Friday, October 14, 2016

book review: "alabama irish" by james russell lingerfelt

Brian was raised on "the wrong side of the tracks" in inner-city Alabama. Now, at nineteen, with a troubled past and juvenile record, Brian struggles to earn a living and find a life purpose. When he journeys to New York on a chance trip, Brian meets and falls in love with Shannon; a bright eyed, aspiring actress from California.

Brian returns to Alabama stirred by Shannon's courage and passion for life. With a new zest and reason for living, Brian is determined to turn himself into a man worthy of her love. Unable to afford college, Brian discovers the Os Guinness Scholarship, which provides free tuition to Pepperdine University for Irish students who desire to train for Ireland's ministry. With some innovative thinking, Brian fakes his Irish citizenry, accepts the scholarship, and moves to Southern California to attend school and pursue Shannon. 

However, when Brian visits Alabama, all the lies come crashing down and Brian comes face to face with a past he thought was finished. Now, Brian must make a choice: lose Shannon by spinning more lies and choosing vengeance in hopes of putting his past to rest. Or choose honesty and forgiveness and embrace a new life with the only woman he ever loved.
Alabama Irish was an book I found myself quickly pulled into, curious as to how Brian's story would turn out. It wasn't until I was over halfway through the book that I made the connection that Brian's friend, Finn, and his girlfriend, Eden, are from another story, The Mason Jar. I've not read many books that are told from a male perspective - or written by a male - but I enjoyed it. I think Brian's story is very relatable. He came from a less than ideal situation and was determined to do something about it. This is a book about love, fighting for what you want, not giving up, and learning to forgive. I think, in some way, all of us are broken. We all have something we're going through or been through and it's overcoming those things that make us stronger. It's these things that also make us who we are. I think one of my favorite parts of the story is when Shannon has read Brian's journal. She comes to see him and tells him she loves him. Shannon tells him that several times, knowing he needs to hear it more than once. Two broken people come together to help heal each other. I like how their story ends. That they both get to travel together - and part of that involves visiting Ireland. I think Brian is a realistic character. Sometimes you read a story and it's great but you know people aren't that put together. Brian has baggage and some anger he's holding onto. My heart broke for him and also Paul when Brian went to visit him at his home. How both men were hurting and Paul let Brian hit him again and again. It's like that saying: hurt people hurt people. I'd like to think if the story would have went into more detail that somehow Brian would have made his way back to Paul and told him he forgave him. So they could both start to heal from that awful night. Alabama Irish is one of the few books I've read where I'm satisfied with the ending. All the things Brian needed to overcome were addressed. He ended up with Shannon, got a job at the school that helped change his life, was going to counseling, working on his Master's degree and letting his story help at-risk youth who were in a similar situation. Overall, a good read with a happy ending!

I received a free copy of this book from James Russell Lingerfelt for my honest review. You can learn more about Alabama Irish by clicking here.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

movie review: "voiceless"

"Jesse Dean is a recently discharged soldier who had a rough upbringing, but because of his wife, found God and now is totally devoted to his faith.
He and wife move to Philadelphia so he can take a new job as an outreach leader at an old church whose membership has been declining. As everything is going well and as he starts connecting to the community, he discovers there's an abortion clinic directly across the street from the church.
He goes to the pastor and to several others in the church and tries to get their help to no avail. One day something tragic and personal happens to him while he's going about his everyday routine. He comes to the point that he begins to take action himself. He gets involved but the more involved he gets, the more resistance he gets from those in church and community. His wife, who thinks his actions will get him fired or land him in jail, also comes against him.
Finally, it comes down to him having to make a choice: is he going to take the easy way out and back off, which is what everyone wants him to do, or will he face a major confrontation which will require him to put everything on the line…not just his job, but his freedom and marriage as well.
This film encourages people to stand up for what they know is right, particularly as it pertains to taking God's truths into society to address social issues. It addresses the spirit of retreat as it pertains to engaging the culture that has developed within the Church."

This is a fabulous movie! I feel like Christian movies tend to get a bad wrap for different reasons but this movie, though tackling a heavy subject, is well done and pulls you in from the start! I like what Jesse says at the beginning of the movie and feel it sums up his journey. "I've never questioned where God is leading me, even if it's a little uncomfortable." And what Pastor Gil tells him when Jesse shares his concerns about the abortion clinic. He tells Jesse, "there's nothing you can do." I think we all sometimes can feel helpless at not knowing where to begin when it comes to helping others or wanting to help fight a grand-scale issue (i.e., homelessness, poverty, human trafficking, etc.). But Jesse does something about what's bothering him. He takes action. And he's immediately met with opposition. Another line from the movie I like is what he says to Pastor Gil as the opposition is heating up. When the pastor wants him to be quiet. "It isn't about activism. This is about being a voice for the voiceless. About speaking up for those who can't speak for themselves." I think one of the biggest take aways for me is the impact of one person. That one person can do something. Towards the end of the movie when Jesse is faced with being arrested should he go back to the abortion clinic, I was reminded of Exodus 14:14: "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Just when he was willing to make that sacrifice for what he believed in, an army of people showed up to take his place. People he had impacted; people he had helped. I think this movie is a beautiful story of being God's hands and feet to help those who are hurting. 

You can learn more about the movie by clicking here and see where it's playing. 

I received a free link to watch this movie from Icon Media Group for my honest review.