“Hope Prevails” ~ A Review & Giveaway (Ends 7/16/17)

Have you ever gone through challenging times and found it difficult to hang onto your hope?  Or, have you even struggled with depression?  Have you wondered why your faith wasn’t enabling you to kick that depression in the teeth?  Or, have you ever found it difficult to believe what God says about you?  If so, you’re going to love Hope Prevails by Dr. Michelle Bengtson.  The BlogAbout Blogger Network sent me a copy of this amazing book to review and a copy to bless one of our readers with….as well as a gorgeous & incredible gift box from the author!  (I’ll be sharing some goodies with my giveaway winner from that as well!)

 

I have read a lot of good books over the past year.  However, I must say that in all my reading, I don’t know that I’ve seen an author open the door on her own struggles and then describe them in such a way that I felt that she was talking about my own.  I endured a season of depression myself following a couple of serious surgeries and family difficulties several years ago.  While I would say that depression doesn’t describe my emotional state at this moment, I am in a place where Dr. Bengtson’s words are still of enormous value and assistance.  Readers of the finchnwren blog know that after having abdominal pain that just wouldn’t go away, I required surgery to remove a cyst in early May.  That cyst turned out to be cancerous, to my utter shock and disbelief!  The surgeon felt optimistic about having gotten all of it out, but he still recommended chemotherapy.  So I’ve completed the first third of the chemo journey (having had 2 of 6 sessions) but I am discovering that for me, the battlefield of the mind is almost as important as the battle being waged in my body.  How do I endure the physical challenges while hanging onto my hope, my faith, my belief in  God and that He is FOR me?  What a perfect book Hope Prevails is for my journey!

What will you find in Hope Prevails?

Author and neuropsychologist Dr. Michelle Bengtson found, after treating patients for years in her own practice, that she required treatment for depression herself.  And she discovered that there was a crucial ingredient missing in common treatment options for depression; the spiritual aspect.  In Hope Prevails, you’ll find out what depression can look like, what it can do to you spiritually, and how you can integrate care of yourself spiritually to work alongside traditional treatment.  And receive true healing!

Each chapter begins with identification and description of depression plus the key elements of YOU, yourself, that can be tended on your walk toward healing.  Next, Dr. Bengtson gives the reader an Rx (prescription) to follow, that includes anything from Scriptures to read and review, brief research, prayers, and more.  She writes the most meaningful prayers for the reader/sufferer of depression, and concludes each chapter with a Recommended Playlist of praise and worship songs that are keyed to each chapter.  (You can find them by searching YouTube or iTunes.  Worth a listen!)

And Dr. Bengtson shares her own life, transparently, and how to address the spiritual component of the healing of depression in the following chapters (and others):

  • This Thing Called Depression
  • You Are Not Alone
  • The Underlying Causes of Depression
  • Recognize You Have An Enemy

These first chapters define depression in all its lack of glory, and remind us that there is an enemy of our souls who seeks to do us in, as Jesus instructs us in John 10:10:  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”

But then Jesus goes on to encourage us and remind us of the truth:  “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Life!  Not just painful existence.  The remainder of the chapters in Hope Prevails tell us about this full or abundant life, and how we can apprehend it:

  • Recover Your Joy
  • Reclaim Your Peace
  • Reestablish Your Identity
  • Know Your Worth
  • Remember  Your Secure Destiny
  • Be Confident That Nothing Separates You from God’s Love
  • God Uses Your Pain
  • The Way to Hope

Each of these chapters is so rich; each one speaks to a component of our spiritual identities (you know, the invisible part that makes each of us uniquely us), how each is affected by depression and its spiritual battles, and how we can regain strength and joy in them.

 

 

How Hope Prevails affected me

So…I’ve mentioned a bit to you about my own current physical, mental, and spiritual journey.  How I am walking through chemotherapy: one day–6 hours, actually–getting the IV infusions and then 20 more days of letting that medication do battle in my own body.  Then starting the whole process over again.

I can tell you (see my Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator for confirmation) that I am a great beginner.  I love starting new things, new classes, new projects.  But there is that spot, sometimes, in the middle of the journey where the fun isn’t as obvious, the grind has become the grind, and the newness has worn off.  Now nobody is really going to call chemotherapy a fun journey.  But there has been that newness of it: the not knowing what’s coming next, the unforeseen challenges.  All those kept me on my toes, really depending on God for what was around the next corner because we just had no clue.  But now I’m kind of noticing that we’re in that middle part; the routine.  Not that there won’t be unexpected surprises or challenges; but now I’m thinking that suddenly the circumstances (the pain, the medications/their effects, the trips to the doctor) aren’t my fight, I (my choices, my relationship with God, my mental battle) am my fight.  Or rather, my reacting to each day; knowing I might not be feeling my best or feeling well at all, but choosing to ENGAGE.  Engage with God; believe His truths; attempt to walk out my best in my life and with my family.  Sigh.  The middle.

What a powerful tool, what a valued companion Dr. Michelle Bengston has provided for me in my fight.  In each chapter, she defines what I am needing, whether it’s hope, joy, peace, identity, etc., and kindly and lovingly explains how I can grasp or attain it.  She provides truth to counter the enemy’s lies.  She includes Scripture that I’ve written in my journal or on cards for my vision board, so that I can remember what is real and true about my journey and about me.

How could Hope Prevails help you?

Now…most of you (and maybe even none of you!) are NOT undergoing my particular journey.  But perhaps you have experienced depression.  Maybe someone you love has.  Or it could be that you just desperately need to learn, remember, and know the truths the enemy would love for us to forget, but that God has given us in His Word.  Or, what if you’d just like to learn how you can grow in your own relationship with God?  If so, this book is for you!  (And keep reading because I have one copy to bless a reader with…that just might be you!)

I have to tell you that discovering that there had been a cyst in my body that was cancerous, and then going thru six rounds of chemotherapy, was NOT something that I was hoping for in my life!  But God has spoken Romans 8:28 over every one of us that loves and believes in Him…and He has spoken it over me and my life and journey to defeat illness as well.  I know that there will be a day when I can richly and fully say that I can rejoice in having gone through this.  If this also is something you desire to be able to say about your own pains and struggles, then that’s another reason to read this incredible book!

 

The unboxing of encouragement

Before I get to the giveaway, though, I have to share with you the absolutely wonderful gift box that I received from Dr. Michelle Bengtson.  It came to me at just the right moment, when I was home from surgery but still in significant pain from a wound infection.  WHAT an encouragement and blessing this box was!  Just at a moment when I needed something beautiful and wonderful to encourage me.  (Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Dr. Bengtson and The BlogAbout Network!)

 

 

Of course, you know after reading my review that I adored the book.  But at a time when I needed some beauty and love (and isn’t it nice to get that in a physical form from time to time?), I was blessed with that gorgeous scarf and the beautiful pearl bracelet that reads “Hope”!

 

 

I have to tell you that I wear the bracelet every time I go to chemotherapy.  It reminds me of beauty, that God is good, and that I have a hope to look forward to…not only in the life to come but in the here and now!

 

And now…enter to win some Hope Prevails goodies!

One reader will be selected to win a copy of Hope Prevails, a dog tag necklace with Jeremiah 29:11 on it, AND a delicious bar of chocolate from Dr. Michelle Bengtson!  Just click on the pink link below to be taken to the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Giveaway closes on July 16.  Best wishes!

Enter the giveaway here!

 

Don’t forget to visit Dr. Michelle Bengtson on social media, where you’ll find more encouragement and beauty

 

Her website, DrMichelleBengtson
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram

 

Thank you for letting me share this powerful book (and goodies!) with you all.  Blessings!

Enjoy!  –Wren

DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

 

 

 

 

Max Davis’ Unusually Titled Cool New Book ~ My Thoughts & Review & Your Chance To Win

Recently, I had the opportunity to receive a most unusually-titled book:  Max Davis’ When Jesus Was A Green-Eyed Brunette.  Now, isn’t that an intriguing title?  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions not only was kind enough to send me a copy to read and review, they’re providing one for one of my readers!  Stay tuned to the end for your chance to enter.

when-jesus-geb-banner

I am a sucker for a good book.  And if it’s funny…heartwarming…meaningful…and inspirational?  Even better.  There are several things that draw me toward a particular book.  Is it written by a favorite author?  Does it have amazing cover art?  Or, could it be the subject matter?  It may even be the title.  I have to admit, this time, it was a combination of those!

When Jesus Was A Green-Eyed Brunette definitely sounded most unusual.  And it was!

Gifted storyteller Max Davis tells his own story of redemption and the way he came to Christ, after seeing Jesus so vividly in the life of a green-eyed brunette at his high school.  He begins the book with a Bible verse you’re probably familiar with, which defines the stories and experiences he is about to share:

Now thanks be to God who always leads us
in triumph in Christ,
and through us diffuses the fragrance
of His knowledge in every place.”
–I Corinthians 2:14

Max’s life was impacted for eternity when he met a young lady in high school, the green-eyed brunette of the title.  He was living the high life as a popular football player.  But actually, he was garnering Fs in his classes, accumulating speeding tickets, partying.  His grandmother even said he was “going up Fool’s Hill.”  He looked carefree on the outside; but on the inside, he was terrified of what God thought of him, and of hell.

Into his life walked the green-eyed brunette.  She loved God and clearly, He lived in her.  Max was so drawn to her yet flabbergasted by her at the same time (she’d never heard of the group Boston???).  And she lived a beautiful life of holiness without legalism.  Seeing this in her, and experiencing the love and life in her church and family, Max came to Christ.

And this is just a few of the chapters!  Throughout the rest of When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette, Max tells the stories of men and women who are hugely impacted, and transformed, by the way Jesus is living through others.  Here are a few of them, just to whet your appetite:

  • Max’s call from “The Voice” to become a writer
  • The “Iron Butt” guy–and the cool ways God has moved in others through him
  • How God carried an abused child through terrible danger and to Himself
  • Moments of believers passing from life to death that illustrated that there really is something…and Someone…on the other side
  • A man rescued from a real-life fiery furnace; and another man who was not, yet God was tangibly with them both
  • A Christian imprisoned in the Far East for his faith in the worst of conditions, who saw that he was not left alone by God
  • And more!

This book isn’t just about telling stories–amazing and wonderful though they are (and even documented, so that Max is telling things that really happened, not that somebody just made up).  No, it’s about addressing the questions so many of us have about life and about God.  Will following God steal freedom and joy from me, and make me follow a never-ending list of dos and don’ts?  Do I have to be “religious” to follow God?  Where IS God, anyway, in the midst of suffering?  Why do tragedies happen?  Does God have a plan for me that is good?  And does He really love me?

Many of us (I would venture to say ALL of us, at some time or another during our lives) struggle with those questions.  And clearly, these are questions to which there are no easy answers…or sometimes, no answers at all for us in this life (though I believe from God’s perspective, there ARE answers).  And while Max doesn’t share all the answers in this book (although he does share some), the stories he tells will minister to the hearts that are aching with these questions; the hearts which have suffered loss of some sort; or those even undergoing challenge or trial.

I was so encouraged by this book.  I decided to use it during my morning devotional times and read parts of or entire chapters along with my Bible reading.  That was so encouraging and just perfect for me (although really, you could certainly enjoy this book at any time of the day)!  Max Davis is a fantastic storyteller with a journalist’s eye to accuracy and fact-checking.  He tells these astonishing stories of ways God impacted people’s lives, then shares truths that will bless and encourage the reader.  You must pick up a copy of this book.  It will remind you of the goodness of God, His desire to care for His people, and His great love for us all–and for you–Individually!

And now, you can enter to win your own copy!  (U.S. entries only, please.)  Giveaway closes 12/26.  Best wishes!

Now, you can enter here to win your own copy!

Just click on the pink “Enter here” below!

Enter here!

 

And, if you’re not the winner of this book, you can find it for purchase via this link at Worthy Publishing, at When Jesus Was A Green-Eyed Brunette,  for $15.99.

More on Max Davis:

Max Davis is the author of over 20 published books and has been featured in USA Today and Publishers Weekly and has appeared on The Today Show and The 700 Club. He holds degrees in Journalism and Biblical Studies and is a much sought-after speaker for churches and organizations worldwide. He and his wife, Alanna, live on 50 beautiful acres in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana.

Enjoy!  –Wren

**********************************

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

My Most Meaningful Read of the Week: “The Life We Never Expected” ~ review & giveaway!

My most meaningful read of the week was a book I almost didn’t read.

 

Life We Never banner

Historically, I just haven’t been much of a nonfiction reader.  But for some reason, I have read more of them in the past year than I have since I HAD to read them in college.  I’ve been so fortunate to read these, and for many of them, host a giveaway on finchnwren.com for someone else to be blessed with a copy.  These books have encouraged me, strengthened me in my walk with God, shown me things that I hadn’t yet learned on my own.

Andrew and Rachel Wilson’s honest, moving and intelligently written The Life We Never Expected, has been so powerful for me.  The story of their own family, and their journey, as they received regressive autism diagnoses for both their very young children, is the most incredible account of a couple who refused to give up…on loving and believing God when He promised in His Word that He loved them, and that His purposes for them were good.  In finding a way through suffering, in preserving their own marriage, in hanging on to hope when no hope seemed visible, they’ve held on to Him. Here’s a line from their Introduction:

“This is a book about surviving, and thriving, spiritually when something goes terribly wrong.”

How does a person hang onto his or her faith when unexpected, lengthy, and painful suffering is what they encounter on a daily basis?

The Wilsons have asked that question.  And it’s not that they don’t deeply love their children.  It’s just a life they couldn’t have prepared for; one in which every day requires everything from them; where research for social services, therapies, and possibilities for the things which just might help their children consume their days and their nights.  Where children who have acquired certain abilities lose them due to the nature of regressive autism.  Where each day starts at 4:30 a.m. when their son awakens; where their days’ work is all-consuming and requires all that is in them.  As they walked down the paths before them following first their elder son’s diagnosis, and then their daughter’s, they weren’t just desperate for physical assistance or emotional assistance.  They needed on the very deepest level, words that could come alongside them to keep them anchored in God and the hope He has for each of us.  They didn’t find these words, in book form anyway, anywhere.  So they very humbly and transparently, in The Life We Never Expected, share their own experiences, the conclusions they came to, and the truths that sustained their hope in God and their very lives.

Andrew and Rachel Wilson didn’t just write this book for the parents of precious children who have special needs.  In fact, they say they wrote it for three different groups of people:

  • “Parents who have just been thrown a curveball….and need encouragement” (p. 14) to hang on to God;
  • The friends and families of those parents of special needs children
  • Those who are suffering and need to know how to endure…and that God really is at the end of it all, as well as deeply present every step of the way

My thoughts about The Life We Never Expected

I never really expected to read this book.  Yet, the opportunity arose, and I received a free copy to read, and to share my thoughts about it here on finchnwren.com.

WHAT a blessing.  Andrew and Rachel are so thoroughly real, so transparent.  They graciously and openly share their struggles in parenting, with each other, with God, and with people in general who interact with their family.  While I’ve not experienced the challenges they daily live with, I have been in places of suffering and struggle where I wondered where God was in my experiences, how I could find Him, and how I could get past the barren landscape I felt I was living in.  This book has words of life and encouragement (and even humor!) which can, I believe, really point anyone who’s struggling into a place of hope and into the arms of God.

Here are some of the Wilsons’ words which were very special and meaningful to me:

  • “For those of us who are mothers (and fathers), God wants us to esteem the field he’s given us.  It’s not a tiring distraction from the true mission field we should be tilling; these are our people, for us to reach and for us to be trained and transformed as we do….” (p. 39)
  • “I love my kids most not by loving them the most but by first loving God.”  (p. 43)
  • “Of the one hundred million sentences I have read or heard in my life, the one that has probably impacted me the most is from George Muller’s diary: “The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day…was to have my soul happy in the Lord.”” (p. 57)
  • “Why? What is the Father doing?  The answer is obvious, and none of us likes it: we don’t know.” (p. 65)
  • “It isn’t because God doesn’t love us.  It isn’t because God doesn’t care….The Lion has tears in his eyes, and although I will never understand all he is doing, I know that he isn’t doing it because he doesn’t love me.”  (p. 81)

I could keep going and going with recounting to you all the underlined passages in this precious and meaningful book.  But I’m going to save some for you to read.  Just know this; this book is probably THE most helpful book on suffering I have read in at least the past 10 years…and maybe longer.  I have finished reading it; and I’m just beginning to read it again for the second time.

The things that Andrew and Rachel have learned as they’ve parented their beloved children are things that have been hard-won, at quite a personal cost.  But they are things that we need to know; and things that they have been willing to share with us in The Life We Never Expected.

Find a copy.  Get it at Amazon, or wherever you buy your books.  It is worth every single penny you’d pay  for it, and then some!

Or…enter my giveaway!  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions have graciously provided one copy of this astounding book for one of my readers.  Enter below in the Giveaway Tools form.  A winner will be selected on July 16, after the giveaway closes on the 15th.  (If you’ve won a FlyBy giveaway in the last 30 days, you won’t be eligible to win this one.)

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

FINDING NOAH ~ Special Film Review

Will scientists ever find Noah’s ark?  That is the question posed…and explored…in FINDING NOAH.

Finding Noah quote

Filmmaker Brent Baum and a team of scientists, archaeologists, wilderness experts and theologians believe–and hope–so.  For this group of men, finding Noah’s ark is a goal they’ve spent years pursuing.  And now, with state-of-the-art technology assisting them, finding the vessel that saved civilization is suddenly a real possibility.

They begin with the location of the resting place of the ark, mentioned in the Bible:  Mount Ararat.  Mount Ararat is the tallest mountain in eastern Turkey and is nicknamed “Agri Dagh.”  What does that mean in English?  “The Painful Mountain,” which defines the many difficulties surrounding it.

Mt. Ararat is surrounded by three geopolitical entities:  the Eastern Anatolian region of Turkey; generational lands claimed by Kurdish rebels; and Armenia, which claimed the mountain as its own until newly-drawn country boundaries settled it in Turkey.  This can potentially add dangers to the already-perilous mountain climb.

This mountain is also almost 17,000 tall, and has an ice cap at the top.  It is an active volcano, with a gorge as deep as the Grand Canyon.  And climbing it is incredibly hard.  Those from the FINDING NOAH group say it is an “unpleasant, difficult, challenging, life-threatening place to be.”  However, GPS imagery and radar have located two “rectilinear forms under the ice.”  Armed with this information, which gives a definite location for the researchers to dig, the group of explorers sets out.

What will they find?  And how will they be tested?  Climbing Mt. Ararat is not only a physically taxing effort.  It also requires mental and emotional, and for this group, spiritual, strength.  Will the men make it to the top of the mountain?  And, will they locate the ark?

Finding Noah poster

This excellent, gripping film will be in theaters for one night only:  October 8, 2015.  You’ll definitely want to see this record of a journey that will test the faith and endurance of all those who made the climb.  You can also discover more about the film, the explorers, and even purchase tickets at Finding Noah.  And, you can watch the trailer there as well!

I was really moved by the perseverance of this explorer team and the film crew, and their devotion to faithfully exploring Mt. Ararat.  Faith and science truly can coexist.  Be sure to check out Finding Noah when it premieres in theaters October 8, 2015!

Enjoy!  –Wren