“Angry With God” by Brad Hambrick ~ a book review

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I have to admit that I never imagined that I would read a book entitled Angry With God. However, when I heard about Brad Hambrick’s new book in the “Ask a Christian Counselor” series, I looked at the book blurb–and found out that, it WAS indeed something that I not only wanted to, but needed to read. New Growth Press sent me an ebook copy of Angry With God, and here’s more about the book plus what I thought about it.

What you’ll find in Angry With God

From the publisher:

“No one gets mad at God for something small. When we’re angry with God, it is because we’ve faced something immensely hard. Anger is an often-overlooked part of grieving, and as such, is an appropriate response to profoundly painful events. Counselor Brad Hambrick provides a guided process to being honest with God about your pain to restore and deepen your relationship with him. While we are often prone to interpret our anger about intense suffering as being at God, this book is an invitation to process these intense emotions with God as a source of comfort who is sturdy enough to support these turbulent emotions. 

If you are struggling with deep grief that is accompanied with anger and confusion, Angry with God will be profoundly helpful in your journey.  Hambrick will patiently walk you through the process of being honest with God (and others) about your pain. You will learn how to articulate your pain, alleviate the effects of this pain, contextualize your experience in light of the gospel, and begin to hope again. God is a good shepherd who is patient and willing to move at the pace of his sheep. God can be trusted in places that merit the name “the valley of the shadow of death.”  

Angry with God is part of the Ask the Christian Counselor series. This series walks readers through their deepest and most profound questions. Each question is unpacked by an experienced counselor that gives readers the tools to understand their struggle and how the gospel brings hope and healing to the problem they are facing.”

In 5 book segments, Brad Hambrick speaks to the reader about:

  • Life practices and pacing that will help those in pain walk through the process of healing
  • The different between hurt and heresy
  • How the psalmists spoke of their own pain to God
  • How myriad parts of our lives (emotions, thoughts, relationships, choices, and our views of God) are adversely affected by pain
  • Practical steps to take in resolving our griefs and pains
  • What the gospel has to say about pain and living in this good, but broken, created world

My thoughts about Angry With God

As I mentioned above, I’d never expected (or WANTED, naturally) to read a book entitled Angry With God. I was even more surprised when, a decade ago, I found myself incredibly angry with Him. Events had happened to me (and consequently, to my family) that just did not fit into my worldview of what I expected in this life. (I know! That sounds SO self-centered. But it was pain that I felt, and felt deeply.)

As time went by, I found that my relationship with God had somehow dislocated. I was still connected with Him, but I didn’t feel connected. I read His Word, attended church, and prayed–but I held him at a distance. I felt as though I didn’t trust Him any more even though I did, and could still say, that He was good. (I just didn’t trust Him to be good to me. [Parenthetical aside: of course over the years He was incredibly good to me, over and over! I was just stuck in a deep place of broken trust.]) I didn’t really understand how to deal with the pain and emotions I had, and was still, experiencing. Still, since then, I have seen Him bring me healing, even though I missed the intimacy I’d once experienced with Him. WHAT a help Angry With God was though!

I needed for someone to tell me that my feelings were actually normal, and even appropriate, given my pain and suffering. And I needed someone to tell me HOW to get through–or at least truly begin–the path of restoration. Hambrick does so in Angry With God (interestingly subtitled “An honest journey through suffering and betrayal” — that certainly got my attention!); a book that is incredibly practical. Which is what I needed. I needed someone to help me move past the theoretical or philosophical tenets of the Christian faith (that God is good, that He loves us, that Jesus died for all our sin and pain). I didn’t disbelieve those at heart. But I couldn’t figure out how to reconcile those truths with the deep pain I was feeling. FINALLY–a book that practically could guide me through the process of healing–specifically, practically, and kindly.

Step by step and practice by practice, Hambrick leads us through how to pace ourselves, how to embrace activities and relationships that grief may have temporarily caused us to lose, and how to think about our losses (from a big-picture perspective to the close and intimate one). This is one of the most practical and usable books on healing I’ve ever discovered.

…and its most meaningful words to me

Angry With God had so many healing and wonderful words, and so many effective tools and helps for walking through the valleys of pain, betrayal, and suffering. Here are some that impacted me the most:

  • “We can affirm what is real within an emotional experience…without embracing the untrue content that gets embedded in those emotions…” (e.g., that “God is felt to be forgetful or uninterested in our suffering [Psalm 13:1, 44:24]” or “God is felt to have forsaken those who cry out to him [Psalm 22:1-2]”) …we can make peace with the tension…”
  • Pacing the journey through grief and anger, taking the time to lament what has been suffered or lost, and understanding that eventually we can have a different perspective on the journey all are facets of a useful process (my summary, not the author’s).
  • Brainstorm, play, and practice: start small, and understand that a little progress is still very good (my summary).
  • “Progress in grief means your current season of life is no longer defined by the pain from the previous season of life.” (My summary here: Whew!)
  • “But because God made this world to be good and we are made in his image, we get emotionally disrupted when things go painfully awry. This means as we take this journey of grieving our pain, we’re not crazy…We are looking at the shattered pieces of a beautiful work of art, saddened that it’s broken, and wondering how to put it back together again.”

Where you can purchase Angry With God

You can purchase Angry With God from a variety of booksellers, and I’ve linked two of them below:

New Growth Press

Amazon

About the author

Brad Hambrick, ThM, EdD, serves as the Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church in Durham, NC. He also serves as Assistant Professor of Biblical Counseling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, a council member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, and has authored several books including God’s Attributes: Rest for Life Struggles, Making Sense of Forgiveness, and Angry with God, and served as general editor for the Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused curriculum. 

And finally:

Angry With God: An honest journey through suffering and betrayal is the book I never, ever imagined that I would need. But it’s the book I am so immensely grateful for. It offered me a way to begin to process my grief in pain; in practical ways, but ways that would move me ahead, without shame over my emotions. We can know that God, our Shepherd, longs to and offers to walk us through the valleys, and Angry With God outlines specific and helpful ways we can go. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s experiencing those pains in their own relationship with God.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from New Growth Press. All opinions shared in this blog post are my own honest ones.

Pure Flix Original Film starring Lucas Black: “Legacy Peak” plus giveaway! (ends 10/4/22)

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Pure Flix has produced another fantastic Original Film: Legacy Peak! You will love this if you want a family adventure film that is beautifully honest about the struggles we face in life and family–and in what we bring to the table in relationships. Keep reading for more about this wonderful film, plus enter to win a 3-month subscription to Pure Flix streaming service!

About Legacy Peak

Jason wants nothing more than to have Noelle’s kids like him. But when a perfectly planned trip to a mountain cabin falls apart, the ensuing adventure could tear them apart or bring them closer than they ever imagined. Together they’ll discover how to trust again and what it means to be a family.

Legacy Peak is a thrilling adventure that the whole family can enjoy.

My impressions of Legacy Peak

I KNEW that I knew Lucas Black from somewhere when I saw the exciting trailer for Legacy Peak and I heard his accent. He had co-starred in a police procedural show that I’d seen a few episodes of. I never forgot his fantastic character OR his authentic Southern accent! He brought a refreshing quality to a show that contained difficult material (crime). And he interacted beautifully with his costars.

Not surprisingly, Lucas is just fantastic in this film. His character is ready to pop the question to his darling girlfriend, single mom of two kids Noelle. He doesn’t really understand much about kids, but he is totally a planner, and he thinks he’s got the perfect plan to win them over before he proposes to their mom. He will fly them (and all the snacks he can carry) to Noelle’s dad’s cabin in the mountains, where they’re all planning to spend Christmas. The only thing is–he can’t plan everything. When the unexpected happens, his plan suddenly doesn’t apply. So THEN what will Jason do?

The actors who play the kids are also wonderful. Sam, the older sister, is NOT INTERESTED in going on this trip–or getting to know Jason. Her character arc is fascinating. She’s very solicitous of her younger brother Ben, who really likes his mom’s boyfriend but is a bit tired of being seen as the kid who can’t do anything. The grandfather is also wonderful. All the actors are more than competent and a pleasure to watch. (Noelle is also great; she just doesn’t get a lot of screen time.) And the mountain landscape; well, it’s almost a character in itself. It’s breathtaking visually–and also, perhaps, figuratively.

I don’t want to give you a lot of spoilers. I will simply say that the movie’s core message is an exceptional one, and its story is beautifully told. Legacy Peak has something to say to everyone; and what it said to me touched my heart, embraced me, and reminded me of something I’ll never forget–something that each and every one of us needs to hear. Don’t miss Legacy Peak, premiering September 22, 2022 on Pure Flix!

My recommendations:

If you:

  • love films that your entire family can enjoy together
  • want to see a family beat the odds against a wild and unfamiliar setting
  • desire to be a parent who reaches out to God for help in your own challenges
  • enjoy watching adventure or survival-type tv shows
  • want to be encouraged at the ways God can use everything to work together for good for His beloved children

…then you will LOVE Legacy Peak, just as I did! (And if you watched the Pure Flix series Vindication, you might see another familiar face in this movie!)

Watch the trailer here:

More about Pure Flix–and you can even enjoy a free 7-day trial!

Pure Flix is a one-stop shop for faith and family-friendly movies and shows that you can confidently stream in your home with the entire family. With new premium and exclusive original entertainment choices every week, Pure Flix streaming service has the largest variety of high-quality, curated, positive, encouraging, wholesome movies, series and kids’ content in one service. Pure Flix is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment, alongside AFFIRM Films.

On Pure Flix, you’ll be able to watch incredible shows that I’ve told you about earlier this year, like Going Home, Live+Local, Vindication, the God’s Not Dead movies, Miracles of Heaven (with Jennifer Garner), and so much more.

You can enjoy a free 7-day trial of Pure Flix as well! Just click on Pure Flix for more information and to start your free trial. Paid plans start at $7.99 per month, or as little as $5.84 per month if you choose the yearly plan ($69.99 per year).

And…you can enter to win a Pure Flix subscription!

You can enter to win a 3-month subscription to Pure Flix today!

To enter, simply click on the pink link below that says, “Enter here!” That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter to win in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes on October 4, 2022. One winner will be selected to win. US entrants only, and winner selection is limited to those who have NOT won a Pure Flix subscription in the last 6 months. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Find these inspirational articles on Pure Flix as well!

I love not only all the wonderful faith & family films/shows on Pure Flix. But did you know that they also have some wonderful articles to uplift your faith? Check these out!

Battle Fear and Worry with these 10 Bible Verses for Anxiety

10 Bible Verses to Build Perseverance of Faith

How to Embrace Our Identity as a Child of God

More about Legacy Peak

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure:

Many thanks to Pure Flix for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.

Add Creativity to Your Prayers! Giveaway (ends 10/7/22)

Hello dearies!

I have a lovely giveaway that’s just for you if:

  • You feel as though your prayer life needs a jump-start
  • You want to be creative in praying–but don’t know how
  • You’d like to try something different with your prayers

Keep reading for more on the prize plus how you can enter to win!

More about the Add Creativity to Your Prayers! Giveaway

I have definitely felt, at different times, that I needed to learn how to pray in a different way. And what I *didn’t* feel that I needed was a list or regulation for how to do it. (After all, Jesus already covered that when He shared the Lord’s Prayer with His disciples! Check out Matthew 6:9-13 or Luke 11:1-4 for that.)

What I was looking for was, perhaps, ways that I could add prayer to moments throughout my days. Or ways I could remember times when I’d really noticed God answering prayer or reminding me of friends and loved ones I could pray for. Mostly, I just wanted to be able to draw nearer to God.

I love author Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s books on prayer and her fun and creative tools (that are gorgeous!). They are so wonderful for helping me to just slow down my life to look at God and to think about connecting with Him throughout the day. So, I’ve put together some of my favorites of her creations (plus a delicious-smelling candle) for one of you to win!

The prize package includes:

  • Weekly Recap Notepad: a wonderful way to write down your prayer list, your goals/memory verses for the week, things you learned, and more. Plus a pen and two washi tape rolls!
  • A 6-card Creativity Card set, with beautifully-illustrated quotes on creativity. Each card is just over 5″ x 5″.
  • Keychain Prayers: 18 cards held together by a ring. Beautiful illustrations and ideas for prayers and printed on both sides, so you have 36 ideas to add to your prayers! The cards and ring are small and compact (business-card size) so you can pop them into your backpack or purse and take them anywhere.
  • And last but not least, a Bath & Body Works mini candle (with a lid even!) in Pumpkin Pecan Waffles scent–to remind you that your prayers can rise as a sweet aroma to God!

How to enter the giveaway

Enter to win this giveaway by clicking on the pink “Enter here!” link below. That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes on 10/7/22. One winner will be selected to win all the items listed above in the prize package. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren

Brand-new film from the Kendrick Brothers & a $10 Amazon GC giveaway: “LIFEMARK” (giveaway ends 9/18/22)

#sponsored #partner

Hello everyone! Executive producers the Kendrick Brothers have a brand-new film opening in theaters Friday, September 9, 2022! I received an advanced screening link for their new movie LIFEMARK, co-executive produced by Kirk Cameron as well. Keep reading for more info plus where you can get tickets in your own area!

About LIFEMARK

David’s comfortable world is turned upside down when his birth mother unexpectedly reaches out to him, longing to meet the 18-year-old son she’s only held once. With the encouragement of his adoptive parents, David embarks on a journey of discovery that leads to a staggering truth from his past. From executive producers Kirk Cameron and the Kendrick Brothers—creators of War Room and Fireproof—comes LIFEMARK, inspired by an incredible true story that celebrates the gift of life.

Watch the trailer for LIFEMARK here!

Joy. Adventure. Fear. Family. Adoption. Told in a beautiful and moving film.

My thoughts about this film

I am a little embarrassed to admit this to you.

I overlooked the tiny print below the film’s title with a VERY KEY PIECE of information. Do you see it? “Inspired by a true story.”

So you might imagine how I felt at the end of the movie when there is a fantastic series of photos showing the cast members with the real humans they portrayed! “Shocked” as well as “delighted” express my reaction pretty well. (If you watch the interview Jean Thomason does below with two of the film’s cast members you’ll get to hear more of that amazing story.)

I’ve noticed that the films that I love the most draw me to love the characters and to care about their journey. You fall in love with them as characters and you want a happy or fulfilling ending for them. And LIFEMARK did that for me. Honestly, by the time that David met his birth mom, I was totally engaged in his story. He had fantastic parents–his adoptive mom and dad–but there was still a piece of his journey that he didn’t know. And of course, some trepidation about meeting his birth parents. (Fortunately, David’s best friend Nate, and his antics, help to relieve some of that tension.)

I also adored both sets of parents; the adoptive ones (Rebecca Rogers Nelson and Kirk Cameron) and the birth parents (Dawn Long and her new “husband,” Alex Kendrick). I felt moved quite a few times at just the huge amount of love expressed in the film. But the real crying set in when the birth mom, Melissa, meets David. (In fact I am tearing up even thinking about that again!) Melissa’s utter vulnerability as she meets the son she’d given up so long ago; and her willingness to tell *all* the parts of her story, are just remarkable.

LIFEMARK is a story that touches on so many parts of the human condition. Love. Loss. Teen pregnancy. Human will and human choice. What can a young woman do when she discovers a pregnancy; and she’s not even out of high school yet? This is an incredibly timely movie, given the true events that are happening in the public arena even now. But as you can imagine from the synopsis of this film, the story of adoption is the one that is told here–and the one that Melissa has chosen. But it also tells about her journey to get to that choice. And it’s a remarkable one.

LIFEMARK invites us into the life of a son given up for adoption; the husband and wife who adopted him; and the young mom who held him briefly, then released him to the ones who would raise him. This is a wonderful film, and one that is going to make you feel a lot of emotions as you go along for the ride. It is a *good* ride, though; and one you’ll be very glad you’ve taken.

Purchase movie tickets here–plus more

You can purchase tickets to see LIFEMARK in theaters in your own area! Just click below on the Purchase link. That will take you to the film’s website. You can also find more info there on the cast, the film, and additional resources like a Bible study, a book, and the original documentary!

Purchase tickets here

Jean Thomason’s interview with LIFEMARK costars Dawn Long and Rebecca Rogers Nelson

Jean Thomason from Momentum Influencer Network is a marvelous interviewer–and here, she speaks with the women who play David’s adoptive and biological moms in LIFEMARK.

Enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card!

In celebrating the premiere of LIFEMARK, I’ve been given the opportunity to give away a $10 Amazon gift card to one FINCHNWREN reader! To enter, just click on the pink “Enter here!” link below. That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes on 9/18/22. One winner will be selected. Best wishes!

Enter here!

And last but not least…

If you’d like to hear more about the true story LIFEMARK is based on, head back to the movie’s website and watch the documentary video called “I Lived on Parker Avenue.” (It’s under Resources, fyi.)

With hugs! –Wren

Disclosure:

Many thanks to WTA Media for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.

“The Plans He Has for Me” — a review (plus get a Kindle copy for only 99 cents thru 8/30/22)

**this is a sponsored post**

Have I got a devotional for you.

Thanks to FrontGate Media and author Rose Ann Forte, I have enjoyed a rich and meaningful devotional time that has brought me real growth lately. Rose Ann’s book The Plans He Has for Me: A 12-week Daily Devotional For Going Alcohol-Free is just the process that ANYONE, not just those who’d like to get alcohol use under control, can truly benefit from. It is all about building empowering habits that give us life to replace old habits that do the opposite, alongside God and His Word.

Let me tell you more about this exceptional book–and, like the title says, you can get a Kindle copy of the book for only 99 cents through 8/30/22!

About The Plans He Has for Me

The Plans He Has for Me is a twelve-week focused devotional for those who want to rid themselves of the psychological slavery associated with the habit of drinking alcohol.

Each day the reader will receive biblical guidance in the form of scripture, encouragement, and a daily prayer to inspire the creation of new habits, stay the course, and feel the power of the Holy Spirit within.

During these twelve weeks, it will become abundantly apparent how God has a much better plan for anyone after the removal this habit, allowing each to access who He created them to be.

Each day for 12 weeks, participants in this book’s devotional will spend time in:

  • Prayer
  • Practicing gratitude
  • Reading Scripture & a devotional passage
  • Thinking on and writing about that
  • And then, ending in prayer

…and about its author, Rose Ann Forte

Rose Ann Forte was a successful C-Suite Executive and ministry leader in the church. She was a working mom of four and a social drinker. Over the years, life’s stresses and a difficult marriage created an environment where her alcohol usage increased significantly. Her health and emotional well-being suffered greatly. After the collapse of her marriage, her drinking further escalated, and she felt like a fraud with God and the Church. She made many attempts to control it only to later lose control again.

There were aspects of AA that didn’t feel comfortable for her so it was not an option in her mind.
She had already submitted to God and didn’t want to call herself an alcoholic.


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she enrolled in a coaching program to put alcohol to the side for three months. Her experience was extremely transformational, and she recognized God’s instruction embedded in the entire process. She identified what alcohol had stolen from her life and understood that God had a better plan for her. Rose Ann felt called to document what she learned with a daily devotional so others can experience God’s promises through scriptural instruction with hope and a better plan for the future.

My experiences with The Plans He Has for Me

Although alcohol abuse is not my own struggle, I felt intuitively when I first saw The Plans He Has for Me that it would be an incredible guide for my own journey and building new and healthy habits. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that my own struggles were birthed out of a seriously horrible time (awful stress resulting in two required surgeries; one of which literally saved my life). It was such a rough time that I did not rebound from well. My relationship with God was broken (on my end, of course, not His). And my relationships also suffered.

And yet, God. He promises never to leave us or forsake us, doesn’t He (Deuteronomy 31:6). So we have that promise. What I found was that even though I knew that, and so many other verses, I had a hard time believing and applying them to myself. And I became a person I hardly recognized.

Again–but God. He has been in the process of healing me over the years. And there have been many books which have helped me–and The Plans He Has for Me has been a HUGE and remarkable aid. What I have loved about it is that it truly has been guiding me on a much-needed journey. Have you ever known where you wanted to go but didn’t know how to get there? That’s where I was. But Rose Ann (via her book) came alongside me to guide me: in prayer; in developing an eye for things to be thankful for; in thinking of and writing out how the daily Scriptures (and accompanying devotionals) impacted me and where I was each day in my journey of healing and building new habits. I so appreciated this! I had gotten to a point that I abhorred and avoided journaling (just TOO MUCH. And exhausting.). But Rose Ann’s book doesn’t ask for a novel each day; it only directs the reader to think on and be grateful for good things, and to apply Scripture. Even the end prayers of each day are helpful and can give words for moments we might not even know what to ask.

In all, I would compare working through The Plans He Has For Me devotional to meeting with a spiritual mentor who can help you to, in a way, rewrite your life. It assisted me in developing:

  • A more meaningful prayer life
  • Genuine habits that will change me for the better over time
  • Thoughtfulness about what God might be showing me (I’m more of a “feeler,” so this is incredibly important)
  • An enjoyment of journaling, rather than the “overwhelm” and desire to AVOID I’d felt
  • The ability to really slow down what I was doing each day with God
  • And finally–the change I’ve been hoping for and even dreaming of

Where you can purchase The Plans He Has For Me

You can purchase the Kindle version of The Plans He Has For Me for only 99 cents through Tuesday, August 30, 2022. I so highly recommend this book. It can make an incredible difference in your life, whether you’re wanting to deal with alcohol use OR build any other healthful life habits. Just click on the link below to go to the Amazon book page.

Purchase a Kindle copy of the book for only 99 cents at the highlighted link

You never know what God might use to help you to heal or to move forward on your life’s journey. The Plans He Has For Me has become a remarkable and valued companion for me. I’d almost call it a miracle!

Consider whether this book could be right for you. It is worth checking out!

Bless you! –Wren

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post; however, all of my opinions shared here are only my own honest thoughts and experiences.

Beautiful new movie, especially for parents: “An Unlikely Angel” from Pure Flix (plus giveaway! ends 9/9/22)

#sponsor #partner

If you’re a FINCHNWREN blog reader, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been talking about wholesome faith & family streaming service Pure Flix lately–and sharing about their Pure Flix Original films and series. I have another one to tell you about today, plus a giveaway for a Pure Flix subscription! Momentum Influencer Network and Pure Flix provided the new An Unlikely Angel to stream (premieres August 26, 2022). Honestly, I am still catching my breath over this one–IMO the best Pure Flix Original yet!

About An Unlikely Angel

Janie is a workaholic who is falling apart at the thought of becoming a first-time mom. She whispers a small prayer for help and it’s answered in a very unlikely way when an angel intervenes and fast forwards her life. Will her second chance change how she approaches life?  Janie is lucky enough to be given a second chance, but will she change before it’s too late?

With a fantastic cast including Jillian Murphy, Robert Amaya, Aaron Mees, and the delightful child actor DeLyla de Castor (and also Sam J. Jones as Janie’s dad), An Unlikely Angel is a beautifully-told story of new mom/project designer/workaholic Janie, whose short prayer invites an angel sent straight from God to help her. This help comes in a way that sends her 6 years down the line after the birth of her daughter, shows her what life could end up as, then gives her a choice. What kind of life would Janie embrace…if?

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

New International Version Bible, Proverbs 19:21

My thoughts about this film

Can you remember the last time you laughed AND cried as you watched a movie that warmed and encouraged your heart?

An Unlikely Angel might just be the film to do that for you, especially if you’re a mom. (Or if you’re a fan of the classic Checker cab.)

The newest Pure Flix Original film, An Unlikely Angel, affected me profoundly even as it charmed and entertained me. I find so much in it to recommend. The actors are exceptional, the story pacing is even and clear, and the results and consequences of Janie’s choice make total sense. While the movie evoked a lot of emotions in me, the story is told gently and kindly: what *could* a woman who’d missed six years of her life (and her daughter’s life) actually be experiencing?

But back to those emotions. I’ve gotta tell you I shed a LOT of tears as I watched this movie! (Not until about the three-quarters mark; til my heart was wound up in the characters.) Janie’s kind dad. Her vulnerability to him and to God as she asks for help in an overwhelming situation; where, she seems to have no talent or skill. Gabe’s truthfulness and kindness. The unexpected things life threw at Janie. Her precious daughter. Janie’s story reminds me a little bit of the story of Hagar from the Bible, in Genesis 16 and 21. Hagar feels (and is) alone; forsaken; in need of help and so truly knowing that she herself can’t provide the help she needs so desperately. And God speaks to her and sends help!

We may not get that second chance or do-over that Janie is offered. But we have a good God whose plans are good and whose ear is bent toward even the whispered prayers of His dear children. Actually, He’s so attentive to us that before we even call on Him, He answers us. (Isaiah 65:14) I will take a movie that reminds of of that, any time!

Join Pure Flix and watch An Unlikely Angel. You will be encouraged; you will smile; and you will hug your kiddos. (Just keep that box of Kleenex handy. And maybe a wastebasket.)

Watch the trailer here!

How you can enjoy Pure Flix–and subscribe today

Pure Flix is a one-stop shop for faith and family-friendly movies and shows where you can confidently stream in your home with the entire family. With new premium and exclusive original entertainment choices every week, Pure Flix streaming service has the largest variety of high-quality, curated, positive, encouraging, wholesome movies, series and kids’ content in one service. Pure Flix is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment, alongside AFFIRM Films.

Your Home for Wholesome Faith & Family Streaming

Pure Family. Pure Fun. Pure Faith.

You can subscribe (monthly or yearly) with plans varying from $5.84-$7.99 per month. With these, you’ll receive access to thousands of series and films that will bless, encourage, strengthen, and edify your family. New content is added weekly that’s perfect for every individual or family, of all ages!

You can even enjoy Pure Flix for 7 days free! Just click on Pure Flix trial for more info and to sign up.

Enter to win a Pure Flix subscription!

There are SO MANY positive and lovely movies and series that you and your family can watch together on Pure Flix. I’m so happy to be able to share Pure Flix with you–and to give away one 3-month subscription to Pure Flix streaming service!

To enter to win, just click on the pink link below that says “Enter here!” That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form where you’ll be able to enter to win in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes on 9/9/22. One winner will be selected to win. If you have won a Pure Flix subscription in the past six months, you are ineligible to win this giveaway.

Enter here!

Meet star Robert Amaya in this fun interview with Jean Thomason!

Robert Amaya has been one of our family faves since we saw him for the first time in the movie Courageous, then in subsequent films like Moms’ Night Out, War Room, and Family Camp. He is just as genuine, fun and funny in real life, as you can see in this interview with the marvelous Jean Thomason from Momentum Influencer Network.

And some encouraging words for parents from Pure Flix

In addition to providing access to fantastic faith & family films, Pure Flix also has some encouraging and lovely words to inspire you. Here are some of them; just click on the links for free access!

Back to the Basics: Activities & Ways to Simplify Life

15 Bible Verses to Encourage Mothers on Mother’s Day and Beyond

5 Powerful Quotes from Women in the Bible

5 Tips for Learning How to Pray Without Ceasing

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure:

Many thanks to Pure Flix for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.

Win parenting/homeschool books (plus a prayer box!) in the Old School Giveaway Hop! (ends 8/30/22)

Hi everyone!

We’re closing in on September–but for the next 16 days you can enter to win amazing prizes from lots of bloggers in the Old School Giveaway Hop, hosted by MamatheFox! Keep reading for more info on how you can enter all the giveaways.

How to visit the Old School Giveaway Hop page to enter

Over 25 blogs are joining together for the Old School Giveaway Hop, with a huge variety of prizes you can enter to win! To visit the giveaway hop’s main page (where you can find links to all the participating blog’s giveaways), just click on the blue InLinkz button below (the one with the frog on it). That will take you right to the giveaway hop page. Happy entering!

The FINCHNWREN blog’s giveaway

For the Old School Giveaway Hop, the FINCHNWREN blog is giving away these items:

  • Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes…in You and Your Kids! Scott Turansky’s and Joanne Miller’s book (softcover) offers a unique viewpoint on parenting kids when everyone’s attitude needs a major adjustment (from bickering, meanness, whining and more). The key word? Honor. Full of family activities, processes to teach kiddos, and Biblical solutions as well as discussion topics.
  • Homeschool Family Fitness: The Complete Physical Education Curriculum Guide. Authored by Dr. Bruce Whitney and designed for grades K-12, this guide contains 40 weeks’ worth of lesson plans, sports and games rules, and tips on strength, endurance, flexibility, and aerobic fitness. (softcover)
  • Prayer box metal tin, containing a tiny pencil and a flowered pad for writing prayer requests. Lovely & encouraging!

Enter the FINCHNWREN giveaway here

To enter to win the 2 books and the prayer box, just click on the pink link below that says “Enter here!” That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter to win in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes on 8/31/22. One winner will be selected to win the 3 items listed above. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure:

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Encouraging book on the end times: “Global Reset” (a review)

**This is a sponsored post**

Do you read books that explore the prophetic books in the Bible–or those about the end times? FrontGate Media provided one for me that was an exemplary read; full of encouragement and Scripture. It’s co-written by Mark Hitchcock and Jeff Kinley, and it’s called Global Reset.

How my reading began

Global Reset and I had a bit of a rocky start.

You see, I caught a horrible summer cold or virus a few weeks ago. (Not corona.) But, it sent me to bed for a good 35+ hours.

I thought that a cup of coffee would be nice to have one morning as I rested. So I filled my cup, went back upstairs, and as I walked toward the bed the cup and its handle separated themselves. (Kind of like when you see someone slice off the top of a champagne bottle with a katana.) I was left holding the handle and the (FULL) cup of coffee and half-and-half fell to the ground, spewing its contents all over the carpet and my stack of books beside the bed. Including Global Reset, which was drenched.

I hollered for help, my husband came running, and we grabbed towels and wipes and cleaned the liquid from the carpet and off the books. So Global Reset had to dry. And when it did and I could begin to read, I discovered that the book starts with an art theft that has always been one of the saddest stories to me, an aficionado and former teacher of art. So yes, that was rocky. (Also, it was my favorite cup.) I might have been predisposed to have an attitude about this book simply because of those things. But, I read, and continued to read.

a favorite passage–with coffee stain

What I discovered as I read

The authors do begin the book by describing some current events that we’ve all lived through in recent years (coronavirus, etc.). These current events serve as a springboard to discuss what the book is actually about: what the Bible says about the end times, and specifically, about these Biblical teachings deriving from Revelation, Daniel, Matthew, and Ezekiel, among others:

  • The rapture, the Tribulation, and the church
  • The mark of the Beast (what the Bible says it is and what it is NOT) and the Antichrist
  • Nations and their mentions in the Bible (spoiler: America is not one of them)
  • How current events *might* be setting the stage for these future events
  • And what, perhaps most importantly, Christ-followers should be doing in light of these

The effect the book had on me

The more I read of Global Reset, the more it moved me. Now. I am not a Bible scholar, but I am a woman who’s loved studying the Bible inductively. I believe, deeply, that one must allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. This can be done by looking at the original Hebrew and Greek (for me, that means with dictionaries and concordances), and by cross-referencing verses which speak about the same topics. Also, one considers what the verses meant to the original audience. At this point, one can utilize commentaries by Bible scholars. But if one is inductively studying the Bible, it helps to leave the opinions of others until personal study is concluded.

I don’t know personally what Hitchcock’s and Kinley’s study methods were. But I do believe, after reading Global Reset, that they handle the Scriptures and these prophetic passages (which, let’s face it, are some of the most difficult to interpret by readers) carefully and respectfully, not utilizing verses willy-nilly or to prove their own points.

I believe that Global Reset is a book which will encourage believers about the end times, about the order of events in that era, and about what Christians can do in light of these teachings. Because isn’t that the point? I don’t think that God put these verses in His Word to terrify Christians and cause us to focus on our own personal fears about these end-time events. Rather, I think it is so that we know what is coming–and so that we can live accordingly, sharing Jesus and His love and salvation with those who don’t know Him. And following Him and loving Him ourselves.

Some of my favorite passages

You know if you read my reviews, that I love including meaningful book passages so that readers can get a taste of the books I’m sharing. Here are some of the parts of Global Reset that I loved!

  • “This should bring supreme comfort to everyone who reads these words. What we are seeing played out before our eyes is part of the divine script leading to the coming of Jesus Christ…And the same God who rules time and nations rules the intimate details of your life and mine.” (p. 74)
  • “If you are running low on hope these days, set aside time often to think about the world to come. Take time to read Revelation 20-22, develop an eternal perspective, and seek to live a righteous live in view of what lies ahead.” (p. 163)
  • “[We are to be] looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13, emphasis added)…Waiting. Looking. Purifying. Exactly what you would expect a loving bride to do.” (p. 131)
  • “Never, in all my sorrows, did my Lord draw nearer to me, and speak more soothingly to my soul, than when the moonlight flickered among these chestnut leaves, and the night air played on my throbbing brow, as I told all my heart to Jesus. Alone, yet not alone!” (Missionary John G. Paton’s account of hiding in a tree after having fled for his life; p. 177-178)

What hope these passages stir up in me! So often I forget (as Paton shares in his quote) that Jesus is waiting for me to tell all my heart to Him. All my hurts and sorrows; my confusion and pain; and yes, also my joys. He is the best and most intimate Friend to us.

And finally, Global Reset‘s impact on me, a reader

I read a lot of books, as you might imagine, as a book reviewer. They’re often fun, or full of helpful advice or ideas. But sometimes, a book will impact me at the deepest heart level. And Global Reset is that kind of book.

What I felt as I moved closer to the final pages of Global Reset is that it is a book that makes me love Jesus more; that it inspires me to draw closer to Him and more deeply into His Word. It made a difference in my own faith, seeing the end time events and all their accompanying Scriptures laid out in order. It caused me to see God and His love in a deeper and quite significant way; and His tender love for us all. It is drawing me to a place of closer study of the Scriptures. And, I believe it can do the same thing for you.

THAT is incredibly wonderful and amazing to me!

Where you can purchase

You can find Global Reset on Amazon at the link below.

Purchase Global Reset here

Enjoy–and be blessed! –Wren

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own honest ones.

A new way to view our struggles: “Breaking Open” by Jacob Armstrong (a review)

**this is a sponsored post**

I have yet another incredible book to tell you about! FrontGate Media provided a copy of Pastor Jacob Armstrong’s Breaking Open for me to read and review. I so appreciated the perspectives he shared on suffering and our struggles; and how we can approach walking through them differently. Just amazing. What if, when we try to run away from painful moments, we are missing something transformational?

About Breaking Open, from the publisher

Everyone aches to be whole. We ache to be healed. We ache to be restored. But most of the time we wouldn’t put it into words. We just know we are broken because our child is addicted. We ache because the depression of our youth is now the depression of our golden years. We are stretched to the point of breaking because our career ambitions position us to commit to a pace we can’t sustain. Miscarriage, divorce, loneliness. In all of it, we ache.

In Breaking Open, Pastor Jacob Armstrong exposes the seven dangerous ways that we commonly seek to avoid a breakdown, showing how these seven ways are stealing life from us, and then walks us through a progression of seven Jesus-ways that move us from merely breaking to breaking open. It is these Jesus-ways that get us to the good stuff: a life filled with hope and opportunity.

In Breaking Open, you

  • discover how your greatest heartaches can open you up to the life God desires for you,
  • learn how to slow down from a frenzied pace and settle into the spacious life you have been longing for right now,
  • stop living a cheap imitation of life and develop trust in who God says you are,
  • receive permission not to have it all together by finding the power to love and live vulnerably, and
  • find the courage to name the achy undercurrent in your soul so you can break it wide open and let Jesus heal you and make you whole.

Jesus never intended for us to break and stay shattered, but to fall and rise differently. To rise with power, rise with hope, rise with purpose. In Breaking Open, learn to rise open to a new way of living!

My thoughts about Breaking Open

There was a time in my life when I thought I really had the suffering thing down. (Don’t laugh.) Let’s just say that my personal pair of rose-colored glasses was VERY rosy. Also, I was still in my twenties and obviously naive in many ways.

But, as it can, unexpected suffering hit me hard and fast for a number of years, later on. And none of the things I thought I had learned during that first dramatic time of adult suffering really seemed to apply. These more recent years of suffering really began to wear me down and in some ways, I felt, changed my outlook quite a bit. I struggled as I tried to navigate those years and situations, and I never really felt that I was able to get on top of them and manage them.

How refreshing, useful, and hopeful Jacob Armstrong’s book was to me! It seems that there are a lot of behaviors that not just I, but many humans, try to utilize in suffering: running faster and harder; trying to hide from it or “hunkering down,” as Armstrong describes it; turning the focus on myself and my own pain; and striving to be capable, among others. All of these coping mechanisms don’t really solve our problems or reduce the suffering. They can just make us numb.

Sometimes, without a guide, our attempts to navigate struggles can take us down the wrong paths of building useless habits, overworking, hardening our hearts, or even wearing down our bodies. How grateful I am for Breaking Open! In this incredibly good book, Armstrong doesn’t try to give us the perfect 5-point sermon for overcoming suffering. Rather, he tells us how humans can go the wrong routes–but then shares Scriptural truths along with the contrasting paths, to help us to choose and open our hearts to better ways that might just help us to know that Jesus is near; and He has never left.

The practices that Armstrong recommends in Breaking Open might feel counterintuitive. After all, when we’re in pain sometimes the last thing we want to do is to open our hearts and be vulnerable. But perhaps, like me, you are actually looking for something different to help you navigate the painful parts of life. I learned so much on my first reading of Breaking Open. In fact, I ordered an additional copy from Amazon today for my family. So much good, for areas of life where we really need some good counsel and kindness.

Some of my favorite moments from the book

I’ve got a lot of bookmarked places in my copy. From the many well-loved passages, here are a few of my faves:

  • “First, we have to notice that we are hurting. We might have to pause for a moment here, because there are all kinds of ways the ache can be numbed. Some of us are experts at ignoring the ache. We may have an unintentional routine to push it down every day.” (p. 31)
  • “We, the people of God, who live in the midst of so much promise, can actually settle for way less than the real thing. Over and over and over. It can become normal. That is why we can have such trouble understanding our breaking points. That is the ache–the ache for the real life Jesus holds for us.” (pp. 59-60)
  • “But life is crazy and filled with brokenness and grief, and that can lead us to live in urgency. An urgent need for Jesus, for real love, for real connection.” (p. 88)
  • “Whether we identify with the haughty teachers, the passive onlookers, or the condemned woman, the call is the same. Jesus is beckoning us to see ourselves in desperate need of grace. Neither the teachers the crowd, nor the woman can escape the stones until they hear the call to holiness.” (p. 142, on the Gospel of John, chapter 8)
  • “Some of us began reading this book with some places in us that were really broken. And as we come to the end of the last chapter, we still feel that brokenness. But with a miracle-working Jesus, we can reframe that brokenness in our lives. With a Jesus who experienced all the brokenness and then walked out of the grave whole, we are given an entirely new way to experience brokenness and an entirely new invitation to wholeness.” (p. 183)

And so…

Now that I have finished Breaking Open, have I returned to the perspective of that naive young me who thought she had suffering mastered? No, not at all.

What I do have is a new set of tools, or perhaps a new pair of glasses to look at suffering. I have longed for healing and restoration, as perhaps you have. I believe this lovely book will help me as I walk toward those; and to embrace God in the process, as truly Emmanuel. God with us.

About the author

About the author

Jacob Armstrong is a published author, speaker, and pastor of Providence Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. Jacob and his wife, Rachel, founded Providence Church in 2008 with a vision to see people who feel disconnected from God and the church find hope, healing, and wholeness in Jesus Christ. Providence Church has been one of the 100 fastest growing churches in the nation the last three years.

Where to purchase Breaking Open

You can purchase this wonderful book at Amazon, by clicking the link below.

Purchase link for Breaking Open

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions shared here are my own.

“Hope Beyond the Waves” ~ a JustRead Blog Tour & Giveaway (ends 8/1/22)

#sponsor #partner

Hope Beyond the Waves JustRead Blog Tour Welcome to the Blog Tour for Hope Beyond the Waves by Heidi Chiavaroli, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Hope Beyond the Waves

Title: Hope Beyond the Waves Author: Heidi Chiavaroli Publisher: Hope Creek Publishers, LLC Release Date: June 28, 2022 Genre: Christian, Dual Timeline Fiction

From award-winning author Heidi Chiavaroli comes a sweeping dual timeline story that explores hope and enduring love in the midst of the impossible. Massachusetts, 1993 After making a grievous mistake that will change her life forever, Emily Robertson is sent away to live with her grandmother on Cape Cod. When Emily finds a timeworn photograph buried in a drawer, she realizes her grandmother has concealed a secret even bigger than her own. Will convincing Gram to reveal their family history help Emily make the most important decision of her life or will it prove her parents right—that family scandal is better off buried and forgotten? Massachusetts, 1916 Atta Schaeffer plans to marry the man of her dreams and whisk her little sister away from their abusive father. But when she is diagnosed with a dreaded malady, Atta is forced into a life of exile, leaving her sister in harm’s way. On Penikese Island, Atta’s best hope lies with Harry Mayhew, a doctor who seeks a cure for his patients at any cost. But when experiments fail, Atta runs from Harry—and from God. Can she return to her sister before it’s too late? Or will her illness consume both her body and soul? A testament to faith and love, Hope Beyond the Waves is the raw account of the journey of two generations of women running from desperate situations toward irresistible hope.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | BookBub

ALSO AVAILABLE

Where Grace Appears Where Hope Begins Where Love Grows Where Memories Await


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

heidi chiavaroli

Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. Her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.

Connect with Heidi by visiting heidichiavaroli.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a Handmade French Market Seagrass Bag, hardcover copy of Hope Beyond the Waves, and Ocean-Lover Bookmark!

Hope Beyond the Waves JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight July 25, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on August 1, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE https://widget.gleamjs.io/e.js


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

My thoughts

Separated by more than 75 years in this dual-timeline novel, Atta and Emily still have some similarities. Sent away from their families. Becoming a shameful secret to be hidden away. Bereft, abandoned, and hopeless. And yet…

At least twice in the Bible, a person laments, “Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless” (Psalms 108:12 and 60:11). And yet don’t we long for the help of man? We run to our family or our friends when we are in the dark places. We cry out to God; we want that immediate assistance. We want someone to fix what pains us so immensely. But what we don’t always realize in the moment is that help is coming; but sometimes it’s not immediate. And it’s not always from a human.

Both Atta and Emily long for rescue. Both times, they are let down by human help. And yet…that is not the end of their stories. Sometime it’s the act of walking forward with faith, and through the valley, that is transformational.

I loved Heidi Chiavaroli’s Hope Beyond the Waves for so many reasons. First, because she creates characters that readers absolutely fall in love with: Atta, Gertie, Emily, her grandmother, their friends Harry and Sam. My delight in and concern for them kept me turning the pages rapidly so I could discover their futures. Wonderful!

Second: Heidi has placed these young women in dire (yet completely believable) situations. What can we do when faced with the impossible? And what will Emily and Atta do?

And third: (last but definitely not least) redemption is coming. Rescue appears. Faith and maturity will grow. And we’ll be reminded that God is never silent; that He is never ignoring our pleas; that He really IS at work to rescue and save us. For as Hope Beyond the Waves reminds us, there is more to come. Both Psalm 108 and Psalm 60, that I included verses from earlier, end with this:

With God we will gain the victory,

    and he will trample down our enemies.

WITH GOD. He walks with us through our difficult valleys; he brings victory over our enemies (whatever they are); and he brings us what we need so desperately: hope.

Don’t miss Chiavaroli’s wondrous book. You will fall in love with the characters, you’ll be engrossed by their stories; and you yourself will be encouraged in your own faith.

Don’t forget to enter this giveaway. I believe you will be so blessed by this book!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.