Love No Matter What by Brenda Garrison (Book Review)

I loved the title of Brenda Garrison’s book, “Love No Matter What”,  and decided right away, since this is the goal for most Christians, especially Christian parents, that I should and would devour whatever wisdom was presented in the pages. 
The book is written for parents of children, especially that are in their teen years and beyond. In ten chapters Brenda shares not only her own story but also a dozen other families stories to share insights, and practical help for parents dealing with children who don’t fit into a cookie cutter Christianity and refuse to do so. 
Using the Prodigal Son story from Scripture as a base model, Brenda sets up camp at Luke 15:11-32 and she continuously returns there throughout the book. 
Brenda along with her daughter Katie share their perspectives of the same circumstances in Katie’s life, when she began to make choices that challenged and confronted her parents faith, belief systems and convictions. The outcome, learning and journey are the heart of this book. 
Some of the things I loved about this book were that she addressed reality for Christians who are dealing with kids who may not fit into, nor want to fit into the accepted Christian mold. 
With more than half of kids leaving the church after they graduate perhaps it’s time to take a step back and consider where the heart of Christianity lies these days. The Christian community needs to listen better if they really want to minister with grace and truth to kids who are presented with an overload of opposing, confusing viewpoints daily. Brenda deals with some of the issues of “unsafe” Christian youth groups, individuals, and church communities (aka “prayer groups” etc.) and how to guard yourself and your child from being a spiritual casualty by keeping healthy boundaries and being careful of sharing too much. Sad fact in any church community but the fallout that we see now is partially caused because of callous hearted, careless Christians with loose lips and insensitive words, gossip and slander, disguised as “prayer, and spiritual conversation. 
Practical advice for keeping communication open, loving continuously and not compromising God’s standard. Also the examples and variety of situations presented from the many families in the book offer almost every possible situation from bad choices, to outright rebellion and how parents got through the circumstance. Real life advice for we who need it. 
Practical, encouraging, honest and real.
I’d give this read 5 stars.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion in the back of the book make this an excellent book for shared study and prayer with a partner or small group of parents struggling with the same circumstances (or who have had and are able to lead/encourage others in the journey).

Book Description (From the Publisher) 

How will you respond when your child makes a decision you don’t agree with?
Parents and kids will never agree on everything but what can mom and dad do when that decision—whether a matter of preference, spirituality, or morality—is something they think is totally wrong? Author and speaker Brenda Garrison knows all too well that how parents respond will either build a wall or a bridge between them and their child.
Brenda and her husband were forced to answer this question when their oldest daughter Katie abruptly moved out of the house with no means of support. It was not an illegal or immoral decision, but it was one that wasn’t good for her. Their determination to keep an open door of communication is documented not only by their story, but by comments from Katie in each chapter as she offers insights from her own perspective.
Also included are other family scenarios—everything from matters of preference to foolish, immoral, and even illegal decisions—as well as insights into different styles of parenting such as servant, checked-out, gotcha, scared, and controlling parents.
With practical tips and relatable stories, Brenda shares how to model God’s parenting style and explains the difference between the parent’s responsibilities and the child’s, then helps mom and dad discover ways to develop and nurture a relationship with their child that will last a lifetime.

I received this book in return for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are completely my own.
I review for BookSneeze®

George Bailey Meets the Twilight Zone (Welcome to My "Wonderful" Life)

I relate to George Bailey. A lot. I mean, who, in all honesty, hasn’t had their share of adversity? Who hasn’t had a plan, plucked out of their hand or watched a dream die a slow, painful death as it drifts further from the shore of possibility? Who hasn’t pondered their own significance or perceived lack thereof? Who hasn’t raised their fist at God, hung their head low, and lost what they thought was all hope for the future? I watch George Bailey and my heart beats a similar drum- I feel his frustration, struggle with his desire to hold fast to the dreams longing to erupt from within. There are days when I have scratched my head and wondered aloud before God. I want Him to intervene. I look around and I know I’m supposed to see a wonderful life but wait…I’m not there yet.
Enter The Twilight Zone. I grew up watching Rod Serling. A debonair host of tales which end with a disturbing turn of events…always. Perhaps that’s where it all went wrong. Because really, this is more of how my life feels on a daily basis. You want a glimpse into my life? At any moment, when you least expect it (what did you expect?) the bizarre scene, the scary music, the macabre twist. Have you ever felt you were living inside a scene of The Twilight Zone?
Back to George. See the fact is we all have dreams, right? I mean  BIG dreams. Dreams we bury down and forget, until we start losing sleep about something we need to do before we leave this planet and enter our eternal heavenly home.
Back to Rod and the macabre twist.
Wait. Hold that thought.
Enter Clarebel. I’m pretty convinced there is an angel earning wings on my behalf.* Possibly a legion. Because my God, promises never to leave nor forsake me, but still I sometimes try to put some distance between us. Not overtly. I’m way too spiritual for that. By the time I realize the distance, I can see God’s open arms but the scary music is all I hear and let’s face it, if you’ve seen the intro for The Twilight Zone, well that’s pretty much my stream of conscience at that point. It’s really hard to hear God over that noise. Yeesh!
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You still with me? Back to Rod…and the macabre twist.
I know that I have eternal life, forgiveness, a Faithful God. But Israel still flows through my veins.
I want to please God. But then I tire of Manna. I want to pray but I’m too busy complaining about the darn cucumbers left behind in Egypt. I want to say “Yes, Lord” but I delay, doubt, hold back. “What is the bleating of sheep you hear?”
It’s called trusting in the arm of man. My own reach, ability, plan.
Forgive me, Lord.
Recently I shared about a sweet quote that I happened upon and how it jumped out at me and claimed my attention.
“What’s for you will not pass you.”
You know the Israelites were in the ultimate Twilight Zone.
Yet they stayed there because of their own stubbornness…
How often do we allow ourselves to suffer consequences because we just don’t want to accept what God is giving? How often do we think His arm is too short? 
Lord, I pray that I would trust that what you have for me will not pass me.
I also pray, Lord for anyone reading this post who needs to remember that you are faithful and true.
You are a God that lifts the chin and looks upon the face with adoration, complete.
You are a God who loves and restores the crops that the locusts have eaten.
You lead to a land flowing with milk and honey and you are a God who does not withhold that which is good for those you love.
Oh, Lord that we, that I, would believe this to the core.
Lord, let us not say that your good BUT believe it from the heart and live like we do.
Back to A Wonderful Life…
In the end my friends, the macabre is the blessing. As we release our grip on our own ability to “make things happen” and trust God from the heart, He will act on our behalf. We die to self and as we let go of that which we would (in our flesh) want to cling to, we are freed to live and move and have our being in Him…In the end isn’t that the way out of the Twilight Zone? Isn’t that the rescue we need?

Maybe it is a wonderful life after all.
Remember if it is His will, it will not pass you.
He will bring it to pass.
Clinging to this hope with you.

Linking with Michelle, Emily, and Tracy!
First time at Betty’s and as always Ramona’s and Laura’s!





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