Friday, November 16, 2018

Can You Believe It? - Hillsong Kids

'Can You Believe It!? - Songs of Truth' is both a question and a challenge... a statement of gratitude to a loving God and an invitation to explore the very foundations of faith. Classic songs like 'My Best Friend', 'Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)' and 'What A Beautiful Name' join brand new declarations of faith such as 'As The World Shakes' & 'Heaven Is Our Home'. We pray that this collection of fun and vibrant songs, help children around the world to declare biblical truths about God's love and grace for them. (Amazon Editorial Review)

My Review: This Hillsong Kids DVD is a mixture of music, interviews, teaching moments and humor. Meant to explain the message of the Bible and the importance of church, topics included are the Bible, Church, living for God, and your need for a Savior. The material seems more suitable for elementary school children (7 - 11 years old). Of course, the music is wonderful for all age groups. I preferred the more well-known songs like "Oceans" and "What A Beautiful Name," but there were others that were enjoyable. I'm not a fan of some of the more upbeat pop type that would be more appealing to a child... but this is meant to be for children.

To be honest, I would have loved this as a CD or even if it had a 'Music Only' option on the DVD. Some parts of the adult interactions simply did not work for me, and the more teachable moments, while good, are not something I would listen to repeatedly. For a classroom setting, this is great, but I can't imagine wanting to hear the entire DVD frequently. 
Overall excellent material but not something I would watch often. The children in my life are all preschoolers and they lost interest whenever the music stopped also. So, definitely consider the age of the child when purchasing this product.

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 a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Kingdom Citizen - Tony Evans

Dr. Tony Evans offers a healthy dose of hope: the solution to our nation’s problems and unrest isn’t out of reach. The solution is here―and each one of us as Kingdom Citizens has a vital role to play.

Be assured that our God is greater than any challenge―and He has promised to equip His people. In Kingdom Citizen, you’ll discover how to respond in faith, in spite of a country and culture in decline.

Here is a powerful call to action for concerned Christians. Here is a call for unity and restoration. And here is strong assurance that each of us has the ability to walk justly, to seek truth, and to stand in the gap for our land. (Amazon site)

My Review: Kingdom Citizens is a short but insightful read on how we, as Christians, should have a role in rebuilding and restoring our relationship with God, the church, our nation, and our fellow citizens. Our country has been in turmoil for several years and it often feels as though we are on a brink of another civil war.

Pastor Evans reminds us to look at our nation's problems through a spiritual
lens. We see the mess instead of focusing on how big our God is and leaning on Him. One example used in the book is Nehemiah and rebuilding Jerusalem. He turned to God first and then stepped out in faith, knowing God would move. Most of us worry, get angry, and/or try to figure out a solution. Then we turn to God to pray for his blessing or response to our requests.

This is an excellent book that reminds me of God's promises and encourages me to lean on Him. And... to take action, trusting God to clear the path and show me the way.

I received a copy of this book from the Tyndale Blog Program at no cost to me. However, all opinions are my own.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Finding Her Heart - Donna Wittlif

Only true love can help Allison conquer her Asperger's Syndrome and loneliness. Can she find it?

Allison is a talented artist, but she has no friends. The school psychologist diagnoses her with Asperger Syndrome. All she wants is to be understood and loved, but her life is a mess. Then she meets David, and his blue eyes and kind smile capture her heart. David, who makes her world seem so much bigger. David, who says he loves her. But does he? Or will a terrible secret concealed in this strange man's past dash her hopes of finding true love forever? She risks everything to find out the truth and to gain love.

A Christian romance for adult and young adult readers. A must-read for anyone who has ever been lonely. (website)

My Review: This is a new author for me, and the Asperger story line intrigued me, so I was eager to discover what Donna Wittlif had to say. Finding Her Heart is part of the Heart of the Family series.

A gifted artist at an early age, raised by a reclusive uncle and aunt, and friendless, Allie faced obstacles most of us cannot imagine. Her search for friendship, love, and happiness is one many of us seek, but her background and Asperger Syndrome do add to the challenge. Despite numerous setbacks, God's provision is always noticeable... even if she does not recognize it immediately.

In the beginning chapters I had several questions that I wanted answers to and that was a bit distracting, BUT... the answers did come and I became more caught up in Allie's unfolding story. The characters came alive for me and I found myself wanting to weep with the losses and celebrate the victories. Watching Allie's growth and strength of character with each development is a major encouragement for so many who will read this story. The people in her life, each there for a certain reason, were a good blend of people who cross into our lives and change it.

I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I will just leave it at... the book's ending was very satisfactory and a hopeful, encouraging way to end Allie's story. I highly recommend reading it for yourself.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, TCK Publishing, but was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Familiar Stranger

Sometimes the pain of losing a loved one is most profound and painful when the loss occurs among the living. When it's a person you have known literally her entire life... she's known you both inside and out--- yet your relationship is that of strangers. Worse, a stranger you are leery of being around for fear of emotional assault. I hear, "I love you" but, as I have always told my family (and everybody else), "Actions speak louder than words." I want to believe, but there is no evidence to back the claim.

I see her, but am nervous to approach. Speaking is even worse. Will I be treated as family or friend... or quickly be put in my place for daring to speak? It's like attempting to cross a minefield that contains both live ammo and duds; I may escape unscathed or I may endure emotional battle scars that are never allowed to heal. If she has to come to my house, it's almost always when she knows I am not home or probably asleep. So I hate to go to hers where she is obligated to be near me.

One of the hardest parts is that I have never known what I did wrong. I guess that makes me even more intolerable in her eyes. I know she is loved by many and has a reputation of being wise, caring, compassionate, giving, and willing to do anything for anyone and I am very proud of her. Sometimes I even get to be "anyone" but only enough to give me a tiny bit of hope. Goodness knows I am very far from being the person I want to be yet no one else on earth makes me feel like I should apologize for everything I do. Especially if that something requires her to spend time with me. Over the years I have learned to set emotional boundaries with everyone, but I do find a bit of ironic humor in the fact that the main person who most frequently tells me I should be more trusting of others is one of THE main reasons I don't trust people with my heart.

Although it breaks my heart, the familiar beloved face of one whom I would willingly lay down my life for avoids me as much as possible, I love her too much to force myself into her life. Unless she ever wants more, I will keep my distance from the familiar stranger I will occasionally see.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Caitlyn the Giver

Caitlyn was mischievous, beautiful, exasperating, opinionated, stubborn, optimistic, and more... but most of all she was a generous giver of time and resources.

The first time I noticed her desire to give was when she was about 3 or 4. She heard about the "March for Jesus" our church was participating in, which included a food drive. That afternoon she told me she needed bags. I walked into the kitchen to find my cabinets and refrigerator completely emptied. When I asked why, her reply was, "Jesus needs food!" 

A couple of years later, when she learned of the Building Fund for our new church building, she rushed down to the Sunday School class I taught and breathlessly exclaimed, "Quick! I need a quarter!" In response to my, "Why?" Caitlyn excitedly told me, "We're building a new church! Somebody has to pay for it!"

In 5th grade, I was not at all surprised to hear her class gathered the
most food for the canned food drive. My cabinets were emptied more than once. At least she did not grab the perishables or open containers this time.

Once she became a teen, my refrigerator was sometimes emptied because she noticed friends in my neighborhood had no food. She would also tell me of clothing needs because I volunteered at a local clothing ministry.

For several months, she would stop by my house before her Youth Group to ask for $5 to buy a drink. When I once asked why she needed that much, she explained that one girl who came never had money so she always bought hers too. 

As she became an adult --- a wife and a mother, her compassion grew even stronger. She would give to anybody who had a need if she had it to give... or knew of someone else who had it. A few months ago she became aware of Cullman's Little Pantry and encouraged others to donate food.

She genuinely cared about her friends, and even strangers she encountered. Caitlyn was the one person I could depend upon if I needed to go to the store, or my computer or phone worked on or just to see if I wanted to get out of the house for a bit. She was more than my grandchild, she became my friend. She was far from perfect, and we had some strong differences of opinions more than once, but I never doubted her generosity and love of me and others. I doubt the hole in my heart and life will ever be completely filled but the memories will encourage me to try to be more like her generous spirit... and to let her babies know the kind of mama they had.

Caitlyn Paige Burton Ross
Oct 3, 1995 ~ Sept 27, 2018

Monday, September 24, 2018

Little Women review

Little Women invites you to love and laugh together with your sisters, the women you are connected with through family and/or heart connections for this celebration of family and the deep bonds between sisters. This is not a faithful adaption of the original book, but a fresh look at the family dynamics in current times. Being released in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Louisa May Alcott's novel, I believe it will bring a whole new fan base. As much as I love the historical specs of the original, I believe this version remains true to the characters in the novel while bringing a story that relates to today's woman.

Featuring a strong cast of women including Jo (Sarah Davenport)
, Meg (Melanie Stone), Beth (Allie Jennings), Amy (Elise Jones), and Marmee (Lea Thompson), they remain faithful to the novel characters and have a sisterly comradery that works well onscreen. I also saw traits that were part of Louisa May Alcott's personality. She based Jo on herself and I think the modern-day Jo would still be like Alcott if she were living in the 21st century. I love the "Castles in the Air" that Marmee makes for each as she wisely encourages her daughters to remain true to themselves and their individual goals. I don't strongly identify with any of them, but see traits I love and dislike in each. 

The men of the film are also well cast. Laurie (Lucas Grabeel), Freddy (Ian Bohen), Papa March (Bart Johnson), and Brooke (Stuart Edge) are all strong, caring men who encourage these independent, strong "little women" to be themselves, fulfill their dreams and support their choices... and love them just the way they are. The character that is changed the most from the novel is Freddy Bahr, but I really like what the writers did with him. Just as the females had their strengths and weaknesses, the men did as well... but each was very loveable.

Little Women: A Modern Retelling was written and directed by Claire Neiderpruem. I was just as enchanted by her vision of the film as I was the first time I read the novel as a child. Two of my favorite retellings are Clueless (Emma) and 10 Things I Hate About You (The Taming of the Shrew)... and this film will be added to my list of film adaptations of classic novels. I loved it and plan to see it again. The themes of self-identity, purpose, loyalty, and family are important lessons for all. Even when the sisters did not always understand another's dream, each loved and supported one another.

Many thanks to LEV3L Digital for the chance to see this movie! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Spirit of God Illustrated Bible

The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible brings to life more than 40 Bible stories that help readers understand that God’s Spirit has been with us since the beginning of time and continues to be with us today. From the glory of creation through the powerful letters of Paul, God’s Spirit is living in his people. Old and New Testament stories such as Adam and Eve, Abraham, Joseph, the Baptism of Jesus, and Pentecost come alive with dramatic illustrations by Fernando Juarez and moving text by Doris Rikkers. With a cover that sparkles and shines with foil, this is a special storybook Bible that will appeal to both children and parents alike. (Publisher's Description) 

MY REVIEW: This hardcover book is sturdy for a child's use and is filled with words of faith to help a child grow stronger spiritually. Each Bible story included has an emphasis on the Holy Spirit. I honestly don't remember seeing a children's book that is devoted to God - The Holy Spirit and I am very pleased with the contents of the book. Of course, there are many stories that children may already be familiar with, but there are so that are not taught frequently in children's church. 

The book is recommended for children 4 - 8 years old, and I agree that is a suitable age group. But, since all of my great-grandkids are younger than four, I edited to a shorter version while reading a story. This is still a solid foundation for them until they are old enough to sit still for the actual story in the book. They are simplified, but so were the stories I was taught in Sunday School 50+ years ago. My main quibble would be in calling it a Bible, but we also have toddler "Bible" board books in the house. The little ones are happy to have their own "Bibles" and they certainly are not prepared for the adult versions.

Published by Zonderkidz division of Zondervan, I will give it a 5 for being a good introduction to the Holy Spirit for the very young.

GIVEAWAY: You can win a copy of Spirit of God Illustrated Bible, courtesy of Propeller Consulting LLC & FlyBy Promotions, when you respond either on Blog Comments or Post Comments no later 11:59pm on Wednesday, September 26, 2018. Comment with #SpiritofGodBible.


“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 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.

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