Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Let It Be Jesus ~ Christy Nockels CD

Recorded live at Passion City Church in Atlanta, GA, the first ever live album from Christy Nockels releases April 28. LET IT BE JESUS features a blend of old and new worship songs, along with a new recording of 'Let It Be Jesus.' Christy is a featured worship leader at Passion Conferences, which have seen hundreds of thousands of university students proclaim the name of Jesus. Along with her husband, producer Nathan Nockels (Passion, Matt Redman), Christy leads worship at Passion City Church.

Christy Nockels 3rd album, Let It Be Jesus, is very ballad heavy...which I happen to like. Music is an important form of worship for me, and I find that style more condusive. So, I wasn't sure if I would love the CD when it open with a very upbeat, "Freedom Song." "MY Anchor" was more in the style of what I prefer and I really did like it, and thought the following, "Everything is Mine in You." was fairly good.

BUT, when it came to "The Wondrous Cross," I fell in love with the CD. The album became more than just background music as I was doing other things. The song brought my focus on Jesus, and praising Him. "Let It Be Jesus" was an amazing follow-up song. I also loved, "If You Never."

"Leaning On You, Jesus" really spoke to me on a personal level. Leaning on Jesus and learning to trust Him more and more turn this song into a cry of the heart for me. For the album as a whole, there were a couple of songs that I kinda tuned out as they were playing, but it is a good one overall. Christy has a beautiful voice and I definitely enjoyed listening to this album.

S O C I A L • C O R N E R

Buy "Let It Be Jesus" on iTunes


A digital download was provided by the publisher via FlyBy for review.
They are also offering a digital download of the album to one of my readers. Leave your name on the blog by Noon (CDT) May 3, 2015 to be entered.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

#BeMore by Sandi Krakowski

"BEMORE: 77 Secrets To Your Powerful Life” offers inspiration and insight on how to become more connected to God, in tune with yourself, attentive to relationships, engaged with your community and mindful of your world. The #BEMORE life is about taking very critical steps in our day-to-day decisions and being acutely aware of who we are becoming, above all things.

Imagine a world where people are no longer focused on what they do, what they have or where they go. Instead, they would be more concerned with who they become. Sandi Krakowski, popular social media influencer and author, is on a mission to create just that through the #BEMORE movement, empowering people to overcome adversity and tap into all God has created them to be.
(from the publisher)

My Review: I guess this would be considered more of a devotional style book since it is not one you just pick up and read. It's divided onto 5 parts:
  • Part 1: Be More...Connected To God
  • Part 2: Be More...In Tune With Yourself
  • Part 3: Be More...Attentive To Your Relationships
  • Part 4: Be More...Engaged With Your Community
  • Part 5: Be More...Mindful Of Your World
There's a little more than a page written on each 'Secret' to a more powerful life, and each one ends with a saying that is suitable for sharing on Twitter or Facebook, ending with #BeMore.

There are a lot of people who will love this book. I get a little frustrated with sound bites over a more indepth study, so it's not really the book for me. I see a lot of people who tweet or do a quick FB status update meant to encourage, and have even done so myself, so it would be useful to grab something to reflect on for the day. But, I confess, I was disappointed that it seemed to be more style than substance.

I received a copy of this book from Shelton Interactive in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Sandi Krakowski is a social media marketing expert and sought-out speaker who is passionate about teaching how faith works in the workplace, and how that alliance can effectively help anyone run a successful business and lead an incredible, meaningful life. Her systems help small-business owners and big corporations alike utilize the online space and social media for brand awareness, company growth and client loyalty. Krakowski has worked successfully online for nearly 20 years, has built 11 successful companies and accumulated a social media audience of over one million followers. As a successful business woman and veteran in the field, Krakowski has shared her message of hope and business inspiration in national news outlets such as CNBC, Mashable, USA Today and more. Krakowski enjoys spending time with her husband of 23 years, three kids, her favorite dog and two cats. She currently lives in Kansas City, Mo. For more information, please visit www.arealchange.com.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

When Calls the Heart - Season 2

The series is inspired by Janette Oke’s bestselling book series about the Canadian West. “When Calls the Heart” tells the captivating story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young teacher accustomed to her high society life, who receives her first classroom assignment in Coal Valley, a small coalmining town where life is simple, but often fraught with challenges. Lori Loughlin plays Abigail Stanton, a wife and mother whose husband, the foreman of the mine, along with a dozen other miners, has just been killed in an explosion. The newly widowed women find their faith is tested when they must go to work in the mines to keep a roof over their heads. Elizabeth charms most everyone in Coal Valley, except Constable Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) who believes Thatcher’s wealthy father has doomed the lawman’s career by insisting he be assigned in town to protect the shipping magnate’s daughter. Living in a turn of the century coal town, Elizabeth will have to learn the ways of the frontier if she wishes to thrive in the rural west on her own.

We already know that Elizabeth has know charmed Jack and that they have acknowledged they have feelings for one another. There also looks like a possible romance for Abigail. And will Jack's former flame cause dissent between Elizabeth and Jack? Season 2 opens with several changes in the air...

Episode 1 – April 25, 2015 – “Trials of the Heart” Part 1 – Coal Valley’s trial gets underway in the town with a new Judge presiding over it. Elizabeth gets unsettling news from Hamilton regarding her family, and must return. Abigail’s case is presided over by an unlikely prosecutor. Elizabeth’s family meets, Jack. 43min.

Episode 2 – April 25, 2015 – “Trials of the Heart” Part 2 – The trial’s verdict is rendered by the Judge, which effects the whole town. Elizabeth readjusts to family life in Hamilton. Abigail is reunited with a family member. Jack has to reevaluate his importance in Elizabeth’s life. A new man comes to town with a prospect that can change the townspeople’s entire future. 43min.

I confess that I was privileged to preview the April 25th episodes of "When Calls the Heart" and I can guarantee that fans will not be disappointed. The drama, romance, comedy, suspense, and every other element essential to mesmerizing television is still present. I can't give away anything that happens, but I advise you to tune in. You don't want to miss a moment!

Also keep up with news and other fans. You can search social media sites using #Hearties
Follow @WCTH_TC on Twitter
Like When Calls the Heart on Facebook
Join the Hearties FB Fan Page Group

GREAT NEWS!! For one blessed winner, I have a Season 1 boxed set of DVDs, courtesy of Word Films. Many thanks to Word and to FlyBy Promotions for giving me the opportunity to preview the 1st 2 episodes of "When Calls the Heart" and for the boxed set to give away. This is a perfect gift for either a fan of the series or for someone new who wants to catch up. Enter by leaving a comment no this blog post no later than 10pm (CDT) Thursday, April 30, 2015.

Friday, April 17, 2015


gMovies offers instant access to almost 300 faith friendly feature films of every genre, in addition to animated stories, television series and biblical documentaries that are always available on your computer or mobile device.

gMovies is operated by UP, America’s favorite television channel for uplifting music and family entertainment, so rest assured that you are being offered the very best in faith conscious entertainment. The Parents Television Council™ has twice awarded its Entertainment Seal of Approval™ to UP for being “an authentic family-friendly cable network.” UP is the only television network to be so honored. Only $4.99 per month. No Contract! Cancel anytime!

My Review:
I was really excited about the chance to review this video streaming service. I made the decision to turn off cable a few years ago, so I rely mostly on YouTube or DVDs for entertainment. My first thought when I started searching through the movies was that I had seen many already, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The first one I watched was a personal favorite, Hidden Secrets! (Not sure why I still don't own a copy of that one!)

In the meantime, I got busy, and am simply unused to having a service like this, so it was a few days before I got back to it. To my delight, several more films had been added, including several I had been wanting to see. I am really enjoying getting caught up on a few I always wanted to see, watching a few that escaped my notice, and revisiting a few more favorites.

I realize there are several of these services available, but gMovies is the only one I have tried. I really like it. The price is reasonable and there is a variety of movies and television programs. Since they are adding new ones, I don't have an immediate concern about seeing everything and being done before my subscription runs out. And, no worries about anything unsuitable showing!

Guess what? They are offering a 2 week FREE TRIAL for my readers!! Try it out and see what you think!!

READER CODE for 2 Week FREE Trial 
2. enter code: FREETRIAL76

BUT WAIT...There is More!!!!!

Yes, a 6 month Free Subscription is available for one of my readers! Leave a comment no later than 9pm, Sunday, April 26, 2015 to be entered into a random drawing!!
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.” Open to US and Canada residents only.
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Inspirational Indie Film Inspires Kinkade Painting

The original Texas independent feature, “Beyond The Farthest Star,” and The Thomas Kinkade Company will announce the release of a new painting on Monday, April 20, 2015. Thomas Kinkade CEO, John Hasting, will make a formal announcement 7PM Monday at Theatre 166 in Carrollton. The film’s stars include Texas natives ReneĆ© O’Connor, Todd Terry and Barry Corbin, along with Billy McNamara, Andrew Prine, Cherami Leigh and Lou Beatty, Jr.

Dallas, Texas – April 15, 2015–
Pathlight Entertainment and the producers of the feature film, “Beyond The Farthest Star,” partners with The Thomas Kinkade Company on the dual national release of a Kinkade painting and the film that inspired it. Along with the painting, the feature film will experience a national city-by-city, Theater-On-Demand distribution. Fans have been awaiting news of the film’s theatrical release for the past year. Overwhelming fan response on the new website at www.BeyondTheFarthestStar.com and Facebook demonstrates large interest in the story and film.

Early in 2012, famed artist Thomas Kinkade, experienced a rough-edit of  “Beyond The Farthest Star” and was inspired by its dramatic story. The “Painter of Light” usually crafted a watercolor for concept, color and layout before completing a final painting in oil. However, days after the initial work, Kinkade died suddenly. The father of four girls, it was his wish that the painting and film reach other families, just as his images captivate millions.

After the unfinished work sat dormant in the Kinkade vault, Thomas Kinkade’s brother, Patrick, desired to honor his brother’s wish. He encouraged his son (and Thomas’s nephew), Zachary Thomas Kinkade, to consider completing the original idea. Now, continuing in the Kinkade legacy, Zachary is inspired to explore Thom’s original concept and paint a new impression of the vision.
"We delayed the release of the film for quite some time as we have been waiting to make the formal announcement of the painting. Now the world will experience the Kinkade painting and the film story that inspired it, as it was meant to be,” says Executive Producer, Benjamin Dane.

The painting honors “Beyond the Farthest Star” and Thomas Kinkade’s concept with the characters from the film looking up into a sparkling night sky over a quaint Texas city. Most can relate to observing the stars. The painting captures that feeling with the Kinkade “touch”– glowing stars and an idyllic city in lights beneath. An image of Thomas’ original study may also appear on the back. 

Pathlight Entertainment, in cooperation with The Kinkade Company’s local gallery, will release the film this summer along with the painting, in a special one-night cinema event. Then “Beyond The Farthest Star” will release in theaters across the country through GATHR. This grassroots system allows fans to control when and where they experience “Star”, on the exact day and time they select. Interested individuals are encouraged to email staff for more information at kathryn@pathlightentertainment.com. “Star” has received powerful endorsements, reviews and support. The film has also inspired a Harper-Collins novel by famed author team, Bodie and Brock Thoene, and a remake of the classic song, “Beauty For Ashes” by Crystal Lewis.

The “Beyond The Farthest Star” cast includes international star Renee O’Connor ("Xena", "Ark", "Boogeyman 2"), Todd Terry (“Breaking Bad”, “Arlington Road”, “Fissure”), Barry Corbin (“No Country for Old Men”, “Anger Management”, “War Games”), William McNamara (“Copycat”, “Chasers”, “The Legend of Hell’s Gate”), Andrew Prine (“The Miracle Worker”, “Gettysburg”, “The Dukes of Hazzard”) and Cherami Leigh (“Temple Grandlin”, “Fast Food Nation”).

“Star” is helmed by writer/director, Andrew Librizzi ("Holding On", "Still Born"), executive produced by Benjamin Dane ("The Significant Other", "Still Born") and produced by Sally Helppie ("Exit Speed", "The Beacon").

Richard Propes, The Independent Critic says, "Beyond the Farthest Star is that rare film with the courage to speak a harsh and authentic truth while never losing sight of its grander truth." Although Pastor Adam Wells is revered as "the Next Billy Graham" of the sleepy Texas town, circumstances are forcing him to choose between church superstardom and his fractured family.

The Thomas Kinkade Company CEO, John Hasting, along with Writer/Director Andrew Librizzi and Executive Producer Benjamin Dane, will make a formal announcement at the Dallas CMA Event – Monday, April 20th 7PM at Theatre 166 in Carrollton, TX.  You can RSVP at CMA Dallas Kinkade Event.

For More Information Contact:
Ben Robinson, Robinson Creative Inc.
EM: Ben@RobinsonCreativeInc.com PH: 817/748-5057, X-101 FX: 817/416-7833

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Grace of God DVD

Grace of God synopsis: Having lost his faith many years ago, Detective Bill Broadly is called to investigate the disappearance of the local church’s collection plate. As he questions its various church members, rumors swirl as more congregants learn about the theft. When one unexpected church-goer confesses to stealing the funds, the confession resurrects Broadly’s views on God, and helps him see that through faith and belief there really is rebirth and redemption. 99 Minutes // Genre: Family, Inspirational // Rating:  NR (DVD back cover)

My Review: Mixed feelings on this one. The good is that this is a family friendly film, although the marriage problems of the older daughter (Erin Bethea) are not for the very young. Poor decisions have been made by many of the characters, but most appear to be resolved by the end of the film and the characters are better for the changes made. The 2 main characters, Constance (Julia Parker) and Bill (Vincent Duvall), are both good actors and I wish there had been more acknowledgement of them on the DVD cover. John Ratzenberger had a small role, but was given top billing due to name recognition. Lorenzo Lamas was also a great addition to the cast as the janitor and antagonist to the private investigator.

Family friendly and weaves matters of faith effortlessly through-out the story is the positive. While grace is freely given to the thief, and I do understand why, it did seem to fall a bit flat. Some of the story just did not seem to flow right and small things would bother me. Maybe part of the problem was that I correctly identified the thief very early on. But the reactions of people often did not make sense either. I felt like I was missing part of a conversation that would link it together. Goodness knows real people don't always make sense either, but that was not my only issue with the story. There was mention of it being a large church and many people having access to keys to the safe. Yet the sanctuary did not look very big or crowded. The score was also inconsistent with the action at times.

It's an average film. There are too many of my own pet peeves with films in this one, but they were annoyances that may not trouble others. Since I don't want to do "spoilers", I won't elaborate. There is an audience for this film; I have friends who genuinely like it. I can also see it generating discussion about matters of faith. The marketing of "A Story of Easter Traditions" and "Based on the Ten Commandments" is true, but mostly in the broad sense of Christianity. I thought it was pushing it a bit, but I also understand promoting films and trying to reach your niche market.

Purchase through Walmart.com

GIVEAWAY!! To be entered into a random drawing to win a copy of Grace of God, please leave a comment. Contest ends Wed., April 22, 2015 at Noon (CDT)

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Who You Are by John Croyle

Who You Are: A Story of Second Chances is the story of  John Croyle, founder of Big Oak Ranch for Boys and Girls in Alabama. Croyle was an All-American defensive end at the University of Alabama with a promising future with the NFL. Yet, in 1974, he turned down a career that would have led to personal fame and fortune to fill the calling God had placed on his heart...to make a difference in the lives of young boys who were being abused and neglected and have the best Children's Home available. (The Big Oak Ranch for Girls was founded in 1988 and Westbrook Christian School in 1990.)

The book's title comes from the request he makes of each of the children when being introduced to someone: "Tell them who you are!"  Introducing oneself, with a firm handshake and looking the person in the eye, helps each child realize their own intrinsic value. Their worth is not based on their past or the circumstances that brought them to the ranch. Nor is it the perception of what the child (or anyone) believes God can or can’t do through each individual. Each child is a unique individual who is valued and loved.

Photo Credit: Kent Gidley
Who You Are is filled with memories of the 40 years of the Croyle family's ministry. John started this right after college, with no idea what he was beginning. He had 5 teenaged boys living with him, and a few months later married his high school sweetheart, Tee (Theresa) Smith. The book is filled with anecdotes, ranging from heartbreaking to humorous, but each points to the difference an individual can make in someone's life by following the plan they believe God has for them. There have been triumphs and failures, but Croyle's honesty with the reader is as transparent as his honesty with the children who are brought to live at Big Oak Ranch.
Each child who moves to one of the ranches is told 4 things during their initial meeting:
1. I love you.
2. I’ll never lie to you.

3. I’ll stick with you until you’re grown.

4. There are boundaries; don’t cross them.

Photo Credit: Kent Gidley
Croyle's adult children, Reagan Croyle Phillips and Brodie Croyle, are now taking on a large part of the responsibility and daily hands-on tasks of the Big Oak Ranch system, but they have the same love for these kids as their parents. This is definitely a family labor of love, including the extended family of those who have made Big Oak Ranch their home.

Photo Credit: Lifeway
I loved this book. Even though it is partially a 40 year stroll down "Memory Lane" with an emphasis on how and why Croyle chose to do this, there are lessons to be learned just as there are in any of his books (and I recommend them all!) that will speak to the reader. Whether you are in the position to mentor a child (and who isn't to some degree?) or if you just need a reminder of Who YOU Are and that you are valuable in the eyes of God, there is something to gain from reading it. I have heard John speak at a church event and on the radio several times. This book captures his style and personality so well. So, if you know him at all, you will recognize him. If you don't...you will after reading this.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Shelton Interactive. I was not required to write a positive review and 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.”

Big Oak Ranch 40th Anniversary Video from Cam Video Productions on Vimeo.

John’s philosophy can be summed up in this statement: “A hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house we lived in, the kind of car we drove or how much money we had in the bank, but the world may be different because you and I were important in the life of a child.”John’s philosophy can be summed up in this statement: “A hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house we lived in, the kind of car we drove or how much money we had in the bank, but the world may be different because you and I were important in the life of a child.”For ways you can help, click on this link.

Big Oak Ranch website
Big Oak Ranch on Facebook