Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Soul Remembers Eternity



As I look up into the vast sky,

My soul remembers eternity.  

A place void of sin and full of beauty.

Yearning for His love,

My spirit soars to the heavenlies,

Where His presence dwells,

I plead, “Lord, I don’t want to leave here.” 

He says, “My child, I am with you always.” 

I stare back at the sky,

Filled with longing,

Missing my Beloved. 

My soul remembers eternity.

If only I can see Him once again.

Pilar Arsenec, © 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

God Loves Broken People by Sheila Walsh

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400202450
ISBN-13: 978-1400202454 Price: $21.99
Purchase:  Amazon | CBD | Barnes and Noble






Description

God loves broken people.  And when weary, wounded men and women find a way to open their bruised hearts and somehow welcome Him into their personal darkness, they will find a love beyond anything they have ever known.

When the glass house Sheila had lived in for so many years came crashing to the ground, she began a new life outside the safety of those walls.  No, it didn't feel good, nor safe--not at all.  But it felt true.  Sheila saw herself as a broken lamb limping after the Shepherd, not knowing where He was going, but knowing that wherever He went, she wanted to go with Him.

In twelve stirring, and deeply revealing chapters, Sheila Walsh shows how personal brokenness can open doors of intimacy with Jesus Christ that might never open in any other way.

It's not that God loves broken people more than those who imagine themselves to be whole--it simply that they know they are loved.  They dare to believe it . . . and through such trust, a new wholeness emerges from yesterday's broken pieces.

Review

Several months ago, I heard Sheila Walsh speak for the first time on a Focus on the Family broadcast.  I had heard of her, but didn't know much about her.

This particular day I was home sick and laying in bed depressed. I decided to turn on the radio to 570 AM for some encouragement.

Sheila Walsh was introduced and began to speak about her life.  I felt as if she was speaking directly to me.  The Holy Spirit was using her to minister to me in a deep way that I found myself in tears.

She left such an impression that when I saw God Loves Broken People (And Those Who Pretend They're Not) I knew I wanted to read and review it.

Sheila Walsh is an eloquent speaker.  She is also a wonderful story teller and bible teacher.  I appreciated her honesty and transparency in her writing. There is no fluff, Sheila Walsh tells it like it is. She also writes with a heart of compassion and love for people which is revealed on every page of this book.

I identified and resonated with what she wrote on page 45:
 "God isn't some cosmic jukebox in the sky, from which, so long as you have the right coin, you get to pick the soundtrack for your life.  Those who peddle a health-and-wealth message have wounded uncounted thousands who are left reeling with only one conclusion:  The reason that my child died, or that my marriage failed, or that we lost our house . . . is because I didn't have enough faith. 

That is beyond cruel; it is blaphemous.  Christ never promised an easy path.  He never said there would be roses with no thorns, or seasons without winter, or pathways without obstacles.  In fact it is quite the opposite."
This was comforting for me to read.  For years I felt condemned by Christians because they would judge me for being depressed.  They would accuse me of lacking faith because I was hurting and struggling with depression.  I'm so glad I no longer believe those lies. 

Sheila Walsh addresses these misconceptions and more in God Loves Broken People.  She also touches upon the hard questions we wrestle with as believers. Those questions we are afraid to ask others or even talk to God about. This book gave me encouragement and hope.

If you are hurting, depressed, struggling, suffering or wondering why bad things happen, I highly recommend God Loves Broken People.

In conclusion, I want to thank BookSneeze for blessing me with a complimentary copy of this book to read and review. 

Sheila Walsh, Women of Faith® speaker, is author of the award-winning Gigi, God’s Little Princess® series, The Shelter of God’s Promises, and a new novel, Sweet Sanctuary. Sheila lives in Texas with her husband, Barry, and son Christian.  http://sheilawalsh.com/

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Worthy Publishers Book Review: Break Through by Tim Clinton and Pat Springle


Hardcover: 279 pages
Publisher: Worthy Publishing (May 22, 2012)
Language: English ISBN-10: 1617950734
ISBN-13: 978-1617950735 Price: $19.99
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes and Noble


Description
"Well he does have a good side."

"You know, it's probably my fault."

"She's had a rough life. I need to cut her some slack."
When you really care about someone, it's easy to get stuck in painful, even destructive patterns--caving in to a spouse's manipulation, ignoring a live-at-home son's irresponsibility; not confronting a friend's addiction. We excuse people again and again, and then kick ourselves for not setting better boundaries. But this important book, with its transformational tools and insightful illustrations from leading Christian counselor Tim Clinton and noted author Pat Springle, will guide you in not only breaking through to better relationships but making big changes for the better.

With their expert principles for learning to say yes when you want to and no when you need to, you'll discover how to give up your need to please, rescue, fix, or control anyone else. Leave others' unrealistic expectations behind. Speak to hard truth to those who have hurt you. And exchange harmful relationship habits for healthy ones.

Here is expert advice you need for knowing when to give in and how to push back for the best life you can have with the people you love most.

Check out the video.

Review

Break Through is insightful and helpful book written for anyone who struggles with co-dependency. This book reminded me of another book I read and have recommended to many people, Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

However, Break Through goes deeper into defining what loving well looks like in relationships. Many of us believe we are loving others when we really aren't. We think we are being helpful, when we're actually not.

This book helps expose the true dynamics in relationships. Whether the relationship is with a spouse, parent, friend or co-worker.

I loved this entire book, but my favorite chapter is five: "Dismantling Our Idols". This chapter really opened my eyes to the function of idolatry in relationships. I was surprised by what I learned.

Dr. Tim Clinton mentions the role in which parents play into these unhealthy dynamics.  Parents frame how we relate to others.  We mirror their example, whether it is functional or dysfunctional.

I found this book especially helpful because I'm a parent. I don't want to pass along any of these learned behaviors, dysfunctional patterns or toxic functioning on to my children.  Break Through gives good examples and teaches you how not to do that.

Dr. Tim Clinton writes with sensitivity and compassion. He is not preachy nor does he condemn. He demonstrates grace to his readers and encourages that breaking free is attainable.

If we do the work, we are guaranteed a break through.

I highly recommend this life changing book. I believe everyone can benefit from it, I know I did.  

In conclusion, I want to thank Worthy Publishers and Handlebar Marketing for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review.

Dr. Tim Clinton, LPC, LMFT, is president of the nearly 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and founder of Light University Online, which has over 160,000 students enrolled. He is also the professor of counseling and executive director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sex, Lies and Children

This image is haunting, isn't it?  

So is the reality of child sex abuse.

Everywhere I turn, there is a horrific story of yet another child victim by a sex predator.

I am sure you have heard or read stories of the Roman Catholic Church and the Penn State scandal.

Last week, I came across this shocking story in the New York Times, "Prep-School Predators" which had my head spinning.

I recently came across this article regarding the Poly Prep scandal in Brooklyn, New York. 

However, this story really takes the cake.  I am so glad the father was not charged for protecting his five-year old daughter.

Stories like these and others, such as a survivor and author George Molho, who wrote Scarred really troubles me.

I'm continually confronted with the thought that more needs to be done to help stop sexual abuse and trafficking around us.

Child sexual abuse, pornography and sex trafficking is an epidemic and it is getting worse by the second.

Today I read a story in CNN about child sex trafficking in the Midwest.  This happens every day, right under our noses and yet we can't seem to figure out how to stop it.

I shied away from writing about this topic because I've been told it's not uplifting, positive or encouraging.

However, I just can't sit around and watch from the sidelines or keep silent anymore.  Something needs to be done.  This isn't something any of us can ignore or avoid anymore.  This has become a huge problem.

I honestly can't understand what would possess a grown man (or woman) to want to have sex with a child?  Nor can I fathom why anyone would enjoy watching child porn either.  But this is really happening, it's rampant and in demand.  It's also vial, disgusting and the epitome of evil. 

I wish I could stop it from happening and rescue every child. 

We, as a nation, society and/or community, can no longer afford to turn a blind eye or deaf ear to what is happening to our children.  We can no longer pretend it's not happening.

I believe we need to unite, pray, intercede, stand in the gap and take action whenever God opens a door.

What do you think? Do you believe we can make a difference?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Book Review: Exposed: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him by Shannon M. Deitz

Exposed: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him.
By: Shannon M. Deitz
Publisher: Believers Press
Published: May 2012
Price: $14.99
ISBN: #978-0-9852503-0-0
Purchase at: Amazon








"Take no part in fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them...for everything exposed by the light becomes invisible." Ephesians 5:11,13

Description

Having spent nearly two decades of her life in the darkest valley of self-destruction, Shannon Deitz believed she was unworthy of God's love.  After she witnessed, as a child, the sex and drug-induced downfall of her sister, Shannon turned away from her Catholic faith and found herself caught in a wild and carefree lifestyle where she drank, partied and sought comfort in abusive relationships.  She was raped--not once, but twice--by two different boyfriends.  As she hit rock bottom, Shannon experienced an intense spiritual battle and inner struggle.  Finally seeking truth, she understood that her life had never belonged to her.  It had always belonged to God.  His desire was for her to come to Him on her own--not out of compulsion, but from a heart full of love.

EXPOSED: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him is the story of one woman's courageous journey from a destructive self-filled life to a place of spiritual self-discovery.  This book exposed the awful truths of sexual and emotional abuse that many experience today.  But it also reveals a restorative truth-no matter how deeply your wounds may run, you will always be worthy of God's healing grace.

Review

EXPOSED: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him
is a transparent memoir which chronicles the life of Shannon M. Deitz.

I became interested in this book after I read the description. Unfortunately, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. This book hit close to home; as if I was reading about my own life.

I was completely caught off guard. I wasn't expecting nor was I prepared for my past to hit me like a tsunami and overwhelm me like it did.

Needless to say, this book was difficult for me to read.  There were so many parallels the author and I share. I identified with the various experiences she went through and also how she felt on many levels.

What did appear to be a common thread or theme for me throughout the book is spiritual warfare. She described many spiritual battles and supernatural experiences which I also related to.  Unfortunately, these experiences weren't positive ones which I believe tied into why she went through so much.

Shannon Deitz spoke a great deal about her Catholic faith as well.  I'm an Evangelical Christian, so I had some difficulty relating to her experiences with C.C.E.Catechism, The Eucharist and praying to St. Bernadette of Lourdes.

EXPOSED: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him is a poignant and powerful story about tragedy, forgiveness and redemption.

Shannon M. Deitz does an excellent job writing explicit details with integrity and tact.  However, based on the content, I would strongly recommend this book be read by mature audiences only.

In conclusion, I want to thank Shannon M. Deitz for the courage in writing her story.  I also want to personally thank The B&B Media Group for sending me a complimentary copy to review.


Shannon M. Deitz is the founder of HOPEFUL HEARTS MINISTRY and a world-wide speaker reaching out through personal testimony to offer the hope of Christ's light and love to those who are suffering.  A portion of the proceeds from EXPOSED: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him will go directly to help survivors of abuse through the Maria Goretti Network. Learn more about Shannon's ministry at www.hopefulheartsministry.com.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Shadowboxing


"Shadowboxing is an exercise used in the training for combat sports, especially, as its name implies, in boxing. It is used mainly to prepare the muscles before the person training engages in stronger physical activity. In shadowboxing, only one person is required to participate; the participant throws punches at no one in particular." (Wikipedia)

I used to box and my least favorite thing to do was shadowbox.

In shadowboxing, you practice your movement and punches; jab, upper cut, right hook and combinations.  You basically have to "act" or "pretend" you are boxing with an imaginary opponent.

I dreaded shadowboxing because I felt silly and self-conscious doing it in front of everyone at the gym.

Keep in mind, there were only a few female boxers training at Gleason's Gym over 15 years ago.

I remember the first time I walked into that joint.  The air hung thick with testosterone and wreaked of sweat.  So you can just imagine the looks I got.

Shadowboxing is an art, a dance and I enjoyed watching the other boxers do it.  But when it came to me, forget about it.  I would get in the ring and feel like the entire world was staring at me.

But I was determined to learn how to box despite the awkwardness.  I had to press through my fear, insecurity, self-consciousness and just do it.

I was actually shadowboxing two people; my imagined opponent and myself.

I am still shadowboxing today, just not in the ring.
"Shadowboxing can also mean trying to overcome a negative stereotyped self-image that prevents you from achieving success." (Wikipedia)
I'm shadowboxing against the accusations of the enemy.  I'm shadowboxing the bad memories of my past.  I'm shadowboxing each time I write and the fear of not being good enough rears its ugly head.

But thanks be to God, I'm not shadowboxing alone anymore.  I have the best coach in my corner who's got my back.  He believes in me.  He tells me I can do it.  He says I'm a winner.  He reminds me I am worthy and more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37)

How about you?  Are you shadowboxing alone in the ring called life?  Have you met my coach Jesus Christ yet?  If not, I'll be more than happy to introduce you to Him.

JSX9DCCR79PH © Pilar V. Arsenec

Friday, June 8, 2012

WinePress Book Review: Children of Angels by Kathryn Dahlstrom

Can be purchased at:  WinePress Books and Amazon

Publisher: WinePress Publishing, LLC
ISBN: 9781606152164
Pages: 219
Released: March 2012

Price: $13.99
(Paperback)

eBook
ePub: $6.99
Kindle: $6.99

http://childrenofangels.blogspot.com/ 


Summary

Jeremy Lapoint’s dad is in prison, and his mom struggles financially. When Jeremy discovers he can fly, pass through walls, and see spirits, his guardian angel, Asiel, explains that he is a Nephilim, a human-angel hybrid. Jeremy discovers other Nephilim young people. They’re enrolled in a school for teens with special powers and are told they’ve reached humanity’s next level. When Jeremy counters that they are half angel, he must battle human and superhuman forces who oppose the truth.

~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~
Review

I have to admit, I do not usually read young adult fantasy or science fiction books.  However, I really enjoyed reading Children of Angels very much.  The story is original as well as spiritual.  Children of Angels hooks you the minute you begin reading it.

You immediately identify with the main character Jeremy Lapoint.  His father being in jail, his overworked mother and the bullying he faces at school.  You can't help but feel compassion for what he goes through.  Especially after he discovers he can fly and meets his guardian angel Asiel.

Asiel explains to Jeremy that the reason he can fly is because he is a Nephilim; half human and half angel.

After a series of events, he receives a letter from the Higher Humanity Institute inviting him to attend their school.  This institute is filled with other teens who are Nephilim, but do not know it.  This is where things begin to really get interesting.

Throughout this entire story, you're on pins and needles wondering what is going to happen next.  I absolutely love books like this.

Kathryn Dahlstrom writes in a captivating way.  I like how she intertwines biblical and spiritual truths into this story.  This story is about spiritual warfare from a unique and creative perspective.

Children of Angels is a thrilling and enjoyable read.  I highly recommend this book to young adults and adults alike.

I would like to thank Josiah Williams from Wine Press Publishing for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review. 


Kathryn Dahlstrom is the author of the Good News Club, a six-book fiction series for tweens and teens.  As a screenwriter, Kathryn was named a quarter-finalist in the American Zoetrope Screenwriting Contest and subsequently had that script, a Western biopic, optioned by a film company.  Her current production team is on the verge of filming a live-action family fantasy.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

BEA Bloggers Conference & The Bloggess



On Monday, June 4th, was my first time attending the BEA Bloggers Conference.  I was excited and not sure what to expect.

I got up at the crack of dawn to be at the Jacob Javits Convention Center by 8:00am.  Needless to say, there was a lot of people and the place is huge.  You could literally get lost there, seriously.  I had to figure out where Section 1A was (which took me awhile).  Thank goodness I had my sneakers on, because it was a trek.

When I finally found out where I was suppose to be, there was a long line.  But at the end of the line, I received my "Swag Bag," which was filled with all sorts of surprises.  Then I walked into a huge room filled with round tables.

I went by myself, so I saw these happy women and followed them to table number 23.  They were gracious and allowed me to sit with them.

As it turns out, these happy women work for BlogHer and they mentioned they would be back in NYC on August 2-4 for the BlogHer Conference.

I enjoyed getting to know these happy ladies while we waited for the featured authors to visit our table.  We were only able to meet three: Siobhan Vivian who co-authored with Jenny Han; "Burn for Burn"; Kitty Kelley discussed her new book "Capturing Camelot" and then Larry Correia discussed his various books and writing.

Jennifer Weiner speaking

The opening Keynote Speaker was Jennifer Weiner, who happens to be hilarious.  She discussed blogging, Twitter (which she describes as "being at biggest, best cocktail party") and her new book, "The Next Best Thing" which comes out on July 3rd. 

After Jennifer Weiner spoke, there were breakout panel sessions.  I first attended the "Critical Reviews - Fine Tuning Your Craft" and enjoyed listening to Janice Harayda, who blogs One Minute Book Reviews.

The second breakout session I chose was "Demystifying the Book Blogger & Publishing Relationship."  I really enjoyed getting to know Jenn Lawrence who blogs at Jenns Book Shelves; Lindsey Rudnickas from NetGalley and last but not least, Lucille Rettino who is the Vice President, Director of Marketing at Simon & Schuster.  What a lovely, warm and down to earth woman she is.

After the breakout sessions, we all awaited the Closing Remarks which would be given by Jenny Lawson.  There was such a buzz, excitement and anticipation in the room to hear The Bloggess speak.

Jenny Lawson

I have to be honest, I really didn't know much about her.  I knew she was a successful blogger and had a huge following.  But that's about it. So, I wasn't sure what to expect.

However, the minute I heard her speak, I became an immediate fan.  She completely won me over right there and then.  Not only is she an absolute sweetheart, she is hilarious, generous, gifted, honest, authentic, transparent, real, talented and just plain wonderful.

She openly spoke about sensitive topics, such as social anxiety, depression and self-harm.  I really admire her courage and transparency.  I can now understand why she has such a huge following (she has over 240,000 Twitter followers).

I was fortunate to get an autograph (which I never do) to her new memoir, "Let's Pretend This Never Happened".  But the best treat of all was giving her a hug.

What a wonderful ending to a great conference!  But, the fun didn't end there.

After the conference, I was invited to meet PR by the Book LLC.  I had the pleasure of meeting the founder, Marika Flatt, who is such a lovely person.

Marika Flatt

She was there with her amazing team:

Stephanie Ridge

Tolly Moseley

I was completely impressed by the beautiful and remarkable, Tolly Moseley.  What a pleasure it was to converse and get to know her.  She is a warm person, a gifted story teller and an awesome blogger

Last, but not least, the grand finale. This morning I was invited by Random House to their Power Reader breakfast. 


I started my 8:00am with a latte made by this kind young lady.  I also helped myself to a delicious chocolate croissant and an assortment of fresh fruit which were absolutely scrumptious.  Random House did an outstanding job.  (I secretly hope they invite me again).


This morning they presented two authors and their new books.  Nate Berkus spoke first about his new book, The Things That Matter and then Charles Duhigg discussed his book, The Power of Habit.  After the discussion ended, Random House generously gave all of us a fun goodie bag.  Isn't that sweet?


What an amazing week!  I am very grateful to have met so many wonderful people who are just as passionate about writing, books and blogging as I am.

I want thank all those who made the BEA Bloggers Conference possible.  I also want to thank everyone I met at the BEA Bloggers Conference, Simon & Schuster, NetGalley, PR by the Book LLC and Random House.   Thank you for making my first experience a great one.

In conclusion, my biggest thank you goes to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, because without Him none of this would have been possible.  



Friday, June 1, 2012

What's Stopping You?



As I'm writing this, my five year old son is in the emergency room.  He was playing in the park, when he decided to make like Superman and land on his chin.  Thankfully, he didn't need stitches.  The joy of having boys.

Isn't it interesting how children have no fear?  Children honestly believe they can fly until gravity and pain remind them.  I guess it's the same with us.

I wonder at what point does fear start to invade our being?  When life somehow stops us from believing?

When I was a child, I was adventurous and took risks.  I think back and cringe at the many things that could have killed me.  I'm talking some crazy stuff okay?

But somewhere along the way, I too became afraid.  I stopped believing.  I stopped dreaming.

In Matthew 18:3, Jesus says, "Verily I say unto you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Another translation says this, "Unless you change and become like little children..."

Jesus is saying we need to be childlike, not childish.  Being childlike is having a sense of wonder, purity and innocence.  As adults, what I believe prevents us from being childlike is a hard heart.

We allow the hurt, pain, unforgiveness along the way to harden us.  Our hearts become blocked by sin, where we are unable to see clearly. 

Think of it like fog on a windshield or static from a radio. You can't see and you can't hear.

A broken heart is unable to tune into the right frequency.

However, do not despair for there is hope.  God so desires to restore our broken hearts and give us a new one.

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26

What a promise.  I can tell you from firsthand experience, God is in the business of healing and restoration.  We just have to be willing to go to Him with our broken hearts.  He delights in making all things new. 

Be encouraged today.  God is not finished with you yet.  The best is yet to come.


Do you struggle with fear?  Unbelief?  What is stopping you from believing in God's promises?