Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review: "Finding My Thunder" by Diane Munier

"This was my heart. Hate could squeeze me, choke me, pierce me…but it could not choke the love from me…it would not. Love had to win."

[Munier, Diane (2015-03-28). Finding My Thunder (Kindle Locations 3053-3054). Kindle Edition.]

This is the battle cry of Hilly Grunier, narrator and heroine of  Diane Munier's sophomore novel, Finding My Thunder. As we meet Hilly, dangerous secrets swirl around her, accusations lurking in every hello and how-de-do. But Hilly doesn't fear small-town scandal or the speculation about her relationship with the Negro woman living behind her house. She doesn't fear her father's temper or her mother's babbling. Opinions of the faceless town or rudeness at school...none of these trifles make the short list.

Hilly Grunier fears one thing and one thing alone: never having a chance with Danny Boyd, the eternal, undisputed champion of her heart.

It doesn’t matter that Danny hasn’t spoken to her in years, that the childhood incident in the woods ruined their relationship forever. It doesn’t matter that Danny has a popular, pretty girlfriend who represents everything Hilly is not and does not wish to be.

All that matters is Hilly loves Danny, and love has to win.

But how can love win out over bombs in Vietnam, over an honorable young man’s duty to himself and country? How can love win out over bigotry and bias, when a Negro-tainted lineage is akin to social death? And how can love win out when life is unstable and everything you know could be shattered with a whisper?

Hilly does not need to know the “how”; she cares only about the “what.” What she knows is love has to win. And in the careful, poetic hands of Diane Munier, love has a fighting chance.

The powerful beauty of Finding My Thunder reveals itself in myriad ways. It survives in Hilly’s heart as love carries her down to the river, through woods and war, and back again. It colors the bond between Hilly and Naomi and is the only color between them that truly matters. It covers a multitude of hidden sins and emerges redemptive even after death.

And it infuses every line and space of this moving narrative with depth, music, and hope so audacious it outshines every dark and ugly thing seeking to snuff it out. Because as Munier so poignantly shows us, love is the greatest thing, and it always has to win.

Finding My Thunder is available at

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Holy Week: The Three Passions

For most of my life, the word “passion” solely evoked glossy romance novel covers, soap opera super-couples, and an innocent 1990 Fred Savage commercial. The line? “My passion for you will never be quenched.” 

(So random. So adorable.)
Then in 2004, The Passion of the Christ forever changed my understanding. Christ’s Passion aptly translated the Greek word “to suffer.” Bookended by triumph and seeming defeat, the six-day journey carries Jesus from palms under a donkey to nails on a cross, all leading to Sunday where Passion becomes redeeming power.  

We see in Christ a perfect picture of how one passion informs the other: he suffered because he loved us so much:

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

But how does that look for us? What is the connection between our Passion and our passion? And how does it relate to Christ’s Passion, to his rejection-turned-resurrection?

During a recent conversation with a friend, I believe I connect those dots.

To see my smiling friend, you would never know his backstory. He has endured unspeakable hurt, the kind that derails destinies and causes him to question God and His purposes for his life. Despite many victories, he still struggles with the residual effects of those childhood traumas, and last week, he briefly relapsed into an old destructive pattern. This setback occurred on the eve of an event during which he expected to minister to others and proclaim the goodness of God.

Yet there he was: smiling outside while spiraling inside.

It was at this intersection of pain and possibility that God unlocked the door to his purpose. When he pressed through his problem and honored his commitment, God met him and contradicted his fears and fallacies about failing. Not only through familiar faces but through strangers, discerning, compassionate strangers who spoke into his life and ministered hope and healing to his brokenness.

What’s more, as he let Christ’s blood-bought love flood his soul, God began to reveal His plans for this beloved son in startling color and detail. He showed him how the wounds of his past would pave the way for a wonder-working future. And those ministering strangers from before? Many of them had skills and spheres of influence that could aid my friend in carrying out the missions God set before him.

If you could have seen the light in his eyes as he shared this story with me, his awed relief that God’s love burrowed beneath his shameful scars as he exposed his secrets to the One who died to free him from their bondage…

It was breathtaking.

This, I realized, is the marriage of the three passions: where our Passion (suffering) leads us to Christ’s passion (exuberant love and devotion) for us, and He exchanges our Passion for a passion (calling, destiny) that will heal us, minister to others, and bring glory to His name.

Much like The Passion we commemorate this Week.

Holy Week culminates tomorrow in Good Friday, the death to end all deaths. And when I weep at the thought of the cross, I will cry not because I am wretched but because I am redeemed; I will wail in reverence not regret. Because I understand Christ’s Passion as the ultimate proof of his passion for me. And as we let His passion overcome our pain, He gives us instead a passion worth living His passion for us was worth him dying for.

May our passion for God be ignited this Holy Week.