Review: Five Days in Skye for Radiant Blog Tours

9780781413077_3DFive Days in Skye by Carla Laureano
Reviewed by Lori Twichell
Radiant Lit Blog Tours
Genre: Romance
Publisher: David C. Cook
Date: June 10, 2013

Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she’ll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she’s sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she’d rather leave buried. For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father’s d/reams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.

Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.

With a little bit of tour guide, a lot of romance, and some fun, Carla Laureano has created a great love story that will appeal to readers of all ages. I loved how these characters crossed paths and circled each other for a bit before anything could actually work out. It was a great deal of fun watching this play out. Laureano has a grace and style in her writing that cut to the core of the humanity for each character. Flaws, difficulties, wrong turns – her characters make many of the same choices that we do in our own lives and like us, her characters are not without consequences to their actions.

I really enjoyed the way that this story flowed. It drew me in from the beginning and kept me engaged right up until the very end. There were fun lighthearted moments, but it still resonated with depth and truth that can only come from an author who really understands her audience.

If you haven’t yet read this award winning book, there’s no time like the present. This one should be in the top on every romance list. It’s that good!

Carla Laureano is the author of the RITA® award-winning romance Five Days in Skye as well as London Tides and the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.

Five Days in Skye is available for purchase through Amazon.com.

Note: I received this book as part of the Five Days in Skye  blog tour from Radiant Lit.  I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Those Oregon Bakers….

mi6QgNmHere’s a question. Is it possible to love people and still turn them down? I think if you’re a parent, you can answer that question.  We can’t give our kids everything they want. We could, but if we did that, what sort of adults would they grow to be?

Now obviously, someone in business and refusing a service is far different than parenting. But at least one of those questions above still applies. Can I love someone and still turn them down? Let’s see.

A few years ago, I was approached to market a project by some people who very much wanted me doing their PR/Marketing. They’d heard about some earlier projects I’d done and they knew they wanted me on it. So I investigated it. (This is where I should inject a side note.  I will never take on a project unless I feel I can do great work with it. I feel very strongly about this and I pray over each project I take on. When I pick up a project, I will be actively promoting and marketing what they do. I have to believe in it. I have to be excited about it. Are all of my projects Christian? No. And honestly, that bothers some people. That’s fine. I know I am where God placed me – even on non-Christian projects. ) In this particular instance, I turned down the project. I was not the right person for it. And I explained that. No big deal. The potential client and I parted ways. They were disappointed in my decision but they weren’t angry. There was no vitriol and no comments were slung.

Why does this apply here? Because the project I had considered was financed by a homosexual pornography company.

Now, let me clarify. he film I was approached about was NOT in that genre. I could have promoted it easily. But I wasn’t comfortable taking the money from that outlet. And I wasn’t comfortable with the fact that they had been hoping to use this film to gateway people to their other films. That’s not my project. It doesn’t jive with my company. But if I lived in Oregon, it appears that state laws would make that particular decision impossible for me.  (I’m not an expert – I’m happy to hear from people who are more knowledgeable than myself, but if you want to comment here, I won’t allow vitriol or nastiness from either side. Please be aware of that.) I struggle with that. I’m not sure how I feel either way. I think blanket laws can’t cover all businesses. No store should be able to say that you can’t shop there because you are a certain color or gender or religion or..whatever. But should I be required to accept every project that comes my way? Even if I don’t agree or believe in it? I don’t think that’s really great either – for obvious reasons.

My business is not a “Christian business” so to speak. I work across the board (as mentioned earlier). But as sole proprietor and a Christian, it is a Christian run business.  So there are some things I don’t take on because of that. But with each of those, I do my best to treat people with love and respect. No one, to my knowledge, has ever left feeling discriminated against or even, hopefully, hurt that I’ve said no. I pray that each person I deal with has understood – we’re just not the right fit for each other at this time. Maybe something else will come along that WILL be a right fit. That filmmaker could come back to me with a new project financed elsewhere that I may embrace completely. One of my current clients could come to me with something that doesn’t work at all. I really do feel like I need the right to be able to say yes or no to keep running a business with integrity. (And so many marketing companies don’t. They will take money for any project but they won’t deliver results. Just work. There is a difference.)

So where do we land with this? I can’t say I know.  But I do know this much. This whole Oregon baker story breaks my heart on many levels. There’s so much vitriol and anger being slung by both sides that it feels like we’ve forgotten some very basic manners. On ALL sides. Not just one or the other.

It might sound “out there” but the reality is that we are all on this journey together. We aren’t all going the same place or with the same goals, but we are all on the road together. I sin. I mess up. I’m not perfect. But if you’re walking next to me and you drop your bag, I’m sure as heck going to help you pick it up. I’m going to see if you’re okay. I might hug you if I feel you need it. I don’t care who you are, who you voted for, or what your values are. And I think (in my very humble, not theologically educated opinion) that this is what Christ would want of me.

If everyone had just talked and been able to bear one another’s burdens in this bakery thing, I think it could have gone much differently. But it didn’t. And now we’re here. And my little blog entry isn’t going to do much. I understand it’s the equivalent of spitting into a hurricane. But it’s my little corner of the internet and here, it’s my hope that people can find peace. Maybe some answers. Maybe some clarity. But always – love, respect, and appreciation.

Book Review: London Tides by Carla Laureano

9781434708229_3D (2)London Tides by Carla Laureano
Reviewed by Lori Twichell
Radiant Lit Blog Tours
Genre: Romance
Publisher: David C. Cook
Date: June 1, 2015

Grace Brennan travels the world documenting war zones and conflicts. She’s known for bringing the more human side of conflicts to the foreground. She’s won acclaim all over the world. But her career came at the sacrifice of her heart. Years ago, she left the man she loved before they could get married and it’s haunted her ever since. Now, trying to pull her life back together after the loss of some close comrades, Grace is back in London to see what Ian’s done with his life and if there’s any chance of a new romance between them.

Carla Laureano doesn’t shy away from the tough issues in her books. She’s known to confront them head on. So having a character suffering from PTSD and the loss of several close friends isn’t surprising. What is surprising is the depth of her heart when exploring these issues. Laureano sheds a new light on this world with this surprising glimpse of a photojournalist suffering these issues. As a woman who is married to a disabled vet, I can say that she touched on some of these subjects with a deft hand that opened the door for people to understand more.

But beyond just an exploration of PTSD, London Tides ventures into some interesting plot areas that aren’t usually seen in Inspirational Fiction. What happens when a couple goes too far in their relationship? When they stop putting God as the center and they begin to think selfishly, where does that lead them? And is there a way to come back from that? I appreciated Laureano’s stance on this because as much as I’d like to believe everyone does a good job keeping themselves free of sexual sin, I understand that it’s prevalent in our world. Even in the Christian world. So having a couple make these mistakes and then come back to rededicate their relationship in a new God-centered way, is something that I appreciate. I understand that doesn’t work for everyone, but I appreciated it.

I love Laureano’s books and I’m not ashamed to say I tell her that often. I appreciate her fresh perspectives on romance and the realistic characters that don’t sit on a pedestal. When I’m reading, I don’t feel preached at, but I know God’s love is still woven throughout the stories in a plausible way.

If you haven’t had the chance to read Carla’s work, I’d encourage you to give this one a try!

Carla Laureano is the author of the RITA® award-winning romance Five Days in Skye as well as London Tides and the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.

London Tides is available for purchase from Amazon.com

Note: I received this book as part of the London Tides blog tour from Radiant Lit.  I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Book Review: Let Me Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy

Let Me 61KgnZrlEeL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy
Genre: Historical
Publisher: Dutton
Date: June 2, 2015

Everyone knows that Hollerans don’t go near Baines. That’s a fact. So it’s a foolish and dangerous thing for Annie Holleran to sneak up to the Baines place to look in their well. You see, it’s also a fact that a girl, exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthday, needs to look deep into a well to see the face of the man she’s going to marry. It’s a tradition and it’s one that folks take very seriously. Instead of a big entourage of people to celebrate with her, Annie simply puts up with her sister tagging along. But the discovery she makes opens up far more than a just the question of who she will marry. A dead body near the well brings up old history that’s better left buried.
Switching back and forth between the 30’s and the 50’s, Let Me Die in His Footsteps holds at its center, a crystalizing moment for a small farming community; the last public hanging in America. A mystery that unfolds over multiple generations, little details, clues, and hints are revealed through fascinating narratives encompassing two main voices. Annie Holleran and her mother, Sarah. With vivid exploration of country values interspersed with old wives tales, we learn that Sarah’s sister, Juna, is held up as a local celebrity of sorts. Juna’s involvement in the trial and subsequent hanging of Joseph Carl Baines, is something of legend. It’s believed that she still haunts the region with her ‘knowing’ and ‘evil ways.’

As the story unfolds, we learn more about Juna, Sarah, and how their handling of past events shapes the world that Anne and her sister, Caroline live in now. It’s an incredible walk through history and well worth the time for a good read. It intrigued me that some were comparing Lori Roy to Harper Lee and now I can see how that comparison fits. For those who enjoyed To Kill A Mockingbird, this may well be a good choice. Although I will say that just because the main character in the story is a young adult, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the book is good for all young adults. This is a heavy story with a lot of adult overtones and some pretty deep situations. I’d recommend this one for older teens at the very least.

The twists and turns in this story were unexpected and they ended up turning everything I’d imagined about its direction upside down. The plot went places that surprised me and had me re-reading sections to see if what I’d read was really true. They were unexpected and yet not unbelievable. The mystery in this book is solid and powerful. If you love mysteries, this should be at the top of your summer reading list.

Heart wrenching in places, stunning in others, this fast paced novel will keep your mind engaged long after you’ve put the book down. This is one of those tales that doesn’t end when you close the cover. You’ll find yourself completely immersed in this story as it plays out in front of you with details as rich and vivid as any film.

*Review copy provided by the publisher. Thank you!

Book Review: Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin

Oh! You Pre51-uAwTOQQL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_tty Things by Shanna Mahin
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Humor
Publisher: Dutton
Date: April 14, 2015

Jess Dunne is third generation Hollywood. Not third generation celebrity like Drew Barrymore or anything. She just happens to have been born and raised in amongst the rich and famous. This doesn’t mean she wants to be either of those. Well, who doesn’t want to be rich right? But famous? No thank you. As a child, her mother dragged her to disappointing audition after disappointing audition – all to no avail. She’s just not star material. So she goes along living and working in the Hollywood zoo, mostly content to just un-stare like every other non-famous person.

But then Jess’s life clicks into high gear in the weirdest of ways. Her roommate, a D-list celeb at best, suddenly hits the big time AND starts dating the ‘it’ guy in Hollywood. And an unfortunate turn in Jess’s barrista career morphs into being more than just a spectator in that Hollywood zoo – she suddenly ends up with a job as zookeeper. Or personal assistant if you prefer.

Like the guilty little thrill of pleasure you get from picking up one of those gossip rags at the grocery store aisle, Oh! You Pretty Things lets you see the ‘other’ side of the Hollywood life. The not so pretty publicist, manager laden days of struggling to remain relevant and cool while being lost in the bubble of your own importance. Mahin explores, with a fun sense of wit and clever snark, what life is like when you live it in a spotlight – whether you want to or not.

This book is highly quotable. Often, while I was reading, I thought about highlighting certain phrases to use myself. Fun, clever, witty – this book has it all. The plot, in many areas, goes exactly where you might imagine it would but this doesn’t make the journey any less fun. Family relationships, friendships, relationships – this book explores all of those with just the right hint of celebrity royalty thrown in.

The only thing I really missed was that none of these topics was really explored to its complete ending. Then again, this in and of itself is pretty Hollywood – to skim around the deep topics a little like a pretty dragonfly. She’d land on friendship or relationship just long enough for a reader to realize it was there and then move to something else. I would have preferred feeling a REAL growth to the character at the end.

However, this didn’t really stop my enjoyment of the book. I still loved this fun glimpse into that mysterious celebrity side of life. I have no idea what Mahin has planned next, but I do know that I would enjoy seeing more of this story. These characters beg to be revisited and put into further situations. Much like Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, I could see Jess Dunne being put into many more fun situations and I would have fun joining her on all of them.

For my conservative readers, be aware that this is not a Christian book. So there is language and sex and sometimes, some…er…interesting situations. Just want to make sure everyone knows ahead of time what to expect.

Oh! You Pretty Things would make a great summer beach read!

Review copy provided by the publisher – thank you!

 

 

 

Book Review: Heir of Hope by Morgan Busse

Heir of Hope by Morgan L Busse
Genre: Fantasynew-hoh-cover
Publisher: Enclave Publishing
Date: April 21, 2015

By the time we reach the events of Heir of Hope, the world of our characters has shifted and drifted far from what it was when we began. Rowen Mar, the last Truthsayer, has finally come to understand the depth and breadth of what her talents entail. She has seen the Word work through her and His way is more powerful than she’d ever imagined.

Meanwhile, Caleb Tala is still learning what it means to be a Guardian of all mankind. He knows the Word now and he is doing his best to put aside his former life as an assassin and embrace the Word’s plan.

In an odd sort of partnership with Captain Lore (the beloved of Rowen Mar) and a beautiful young scribe, Nierne, Caleb must find Rowen and rescue her from the hands of the fabled Shadonae.

I have a confession to make. I love fantasy. I don’t get to read really good fantasy that often – especially not well written and newly published fantasy. But Heir of Hope and the entire trilogy are definitely all that a fantasy reader could seek. Written in beautiful descriptive fashion, this series and especially, this book, keeps the reader on the main idea of the story. Some fantasy stories suffer from overly difficult plot points, backstory that clouds the purpose of the book or convoluted storylines that keep the readers off track. This book does not do that in any way. In fact, Heir of Hope keeps the story true to its purpose. The Word and the characters remain center stage and keep the reader engaged to the very end.

Characters grow, learn, change and move but not enough to lose their human touch. One of the aspects I loved is that neither Rowen nor Caleb immediately became perfect after meeting the Word. They battled doubts, concerns, and questions the same way many of us do as we fight to stay on the path that the Word has given us. And that brings us to The Word. God and His power in our lives is portrayed beautifully in this series. There’s no doubt when you get to the end that Busse has given us the picture of an all-powerful, majestic and amazing God, but it’s one that still loves us. I don’t want to spoil any plotlines, but one particular shocking surprise at the end packed a powerful emotional wallop for me as I was reading.

The entire series is fantastic. If you’re looking for good summer reading or something for your teens, this series from Enclave Publishing is one not to miss.  Snag your copy today – you’ll be glad you did!

Review copy provided by the author
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Kingsman: The Secret Service – A Review

I love movies. I really, really do. But being a homeschool mom, I rarely get to go to the theater to see movies. Let alone, grown up movies. So this week when all my kids were off at VBS, my hubby and I decided to do some catching up and Kingsman: The Secret Service was one of our choices.

kingsman-the-secret-service-images-hdSet in England, this movie is about a highly elite and completely secret group of people that are battling evil every day – but we don’t know about it. They wear beautifully tailored suits. They espouse gentlemanly (and gentlewomanly) values. And they have the best gadgets. Imagine a whole group of Pierce Brosnan James Bond types. Manners. Style. And they kick butt.

I absolutely loved this movie right up until the moment that I absolutely hated it. I mean that truly and deeply.

When the film started, I was giddy. I adore Jack Davenport. He’s truly one of my favorite actors and seeing him on the big screen brought a little fangirly gasp of delight from me. I couldn’t stop myself. And watching him kick the behind of every person in a room without wrinkling his suit or straightening his tie? Pure entertainment.  I was already picturing the movie sitting primly on my shelf at home.

And then…there’s more! Colin Firth! He’s another favorite. Painstakingly British and absolutely perfect in yet another gorgeous suit (are you seeing a pattern here? It’s the movie – not me! I promise.) He quickly demonstrates his knowledge and skills by dispatching a batch of unruly young people without breaking a sweat. From this point on, my delight in the movie was cemented. I knew I would be bringing it home.

And then there came this…part. This one scene. And this scene was so masterful in its filming and inclusion in the story, that it managed to completely destroy my enjoyment of every other scene that followed. Yes, you read that right. The movie I had so absolutely adored took a serious turn. The funny, witty, clever film I’d been watching suddenly morphed into one of Quentin Tarantino’s fourteen year old fantasies.  That takes serious talent, let me tell you.

SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE FOLLOW.

more »

Guest Post: Three Ways to Pray for Our Military

After my American Sniper post the other day, I had a lot of discussion (via email, Facebook, and Twitter) about the dynamics of the military family. So when I received this article about praying for the military family, I thought it would be a good fit!

handsTHREE WAYS TO PRAY FOR OUR MILITARY

By Jeremy Stalnecker

I am often asked what can be done to support the men and women of our military.  While there are a lot of good answers to that question, care packages are always appreciated especially if they have chocolate chip cookies, some answers may be more helpful than others. As people of faith we believe that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16)  Many times while serving abroad the knowledge that people were praying for me brought a great deal of comfort and encouragement.  Believing that God honors prayer and that praying can provide a peace to those serving, what are three specific things that we can pray over those in uniform?

  1. Pray for physical safety and provision. Armed service often means putting oneself in harm’s way setting aside personal safety for the greater good. We need only to look at the number of service members wounded and killed to know that the military can be a dangerous place to work!  We need to consistently pray for God’s safety and provision over those who are risking their own lives for the freedoms that we enjoy.  I can personally think back to a number of times in combat where the only explanation for survival was the intervening hand of God.  We are told in the twenty-first book of Proverbs verse thirty-one that, “the horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord.” Let’s pray to the Lord of deliverance for safety and provision.
  2. Pray for the family members of those who serve. The dynamic in the military family is something that most people would not understand. Particularly for those who are either a part of a combat unit or support those who are, “normal” family time and routines look very different than for most civilian families. While a service member is deployed, often between six and eighteen months, life at home goes on without a spouse or parent.  Roles and responsibilities that are typically divided now fall to one person.  When you add to that the stress of a family member living and working in a dangerous place you now have a family under tremendous strain.  Pray for strength, provision and encouragement and for that “peace that passes understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)
  3. Pray for spiritual health and perspective. Pray that those serving would have the ability to look beyond their current situation and to a God that loves and cares for them. Perspective on the bigger spiritual issues is what will allow the service member to come through difficult seasons of service with their emotional and spiritual lives in tact.  The many things that a service member will inevitably deal with must be grounded in their identity in Christ so that these events do not begin to define them.  Pray that they will stay close to God and continue to see things as they really are.

Let’s pray for those who serve with such consistency that we could echo the words of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 1:9-11

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.

Jeremy Stalnecker is the Director of Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs.  He served as a USMC Infantry Officer in Operation Iraqi Freedom and then became a pastor when he returned to civilian life. Through Mighty Oaks, Jeremy has brought together his ministry experience and military background to serve and minister to many hurting veterans, service members and their families.  Jeremy, his wife Susanne and their four children live in Central California. http://www.mightyoaksprograms.org

 

What American Sniper Taught Me About My Marriage

rings2 (1)I’ve been a military spouse for 18 years. My husband has technically been out of the military for about two years, but I’ll explain my reasoning for using present tense in a bit. With all of those years of experience, I am able to say that I know a little about being a military spouse. I’m not saying that facetiously either. I am well aware that my experience as a spouse is not the same as many other spouses and that the world of military spouses is far larger than just my bubble of knowledge. I know just enough to understand that I have a deep respect for every military spouse out there. This isn’t an easy world to navigate and those who do (and do it successfully) are truly amazing people.

One of the things I learned about being a spouse happened about two years into our marriage. I learned that I could not be my husband’s military movie buddy. He loves military films and will watch them all day long if he could get away with it. For over twenty years,  the man got up at 5:00 a.m., put on a uniform, spent all day teaching people about weapons or tactics, and then would come home and ‘veg’ with films like “Black Hawk Down.” It still boggles my mind.

The way I learned that I could never be his movie buddy was a baptism by fire. I was six months pregnant with our first child and my husband begged me to do a movie date with him. We went to see Saving Private Ryan. It was the first military film I’d ever watched as a spouse and I’m not ashamed to say that I did not do well handling it. I was a hot mess for weeks afterward. I’d burst into tears. Couldn’t sleep. I just could not get past the images splattered (almost literally) across that huge screen. It was not entertainment for me. It was every nightmare I ever had about him when he’d deploy played out in vivid color in front of me. It gave definition to the ‘unknown’ that he always walked into when he left. I couldn’t handle it. At the time, he chalked it up to pregnancy hormones and admittedly, that probably played a large part in it. But later when Black Hawk Down and some other films hit theaters, I still adamantly refused to go with him. I couldn’t go through that again.  It never dampened his love of the films. He just needed to shift gears and take some of the guys with him instead of his wife. We both were quite content with this being the status quo.

Enter American Sniper. We recently had our anniversary and for his gift, I picked up a Blu Ray version of the film for him. Neither of us had seen it yet, (It came out whileMV5BMTkxNzI3ODI4Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjkwMjY4MjE@._V1_SY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_ we were working through my cancer recovery, so it wasn’t a priority for either of us.)  but with all of the rave reviews, I knew he’d love it. I also knew that I didn’t want to watch it. However, after the kids went to bed, he put the movie in. I wasn’t about to leave the room, but I figured if I multi-tasked on other things, I could tune it out. That usually works. This time it didn’t. Against my own better judgement, I got caught up in the film. And it showed me some hard truths about my marriage – many things I’d never even realized.

One scene in particular hit me hard and it wasn’t what you might think. At one point when Chris Kyle came  home for the birth of his child, Taya was begging him to be WITH them. He was in the house but his mind was elsewhere. He couldn’t settle and though he might have actually been present, he really wasn’t there. She was angry and frustrated. He was emotionally absent. She was trying to make a home and he just wasn’t in it. And the very next scene, he gets off the plane overseas and is greeted with a heart felt “Welcome Home” as he stepped back onto the battlefield. And that’s when I saw it. He really wasn’t at home with his wife and kids.  His ‘home’ was with the guys. Battling. Fighting. Overseas. She was his ‘vacation’ but his real world was there. That brought home a powerful truth for me and a bunch of pieces of my life clicked into place. My husband loved me and the kids fiercely. But he had married the Air Force long before I came along. By the time I entered, I was really, in a way, the other woman. I took him away from his ‘real’ life. He didn’t leave to go and do his job. He never really ever left his job. I was just a vacation from his real life.

I don’t know if the filmmakers were trying to make that connection, but for me it was a powerful message and it ran throughout the film. Several other scenes underscored this fact. For example, at their wedding, Chris was dancing with his bride. All of the guests at the wedding were focused on the happy couple with love and joy in their eyes. Everyone except the guys he worked with. They were there and they were doing their duty – they were standing up for their brother at arms. But they didn’t express joy until, in the middle of the dance, they got word that they were deploying. At that moment, the focus was taken away from Chris and Taya and boom – straight to the ‘real life.’ It struck me that in most situations, people would say “give them their day” or “let them have this before you tell them” but not in this instance. We saw what really gave them excitement.

Military-Marriage-300x300Now listen, I’m not saying that those people he worked with didn’t love Taya or that he didn’t love her. Please don’t take that from this. My husband loves me and he always has. That’s not what I’m saying at all. This idea of being truly bonded or married to the military is an overall mindset and it wasn’t something that either of us realized was happening until after we watched this movie. We always just pressed on the best we could through the tough times.  But he was truly bonded with the Air Force as if it was his actual marriage and I was the other woman. I was the thing that took him away from his real life. (That old saying “If the Air Force had wanted you to have a wife, it would have requisitioned one for you.” comes to mind.)

Now here’s where things get interesting. When my husband got injured this was where his ‘marriage’ to the Air Force took a hit.  He couldn’t provide the services they’d come to expect and they became annoyed that he couldn’t do his job. The happy ‘marriage’ that worked together for nearly twenty years began to dissolve and resentment formed. He had to jump through a lot of hoops to get discharged and his unit was annoyed. He was taking up valuable space that an able bodied man could do. They were anxious to dissolve the bonds and they wasted no time in letting him know that. They found someone new. Someone not broken. And they unceremoniously kicked him to the curb. Literally. There were no retirement ceremonies. No medals. No rewards. Everything that my husband had poured himself into for more than half of his life just…disappeared quite literally overnight. He didn’t even get a goodbye lunch. It was crazy.

We all had some problems dealing with this ‘divorce’ as it were. He was angry but he didn’t have an outlet for that anger so it came to us – his family. We didn’t understand why he was angry with us, but after this ‘marriage’ realization from American Sniper, it suddenly made sense. Over the entire course of our marriage, I’d been the thing that took him away from his marriage to the Air Force. The ‘other woman’ as I’d mentioned earlier. We’d always taken him away from that real life. Then he got hurt and the Air Force didn’t want him. But we did. And we’d always wanted him home with us. We’d gotten what we wanted. So this must have been our fault. It’s a really strange dynamic and one he didn’t understand until the morning after  we had watched American Sniper. When I told him about my theory, it was like a light bulb went on in his mind. He agreed wholeheartedly and he even supplied a few situations that I had forgotten about. For us, this revelation made a life changing alteration to some situations we’re still dealing with.

Do I think every military spouse has this issue? No. It’s entirely possible that this could get around to other spouses and they all call me crazy and tell me there’s something wrong with me or with us. That’s okay. I don’t expect that this revelation applies to everyone. But I do think it’s possible that other spouses may be experiencing this and not  understanding it. The unit my husband served with in New Jersey had a divorce rate of close to 75%. The job was  a killer for those families. It wasn’t that the men didn’t love their wives or that the wives didn’t love their husbands. It was a complete flip of priorities. Who comes first and second and third in someone’s life when the military owns you? These men and women very literally signed their lives away before they pledge their lives to their spouses. How else are they supposed to balance all of that?

So this is why I count all 18 years of our marriage as being a military spouse. With his injury, disability, and us still working through these ripples, it still feels like we’re active duty. I’m sure we’ll get past that at some point, but for now, it remains our status quo.

I’m grateful to American Sniper for showing us that part of our military walk. I hope that maybe, somehow, somewhere, this might give someone else a little hope or understanding in their journey. And if you happen to be a military spouse and this has spoken to  you or I can pray for you, please, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We milspouses need to stick together.

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Plumb’s new album: Exhale

plumbI had the privilege of interviewing Plumb a few years ago when I was working with Jill Hart on Christian Work at Home Ministries radio. During that interview, the two of us experienced a blessed connection and I’ve been honored to call her friend since then. I’m excited to share that she has a new album out and of course, it’s fabulous. Once I heard it, I knew that there was no way I could not share this with you!

Here’s what she had to say on her Facebook page about it:

Hey guys, just wanted to share a personal note about my new album,EXHALE. The title comes from something my pastor said recently: “We do not exist for us….we exist to share the grace and love so freely given to us all….we breathe it in, it change us, it makes us new and then we share it – we EXHALE.” I breathed in a life-changing grace when God met me in my darkest place of brokenness after my husband left me, and He change me and gave me hope. Then, He redeemed a dead marriage in a way only He could…through a miracle…and we remarried. I am SO THANKFUL for the redemption. SO THANKFUL for that change. SO THANKFUL for that grace. So I made this new record as one huge, gigantic love letter to the One who carried me during all of that. EXHALE represents the hope of the entire record…that we will each breathe in that grace and then exhale it. That is why we exist!

You can see why I’m so excited to share this album with you, but just in case you’re not totally convinced yet, here’s her brand new video from the album.

You can buy Plumb’s album, Exhale, on iTunes or at Amazon now.

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