Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts

The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts is a thought-provoking, heart-breaking, and encouraging book written by a woman who has faced adversity of many types yet whose faith continues to grow stronger as she weathers each storm.

Raised in less than ideal circumstances, she had a grandmother who introduced her to the Lord at an early age. This made a tremendous impact that has continued to sustain her over the years. Being diagnosed with Stage-IV cancer at the age of 36 has been the hardest battle of all. Kara discusses the peace she has while relying on God and how His grace is sufficient, yet is realistic about the pain and suffering. The longing she has to grow old with her husband and watch her children grow is also eloquently expressed. Yet her ability to stand firm on the knowledge that God will see her and her loved ones through each moment is an encouragement to others.
Questions posed at the end of each chapter really help the reader reflect and dig deeper into their own relationships...with God, family, and friends; Very helpful in making you more intentional in your words and deeds, and your personal and spiritual growth. I confess that her writing style is not one that keeps my attention, but it is very similar to another author, Ann Voskamp, whose books and blog millions of women love. I believe this book will be a blessing to anyone who reads it, but fans of Voskamp and similar authors will especially love it.

Kara’s Blog:
Follow her on Instagram
Kara Tippetts and her husband, Jason, have four children and are planting a church in Colorado Springs, CO. Cancer is only part of Kara’s story. Her real fight is to truly live while facing a crushing reality. 

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”
Leave a comment on the blog no later than midnight (CDT) Oct. 29, 2014 to be entered in to the drawing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Faith in Film Networking and Panel Discussion

The Christian Media Association will be hosting a Faith in Film Panel Discussion and Networking Event as part of their national media convention scheduled for October 17-18, 2014 at the Irving Bible Church. Friday night’s Faith in Film event is scheduled for 7:30pm to 9:00pm and is open to the public for $20 per person. (The event is included in a full registration for conference attendees.)

 CMA Dallas chapter leader, Benjamin Dane, will be the MC for the evening of discussion about the cutting edge topic of faith in film. “This year saw more diverse faith based theatrical releases and TV than ever before,” says Dane. “There seems to be a growing interest in knowing how to tap into this market. We hope to challenge Christian filmmakers to crash through boundaries with creative and inspired projects.” 

Professional panelists include: Michael Cain (President M3 Films, Director/Producer); Curtis Wallace (Lawyer, Author and Producer, formerly with TD JaKes Enterprises); Danny Carrales (DRC Films); Chad Gundersen (Gundersen Entertainment); and Benjamin Dane (Actor/Producer Pathlight Entertainment).
These panelists will also be presenting workshops during the conference. A total of 25 speakers will present 50 workshops on a wide range of topics, include radio, television, graphics, public speaking, acting, PR and marketing, leadership, writing, and more. The entire convention, including workshops, exhibits, panels and receptions is $129 per person. 

There is also a Hispanic track which includes a Hispanic Media Reception on Friday evening hosted by Comunicadores USA. The reception and workshops in this track will be presented in Spanish.
The event wraps on Saturday night with a keynote by Actor Stephen Baldwin which is also open to the public with tickets available individually. Each evening event is open to the public, and tickets for each event can be purchased separately.
To learn more about the convention or to register, go to:

Noah by Mark Ludy

Noah: The Wordless Picture Book by Mark Ludy is meant to appeal to both children and adults. Going deeper than the children's Sunday School version, the story follows the Biblical version and illustrates Noah's relationship with God, his wife, his children, the people around him and animals. The artwork is meant to reveal a picture of what was happening that bring a response from children and adults to further understand what was happening. The wordless format will develop both communication skills and imaginative story-telling while teaching or reaffirming the Biblical account of this event.

No doubt the illustrations are well done; Ludy is obviously very talented. I also like books that encourage children to use their imaginations. Of course, I do believe the Biblical account to be true, but it is just the basic account. I don't necessarily agree with all Ludy portrays, but I am also sure my views aren't strictly accurate. Some of the drawings did seem to dark for a younger child. I know we sugarcoat the story, perhaps too much, for young children, but a couple of the illustrations are a bit frightening for some kids. Of course, the true story is much more graphic and older kids and adults need to understand why the flood happened. So, beautiful artwork and great concept, but I think a parent would need to decide when a child could handle this.

I was provided with a free copy from Handlebar Marketing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Overrated by Eugene Cho

Overrated by Eugene Cho asks if we are more in love with changing the world than we are in actually changing it. Many people want to change the world, but Eugene Cho found out that it takes more than a simple desire to change it. You need a plan of action, and you need to put thought into that plan. We live in a world where people think they have made a tremendous impact if they share something as a Facebook status or as their profile picture. And, we can't forget the power and promise of the #hashtag.

Eugene Cho talks about first seeing what changes you need to make within yourself. There are many who choose short term mission trips, but not always for the right reason. Did you do it to make yourself feel better or out of love for others. Feel-goodism may make you feel good about yourself, but be sure that more was accomplished. Sometimes our acts do more harm than good. We want to give and make life easier for others who are under tremendous burdens, but showing someone how to find methods of helping themselves is more important. You also want to point people to a relationship with Jesus. As Cho pointed out, too many of us have a "Messiah complex" and think we are supposed to save others (rather than pointing them to the only One who can save them) instead of showing them a way to keep dignity intact.

There was quite a bit in the book that I agreed with, especially in terms of many mission trips. I am in favor of them, and have seen lives impacted, but I have also seen too many instances of when the money could have been spent in a wiser way. Cho's views also resonated with thoughts I have had more and more about a food ministry I am involved with. We meet genuine needs, but we also set up a pattern of entitlement with some. Is helping others to break a cycle of poverty not showing the love of Jesus than simply letting people care only about a handout? I want to show my love for Jesus, and to love the people with whom I come in contact with. When they become merely numbers on a report, it is time for a heart check. Really good book that gives you some things to think about. Also, check out more of the work Eugene and others do at One Day's Wages.

About the author:

Eugene is the founder and visionary of One Day’s Wages, a grassroots movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty. He is the founder and senior pastor of Quest Church, an urban, multicultural, and multigenerational church in Seattle, Washington. Eugene and his wife, Minhee, have three children.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): I received a copy of this book from Propeller Consulting, LLC in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Never Ever Give Up by Erik Rees

Never Ever Give Up: The Inspiring Story of Jessie and her JoyJars by Erik Rees (and Jenna Glatzer)

It started with a simple question: How can we help them? It became an international movement called NEGU: Never Ever Give Up. When Jessica Joy Rees was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at age 11, she chose to focus not on herself but on bringing joy and hope to other children suffering from cancer.
During the ten months she battled cancer, she and her family worked in the “Joy Factory” (originally their garage) making JoyJars®—packages filled with toys, games, and love for other kids with cancer. Jessie first handed them out personally at the hospital where she was being treated, but the effort blossomed quickly and there were soon thousands of JoyJars® being distributed across the United States and to over fifteen countries. Today, more than 100,000 kids have received JoyJars®, and they continue shipping each week to kids in over 200 children’s hospitals and 175 Ronald McDonald Houses.
Jessie lost her battle with cancer in January 2012, but her message lives on in the Jessie Rees Foundation, which has become a beacon of hope for families fighting pediatric cancer.
JessieReesFoundation on FB 

Follow @TeamNEGU
JessieReesFoundation Instagram 
JessieReesFoundation YouTube 

My Review: This is the story of Jessica Joy Rees, as told through the eyes of her father. When Erik noticed that Jessie was having problems seeing, the family expected an adjustment with glasses and perhaps a few eye muscle exercises to take care of the problem. Jessie was a healthy, active 11 year old who shared her older sister's love of swimming. Both were on swim teams with promising futures as athletes. Jessie was at that age of enjoying fashion and shopping like her sister, but still willing to play games with her younger brother.

The news that her eye problems were due to an inoperable brain tumor devastated the family, but they were determined to take whatever measures necessary to prolong her life. Two things happened that proved Jessie was both a fighter and a giver: a friend encouraged her with the words, "Never Ever Give Up", which Jessie made into a slogan---NEGU, (pronounced 'knee-goo') and her determination to help cheer up other children she saw in the hospital who did not get to go home as she did (following radiation treatments). This, and her love of shopping, led to the creation of JoyJars. Her goal was to make sure that every child with cancer received one.

The book itself is the family's journey through Jessie's 10 month battle with cancer, both the ups and the downs. Of course there is sadness, but this is mostly a celebration of Jessie, and the certainty the Rees family has, through their belief in Jesus Christ, that Jessie is now healed and that they will one day be reunited. I recommend the book, and I certainly recommend you get involved with the Jessie Rees Foundation at
Remember, Never EVER Give Up! #NEGU

I was provided with a free copy form Handlebar in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship, and Fashion Disasters

Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship, and Fashion Disasters is the first book in the Desperate Diva Diaries series by Angie Spady. The series revolves around 6th grader, Catie, and her friends and family. A blurb about the book from the publisher will tell you a bit more:

Meet, Catie Conrad – a typical, tween, Christian girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders. And if it isn’t bad enough that no one seems to understand the social pressures of being the greatest at everything, donning the latest fashions, and carrying the trendiest technology, Catie’s dad is about to uproot her and her family to an Indian reservation during spring break for his job. Throw in a school dance, a major art contest, and an arch nemesis known only as Miranda Maroni and there’s bound to be an epic meltdown of biblical proportions. Or, maybe not…

My Review: This is a great book for tween girls! The characters are a lot of fun to get to know and remind me of a few people I have met. I love that it is written from a Christian viewpoint that shows Catie learning to make her faith her own, and the guidance of her parents is a wonderful example of parenting. These are most certainly not perfect people, but lessons are learned through fears, failures, triumphs, and new experiences. I would have loved to have had these books when I was younger and will most definitely recommend this series to friends with daughters around the age of Catie in friends. With so few books for kids having good role models, this is a breath of fresh air. Not only will it encourage girls to read, but I believe that the perfect accompaniment for this book would be a diary and a pack of pens...preferably colored ones. Sometimes purple ink just adds to the joy of writing! Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship & Fashion Disasters is published by B&H Kids. The book is 304 pages and is geared for grades 3-7 and ages 8-12.

Disclosure: I received
a copy of this book to review from Shelton Interactive. The opinions expressed are my own and I was not required to give a positive review. There was no monetary compensation. 
Author Angie Spady, a former high school teacher and community arts activist,
has always encouraged others to be creative and think outside the box. She has published curriculum units by the Kentucky Council on Economic Education, and her innovative teaching techniques have been featured on PBS, Kentucky Educational Television, in "KY Teacher" magazine and other various print media around the country. Inspired by her inquisitive art students, Spady wrote "The Channing O’Banning Series" (Santa Cruz Press), as well as two picture books. Spady enjoys traveling around the world with her family, bird watching, and relaxing in her garden. When she’s not running after her two teenage daughters, you’ll probably find her writing along side her biggest fans, her rag doll cats, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley.

Monday, September 15, 2014


Hero: Joe Finn (Burgess Jenkins) was a local legend in the world of baseball, but a miserable failure as a husband, father, and friend. Now, seven years after leaving home, he returns just in time to say goodbye to his dying wife (Ashlee Payne) and hello to a son (Justin Miles) and a community who consider him as good as dead.

Intent on making his life right, he turns to the only thing he knows -- baseball. But Little League is all but unrecognizable in Miller's Gap, and parental involvement is at an all-time low. Even as his actions begin to warm the hearts of some, others in the community threaten to get rid of Joe's team for good. Can Joe win back his son and revitalize a dying game, or is he seven years too late to redeem the mess of his own making?

Hero is directed by Manny Edwards, who also co-wrote with John Fornof. The stars are Burgess Jenkins, Justin Miles, R. Keith Harris, Gregory Alan Williams, Mark Joy, Ashlee Payne, Fred Griffith, Jim McKeny, Andrea Powell, and Nicholas Edwards as "Sammy" Also starry Blaine Goodwin, Sam Dubin, Ty Myatt, Kenny Hinkle, and Walker Anthony. George D. Escobar, Burgess Jenkins, and Michael Snyder are the producers.

Official Selection - Christian Worldview Film Festival
Official Selection - Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival

My Review: I have been hearing about this film since it was first being made, so I have kept up with the progress from the beginning. So, although I expected to like it, I truly did not expect to get drawn into the story as quickly as I did. I always watch a film a minimum of twice because my attention wanders; I consider the first viewing to just give me a general idea of the story before I really watch it. Within 5 minutes, I was sitting down, fully focused on the story being told.

This is a story of hope, forgiveness, reconciliation, and redemption. I noticed a couple of little glitches, but nothing overly distracting. I enjoyed the acting, the cinematography, the sound (too often I have to go back to try to understand what was said in other films), and that there was closed captioning. At only 94 minutes, it's not too long, and it is great for a Family Film Night. Some of the material may be harder for kids younger than 10 to understand, but they will probably like the baseball scenes. I highly recommend this dvd.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this DVD from EDIFY MEDIA as part of the movie's promotion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

GIVEAWAY: Edify Media has another copy of HERO to give away!! Just leave a comment on the blog to be entered. Deadline to Enter is Sept. 30 at Noon (CDT)Reminder: I do monitor due to Spammers. Be patient, and contact me only if your comment does not appear with 24 hours. Thanks!

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