Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Confession dvd

The Confession is the continuing story of Katie Lapp (Katie Leclerc), a young Amish woman who is in search of her roots and discovering her true identity. Katie, who was “shunned” by the Amish community [in the first film, The Shunning], has reconciled her relationship with her adoptive parents (Bill Oberst Jr., Sandra Van Natta) and is now out in the world seeking her "Englisher" birth mother (Sherry Stringfield)...before it's too late.

Laura has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and her husband, Dylan (Adrian Paul), is desperate to find a way to hang on to his wife’s money to finance his gambling habit. When he hears from Katie, he quickly convinces a struggling actress (Julia Whelan) to pose as Katie in a scheme to grab the inheritance. Will the real Katie, who is hired as a servant, remain silent or will she expose the lies?

Click here to watch the trailer. *The trailer or review may contain spoilers.*

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Confession from Edify Media Inc. for review purposes only. I was not required to give a good review and all opinions are my own.

I remember seeing The Shunning and that I liked it, but I enjoyed this one even more. I admit there was a bit of a predictability with how the plot will go, but it is still a well told story that kept my interest from start to finish. This is somewhat like a fairy-tale, so you have to believe there will be a "happily-ever-after" ending...eventually. Keep in mind, though, that this is part of a trilogy. When Katie's first love, Daniel, reportedly drowned in The Shunning, I hoped he would return in a future film. He does! However...Katie also has a new love interest. Does Katie choose Daniel or Justin? Will Katie return to her Amish upbringing? The Confession leaves us hanging until the next film for those answers, but I am eagerly anticipating it. The film is peopled with characters whose stories intrigued me and left me wanting more.

Is it necessary to see The Shunning first? No. This film can be viewed as a stand-alone film without the viewer becoming confused about the story. For those who have seen the previous film, there are different actors in some roles (including Katie), but they are true to the characters you know. This is a family friendly drama and the faith aspect is touched on, but is not the main focus. I am not a fan of "sappy" movies whose major purpose is to make people cry, and am happy to say that while The Confession has the "tug at your heart" moments, it's not the emotional manipulation that annoys me.

The film, directed by Michael Landon Jr. and written by Michael Landon Jr. and Brian Bird is based on the book by Beverly Lewis. The Confession (Sony Pictures Home EntertainmentAFFIRM Films/Provident Films) is currently being shown on The Hallmark Channel, but is due to be released on dvd June 11, 2013. You will want this one!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Experiencing God at Home

Experiencing God at Home takes a fresh path back into the rich roots of Henry Blackaby’s world-renowned Experiencing God writings to connect what happens in our homes to what happens in our churches.
Here, his sons Tom and Richard Blackaby first establish the biblical case for the idea of experiencing God at home, illuminating how the clear foundation for God’s work in nations and churches around the world is his work in families.

Indeed, healthy families lead to healthy churches, and the Blackabys illustrate that through real-life stories of families that have found ways to experience God in marriage, in choosing life’s direction, in rescuing broken relationships, in forgiveness, in the salvation of loved ones, etc.

Lessons from the Bible support these moving accounts, and the book concludes with resources that will guide individuals families as well as entire churches toward practically experiencing God at home. (publisher's description)

I received this book from Shelton Interactive at no charge to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This book is part of the Experiencing God series that is written for specific target audiences. Using the same 7 principles familiar to those who have read the original book by Henry Blackaby, his sons now speak to parents on how to use those principles to raise children in homes that honor God and are God-centered. Briefly, the 7 steps they cover are God is always at work around you, God pursues a love relationship with you, God invites you to become involved with Him in His work, God speaks by the Holy Spirit, God's invitation leads to a crisis of belief, you must make adjustments, and you come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.

Filled with a lot of anecdotal stories of personal experiences and examples from the Bible, the emphasis is on the importance of a parent's involvement in a child's life. Listening to your offspring and taking time to answer is vital from an early age so the pattern is already established as your child grows older and has more important decisions to make. I especially liked the 'Questions for Reflection/Discussion' at the end of the chapters. These make this book useful for personal use, but also beneficial for small group study. I think this is a great book for anybody who is raising a family. Mine are grown, but I still got something out of the book. Even if you don't have children or grandchildren, there may be young people in your life that you do have influence with and who come to you for advice.

Tom Blackaby is director of International Ministries for Blackaby Ministries International and the former senior pastor of North Sea Baptist Church in Stavanger, Norway. He co-authored The Man God Uses with his father, Henry Blackaby (Experiencing God). Tom and his wife have three children.

Richard Blackaby is president of Blackaby Ministries International. A noted writer and speaker, he co-authored the revision of Experiencing God with his father Henry Blackaby. Richard and his wife have three children.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

7 Steps To Knowing and Doing the Will of God

More teenagers than ever before seem to be spinning their wheels a long time before gaining any traction in life. Based on the world-renowned Experiencing God teachings of Henry Blackaby, Seven Steps to Knowing and Doing the Will of God for Teens provides students with relevant spiritual direction as they move toward adulthood.

Throughout, authors Tom, Mike, and Daniel Blackaby (Henry Blackaby's son and grandsons) utilize fun formatting with cartoon illustrations (Cory Jones), jokes, real-life stories, and graphically engaging treatments to bring strong focus to a message teenagers need in their often random settings.

 I received this book from Shelton Interactive at no charge to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. 
Although I am well past my teen years, I enjoyed reading this book myself. The stories, both Biblical and personal anecdotes, are written in a manner that is both easy to grasp and very relatable to others. I also loved the cartoons and bits of pop culture included. The 7 Steps:
  1. God is always at work around you
  2. God pursues a love relationship with you 
  3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work
  4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit
  5. God's invitation leads to a crisis of belief
  6. Adjustments
  7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you
 By giving examples and asking questions, each step is explained---not in a formulaic pattern, but as a process for the reader to have a deeper relationship with God. I have teenaged grandchildren, and this is a book I think each of them needs to read...and one I believe they will enjoy reading. Very well done!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sammy Experiences God

I received this book from Shelton Interactive at no charge to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Sammy Experiences God is a well-written, beautifully illustrated book that is based on the Experiencing God teaching of Henry Blackaby. This children's book, written by Tom Blackaby and Rick Osborne, is the story of a boy named Sammy who wants to meet and have an adventure with God just like the ones he loves learning about in the Bible. Sammy tries to find God in a variety of settings, including camping and hiking, but gets discouraged as nothing seems to work. Yet, a fishing trip with Grandpa reveals the answer to Sammy's search.

This book is both a fun read and a definite conversation opener with younger children on God's involvement in their lives. Since children think more often in literal terms, this is an excellent resource to help children understand the ways God can communicate with us. Plus, there are several Scriptures, stories, and questions to further explore along the way. There are secret messages your child can find, plus hidden frogs to find (Sammy has a pet frog) that will add to concept that sometimes we need to search a bit more to discover things for ourselves. The illustrations by Isabella Kung are fantastic and detailed to give even the non-reader kids a chance to ask questions and have fun. Overall, a great book!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Unconditional dvd

Samantha Crawford is living a storybook life: she's happily married, she lives on a ranch where she keeps her beloved horse, and the stories she's told and illustrated since childhood have become published books.

When her husband Billy is killed in a senseless act of violence, Sam loses her faith and her will to live. But a death-defying encounter with two children leads to a reunion with Joe, her oldest friend. As Sam watches "Papa" Joe care for and love the kids in his under-resourced neighborhood, she begins to realize that no matter life's circumstances, God's love is always reaching out to us.

 Inspired by true events, UNCONDITIONAL stars Michael Ealy (Think Like A Man, Barbershop) and Lynn Collins (John Carter, X-Men Origins: Wolverine).
This film was written and directed by Brent McCorkle.

I finally got to see this film this week...and it was worth the wait! I loved it! Sam & Joe were best friends as kids, but drifted apart and lost touch as adults. Both have faced tragedy, but their reactions are different. When Sam lost her husband, she turned within herself and lost interest in life. Her faith left too, along with her will to live. Then, just as she hit rock bottom, circumstances bring her face-to-face with Joe again.

Joe, due to a mistake he made, had spent time in prison. He was released from there only to face severe health issues. The difference is that he chose to embrace and cling to his faith and he turned his outlook outward rather than inward. Joe chose to make a difference in the lives of others instead of keeping his focus on what he had lost.

The film beautifully portrays that no matter what prisons you have been in (real buildings, emotional, or physical)...that there is freedom by the attitude you choose. God does allow storms to come into our lives, but He is always there just above the clouds watching over you and waiting for you.

Unconditional website
Incredible cast and crew!

To learn more about Papa Joe's ministry Elijah's Heart: Elijah's Heart on Facebook
Elijah's Heart website
Cheryl Ariaz Wicker's interview of Papa Joe Bradford for Christian Movie Connect

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Can't Wait Willow! by Christy Ziglar

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in 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."

Can't-Wait Willow!  (Book 1 in the Shine Bright Kids) 
Willow is so excited that the Over-the-Top Circus has finally come to town! The only problem is, that when left to her own devices, she can’t say “no” to some good things. On the way to the show, she is distracted by enticing treats and fun that she just can’t turn down. Willow arrives late and is sad to find that, not only has she has run out of time, but money, and she won’t be able to enjoy the pink cotton candy she’s been dreaming of. Willow is given valuable advice and a second chance and is ultimately taught the lesson that sometimes in life you have to say “no” to good things to end up with something great!

Watch trailers here: Meet author Christy Ziglar and Can't Wait Willow! 

 My review: This is a lesson on delayed gratification that needs to be established and established early!! I loved the book. It was a well written story that will appeal to kids and explains a concept in a way that they can understand. Willow knows what she wants, but lets other temptations take away her money and her time. As your child (or you and your child) read this, look for Ziggle each time Willow makes a decision. If it is a good choice, Ziggle the Star will be brightly shining. If it is not a wise decision, Ziggle will will be more lackluster and dejected. The illustrations are fabulous for letting even a nonreader know exactly what is going on. This book brings up great talking points between parent and child, and allows the child to think through the decisions Willow makes for a greater understanding of waiting for the best.

About Shine Bright Kids:
The Shine Bright Kids series provides children and their families with a relevant framework to help instill solid values and teach the importance of making good choices. The principles that will be explored include: using good judgment, taking responsibility, having a positive attitude, and demonstrating perseverance.
About the Author:  (Recognize the last name Ziglar?!?)
Christy Ziglar, financial planner, mother of twins and niece of legendary motivator and the world’s original optimist, Zig Ziglar, is bringing the same timeless wisdom and ageless advice to an entirely new, younger audience through her new Shine Bright Kids picture book series.

About the Illustrator: Thanks to her first grade teacher, who recognized her superior skills in drawing a robin, Luanne Marten has been drawing, painting and sketching ever since.  She is a great experimenter and has a fresh, whimsical approach to bring her characters to life.
Website: The author's website has great resources to support the book, including a printable poster with 'Ways to Shine Bright,' as well as reward chart you can use at home with your children. 

The publisher site is:
Shine Bright Kids website:
Shine Bright Kids Facebook:
Shine Bright Kids Pinterest:
Shine Bright Kids Twitter: @ShineBrightCo

Monday, May 6, 2013

Vote For Amber

VOTE for Amber Carrington on the Live Rounds on The Voice TONIGHT!!

Here are all the different methods:

1. CALL - Vote for your favorite artists by simply calling the appropriate toll-free number, up to 10 times per artists during each vote period.

2. TEXT - Sprint customers can vote by texting a specific short code for their favorite artists, up to 10 times per artist during each vote period. Message and rates may apply. The short code and key word numbers for the current vote are announced in the show each week.

3. ONLINE -  You can vote up to 10 times per artist during each vote period for free online at, or via the NBC Live app, the NBC app, or via Facebook. The 10 vote per artist online limit includes voting via, the NBC Live app, the NBC app and Facebook; in other words, you can vote 10 times per artist, total, using some or all of these forms of online voting.

4. iTUNES - By buying and downloading the current song of an artist in an active vote period, you will cast a vote for that artist.

Limit 10 votes per method per artist!

To follow all the action tonight through Twitter, here are some links: @ambercarrington@beyondmovie, @NBCTheVoice, and @NBCTalkVoice.

Here is the update from BTFS producer Benjamin Dane at last week's viewing party in Rockwall, TX:

Be sure to go to the Beyond The Farthest Star page to watch for other updates. If you haven't yet, LIKE the BTFS page! To see Amber as one of "The Britney's" in your local theater in 2013---tell them to BRING IT! (click on this link).

Quick Update: Here is Benjamin Dane at this week's Amber Watch Party:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Text To Win

Beyond the Farthest Star has a brand new contest going on exclusively for fans of their Facebook page. One fan will win a FREE BTFS Novel signed by  Bodie and Brock Thoene and BTFS writer/director Andrew Librizzi. All you have to do is TEXT the word 'Novel' to 313131 to enter! Then go Vote to BRING the film to your city cinemas! The winner will be announced on May 15, 2013.

* Quick link here  for details and on the orange Bring It button!

Easy list for fans:

If you don't win the autographed copy, I highly recommend buying a copy! It is most likely to be found at your favorite bookseller or you can order online.
Read the story!

See the film in 2013!

* email & other info is strictly for film distribution purposes. BTFS will not "spam" you or share this info with others.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Loving The Bad Man

Julie (Christine Kelly) is a young, conservative Christian who is very zealous living out her faith. When a flat tire causes her to have to go into a very rough bar to use the phone [no cell signal], the bartender suggests a customer, Mike (Arturo Fernandez --now Arturo Rossi), may be able to help. The very drunk and angry mechanic changes Julie’s tire but then forces himself on her. Julie is able to identify him & he is quickly apprehended and sentenced to prison. Her family is ready to put this all behind them until it is discovered Julie is pregnant. They urge her to abort, but Julie refuses to even consider it. Realizing that she must forgive this rapist, she takes matters even further by visiting him in prison and forging an unlikely friendship.

Loving the Bad Man was mostly advertised as a Stephen Baldwin film. He was indeed in it...I'm just not sure why. I never did figure out the prison politics and gangs angle, although it was shown a lot and Baldwin's character was crucial to the ending of the movie. One of the prisoners, Cecil (George Smith) was a wiser, older gentleman whose character really reminded me of the role Morgan Freeman played in The Shawshank Redemption. [Another actor I found more compelling to watch was "Manny" ~ Pedro Moreno] To be fair, I have no prison experience, so they may have been showing an honest portrayal of inmates.

Even more disturbing to me was Julie's family! The brother was a DJ at a local radio show (yet I could barely understand a word he said), and I never quite understood his character. He stayed pretty happy, esp for one with those parents. The mom would go into hysterics at lightning speed and certainly was not the anchor of the family. The dad! Frankly, he scared me more than the rapist! With the way he would fly off the handle, it was easy to understand why the rest of the family seemed more than a bit dysfunctional.

The theme of the movie was great. The Bible certainly instructs us to show forgiveness. There were also instances of redemption, laying down your life for another, kindness, reaching out to others. Oh, and the was okay. I would probably listen to it now & then, but it was played too loud over the scenes and the words were so well suited to the action that it became a bit funny to me. Obviously, the person who selected the music was very involved with the film and I know I should be much more favorably impressed.

           *************************SPOILER ALERT*************************

The ending even made it appear that the family was being restored...yet I noticed the brother and Julie's friend/potential boyfriend were both conspicuously absent from the fun family photos. Perhaps they were at work, or on a mission trip, or even the photographers, but it seemed more likely that they escaped from the family.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ring The Bell

Ring The Bell is the story of a sports agent, Rob Decker (Ryan Scharoun) who lives for his work and how to make money. When challenged by his assistant (Trenell Mooring) to get out into the field and personally sign a high school baseball superstar, Shawn Hart (Craig C. Stewart), Rob accepts what he believes will be an easy deal. But, when Rob becomes stranded in the small town the people begin to give Rob a new way to view things. Content with the simple things of life, and more interested in God's plan for their lives over fame and fortune, Daisy (Ashley Anderson McCarthy), and her brother Scooter (Casey Bond)--- who own the boys home where Shawn lives--- really open his eyes to another set of values. Will Rob respond to the desire to let God in his life?

Ring The Bell features a host of well-known Christian music artists, such as Mark Hall along with his band Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Matthew West, all who play a role in this inspirational drama. Several former and current Major League Baseball all-stars are also featured in the film: ESPN analysts John Kruk and Rick Sutcliffe (a former Cy Young Award winner), along with Ben Zobrist.

This family-friendly movie was produced by Mark Miller, Beach Street Records' founder and Casting Crowns’ producer. Miller, who is also the lead singer and founder of country music group Sawyer Brown, co-wrote the script with Thomas Weber and Weber directed the production. 

DVD Special Features:

The Heart of "Ring the Bell"
Casting Crowns “The Well” Music Video

On Set with Casting Crowns
Famous Faces

A Very Special Movie

Ringing the Bell

The Artists and Music of "Ring The Bell"

 "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in 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."

Overall, I enjoyed the film. Some of those involved are clearly more comfortable being onscreen as an actor than others, but no one was just horribly bad. I also grew tired of some of the more extreme quirkiness of a couple of the characters. I realize that it is standard to have those characters populate all small towns in films, but sometimes they go a bit beyond quirky. These complaints, however, are trivial matters in my overall impression of the film.
The story line was good and was presented in a way that is palatable to most. There is no blood, violence, bad language, etc. to make it unacceptable for family viewing. The gospel is presented, but I feel this is more a film that gives the viewer a look at how following Christ has made an impact on the lives of the characters who are believers. Most of the people I know live out their faith like these people, so it was all familiar to me. Would I show this film to family and friends who are not believers? Yes, especially those who love music and/or baseball. I also recommend it to people who are believers and want to watch a Christian worldview film that both entertains and demonstrates the validity of living out their faith and following God's will. Btw, I LOVED the whole concept of "ringing the bell"!! It is a perfect example of Matthew 10:32-33.

Website:  Ring The Bell (the movie)
Watch the Trailer: Ring The Bell
Facebook: Ring The Bell

 GIVEAWAY: FlyBy Promotions has a copy in their office to mail to one of my readers. Please leave a comment on the blog post to be entered. You must be entered no later than 10pm, Thursday, May 9, 2013 to be eligible.