Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Becoming Us - Robin Jones Gunn

Five young women, including beloved Gunn characters Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen, gather for a simple Christmas party and soon become unlikely best friends. Told from the viewpoint of Emily, a timid young mom going through a difficult season of life, the regular gatherings provide the much needed community she's longed for. As the women begin sharing their life stories in Becoming Us they are endeared to each other and find ways to challenge, encourage, and help each other become the nurturing mothers they wished they'd had when they were growing up. They see themselves as Haven Makers and unite to be remembered for what they do and not for what was done to them. (Amazon description)

Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn brings together 5 young mothers who connect and form a close bond with one another. The story is told mostly from the POV of Emily who has recently moved from North Carolina to California with her husband and young daughter. Unlike the others, Emily's child is not a baby or toddler, so that plus being in a very vulnerable season in her life causes her to be hesitant about forming friendships within the group. When an unexpected event thrusts her into a shared experience, however, she allows herself to be pulled into the group.

The transformation of Emily from a shy, lonely, timid woman who has allowed family to shape her life into a person emerging from the shadows strong in faith, confident in herself, willing to take risks, and determined to do what is best for herself, her husband, and her child is an encouraging story for anyone who struggles to find herself. Both Emily and her husband Trevor make strides to lean less on their own thoughts, understanding, and indecisiveness and to trust fully in God... which also is a lesson observed and adopted by daughter Audra.

For the fans of Christy Miller and Sierra Jenson, it will be a treat to revisit them in "Haven Makers" series. I know Robin Jones Gunn through her "SisterChicks" books, but now I want to read more. I give Becoming Us 5 stars and look forward to reading future books about these friends.

I received a copy of this book at no cost to myself as part of the WaterbrookMultnomah Becoming Us Launch Team. All opinions are my own.

Becoming Us on Amazon


BREAKTHROUGH is based on the inspirational true story of one mother’s unfaltering love in the face of impossible odds. When Joyce Smith’s adopted son John falls through an icy Missouri lake, all hope seems lost. But as John lies lifeless, Joyce refuses to give up. Her steadfast belief inspires those around her to continue to pray for John’s recovery, even in the face of every case history and scientific prediction. From producer DeVon Franklin (Miracles from Heaven) and adapted for the screen by Grant Nieporte (Seven Pounds) from Joyce Smith’s own book, BREAKTHROUGH is an enthralling reminder that faith and love can create a mountain of hope, and sometimes even a miracle.

Breakthrough is directed by Roxann Dawson and stars
Chrissy Metz, Josh Lucas, Topher Grace, Mike Colter, Marcel Ruiz, Sam Trammell and Dennis Haysbert.

My Review: The film is a well-made telling of an incredible story that is based on actual events. An excellent cast has already propelled the film into the Top 20 of Christian films with a theatrical release. Chrissy Metz is amazing as Joyce Smith... a mother with a strong faith in God and love for her only son. Topher Grace brought charm and humor to the story as the family pastor and the friendship that developed between him and Joyce touched me as they put aside personal differences to join together in a common cause. Dennis Haysbert gives a stellar performance, as usual. Each member of the cast is to be commended for their portrayals.

I loved the music, production was outstanding, and I give the movie an A in all areas. This is one I will be buying on DVD when released.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Psalms For Little Hearts

Psalms for Little Hearts written by Dandi Daley Mackall and illustrated by Cee Biscoe is a rhyming paraphrase of 25 of the best-loved Psalms.

  • 25 rhyming Psalms are written just for your little one
  • Topical table of contents helps you find the right Psalm for every occasion
  • Beautiful, kid-friendly, four-color illustrations throughout make Scripture accessible
  • Scripture from the original Psalms bring you and your child back to the Bible
My Review: A small but powerful package that is sure to delight any child in your life. I love the size (5.5 x 6.625) because it is perfect to hold in one hand while cuddling one of my great-grandkids in my lap. The kids love looking at the pictures (and I do too!) but still listen to what I am reading to them. This is wonderful for both morning devotions and bedtime prayers. The selected Psalms focus on Joy, Hope, and Praise; these are perfect for teaching our little ones about the love God has for them and why we praise Him. Whether using snippets from each chapter or using a whole Psalm... this book can be used for years. It is adaptable to use with toddlers on up to children who can read it for themselves. I highly recommend it!
DISCLAIMER: Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. I was not asked to give a positive interview and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

So Much the Better - Megan Means

So Much the Better by Megan Means is a children's chapter book that engages the interest of an elementary school-aged child through the adventures of "Ari," a lion cub who is separated from his mom and the rest of his tribe during a terrible storm. Ari meets Eliezer, a golden eagle promises to guide him as he tries to be reunited with his mother.

As he travels through the forest there are times Eliezer is out of sight, but he has assured Ari, "Even when you don't see me you must have faith I am close." The eagle also advises the cub to stay near the stream.

Along the way, Ari meets many other animals. Some are friends and some are not. But he continues to grow physically and with wisdom as he and those who become his companions finally reach his homeland. But, this is not the end of his journey: hard times and fierce enemies threaten the pride. Ari must use the lessons he has learned as he faces his hardest battle.

This story reminds me of Pilgrim's Progress in many ways and the parables Jesus shared. I love the Biblical truths that are spread throughout the book and the way they can connect with children through unforgettable characters and adventures. 

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

Discover more at MeganMeansAuthor.com

Thursday, April 4, 2019


All Abby Johnson ever wanted to do was help women. As one of the youngest Planned Parenthood clinic directors in the nation, she was involved in upwards of 22,000 abortions and counseled countless women about their reproductive choices. Her passion surrounding a woman’s right to choose even led her to become a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, fighting to enact legislation for the cause she so deeply believed in.

Until the day she saw something that changed everything, leading Abby Johnson to 
join her former enemies at 40 Days For Life, and become one of the most ardent 
pro-life speakers in America.

Unplanned was directed by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon and had outstanding performances by Ashley Bratcher as Abby and Robia Scott as Cheryl, a few surprising cameos, and other talented actors (including my friends Todd Terry and Stacey Bradshaw). Many were shocked when it's successful opening weekend landed it in 4th place overall. This has led to more theaters bringing it in this week! I thought Unplanned did well in presenting Abby Johnson's story and how her views on abortion were changed. I have always been pro-life, even before Roe vs Wade, so I admit to some bias when it comes to abortion. This film actually gave me a deeper understanding of the motives of some of the workers in the abortion industry who genuinely believe they are doing a service for women, and even the babies. I still disagree with what they do but am willing to concede that some are well-intentioned. 

The story was well told, and while some scenes were graphic, abortion is not a neat, tidy procedure... nor is it an unemotional one for most women. These are living humans who are being destroyed before they have the chance to draw their first breath. The very first scene, which was the catalyst for Johnson leaving Planned Parenthood, makes a powerful impact that still lingers in my mind... even knowing that it is CGI. And, I do have friends who faint at the sight of blood, but scenes that include blood are not put in the film for shock; these scenes accurately portray what sometimes happens. Of course, there are also scenes that hit hard on an emotional level. I rarely cry at a theater, but one, in particular, had tears running down my face.

My hope is that many will see the film, no matter their personal views, just to see this side of the story. It's hard to make an informed intelligent decision if you close your eyes to certain aspects. If you support abortion, I hope the film causes you to reconsider; if your view remains unchanged, I hope you at least have a greater understanding of the views of those who believe the unborn child has value. I highly recommend this film for adults and sexually active teens.

Go see this movie! 
For more information:

Unplanned on IMDb 
Unplanned on Facebook 
Follow @UnplannedMovie on Twitter 
UnplannedMovie on Instagram 
40 Days For Life 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Pilgrim's Progress

Many of us are familiar with John Bunyan's classic allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress. The book has never been out of print since it was published in the 1670s. The new animated film being released next month covers Part 1... Christian Pilgrim's journey to The Celestial City. [Part 2 covers his wife and children, but isn't as well known as the first.]

Check out the trailer:

I have seen the movie and love it. The animation was very well done and the story was captivating. From Revelation Media studio, the film features the voice talent of John Rhys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings series, Indiana Jones series, Beyond the Mask), Kristyn Getty (In Christ Alone), and Ben Price. The visuals make it simple to apply what is being shown to our own experience as followers of Christ. I would caution that some of the demonic characters and experiences may be frightening to very young or sensitive children, but I found them to be a very powerful image of the actual spiritual attack we encounter. The themes of Faith, Hope, Redemption, and Perseverance are clearly defined and messages we all need as encouragement.

There will only be TWO opportunities to see The Pilgrim's Progress in theaters. This movie is being distributed through Fathom Events with screenings scheduled at select theaters on Thursday, April 18, during the evening and Saturday afternoon of April 20. However, these screenings are the perfect pre-Easter opportunity to gather with family, friends, and church groups to watch this beloved story in a brilliantly made film. Not only can you reflect and affirm your own journey, but this is the perfect opportunity to share with children and others who have not yet begun the first steps of being a Christ-follower. 

Get your tickets today at Pilgrims.movie/theaters. INVITE others to join you! Actually, if you gather a group of 10 or more, you can get a discount! Buy Group Tickets

Learn more at www.pilgrims.movie 

GIVEAWAY!! You could win 2 tickets OR a copy of The Pilgrim's Progress storybook... thanks to Lev3l Digital. Simply respond with #PilgrimsProgressL3  and #tix, #book, OR  #both to be entered. DEADLINE TO ENTER IS APRIL 12, 2019!
**Be sure to check theaters (USA only) and the 2 available dates if you want to win tickets.**

Disclaimer: I was provided an online screener of this film for review purposes. I am being compensated with tickets and storybooks. All opinions are my own.
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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Eat, Live, Thrive Diet

Eat, Live, Thrive Diet: A Lifestyle Plan to Rev Up Your Midlife Metabolism by Danna Demetre and Robyn Thomson... the well-known health and lifestyle coaches of the widely popular website Lean Healthy Ageless. They have written a practical, science-based diet book that unravels the mystery of why women gain weight as they age and includes a sustainable plan to permanently lose the pounds and inches.

My Review: Eat, Live, Thrive Diet is an excellent source to help re-evaluate your diet and lifestyle, making adjustments as needed. I admit that all I have really done so far is READ about it instead of experimenting with their advice. However, that is mostly due to changes in medications due to diabetes. The authors confirm that any changes in diet should be approved by your personal physician. One of the things I do love about the book is that it does allow leeway for personal needs, as well as personal preference.

The book is also easy to read with a conversational style that kept my interest. Also, there is a lot of info that can help the reader pinpoint areas that are problematic. Learning how and what to eat is a life-changer! DIET does not always mean a plan to lose weight; diet is simply what you eat normally. This is about a LIFESTYLE and helps you explore how your body reacts to foods. Are you feeling tired and sluggish after a meal? Use the elimination plan to help discover if a certain food group is a cause.

There are also many tempting recipes in the back. I confess that I hate to cook, but most of these are inspiring me to learn to enjoy it. Plus, it's time to get healthier NOW. Some of the products recommended are ones (mostly brands) unknown to me, but I have not tried to find them (yet), either.

This is a book I plan to use and I do recommend it to others.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free as part of the “Eat Live Thrive Diet” WaterBrook-Multnomah Launch Team. The opinions I have expressed are my own.




Barnes and Noble 
Penguin Random House