Category Archives: women

My Story – Elizabeth Smart

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Elizabeth Smart lived through a nightmare that few of us can begin to imagine: taken from her bed, while sleeping next to her sister, at knifepoint, chained to a tree, raped daily, starved nearly to death, threatened regularly (not just harm for herself, but threatened harm for her family if she didn’t comply), and all this over 9 months time. All this at 14 years old. MY STORY is Elizabeth’s tale of those nine months.

Elizabeth Smart is truly a remarkable young woman to have followed her mother’s advice. Her mother told her soon after her release from captivitiy to not let (her captors) have control of one more minute of her life. She told her to live from then forward happily. She pointed out how, even though those nine months were hell on earth, they were only a small percentage of her life on earth. Wise words.

I know that most survivors of abuse (let alone kidnapping and serial abuse) need professional counseling and years and years of time to begin to recover. Some never do. Elizabeth’s case is the exception, apparently. Still, she acknowledges that everyone processes trauma differently.

I’m touched to read of Elizabeth’s current work through the Elizabeth Smart Foundation (.org). People who are puzzled by Elizabeth’s recovery process probably aren’t aware of the healing properties of service and of a Heavenly Father who can and does work miracles. Elizabeth is able to use her horrific experience to change the world for the better. That’s what God can do if we let him…take our trials and redeem them – even the worst of them. Yay for Elizabeth!

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Filed under Autobiography, Christian, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized, women

Breaking Cover

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Michele Rigby Assad is a former CIA counterterrorism specialist. Not what you’d expect for a CIA operative (by her own admission), Michele was a petite, southern, homecoming queen. Her interest in the Middle East was sparked when she had the opportunity to study abroad, and her husband, Joseph, also a former CIA agent, is from Egypt.

As a woman in a male-dominated field, Michele faced many obstacles, but she ultimately found that the obstacles served to make her stronger, and a better officer. The challenges in her CIA career were, in retrospect, all training her for the mission that the Lord had for her and her husband in leading teams to rescue Iraqi refugees and help them resettle in other countries.

Michele prayed that she wouldn’t be stationed in Iraq, yet it was there that the Lord taught her much about herself and also lessons she would use later in her work as a security consultant and in resettling refugees. She states, “By the grace of God, I discovered that struggle could become a skill builder, pain could become a motivator, and confusion could serve as a clarifier.”

I really, really admire Michele Assad. I really, really wanted to like her book. I just couldn’t ever get into the pace of the book, as it seemed disjointed to me. There were sections where I wished for much more detail, and sections where I felt there was too much detail spent on things that weren’t that pertinent or interesting.

Michele has a great story. I wish she had told it and had someone else write it. I read Jack Barsky’s book Deep Undercover and kind of expected this book to be similar. It wasn’t. If you want to read a riveting book about the life of a spy (in this case, a KGB spy), read Deep Undercover.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

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Filed under Action-adventure, Christian, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized, women

Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness & Peace

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A story full of pain. A story full of hope. A story full of anger. A story full of forgiveness. Does this sound like your life? It certainly sounds like mine! It also sounds (in the extreme!) like the story of Kim Phuc Phan Thi. You may have seen her picture. She’s the famous “napalm girl” whose picture was snapped by a young photographer as she ran naked, screaming, and severely burned down a Dang Trang Vietnam road. The photographer who took the iconic photograph scooped Kim up and rushed her to a nearby hospital where, initially, they refused to treat the girl. After some arm-twisting and showing of credentials, he convinced the hospital to take her in and they arranged her transfer to Saigon. When she arrived, unconscious, at First Children’s Hospital she was deemed hopeless and taken to languish in the morgue.

It is from these horrors that a story of survival, hope, and peace rose like a Phoenix. Her survival from burns was only the beginning of Kim’s remarkable story. Living under the oppressive system of Communism, Kim continued to suffer loss after loss. She had been introduced to the Christian religion but had stopped attending services regularly. She was so despondent that she planned her own death, but somehow she found the will to cry out to God…a simple prayer. With that prayer, and action she took in faith that God had heard her petition, things began to turn around for Kim Phuc.

Her book, Fire Road, tells the remarkable and inspiring story of redemption and grace in Kim’s life. I found myself writing down quotes and thinking of applications to my own life as I read her words. Kim is an inspiring role model. Her story teaches lessons that are hard to forget because they were lived, not just preached. I can’t recommend this book enough!

*I was provided with a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Filed under Autobiography, Christian, Non-Fiction, women