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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Review: How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I'm Surrounded by Loose Cannons by Kathi Macias (Blog Tour Included)

Title: How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I'm Surrounded by Loose Cannons?: Proverbs 31 Discoveries for Yielding to the Master of the Seas
Author: Kathi Macias
Pages: 208
Publisher: New Hope Publishers (February 2, 2009)
Genre: Non-Fiction / Religion / Christian Life / Women
Edition: Paperback - many thanks to the Kathy Carlton Willis Communications for sending me a copy to review for this blog tour! Thanks Kathy!!

Perfect for : Personal Use, Bible Study Group (Women's)

In a nutshell: I don't know about you, but I've spent countless hours trying to find people, books, and websites that could help me become the perfect wife, mother, daughter, friend, etc. and I have been marginally successful (there are countless sites to help with menu planning, cleaning schedules, etc)! But with each thing I manage to implement into my schedule, I feel like I fall two steps behind in some other area - how can I ever manage to get ahead of myself with a husband, a two-year-old, and countless friends and relatives who tend to take a priority over my to-do lists in order to become closer to my goal of "perfect?"

After reading How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I'm Surrounded by Loose Cannons? I now realize (and will hopefully remember) that I am what God created me to be, no matter what. . . I have a purpose on this Earth and only God knows what that is. In the mean time, I do manage to get the necessities taken care of in our crazy (and loving) life, and more than anything else, I am trying to be a good example to others while watching for things I can learn at the same time. God gives us "Loose Cannons" in our life so that we have an opportunity to witness for him in small ways, and so we can be encouraged and witnessed to as well.

Kathi Macias has written a wonderful book filled with humor and life stories that she has learned along her path to discovering how to be the Proverbs 31 Woman. This book will help you see what she was able to discover and learn from different people in her life, and will help you learn to see what the people in your life are able to show you as you go along your own journey and help your faith grow.

Extended Review:
Content: The book is made up of five sections that help show the different stages of the author's life in her walk with God and her attempt at finding out how to be the perfect Proverbs 31 Woman. Part 1: Learning To Crawl - On My Knees, Part 2: Learning to Walk - Slow and Shaky, but on My Feet, Part 3: Learning to Run - Swift and Steady, Still on my Feet, Part 4: Learning to Fly - Soaring with Eagles, Part 5: Learning to Lean - Back on my Knees. The book also has a Foreward, Introduction, Conclusion and Afterward.

Format: Each chapter shows a valuable life lesson that Kathi Macias learned throughout her journey to become the Perfect Proverbs 31 Woman. The life lessons are insightful, humorous, and serve to really show the reader what life is all about. The end of each chapter has a section called "Making it Personal" where the author asks some important questions of the reader, making what you are reading more relevant to your own life.

Readability: Kathi Macias' writing style was very enjoyable and easy to read. She has an approach to life and writing that makes the reader comfortable to walk a mile in her shoes as she is sharing some very important things she has learned and HOW she learned them.

Overall: This is a great book for the woman who is striving to become perfect, who probably needs a reality check and help to see what she is already accomplishing.

From the Blog Tour with Kathy Carlton Willis Communication:

About the Book:
(Homeland, CA) - For all the Christian women in the world who dread reading Proverbs 31 and wonder who on earth could ever live up to that woman - this book is for you. Between dirty diapers, complaining children, housework, husbands and a multitude of other attention-grabbing detours women face, award-winning author and speaker, Kathi Macias finds a way to encourage and biblically instruct women of all ages and phases. Women everywhere are the glue that holds their families together. Keeping everything under control challenges even the most organized household CEO. Kathi uses humor, God's Word, as well as practical insight and instruction to lovingly encourage women to grow in this progression of grace.

Readers will find How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I'm Surrounded by Loose Cannons?: Proverbs 31 Discoveries for Yielding to the Master of the Seas, filled with scriptural explanations and journaling pages to process and write their personal feelings and prayers. With sections of the book focused on each step of the learning process to guide our ships to safe harbor, readers will be happily surprised to find the funny without the fluff. Kathi's words are the "spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down." Her vulnerable approach facilitates the teachings of Proverbs 31, making it easier for women to swallow. The truth of the scriptures is very much alive and well throughout the pages, yet the ease and charm of the author's words entice readers to press forward and embrace the plan for God's woman today.

About the Author:
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women's clubs and retreats, and writers' conferences. She recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi "Easy Writer" Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend free time riding their Harley.

Blog Tour Interview:

I understand you sometimes refer to this book as "discipleship with a grin." What do you mean by that, and why did you choose a humor format for a discipleship book?

Actually, I chose a discipleship theme for a humor title. As much as I hate to admit it, the title came to me one day and I knew I had to do something with it--just too good to pass up! So the more I thought/prayed about it, the more I realized it described my life, both naturally and spiritually. I began to try to lay out my spiritual growth via humorous life stories, and found they produced a natural pattern. From there I developed the five stages of spiritual growth into five sections for the book, and I was off and running! Besides, I learned from a friend/mentor years ago that you can "shove a lot of truth down people's throat when their mouth is open laughing," so I figured, why not???

What are some of the funniest "loose cannons" stories included in your book?

One of my favorites is the story of my very first women's retreat as a brand new Christian back in the "Jesus freak" days of baptisms at the beach and praise-ins at the park. I shared a room with three ladies I had never met, one of whom ended up being my "bunk mate." She snored, she was quite a bit overweight (taking up much more than her side of the bed!), and she "leaked" because she was still weaning her youngest child. You'll have to read the story to see how that experience taught me a lot about "spiritual face plants."

Another favorite story is about the time I took my three sons (two pre-teens and one elementary school age at the time) to the community swimming pool. The older boys decided to use their younger brother as a human beach ball, and when they ignored my cries from the side of the pool to stop, I actually had the nerve to jump into the water and swim right up to them and order them to stop. Their level of humiliation at being seen in the pool with their mother was as close to social suicide as it gets. But we all survived and learned a lot in the process.

Your book is divided into five sections. Can you briefly explain what they are and what they have to do with discipleship and humor?

As I mentioned earlier, the five sections correspond with what I consider the five stages of spiritual growth: crawling (infants or "rugrats") on our knees; walking (toddlers who are still a bit shaky but exploring and learning); running (stronger, more mature believers who are beginning to make a difference in their world); flying or soaring (eagles with a solid foundation and maturity to share with others); resting (back on our knees and realizing that place of utter dependence on Him is really the best place to be after all). The discipleship correlation is, I believe, evident in these stages; the humor comes in simply because I'm one of those slow learners who needs God to "hit me upside the head" at times, and I haven't been bashful about explaining those times in the book.

What advice can you give to the young mom out there who is juggling two kids, a fulltime job outside the home, a husband, housework, pets and church?

Life happens in seasons! You CAN'T be all things to all people at all times. It simply doesn't work. And if you don't believe it, read about my many crash-and-burn episodes as I tried! The Proverbs 31 woman is a composite picture of many women from different walks and stages of life; when we get a grip on that, it releases us to enjoy the season we're in right now, even as we prepare for the next one.

How did raising your own children help prepare you for the parenting side of the proverbial woman? Any tips you'd like to share?

Relax and enjoy them! Yes, even the rugrats and teenagers, because "this too shall pass." There were times I thought I'd go bald from pulling out my own hair over the frustrations and failures of that season of my life, but now it's my grandchildren who are passing through those rugrat-to-teen stages, and hey, I still have my hair! You'll make it--and so will your kids--in spite of your frustrations and failures. And yes, I know there are too many of those to mention (or admit to). I'm the queen of mom-failures, and yet my kids never cease to bless me with words of love and praise. Do I deserve it? Probably not. But I love every minute of it!

Do you have a favorite part of the book or a favorite chapter?

Several, in fact, but one in particular: Chapter 26, "Back Home Again," contains the story of my precious father, a man who lived for 88 years denying God's existence and then finally turning to him in his last week of life. It's one of the more serious stories in the book, but even that one ends on a humorous note.

If the Proverbs 31 woman is alive today, what does she look like?

She looks like me--and you--and every woman whose heart longs to please God and to raise her children according to the Scriptures, even though she knows she's doing well just to make sure they all have their sack lunches before they leave for school in the morning. She's thin, overweight, short, tall, black, white, brown, red, yellow, and polka dot when she catches her kids' chicken pox. And she's absolutely beautiful!!!

Are there some specific lessons you hope readers will learn and apply to their lives after reading your book?

I want them to learn to relax and laugh and enjoy this voyage called "life," and to trust the Captain of our souls to take us home safely when our trip is over, rather than struggling to "man the oars" ourselves.

What makes your book different than other books similar to yours that are in circulation today?

There are countless books written for "control freak" women who want to do it all and be it all--perfectly and completely at all times. This one, however, is not only written with a humorous tone, but it also takes the reader through what I call the five steps of spiritual growth: crawling, walking, running, flying--and back on our knees, totally dependent once again. I do this by exposing many of the sometimes humorous--and sometimes not so humorous--events in my own life as I progressed through the five stages.

Are there any authors that either influenced you personally or influenced your style of writing? Who are they and how did they influence you?

Brennan Manning, Henri J. M. Nouwen, and Max Lucado have to be right at the top of my favorite nonfiction authors list, simply because they call me back to the heart of worship, to a fresh appreciation of grace and a clarion call to rely totally upon God and not myself. I need those reminders on a regular basis. In addition, I love their writing styles. Their words "sing," and it is my goal to do the same with the words I write.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do? Do you have any hobbies?

Okay, now I have to 'fess up to how nearly one-dimensional I am. If I'm not writing, I'm...well, reading someone else's writing. That's at the top of my "what I like to do" list. However, I also spend time riding on the back of my husband's 2003 Harley Davidson Road King motorcycle. He's been riding HD's since 1970 and says he will never outgrow that youthful passion. On the road we are known as "Big Al" and "Easy Writer..."

Thanks for stopping by this stop of the Blog Tour!!

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!


Staci said...

Now this sounds like a book that I can relate to!! Have to put it on my TBR list..great review Wendi!

Kathi Macias said...

Thanks, Wendi, for being a part of this blog tour. And thanks to all your readers as well! I hope to hear from them via my website. Blessings!

Becca said...

This one is on my TBR list, too. Nice review.

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