Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Overrated by Eugene Cho

Overrated by Eugene Cho asks if we are more in love with changing the world than we are in actually changing it. Many people want to change the world, but Eugene Cho found out that it takes more than a simple desire to change it. You need a plan of action, and you need to put thought into that plan. We live in a world where people think they have made a tremendous impact if they share something as a Facebook status or as their profile picture. And, we can't forget the power and promise of the #hashtag.

Eugene Cho talks about first seeing what changes you need to make within yourself. There are many who choose short term mission trips, but not always for the right reason. Did you do it to make yourself feel better or out of love for others. Feel-goodism may make you feel good about yourself, but be sure that more was accomplished. Sometimes our acts do more harm than good. We want to give and make life easier for others who are under tremendous burdens, but showing someone how to find methods of helping themselves is more important. You also want to point people to a relationship with Jesus. As Cho pointed out, too many of us have a "Messiah complex" and think we are supposed to save others (rather than pointing them to the only One who can save them) instead of showing them a way to keep dignity intact.

There was quite a bit in the book that I agreed with, especially in terms of many mission trips. I am in favor of them, and have seen lives impacted, but I have also seen too many instances of when the money could have been spent in a wiser way. Cho's views also resonated with thoughts I have had more and more about a food ministry I am involved with. We meet genuine needs, but we also set up a pattern of entitlement with some. Is helping others to break a cycle of poverty not showing the love of Jesus than simply letting people care only about a handout? I want to show my love for Jesus, and to love the people with whom I come in contact with. When they become merely numbers on a report, it is time for a heart check. Really good book that gives you some things to think about. Also, check out more of the work Eugene and others do at One Day's Wages.

About the author:

Eugene is the founder and visionary of One Day’s Wages, a grassroots movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty. He is the founder and senior pastor of Quest Church, an urban, multicultural, and multigenerational church in Seattle, Washington. Eugene and his wife, Minhee, have three children.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): I received a copy of this book from Propeller Consulting, LLC in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Never Ever Give Up by Erik Rees

Never Ever Give Up: The Inspiring Story of Jessie and her JoyJars by Erik Rees (and Jenna Glatzer)

It started with a simple question: How can we help them? It became an international movement called NEGU: Never Ever Give Up. When Jessica Joy Rees was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at age 11, she chose to focus not on herself but on bringing joy and hope to other children suffering from cancer.
During the ten months she battled cancer, she and her family worked in the “Joy Factory” (originally their garage) making JoyJars®—packages filled with toys, games, and love for other kids with cancer. Jessie first handed them out personally at the hospital where she was being treated, but the effort blossomed quickly and there were soon thousands of JoyJars® being distributed across the United States and to over fifteen countries. Today, more than 100,000 kids have received JoyJars®, and they continue shipping each week to kids in over 200 children’s hospitals and 175 Ronald McDonald Houses.
Jessie lost her battle with cancer in January 2012, but her message lives on in the Jessie Rees Foundation, which has become a beacon of hope for families fighting pediatric cancer.

JessieReesFoundation on FB 

Follow @TeamNEGU
JessieReesFoundation Instagram 
JessieReesFoundation YouTube 

My Review: This is the story of Jessica Joy Rees, as told through the eyes of her father. When Erik noticed that Jessie was having problems seeing, the family expected an adjustment with glasses and perhaps a few eye muscle exercises to take care of the problem. Jessie was a healthy, active 11 year old who shared her older sister's love of swimming. Both were on swim teams with promising futures as athletes. Jessie was at that age of enjoying fashion and shopping like her sister, but still willing to play games with her younger brother.

The news that her eye problems were due to an inoperable brain tumor devastated the family, but they were determined to take whatever measures necessary to prolong her life. Two things happened that proved Jessie was both a fighter and a giver: a friend encouraged her with the words, "Never Ever Give Up", which Jessie made into a slogan---NEGU, (pronounced 'knee-goo') and her determination to help cheer up other children she saw in the hospital who did not get to go home as she did (following radiation treatments). This, and her love of shopping, led to the creation of JoyJars. Her goal was to make sure that every child with cancer received one.

The book itself is the family's journey through Jessie's 10 month battle with cancer, both the ups and the downs. Of course there is sadness, but this is mostly a celebration of Jessie, and the certainty the Rees family has, through their belief in Jesus Christ, that Jessie is now healed and that they will one day be reunited. I recommend the book, and I certainly recommend you get involved with the Jessie Rees Foundation at www.negu.org.
Remember, Never EVER Give Up! #NEGU

I was provided with a free copy form Handlebar in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship, and Fashion Disasters

Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship, and Fashion Disasters is the first book in the Desperate Diva Diaries series by Angie Spady. The series revolves around 6th grader, Catie, and her friends and family. A blurb about the book from the publisher will tell you a bit more:

Meet, Catie Conrad – a typical, tween, Christian girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders. And if it isn’t bad enough that no one seems to understand the social pressures of being the greatest at everything, donning the latest fashions, and carrying the trendiest technology, Catie’s dad is about to uproot her and her family to an Indian reservation during spring break for his job. Throw in a school dance, a major art contest, and an arch nemesis known only as Miranda Maroni and there’s bound to be an epic meltdown of biblical proportions. Or, maybe not…

My Review: This is a great book for tween girls! The characters are a lot of fun to get to know and remind me of a few people I have met. I love that it is written from a Christian viewpoint that shows Catie learning to make her faith her own, and the guidance of her parents is a wonderful example of parenting. These are most certainly not perfect people, but lessons are learned through fears, failures, triumphs, and new experiences. I would have loved to have had these books when I was younger and will most definitely recommend this series to friends with daughters around the age of Catie in friends. With so few books for kids having good role models, this is a breath of fresh air. Not only will it encourage girls to read, but I believe that the perfect accompaniment for this book would be a diary and a pack of pens...preferably colored ones. Sometimes purple ink just adds to the joy of writing! Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship & Fashion Disasters is published by B&H Kids. The book is 304 pages and is geared for grades 3-7 and ages 8-12.

Disclosure: I received
a copy of this book to review from Shelton Interactive. The opinions expressed are my own and I was not required to give a positive review. There was no monetary compensation. 
Author Angie Spady, a former high school teacher and community arts activist,
has always encouraged others to be creative and think outside the box. She has published curriculum units by the Kentucky Council on Economic Education, and her innovative teaching techniques have been featured on PBS, Kentucky Educational Television, in "KY Teacher" magazine and other various print media around the country. Inspired by her inquisitive art students, Spady wrote "The Channing O’Banning Series" (Santa Cruz Press), as well as two picture books. Spady enjoys traveling around the world with her family, bird watching, and relaxing in her garden. When she’s not running after her two teenage daughters, you’ll probably find her writing along side her biggest fans, her rag doll cats, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley.

Monday, September 15, 2014


Hero: Joe Finn (Burgess Jenkins) was a local legend in the world of baseball, but a miserable failure as a husband, father, and friend. Now, seven years after leaving home, he returns just in time to say goodbye to his dying wife (Ashlee Payne) and hello to a son (Justin Miles) and a community who consider him as good as dead.

Intent on making his life right, he turns to the only thing he knows -- baseball. But Little League is all but unrecognizable in Miller's Gap, and parental involvement is at an all-time low. Even as his actions begin to warm the hearts of some, others in the community threaten to get rid of Joe's team for good. Can Joe win back his son and revitalize a dying game, or is he seven years too late to redeem the mess of his own making?

Hero is directed by Manny Edwards, who also co-wrote with John Fornof. The stars are Burgess Jenkins, Justin Miles, R. Keith Harris, Gregory Alan Williams, Mark Joy, Ashlee Payne, Fred Griffith, Jim McKeny, Andrea Powell, and Nicholas Edwards as "Sammy" Also starry Blaine Goodwin, Sam Dubin, Ty Myatt, Kenny Hinkle, and Walker Anthony. George D. Escobar, Burgess Jenkins, and Michael Snyder are the producers.

Official Selection - Christian Worldview Film Festival
Official Selection - Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival

My Review: I have been hearing about this film since it was first being made, so I have kept up with the progress from the beginning. So, although I expected to like it, I truly did not expect to get drawn into the story as quickly as I did. I always watch a film a minimum of twice because my attention wanders; I consider the first viewing to just give me a general idea of the story before I really watch it. Within 5 minutes, I was sitting down, fully focused on the story being told.

This is a story of hope, forgiveness, reconciliation, and redemption. I noticed a couple of little glitches, but nothing overly distracting. I enjoyed the acting, the cinematography, the sound (too often I have to go back to try to understand what was said in other films), and that there was closed captioning. At only 94 minutes, it's not too long, and it is great for a Family Film Night. Some of the material may be harder for kids younger than 10 to understand, but they will probably like the baseball scenes. I highly recommend this dvd.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this DVD from EDIFY MEDIA as part of the movie's promotion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

GIVEAWAY: Edify Media has another copy of HERO to give away!! Just leave a comment on the blog to be entered. Deadline to Enter is Sept. 30 at Noon (CDT)Reminder: I do monitor due to Spammers. Be patient, and contact me only if your comment does not appear with 24 hours. Thanks!

Like HERO on FB

Saturday, September 13, 2014

CMA Dallas Chapter 9/15/14 Meeting

9/15/14 CMA-Dallas Meeting: BENJAMIN DANE 

Benjamin Dane
(photo credit: Jeffrey Nicholson)
Benjamin Dane, CMA-Dallas Chapter Leader, will be the host of the September 15th meeting being held at Theatre 166. A multi-talented actor and producer with numerous stage and screen credits,  Ben will soon be seen in Beyond the Farthest Star (he is also executive producer), Red on Yella Kill a Fella and Second Impression. Ben and his wife also own award-winning Robinson Creative Inc, a creative design firm specializing in innovative marketing, branding and identity solutions.

Connect with Benjamin:
Benjamin Dane IMDb

Benjamin Dane on Now Casting
Benjamin Dane on Actors Access
Benjamin Dane on Facebook
Follow @benjamindane on Twitter

Notes About the Meeting:
If you are in Film, TV, Church Media, Communications - You do not want to miss this exciting event. The legendary June Hunt will be speaking on Ethics and Integrity in Media. June practically invented the radio therapy program format and is now heard around the world!

TV Experts Media Panel
There is also a TV Experts Panel... June will join Michael Jay Solomon (former head of Warner Bros TV and CEO of the new Truli Media), Jimmy Swan (Music manager, producer and recent creator of an upcoming TV reality show), Sherry Bronson (she created and launched her own talk show magazine, The Sherry Bronson Show) and Tracey Mitchell (Host & Founder of "The Winning Woman" TV Show) to answer YOUR questions. It is sure to be our best event this year leading up to our incredible convention next month! 

Two Christian Media Association National Headquarter Staffers will be with us (come and meet them) AND they plan to announce the keynote speaker for the convention at the meeting! They might ALSO be giving away a very special DVD on Scriptwriting, Acting, and Cinematography - for everyone who registers for the 2014 CMA Convention Monday!

IF you are unable to attend on Monday, you can still be a part - Watch CMA-Dallas Meeting on Livestream

Theatre 166
2425 W. Parker RD
Carrollton, TX


FREE to the public; RSVP is required.
RSVP on CMA website
CMA-Dallas Chapter Event page

*Reposted from Christian Media Association blog with permission from owner.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Confession by Robert Whitlow

In Holt Douglas's line of work, there's nothing sweeter than a confession of guilt. Assistant D.A. Holt Douglas makes his living exposing lies and sending criminals to jail in Ashley County, Georgia. His job is always easier when defendants, instead of remaining silent, blame someone else or try to excuse their actions. With a confession in his hand, Holt knows a guilty plea will soon follow.
But lurking in Holt's past is a dark secret that could end his successful career and possibly his relationship with Angelina, his hoped for fiancé.

When Holt reopens a cold case involving the death of the town's wealthiest businessman-allegedly killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest-Holt doesn't believe it was suicide. Instead, he suspects murder.
As he investigates, Holt's own guilt threatens to destroy him and the cause of justice he's sworn to serve. While he knows his own confession could absolve him of his sin, it could cost him his future. Will he survive long enough to uncover the true crime that this small southern town has been hiding? (from the publisher)

My Review: The Confession by Robert Whitlow is a suspenseful legal thriller that deals with ethics and if it is okay to sometimes hide the truth. As Holt tries to uncover the details of a crime that he believes was covered up, and sorts through who is being truthful...or not, he begins to feel convicted about a cover-up in his own past. Is lying ever justified? There are twists and turns throughout the book, and some romance. He has a steady girlfriend, Angelina, but the deputy sheriff he works with, Trish Carmichael, has a huge crush on him. As they work closer together, and find so much common ground, will he and Trish fall in love...or do their past experiences put too great a wedge between them?

I am a huge fan of Robert Whitlow's books, and I loved this one too. It kept me guessing and made me think deeper into the issues brought to light. The characters develop into people who grow to care about as you read, and the plot kept my interest. The Confession is another winner!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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.”