Monday, July 30, 2012

Marriage Retreat "Special Edition"

Marriage Retreat "Special Edition" is an emsemble cast film that focuses on 3 couples who are each at a breaking point in their marriages, but too consumed in their own needs to recognize their faults. Mark and Claire Bowman (David A. R. WhiteAndrea Logan White) are fighting because Claire wants a baby, and Mark most emphatically does not. James and Donna Harlow (Matthew Florida, Anna Zielinski) are not accustomed to trusting God, and Donna's growing fear of losing James is causing her not to trust him, either. Bobby and Melody Castle (Tommy Blaze, Caroline Choi) are now struggling financially as Bobby gambles on risky ventures to get rich quick. The love and laughter is fading in each of the marriages as they grow further apart.

 When their pastor (Reginald VelJohnson) invites the leaders of a marriage retreat, Craig and Katrina Sullivan (Jeff Fahey, Victoria Jackson), as guest speakers, they invite those who want to remake their marriage to sign up for their sessions at their country retreat. These 6 friends see this as an opportunity for a weekend getaway to relax...and to let their spouses 'finally learn how to show them some respect'. Will this road lead them back to the ONE they love?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I was so excited to get the opportunity to preview this film. I am a fan of Pure Flix films and this one looked very good. Marriage Retreat: Special Edition has already moved onto my favorites list! There were moments of just sheer fun and genuine laughter as I watched this film, along with a few scenes that did bring tears to my eyes. Each issue the couples face may not be one you have dealt with, but there is sure to be something that resonates with the viewer. This isn't a film strictly for couples; I am no longer married, but there were things that caused me to think about my relationship with God and others in my life. I loved the music in the film and felt it went along wonderfully with the plot. A scene that featured a character by the brilliantly funny Brad Stine is pure pleasure to watch. However, there is also a theme that is symbolized that really spoke to me, but I don't want to give away any spoilers. The couples and the situations they were dealing with are relevant for today, and it taught a lesson while entertaining. Downloadable Bible Study Guides are also available to enrich your experience. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Peaceful Passage by Kim West, PhD

Peaceful Passage by Kim West, PhD is both the story of Kim's experience of being the primary caregiver for her mom during her final days and an essential guide for anyone else who will be caring for someone who is dying. Whether through personal preference or financial circumstances, there may come a time when a loved one needs someone to care for them as they come to the end of their lives. Even with the invaluable aid of Hospice, it can be a painful, scary situation that is made even worse by not being prepared. Fear of the unknown always makes things worse, and this is not the time one needs to be blindsided by the unexpected. Peaceful Passage is the most comprehensive guide I can imagine being available, and is sure to be a "must-have" book for anyone who is going to be a care-giver.

 ************************************************************* Honestly, when I first agreed to review this, I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into and my expectations were of either a dry manual or an emotional story of losing a parent. Instead, I found a book that I will whole-heartedly recommend to anyone who is facing a similar circumstance. I wish this book had been available for my family during my grandfather's last years. Kim covers so many details that may have never occurred to you...until they have to be dealt with. Each chapter is filled with her personal journey, essential information of what you need to have on hand or be prepared for, and a journal section for you to personalize for your unique situation. She ends the book with the websites of some organizations who can provide assistance for both your loved one and for yourself. From remembering things my family has said about caring for Papa and my own brief career as a CNA in a nursing home, I believe she covered every conceivable angle (other than issues with hiring non-Hospice caregivers who just don't work out.) This is the perfect blend of practical advice and memories of taking care of her mom. You can purchase this book at New Heart Publishing or Amazon. ****************************************************
I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product 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.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Greater by Steven Furtick

 Greater  by Steven Furtick is a book that challenges you to overcome fears, failures, and self-perceptions that you aren't good enough and to do greater things for God. One quote that I really liked was, "Most believers aren't in imminent danger of ruining their lives. They're facing a danger that's far greater - wasting them.Using the Biblical account of the prophet Elisha, Furtick demonstrates how a life that was ordinary is made extraordinary when Elisha chooses to abandon all ties to his former life when he is chosen as successor to the prophet Elijah. Throughout the book, various details and stories of Elisha are shared to encourage one to not settle for good enough, or be overwhelmed with grandiose dreams of greatness; simply offer God what you have and see Him use it and you!

Since I truly loved Sun Stand Still by this author, I was excited to see another book by Steven Furtick. I was not disappointed with this one either. So many books paint such overwhelming portraits of doing for God, and often by means that I can't do. While this does mean stepping out in faith and expecting God to be able to use you, it is by offering what you have, even if it seems insignificant. The verse spoken by Jesus on the back cover, "I tell you for certain that if you have faith in Me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father." (John 14:12),  really stood out to me as a promise by God that we often overlook. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who wants to fully embrace their faith and not just plod along in the mundane.

Check out more on the following sites:
Author's Web Site
Steven Furtick on Facebook
More Info
Read Chapter One
Author Bio

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

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Help For The Fractured Soul by Candyce Roberts

Dr. Candyce Roberts, who has a doctorate in Systematic Theology, wrote Help For The Fractured Soul to share strategies with people who help those who have been victims of  severe abuse. Many people who have suffered severe abuse, including SRA, can be traumatized to the point of having Dissociative Identity Disorder. Helping people who have been that broken, and who will have a natural mistrust for those in authority, is certainly not a quick fix. Candyce has ministered to these adult survivors for over 15 years as part of her inner healing ministry and shares both techniques and personal stories in this book.

This book is well-written and does not use clinical terms or a formality that would bore even a casual reader. The stories are heart-breaking, yet hopeful, as she relates how the methods she has used and the restoration of the Lord, has healed the broken pieces and a transformation to wholeness has emerged. I found Chapter 12: "Top Ten Keys for Overcoming Trauma" to be wise advice for everyone in maintaining a healthy relationship with the Lord, others, and themselves.

However, I do feel that this book is much better as a tool for those who are part of a ministry dedicated to helping victims of abuse. I remember a time when it seems stories were rampant of repressed memories of abuse, and I would hate for that to happen again. There is no doubt that this evil exists, and there are more cases than the public realizes, yet the power of suggestion can cause people to think that perhaps they are repressing memories; we all know people who cannot hear of a medical issue without being convinced they have contracted a disease. There are also those who think the casual perusal of a book immediately qualifies them to provide treatment to others. So, this is a good book that is interesting to read, but one I would be more likely to recommend to a pastor or mental health care provider.

I received a free copy of this book in return for my honest opinion, from Chosen Books.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Anything by Jennie Allen

In ANYTHING: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul, Jennie Allen writes about abandoning our pursuit of the comfortable things in life that make us happy, and choosing to be fully committed to living the life God wants us to live. Somewhere along the way we have chosen to believe that the white picket fence American dream of the 50s is a portrait of a good Christian life: we do what society deems proper, along with a token acknowledgment that God has blessed us.

Jennie Allen writes, “I believe that like every generation before us, we have an opportunity to see God move in our midst . . . to surrender in such a way that we would turn the head and heart of God. He waits for surrendered lives, and he finds them, he floods them. I want to be a part of that.”

 This is a well-written book that explores the fears, uncertainties, and joy of fully surrendering to God. Examples of her own life and the lives of others are liberally sprinkled in the pages to give this a personalized feel as though the reader is sharing thoughts, prayers, hopes, doubts, and dreams with a good friend. It not only gave me thoughts into my own life and my relationship with God, but inspired me to be more willing to step out in faith and fully trust God to lead me where He wants me to be and know that He is always there to catch me should I stumble along the way.   I received a copy of this book from Shelton Interactive. I was not required to give a good review and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

One Big Thing by Phil Cooke

One Big Thing is about finding out what you were born to do with your life and how to use it to revolutionize your business or ministry-and change your life. In this book, Phil Cooke helps you to uncover that one big thing in your life, but also teaches you how to make an impact with your life. Perhaps you are busy with so many different things to the point that it all just seems overwhelming. I know that I immediately thought of the old adage; "Jack of all trades--Master of none." Some people do appear to be able to do it all, and do it with ease, but most of us just want to find that one unique voice that is within us. If you are going to make an impact in your sphere of influence, you need to find that One Big Thing where you are extraordinary.

What’s the One Big Thing in your life? Is there something you are completely passionate about? Perhaps it is something you play around with, but never have the time to completely devote to it. No matter what you do, you probably are tied to a schedule. Whether it is work, family, friends, community and church events---you are constantly busy. Phil advises that you treat yourself to same type of respect and attention that you do for these other people and appointments.Whatever it is, use your calendar to schedule it.
"Get in the habit of scheduling time for YOU. If you don’t actually make time on your calendar for it – trust me – it will never happen. Stop using your calendar to only schedule other people’s demands on your time, and start using your calendar as a tool for taking you where you need to go."

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ One of the things I loved most about this book is that it can appeal to anyone, no matter what their age. Who doesn't wish they had always known what they wanted and had no doubts? However, many of us continue to struggle with trying to find our identity. Whether you are skilled and interested in many areas, yet just don't have that focus needed to best utilize your gifts, or if you have one passion and need an outlet, I highly recommend you read this book. This is not a step-by-step manual, but more of a guide to your own self-discovery. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions expressed are my own.

7500 Fans Contest on BTFS

HURRY...if you want to join in on the latest contest on the Beyond The Farthest Star Facebook fan page!! The BTFS Novel sold over 17,000 copies its first month! Now two fans will win an author/director autographed novel when they hit 7500 LIKES!! Use the SUGGEST TO FRIENDS feature above on the BTFS wall and post your name in a comment below to enter. The sooner they hit 7,500 Likes the sooner YOU can win!! (You must use the Suggest 2 Friends To Win or bring 10 new friends to BTFS Facebook)

  Beyond The Farthest Star stars Renee O'Connor (Xena Warrior Princess, The Ark), Todd Terry (Arlington Road, Breaking Bad), Barry Corbin (Northern Exposure, No Country for Old Men) and Cherami Leigh (Fast Food Nation, Temple Granlin). Written and Directed by Andrew Librizzi, produced by Benjamin Dane and Sally Helppie.

In February, the Zondervan/HarperCollins novel was released by acclaimed fiction writers, Bodie and Brock Thoene and is available at all major booksellers including Beyond The Farthest Star is described as "Real Life. Real Faith. Real Inspiration." It is an unflinching look at a contemporary family spiraling out of control and the sacrifice that must be made to save them.
To hear The Thoene interview, click here.
To hear the first chapter being read by author, Bodie Thoene, click here

The film started its marketing efforts early by involving a growing fan base. It introduced a fan-driven voting system called BRING IT! Fans can actually demand the film be shown in their local theaters and follow their city in an evolving list. Currently 423 U.S. cities and over 28 countries are voting to see the film. Social media has played a unique role as fans are daily updated and recently selected the tagline for the film. Early screening audiences describe it as "the new wave of faith-based". The filmmakers' vision is to crossover into both faith-based and secular markets. It is set to release soon in a Texas city then expand to other markets. More news and the latest info can be found on their Facebook wall. The trailer will be released for the first time in the coming weeks.

Special thanks to Benjamin Dane for providing me with the synopsis of the film and further info. You will see him in the role of Jimmy Wilkens in BTFS. Plus, in his role as a producer of the film, his creativity and enthusiasm in telling others about Beyond The Farthest Star is unlimited!! If you have seen any of the videos (& you definitely should see them!) on the BTFS Youtube Channel, then you will see Ben's love for this film. You can also follow both the film @beyondmovie and @benjamindane for updates on Twitter.

And, of course, LIKE BTFS on Facebook ....and enter the contest!!

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to add that much of this material was posted by Diane Howard on on June 27, 2012. See her full article at Major Paradiam Film Shifts: Funding, Producing, & Distributing