Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: Stranger Things by Erin Healy

Stranger Things by Erin Healy gives a glimpse into the growing nightmare of human trafficking!  If you have children, grandchildren, or are involved with leading the lives of young people at any level, this is one book that you cannot afford to miss!
I would give this book a 6-star rating,
but since it only goes as high as 5...
5-Star it is!! 
Stranger Things by Erin Healy is a well written suspense novel that will engage your mind as it brings awareness to the horrific global illegal industry that has been labeled, human trafficking.  It has become, as the author calls it, “a malignant cancer that is killing our children.”  The book goes on to give jaw dropping statistics that place human trafficking in a third place position in the world as the fastest growing illegal enterprise behind drugs and weapons.  With this evidence in mind, it is a problem that we cannot afford to be uneducated about despite the ugliness within it.  This book not only illuminates the problem, but brings the reader to a realization that each one of us has the ability to play a role in the extermination of this dreadful new war that is directly affecting our young people.    

From the initial chapters until the very last one, the reader will find themselves totally saturated in each of the character’s thoughts.  The author manages to give a believable voice to the victims of this senseless slavery through her carefully woven mystery that is worked around the main character, Serena Diaz.  The cruel web of abuse, deceit, and imprisonment that the ring leaders use to entangle their victims is all part of the story, thus unveiling many truths behind this shocking underground world.

As in each of her previous books, Erin Healy brings a deeper message to the pages of this fiction novel.  Stanger Things, shines a spot light on an enormous problem and then it challenges us to be a part of the solution.  To play a significant role in the destruction of human trafficking, we need to speak truth into the lives of young women, thereby filling them with courage and hope that will afford them a secure foundation within the walls of their homes and schools.  This one-on-one action will have the net effect of shielding these vulnerable young ladies from the tricks of prowling predators, one life at a time.   At the completion of the book, there is an excellent “Reading Group Guide” for further discussion and reflection.   

This book is phenomenally written, engaging, educating, and filled with suspense.  The natural flow between scenes makes it an effortless read.  The predominant message of empowerment through knowledge that encourages to be followed with action is impossible to miss.  I would give this book a 6-star rating, but the review process caps at a 5-star, so 5-star plus!  Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What Are You Waiting For....and How Long Have You Been Waiting?

Psalm 119:74(MSG)
When they see me waiting, expecting Your Word, those who fear You will take heart and be glad.

Don't Give Up!  Wait on Him!

Waiting.  It's so difficult isn't it?  Webster's dictionary defines waiting in this way:  The act of "remaining" until something expected happens.  I pondered this idea last week, as I found myself sitting in a "waiting" room at our local hospital while my sweet mother was in the operating room having her hip replaced.  Yes, our family was gathered there in anticipation for a successful surgery without God be the glory, within a few short hours, we had exactly that.  But, what if the thing you are waiting on in your life doesn't happen quite according to your planned timeline?  What then?  
In church this past Sunday, our Pastor preached on this very subject.  (If you would like to hear this particular message in it's entirety, feel free to  click here.)  It was the third message in the Noah Series by  Pastor John Lindell entitled: God's Grace In A Deadly Place.

I always find it so interesting that each person can hear the same message and The Lord, through His gracious Holy Spirit, will illuminate exactly what you need to hear for that season in your lifeFor me, the takeaway was simple.  First, I was reassured that sometimes we might have to wait a lot longer for something we have been praying for than we had anticipated.  Secondly, I was reminded that how we "wait" really does matter, because other people are watching us "wait", as today's verse mentions..."When they see me waiting, expecting Your Word, those who fear you will take heart and be glad."  

Noah was a great example of a man who had heard from the Lord and obeyed.  He built an ark for safety from the destructive flood precisely according to the directions given from God.  Did it take Noah longer to build it than he expected it to?  I'm pretty sure it must have, sense it took him anywhere from 55-120 years, depending on what theological reference you choose.  Either way, that is a very loooonnnnggg time for a project to be completed!  And then, after boarding the Ark, Noah didn't disembark for a total 375 days!!  What?!  God said 40 days of rain, so, if I had been Noah, I would have thought, 40 days of rain and then we get off of the boat.  But, alas, it did not happen that way.  I'm pretty sure that on day 41, I probably would have been questioning God, whining about my "stinking situation" (as Pastor John described it), and trying to rework a better plan, but not Noah!  

No, Noah was not wailing.  Instead he was worshipping!  He chose not to move out of the boat until he had heard from the Lord!  After the rain stopped, minutes drug on into days....days into weeks...weeks into months...but Noah still remained...expecting God's word to direct him.  When they finally did walk out of that boat, I'm pretty sure that his wife, son's and their wife's were thrilled that Noah was so faithful!  They learned from their husband, father, and father-in-law what it truly looked like to be patient and filled with trust to a loving God.  When it was all said and done, I know they were glad they waited with Noah. about leaving an amazing legacy!  

So, I guess I just want to encourage someone who might be reading this today, as I was encouraged, that you need not give up!  Whatever you have heard from the Lord, through His word for your life, it will definitely come to pass!  You can count on Him!!  If He said will happen.  And, if you are still waiting to hear from Him for direction and leading, He will respond.  In our present world order where "high speed" is better and slow is bad, it is difficult to imagine having to "wait" on anything.  However, His timing is not always easily understood.  Wait on Him...and worship while you're waiting!!  God is definitely up to something good!! 

I am so encouraged by the faithfulness of Noah in this season of His life.  His story teaches me so much about persevering through difficult situations and trusting that You are NEVER early or late!  It helps me to be mindful that you are not a God of disorder...but a God of peace (I Corinthians 14:33) and that You have established an order for each life You have created!  What a gift!!  
May Your name be exalted in all the earth~


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Book Review: God of the Underdogs by Matt Keller
Great encouraging book!
God of the Underdogs by Matt Keller is an inspiring book aimed at infusing you with hope and courage to change the world through the power of Christ in your life…even if you are an “Underdog”….which we all are to one extent or another!

God of the Underdogs by Matt Keller is a wonderfully encouraging book!  I enjoyed the presentation and the transparency found throughout the work.  The resounding message that each of us are created for a unique purpose that God has designed specifically for us, despite our challenges, is easily communicated throughout the chapters.

The book identifies nine excuses that we frequently allow to become road blocks in our lives and prevent us from accomplishing all that God has planned for us.  In his gentle and transparent delivery, Matt authentically reveals some areas of struggle that he has had during his ministry and subsequent planting of the church:  Next Level Church.  In tandem, he highlights the lives of men and women from the Bible that were certainly Underdogs, but chose to confront their obstacles and in turn, the power of God was released in a mighty way to change history.

The book took me to a level of contemplation beyond a shallow quick once over.  Instead, as I read each chapter, I found myself challenged by the reasons for why we become paralyzed in our response to God.  The book motivated me to dream bigger for Him!!  It incited me to trust Him for more!!  My favorite quote from this book is:  “The more light we let in, the less darkness can stay!”  God of the Underdogs by Matt Keller needs to be on your reading list for 2014!

Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishing for this review copy of God of the Underdogs by Matt Keller through Booksneeze.  This review and the opinions given within are strictly my own.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

His Breath

Psalm 119:73
With Your very own hands You formed me;  now breathe Your wisdom over me so I can understand You.

Walking through the woods, it's not hard to experience
first hand, the beauty of His creation.
I have no trouble in believing that God created me.  It certainly requires an element of faith to believe...but not near as much faith as it would take for me to believe in the evolutionary model and the formation of the universe through the cosmological "Big Bang Theory".

So, today's verse confirms for me who my Maker is and that without my request to Him for His very breath upon my life, I will NEVER understand Him or His design for my life.  Sounds simple enough to me.  The not so simple part, however, is the application of that wisdom.  It is simply arrogant and ignorant to think that we can live our lives by "our" made up rules.  The truth is we will always fall short without the saving grace of  Jesus and His defining direction for each of our lives.

Thank you for creating me.  You are everything that I need.  Please breathe Your wisdom over me today so that I can comprehend and apply Your direction for my life.  You truly are my map and my guide to complete understanding.
In the name of Your precious son, Jesus,

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Truth in 2014

Psalm 119:72 (MSG)
Truth from Your mouth means more to me than striking it rich in a gold mine.
My daughter and I enjoying a little late night snow...
not so sure our pup was as thrilled about the fun as we were.

Happy New Year!!  I am praying that in 2014, God, who is with you always, will help you to sense His presence in a palpable way....every single day this year!

As I reflect on another year gone by, here is my take away...I HAVE to have His truth!   Traditionally the first day of a new year is a day of resolutions and reflection.  A day to pause and decide if we like where we're headed.  A few hours to rewind and remember where we've been.  It is a time to purposefully relish in the goodness and blessings of the past year....and then think about a fresh start...because indeed the truth is....His mercies are new EVERY morning...of every day...not just the first day of the year!  Yay!  
Today's verse is so timely for a day like today.  "Truth from Your mouth means more to me than striking it rich..."  Without God's word in my life, I would be such a mess!  (And I really mean that....)  I would be drowning in my insecurities and consulting my inner confused state all of the time!  Unfortunately, I still find myself shifting to those things if I'm not intentionally returning to God's word and His truth for my life on a daily basis. 

This year, I intend to read the New Living Translation Daily Study Bible For Women by Jill Briscoe.  There is also a New Living Translation Daily Study Bible For Men by Stuart Briscoe (Jill's husband).  My husband and I are planning on utilizing the study units and allowing them to draw us closer to His truth in 2014!  The study Bibles do stand alone, however, and do not have to be used in tandem, but if you are a couple looking for a Bible experience together, it looks to be a great one!  The Briscoe's have a ministry called:  Telling The Truth.  If you would like to visit their website, you can  click here to read more about  it.

Almighty God,
Thank you for an amazing 2013!  It was a little bumpy, very challenging, sometimes hard, but wonderfully full of Your provision!  Thank You for Your Word that will always direct us to Your Son and the truth!
In Jesus Name,