Friday, March 10, 2017

Nothing To Prove - Jennie Allen

Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen speaks to those who are struggling to measure up to a set of standards of their own making. Explaining that many go through this struggle, she invites the reader to find freedom in the knowledge that we will never be enough---but JESUS is more than enough! Our goal is to get to know Jesus and open ourselves to being used by Him and not focusing on our own sense of self-worth. 

We tend to chase after things that are superficially important to us, but leave us unsatisfied. Frustration and fear over not measuring up to your definition of self-worth simply leads to constant yearning to prove we are worthy and in control, but that simply cannot be found on our own if we constantly compare ourselves to others.

Jennie brings you to a point of understanding that Jesus provides what we need. You are loved. You can relax. You can rest in Him and not have to do everything on your own. You have Nothing to Prove! 

Jennie has a refreshing style that lets the reader know that she knows the struggle from personal experience and has the capacity to help others reach a level of knowing that know that we battle a real enemy who wants to destroy us and interfere in our relationship with God. I love the excerpt below:

If I were your enemy, this is what I would do:
Make you believe you need permission to lead.
Make you believe you are helpless.
Make you believe you are insignificant.
Make you believe that God wants your decorum and behavior.Make you believe you have something to prove.

She explains how we can get so overwhelmed by other things we can lose focus on what is most important---our relationship with God and the knowledge that He loves us. We don't have to prove anything to Him, but just be willing to follow His lead. When we follow, He can make the changes we are unable to do on our own. Stop trying so hard. You have nothing to prove before stepping into His plans for you. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book at no cost to myself from Watterbrook-Multnomah blogging program. All opinions are my own. 

How's Your Soul? - Judah Smith

How's Your Soul? by Judah Smith, is about looking past outward appearances and exploring the essential inner essence of where we find our true selves. Are you experiencing inner turmoil as you struggle to find the peace and joy that comes from your relationship with fully trusting and resting in the presence of God?

Judah, pastor of The City Church in Seattle, wants the reader to move beyond simply surviving each day to a concentrated effort to live each day with significance that has an eternal impact. In his typical manner of laid-back and humorous anecdotes, he also brings out points that strike the heart of the matter. There are stories that caused me to laugh, and others that have stayed with me and caused me to question myself and my attitude...and to discussions with friends for their input. 

Interview with Today Show's Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb:
  Pastor Judah Smith-How's Your Soul?

His sense of humor and way of telling a story made this an enjoyable book to read, but there were also times when I found myself skimming more than reading. However, there were points made that I keep going back to over and over in my own soul-searching. I actually have the book set aside to read again soon since there were a few areas where a nerve was struck that I was not quite ready to deal with at the time I was reading it. This is a book that is certainly worth reading and it may give the reader a fresh perspective. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers. All opinions are my own. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Presidents Day 2017

February 20, 2017 is Presidents Day. As usual, I typed it in a search engine to pull up quotes, stories, etc. that might be appropriate. Mostly I have pulled up stories of how it really is about celebrating George Washington's birthday. The following in the International Business Times sums it as well as any: "The holiday was originally established to celebrate George Washington’s birthday, but now it always takes place on the third Monday in February, so it acts as a combo celebration for Washington, Abraham Lincoln and any other presidents you like."

I am tired of the #notmypresident and the idea of celebrating the "presidents you like." We have ONE president. Did I like the vision that President Obama had for America? Absolutely not! But I respected the office of The President of the United States and I prayed for him regularly. I am sure I probably said & posted things from time to time, but blasting him and being disrespectful was not the focal part of my day. Nor did I blindly believe every negative (or positive) thing I read without more research from a variety of sources. When he made a huge error in judgement, I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt...unless, of course, it became a pattern.

Donald Trump was not even in my top 10 choices of the original pack of Republicans who were running. But it came down to a choice between a man whom I felt would take wise counsel and a power-hungry person who had a casual disregard for national security and not much more regard for human life, particularly the unborn. I voted for the only one my conscience would allow, and not voting was a choice I could not make as opposed as I am to H. Clinton.

However, if she had won, she would have been my President. I would have prayed for her leadership decisions---and hoped she would not destroy our country. We have survived other presidents who were unfit for office.

Our nation is currently in a state of turmoil like I have never seen. Journalist integrity has been replaced by those who wish to sway the nation rather than inform. People are rioting, demolishing property, marching for/against causes they don't seem to understand themselves with protesters who are often vulgar and profane, spreading lies, and letting hatred rule their lives. Even some of those who are in tentative agreement with opposing views are being openly mocked if they don't agree 100%. I confess that early Trump supporters were one of the main reasons I continued to think poorly of him.

Despite what many in the press and on social media would have you believe, Donald Trump IS The President of the United States. He fairly won the election and has set out to fulfill the promises he made. Am I going to be happy with every decision he makes? I seriously doubt it. But, despite my initial doubts, I am going to support him. My prayer is that I can find a way not to let my bitterness toward rioters, protesters, and marchers get out of hand. I have tried to listen to their point of view, but it always ends in anger, and despair for my country and her people. We need to learn to compromise, seek truth, and turn to God. This century has us on a path to ruin. It may have started with attacks from other nations, but we are now set to self-destruct. It is not too late. 

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." - Abraham Lincoln

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD." - Psalm 33:12

"However, if that nation I have made an announcement about turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the disaster I had planned to do to it." - Jeremiah 18:8

Friday, February 17, 2017

When We Last Spoke by Marci Henna

Humor, heartbreak, and triumph are served with whipped cream and lots of local nuts in this heartwarming tale of family, friendship, and forgiveness in Fireside, Texas.

Meet Juliet Cranbourne, local radio personality and owner of a whimsical kitchen gadget store, and her sister Evangeline, a fruit tree geneticist who works for Oregon State University.

When a rift due to their orphaned past affects their sisterhood, Juliet convinces Evangeline to come home for Christmas and choose headstones to honor grandparents Walt (a tenderhearted, good looking rancher) and Ruby (a blue-ribbon fiddler, fabulous cook, and expert in the art of making family feel loved). 

As they cruise through Fireside in Ruby's 
Thunderbird, Juliet hopes that healing memories will somehow smooth rough roads ahead.

Does the tremendous love that marked Walt and Ruby's lives still have the power to renew their sisterhood and help them find their place in the world? (from the back cover)

My Review: "When We Last Spoke" is well-written, but I think my expectations were too high. I normally love fiction set in the South with quirky characters and a humorous way of viewing life that can also illuminate a hidden truth. While quirkiness and humor is a part of this book, something just did not quite resonate with me. Some of the actions of characters did not always seem to ring true and there were times characters would teeter into 'beyond the grave' experiences that I was not comfortable with entirely. There are books that allow one to immerse themselves into a story and the fictional people begin to feel like familiar friends, but this did not happen with any of these. Sometimes it just seemed like there was more effort made to make everyone quirky and less on making them well-developed people. I left the book knowing a little more about them, but we were still strangers.

On the other hand, the possibility of a movie being in development does intrigue me. The possibility of seeing more life breathed into each one may make them more multi-dimensional for me. And, I plan on reading the book again at another time. I have had books that could not capture my full attention during the first reading that would suddenly "click" with me when I would try again later. I certainly see that potential with this author, and her talent is evident. I would suggest her to friends looking for a new author to read.

I did receive a copy of this book at no cost to myself from FlyBy Promotions. 

Social Corner:
Fireside Novels on Facebook
@MarciHenna on Twitter
When We Last Spoke on GoodReads 

GIVEAWAY: Marci will be giving away a FREE Kindle version from Feb. 20-24 on Amazon.

Friday, February 3, 2017

I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug!

I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!, written by Caroline B. Cooney, is a playful book about hugs, imagining the different ways to give or receive a hug through delightful rhymes and entertaining illustrations by Tim Warnes

Whether it’s a wriggly, wiggly bug hug, an enthusiastic knock over chairs dog hug, or a big bear, leaving you gasping for air, hug---this book is a lot of fun to read and have a special time of hugs and fun before bedtime.

This is a special book that both entertains and lets a child feel safe, secure, and well loved. This is a ZonderKidz hardcover book, recommended for children between 4 and 8, but toddlers will enjoy it too---especially all of the hugs! It encourages interaction between parent (or grandparent) and child, and gives the child an opportunity to burn off a little energy before settling down to sleep. 

With Valentine's Day approaching, this would be a perfect gift for your special little Valentine.

Official Website -

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
GIVEAWAY: All entries must be made No Later Than February 7, 2017. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. The winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Priceless DVD

Priceless is the story, inspired by true events of a widower (Joel Smallbone) who loses custody of his young daughter (Sierra Rose Smith). Unable to keep a job, he agrees to drive a truck across the country. Their stipulation of "No Questions Asked" proves to be more than he bargained for when he accidentally discovers his cargo. He must then make a life-changing choice that threatens his future hope. 

PRICELESS stars Joel Smallbone (for KING & COUNTRY), Bianca Santos (THE DUFF), Amber Midthunder (“Longmire”) with Jim Parrack (SUICIDE SQUAD, “True Blood”) and David Koechner (ANCHORMAN, “The Goldbergs”). PRICELESS is the first film from the Smallbone Brothers. Ben Smallbone directs from the script by Chris Dowling & Tyler Poelle. The film was produced by Steve Barnett (300). David Smallbone and Luke Smallbone serve as executive producers, and Jacob “Cubbie” Fink is co-producer. 

Priceless is a well-intentioned film, and I had very high hopes for it. The subject of human trafficking is one that needs to be talked about often, and kept in the forefront of people's minds. The premise of the story is a man who has hit rock bottom after his wife dies and eventually losing custody of his daughter due to a series of bad choices. So he is willing to risk driving a truck with unknown cargo to earn money. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so perhaps it makes sense he would make another questionable decision. I never quite understood how or why things went downhill so fast, so I would have liked to have had a bit more back story. 

This film is based on actual events, so perhaps my expectations were too high. There were simply moments that I found too unbelievable, and I found my mind wandering more than once. The movie isn't really bad, but there was just something missing for me. However, it is a wonderful conversation opener on a subject that needs to be shared worldwide. I would recommend it for anyone wanting to share more about human trafficking and to offer hope to those who have been sexually abused. The ultimate message is that there is freedom for the captive, whether it be actual captivity or self-induced through drugs, alcohol, and anger.

Thanks to Icon Media group for sending me a link to review the film. Priceless will be available on Digital HD on Jan 31, 2017, and Blu-Ray, DVD, and On Demand on Feb 14, 2017.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Life in Season - Vanessa Hunt/Heather Patterson

‘Life in Season: Celebrating the Moments That Fill Your Heart and Home’ by Heather Patterson and Vanessa Hunt. Heather and Vanessa are sisters who created At the Picket Fence, a website dedicated to providing a place where women can share, care, and inspire one another.

It's a nice "coffee table" book or gift for a friend. The outside cover is beautiful and it is filled with beauty inside also. The book is divided into the four seasons and is filled with stories to fit each, along with recipes and crafts. I enjoyed reading the stories. Using personal anecdotes, and Scripture, they each contained a message that was inspirational and educational---in a fun way. I loved the lessons to be learned from them.

The recipes included looked like they were probably doable. I do not enjoy cooking, so there were none that tempted me. But, I have friends who love cooking and would love making these special treats to share with family and friends. There are also several craft projects that look adorable. My craftiness is solidly in the pre-schooler's art project class, so none of them are for my limited skills. But, I am not the potential market for this book, so I can't speak for how easy they are.

If you or a friend love crafting, cooking, and stories that inspire and are completely relatable and relational, I recommend this book.

I did receive a copy of this book at no cost to myself from Icon Media Group.