Friday, April 17, 2015

gMovies

gMovies offers instant access to almost 300 faith friendly feature films of every genre, in addition to animated stories, television series and biblical documentaries that are always available on your computer or mobile device.

gMovies is operated by UP, America’s favorite television channel for uplifting music and family entertainment, so rest assured that you are being offered the very best in faith conscious entertainment. The Parents Television Council™ has twice awarded its Entertainment Seal of Approval™ to UP for being “an authentic family-friendly cable network.” UP is the only television network to be so honored. Only $4.99 per month. No Contract! Cancel anytime!


My Review:
I was really excited about the chance to review this video streaming service. I made the decision to turn off cable a few years ago, so I rely mostly on YouTube or DVDs for entertainment. My first thought when I started searching through the movies was that I had seen many already, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The first one I watched was a personal favorite, Hidden Secrets! (Not sure why I still don't own a copy of that one!)

In the meantime, I got busy, and am simply unused to having a service like this, so it was a few days before I got back to it. To my delight, several more films had been added, including several I had been wanting to see. I am really enjoying getting caught up on a few I always wanted to see, watching a few that escaped my notice, and revisiting a few more favorites.

I realize there are several of these services available, but gMovies is the only one I have tried. I really like it. The price is reasonable and there is a variety of movies and television programs. Since they are adding new ones, I don't have an immediate concern about seeing everything and being done before my subscription runs out. And, no worries about anything unsuitable showing!

Guess what? They are offering a 2 week FREE TRIAL for my readers!! Try it out and see what you think!!

READER CODE for 2 Week FREE Trial 
2. enter code: FREETRIAL76

BUT WAIT...There is More!!!!!



Yes, a 6 month Free Subscription is available for one of my readers! Leave a comment no later than Midnight, Friday, April 24, 2015 to be entered into a random drawing!!
 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, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.” Open to US and Canada residents only.
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

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Inspirational Indie Film Inspires Kinkade Painting


The original Texas independent feature, “Beyond The Farthest Star,” and The Thomas Kinkade Company will announce the release of a new painting on Monday, April 20, 2015. Thomas Kinkade CEO, John Hasting, will make a formal announcement 7PM Monday at Theatre 166 in Carrollton. The film’s stars include Texas natives ReneĆ© O’Connor, Todd Terry and Barry Corbin, along with Billy McNamara, Andrew Prine, Cherami Leigh and Lou Beatty, Jr.

Dallas, Texas – April 15, 2015–
Pathlight Entertainment and the producers of the feature film, “Beyond The Farthest Star,” partners with The Thomas Kinkade Company on the dual national release of a Kinkade painting and the film that inspired it. Along with the painting, the feature film will experience a national city-by-city, Theater-On-Demand distribution. Fans have been awaiting news of the film’s theatrical release for the past year. Overwhelming fan response on the new website at www.BeyondTheFarthestStar.com and Facebook demonstrates large interest in the story and film.

Early in 2012, famed artist Thomas Kinkade, experienced a rough-edit of  “Beyond The Farthest Star” and was inspired by its dramatic story. The “Painter of Light” usually crafted a watercolor for concept, color and layout before completing a final painting in oil. However, days after the initial work, Kinkade died suddenly. The father of four girls, it was his wish that the painting and film reach other families, just as his images captivate millions.

After the unfinished work sat dormant in the Kinkade vault, Thomas Kinkade’s brother, Patrick, desired to honor his brother’s wish. He encouraged his son (and Thomas’s nephew), Zachary Thomas Kinkade, to consider completing the original idea. Now, continuing in the Kinkade legacy, Zachary is inspired to explore Thom’s original concept and paint a new impression of the vision.
"We delayed the release of the film for quite some time as we have been waiting to make the formal announcement of the painting. Now the world will experience the Kinkade painting and the film story that inspired it, as it was meant to be,” says Executive Producer, Benjamin Dane.


The painting honors “Beyond the Farthest Star” and Thomas Kinkade’s concept with the characters from the film looking up into a sparkling night sky over a quaint Texas city. Most can relate to observing the stars. The painting captures that feeling with the Kinkade “touch”– glowing stars and an idyllic city in lights beneath. An image of Thomas’ original study may also appear on the back. 

Pathlight Entertainment, in cooperation with The Kinkade Company’s local gallery, will release the film this summer along with the painting, in a special one-night cinema event. Then “Beyond The Farthest Star” will release in theaters across the country through GATHR. This grassroots system allows fans to control when and where they experience “Star”, on the exact day and time they select. Interested individuals are encouraged to email staff for more information at kathryn@pathlightentertainment.com. “Star” has received powerful endorsements, reviews and support. The film has also inspired a Harper-Collins novel by famed author team, Bodie and Brock Thoene, and a remake of the classic song, “Beauty For Ashes” by Crystal Lewis.


The “Beyond The Farthest Star” cast includes international star Renee O’Connor ("Xena", "Ark", "Boogeyman 2"), Todd Terry (“Breaking Bad”, “Arlington Road”, “Fissure”), Barry Corbin (“No Country for Old Men”, “Anger Management”, “War Games”), William McNamara (“Copycat”, “Chasers”, “The Legend of Hell’s Gate”), Andrew Prine (“The Miracle Worker”, “Gettysburg”, “The Dukes of Hazzard”) and Cherami Leigh (“Temple Grandlin”, “Fast Food Nation”).

“Star” is helmed by writer/director, Andrew Librizzi ("Holding On", "Still Born"), executive produced by Benjamin Dane ("The Significant Other", "Still Born") and produced by Sally Helppie ("Exit Speed", "The Beacon").

Richard Propes, The Independent Critic says, "Beyond the Farthest Star is that rare film with the courage to speak a harsh and authentic truth while never losing sight of its grander truth." Although Pastor Adam Wells is revered as "the Next Billy Graham" of the sleepy Texas town, circumstances are forcing him to choose between church superstardom and his fractured family.

The Thomas Kinkade Company CEO, John Hasting, along with Writer/Director Andrew Librizzi and Executive Producer Benjamin Dane, will make a formal announcement at the Dallas CMA Event – Monday, April 20th 7PM at Theatre 166 in Carrollton, TX.  You can RSVP at CMA Dallas Kinkade Event.

For More Information Contact:
Ben Robinson, Robinson Creative Inc.
EM: Ben@RobinsonCreativeInc.com PH: 817/748-5057, X-101 FX: 817/416-7833
###



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Grace of God DVD

Grace of God synopsis: Having lost his faith many years ago, Detective Bill Broadly is called to investigate the disappearance of the local church’s collection plate. As he questions its various church members, rumors swirl as more congregants learn about the theft. When one unexpected church-goer confesses to stealing the funds, the confession resurrects Broadly’s views on God, and helps him see that through faith and belief there really is rebirth and redemption. 99 Minutes // Genre: Family, Inspirational // Rating:  NR (DVD back cover)

My Review: Mixed feelings on this one. The good is that this is a family friendly film, although the marriage problems of the older daughter (Erin Bethea) are not for the very young. Poor decisions have been made by many of the characters, but most appear to be resolved by the end of the film and the characters are better for the changes made. The 2 main characters, Constance (Julia Parker) and Bill (Vincent Duvall), are both good actors and I wish there had been more acknowledgement of them on the DVD cover. John Ratzenberger had a small role, but was given top billing due to name recognition. Lorenzo Lamas was also a great addition to the cast as the janitor and antagonist to the private investigator.

Family friendly and weaves matters of faith effortlessly through-out the story is the positive. While grace is freely given to the thief, and I do understand why, it did seem to fall a bit flat. Some of the story just did not seem to flow right and small things would bother me. Maybe part of the problem was that I correctly identified the thief very early on. But the reactions of people often did not make sense either. I felt like I was missing part of a conversation that would link it together. Goodness knows real people don't always make sense either, but that was not my only issue with the story. There was mention of it being a large church and many people having access to keys to the safe. Yet the sanctuary did not look very big or crowded. The score was also inconsistent with the action at times.

It's an average film. There are too many of my own pet peeves with films in this one, but they were annoyances that may not trouble others. Since I don't want to do "spoilers", I won't elaborate. There is an audience for this film; I have friends who genuinely like it. I can also see it generating discussion about matters of faith. The marketing of "A Story of Easter Traditions" and "Based on the Ten Commandments" is true, but mostly in the broad sense of Christianity. I thought it was pushing it a bit, but I also understand promoting films and trying to reach your niche market.

Purchase through Walmart.com


GIVEAWAY!! To be entered into a random drawing to win a copy of Grace of God, please leave a comment. Contest ends Wed., April 22, 2015 at Noon (CDT)

"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.
 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, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Who You Are by John Croyle

Who You Are: A Story of Second Chances is the story of  John Croyle, founder of Big Oak Ranch for Boys and Girls in Alabama. Croyle was an All-American defensive end at the University of Alabama with a promising future with the NFL. Yet, in 1974, he turned down a career that would have led to personal fame and fortune to fill the calling God had placed on his heart...to make a difference in the lives of young boys who were being abused and neglected and have the best Children's Home available. (The Big Oak Ranch for Girls was founded in 1988 and Westbrook Christian School in 1990.)

The book's title comes from the request he makes of each of the children when being introduced to someone: "Tell them who you are!"  Introducing oneself, with a firm handshake and looking the person in the eye, helps each child realize their own intrinsic value. Their worth is not based on their past or the circumstances that brought them to the ranch. Nor is it the perception of what the child (or anyone) believes God can or can’t do through each individual. Each child is a unique individual who is valued and loved.

Photo Credit: Kent Gidley
Who You Are is filled with memories of the 40 years of the Croyle family's ministry. John started this right after college, with no idea what he was beginning. He had 5 teenaged boys living with him, and a few months later married his high school sweetheart, Tee (Theresa) Smith. The book is filled with anecdotes, ranging from heartbreaking to humorous, but each points to the difference an individual can make in someone's life by following the plan they believe God has for them. There have been triumphs and failures, but Croyle's honesty with the reader is as transparent as his honesty with the children who are brought to live at Big Oak Ranch.
Each child who moves to one of the ranches is told 4 things during their initial meeting:
1. I love you.
2. I’ll never lie to you.

3. I’ll stick with you until you’re grown.

4. There are boundaries; don’t cross them.


Photo Credit: Kent Gidley
Croyle's adult children, Reagan Croyle Phillips and Brodie Croyle, are now taking on a large part of the responsibility and daily hands-on tasks of the Big Oak Ranch system, but they have the same love for these kids as their parents. This is definitely a family labor of love, including the extended family of those who have made Big Oak Ranch their home.

Photo Credit: Lifeway
I loved this book. Even though it is partially a 40 year stroll down "Memory Lane" with an emphasis on how and why Croyle chose to do this, there are lessons to be learned just as there are in any of his books (and I recommend them all!) that will speak to the reader. Whether you are in the position to mentor a child (and who isn't to some degree?) or if you just need a reminder of Who YOU Are and that you are valuable in the eyes of God, there is something to gain from reading it. I have heard John speak at a church event and on the radio several times. This book captures his style and personality so well. So, if you know him at all, you will recognize him. If you don't...you will after reading this.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Shelton Interactive. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Big Oak Ranch 40th Anniversary Video from Cam Video Productions on Vimeo.

John’s philosophy can be summed up in this statement: “A hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house we lived in, the kind of car we drove or how much money we had in the bank, but the world may be different because you and I were important in the life of a child.”John’s philosophy can be summed up in this statement: “A hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house we lived in, the kind of car we drove or how much money we had in the bank, but the world may be different because you and I were important in the life of a child.”For ways you can help, click on this link.


Big Oak Ranch website
Big Oak Ranch on Facebook

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Easter Stories: Classic Tales For the Holy Season

Easter Stories: Classic Tales For the Holy Season, published by Plough Publishers, is a collection of favorite short stories from world renown storytellers such as C.S. Lewis, Leo Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, Anton Chekov and more. Edited by Miriam Leblanc and illustrated with beautiful woodcuts by Lisa Toth, this anthology of short stories capture the true meaning and spirit of the Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday and are tales sure to be handed down from generation to generation. 

This book has a rich collections of stories that are steeped in the tradition of our Christian heritage. As expected with a collection of tales from various authors, some are more enthralling than others. That is also the joy of having a wide variety---there is something for everyone. Most are not likely to be as interesting to younger readers, but they will appreciate them as they mature in faith and ability to comprehend a more complex work of literature. Also, some of the stories are more deeply rooted in either Catholicism or Protestant roots that may be unfamiliar to certain readers. However, this gives the readers the opportunity to expand their knowledge. 

I received a free copy of this book from Plough Publishing through Handlebar Marketing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Your Beautiful Heart by Lauren Scruggs

Fashion journalist Lauren Scruggs knows how it feels to search for beauty. She grew up knowing of God’s love, but never fully understood what that love meant, or how it extended to the deepest parts of her soul—until a horrible accident that resulted in the loss of both her left eye and hand. In her darkest hours, everything Lauren believed was tested. Yet it was there that God showed her where real beauty comes from: the unfailing love of the Creator. God’s love is what truly makes us lovely.

Lauren Scruggs has faced a lot of major changes in her life in recent years, and is very open about her struggle to overcome these challenges. Her refreshing honesty about the pain and hardships, both physical and mental, setbacks and triumphs make this a great book, especially for teens and young women who may struggle with self-image. Your Beautiful Heart: 31 Reflections on Love, Faith, Friendship, and Becoming a Girl who Shines, co-written by Lisa Velthouse, divided into 6 different parts:
  1. Your Seeking Heart
  2. Your Changed Heart
  3. Your Obedient Heart
  4. Your Heart For Others
  5. Your Distinctive Heart
  6. Your Heart Looking Forward
There are a total of 31 small chapters that touch on a variety of topics ranging from body image, self worth, peer pressure, inner beauty and more. There are also discussion questions at the end of chapter for self-examination or to use as part of a Discussion Group. Some of the stories told are ones she has shared in the past, but with an added hindsight of what she learned. The stories of how her faith in God kept her strong and guided her are inspiring and should be very influential for others.
Lauren continues to be an inspiration to others and I am happy to see her continued growth. I first heard of her when a friend in Dallas texted me that his friend Lauren had been in a bad accident and could I please pray for her. I have many times since that message. If you are unfamiliar with her story, I suggest you check out her book, Still Lolo.

Lauren & Jason Kennedy
Photo Credit: Lindsey Brittain and Kat Harris
Lauren, founder & editor of LOLO Magazine, works as a fashion journalist.She recently wed E! Network correspondent, Jason Kennedy. Lauren is also involved with a yearly retreat with surfer Bethany Hamilton to encourage girls who have lost a limb.




Beautifully Flawed Retreat

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of the Tyndale Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, March 29, 2015

More by Tammie Head

More: From Messes to Miracles by Tammie Head is her story of how God performed the miraculous in her own life in spite of the mess. Her childhood was filled with neglect and abuse, leading to an "escape" at the age of 15 to sex industry. Life as a stripper and a marriage than ended in divorce at 18. Drugs and alcohol helped her to cope with the mess that was her life, but Tammie felt that there had to be more. She felt that God was calling her to hive her life to Him, but did not know how to do that.

Her boyfriend's mom was the catalyst to helping her see that she could be so much more than what she had settled for, but the birth of her first daughter is what led to a serious search for God. She found Him and was baptized, but spent a couple of years as a rule-follower and doing the right stuff that Christians are supposed to do.

Then she had an encounter with God.

Tammie learned there was more to a relationship with God than being a good church girl. God wants you to love Him and to spend time with Him to gain heart knowledge rather than just head knowledge. She also learned that He did not want her to keep silent about her past. Her "mess" brought a message of the miraculous works God will do when we abandon all parts of our lives to Him.

Her honesty about her fears, failures, and faults gives fresh hope to those who feel they have made too many mistakes for God to accept them. The heartbreak she endured as a child, including decisions she made as a teen, are proof that there is a new life to be found despite your circumstances. And that those experiences can be used to encourage others and to glorify God.

At approximately 150 pages, this is a fairly quick read. I did find some of it to be as bit repetitive, but liked the book overall. I would definitely recommend it to others, especially those who believe their past, or current life, makes them unacceptable to God.

I received a free copy of this book from Icon Media Group in exchange for a fair and honest review. They are also providing a copy for one of my readers at no cost to myself or the blog reader. Winner will be determined by a random drawing of those who commented on blog.
Drawing to be held, Thursday, April 2, 2015 at 3pm CDT.




 Tammie Head Q & A
1. What do you want readers to learn from reading your book?

People everywhere are looking for something more. Churched and nonchurched alike. They're in the grocery store aisle behind you, in the nail chair beside you, singing praise songs in front of you, and perhaps in the mirror staring back at you. People feel messy; plagued by looming feelings of ineffectiveness, indifference, depression, and purposelessness. However, all of us were made for more than surviving. Old stale religion never satisfies. Neither do the solutions the world has to offer. What all of us need is an encounter with God that reveals truth and sets our hearts ablaze. I have seen this in my own life as well as in countless lives around me.

2. Your life was a bit of a mess before you came to know Christ. How has He used your story to advance His kingdom?

I have watched God use my story repeatedly as a tenderizing agent for
hardened hearts toward God. People cannot believe what God has done
for me. In turn, I have also been privileged to lead many people to Christ, to the One who changed me. People are glad to know God loves and pursues even the messiest of people.

3. What encouragement do you have for men and women who feel like
their lives are too messy for God to use?

If God can use me, He can use anyone! But even more profound than "He can" is this: He wants to! God specializes in taking the most broken of lives and turning them around for His glory. The Bible is full of broken men and women who, after encountering the Lord, were used dramatically by God and for His kingdom.

4. What encouragement do you have for men and women who are
yearning to have more in their lives?


The more we're longing for, at the end of the day, is God. More of His
presence. More of His love. More of His power. And so on!What I want
men and women to know is God wants "so much more" of us than we
could ever want "so much more" Him. The deal is, we must risk making
more room for God. The key is sitting with Him, soaking Him in, allowing Him to minister to us on a deep level and, lastly, deeply surrendering our lives to Him day-by-day.

5. What are some resources for readers who are ready to take the next
step and start living for more?

I have written a Bible study called Duty or Delight: Knowing Where You
Stand with God. I think that would be a great resource for digging deeper into more of a relationship with God.


6. Where can readers connect with you online?

Readers can connect with me at several social media sites.
Twitter: @tammiehead
Instagram: @tammiehead
Facebook: Tammie Head
My website and blog: tammiehead.com