Book Review: Left of Bang! How The Marine Corp Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life by Patrick Van Horne

I loved this book! Left of Bang! How The Marine Corp Combat Hunter Program can Save Your Life by Patrick Van Horne is a fantastic, fast read. I won’t say it is the greatest written, but the program and the historical info on Afghanistan was truly insiders knowledge. The hunter program won’t save your life because it was made for military personnel on the field. (I think Gavin De Beckers books are more informative for saving your life.) However, the program can create a sense of control, ease, and predictability in new contexts.

left-of-bangEveryone can gain something from reading this book! Much lighter reading compared to the other books I have recently read. Despite the repetition of the book telling us that it was about the hunter program. This book was to the point, and fast to read. The material went in, and stayed in. (I like when books like that.)

I was amazed and intrigued by the amount of information on what the soldiers battled did while serving in Afghanistan. I’m typically not a “history buff” but I enjoyed learning about how they overcame the massive casualties of IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) explosions by developing the Marine Corp Combat Hunter Program.

Van Horne really made the information accessible to the lay person in any type of situation that gives them anxiety. My favorite part of the book was practicing the program in public places whether it was the mall, airport, or even at my church. He basically teaches smart surveillance. Also, when my husband and I watched, “The Hornet’s Nest” I felt like I had a working knowledge of the war in Afghanistan and knew what our soldiers were up against.

A tidbit of the program: First, you establish a baseline of expected behavior. Example: At an event or place, there are specific people invited, there is a dress code, certain things will take place during the event. You have to determine what is the “norm” for the given context and be aware of anomalies that stray from that baseline.  If some expected things DO NOT happen then there is a negative anomaly. If something MORE happens than this it is a positive anomaly. When this happens the person “surveying” the area can make more educated guesses and anticipate change in the environment rather than be caught off guard.

I recommend this book to anyone wanting to have a certain edge to their environments, anyone who is traveling soon, and would like to better know how to protect themselves in new contexts, or anyone on any protective or military force.

Book Review: Protecting The Gift by Gavin De Becker

Not the first book I read by Gavin, and not the last. He is outstanding. The first book of his that I read is titled, “The Gift of Fear.” I read it in college. It read like a thriller. It was so helpful in understanding my own body’s signals of fear and interpreting threatening behavior and situations.

In “Protecting the Gift,” Gavin informs his reader of the strategies of people who seek to do harm to children. He provides key insight for developing an acute awareness to your environment whether you are shopping at a familiar mall or at the beach on vacation. Although, some children may be too young to understand the threat of real world predators, he urges parents and caregivers to be the guardians and gatekeepers of their inner circle.

He teaches his readers to:

1) Develop a system of awareness when in a new environment.

2) Research schools and public environments for safety rules.

3) He emphasizes the value of keeping a healthy, trusting relationship with your children.

4) He touches on the gun issue in this country and how it affects our youth.

5) He gives plenty of jaw-dropping stats on the world of violence and crime in our youth, and who is most likely to become affected by it and at what point in childhood.

If you are seeking to understand the world from an experts point of view regarding safety and how to take preventive measures this book is for you. It is difficult at times to come face to face with the challenges our children confront at schools, neighbor’s houses, family environments, and even babysitters they don’t like. But it is SO good for us as parents, teachers, or as any caregiver to understand the other side of life.

You will come away from this book trusting your intuitive guide and hunches. You will feel confident that your hunch is not just on a hunch but more of an informed and “educated guess.” You will become more sensitive to your children’s voices whether they are whining, crying, angry, or acting out, they could be telling you something but don’t have all the words to describe it.

Book Review: Mindhunter by John E. Douglas

This is not the type of book that I would normally read but every time I saw it on our bookshelf, I wanted to read it. At the same time, I was completely intimidated by the subject matter. “Mindhunter: Inside The FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit” by John E Douglas is John Douglas’s career path that lead into the development of Serial Crime Profiling, specifically serial killers. It is well written. At times in the beginning it is slow, but overall the pacing is great. The finish is one of the smoothest finishes I have read in books -not rushed and thought through.

Four things I took away from this book are:

Anyone’s path to discover their passion and their niche is not a straight path. John Douglas chose a variety of roles for the FBI. After moving within the FBI and gaining more experience, he refined what he was good at. And became the man who not only developed the system of Serial Killing Profiling, but mastered it too. I think we all have similar paths. It may take a while to refine but if we stick with it, we will become the masters of our destiny.

Profiling is a legit system used to aid in the capturing of criminals. It is not based on race. It is based on an entire personhood drawn from habits and experiences in a persons life: history of felonies, age bracket, cars driven, education, military experience, drug or alcohol abuse, etc. The most telling of all details is the victim and the crime, not the criminal at all. Douglas could tell you what type of guy did the crime solely based on the forensics. This was the most impressive skill presented.

Nearly all serial killers are made not born. Almost all of the serial killers were men who had abusive upbringings. Specifically, time and time again, they had a domineering or very controlling, abusive mother. The stories about how mothers would abuse their sons broke my heart. Other factors include bullying because of a physical impairment in particular speech impediments.

I don’t want to go anymore into the details of this book because it is difficult material to stomach. His book confirmed natural hunches and ideas I had about people in this subject matter.

It breaks my heart that there are many abused children in our country that feel they are not loved; and eventually as adults, decide they are their own avengers. They come to this conclusion because no one stood in the gap for them while they suffered innocently.

This book is not an easy read. Read it with caution. Read it prayerfully. People who may like this book might be a policeman, FBI agent, psychologist, or a writer.

It’s Been a Long Time!

Motherhood seriously took over my life! It’s been great, but I have missed the mornings where I sit down with a cup of joe, listen to sweet morning stillness with the birds, and can actually hear myself finish a full thought! I’ve been somewhat scatter brained BUT definitely for the good of my 3-year-old and 18 month old boys.

Hi, my name is Leanne. I’ve had many nicknames like Lea, LeLe, and others I won’t mention. But for this site I chose Elle. The word ‘she’ is relatable, “Elle” is phonetically the first letter of my name, and Elle can be rewritten to create LeLe, so I decided I like Elle. (People have said I think too much…its possible that the reason for this is my musical training…and yes, I think too much.)  I’m a mother of two boys and a wife to a very amazing husband (you can check his work out here.)

I love being a wife, a mother, and these things: writing, reading, playing and teaching piano, crafting, sewing, making new friends, listening, the Bible and Jesus.

What have I been up to the past 5 months while not writing? 1. I began teaching piano lessons again! Woohoo! I didn’t realize how much I missed teaching young minds music theory and how to play the piano! 2. I have been on tangential reading lists; reading books authors mention in any current book I am on. I have read about six or seven books…thats really just been the past 2 months or so. (I’ll write reviews on them in separate posts.) Who knew the book “On Killing” would create more compassion and love? I feel like a Mother Theresa after reading that one! That reminds me…(note to self) -Read a biography on Mother T. 3. I am also in the midst of branding my quilts and bags. I’ll probably have some subtle way of dropping it in these posts. 4. I have held down the fort and stayed active with my family. Cooking, baking, grocery shopping, home maintenance…like starting up and fixing two swamp coolers cutting down trees.

Well, I won’t use up my gracious 30 minutes on a recap (they are bound to wake up any minute now).

Thank you to my followers who have checked back with my site from time to time looking for something fresh. Hopefully, I can steal the time to write important posts the way Jack Sparrow steals the Black Pearl to search for and find the gold.

If you are a new reader check out my “Be The Change”  archive. The posts there have been my most recent teachings that give you an idea about what I do here!

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Cheers, happy reading, and have a great summer!





Encouragement For A Broken Spirit

I’m deviating from my Be The Change a bit here. But I thought being so close to Christmas and all, there may be broken people who search for encouragement. If that’s you, I hope my blog encourages you, gives you strength, and jumpstarts some faith.

I know what a broken spirit is like. I’ve been broken to the point where I couldn’t recognize anything else in life except pain suffering. I had endless amounts of pain, and questions that I couldn’t answer. I saw the vanity of life passing by; I wondered if I could enjoy my life again. How could I enjoy it with the same ignorant bliss?

I got used to my broken spirit. I felt mangled, horrid, and I couldn’t grow or flourish in anything. I felt stuck in this state of uselessness on top of those layers of thoughts, I questioned how forgiveness really works, how the healing process works. I didn’t know if it really would work. Would I become whole again?

There was one scripture that I pondered over daily. Proverbs 18:14, “The human spirit can endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can endure?” Could I endure this? I guess I had been enduring it for quite a while. I left my answer open. Eventually…

My answer became a ‘yes.’ Not only did I endure and persevere, I began to thrive. But it began with Jesus. I’m not one to give up on myself, life, or those around me, but I knew I couldn’t do this great internal work alone. I needed someone who had been crushed by those he loved and came out alive! I needed the strength of a Savior, I needed Jesus.

A broken spirit is a unique thing. You experience the rawness of your humanity, yet being so close to death (in a spirit kinda way) its a sort of wandering state. It can take you back to purity and innocence. It can lead you to truth. It makes you trust in the one and only thing you should trust in…God -instead of putting your hopes and trust in people. It does all this while demanding you to actually HAVE FAITH -and leaves you to be dumbfounded as to how the pieces are going to be put back together.

When you are a broken, wandering, spirit its difficult to even find where “faith” is in all the chaos of shattered you. But everyone can find even the smallest mustard seed of faith.

This state of brokenness is not forever. There is a way to be made whole again. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Jesus can make all things new. How or why? He was crushed in spirit and in body, he died and came back to life. Resurrected, he has the power to make you whole again.

I can’t begin to tell you how amazing the results are when you trust in Christ with your brokenness, but the one thing that stands out to me is amazing strength and incredible backbone. And love. When your strength and backbone are built by God its powerful love. I’ve realized that it is God’s love that creates the strongest will and backbone anyone could ever ask for. It’s amazing that God uses what we think is broken and worthless and turns it into something strong, faithful, and loving.

There’s so much to say on this topic of brokenness but I’ll end it here. I’m already way over my “less than 500″ rule.

Leaving you with: 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Be strong through the season. He will carry you through if you ask him for it.




Be The Change Devotional Week 37: Be Tenacious


“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” -Ray Kroc

If I could sum up the invaluable qualities of a tenacious spirit this quote does it. One could have all the talent in the world, another could have all the clever ideas, and even an educated person who has degrees of knowledge will amount to nothing in the light of someone who has all those things and tenacity.

I hear people talk and talk about million dollar ideas (I even search my mind for that one brilliant idea too). People get so passionate, excited, inspired, worked up and even worried over their “idea.” Yet, what is never present is the ability to see and chase their dream idea tenaciously.

The future of an idea should be seen as distant. It takes a long time for an idea to mature. Along the way, it requires commitment, hard work, discipline, and a no-quit attitude. Discovering the power of tenacity will give you the ability to wrestle with your idea until it is brilliant. What is your M.O. with “big” ideas? How do you trouble-shoot any problems along your journey? 

When an idea fails, we end up in the back alleys and dead end projects. We arrive here because we failed to do something along the way. Some of us sit there. Some of us quit. But the tenacious person will cling to his idea and find a way to make it work. They solve every single problem and even work to prevent them.

What ideas do you have that need to be pursued, chased, completed? Some people work on everyday things like relationships, personal growth, and career goals. Others pursue an entrepreneurial idea. Whatever it is…

Be tenacious! Week 36 is for people who want to be go getters, goal chasers, and doers. Don’t fall into the trap of “someday”…don’t standby watching others realize their dream

Go get it! Don’t let training, resources, or thoughts of lack discourage you this week. The truth is that you have everything you need! As you seek to be the change you will discover that tenacity is all you need. The support, resources, and momentum follow the tenacious person.

Be tenacious.

If you liked this you may also like similar articles: Week 36, Week 32, Week 26.

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Craft Fair 2014

This is not a usual post, but I thought I’d have some fun with this one! Craft fairs! Oh my, oh my.

I recently participated in a craft fair and it was so much fun. I loved engaging all of the shoppers. I became a listening ear to a teenaged girl venting about her bossy younger sister. I encouraged a woman dealing with the expected passing of a loved one. I chatted with my neighbor’s grandson about building stuff with his dad. And I gave away one of my purses to a girl who was perfectly silent as she walked by with her parents. (I had a hunch she wanted one, but her self-control was irresistible to me, I wanted to reward her!)

photo 4-2

Here I am cuddled in my disappearing 9 patch quilt (because it was freezing in there) with my display of goodies.

Craft fairs are those things where you go to just have fun! When I go, I often feel like Ariel from The Little Mermaid lost in the sea of “whose-its, whats-its, and thinga-ma-bawbs.”

However, being in one is different. You have to bring something people actually want to buy!

Fingers crossed, I had been working on my purses since the summer. It takes a long time to make one completely from scratch (I don’t use patterns). From design, cutting, sewing, ironing, tweaking, to finished product it seems to take forever. (I design every purse differently depending on the clothing I repurpose.)

photo 1-4 photo 2-4 photo 3-4

photo 5-2   Totes, over the shoulder, and a couple of shoulder bags (not pictured). Since this was my first and maybe only craft fair, I was surprised that I sold 13 out of the 19 purses. Totally fun, and worth sitting under the air cooler. I was so happy that I sold so many because I got to donate my proceeds to a cause I am in love with! You can check it out at Reload Love. I also got a few commissioned projects!!!

photo 2-3Kelli Muwumba -It was great to see Kelli again! She was an old college friend and work colleague. The art in this photo is her husbands art. Davis Muwumba is a talented artist! Check out his website if you like Afro-art!

photo 3-3

My sister in law, Bekah. She made adorable little headbands for baby girls (on the right). She sold the headbands to donate to an adoption fund of a close friend.

There were a few other artisans that I really enjoyed. The mysterious “apple-butter” woman was amazing! I didn’t know a cracker could taste so good! I can’t forget the concession stand -it is what it is. The nachos were typical. But the hot cocoa -yummy. Always the same; always delicious.

Do you go to craft fairs? Street markets? What do you like or dislike about them? Do you go to just to look, chat with the people, or for bargain fun? What is your favorite type of purse or thing to get at the market?



Be The Change Devotional Week 36: Be Proactive


The American dream was born through freedom. Your entrepreneurial spirit becomes alive when you maximize the use of your freedom. Although we have all the freedom we want, isn’t true that some of us feel stuck in jobs with a very low ceiling. To break through would be easy, the next position doesn’t satisfy; or the ceiling simply is oppressive. Instead of feeling like a captive to the american dream, become the captain of it. Whether you are an aspiring blogger, actor, designer, restaurant owner, inventor, builder I encourage you to be pro-active with all your goals.

Snippet of motherhood reality: After I had my first-born, I realized my time was cut by 75%. I had 25% of my day to work! After my second born, that time was cut by 75% again. Now, I have a little more than 6% of my day to fulfill my dreams and personal goals, unless I get pro-active and grab time by its tail. i must acclimate to the little time I have to make progress, or live with regret that I never tried. How much time do you have to make progress?

Five Ways To Grab Time By Its Tail:

1) Get scrappy – Chunks of time can be found anywhere throughout your day. Don’t let wasteful habits gobble it up. Get scrappy and use it like it was the last 15 minutes of your life. Time is the most valuable commodity because it is always fleeting, and everyone wants more. Get scrappy and use it wisely.

2) Multi-task – Kill two birds with one stone. I have discovered that I can multi-task well with two activities. Listening and doing. Example: I sew and listen to audio lectures at the same time. Use your other senses when you do a task that is familiar. Stuffing envelopes can turn into a Portuguese class. Driving can turn into a brainstorm.

3) Stop caring Free your mind from caring so much about insignificant things. We get stuck mentally because we invest emotionally and care too much about things like bad traffic, the tardiness of employees, how much sleep you got, how little time you have, etc. When you stop caring so much about the things that don’t matter, you care more about things that do matter!

4) Do what you can – Just start. Do what you can. Plan an activity that has an objective and measurable result. It doesn’t have to be the final result. But the activities should be small actions that lead to the finished product.

5) Sacrifice – Sacrifices are vital for redeeming valuable time. When you cut unproductive activities, you free up available and valuable time for more intentional actions. Sacrifice dead-end relationships, time on social media, sleep, etc.

Week 35 – stay on top of your game and get scrappy, do two things at once, care about things that make a difference, do what you can, and make some serious sacrifices. The week ahead has challenges. Clear distractions, make no excuses, keep plugging along no matter how slow, or small the progress. In the end, you will be amazed at your achievement.

Be Proactive.  


The Rag Quilt

I purchased a rag quilt kit over the summer and recently just finished. I added one color into the quilt because I had extra blue flannel that worked. The whole process was really easy. The only part that took a long time was snipping the “rag” part of all the seams. Nonetheless, I loved my adventure into rag quilting. The prints made it fun, and the result was satisfying. Here are the photos: photo 1

Pic 1: The “X” through the middle making the sandwich: Flannel, Cotton batting, Flannel. photo 2

Pic 2: Here are all of the squares finished but not sewn. Here I worked out the pattern of colors and prints.

photo 4Pic 3: Here it is all finished. The rag part turned out nice and fluffy. I loved the result!

Things I learned along the way: 

  • Nesting seams is important: it is where you make sure the middle of the seams line up, and the extra fabric goes in opposite directions.
  • There was a point (in the nested seams) where I couldn’t decide to keep snipping in the same direction or switch to begin the next block. I found that splitting it worked well. I snipped the top half the same direction, and the bottom half the other direction.
  • Never give up when learning something new. There is always a way to make it right.

Be The Change Devotional Week 35: Be Decisive


An article online states that the average amount of remotely conscious decisions an adult makes each day equals about 35,000. Another study reveals that around 5,000 decisions are made daily. And another, more than 200 food related decisions are made in a day. According to these studies, we must be decisive people, huh?

So why am I writing about being decisive?  I believe we want to make decisions that produce the best results. We want our choices to be fulfilling, productive, efficient, and effective. I’d love it if we all could hook up to the matrix system like Neo and learn this skill instantly. Maybe in the future…but, for now we have to work hard at making this change. Below are some things to chew on this week about becoming awesome, I mean, a solid decision maker.

The decisions we make on a regular basis include any type of reasoning, planning, and problem solving. Are you facing any major decisions this week? There are so many opportunities throughout the week to change and grow, but are usually missed because of poor decision making. Many times, I will think more about a choice, rather than making one.

There is a huge difference in being decisive, and making choices. Any average joe makes choices. A decisive person thinks and thinks and thinks some more. Then decides.

What to think? Cause and affect, consequences, potential outcomes, how to make it better, getting the most out of a choice, who is involved, nuances of relationships, special treatments. Think through everything.

When you are decisive you gain momentum. The more decisive you are, the faster you work. The faster you work, the sooner you will get results. BUT, you must continue thinking things through, and then decide.

Also, when you are decisive you have more control. With every choice you make, you take control of your life. Remember, under any circumstance (even if they are extremely difficult or oppressive) no one can take away your ability to make up your own mind. Think it through, then decide.

Consider your goals for 2014? Have your decisions moved you toward achievement or further away? How have your decisions effected your life? What can you do this week to make decisive action toward accomplishing your goals?

Week 35 you become decisive! Begin developing the thought processes to make better more accurate choices. Refer to What to Think? (above) as a starting point to develop a cleaner ability to process information and make choices. You will reap the rewards of constant momentum, productivity, better relationships, and joy. Step up your game. Nix the excuses. Make time for thinking things through. Be smart. Be proactive.

Be Decisive.

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Have a great week!