Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Spectacle of Glory - Joni Eareckson Tada

A Spectacle of Glory: God's Light Shining through Me Every Day by Joni Eareckson Tada with Larry Libby is a compact devotional that focuses on how God loves you and enables you to live daily as a spectacle of His glory. 

Joni Eareckson Tada, who has lived nearly half a century as a quadriplegic following a diving accident as a teen, knows a lot about living with pain daily, and we would certainly understand if she complained about her physical pain and frustrations. But she has learned to say yes to God on a day-to-day basis and continue to follow Him on this difficult journey and glorifying Him through it all. Joni uses her experience to encourage you and bring comfort in difficulties by helping the reader focus on following Him each step of the way. No matter how insignificant you may think you are or what challenges you face, you can use your life and circumstances to glorify God.

Using a passage of Scripture to look up, a couple of paragraphs of thought on it, followed by a prayer, this book, together with a Bible, is intended to help the reader focus on glorifying God through simple changes in attitude and thought patterns. Instead of being overwhelmed, it is bite-sized portions of Scripture to slowly digest and allow to nourish your spirit. The book is also compact-sized, making it easy to slip into a purse or briefcase to carry with you. This is a wonderful gift for anyone, including yourself, if you need encouragement during hardships---or simply feeling too insignificant to be used by God.

Many thanks to Handlebar Publishing for providing me with a copy at no cost to myself. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado

Grace for the Moment (Large Deluxe): Inspirational Thoughts for Each Day of the Year by Max Lucado offers inspiring devotions to grow in your faith as you embrace the hope of the Lord every day. Featuring Scripture, along with devotional writings from Max's best sellers, each day's writing is a short but powerful message to remind the reader of God's love. Although there are variances, the majority of the Scripture is from the New Century Version (NCV). The devotion for each day also indicates which Lucado book used. 

This is the deluxe, large print edition of the classic devotional with a leather-flex cover, beautifully designed pages, and a ribbon marker. It is fairly lightweight and fits comfortably in one hand if you hold it to read. The pages do not flip and are thick enough that you can highlight or make notes that won't bleed through to several pages. (I recommend using colored pencils when highlighting, though. I have used them for years.) The strong binding will ensure this book can endure daily handling and will be a treasury you can visit in years ahead. I also love the look and feel of the cover. The book is published by Thomas Nelson, a registered trademark of Harper Collins Christian Publishing. 

I love the book and will definitely recommend it to anyone searching for a new devotional for themselves or as a gift. These are small nuggets of truth, with an insight to give the reader something to mull over and to build upon their faith.

I received a copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers for review purposes. A positive review was not required, and all thoughts regarding this book are my own.        

Sunday, December 18, 2016

When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette by Max Davis

When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette: Loving People Like God Does by Max Davis is a collection of stories of people who have done more than just tell others about Jesus but have actually displayed the personification of Jesus to others. You have heard the phrase, "be the Hands and Feet of Jesus, " and this is exactly how these people have chosen to live their lives. But it starts with a person first allowing themselves to be transformed by Jesus.

The book opens with a remarkable story of an encounter with a young woman in a grocery store. What Max intended as a genuine outreach of compassion turned into a poignant lesson on truly trusting in God in all circumstances. It also reminds me that "learning to be content in all things" is much more than just a 'refrigerator magnet verse' but an actual lifestyle.

It's not until chapter 3 that we actually meet the "green-eyed brunette" who had---and continues to have---such an impact on the life of Max Davis. When he met her, he discovered that there are people who simply lve their lives as a follower of Jesus with no judgement or condemnation of others, but because they are being obedient to the call on their life. Accecptance of others but unwilling to compromise seems a bit rigid, so perhaps it's better to say that she was a light in the darkness, showing a better way---but the Light was the reflection of Jesus.

The book, only 208 pages, is filled with stories of people whose lives reflected the light of Jesus to others and made a profound impact by simply trusting in God and following Him closely. There are also stories of trusting God and waiting patiently when instinct is to take another action. One story in particular was a reminder that our parental instincts to protect our [adult] children is when we must lean even closer into God as He places people just where they need to be. He loves our families even more than we do.

Finally, there is the lesson of listening to the Voice of God and obeying---even if you don't really want to obey what you hear. You may not see an immediate difference, but you can be sure that you were used if God called and you responded. But there are times when you see a radical change. Sometimes you may be the only 'Jesus' someone sees---so be prepared to always let God love others through you.

“Jesus is very much alive today and still does incredible things—sometimes supernatural things—through us!” ~ Max Davis

GIVEAWAY: Respond by Thursday, December 22, 2016, to be entered into a random drawing for your own copy of "When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette." 
"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.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

#JesusGreenEyedBrunette #FlyBy

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Of Stillness and Storm - Michele Phoenix

"of stillness and storm" by Michele Phoenix is, in her own words, "My hope is that this novel will be a cautionary tale..."

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.
At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry. (Thomas Nelson product description)

I have mixed feelings on this book. Phoenix did bring more layers to characters as the story enfolded, although my frustration with each also increased as I read. The story is thought-provoking, especially for families who feel the call to become missionaries, so mission accomplished as far as what Phoenix hoped to convey. Perhaps the clearer vision of the reader is what leads to my frustration with the book. I can't fault her for creating characters I don't particularly like, but I grew more annoyed rather than more empathetic. This is definitely not a "happily ever after" fairy tale, which is not a requirement for my enjoyment of a story, but I would have liked to have felt a bit more hope for the characters.

The writing itself is very good, and the story flows well and gains momentum toward a suspected conclusion. I confess, I wasn't sure HOW the author would arrive there, so I will not say predictable, but it was a conclusion that left me feeling empty. I can't judge the book based solely on my opinion of the characters, but neither can I say I loved the book. However, it is an interesting study of missionary life from a viewpoint one may not have fully considered. I have an opinion, but each person should be free to draw their own.

Thanks to Handlebar Marketing for providing me with a copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Charlie the Tramp by Russell Hoban

Charlie the Tramp is celebrating 50 years with a new hardcover release. Winner of the 1968 Boys Club of America Junior Book Award, the book was authored by Russell Hoban (Bread and Jam for Frances; Emmit Otter’s Jug-band Christmas) and illustrated by Lillian Hoban. Lillian illustrated 6 of Russell's books, but is best known for a young chimpanzee named Arthur and his little sister, Violet. 

Charlie the Beaver wants to be a tramp when he grows up. “Tramps don’t have to learn how to chop down trees and how to roll logs and how to build dams. Tramps just tramp around and have a good time. Tramps carry sticks with little bundles tied to them. They sleep in a field when the weather is nice, and when it rains they sleep in a barn.” Charlie sets off with his bundle. But when he hears water trickling, he can’t get to sleep. Will he be able to resist the urge to make it stop? As Grandfather Beaver says, “You never know when a tramp will turn out to be a beaver.” (publisher)

This is a cute story, with delightful illustrations, about the adventures of a beaver who decides he wants to be a tramp when he grows up. With the encouragement of his parents and grandfather, young Charlie sets out to a nearby field to be a tramp. He returns home at mealtimes to do some chores in exchange for his food, but travels back to the field to sleep. But...a noise keeps distracting him. A stream of water is singing much to loudly and Charlie goes over to investigate. When Charlie does not show up for breakfast, his family makes an interesting discovery.

I don't remember this book from my childhood, but would have been too old for it by the time it was written. But, had I been younger, this would have been one I enjoyed. Some may say it is a bit outdated, but I don't find offense at any of it. I see a family who is encouraging a little boy to explore his aspirations within a safe boundary. This is a charming tale of natural instincts and a nurturing family with the sense to know that children need a bit of freedom to explore possibilities. I, too, remember a brief desire to become a tramp as a child. :) My parents calmly explained the pros and cons, and I decided to postpone that dream. 

Charlie the Tramp/Plough website

GIVEAWAY: There is also a copy for one of my readers. Simply let me know in a comment (blog or Facebook) that you want to be entered. Deadline is December 10, 2016. USA residents only.
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, December 1, 2016

Know the Word NKJV Study Bible

A good study Bible is a must have for anyone who is wanting to dig deeper into God's Word. Know the Word Study Bible, published by Thomas Nelson, offers three easy ways to go beyond casual reading to becoming a regular student of the Word. Do you have a preferred method? Here is an overview of the different ways you may prefer to use:
  • Book by Book series of notes leads you through the main points of each book of the Bible. 
  • Verse by Verse studies help you to dig deeper into God’s Word at a verse level. 
  • Topic by Topic articles, which cover 21 key theological topics, give you a bird's-eye view of Scripture and guide you through the main themes that run throughout the Bible.

Features Include:
• New King James Version Bible text • Three easy approaches to study the Bible: Book by Book, Verse by Verse, Topic by Topic • Book introductions • Words of Jesus in red • Two-color interior page design • Comprehensive list of theological notes • Concordance

The things I like most about this Bible are the ease of using three different study methods, notes, the concordance, and the maps. It is also compact, easily held in one hand, sturdy due to hard cover, and the words are easily read. Also, the words of Jesus are in red, and pronoun references to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are capitalized. Not only is that more respectful (in my opinion) but it is another aid to clarification. NKJV is much more understandable that the original KJV, and seems to be an acceptable compromise.

My only major dislike is that I like to have wide margins for taking notes. Of course, passages can be highlighted (I prefer using colored pencils), but there is very little room for any comment. Other than that personal preference, I am very well pleased with this Bible and definitely recommend it to others.

I received a copy of this Bible at no cost to myself from the BookLook Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Abduction - Steve Feazel & Dr. Carol M. Swain

Abduction: How Liberalism Steals Our Children's Hearts and Minds by Steve Feazel and Dr Carol M. Swain is a warning to our nation on how the liberal left is slowly turning the hearts and minds of America's youth toward a mindset that no longer uses reasoning and values accepted as moral, but blindly follows cultural mores presented by entertainment, and left-leaning educators and judicial systems. The book spells out the dangers of what is happening and offers practical advice for fighting back against those people and philosophies that are endangering the very foundations upon which our country was built.

I have often thought of the *"frog in the kettle" aspect of how we were slowly destroying ourselves as small changes were slowly accepted as norm. But, in recent years, the "temperature" has been turned up and the changes are astonishing quick. Tolerance no longer means what it once did, and all are expected to not just accept, but to embrace values that conflict with personal moral or religious convictions. Everyone is quick to take offense and there is no attempt to consider other beliefs. Minds are shut and anger is the ruling emotion.

Feazel and Swain point out the hypocrisy and inconsistencies that are so obvious to many, yet are being blindly accepted by others. Revisionist history is being being taught in classrooms, minors are being permitted to make life-altering decisions for themselves long before they are able to reason the consequences, and fiction is being presented as fact by our news sources. Professor Swain went through character attacks due to having an unpopular opinion, so is even more aware than many of how challenging it can be today to have a different opinion than the politically correct one. And I especially appreciated the Calls to Action and suggestions given to parents. 

The stories told in this book are backed up with a 30 page bibliography of sources. It's comforting to know that the authors did their homework and can tell you where to find the materials to investigate on your own. The book (including bibliography) is just over 300 pages, but is an easy read, and hard to put down. It is also endorsed by several conservatives whose opinions I respect. The ones who stood out to me are Dr. Alveda King, civil rights activist, pro-life activist, author, Christian minister; Eric Metaxas, New York Times Bestselling author of Bonhoeffer,  and If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty; Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University; and Suellen Roberts, founder and president of Christian Women in Media and CEO of Global Media Summit.

I received a copy of this book from the authors, but all opinions are my own. Purchase your copy HERE.

Steve Feazel has a very diverse background which includes a Bachelors in Religion from Olivet Nazarene Univeristy, a Masters of Divinity from Nazarene Theological Seminary and a Masters in Business Administration from Arizona State University. He is a retired pastor but also has experience in state government, business, video productions and as a comedian. He has also served as a board member of a pro-life pregnancy center and a board member of a state chapter of the National Speaker's Association.

Dr. Carol M. Swain (B.A., Roanoke College, 1983; M.A., Virginia Polytechnic & State Univ., 1984; Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1989; M.S.L, Yale, 2000; member of Phi Beta Kappa) is a Professor of Political Science and Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University. She is the founder of the Carol Swain Foundation (2011) and Carol Swain Enterprises, L.LC. (2014). Dr Swain, a widely recognized expert on campaign and elections, racial politics, immigration reform, and religious liberty is an author of several books, a frequent speaker at events and on television, and was recently featured as an authority in the film, "Hillary's America." 

*"Frog in the Kettle" refers to the premise that a frog would jump out immediately if placed in a pot of boiling water, but if placed in a pot of cold water that was heated slowly, it would not notice the small changes until it was too late to save itself.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Amy Grant - Tennessee Christmas

Amy Grant has a new CD out in time for Christmas. Tennessee Christmas  is a collection of 13 songs that encompass the meaning of Christmas from a variety of moods and views. Just as the Christmas season is filled with many emotions, "Tennessee Christmas" has a little something for everyone. The album grew on me more as I listened to it a few times, but even my initial reaction was favorable. The songs range from the loneliness that some experience to the joy of being together with loved ones. There are also new songs amidst familiar classics and favorite hymns. This is the first time I have ever like "Christmas Don't Be Late" (sorry Chipmunks!) and I even liked the arrangement [of a song I normally dislike] "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Amy's husband, Vince Gill. The mixture of contemplative and light jazz music makes this album work well. I really loved what she did with "Joy to the World." This is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and I love it in a variety of arrangements; so while this slower version may not seem as "joyful" to some, there are times that this is exactly how I sing it at home. It reminds me that there is Hope. The final song, "O Come, All Ye Faithful" is a perfect reminder of the main reason we gather together on Christmas--- to celebrate the birth of Jesus, surrounded by the family and friends we treasure.

A sample from the album is "To Be Together."

Buy Tennessee Christmas:
Like Amy Grant on Facebook: Follow on Twitter: Subscribe to Amy’s VEVO Channel: Follow Amy on Spotify: 

Amy's team is also asking for fans to upload any videos they may have of them surprising loved ones for the holidays to social media. Use the hashtag #TNChristmasSurprise! Your video may be part of a compilation video Amy will be posting across her social media platforms.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):   I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Bible Journaling Kit

Bible Journaling---making art in your Bible to create a more personal connection to Scripture and with God---has become more popular than ever. Have you tried it? Whether experienced at journaling or still considering it, this kit from Ellie Claire, a division of Worthy Publishing, is a fabulous collection of needed tools.

This Bible Journaling Kit comes complete with: 
  • 4 sheets of word stickers
  • 4 sheets alphabet stickers
  • 24 tab stickers
  • 8 colored pencil twists
  • 1 journaling pen
  • 1 pouch with adjustable strap
  • 1 ruled page protector mat with tracing lines
If you are unused to writing in your Bible, or feeling intimidated by the prospect of creating Art, this kit is a perfect way to get started. Remember, this is for your spiritual journey and to help you to connect with God in a more personal way. This kit has all you need to get started! I know I have always liked to make notes or highlight passages that really speak to me. Going back through your Bible, you are then reminded of times that were especially meaningful.

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC/FlyBy Promotions for sending me this kit.

**There is also a link for free coloring pages---AND another chance to win a Bible Journaling Kit! EllieClaire/Worthy Publishing is also sponsoring a giveaway with FIVE winners!! Winners will be announced on Dec. 15, 2016.
Enter at Bible Journaling Kit Giveaway
Here are places you can get kits for yourself or as gifts:
Also check out the Ellie Claire Gift & Paper Expressions on Facebook for more amazing products. 

"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.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Abigail: The Belle of Bravery

Abigail, the Belle of Bravery is the third book in The Adventures of Rooney Cruz. Bible Belles highlights five "superhero" women of the Bible: Hannah, Esther, Abigail, Ruth, and Deborah. Each of these women has a super power to they use to serve God and this series highlights that to teach young girls a valuable lesson. These books were created by Erin Weidemann and illustrated by former Disney illustrator, Rob Corley.

 In this story, Rooney is back again with another adventure, and another lesson to be learned. When Rooney's brother Anthony deliberately angers the boys across the street, she is afraid that more trouble will be coming. What does she need to do? Her angel Mari has already taught her about the superpowers of prayer and patience, and now she has another story to help Rooney. Through the story of Abigail, Rooney learns about being brave enough to do the right thing. Just like Abigail, God will give her the courage of God to boldly face any problem with the confidence that He will see her through it. (Read about Abigail in 1 Samuel 25)

Another great story from the Bible Belles series. I love seeing stories of the women of the Bible being taught and directed to girls so that they have examples they can follow. I actually just re-read the story of Abigail in my own daily Bible reading recently, so I was delighted when offered the chance to review the version for younger children. Adults know how little things can escalate into large problems out of circumstances that we don't always understand. The lesson here of being brave and doing the right thing is perfect during a time of great misunderstanding, and one that needs to be learned early. Just as Abigail was able to wisely diffuse a threatening situation, Rooney was able to ease the growing tension and help bring peace to her neighborhood. Little things can make a difference, but being brave can seem scary. Teaching a child that God can give her the courage she needs to act boldly and do what is right---and on a level that is easily understood---is awesome. I highly recommend "Abigail: The Belle of Bravery" and the entire Bible Belles series.

Check out their other great books at

I received a copy of this product from Bible Belles. I was not required to give a positive review.
They have also authorized a giveaway copy to one of my readers. Please respond by November 30, 2016. 

To Joey, With Love DVD

To Joey, With Love is a documentary, based on home movies, of the final 2 and a half years of musician Joey Feek. Husband-and-wife singing duo Joey+Rory, 2010 Academy of Country Music New Vocal Duo winners, were in the midst of a whirlwind life when they did the unheard of for those who are experiencing extraordinary success. When Joey became pregnant, they decided to take a year off and simplify life for a year, living on their small farm. What started as Rory filming their lives and preparation for the birth of their child turned out to be an extended time when it was discovered later that Joey had cancer. The film follows the decision to take time off to the birth of their daughter Indiana, born with Down Syndrome, and continues through Joey’s struggle with and ultimate surrender to cancer—and is an intimate peek through the joy, despair, love, laughter, struggles, and hope as this family experiences a life they never planned. Narrated by Rory Feek, the DVD will be available on Dec. 20, 2016. You can pre-order it here:

My Review: I seldom cry when watching movies, but this one did move me to tears several times, for varying reasons. To be honest, I hesitated when offered the chance to review the DVD since I knew so little about Joey+Rory. Of course, I had seen the stories trending and knew that Joey had passed away---I had even prayed for them frequently during her illness, but I don't think I had ever heard even 1 song by them until watching the DVD. Plus, knowing of her passing, I was not sure if this was something I would want to see.

I was wrong! Rather than a melancholy story of a life cut too short, this DVD is a celebration of life. Nothing is sugar-coated, but the viewer is drawn into the lives of these people in such a way that there are as many tears of joy as there are of sorrow. Watching them LIVE their lives rather than just accepting defeats and falling into despair is a true encouragement for others. Of course, their faith in God as their sustainer and hope is a message that shines through. I do recommend you see this for yourself and share it with others. In the midst of sorrow, there is also inspiration and hope for this life and beyond.

Buy DVD:
Rory's Blog:
Facebook: To Joey With Love

Disclaimer: Thank you to Icon Media Group for sending me a link to watch this film! They also are offering a copy to one of my readers. Simply respond by Thursday, December 1, 2016 to be entered. USA residents only.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Gift of Music

Christian artist Lindsay Huggins knows the joy of music. Having grown up in a musical family, she always desired to build a career around performing. So when she moved to Nashville after high school, no one was surprised. What started as a dream to be in the spotlight soon shifted and took on a deeper meaning, and for the past seven years, Lindsay has been traveling the country sharing the Good News of the Gospel through song.

Music has been a large part of Lindsay’s life. She grew up singing and performing in church with her parents and sister and with other peers. While her focus has mainly been vocal music, she studied piano and flute during her youth. She met Craig at Trevecca Nazarene University when they were placed on the same music ministry team. He also played trumpet and bass guitar through college and was the sound technician for the vocal group. After graduation Lindsay jokingly says she decided to keep the sound guy, and they were married. Craig continues to use his musical gifts as part of their ministry together. And as tradition would have it, their four year old son has discovered his love for any instrument he can get his hands on.

Seeing that spark of joy in her son stirred something in Lindsay. Knowing the undeniable positivity that music provides, she had an idea to do something bigger than just singing concerts. She wanted to impact students in her community with the gift of music, specifically the chance to learn and perform music of their own. With almost any extra curricular activity, there are costs associated, and the school band is no different. There’s a monthly rental commitment, adding a new line item in the family budget, and depending on the instrument, numerous accessories to ensure the proper function and performance. Lindsay hoped she could lessen that burden for students who were longing for the same musical experiences she had, but were limited by finances. She began to formulate a way to make that happen.

After approaching the board of directors of her non-profit organization, Lindsay Huggins Ministries, she reached out to the band director at the local middle school and inquired about students who might not be able to afford participation in the band program. It seemed like perfect timing - God’s timing - when applications from families immediately came in. With a few phone calls and the signing of instrument leases, Lindsay Huggins Ministries was able to provide rental instruments and starter packs to the first music scholarship recipients in September.

They were thrilled to have instruments in hand, and were ready to jump into their new musical adventure. “When I mentioned that I hoped they would fall in love with music and want to continue their study beyond just the first year, one girl beamed with her trumpet in hand, ‘I’m going to be in band all the way through high school. I’m so excited!’”

The benefits of music are widely recognized, ranging from emotional connection, to language development, and even mathematical concepts using in engineering. Lindsay knows firsthand that music speaks to people, as it was a song that spurred her to make a leap in her person journey of faith and accept salvation in Christ at age 13. She also knows the thrill of using music to communicate to others, and hopes that these young students might find joy and expression in their music as well. 

For more information about Lindsay Huggins, or to make a tax-deductible donation to the music scholarship program, visit

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Complete Jewish Study Bible

The Complete Jewish Study Bible by Hendrickson strives to help both Christian
and Jewish followers connect with the Jewish roots of our faith. The previous edition was translated by David H. Stern with this updated version containing new introductions by Rabbi Barry Rubin. With these introductions, additional material about Jewish customs and feasts, and a translation of some names from English to Hebrew, this helps the reader to connect deeper.

I can only speak from the Christian point of view, so I do want to say upfront that this Bible is better for those who are familiar with the Bible and have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the history of our heritage. A beginner or new believer may get a little lost despite the excellent English to Hebrew translations provided both with the names and in footnotes throughout the Bible. A serious scholar will love it! This Bible provides a greater depth of understanding about traditions that may be unknown, therefore, a new richness is uncovered as new insights are discovered. I love that I can expand my knowledge as I pursue my study of God's Word. I want to apply His word to my life today, and it helps to understand what was going on during the time these words were first written or revealed to mankind. There are also additional color-coded articles and maps provided.

Not only is the book "heavy" with the depth of knowledge, it weighs more than the Bible I normally use. The one I have is a hard cover and I love the outward appearance of it. It is a beautiful addition to your library---but do not just leave it sitting. This is a book that needs used frequently. The print is very easily read, but my one issue is that there is no room to write notes on all of the pages. For both Christians and Jews (especially Messianic) who want to learn more of our shared heritage, while studying God's Word, I do recommend The Complete Jewish Study Bible.

Disclaimer: I'm a part of the CWA Review Crew and I received a copy of this book at no cost to myself in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Chase the Lion - Mark Batterson

Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson is based on the Old Testament story in 2 Samuel 23 about a warrior in the army of King David named Benaiah. Those who read Batterson's 2006 best seller are familiar with Benaiah---who chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day—and then killed it.

But there is more that is known of Benaiah, and a bigger lesson to be learned from his action with the lion. Most people would run from a lion, but Benaiah chased it. He overcame his fear and went after the personification of it.

This is what Batterson is saying in his sequel to In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day. Benaiah chased his fear, faced his fear, and used it as an opportunity to move forward. For Benaiah, becoming King David’s bodyguard and eventually the Commander-in-Chief of Israel’s army under David's son, King Solomon. Batterson says that your dreams should be so big they scare you. He says that 'Chase the Lion' is not just a catch phrase, but a radical approach to life. The fear of failure prevents one from seizing opportunity by the mane and conquering all fear.  You cannot succeed if you are afraid of failure, but you have to accept that you may fail several times.

Do I agree? Yes and no...but my opinion does not really matter for a book review. I know many people who have huge dreams that may feel overwhelming. For those, this book can be a huge inspiration to never give up "chasing the lion" until ultimate success. For others, like myself, there are no grandiose dreams and we are quite content. I do, however, love to cheer on others, and I recommend this book. Not only is it great for those who feel God has called them to greater things, but I enjoyed reading it and felt inspired. Even the smaller dreams and dreamers need encouragement. I admit that I did prefer 'In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day' but 'Chase The Lion' did engage my attention and was well-written.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook-Multnomah "Blogging For Books" program at no cost to myself. However, I was not required to write a positive review.

Mark Batterson Social Corner:


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Say and Pray Devotions ~ Diane Stortz

Say and Pray Devotions is a very sturdy padded board book that serves many purposes. The left hand side gives a topic, with a short sentence to expand upon it and then the right side gives a short Scripture that could be easily memorized by a 3 or 4 year-old and a simple prayer to use. Examples are listed below:

  • YUMMY!
    Good food tastes yummy and helps me grow.
    [God] gives food to the hungry - Psalm 146:7
    Thank You, God, for good food. Amen.
  • Good News
    Jesus is our Savior. That's the good news!
    We bring you the good news. - Acts 13:32
    Thank You, God, for Jesus! Amen.
And then there are the illustrations, by Sarah Ward, on all pages that are labeled to help teach reading and word identification. Just as we read the Bible to learn and for it to make an impact on our lives, this simple book can be used the same way for toddlers and younger kids. 

I want to add that this is a very sturdy padded board book. It has easily survived my 14 month old great-granddaughter's attempts to read it by herself and the sticky pages were easily cleaned after she left. I love having a book that I am comfortable with the little ones holding themselves that is also useful for me teaching them simple concepts of my faith. The pictures with just a one word description are fabulous for the younger ones, but can also lead to conversations ranging from what is seen on to telling stories based on imagination. I believe this is going to be a favorite book at my house.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through FlyBy Promotions.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

66 Ways God Loves You ~ Jennifer Rothschild

The Bible is a book that is actually 66 books in one volume. It contains history, poetry, instruction, but it is also God's love letter to his people. In 66 Ways God Loves You, Jennifer Rothschild goes book by book as she walks with you through the 66 letters from God. 

  • In Genesis God Fashions Me With His Hands
  • In Proverbs God Offers Me Wisdom More Precious Than Rubies
  • In Revelation God Receives Me as His Beloved and Treasured Bride
Those are just 3 examples of how God speaks to His people through His Word. Rothschild gives a short reading that sums up each book, along with Scripture that brings a deeper understanding. Using only a couple of pages for each book, this is a wonderful small devotional to use daily or to use as you read through the Bible. You can begin each book with this concise overview to gain a better understanding of what the Author is saying.

I love it! It is a small book, but it contains a powerful message of God's love for us. It's great that it also reminds me of a favorite song: "He Is" by Aaron Jeoffrey! This book has the same impact, letting me know the different ways God reveals Himself to me. Whether it is used as a reminder, a reassurance or balm to a broken spirit, I highly recommend this. It is also a wonderful gift for a friend or yourself. Definitely 5 stars.

Many thanks to Icon Media Group for providing me with a copy of this book at no cost to myself. I was not required to give a positive review.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Teal Pumpkin Project

Kayden painting a teal pumpkin
Halloween is approaching at the end of the month, and many churches and organizations are already having events. Most children love to dress up and go to these annual parties and many still participate in the traditional door-to-door trick-or-treat experience. However, kids with food allergies are often left out of the fun, especially the treats. I know we have had items set aside for kids at church events, but I was not aware that there is a nation-wide site to bring awareness. Thanks to the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) for teaming up with other partners to make a difference.
FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project came about through the desire to make sure all kids can have fun and get special treats to enjoy. Just picking up a few non-food items as an alternative makes a difference. You may even decide to do only non-food instead of buying candy. The idea is to simply create a safer, happier Halloween for all children.

Need ideas or downloadables? Go to the Teal Pumpkin Project website at and explore the rich resources available! You still have a couple of days to make this year's Halloween safer and more fun, plus you can start making plans for next year's! 

Teal Pumpkin Project

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Take Your Life Back - Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop

Take Your Life Back: How to Stop Letting the Past and Other People Control You by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop is written for those who react to life rather than respond. Are you always letting the past and other people control your life? This may be the book for you. Using personal examples from their own lives, along with both clinical insights and truth found in Scripture, the authors demonstrate that your past history and habits can be overcome. When you set clear boundaries with others, you can learn to appropriately respond. Not letting people and situations control you will bring a new confidence and freedom to your life. Many things that happened in your childhood set the pattern to how you view yourself and your expectation from others. The book covers a wide spectrum of behaviors that impact one's life through forms of abuse, trauma, dependency, and more that can make you unaware of circumstances that may prove to be eye-opening as you reflect and remember how even a seemingly small matter may have shaped the way you see yourself and how you react to others.

Authors of the 
Life Recovery® series, Stephen Arterburn and Dr. David Stoop, are well experienced in helping others understand the issues that cause them to struggle and stumble, and can equip you with the tools to make positive changes in your life. Although it can be difficult, especially if you have deep-seated trust issues, the idea of having a "safe person" to talk with and provide support as you begin the healing process. There was a lot of info and insights provided in the book, but I did sometimes lose interest while reading. However, I would recommend it to those wanting to take control of their lives.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Cheryl Wicker - Coach at Amplify with PR

Cheryl Wicker, PR expert, speaker, agency owner and entertainment professional has branched out to use her expertise and knowledge gained in the industry to launch a new coaching program for professionals who want to learn to effectively do their own publicity. This “hands-on” solution is perfect for those on a tight budget, or for people who simply prefer to do their own marketing. Using virtual workshops and coaching calls to walk clients through the process, Wicker created “Amplify: How to Get Your Message HeardThrough Free Media Exposure” to teach them how to do their own PR during a 6 week program. A free educational webinar based on the program is currently available to those wanting to learn more:

Equally comfortable both in front of and behind the camera (‘Flag of My Father,’ ‘Finding Normal,’ and ‘God’s Not Dead.’), plus with additional experience as a multi-media journalist and working at Howard Publishing (now Howard Books with Simon & Schuster), Wicker is a multi-talented creative freelancer, utilizing communication, promotion, organizational and networking skills in a variety of roles: TV/film producer, casting director, actress, publicist, host of “Christian Movie Connect” and Media Correspondent for several events and conferences. As she has become more in demand as a speaker due to her experience in PR, people turned to her for advice with increasing frequency.  “My life mission is to help people of purpose impact the culture through media. However, I have to combine the practicalities of running a business with my mission to help others reach the world with a message that matters,” explains Wicker. “My solution is to help equip and empower people with the necessary tools and knowledge required to do their own PR at a fraction of the cost.”

The Amplify virtual coaching program created by Wicker teaches the ABC’s of DIY PR for both those new to marketing, as well as those who have experience.  Wicker teaches “journalist-focused PR” to help those enrolled in her program to craft a press release that is more likely to capture the interest of journalists who receive numerous pitches daily. Participants in the Amplify program will have access to downloadable material and videos that are used during the training. 

Wicker will be speaking next at the Churches Making Movies Film Festival, a three day event of movie screenings, insightful workshops, and family-friendlyactivities in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Wicker will be leading a workshop on Oct 8th at 10:15am. Her topic, “The Indie's Guide to DIY Film Marketing,” will include teaching you some of the tricks of the trade she uses in her own agency. She will also show you how to hire and manage your own freelance team.

Other workshop leaders include screenwriter Sean Paul Murphy and Isaac Hernandez, Vice President of Parables TV. However, the festivities start Oct 7 with a Red Carpet event with host actress Jenn Gotzon when director Dallas Jenkins will present a Sneak Peek Red Carpet Screening of his eagerly anticipated film, “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone.” Keynote Speaker for the evening will be Mrs. Austen Williams. To learn more about speakers and films, visit

Contact Info For Cheryl Wicker:
Cheryl Wicker - PR Expert & Coach
Free Media
Premier1 Studios - Facebook

Christian Movie Connect - Facebook

Follow @CherylAWicker
Cheryl Wicker - LinkedIn

Cheryl Ariaz Wicker - IMDb
Cafe Connect - Facebook

Friday, September 30, 2016

5 Minutes With Jesus - Sheila Walsh

5 Minutes with Jesus: A Fresh Infusion of Joy by Sheila Walsh is a small book that packs a powerful punch of hope and joy. When you are going through a dark valley or just stuck in a boring rut, joy can be difficult to find---but, our strength and joy are found in the Lord. It may not be easy to reach joy, but it is attainable. Jesus embraces His followers with a love that is almost tangible, but is manifested as a feeling of joy in spite of circumstances.

Sheila Walsh uses short stories, insights, and encouraging scriptures to help the reader discover joy in God's goodness, creation, and love. Each devotion reminds you that, no matter what, there is joy and peace to be found, and you can find it when you are frequently spending time in Jesus’ presence! Walsh and co-author Sherri Gragg provide a daily dose of encouragement through humorous or touching stories coupled with scripture that will provide light, no matter how dark life may seem. This book would be an excellent gift for anyone who needs encouragement and joy---including yourself! I highly recommend it.

I received this book free through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Befriend by Scott Sauls

Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation,and Fear by Scott Sauls is a timely book for today's world that is becoming increasingly intolerant of others having different beliefs and viewpoints. At one time we could simply agree to disagree, but we are devolving to a culture of name calling and stereotyping anyone who does not fully embrace our own thoughts. Not quite there yet, but this is a perfect time for a book like this to help us see that we can be friends with people who view thing differently...and perhaps even learn from them.

Befriend was written in answer to the question, Is real friendship too risky?" With the increased use of social media, many of us have "friendships" on various social media platforms that may include many people we have never met. Or, we have friends from church, school, work, sports, etc. that we may actually spend physical time with, but, no matter whether in person or via the internet, we do tend to stick with people who are similar to us in thoughts and deeds. Honesty is rare, and we seldom take the time to cultivate a relationship with anyone outside of our comfort zone.

Sauls demonstrates the "Jesus model" of friendship through 21 meditations meant to inspire actively pursuing God’s love through expanding your circle of friends. Jesus had friends that included a wide variety of people, and many did not just fit into His personal belief system. Scott Sauls, teacher and pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, uses each chapter to highlight a segment of people we encounter and examines how a true friendship can be grown.

My thoughts? There were some chapters, I was mentally applauding and yelling, "Preach it!" and then there were a few that stepped on my toes a bit. Would I be his friend in spite of not agreeing with a few of his views? Most likely, yes. I am willing to consider another's point of view, but have a few unshakeable opinions myself. There was one Scripture that we interpreted differently, and one parable that omitted part of the story, but nothing shattering; he merely demonstrated a point with what he used. I am as guilty as anyone else for sometimes gleaning a portion, and no harm was meant by it. Bottom line: in a time and place where we are growing angrier and less willing to compromise, Befriend is a great reminder that we are called to model Christ---not called to get everyone to agree with us or be banned from our presence.  

I received a copy of "Befriend" from BuzzPlant at no cost to myself in order to write a review. I was only asked to give my fair and honest opinion.

BuzzPlant is also offering a copy of "Befriend" to one of my readers. Leave a comment to be entered into the random drawing. Entries must be in no later than Tuesday, October 4th, 2016.