords of War by Christopher Meeks and Samuel Gonzalez Jr.! When you're finished reading about this recently published book, feel free to take a few minutes to look around by accessing the buttons at the top of the page or scrolling down the right side of the page and checking out some of my other book reviews and posts. Enjoy and remember....it is "Only~A~Little~While" that we are given to walk around down here on planet earth...so find your purpose!


PUBLISHERS DESCRIPTION


The Chords of War is a suspenseful & eye
opening novel for a mature audience! 
Inspired by Sam Gonzalez's true story, The Chords of War is the tale of punk rock teenager Max Rivera from Florida, who seeks purpose as he tries to understand why his life always teeters between music and mayhem. After he's kicked out of his band on tour, he joins the Army to change his life. It's after 9/11, and he finds himself under fire in Iraq, part of the surge in Baquabah. In order to deal with his teen angst and raging hormones among daily patrols, coordinated battles, and women fighting alongside him, Max creates a new band with soldiers. Will Max and his friends make it?



PRAISE for THE CHORDS of WAR


"The Chords of War brilliantly shows that the chaos, destruction, and terror of war can spawn primal desires, not only to survive, but also to love, to create, and, if you've got a guitar and the chops, to rock the hell out."
Graham Yost, acclaimed writer and television showrunner (Justified, The Americans, The Pacific, Speed)
"The Chords of War is a compelling read that paints those who fought in Iraq as real, honest people, rather than the cliched versions we're often given. It's not your usual war-novel, and that's good--that's why it should be read."
Michael Anthony, U.S. Army, Author of Mass Casualties, and Civilianized: A Young Veteran's Memoir
"The Chords of War breaks clean of Vietnam and World War II war-writing traditions by incisively portraying the war experience of millennial-era men and women agonizingly stalled between adolescence and adulthood."
Professor and Lt. Col. (Ret.) Peter Molin, U.S. Army, Rutgers University
"Music comforts and guides Max as a millennial taking his turn on stage in the forever war. But the overture of his former life does little to prepare Max for the melee of modern war: the forte-piano highs and lows, the crash of life and death stakes. A very compelling coming-of- age story representative of many from Generation Y who have answered the call-to- arms to defend our nation."
Dario DiBattista, Editor of Retire the Colors: Veterans and Civilians on Iraq and Afghanistan

MY PERSONAL REVIEW

The Chords of War by Christopher Meeks and Samuel Gonzalez Jr. is a suspenseful and eye opening fiction novel! It is definitely out of my usual genre for a book choice, but I am thrilled that I branched out of my comfort zone. I was not disappointed. 

Right off the top, I must mention, that if The Chords of War were a movie, it most certainly would be given an "R" rating for profane language, violence, and sex. These elements are a disturbing part of the book, but I felt a necessary addition to enhance the authenticity of the characters. With that key piece of information to steel yourself as you begin turning the pages, you most definitely should read this important work. 

I chose to read this book, because I wanted to learn some of what our men and women in the military experienced while serving in the Iraq War. My goal is to have a better understanding of what they have endured, so that I might contribute to a helpful dialogue of encouragement with our veterans. The last thing I ever want to do is sweep their horror under the rug. In loving and in living, there is no room for dismissiveness toward another's pain. Collectively, if we are informed, we can become increasingly relatable to this latest generation of veterans who have returned home to our doorsteps. This is not the time for ignorance or cowardice. As an American, I honor them by getting to know their story.

Christopher Meeks & Samuel Gonzalez Jr
While the book is fiction, it is noted that The Chords of War is inspired by the true story of Samuel Gonzalez Jr. during his deployment in Iraq. The smooth transition from his life before deployment and his life while in active duty in Iraq is phenomenal. Not only is this novel entertaining, suspenseful, intriguing, and fun, but conversely heart wrenching and difficult to comprehend. It has been a very long time since I have actually cried while reading a book, but this one had me in tears during several sections. The connection the reader feels to the characters is firmly constructed.  

As Max Rivera, the main character, narrates his way through the pages, the reader sees the struggles of an independent young man trying to reach for a life of security and intention. His enlisting in the armed services to improve his life station, becomes a step in his process of trying to grasp at his life purpose. One of the catalysts to igniting his voluntary sign up occurred during a viewing of the movie, Platoon. He explains that the film was "...neither 'pro-war' nor 'anti-war'". That description of the theatrical portrayal of the Vietnam War in Platoon is exactly the way I feel The Chords Of War is designed. The book immerses the reader into the war itself, where the events seem to take on a corporeal existence. That's quite a feat in an of itself, but in addition the author is able to take it a layer deeper to a spiritual level. While there are no clear calls to a belief in a divine existence, there are a handful of mentions of God and Jesus Christ. The developing storyline and talented writing naturally leads you to ponder what lies beyond this physical body.

My takeaway from this book is multifaceted. First, I believe it points to the fragility of life. We are, after all, here for "only~little~a~little~while" and then we are not. How you process that information and what you believe happens after the "we are not", is mentioned as a teaser a few times within the novel. Second, the relationships that we are so privileged to experience in this world are what is significant. Albeit indirectly, the book teaches that it is not our bank accounts or our material wealth, but rather the people that we have been blessed to form bonds of friendship and trust with that should consume our attention. 

The Chords Of War expanded my comprehension of the war that the United States and Britain fought in Iraq. It helped to define the conflict in my mind as to why we engaged initially and how our troops found themselves increasingly in the midst of a civil war between Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. The novel clarified how the confusion of the Iraqi people, created by massive amounts of propaganda against the U.S., placed the American & British soldiers in increasingly precarious situations. 

Finally, Christopher Meeks and Samuel Gonzalez, Jr's book, The Chords Of War brings a spirit of hope. Yes, it is one man's journey through the battle zone, but he is determined to find that solitary thing that will help himself and others to survive. His answer is music...it is his "oxygen mask". What is your "one thing"?

Thank you to White Whisker Books (Los Angeles) for this review copy of The Chords Of War
by Christopher Meeks and Samuel Gonzalez Jr. While I was required to read this book in it's entirety, I was not made to give a favorable opinion, but simply an honest assessment of the written work.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review: Helicopter Mom: Stop hovering over your children and lift! by Bethany L. Douglas


So I answered, “I’m coming. I read in your letter what you wrote about me, And I’m coming to the party you’re throwing for me.” That’s when God’s Word entered my life, became part of my very being.Psalm 40:8 MSG




PUBLISHERS DESCRIPTION


This book teaches you how to lift
and live in fierce freedom
through application of the
Word of God! 
I’ve seen things, bad things. Things that make mother’s grip their children tighter and awaken with nightmares in their beds. I know fear- at 3000 feet and going 150mph- I stand in its face and say “no!” I’ve learned to take fear by the horns and wrestle it to the ground; will you join me and learn how to as well? We’ve all heard the term ‘helicopter mom’- parents who ‘hover’ over their children in an attempt to keep them happy, safe, healthy, and alive. They hover because they fear. Helicopter Mom directly addresses the real life terror that all parents face with fearing for their children. Specifically designed for mothers, it gives a Christian, Biblical perspective on how to overcome these fears from the unique point of view of a helicopter flight nurse and mom who has vast experience in ‘hovering’. It takes lessons learned over my years as a flight nurse and puts them into practical, every day, Christian applications. There are anecdotes, stories, aviation information, and more that all knit together to bring about Biblical lessons and encouragement that all parents can easily relate to. Each chapter takes helicopter and EMS/nursing stories and knits them into an ongoing narrative that slowly paints a full picture of how to overcome fear. It is a sassy, funny, in-your-face, yet spiritually grounded journey that will have people laughing and learning spiritual truths all at the same time. This is a totally different approach to ‘self-help’ books, strap in and get ready to lift!

MY PERSONAL REVIEW


Helicopter Mom by Bethany L. Douglas is a must read for anyone experiencing fear in their life. This book speaks to the weakness all mother's inherently have, regardless of their background, which is the tendency to give into fear for the lives of their children. The author specifically addresses the "what if'" notions that have an inclination to plague us as mothers, however, everything in the book can be seamlessly applied to any anxiety situation presenting itself in one's life. If you are a parent, you owe it to yourself to read the nuggets of truth that are found in the Word of God that Douglas illuminates in this book. If you battle worry in any form, this book is for you as well.

Helicopter Mom is a unique work that delivers a powerful punch to the fear that is affecting many of us in epidemic proportion today. Because the author is a Mom of three children, including one with special needs, her resume is sound. In addition to being a mother herself, she is also a flight nurse, so she sees life and death situations on a regular basis. The extremely frightening experiences Douglas faces during her nursing job serve as a segue into the nightmare scenarios we conjure up about our kids. 

With literary talent and seemingly effortless transition, Douglas brings the reader to a place of  profound understanding of the terror that might be the driving force behind hovering and controlling parental moves. Somehow, despite the weightiness of the subject matter, the author interjects humor at points that literally had me laughing out loud. Helicopter Mom also encourages a reflective spirit and Biblical study as the book helps to uncover the hidden issues that may lie within the reader. A foundational message presented throughout the book is the reminder that God is sovereign and because of this single fact, we can let go of our fears and place them in the hands of the Lord.

My takeaway after reading Helicopter Mom by Bethany Douglas is extensive. I'll try to be brief, but there is so much goodness in this one, that it's going to be hard for me to sum up. I'll do my best. First, I have to mention the cover, because it is beautiful and has a colorful artistic flare that cannot be missed. Next, I believe this book will resonate within the depths of your heart as the sincerity from the author is palpable. The candor within the pages creates an ability to be honest with yourself about struggles that are warring within you. Third, this book begs to be revisited frequently and would make an excellent choice for a Women's Bible study. Finally, Helicopter Mom reminds us that our ultimate pilot is Christ, so we mustn't panic on the journey, but rather we should apply the word of God to every fearful situation. The intentional action of scripture application in the midst of fear will shift our perspective to the strong arms of God and allow us to LIFT (Living~Intentionally~Fearlessly~Truthfully) above the fear. Excellent read!