Thursday, June 28, 2012

Unstuck

Unstuck: Your Life - God's Design - Real Change by Arnie Cole and Michael Ross speaks to those who feel they are in a broken relationship with God. Filled with a mixture of real stories, a Biblical guideline to follow for 45 days, research data, and advice, the book is divided into 3 sections.

Part One: Why We Stall Out focused on the reasons for the emptiness and doubts a believer may be going through.
Part Two: The Powered By Four Solution has a focus on not just a knowledge of God, but of building a relationship with Him through regular Bible reading.
Part Three: Engage, Untangle...Grow! is personal application of the process.

For some reason, I just kept finding myself bogged down by the detailed research into statistics and my mind would wander as I read. I did enjoy the personal stories and could connect with some of those who find them themselves getting out of the habit of spending more than a cursory time with God. However, much of it does seem to be things a believer knows...or should know. But, that is just my opinion. What will reach one person, does not have the same effect on another. On the plus side, and I confess that I did not take the time to go through this program, there is a website to help in a personal way that may be exactly what an individual is looking for to get "unstuck". With a subscription to go Tandem you'll receive scripture sent through your preferred media that is personalized to meet your individual needs. You can also ask for a weekly phone call from a Spiritual Growth Encourager who is equipped to discuss the Scripture you have been reading and pray with you. Accountability is always good, and this may be perfect for you.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House for review purposes. My opinions are my own and it was not required that I give a good review.



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Escapement by Rene Gutteridge

Mattie Bigham is losing everything that matters to him. He lost his job and now his wife says she wants a divorce. Since he now weighs just under 450 pounds, he expects to lose his life soon, too. So, when Thomas Constant shows up to tell him that he has 7 hours left, Mattie decides to go in search of the bully who made his life miserable as a schoolboy. Nothing turns out as he expects, and his time is about to expire...

I loved the story and soon cared about the characters, especially Mattie. Rene reveals different layers to this man who has made some poor decisions, and let the opinions of others color his image of himself. He has let bitterness seep into his being, yet also has some quirky aspects that made me smile, and compassion for the faults in others that are endearing. This is a quick read, yet one that packed a lot in and is well worth reading for yourself.

This is one of the stories in 7 Hours, an anthology from Tyndale. This is a collection of seven full-length novellas, each written by a different author. Each story features a character is visited by the enigmatic Thomas Constant. The message he delivers to each is "You are about to die. But you may choose from one of three options: Live seven more hours, travel back in time and relive seven hours, or accept the inevitable and die now.” (from the publisher)



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Death comes for everyone. But what if you were given seven more hours? Would you go back and relive a previous time in your life? Or would you live those seven more hours, starting now?

Stories include: All of Our Dreams, Whole Pieces, Teardrop, Escapement, Recollection, Rear View, and The Last Night of Alton Webber.

7 Stories. 7 Writers. 7 Hours.



In compliance with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I am required to state that I received a free download of Escapement from Tyndale House Publishers for the  purposes of  writing a review.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Till We Eat Again by Judy Gruen


Judy Gruen's new book, Till We Eat Again: A Second Helping, is a humorous journey of her efforts to lose 15 pounds in time for the reunion of her college housemates. From the benign to the bizarre, Gruen tries one diet and exercise program after another in her quest to find the plan that works best for her---and allows chocolate. Boot camp, belly dancing, Bikram yoga, Pilates, spinning, and a vast array of  in-home exercise equipment, Judy tries them all and more! The self-proclaimed experts who give conflicting advice, result in some of the diet plans that cause her family to regard meals with suspicion, and lead to an outright rebellion by Judy in one hilarious instance. Even a trip to the shoe store is a far from simple task as she is offered a dizzying array of choices.

Download a sample chapter here.

If you are looking for a light-hearted read that is both entertaining and informative, this is a great book. I had never heard of some of the diet or exercise programs she attempted...and I know to avoid a few of them now. You will certainly cheer Judy on as she struggles to rid herself of that extra weight, and may get motivated to start taking better care of yourself, too. A good sense of humor can go a long way in the effort to weigh less, and Judy helps you to see the funny side while you are on your own sojourn.

 Judy Gruen is a humor writer and editor who lives in Los Angeles. She is also a wife and mother of four great kids. Check out her Off My Noodle columns on both her web site, judygruen.com, as well as MommaSaid.net, and also a whole slew of other humor pieces on Aish.com.

** "Till We Eat Again: A Second Helping" is a revised and even funnier version of the original, award-winning "Till We Eat Again" book from 2003.

 I received an ARC courtesy of the publisher & NetGalley. I was not required to give a good review, and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cultivation Generation: My Foundation

June 19th brings the newest release from Vineyard Music. A multi-layered mix of guitars. banjos, synthesizers and voices combine to bring you My Foundation. Recorded LIVE at the Cultivation Generation Vineyard young adult conference, this brings you the feeling of being with a crowd of fellow believers as you are ushered into a time of worshiping God. These are very upbeat songs, and many have a pop style that many will find appealing. Listen to the video below for a sampling of the music and comments from some of the musicians.


My Foundation from Vineyard Resources on Vimeo.

I admit that there was a bit too much "pop" for my personal tastes. I liked some of the songs by themselves, but I didn't want to hear quite so many at one time. However there were a couple on there that I truly fell in love with. God Don't Never Change  and The Bridegroom really blew me away. I am hoping to hear more songs like them on future albums.

GIVEAWAY: Propeller is offering a download copy of this cd to one of my readers. To enter, just let me know on the blog. Drawing will be held Friday, June 29, 2012 at 9pm CDT.

You can also check out My Foundation and other offerings by Vineyard Music at the following locations:

Website: www.vineyardworship.com  

"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."



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day 2012

"Show me a man who refuses to compromise his belief in Jesus and will lead his work place and his home and I'll show you a real man."

~Pastor Andy Heis


For many years, the entertainment industry has often portrayed fathers as either a clueless man whom the wife and children mock and control, or as an indifferent parent...if he is present at all. The days of loving, nurturing, strong fathers such as Cliff Huxtable (The Cosby Show), Andy Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show), Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird), or even Marlin (Finding Nemo) seem long gone. I have observed a growing trend to turn the tide though, and I am one of many who applauds the efforts to redirect the importance of being a dad.  The tremendous success of  Courageous (now available on DVD/Blu-Ray) in 2011 proved that many others are in agreement. Watch this scene from Courageous: The Importance Of Family



Aren't these the films we need? I know that there are way too many kids who did not have the advantage of a nurturing dad, and I feel that society reflects that absence of a strong father. We have become a culture that is more influenced by television and films than ever before and it seems more important than ever to be aware of what our kids watch. Since some kids do not have a male role model in their lives, who do you want them to emulate? There are more than enough "my baby daddy" types who have the erroneous idea that a child is 'proof' of their manhood. I believe it is vital for us, and our children to  see men who love God, their wives, their children, & their communities.....even if it is in a movie. Boys need someone to emulate, and girls need to raise their expectations. I recently read a blog that highly impressed me and you may want to check out called Mocha Dad: 7 Traits Of Real Men.


But, my focus is on movies this time, so I have been looking ahead to see what other films are coming up that will have an emphasis on both faith and family, especially those with a strong positive image of a father. A few that are due to be released in 2012 include the three films listed below:

1. Beyond The Farthest Star: In BTFS, Todd Terry portrays Adam Wells...a man who has a troubled relationship with his daughter. We also learn of the relationship he had with his father. A father's impact on his child truly does leave a lasting and profound effect...but things don't have to remain the same from generation to generation.
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. (Pathlight Entertainment)


Stars: Todd Terry, Renee' O'Connor, Cherami Leigh
Writer/Director: Andrew Librizzi
Producers: Benjamin Dane, Sally Helppie



 
Cast Interview: Todd Terry from Beyond The Farthest Star on Vimeo.


2. Hardflip: The story of Caleb,a young skater whose ill mother and absent father leave him reaching for the only hope he has—becoming a sponsored skater. After finding a stack of old love letters, he sets out to find the father he never knew and inadvertently begins a journey he never could have expected. This story explores what happens when we let go of our anger and pain and forgive those who have hurt us most. (Skipstone Pictures)
Stars: Randy Wayne, Rosanna Arquette, John Schneider
Writer/Director/Producer: Johnny Remo
Writer: Daniel Backman
Watch the Hardflip  trailer:




 

 3. The Father Effect Movie: "Our prayer in making this film is to capture the critical and powerful impact of fathers in a documentary so compelling that it ignites intentional and purposeful actions by the men who watch it." This film is the true story of John Finch and his journey of growing up without a father, finding forgiveness, and how it changed his life. Learn more at The Perfect Father and watch the short film below:





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 So, go see these films, buy the dvds, help fund worthy projects, and PRAY for the people who are making movies that can make a difference. We truly are influenced by the films we choose to see, and our actions help shape our culture.

 “It is much easier to become a father than to be one.” ~ Kent Nerburn
**********************
Real Men, Love the Lord.
Real Men, Pray.
Real Men, Read their Bible.
Real Men, Regularly go to Church.
Real Men, Live a Godly Example.
Real Men, Love their Wives.
Real Men, Spend Time and play with their Kids.
~ (Author Unknown)


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The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.~ Proverbs 20:7

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Daddy

Cindy & Bill Miller
July 1955
 I have attempted to write this blog several times, but it is hard to put a man's life in just a few words. Billy Joe (Bill) Miller was born in Caddo, OK on May 3, 1930, but was raised in the place he always considered to be his hometown: McKinney, TX. His parents divorced when he was a boy, so he spent a lot of time alone. A single child, with few childhood friends, meant that he was never extremely comfortable around children. He loved me (and even my brother!) but our relationship grew closer as Paul and I aged. Daddy never was one to play in our games, but he took us to Saturday morning movies (usually Westerns) and to any parade in town. He also taught me my love of reading (although both of my parents loved to read). When I was barely old enough to recognize letters, he brought home hundreds of children's books that the local library was planning to discard. I remember being surrounded by piles of books.

He excelled at being a dad who would answer and try to explain questions I had. Whether it was prejudice (my hometown is Birmingham, AL and we lived there in the days of segregation), or math (which I still don't "get" once people start tossing letters into the mix!), he respected my questions and tried to answer on a level he thought I could understand. My favorite was following a film on STDs at a 7th grade assembly that Daddy attended with me. On the way home, his only comment was, "Always remember: You are ALLERGIC to penicillin." :)

Billy Joe Miller
US Navy
Daddy was very patient with some of my areas of rebellion. He was career Navy, and I protested Vietnam. He taught me that it was okay to object, but to continue to respect my country and the ones who were serving in the military and fighting the war. No matter what I would say, he would calmly put it all into perspective...in a logical way I couldn't argue with. Sometimes it was a simple, "Okay, but, just wait until you're 18." It's no fun to argue with someone who stays calm and doesn't forbid something...I could live with "Wait". It was enough that he listened without flying into a rage...or bursting into gales of laughter.

 He wasn't perfect, and we did have a few conflicts---we were too much alike for those not to arise from time to time. When he would say to me, "Cindy, when the Lord gave out patience, you were back over standing in the 'stubborn' line for a double portion!", I would think, "...just like my father." Fortunately, we were alike in temperament and had the same sense of humor, so we could not stay angry for long.

Doyce & Bill Miller
1981
He was a man of convictions, and stuck with them. He was intelligent, hard-working, patriotic, didn't use foul language, rarely drank (I could probably count on one hand how many times I remember seeing him with an alcoholic beverage), treated everyone with respect and dignity, openly prayed before meals and took his family to church. He loved the Lord, and absolutely adored my mother! (I understand Ephesians 5:25 perfectly due to my parent's relationship.)

Miller family
Aug. 1964
I don't know who wrote the following, but it makes me think of my dad:

Real Men, Love the Lord.
Real Men, Pray.
Real Men, Read their Bible.
Real Men, Regularly go to Church.
Real Men, Live a Godly Example.
Real Men, Love their Wives.
Real Men, Spend Time and play with their Kids.

 Deuteronomy 6:4b-7a says, "The LORD is the only God. You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Always remember these commands that I give you today. Be sure to teach them to your children."  Thanks, Daddy, for teaching me these things!! Because of your obedience to the Lord, I get to live forever with both my earthly father and my Heavenly Father!! You went Home on June 16, 1985 (ironically, that year it also happened to be Father's Day), but I know you are waiting on me to arrive at the appointed time.  (I cut it close a few times, but I usually made it home by curfew. Right?)

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Girl's Still Got It by Liz Curtis Higgs

Liz Curtis Higgs ~author, speaker, encourager~ is a favorite of mine, and I was delighted to get the opportunity to review her newest book, The Girl's Still Got It. We walk with Ruth on her journey from Moab to Bethlehem, as she leaves behind all that is familiar to her to go with her mother-in-law, Naomi, to live in a new land, with new people. As Ruth discards the false idols she was raised to worship, and devotes herself to the one true God, she shows a faith that is unshakeable. The future may be uncertain, but Ruth simply steps out in faith.

There are 2 others who make a direct impact on Ruth's life:
  •  Naomi’s life may seem shattered with no hope and no future, but watch as the broken pieces of her life are mended back together. Her bitterness is reversed and great joy is restored as she learns God still has a plan for her too. 
  • Boaz blesses the women with his kindness and generosity. He not only responds to Ruth in a manner that pleases and honors God, but is also a portrait of Christ as our kinsman-redeemer.

The real story of these people, as well as the symbolism and lessons to be learned make this both a satisfying read and an outstanding Bible study.  Click on this link to download and read Chapter One. I have heard and read the story of Ruth numerous times through-out my life, yet I still learned new things reading this.

As a special treat, here is Liz Curtis Higgs with "Righteous Ruth Rap":


"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tooting Your Own Horn

Perhaps the title is a bit misleading. This isn't a blog on bragging, by me or by someone else. This is more of a vent. We all have those little things that annoy us, and for me it is the use, or to be more accurate...the misuse of a car horn.

For a while I was walking quite a bit, but fell out of the habit. Well, after renewing my commitment to start again, I have quickly been reminded of one of the things I dislike about it. It is more convenient for me to walk along the sidewalk of a fairly busy road, and I prefer to walk at night. Without fail, I can guarantee at least one person will blow their horn.

There is one reason to blow your horn at me that is acceptable: You are about to hit me with your vehicle!! I am careful to look both ways before crossing the street, but perhaps your car is out of control. Or, chances are that you may not know that I have no intention of stepping out in front of a speeding piece of machinery. A bit paranoid, but okay.

 If you know me, I'm sorry, but I can pretty much guarantee I won't have a clue who YOU are...unless you drive something very distinctive...like the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile! Even then, I really prefer not to be honked at. These are usually prayer walks too, and I have to stop, repent my thoughts, and forgive you before continuing my conversation with the Lord.
If you don't know me, or for those who live in other areas and just like to honk at strangers, PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS FASCINATION TO ME!! 

While I am on the subject, the car horn is used appropriately to warn of impending danger. It is NOT or shouldn't be used to express annoyance. Again, I don't see the point.

Honestly, my distaste for the car horn is not reserved for when I am walking. If I am at home, and you show up UNEXPECTED and UNINVITED, DO NOT BLOW YOUR HORN and expect ME to come outside unless you meet one of the following exceptions:
  1.  You are physically disabled and need assistance.
  2.  A passenger in your car cannot be left unattended and has good reason to stay in the car. You know...a sleeping infant, etc.
  3.  There is an animal or snake (or, in the case of one of my sons...Itsy Bitsy Spider is on your car window! *sigh*) between the car and you. I won't go out either if there is a angry animal or a snake...but I will call someone to come remove it. I can handle spiders! LOL!
Ok, rant is over!!  I just haven't done many random thoughts lately. I was going to do my latest cooking disaster, but returned from walk still annoyed about car horns. So, if you see me walking down the street....you can tell me about it later. :)