Saturday, July 30, 2011

Who Is Simon Miller?

 Aug 6th is the night of the next Family Movie Night, sponsored by Walmart and P & G. This time the feature is a about a family who comes to realize that the dad is actually a secret government agent!

"Who Is Simon Miller?" Synopsis:
When unassuming geoligist Simon Miller mysteriously disappears one night, the Miller family is thrown into a desperate search to find him. Simon's wife Meredith and their two kids, Sarah, 18 and Kevin, 15 frantically search Simon's office for information. When they find a stash of passports, all with Simon's picture but each with a different alias, they realize that their father has been keeping more than a few secrets. Who is Simon Miller? And what has he gotten himself - and his family - into? Not sure they can even trust the dad they thought they knew, the Millers embark on an international mission to get him back. It's a heart-pounding adventure that tests the limits to which families will fight for each other. 
I recently was given the opportunity to preview Who Is Simon Miller? and I believe that this film lives up to the same enjoyable quality of the previous films in the Family Movie Night series. There were areas that weren't very logical to me, but sometimes I need to lighten-up and suspend disbelief and practicality for a moment. It was suspenseful, without being too frightening for younger viewers, and had just the right amount of humor to endear the characters to the audience. Actually, this could probably make a fun television series for the family.

Loren Dean, Skyler Day, Robyn Lively, and Drew Koles as The Millers in "Who Is Simon Miller?"

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.”

Friday, July 29, 2011

Safely Home by Randy Alcorn

Safely Home by Randy Alcorn is a book that has been on my list of books I wanted to read for a long time. So, I was delighted when I was offered the opportunity to review the 10 year anniversary reprint. This tells the story of 2 former college roommates 20 years after graduation from Harvard. Li Quan, son of a Christian, becomes an atheist after his father becomes a martyr. When he has the opportunity to attend college in America, his roommate, Ben Fielding, is instrumental in leading him back to the Lord.

20 years later, Ben looks up his old roommate while on a business trip to China. Both men are surprised at the changes in circumstances, and the new direction each has taken. The discoveries about each other and growth of each man in fulfilling his own destiny make this a novel you can not simply walk away from untouched.

Safely Home

 Using this painting entitled "Safely Home" by artist Ron DiCianni, for inspiration, this is a book that reminds us that we have a freedom that not all enjoy or appreciate. Also, Randy Alcorn has a style of writing his fiction novels that always captivates my imagination. Throughout them, there is that glimpse of Heaven and the observations of the "great cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1) who remind me that Heaven is my real Home. While this novel is a somber reminder of those who suffer for their faith, it also serves to encourage & strengthen my own walk with the Lord. It also knocks the complacent attitude of those who resent being mocked or who try to blend in. One more source of inspiration mentioned in the book, is a song called "Safely Home" by Steve Green.


                                          Randy Alcorn is the founder of Eternal Perspecive Ministries (EPM). He is the author of over 35 books. Visit his website at                                                            

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Robert Pierre cd Give-away

Robert Pierre's third cd, I'm All In, will be released on July 26, 2011. This is a very personal collection of  songs that Robert wrote or co-wrote (with the sole exception being Sing For Joy). The following is what Robert himself had to say about this cd:

“All of the songs have something to do with things I was going through my senior year,” Robert said of I’m All In, “preparing to say goodbye to friends and not really knowing what would come next, but finding comfort and peace in the Lord’s plan for my life. The Bible talks about how the eyes of the Lord are searching to and fro throughout the earth, searching for someone whose heart is wholly His, someone He can strongly support. This CD is me saying, ‘I’m all in.’”

The following is a list of links where you can check out Robert Pierre for yourself.  The Amazon link also will let you listen to samples of each song on the cd.

Ok, I admit that I am a bit torn on this one. The first song on the cd, I'm All In had a techno/ pop beat that, frankly, annoyed me. This continued for 2 more songs: lyrics I loved, but the music was just not what I wanted to hear. Many of the songs use this same style. The 4th track, Maker Of The Stars was more to my taste (and for those who know is NOT because of the title!! lol) I also really liked Sing For Joy, but my favorite was  the final track, Trust In You. Both the lyrics and the style touched me.

So, you can see why I am torn on this one. This is well done, and the lyrics really spoke to me, so this may be one I prefer to read instead. Seriously, I am sure my daughter or granddaughter will be grabbing my copy to enjoy!! I did hear Robert Pierre live last year on the WINTERJAM 2010 tour. I enjoyed his music, especially his version of  You Hold Me Now. I doubt if I would go just to hear him, though.  He is talented, but just not a right fit for me.

I said this is a review and a give-away, so here are the rules: Comment on this blog post (or to me if you have problems, so I can enter you myself) no later than 11:59pm CDT to be entered into a random drawing.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.”

Friday, July 22, 2011

Primal by Mark Batterson

PRIMAL is book written by the lead pastor of the National Community Church in Washington, DC, Mark Batterson.  The question asked on the back page really captured my imagination: What would your Christianity look like if it was stripped down to the simplest, rawest, purest faith possible? You would have more, not less. You would have the beginning of a new reformation—in your generation, your church, your own soul. You would have primal Christianity.

I find a deeper longing in me not to settle for a run of the mill faith that has become comfortably Americanized, so I did open this book with high expectations. It started out quite promising, with a story of he & his wife stumbling upon a church in Rome where they discovered catacombs where 2nd century Christians met secretly to worship. Those people did not take their faith lightly and loved God too much not to take the risk to meet. Mark then proceeds to say that we have made Christianity too complex, when the Great Commandment sums it all so simply and eloquently: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. ~ Mark 12:30

I must admit that I am a bit undecided on this one.There were moments scattered throughout the book that made me think, "Yes! That is what I want!" However, there were also too many pages where it was just pleasant reading. Several times I had to look again to remember the premise of the book. Perhaps my expectations were set too high. This is a well-written book and I did enjoy reading simply just did not live up to the promise I had hoped for.

“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One Year Anniversary

Yes, it was July 17, 2010 when I fell in love! Just about this time...a Saturday night,  a mere 52 weeks ago, after getting in from a trip to Atlanta with a friend, I had to see what all I had missed on Facebook that day. As I jumped around, checking out various friends' pages & updates, I noticed that my friend Barry had recently become a fan of a film called Beyond The Farthest Star. The title caught my imagination, so I decided to check it out for myself. First, I looked around &  there was a video entitled What is Beyond The Farthest Star?! I had to watch that.

Of course, I also saw that they were asking for more fans. Now, it is just near-impossible for me to turn down a request like that...especially since a specific number was mentioned!! :) It was getting late, so didn't say anything that about it that night. However, shortly after getting home from church, I was immediately drawn back to the page...Within minutes I was hitting SHARE and sending forth the news:

"Yes, my goal-obsessed mind is at it again! Just 72 more fans to reach 2000 fans!!!!! Come on....join and help them out!! This sounds really good!!

The more I checked out this incredible film, the deeper in love I fell. I had always been interested in star-gazing, but wasn't sure what this film was all about. Another dimension was added when I watched the following clip: Andrew Librizzi talks about burning the Nativity. A separation of church vs state issue always garners my attention! I have long been intrigued by legal issues. Plus just the general storyline description was fascinating to me. 
A twist of fate brings the national spotlight to a forgotten Texas town and a once famous preacher has an opportunity to regain his former glory or seize one last chance to restore his fractured family. Narrated by his fifteen-year-old daughter, we watch as Adam Wells, a minister driven by the prospect of achieving greatness as the next nationally-syndicated TV Evangelist lays down his opportunity at “celebrity” and even his own life in order to become something even greater... A loving husband and father to his wife and daughter.

There have been too many celebrity televangelist scandals not to wonder just how this would fit in.  This looked like a film I could completely get "into"! Just one of the topics would have been enough to get my curiosity going, but this film was packed with issues of interest!! There was no way I could not "help" ~lol~ them get more fans!

After nearly 3 months of my campaigning to get others to join  The Game Of Life page, people were accustomed to my pro-active manner of requesting people to become fans. To my absolute joy, several of my new friends from there immediately decided to LIKE Beyond The Farthest Star. With the equally enthused producer/actor Benjamin Dane sharing my fascination with the growing numbers & the film, and my friends enjoying my frantic pleas for more fans, reaching goals became my hobby! :) Plus, the more I learned about the film and as I came to know the people involved in the making of it, I grew even more excited about this incredibly dynamic film written & directed by the talented Andrew Librizzi!! Then once they brought in the BRING IT! option...there was no turning back for me. LOL!

Now, they have had their first test screening.....without me!! Yes, it was heart-breaking! *dramatic sigh* But they did manage to make this film without me, so I guess they could test screen it without me!! LOL! Actually, I am well aware they would be just as [hopefully not more] successful had I never heard of them. Yet, they graciously let my enthusiasm go unbridled. And I was just as excited and proud of the viewer's comments as if I did have a hand in it. :)

This would have made more sense to write on the actually day of "the anniversary", but I'm not known for my patience!! (Some, well...many, might say I'm not known for my sense either...but let's be nice! lol) As of moments ago...BTFS needed 81 more to reach 6000!!! Come on! Y'all help!! :) And, I really MUST mention that Cullman still needs lots of votes on BRING IT!  Okay, since I'm still in love...everyone vote to Bring It to YOUR local cinema!! (I must remember the good of BTFS   & not be selfish.)

                          Happy Anniversary 
                     Beyond The Farthest Star
(yeah, I know this has been a longer process for everyone actually connected to the film...this is only between me & y'all, but....what can I say!! :) It has been an exciting, fantastic, enjoyable year for me!!)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Stuart Smalley's Life Verse

Lately I have struggled some with depression, and could not seem to get beyond these feelings. So, today, God graciously used my sense of humor to help bring things back into perspective. I don't know how many remember AL Franken's character of  "Stuart Smalley" on Saturday Night Live, but he is famous for his Daily Affirmation. Here is a small sample:

Well, this morning I was running late and just could not get it together. I was really beating myself up emotionally by the time I arrived at the warehouse I have been volunteering at lately. But, coffee had been made, a post & messages from a couple of FB friends had encouraged me, and I had found a Bible among some other books that had been donated to tornado victims. In other words, the day was beginning to hold promise. I opened up the Bible and was about to turn to Jeremiah to study for next Sunday's lesson. (Btw, being depressed is not always the best time to study Jeremiah...also known as "The Weeping Prophet"! LOL)

As I glanced down to turn the page to where I needed to go, my eye was drawn to a verse that did literally make me Laugh Out Loud. Psalm 45:2 in the Contemporary English Version says: "No one is as handsome as you! Your words are always kind. That is why God will always bless you."  My first thought was, "Oh my goodness! If Stuart Smalley had just been saved this would be his life verse!" I could just picture him peering intently into the mirror quoting that verse. God knew I desperately needed something to make me laugh, and provided what I needed.

This was also used to remind me that while my thoughts about myself have been  completely opposite of Stuart's affirmation of himself, both are exaggerations. Even more importantly, I have a God who knows exactly what I need. He may allow me to wallow in self-pity for a while, but He won't let me stay there. While I am not an advocate of the 'randomly opening the Bible' method of inspiration, I did have one another moment later in the afternoon: I had been praying in my spare moments today for a friend's urgent request, as well as my recent attitude toward myself. I had to go make a copy of something, and when I returned the fan near me had caused the Bible pages to flip over from where I had been reading earlier to a verse my friend & I had claimed over this particular project months ago (and is also perfect for some stuff I am currently going through): Ephesians 3:20 ~ "Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—" God is good...and just knowing He loves me is all I need! :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Why God Won't Go Away by Alister McGrath

In his latest book, Why God Won't Go Away: Is The New Atheism Running On Empty?, author Alister McGrath presents an overview of the group who call themselves "New Atheists". These are people are not merely content with not believing in God themselves, but are on a mission to convince others to see their point of view as the correct one. In fact, I have heard this group described as "evangelical atheists". This is a fairly short book, & is conveniently divided into 3 parts:
1. What Is The New Atheism?
2. Engaging The New Atheism: Three Core Themes
3. Where Does The New Atheism Go From Here?

Professor McGrath provides a clear, insightful explanation from the roots of this movement, to the leaders (Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet, and Christopher Hitchens) and their individual viewpoints, and continues on with the general beliefs of the followers of this movement and the direction they appear to be heading. I felt he gave a fair assessment of the core beliefs and reasoning of the people who feel this passionate about eradicating God from our lives, and agreed with him on why many are unwilling to have a dialogue with those of the opposing viewpoint. I also appreciate all of the research he put into this book along with the notes, and further reading suggestions included. This is a very well done resource for those who wish to explore the thinking behind "New Atheism".

Alister Edgar McGrath, a former atheist,  is a Christian theologian and apologist who holds both a DPhil  and an earned Doctor of Divinity degree from Oxford.

I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogging Program through