Monday, September 2, 2013

Review of "Willing to Walk on Water" by Caroline Barnett

Walking on water, as defined here by Caroline Barnett, is not just a story in the Bible or a perceived impossibility.  It's a way to live your life with passion and purpose.  It does take risk and faith - but the rewards far outweigh everything else.

Broken into three sections, "Discovering", "Conquering", and "Doing", Caroline shares (through personal stories, Bible verses, and testimonials from other leaders and volunteers at the Dream Center) different ways that walking on water has been used in their lives and how it has always brought about incredible, miraculous change.  She gives example after example, both large and small, of ideas that we can begin right now to fight social injustices and impact the world around us.  We simply need to be willing, and look for opportunities to act.

I am familiar with the Dream Center and it's mission, and read "The Cause Within You" by Caroline's husband, Matthew Barnett (also recommended).  I identify with their passion and admire them tremendously.  This book was meaningful as well; I especially liked the chapter "What's Your Trigger?" where Caroline asks, "What injustice grips your heart the most....When you are triggered by a particular injustice, your compassion doesn't end with a few shed tears.  It leads to action."  If you have ever wondered, Is it possible to live in such a way that I regularly impact people for eternity? If there is, what could I do about it?, this is an excellent book to help you figure it out.

Review of "Wrestling With the Devil" by Lex Luger with John D. Hollis

Lawrence Pfohl, aka Lex Luger, has experienced many 'exciting' things in his life.  From growing up with a loving family, an obviously gifted in the world of sports child and teen, to college football, even professional football, and then to the heights of professional wrestling, Luger's life was a study in excess.  Some might say he had it all and eventually threw it away, succumbing to the 'lifestyle' and eventually becoming addicted to adoration, as well as drugs and alcohol.  He had affairs, spent time in prison, is apparently still distanced from his ex-wife and children (although he clearly loves them) and hit rock bottom before admitting that he needed help, spiritually and personally.  In 2006 he chose to follow Jesus and his life has never been the same.

Shortly after making that decision he was paralyzed (in a crazy turn of events), and was diagnosed as a C-5-C6 quadriplegic with very little hope of recovery.  Miraculously, within a year of that diagnoses he was actually able to walk unassisted and even live and drive on his own - just a few of the things doctors said would never happen!  Currently one of his volunteer spots is at the Shepherd Center, the facility he was sent to for his spinal cord injury.  He also works with a non-profit organization called World Wrestling Outreach as well as volunteers to help people with different addictions.

As I was not extremely familiar with the world of professional wrestling, this was a very interesting book for me.  Don't we all love stories of redemption?  He really owns his shortcomings, and there is no sense that he is trying to look good or paint things in a better light.  For that I truly admire his transparency. Reading between the lines however, it appears that there has not been a reconciliation of any kind with his ex-wife and children, as they are not mentioned at all following the divorce section. If you ever paid any attention to wrestling you will definitely be interested in this book, but I truly think it is a great read for just about anyone.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Review of "Frame 232" by Wil Mara

Delving into the mystery shrouding the Kennedy Assassination, this fiction story cleverly entwined with facts begins in 1963 with the real Babushka Lady.  In our story, her name is Margaret Baker and she wants nothing more on that pivotal day than to see the president she admires drive through her city. In a disguise (so she won't be caught playing hooky from work), she brings her 8mm Bolex camera and inadvertently films the tragedy - in hindsight, from an angle no one else has.  Although fearful, she keeps her secret for many years, hiding the film in a safety deposit box that is revealed only after her death.  Her daughter Sheila is her sole surviving relative and is now the bearer of her secret - the one that some will kill many times over to keep from being discovered.

Realizing the dangerous possibilities of what is now in her possession, Sheila decides to contact Jason Hammond, a billionaire adventurer who specializes in researching unsolved mysteries.  She believes he has the power, resources, and knowledge to help her decide what should be done with this new evidence - and the Babushka Lady's film is more explosive than anyone could have guessed.

I've never read a Will Mara book before, and now I can't wait for the next one.  I was hooked almost immediately and didn't want to put it down once I began.  His combination of fact and fiction is woven together seamlessly, the hero characters imperfect and yet very likeable.  I truly can't wait for the next Jason Hammond book.  Great concept, very well done.

Review of "She's Got Issues" by Nicole Unice

Counselor Nicole Unice shares from her heart on several issue-laden topics that seem to especially plague women.  She seems quite transparent, sharing both her own experiences as well as those (by permission) of her clients and friends that illustrate each chapter's topic.  These include: Control, Comparison, Insecurity, Fear, Anger, Unforgiveness - even just plain feeling crazy (issues, everyone's got 'em!) - all covered in a real and non-platitude way.  The companion chapters to the 'problem' topic provide potential, non-textbook solutions.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Each chapter also includes what she calls "Taking a 'Space Bar'" -a little break to really examine and pay attention to a specific issue or incident and therefore be able to process and deal with it; a prayer; a journaling exercise, and Group Discussion questions.  There are even snap tags at the end of every chapter where you can watch a bonus video with Nicole.  Some chapters have a quiz (i.e., "Are You a Control Freak?") that illustrate and illuminate issues.  The end of the book includes a great list of further resources including how to find a counselor along with some recommended reading.

I love the author's obvious genuine love for people, it is clear that she truly wants to help people work through and be released from their issues, by a true heart change from God.  She communicates well and this book is recommended for anyone who is struggling with the above issues list, as well as anyone who would like to communicate more effectively.

Review of "First" by Rich Froning with Davis Thomas

Rich Froning is a fitness champion; the two-time CrossFit Games winner who is known as the "Fittest Man on Earth".  "First" chronicles his journey from the life lessons of learning work ethic from his dad as a small child (that he later translates into workout ethic!), becoming a fire fighter and assistant strength coach at Tennessee Tech, meeting his wife Hillary, starting a Gym (and then a CrossFit Gym), to taking us through what occurred step by step during both of the CrossFit Games he won, claiming the titles back to back.

We learn much about his family, both immediate and extended, and how the impact of a number of his close family members' deaths have greatly changed his life.  Also interspersed throughout the book are different "CrossFit Defined" segments that tell how to execute different CrossFit exercises and techniques.  He also repeatedly asks himself the question of his purpose - and defines it for us in this book.

At 25, Rich Froning has only been involved in CrossFit for a handful of years and his accomplishments to date are truly inspiring.  I can easily recommend this book, especially to any fitness enthusiasts - you will enjoy learning the behind-the-scenes at the CrossFit Games, AND, you will get workout ideas along with your good read!  :)