Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: Still Lolo

Still Lolo: A Spinning Propeller, a Horrific Accident, and a Family's Journey of Hope  -     
        By: Lauren Scruggs

A true story of a really horrible accident that grabbed National and International attention.  When the story was first told on the news, no one was even sure that Lauren was going to live!   Her story is not only told by Lauren but by her family members as well; each telling how tough it was, the victories that were gained and how God's love and loving, praying friends helped them get through the darkest days.  Included are several sections with photographs.

I really liked this book and was so relieved that all the gory, bloody details of the actual accident were NOT gone into great detail.  Personally, I can't handle that kind of information; but there was a lot of information about life as a family BEFORE the accident which I didn't really expect but did enjoy.  It gave you a chance to really know each person as well as you can from reading many of their views on life as they saw it.  The words that really gripped me where her life was forever changed by a sixteenth of an inch of steel.  What followed was a challenge not only to her physical life but also spiritual and emotional health as well.  She beat a lot of odds that were against her and is now even more able to encourage, and touch others with the love of God.  I know I hadn't heard of her before this happened but now her influence has increased and like she wrote in several places-  we were built for hope (my paraphrase)  Oh did I mention that Lauren is a fashion journalist and the founder and editor-in-chief of LOLO Magazine, an online lifestyle experience magazine that covers food, fashion  beauty, health and travel industries?  You can view info on the magazine at  Lolo Magazine
Yep, she's a fighter!  

 To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission,  I am stating that Tyndale House Publishers has given me a complimentary copy of this book.
 (in other words, FREE)  I am giving my honest opinion of this book in exchange. 

Would you like to read a free preview of Chapter one? Here it is: 

Chapter 1: An Unmistakable Premonition
Lauren speaking:

Dad looked like a ghost.
Not one of those screechy phantoms you see in a horror movie, but 
like a pale version of his usually cheery self—white as a sheet, except for the dark circles under his eyes.
“Cheryl.” His voice was thin. He coughed, then said, “I don’t know 
if I can do this tonight after all.”
“You want us to take you home?” Mom said. “We’re not very far.”
Dad was behind the wheel, but he nodded at Mom’s offer, coughed 
again, and turned the car toward home. Beads of sweat lay across his 
forehead. It was Saturday, December 3, 2011, about 4 p.m.
From our house in West Plano, we were on our way to another suburb of Dallas called Flower Mound. We were heading to The Village 
Church, where we normally attend, for a regular weekend service. 
Advent season was upon us, and it felt like Christmas was in the air. 
From the backseat, I reached over and gave my dad a warm pat on his

Page 2: shoulder. “Have some chicken soup,” I said. “Maybe a little oil of oregano mixed with orange juice. Fights infections, you know. I think there’s some in the kitchen pantry.” Dad coughed again and grinned weakly.

I wasn't in the habit of babying my parents, especially not my dad. 
But there were definitely days I felt like a grown-up around them, a colleague more than a kid. At age twenty-three, I wasn't a child anymore. 
True enough, I had recently moved back home to start my online fashion journal, LOLO Magazine. But living at home was just temporary. 
I’d graduated from college with academic honors. I’d successfully completed two internships in New York City, where I’d lived on my own. 
I’d traveled to Paris, Montreal, and New York to report on their Fashion 
Weeks, the intensive seven-day stretch where all the next season’s new 
designs are showcased. I’d done numerous video-reporting segments 
where I’d interviewed actors, celebrities, and fashion industry insiders. 
Nearly nine years had passed since the homeless man’s prediction of a 
big life and a big battle for me. Life felt big some days, but nothing that 
could be considered huge. At least, not yet.
The only reason I had moved home was that Mom and Dad were 
being gracious, giving me free room and board for a season or two 
until my magazine began to pay for itself. I spent every waking minute on LOLO Magazine. Most days I’d start at eight in the morning 
and go hard until midnight. The staff consisted of me and Shannon Yoachum, 
another young, entrepreneurial journalist who lived just 
a few hours away in Austin. We were throwing our hearts into the 
project. Our personal tagline was “Live Out Loud,” and that’s how 
we approached our work—with the volume turned all the way up. 
Shannon and I had been close friends since kindergarten, and these 
days we were writing and editing columns, contacting press agents 
for photographs, interviewing designers, connecting with industry 
insiders, and soliciting articles from freelancers. The magazine had 
been going only a few months, but already we were getting many 
thousands of hits per month, and at least that many on a separate 
fashion blog that I wrote.
Page 3: We dropped Dad back at home so he could lie down and fight his cold,
 and Mom and I headed to church by ourselves. I love hanging out 
with just my mom. She’s one of the most intelligent, caring women I 
know. She and my dad both work as marriage counselors. They travel 
all over the country sharing their story, and they’ve written a book that 
helps a lot of couples have better, stronger relationships.
We got to church early and saved seats for friends of my parents, 
Mike and Shannon, along with three friends of theirs. The plan was for 
all of us to head over to Mike and Shannon’s house after church for a 
chili feast. I’ve babysat Mike and Shannon’s daughter plenty of times and 
tutored her with her homework, and I house-sit for them when they’re 
out of town. I’m like one of the family over there.
Everybody arrived at church, and the band cranked up. We all stood 
for a time of worship and sang along. Then Paul David Tripp, a guest 
speaker that night, took the stage.
“I don’t know if you’ve thought about this or not,” he began, “but 
you’re hardwired for hope. You don’t live by instinct. Every decision you 
make, every choice you make, every response you have to the situations 
and relationships of your life is fueled by and motivated by hope. Your 
story, the story of your life, is a hope story. Your happiest moments are 
hope moments. Your saddest moments are about hope dashed, hope 
destroyed. You’re always looking for hope. You’re always attaching the 
hope of your heart to something.”
I had no inkling yet of the journey of hope I would soon embark on, 
but I could relate to what Paul said. Already I hoped for a lot. I wanted 
my magazine to be a huge success. But it wasn’t just about numbers. I 
hoped my magazine would help people live better lives. Sure, it’s about 
fashion, about looking good and feeling good. But it’s also about being 
confident, expressing who you truly are. It’s about going places and 
doing things that matter.
I also hoped for that special someone. I guess everybody my age 
does. Only a month before, I’d broken up with my boyfriend, James. 
It felt like the right decision at the time. James is six feet tall and has 
dark brown hair. He’s in good shape, and plenty of girls would line up
Page 4: to date him. He’s one of those sincere, solid guys who’s always there
 for you, always says the right thing.
But . . . ah, what was it exactly? In the back of my mind roamed an 
image of another guy. He was only a figment of my imagination, an 
ideal whose existence I pondered. I could picture him—the ultimate 
boyfriend—tall; beachy good looks; laid-back yet driven personality; 
tender and caring; funny and genuine; a heart for God; and a clear direction in life. But I needed to be honest with myself. This was real life, 
and James was everything a girl could ever ask for. Almost, anyway. But 
this other guy—this idealized image of the perfect mate—well, maybe 
he was worth holding out for, at least a little while longer. Or maybe he 
was just a dangerous fantasy, like a glossy picture in a magazine.
James handled the breakup in a totally good way. We reassured each 
other we’d stay friends. We always did. We’d actually broken up once 
before and then gotten back together. “Promise me you’ll be really careful, Lo,” he said when he dropped me off at my house the night we broke 
up. “I can’t quite explain it, but I have this feeling like something bad 
is coming your way.”
I nodded, and we hugged, even as I shivered a little. James had always 
been there for me. He saw God’s purpose in things, even difficult things. 
What more could a girl ever want?
When church was over, we headed to Mike and Shannon’s house in 
McKinney, which is about twenty minutes from our house. Sometimes 
it’s hard for someone who’s not from Texas to understand the size of things 
in this state. For instance, if you go to a restaurant and order a soft drink, 
they don’t have small, medium, and large. They have small, medium, and 
“Texas-size.” People just do things in a big way around here.
Mike and Shannon are no exceptions. Everything Mike does, he does 
in a Texas-size way. Mike buys and sells companies, in addition to being a 
real estate developer. Their home is one of about 130 houses built around a 
private airstrip. One of Mike’s hobbies is flying, and he owns three planes.
We all ate chili and salad around the long wooden table in Mike
Page 5:  and Shannon’s dining room. Some other friends came over. There were 
maybe a dozen people total. Christmas music floated in from the sound 
system. Everybody was just talking and laughing. Nobody was drinking 
that I remember. It wasn’t that type of party.
“Hey, Mike, you mind if I borrow your plane?” one of Mike’s friends 
asked. “Help yourself,” Mike said. “You know what to do.” Mike and his 
friend, I knew, both had their pilot’s licenses. 
 “Who wants to go flying?” the friend asked. “The Christmas lights 
are going to be great tonight.” A bunch of people waved their hands. 
I don’t know how or why I got to go for a ride first. Everyone else 
must have been feeling generous. So I followed Mike’s friend out through 
the backyard and into the hangar that’s directly behind Mike’s house. 
Another friend, also a licensed pilot, came along to help me board the
plane. On the far end of the hangar is a huge garage door for the planes, 
and beyond that lies a tarmac area. Then there’s a taxiway, and beyond 
that a runway. It’s like a house built around a golf course, except Mike’s 
house is built around an airstrip. 
With the guys’ help, I climbed over the plane’s stabilizer bar and slid 
into the seat behind the pilot. It was a small plane with only two seats. 
We put on headphones so we could talk to each other once we were 
in the air. The pilot went through his checklist, started the plane and 
warmed it up, and we taxied out. 
The night was dark and rainy. Shadowy clouds were thick above us 
in a starless sky. For some reason I began to feel cold. The heater was on 
in the tiny plane, but what I felt wasn’t that type of cold. It was more 
of a tingle. A shiver. I took a deep breath and looked out the window. 
“Nice lights,” the pilot said. 
The feeling shot up my spine again. Unmistakable fear. This is stupid, 
I thought. Completely stupid. Not the experience of flying but this definite feeling of dread coursing through my body. Mike had vouched for 
his friend as a strong pilot who was qualified on several levels and owned 
his own plane. Get a grip, Lo, I told myself. You need to relax.
Page 6: Up in the air, the atmosphere grew calmer. The rain let up and turned 
into a slight mist. It might have even stopped. There was no thunder 
or lightning. No strong winds. All I heard was the friendly drone of the 
plane’s engine and the occasional crackle over the microphone’s earpiece. 
But I still couldn’t shake this crazy fear.
I couldn’t shake it at all.
My body grew tense, and my breathing became shallow. My heart 
thumped in my chest. It wasn’t like me to be afraid. Certainly not in 
situations like this. I’m the type of girl who loves an adventure, particularly a tame adventure like we were having tonight. I like to ride bikes and go snow skiing and slalom waterskiing. In my bedroom is a very cool street longboard with a Hawaiian sunset motif that I’ve ridden for years. Even when Brittany and I were five-year-old kids 
and Dad took us skiing at Vail, my sister would ease down the bunny slopes while I’d bounce through black diamond moguls. So why was I so afraid of this flight? 
I gripped both sides of the plane’s seat even 
tighter. And then it hit me. We’re going to crash. I thought my heart 
was going to explode. Jesus, I prayed. This plane’s going down, and 
we’re both going to die. I just know it. Oh Lord, my parents and sister. 
Please watch over them. Jesus, Jesus. Whatever happens, God, my life is 
in your hands.
I’m sure the Christmas lights were pretty that night, but I was too 
nervous to really concentrate on them. I don’t remember anything in 
particular. No landmarks. No huge display at a shopping center. Just 
darkness and lights and the fields and streets around McKinney. The 
plane flew in a big circle.
And then we landed.
The air went out of me like a rush from a leaky tire. My fear went 
along with it. We were safe. Completely safe. The plane taxied back to 
Mike’s house and pulled up facing into the wind and parked on the 
tarmac, all set for whoever was going to fly next. Hmmm, maybe I’m 
cracking up, I thought. I wonder what that was all about?
I don’t remember the pilot saying anything directly to me. I don’t 
remember anything he said at all. He might have said something. I just
Page 7: don’t remember. It was hard to hear him without my speaker on. It’s still 
pretty loud with the plane’s engine running, sitting on the tarmac.
I remember sliding out of the plane.
I remember my feet touching the tarmac.
I remember the sky was black; I was on the dark side of the plane.
Those three memories took place in a split second, about the time it 
takes to walk two steps.
It was December 3, 2011, and after that split second, I remember 
absolutely nothing

Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review: Fearless Daughters of the Bible

Fearless Daughters of the Bible: What You Can Learn from 22 Women Who Challenged Tradition, Fought Injustice and Dared to Lead
It may seen strange to read another  book written by a man about women in the Bible. There is a big difference in this book because the author clearly has a heart for women and desires to see them reach their full potential/ full destiny in Christ.  Clearly not intimidated by strong women, nor seeking to put them down but to demonstrate the heart of God; to show the love that God has towards His daughters.  To help tear down the misconceptions that "religion" has given us and to delve deeper into the stories that we just glide over.

I've read a book or two about Women in the Bible and while they have been good; oh my, this one includes a few that I've never really looked at that close.  Most of them have Hannah and Esther and Ruth but this one includes The 5 daughters Zelophehad (which years ago I just happened to run across).   The first one that made me run to my Bible to look it up was  Achsah, the daughter of Caleb.  Please don't get the wrong idea; I really do read my Bible.   How many of us have thought that the story of Esther was partially such a romantic story; you might want to re-think that a bit as you read what the author brings out about that.  Included are stories of real life women as well.  Just so many good insights; so I'm planning on making sure this book is available for some of the women in my church to take a look at.   But to the honest, it's not just for women alone. I have been blessed enough to have a Pastor who saw through the eyes of Jesus and because of this encouraged women to be all they could be.  To co-labor with men and the Spirit of the Lord.

 I received a free copy of this book from Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, as part of their book review program, and I am under no obligation to write a positive review.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Prove me....

"Until I trust without hesitation.

 When humility has chased away the pride...

 until then,

prove me."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Review: Soul's Gate

A not your everyday story of  seemingly ordinary people who are brought together to go where very few people have gone or dared to go before.    Brought together by Reece and a long held prophecy they are to go deeper into the spiritual realm to battle for others and be part of the healing of their deepest wounds.  To help people become free and released into their destiny.  Dana, Brandon, Marcus, and Tamara are the chosen ones for this mission; with Reece  and Holy Spirit helping them to train for what is to come and to help them through.

I liked this book" Very Much"  and realized as I am writing this that it is reminiscent of the earlier work of  Frank Peretti, "Piercing the Darkness".   If you have read that book and liked it, I think you will enjoy this one.  Soul's Gate goes much deeper though, so be prepared.   I know not everyone enjoys books on Spiritual Warfare but this also is a people story as well.   I felt myself drawn to the characters and their struggles and how they deal with the fact that their eyes are opened to this natural world is not all that there is.   I think I already answered this question earlier, but for those who wonder if there is scripture in it?  Yes, its about evil and the spiritual war against it in the supernatural realm and the natural .  So, yes there is scripture.   Read it anyway, please.  If your a Science Fiction fan, and not necessarily a Christian,  I think you will like it anyway!!

I chose this picture to remind you that you can go to Amazon.com and check out this book.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers 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

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Book Review: No Safe Harbor

No Safe Harbor
Cara Hamilton, a woman alone leaves everything familiar in Ireland to search for her twin brother, in America, with only a hope that he's still alive.  Its New York City in 1897,  and she's not the only one looking for him..   The big difference is she wants to be re-united with him and they want to kill him in the worst way.   In a  letter- she was told "to not talk to strangers and trust no one."  Too bad she didn't listen to that advice but then she wouldn't have met Rourke Walsh.  Tall, dark with that Irish charm AND an agenda all his own.  A fierce fight to stay alive for all three because there really are spies and assassins around every corner!

This was a well written book but I would say on the rating that I liked it and  it was an okay read.  On the down side I just found that it was one that it was harder for me to get into the swing of.  I'm   not really sure why, unless its the era it was set in and it was somewhat slower moving.  About half-way through the book; it began to pick up speed and I found the story began to be more interesting.

I received this book FREE from Bethany House
( a division of Baker Publishing Group) for my honest opinion.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Book Review: Taming the Wind

Taming the Wind (Land of the Lone Star Series #3)

A story of Texas; a story set in the  turmoil of warring Indians, wild west conditions, a country recovering from the war and a fairly large cast of people.  The main focus in this story is on  widow, Carissa Lowe and her young daughter Gloria and Tyler Atherton who lost so much  the through certain Indians and the war.  Tyler though a good man is battling hate towards the Indians and struggling with injustice from the war.  Carissa's battle is to let no man too close after her disastrous marriage that ended badly.  That's the starting point but there is plenty of drama as their story unfolds and the stories of family and friends get added to it.

I liked this book and considered it a pleasant read. I do have to say that a few times it did kind of drag a little  but I also think that it might have been necessary to give the reader a sense of the depth of the struggles.   Of course God and scripture was included in this story and some may not like that but it isn't every other word out of their mouth so its not a theology lesson.  I liked it but for someone who doesn't, do what most people normally do - skim over that part; there's still plenty more to the story.  I feel bad for even suggesting that but I still believe you could enjoy the stories.

I received this book FREE from Bethany House for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Book Review: Heaven Changes Everything

Heaven Changes Everything: Living Every Day with Eternity in Mind

A companion book to compliment Colton's book, " Heaven is  for Real".  Written by his father Todd and Mom, Sonja,this book shows  a more personal look at what life was like for THEM  during and then after  Colton's miraculous experience of  Heaven at 3 years of age.  Both of his parents bring out the many startling things that were factual, that had happened but there is no way that Colton could have known.

Some points from each :
Todd: Speaking of how humbling it was to ask for help from others. And hearing that in his private moments of having it out with God; thinking no one heard and then having his son tell him he saw it as well?  Wow, another humbling moment.

Sonja: Some of my favorite parts are where Sonja brought out the point of how difficult it is to be under the magnifying glass; her and the family being held to almost unbearable standards.   Even more difficult is the sharing of her husband's time with his congregation; something which you don't always hear about and people think about even less.  As a close friend with a pastor's wife for many years I could understand much of what she spoke about.   I've seen it first hand; maybe that's something that people NEED to hear.
Another thing that people need to hear and keep to the forefront of our  minds is another statement she made: -There are far too many people who have no one to pray for them or with them.
My comment?  Its something that is way too easy to forget while we are comfortable ourselves.

This book probably isn't for everyone, which is a shame but some just aren't interested in the truth of people struggling with their ability to hang onto their  faith in the midst of terrible circumstances.
Some may feel that the lives of pastors and their families just isn't something that they want to read about but the honesty expressed by both could be very encouraging to those who ARE struggling.  To be honest I wasn't sure why this second book was necessary when I first saw it offered and I was curious; they did explain though that as they travel and share this story many questions have been brought up that they wanted to answer them in a larger way.   I both liked much of the book but also disliked that some of it was repetitive but maybe it needed to be; since its been awhile since the original book was released.
Something that I found startling is that they have been threatened over what they are sharing!!  To disagree is one thing but threatened?

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers 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

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Wind and the Rudder: How to Live in the Power of the Spirit Without Becoming WeirdThe Wind and the Rudder: How to Live in the Power of the Spirit Without Becoming Weird by Dan Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a well balanced book about the Wind of the Spirit and the Balance of the Word of God.
In his own words he says that it is his heart’s desire is that all who read this book would capture a fresh excitement and yearning for all that the Spirit wants to do in and through you. He does not intend , to diminish in the slightest way the high regard in which he hold the Spirit’s gifts and activity.
The author did a great job of explaining the picture of a boat sails and rudder to show us that we can labor with what we know (continually rowing) but when the Wind (of the Spirit) comes we need to catch a hold and flow effortlessly on that wind.
I enjoyed this book immensely, as I am always looking to know Holy Spirit more/better. This book just stirred that passion for Holy Spirit even more.
I also placed reviews on my blog: http://ablessedday.blogspot.com/2012/...
and on Amazon to name a few:

I received this e-Book for FREE from Destiny Image for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Book Review: The Wind and the Rudder

The Wind and the Rudder: How to Live in the Power of the Spirit Without Becoming Weird
This is a well balanced book about the Wind of the Spirit and the Balance of the Word of God.  
In his own words he says that it is his  heart’s desire is that all who read this book would capture a fresh excitement and yearning for all that the Spirit wants to do in and through you. He does not intend , to diminish in the slightest way the high regard in which he hold the Spirit’s gifts and activity. Also added are testimonies from others about the Holy Spirit leading and activity in their lives and ministries.  

He makes a very good point about "The message from God is that there needs to be no competition between the activity of the Holy Spirit and an emphasis on love; we don’t have to choose
between the gifts or the fruit of the Spirit."  And also this statement: "The presence and powerful working of the Holy Spirit does not negate the need for wise planning, healthy infrastructure, mature leadership, sound teaching, and intentional discipleship."  See the balance?  
The author did a great job of explaining the picture of a boat sails and rudder to show us that we can labor with what we know  (continually rowing) but when the Wind (of the Spirit) comes we need to catch a hold and flow effortlessly on that wind.   
I enjoyed this book immensely, as I am always looking to know Holy Spirit more/better.  This book just stirred that passion for Holy Spirit even more.  

I received this e-Book for FREE from Destiny Image for an honest review. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Book Review: American Patriots

American Patriots: Answering the Call to Freedom

A book of forgotten heroes, both male and female who gave much and often all.  Also those who were born in a variety of backgrounds including slavery.

  • Peter Francisco  
  • John Laurens
  • Austin Dabney
  • James Armistead Lafayette
  • Lydia Darragh
  • Nancy Morgan Hart
  • Abraham Whipple
  • Timothy Murphy
  •  Emily Geiger
  • Elizabeth Maxwell Steele
  • Phillis Wheatley
  • Elizabeth Lewis
  • Elias Boudinot
  • Christopher Ludwick
How many of us know these names and what these people contributed?  There are many more people included in this story of heroes. 

I liked this book and found that even though I probably had a more "untainted" history book than the kids do of this generation; I never heard of these people.  Ronald Reagan made an interesting statement that we need to fight to keep our freedom and that those who have known freedom and lost it; never have known it again" (my paraphrasing)  I also enjoyed what   Charles Carroll  of Carrollton  had to say and heard it as a prayer "  God grant that this religious liberty may be preserved in these States, to the end of time".  I echo that prayer.  

I received this book FREE from  Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an hones review.