Author Archives: Maria Marino

About Maria Marino

By nature and by profession, I am a project manager. I simply delight in putting all the pieces together and synergizing with a team to make things happen. I exist to bring joy to life. A woman of faith, I'm an eternal optimist who loves people more than anything. And oh yes, I'm all for sharing. That's why I created this blog.

and the verdict is…

Case for Christ MovieNothing like overwhelming evidence overturned by a skeptic. Nothing like a rousing investigation spiked with personal conflict and tension. The Case for Christ delivers both with accuracy to the true story narrative and a thumbs-up, 5-star, gotta see film.

Lee Strobel’s life was sailing high. Beautiful spouse, adorable daughter, baby on the way and a promotion to legal editor to the Chicago Tribune. Then his daughter, Alison, almost choked in a restaurant. The nurse who saved the child’s life was a Christian who claimed to be divinely prompted to dine at that particular establishment.

That changed everything. His wife, Leslie, found Christ. Lee lost himself in the obsession to bring her back to her senses. And his atheistic convictions. He was absorbed in the relentless pursuit to debunk the ‘delusion’ of the resurrection. She was steadfast and resolute to follow Christ and take Lee with her. He came home drunk and miserable. She was at home praying for him.

The friction in their marriage was tangible. The drama intense. At one point, I needed to remind myself this happened in real life and not the product of Hollywood scripting. So enveloped in the suspense, I almost forgot I knew how it ended.

Directed by Jon Gunn and featuring Faye Dunaway, Mike Vogel, Erika Christensen, and Robert Forster, The Case for Christ, as the title alludes, stacks the clues that substantiate Christianity, one scene after another.  In a fast-paced, heart-stopping production that rivals any top-rated, popular detective show.

The movie makes an unashamed “case for Christ”. It is intended to entice believers and strengthen followers. But what makes it so effective is not so much the evidence it uncovers but the personal element that draws you in, and that many can identify with. The further Lee dug to disprove the resurrection, the higher the odds piled to the contrary. All the historical, scientific and medical facts pointed in the same direction. Lee is left to make a verdict. He takes the stand as a witness to Jesus and leads a convincing argument for the viewer to do the same. Believe and receive.

The cinematographic excellence kept me riveted to the screen.  While the heart-thumps and lessons grabbed my heart, leaving a lasting impression and buckets of inspiration. Lee’s devastating discovery after the death of his father spoke loudly of the cost of carrying a grudge. I saw first-hand the power of prayer, listening to that small voice inside, and never giving up on people. To continue believing, hanging onto faith even when circumstances taunt you to do otherwise.

More than anything, the movie vividly confirmed Christ’s love is the big “why” behind the resurrection truth. That transformation is the best evidence for Christ. Because He lives in your heart.

The Case for Christ can be summed up as a bold apologetics documentary cleverly disguised as a compelling legal thriller. Kinda like a nutritious snack. You don’t have to know it’s good for you to thoroughly enjoy it! This is an exceptional film which keeps you glued to your seat and gripped by the mounting proof that Jesus, Light of the World, Son of God, Lamb of God, Redeemer, King came down from heaven, died on the cross, and rose again. As promised. Because he loves each and every one of us. But you don’t have to take my word for it.  I invite you to watch the movie and see for yourself. It will make a believer out of anyone.

Disclaimer: Movie has been provided with thanks courtesy of Mongrel Media and  Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for this unbiased review.

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Dominion from Sea to Sea

“88FE8717-1591-4D70-BF6B-63E8326A7D79”You know, I always wondered why the “Great White North” was known as Dominion of Canada. One Dominion – Celebrating Canada, Prepared for a Purpose by Bob Beasley & Paul Richardson answers that and so much more. If you’re a history buff, you’ll love this beautiful, oversized coffee table book filled with captivating information, and stunning photography. If you’re into biographies, you’ve come to the right place. If you call Canada home or someone you care about lives there, this book makes a perfect gift that opens into a priceless guide to get to know and appreciate the stories that shaped this nation. It’s a panoramic snapshot that captures past accomplishments, transposes them onto today’s reality framed in future dreams to carry on the vision and legacy that built this nation.

One Dominion is a quick read mosaicked in photos layered rich in content and fascinating facts. I found it especially cool to connect the stories and people behind familiar and famous institutions, such as McMaster University, University of Ottawa, SickKids Hospital, Hotel Dieu, Toronto Humane Society, Children’s Aid Society.  Was also sweet to discover the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill has Scripture written all over it; that politics and faith can mix and accomplish plenty.

Each page traces the narrative of Canada along its faith-based roots. But you don’t have to be a Christian to stand in awe of the magnitude of contributions made by people inspired by the Living Word of God. The intriguing account is well-written and based on true historical details filling us in on how Canada evolved. Yes, the naming of ‘Dominion of Canada’ is anchored in the bible verse “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth – Psalm 72:8 KJV” and the book highlights the mandate to give God dominion over “our home and native land” and to the ends of the earth. That calling includes embracing everyone –  people of every nation, tongue, creed, ethnic background. Whether you are here by birth, immigration, studies or work.  Or even just visiting for a while.

Now, I know how Canada got to be named, the stories and lives that got us to this place, and I’m pumped to continue the legacy of our forefathers whose faith and goodness built the nation, who brought us health care, education, social justice, fair and safe working conditions, rights and freedoms.

One Dominion is an exciting journey through Canada’s past reflected in today’s blessings and tomorrow’s  promise. Making its timely debut in the year Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, this book illustrates much to rejoice over and look forward to. From sea to sea.  And unto the ends of the earth. Cheers Canada! Kudos to One Dominion  Celebrating Canada -Prepared for a Purpose by Bob Beasley & Paul Richardson!

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Disclaimer:  Many thanks to Graf Martin Communications for the complimentary copy of One Dominion in exchange for this unbiased review.

Something wonderful to enrich your summer days

Helloooooooooooooooo summer. Hello time to slow down. Time to step back from routine and step up to new adventures. Special times with family. With friends. With new people you’ll meet. Vacation. Staycation. Home renovations. House guests. Barbecues. Picnics. Walks in the park. Stargazing after dark. Outdoor fun in the sun. Rainy days under a tent. On the road. Parked on the beach, or your very own lawn chair. Wherever you go, wherever you are, you can tune into HOPETV, “The Nation’s Faith Station ” for something wonderful that will enrich your summer days.

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HOPETV offers all the favourite pastors and programs such as Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, James Robison, Charles Stanley, 700 Club Canada known to do just that. With your remote in hand there’s a treasure at your fingertips waiting for you to grow your faith and learn more about the world around you. Day or night you can tap into HOPETV to relax, be inspired or energized.

Wake up to an uplifting boost each morning when you open the HOPETV website featuring Latest News and Inspiration sidebar and a link to their content on Facebook. Then head over to Today’s News where tile streaming Tweets from popular shows gives a panoramic, at-a-glance, snapshot of inspiration/news to choose from or collect all day long.

Love music ?HOPETV offers beautiful inspirational videos set to music, Peter Popoff Ministries, Zoomer Concert Series, The Gaither Gospel Hour, and Time to Sing singalong with Rosalie Drysdale and Marshall Hall.

Summer has just begun. So much ahead to look forward to and enjoy. With HOPETV as part of your summertime, it can be celebrated with more faith, hope, love and joy!

Disclaimer:  This post graciously sponsored by Graf-Martin Communications Inc.  As always, opinions are my own.

 

 

Would you marry your enemy to save her life?

They crossed paths on the battlefield. Enemies on opposite sides. The fallen Canaanite found still alive by Tobiah, the Hebrew soldier. No reason not to swing his sword and finish the job. Except, with helmet gone and braid free, the wounded warrior was unmistakably a woman. One look into the her eyes was enough to shift his warrior fury into a heroic gesture to protect a vulnerable casualty enveloped in hostile territory.Wings of the Wind Cover

Tobiah knew the law, and knew in his heart the right thing to do was obey the Torah and marry her. Otherwise, she was easy prey for someone to violate or destroy her. Not exactly a dream come true, but he couldn’t walk away from the only thing that would keep her safe. Besides, the law also granted the “captive wife” the freedom to leave after 30 days.

As I hoped and expected, Tobiah and his bride Alanah fell in love and tied the knot for real. She chose to stay and he couldn’t be happier. Neither could I. They were both two enchanting,  strong-willed,  compassionate personalities that belonged together. I was rooting for them all the way.

It’s the perfect ending to a love story that crossed enemy lines. A story of faith and trust that brought something good out of evil territory. Except that wasn’t how the book ends.

When Alanah discovered it was her arrow that killed Tobiah’s best friend and brother–in-law, the sweet, heart warming, romantic tale rollercoasters into a nail-biting, edge of your seat,  hold your breath suspense drama with surprise twists. Sheer genius how the author cast biblical fiction staged securely on accurate background scenery to show the face of Yehweh, the one true God against the backdrop of “idol worship”. While the captivating characters stole the show whisking you into the plot from heart aflutter start to heart-stopping finale.

Wings of the Wind is the masterful conclusion to the Out of Egypt trilogy. Connilynn Cossette brilliantly sketched, in living colour, the rich characters pulled from her imagination into biblical history. While drawing you in with her vivid, true to life vision of what went on from the time of slavery in Egypt to the final lap of the wilderness journey to claim the Promised Land,  she marked the path to a more profound understanding and desire to delve deeper into the original Scripture.

Every page held something precious and wonderful. It delivered warmth, exciting mystery, and even brought me to my knees in worship with the faith factor that held the story together. I was encouraged and challenged with lessons of trust and forgiveness, kindness and mercy toward our enemies, and above all God’s provision and protection. He has a plan and purpose for everything that happens to each and every one of us. Plans for good. That’s what defined the novel from begnning to end.

My one word for Wings of the Wind? “Wow!” I loved it and think you will too!

Disclaimer: Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers for the complimentary copy of Wings of the Wind in exchange for this unbiased review.

 

Courage is all you need to Win

race-to-win-movie-coverThe skeptics weighed in heavily against the likelihood Gentry could make anything of the vast, expansive ranch.  But he had a vision. Took on the impossible, and made it happen. Now that he’s gone, his grieving family has 30 days to come up with $150,000 to clear a business loan or lose it all.

Doesn’t help matters they owe the money to a heartless slime bucket who’s had his greedy eye on the property for a while. Who will stop at nothing to get his way or make a quick, dishonest buck. But the Rhodes family is not without hope or options. There’s still a battle to fight and a race to win their ticket to freedom from his debt-fisted grasp.

The answer was simple and obvious. Victory in the upcoming Hancock County Championship Race would turn things around just like that!…..or so it seemed. That dream dissolved into a puddle of washed-up optimism when the jockey refused to race Sheba, their prized racehorse. “This horse is not a winner!” he insisted and walks away.

That dropped one last, lofty chance for daughter Hannah to come through on to her promise to keep the homestead in the family. Could she find the courage to take on fierce, unbeatable competition and wrestle haunting self-doubt on the shoulders of halting unreadiness? Gather everything her father taught her about riding to chase the ride of her life?

With all the inner strength she could muster, boldly facing the daunting challenge of training with a new horse, she chooses to race. To honour her dad’s legacy. Race to win for the family who believes in her; who quiet her fears with the lovingly assurance, “Your best is enough!”

This is the part where I sighed, expecting to settle in to the classic, rousing, triumphant story unfold. Poetic justice wrapped in a victory lap. I won’t spoil it for you with the result of the race, and don’t mean to tease, but the twist in the plot was worth waiting for.

Race to Win is the perfect movie for anyone who has lost someone dear. It sensitively captures the sting of grief and the brave stepping out it takes to carry on.  The film casts a clear view of what it looks like to find the strength to hold each other up in the mourning. And hold fast to the love-filled memory of the one  who will always be with you, deep in your heart. Always.

If you need to find the faith to believe it’s never too late, even when it seems you’ve exhausted all options, this movie is for you. If you need the inspiration to hang on to hope and keep going, you won’t be disappointed.

If you need to be reminded your best is enough, Race to Win is right up your alley. If you could use a little encouragement or long for a wholesome, uplifting family film, this movie is definitely for you. Especially if you happen to like animals.

Race to Win touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I loved how the true-to-life characters drew me in while precious values such as:

  • perseverance
  • courage to do the right thing and the hard things
  • what it means to be a true champion
  • strength born from family love and commitment
  • there’s always room for redemption

were molded into captivating drama. I enjoyed every minute, from beginning to end.

Movie has been provided courtesy of Mongrel Media and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Releases to DVD March 7

I am a hope writer

Unlocking the Bible

If you’ve ever wanted to read through the bible and found yourself confused, dizzy from a myriad of numbers, bogged down with a litany of laws, lost in a sea of strange places and names, this book is for you. Like a jigsaw puzzle, Unlocking the Bible snaps together one piece at at a time to reveal the big picture of something extraordinary.

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Written in a warm, conversational style with fascinating facts, anecdotes, quotes, stories, and a touch of humour, it captures a panoramic snapshot of ancient Biblical times from the viewpoint of present-day relevance. In the background and foreground is evidence of how each page of the Bible carries a unified theme and the presence of Christ throughout.

Jeff Lasseigne’s “keys” to unlocking the Bible are simple, easy to understand yet filled with lots of rich detail and practical application. Keys that include answers to common questions like: where did Old Testament people go when they died? Why is the Bible important? What happened in the 400 years between the Old Testament and New Testament? What’s with all the translations? Keys to treasures like the ten reasons you can trust the Bible, Seven takeaway thoughts for when we don’t feel as if God is speaking to us, times when He is silent; helpful geography and historical facts, how to study and teach the Bible and an overall view of the Bible as a whole followed by gems from each of the 66 books.

The author’s hope and prayer for this book is “as you read through it you will fall more in love with Jesus and receive and understand His Word.” Definitely worked for me. Over and over again I couldn’t wait to open my Bible because of what I read or learned.
Disclaimer:  Many thanks to Baker Publishing for the complimentary copy of Unlocking the Bible in exchange to this unbiased review.

I am a hope writer

For such a time as this

img_0979You may want to lock the door, put up the Do Not Disturb sign, and fill up on rations when you start reading The Domino Effect. Because you won’t want to leave until you finish the whole entire book. Yes, it’s that good!

Davis Bunn does a masterful job of spinning a financial thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat while intricately entwining an enchanting storyline built around endearing, believable characters you’ll immediately get attached to. The novel is an unfolding of a heart-warming, hope-based narrative. The uncovering of a sinister scheme aimed at global plunging into economy collapse. And the unwavering commitment to save the world from financial meltdown and ruin.

Esther Larsen lost both parents within nine months of each other while she was still in grade school. Now, her only brother is confined in a rehab centre since his pregnant wife died in an automobile accident. No wonder she was pretty well comfortable married to safety on the sidelines, alone and detached. That was about to change. Fast.

Her job as a risk analyst for one of the largest banks in the US, placed her in a spot where remaining silent was a risk she just wouldn’t take. Too many lives were at stake. The time to help people survive the economic crisis looming on the horizon is now. There was no time to waste. Esther opened up her heart and life for the greater good, to keep people secure “even when that means doing what comes hardest for me.”

What was remarkable about The Domino Effect is how the author brought to life a modern take on the Book of Esther. Mirroring her biblical namesake, Esther courageously stepped out into her purpose in history “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14) As we follow her surge from obscurity to international spotlight, we grasp financial terminology, market conditions, and how global economies are interconnected. We are drawn into what it’s like to be orphaned at a young age, effects of trauma on the brain, and the painful reality of a family separated by divorce.

Like Esther, the novel invites us to take a stand when it’s not convenient, speak up to defend justice and protect people from impending danger; do what’s right even in the face of uncertainty. Take a risk, reach out and love with all your heart. For such a time as this.

Many thanks to Bethany House for the complimentary copy of the book in exchange for this unbiased review.

I am a hope writer