Sunday, September 3, 2017

Call For Prayer This September

Today, September 3, 2017, has been declared Day of Prayer for Texas, following the tremendous impact felt by Hurricane Harvey as it swept across SE Texas, leaving a path of devastation as record flooding went across the land. I know I joined a multitude of others in praying for those who lost so much more than I can imagine, including loved ones, and mourned with them. So many others have had their lives changed as well. Property is replaceable, sometimes repairable, but it's not as though we should treat these losses as trivial. This is a time to reach out to others to give them hope and help in rebuilding. This is who we are as Americans.

To hear the news reports and read social media posts, we are a country divided. To be sure, there is an anger and bitterness among many just as there are the gloaters on the "winning" side. There should not be winners and losers when it comes to our country. Shouldn't we have the same goal? Of course, there are issues that will always separate and divide us, but our words should not always belittle others. Compromise is not always possible when people completely disagree, but hatred and acrimony resolves nothing.

Hurricane Harvey did demonstrate again that we can come together as a nation when disaster strikes. Many people who were unaffected by Harvey still pulled together whether it was physically going to the distressed areas or sending money and other donations via charitable organizations. And...we prayed. 


Do you remember the days and weeks following September 11, 2001? Just as vivid as the tragic images are the ones of my fellow Americans coming together as one people in love of country and each other. And...we prayed.


Marlene Salcher
Marlene Salcher, the author of “God Speaks to Me? Tuning into the Living God” and leader of prayer groups for over 20 years, calls on Christians across the nation to follow the scriptural mandate to repent of their sins and call on God in remembrance of 911. Many Christian leaders have issued similar challenges in previous years, including Anne Graham Lotz and Michael Youssef. “I ask that September 11, 2017, be a new beginning for Christians to pray every day for our nation until we see revival and a return to our Christian heritage,” challenges Salcher.

Just as we pray today for the Texans who underwent damages by a weather event that was unprecedented with record rainfall, America is under an internal assault like any I have ever witnessed. Today I encourage all Christians to accept Salcher's challenge to let September 11, 2017 be a new beginning of prayer for our nation. America needs Revival and Restoration and a Return to our basic values and heritage. Through God, this is possible.

To read more about prayer advocate Marlene Salcher's Prayer Challenge: September 11, 2017 Prayer Challenge

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Altar Egos

Desperate to see their church grow, Pastor John (Robert Amaya, MOM’S NIGHT OUT, COURAGEOUS) and wife Betsy (Erin Bethea, FIREPROOF) do the unthinkable and change their church Christmas pageant. Flabbergasted, elderly choir director Mary Margaret (Sallie Wanchisn) leads the choir to boycott. Facing termination, Pastor John resorts to disguising himself as an old man to bridge the generation gap, win over Mary, and lead the choir back to the church. When he discovers that the wounds run deeper than he first suspected, Pastor John must learn to love the unlovable or risk the ruin of his church and family. Also stars Victoria Jackson (SNL). Written and directed by Sean Morgan, the film uses the themes of loving the "unloveable," reconciliation, conflict resolution, and change vs tradition. 


Altar Egos is a good "popcorn" movie to enjoy with family or friends. It's not one of the funniest films I have ever seen, but it is amusing. The themes of the film can be told in a very heavy-handed way, so it is refreshing to see points made in a more humorous way. To quote Mary Poppins, a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down. Some of the scenes were a bit too silly for me, and some left me puzzled, but it was overall entertaining. There were also a couple of editing issues that I wish had been fixed, but that is not uncommon in any movie. 

Good acting throughout the film. Robert Amaya and Victoria Jackson are excellent any time they do comedy. But, I have to mention 2 of the younger cast members. Lindsley Register lit up the screen each time she appeared. I loved her portrayal of Holly. But, the standout performance for me was Max Morgan! He was good as the teen-aged Jack, but when he would transform into the elderly Frank, I could not take my eyes off of him as he tried to fit into the senior crowd and made attempts to get them to loosen up a bit.

Conflict and resolution are the major staple of most films, and I thought Altar Egos did a good job in the "and they all lived happily ever after..." style while still making their points. Sometimes we need to see things from a different point of view to gain a greater understanding.

The DVD will be released on September 5, so be watching for it. You can also enter to WIN a DVD of your own by commenting on this blog post. Thanks to LEV3L DIGITAL AND BMG for their generosity! Deadline to Enter is August 28, 2017.
ALTAR EGO LINKS:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Praying For Girls - Teri Lynne Underwood

Praying for Girls: Asking God for the Things They Need Most by Teri Lynne Underwood are Scripture-based prayers for the girls in your life. Raising a daughter can cause a lot of worry and concern, especially when we think of the danger, trials, and temptations that will face her. Yet you can feel the peace that comes when you pray specific Scriptures over her and turn your prayers into hope and promises rather than times of fear over what may happen.

There are five vital areas of a girl's life--her identity, heart, mind, relationships, and purpose-- and you will find guidance and assurance that you may pray with confidence over your child to cover each of these areas. I love the personalized Scripture prayers. Not only does it use God's Word to pray for your daughter, but has the added benefit of making Scripture more personal for yourself. Sometimes we forget this is not simply history or words meant for someone else.

There are also conversation starters and activities to help you raise your child into a confident woman of God. One of the things I enjoyed most is that it incorporates ideas for various stages in life. Each chapter has " Girl Talk" suggestions for a young child, a tween, and for a young woman. I have a daughter, a granddaughter, and 2 great-granddaughters, so I found age-appropriate ideas for each...or ideas that I can personalize. There are also ideas I can use just as easily with sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons. Definitely a multi-generalization book that can be passed on to the next generation.

I received a copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews (Cross Focused Media
). I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.


Follow Teri Lynne Underwood on social media:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

All Saints movie

AllSaintsmovie.com
ALL SAINTS, based on the inspiring true story of salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock (John Corbett), is the story of a faithful few working together to save their community. Assigned to a small church with only a dozen members, Spurlock has also been given the task of finding a buyer for the prime property and closing the church. But his plans to complete the deal and be transferred to a growing church hits a snag when a group of refugee farmers from Burma arrive to make a fresh start in America.

As the church welcomes the newcomers, a fresh vision is unveiled. Working together, the congregants persevere to turn the land into a working farm that will feed the flock and support church expenses. The film delivers an incredibly relevant and timely message of faith, hope, community and the power of the church.

The film reunites Corbett with his former "Northern Exposure" co-star, Barry Corbin. Other featured stars of All Saints are Chonda Pierce, Cara Buono, Nelson Lee, Gregory Alan Williams, and Myles Moore. Written by Steve Armour and directed by Steve Gomer, the film, released through
Sony AFFIRM (Sony Pictures), will open in theaters on August 25, 2017. It is rated PG and running time is 108 minutes.



The trailer looks amazing. Wonderful actors, the cinematography is great, and more importantly, I love the inspirational feel to it. We all need faith... as well as something to hope for and a dream to achieve.

Be sure to check out the website and follow on the All Saints social media platforms. For easy access, click on links below:

Buy Tickets HERE

GIVEAWAY: Thanks to Sony AFFIRM, I can offer 2 FREE tickets via Fandango for All Saints when it opens in theaters next month. Please leave a comment to enter. Also, consider sharing this blog to spread the word about this inspirational film. Please use #AllSaintsL3 when you share. Thanks!!

DISCLAIMER:
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines, as a Featured Contributor of Sony’s ALL SAINTS Influencer Program, I received the value of two movie tickets in exchange for an honest review on my blog. I am part of a Blogging Partnership/Marketing Campaign with LEV3L Digital Marketing. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Content17 Film Tank Contest


Do you have a Short Film or Trailer? This includes Narrative Film, TV/Web Programs, Docs, Bios and Music Videos. It could be worth up to $20,000 in cash and prizes if entered in Content17 Film Tank Contest! Sponsored by CONTENT17 and Upliftv (which airs in millions of homes reaching every city in America), this is an opportunity to have your project viewed by attending distributors and win an Upliftv Network marketing campaign and cash.

*DEADLINE TO ENTER JULY 31, 2017... and you MUST be registered to attend Christian Media Association Content 17!

Here’s a Summary of How it Works:



PRIZE AWARDS – SHORT FILMS/TRAILERS
  • The Top 3 submissions in each Category will be chosen and will be displayed at Judging of the “Film Tank” Contest at CONTENT17.(Distributors will see your trailer and or short film. You might even get a call from one of them before the conference).
  • The Films will be voted on by the attendees (audience). The Top Short Film/Trailer in each category will WIN a “CMA Upliftv 2017 Film Award” (plaque), AND be honored at the Concluding Awards Luncheon Session.
The Winners will then go to the Final Judging to Win the Grand Prize.

LINKS:


Prizes and Recognition:

Prizes
BEST ALL AROUND SHORT FILM (of all categories)
Prize: $15k value

  • $5,000 in US Funds
  • Marketing Campaign w/Upliftv (valued at $5k)
  • CONTENT17 Promo Package (valued at $5k)

BEST ALL AROUND TRAILER (of all categories)
Prize: $5k value

  • Marketing Campaign w/Upliftv (valued at $5k)

Recognitions Plaque Awards will be decided upon by judges before the conference & will be awarded a plaque at the final awards general session.
  • BEST ACTOR
  • BEST ACTRESS
  • BEST CINEMATIC QUALITY
  • BEST STORYTELLING
  • BEST CHRISTIAN/BIBLICAL MESSAGE
  • BEST MUSICAL SCORE
  • BEST MUSIC VIDEO

DEADLINE TO ENTER FILMS - JULY 31, 2017
YOU MUST REGISTER TO ATTEND CONTENT17

FILM TANK SPONSORS

Upliftv.com

ChristianMedia.org

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Swipe Right - Levi Lusko

Swipe Right: The Life-and-Death Power of Sex and Romance (Thomas Nelson) by Levi Lusko: Love, sex, romance and relationships are powerful, but too often are treated as trivial and disposable in today's society. In this book, Lusko, pastor of Fresh Life Church, a multisite church in Montana, and the founder of Skull Church and the O2 Experience, shares how to go beyond meaningless sex to a lasting relationship that is much more fulfilling.

Some of the things Levi Lusko shares with honesty from both his own life experiences and God’s Word are:
  • regret-proof your marriage bed and your deathbed
  • resist settling for instant pleasure by discovering what your heart really longs for
  • learn how to avoid and treat sexual scars by careful living today
  • turn the clumsy “sex talk” with your child into dialogue that leads to wise choices
  • transform a stagnant marriage by trading predictable nearness for mind-blowing intimacy 
God created sex, so His plan is for sex to be a pleasure, but also a part of a committed relationship between a husband and wife. Lusko has written a powerful book that is honest, relatable, and often funny. Going beyond the physical act, he also speaks on emotional intimacy, porn, and how we sometimes block God's best for us by answering the voice that yells, "NOW!" rather than waiting.

This is also a book for those who are thinking, "Too late for me now." Yes, this book is better to read when you are young and willing to commit to God's standards, but there comes a time when you recommit to a standard and set out on a new path. "Sampson's Hair Began to Grow" is one of my favorite chapters. Sampson's story has always been one of my least favorites, but I have been learning a lot lately from this man who was one of God's chosen...yet chose his way over God's every time. Yet, in the end, God was able to use him. 


 My only issue with the book is also one of the reasons I will absolutely recommend it to others. Sometimes I simply did not have a clue what the man was referencing! I am a Pop Culture illiterate. I have never heard of dating apps like Tinder...and I certainly was not going to Google it. I don't watch television, seldom see secular movies, don't play computer games and rarely use my phone. So, I was often puzzled, but have no doubt my children and grandchildren would totally understand. I also loved the section, "Things I Really, Really Want You to Remember." Perfect...even for those who don't like to read. 


I received a copy of this book at no cost to myself for review purposes. I was only required to give an honest review.






Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Solveig Leithaug 'TIME' CD

Time by Dove Award-winning recording artist Solveig Leithaug highlights guest vocals by Anthony Skinner, Cindy Morgan, Kelly Willard and Solveig’s daughter Kari Julianna. Eight of the project’s eleven songs are new and were written by Solveig with award-winning songwriters such as: Reba Rambo-McGuire, Cindy Morgan, Sarah Hart, Anthony Skinner, and Kelly Willard.

Time
 was produced by Steve Hindalong and features some of Nashville’s finest musicians including Jeff Taylor, Stu Garrard, Matt Slocum, and others along with Solveig’s signature acoustic guitars.


I enjoyed listening to the CD. Some of it was quiet, soothing music as I worked, but was just what I needed to relax. Her voice, along with the instruments. are a wonderful combination. Perhaps it
's due to it being an old favorite of mine anyway, but I especially loved "Leaning On the Everlasting Arms," but was also fond of the penny whistle I heard in the background of "Finn Torkel's Vise." 

TIME includes the following songs:
1. Supermoon
2. Time
3. Lift You Up feat. Cindy Morgan
4. Do You Know Jesus
5. Finn Torkel's Vise (Laplander's Song)
6. Ellis Island
7. Get Together feat. Anthony Skinner
8. Take Your Word For It
9. Leaning On The Everlasting Arms
10. Trylle Bittelitt
11. Simple Things
For a sample, here is the title track, "Time."



Summarizing her goal as an artist, Solveig states: “Whether performing with a band, full orchestra and choir, or alone with my guitar, my prayer has always been that my music will be an artistic bridge of hope, connecting the listener to their Creator.”

Solveig Leithaug - BlogTour Interview with Karen Power

For more information about the blog tour, please CLICK HERE.
For more information about Solveig, her tour schedule, or to purchase a copy of the TIME CD, CLICK HERE.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:Facebook: Solveig Leithaug Music
Twitter: @Solveigmusic

Instagram: sophie_lighthouse

Website: Solveigmusic.com

GIVEAWAY: To be entered to win a copy of "Time" leave a comment (or contact me) by end of day June 30, 2017

AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE IN DIGITAL FORMAT:
Spotify: http://spoti.fi/2psW00l
Tidal: http://bit.ly/2pYg3QO
iTunes http://apple.co/2qwwoih
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2qwAHKq

Saturday, June 24, 2017

NIV Kids' Visual Study Bible

The NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible, for ages 8–12, brings the Bible to life in four-color illustrated splendor. This study Bible includes a spectacular full-color interior featuring over 700 illustrations, photos, infographics, and maps on every page that visually represent key Bible information. Each page also features important facts located near the relevant verse. Intriguing facts; colorful, engaging maps; photographs; and illustrations make this a Bible they’ll want to explore.
Features:
  • Over 700 four-color photographs, illustrations, infographics, and maps throughout
  • Full-color design
  • Book introductions, including important facts and an image to orient the reader
  • One-column format with side bar study notes for ease of reading
  • Presentation page
  • The complete text of the New International Version (NIV) translation of the Bible
  • Beautiful cover featuring gloss
My Review: This hard cover version of the Bible is visually appealing and appears to be well bound and sturdy. The negative for me is the very tiny print, but, I imagine that a larger size would make the book more cumbersome to handle, especially for a younger reader. There is room for notes on some pages, but not all. I do like room to take notes in my study Bible. I did expect a few more photos due to the intended age range, but I would not recommend this one for a child under 10. The thin pages may not be sturdy enough for the younger child, either.

The pages that have less room are filled with visuals and notes that illuminate the Scripture. The facts are fascinating and provide info that the reader might not realize in reading the story, or even when learning about a particular portion of Scripture in church. Again, though, they may be more suitable for 10 and up. I do love the maps, but have always loved maps in my Bible. My overall impression is positive, though, and I would recommend this Bible for a child who is ready to go more indepth is learning, especially as part of a home or church Bible study.
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Handlebar as part of their bloggers book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions 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."

 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Storms Named Cindy

Hurricane Cindy 1999
Yesterday a friend sent me a link to a story on 'Tropical Storm Cindy' which is currently in the Gulf of Mexico. Although not expected to intensify, there is still the chance of a devastating impact due to coastal flooding. I was also reminded of the impact storms named Cindy had in my life in 1999 and 2011. I dug through Facebook notes and found the one I wrote July 20, 2011:

************************************************** Tropical Storm Cindy has formed in the Atlantic

Just saw that posted and my first thought was, "I can't see or hear any news until this is gone!" I am still attempting to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Cindy 1999!! You are probably thinking to yourself, "I don't remember Hurricane Cindy." It started as a depression. I could completely relate to that! I was quite depressed myself!! Furthermore, it was off-center & difficult to locate. Oh yeah! I was trying to hide within myself since I couldn't literally escape.

The news went on about how it was becoming more intense, and becoming a tropical storm. There were stories of it organizing! Well, I was trying to organize a project I had let lapse for several years, so I used this as a spur to action. I would get organized!! I could get my life back together!! She began to fall apart, but then there was an announcement that she had reorganized and was getting stronger! Yes!! I, too, could regroup, reorganize, and grow stronger!! Go Cindy!!

Then, alas, the news came that once again Cindy had weakened and succumbed to being a depression. As I listened to the news daily and sobbed as I heard televised reports of "Cindy is indecisive and keeps going back and forth in strength.", "We thought Cindy was going to be important, but she turned into much ado about nothing", and "Cindy turned out to be completely insignificant." Of course I did not want any person, place, or thing to be harmed by a hurricane, but I was to the point that I had totally turned this into something all about me. Even now, when I look it up, it is remembered as: 
Cindy had a long track with no direct impact.
Now, comes the question of whether that is still my life. Oh, depression still comes and goes with no warning. Sometimes I think I should just change my name to Capricious. 😄

However, I did make some changes. The most important was to renew my commitment to Jesus Christ. I had not lost my faith, but I had virtually been stuck in the house for nearly 5 years following a car wreck. Walking was extremely painful & difficult, and I felt trapped. But I found a church that I could walk to, even if it was only by pushing a grandchild in a stroller. Still for several months, I did not get involved in any activities or interact with others. The fact that they needed a teacher for the 1 year old class, and my 1 year old grandson would only stay with me or his parents, spurred me to action.

Now my biggest problem is when I find myself being so busy doing work for  the Lord that I don't always spend time with the Lord. Fortunately, He does remind me when I am neglecting Him. He knows how easily I slip into bad habits...and how miserable I am when I don't spend time with Him. More than anything, I want to be His hands & feet, and serve others in His Name! So, even when I am feeling overwhelmed, there is peace in the "storm".

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. ~ Psalm 28:7

"Thunder and lightning, storms and tempests, eclipses and meteors, tornadoes and earthquakes, are proofs to all that there is a Supreme Being, who is wonderful and terrible in His acts."~ R. A. Torrey

I admit, that although I always pray there are no devastating effects, I do love stormy weather. I love that quote by R A Torrey! It always makes me think of "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." ~ Psalm 19:1 And, when I reach the end of my life I hope that it can be said of me:
Cindy had a long track with a direct impact on others through her service to her Savior.
**************************************************
Now there is a new storm and time for a new self-evaluation. There have been both good and bad changes since July 20, 2011. I am not willing to discuss them publicly right now, but thoughts are not as organized as I would like today. I will probably re-edit this at another time. Just saying that I have stepped way out of my comfort zone several times---and LOVED it!! But, I have also built a stronger, higher tower around myself for emotional protection. And unlike the history of storms named Cindy, I want to be more steady and predictable---and to be a source of good, not destruction. Of course, the first step might be to quit taking it so personal whenever I see a mention of Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Depression "Cindy" since I do know they are speaking of weather.

And, I need to quit listening to the voices of others who try to define the real me...except for those who are giving me wise counsel and drawing me nearer to Jesus.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Unique by Phil Cooke

Unique, the latest book by highly esteemed producer and media consultant Phil Cooke, is a guide to the best way of getting your message or ideas to stand out from all of the other messages received daily in our culture. The average person receives thousands of  messages in one form or another through out the day. How does a pastor or non-profit leader get a message to the intended audience? Getting your voice heard is difficult, but not impossible.


This book was previously released as Branding Faith, but was written before the popularity of social media.  The addition of 30 % new material that directly addresses both opportunities and challenges that were unavailable just a few years ago, the added information is invaluable. Unique


When Phil Cooke wrote Branding Faith several years ago, social media was in its infancy and not many considered it as a resource when advertising or promoting themselves or their product. Today, nearly everyone has a Facebook page, Twitter, Google+, or another type of social media account. Unique incorporates much of the material used in Branding Faith, but adds additional information that reflects society's dependence upon social media. Everyone is looking for the best way to reach out to others and share what they have to say. Name recognition is part of your brand and your reputation, and knowing how to use some of the more common platforms can be vital in sharing your message.

People are leery of considering themselves a "brand", but it has become a more acceptable term. Cooke explains in this book how to use your own strengths and weaknesses to put forward the best image for your own organization. If you believe in your message, you want others to hear it and to know they can rely upon you. Whether you are the pastor of a church, or the leader of a mission outreach or charitable organization, you will be able to get more people to listen and respond if they get to know who you are. We are a culture that easily recognizes brands and logos, so you want to have people recognize your name in a positive light.

If you are new to social media, the summaries of some of the most popular venues are an invaluable resource. A seasoned pro will find useful tips on changing trends and proper "netiquette".  Cooke is an acknowledged expert in this field and has written a clear, concise manual that will show you how to determine your strengths and weaknesses. You may even decide that social media is not for you, and it is better to come to that conclusion before you invest too much in it. The book has great questions at the end of each chapter to help you prepare and evaluate what your need is before you proceed. This book is full of useful tips and insights on how someone can use social media and other tools available to let your voice be heard.

The New Dad's Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of Your Life - Benjamin Watson

The New Dad's Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of Your Life by Benjamin Watson

When it comes to the unknown territory of having a baby, moms-to-be have nearly unending resources to plan and execute a healthy pregnancy and navigate those first months and years as a parent with confidence. New dads? Not so much. They want to get in the game too, but, says Super Bowl champion Benjamin Watson, "I could find clearer direction for putting together a baby swing than for taking care of a newborn child."

The New Dad's Playbook is every man's game plan to being the best partner and the best father, from pre-season (preparing for fatherhood) to Super Bowl (birth) to post-season (after baby is home). It helps men understand what their wives are going through physically and emotionally during and after pregnancy, allowing them to support their most important teammate. It tells men what to expect when their baby is home--and what to do when the unexpected happens. This tell-it-like-it-is book will take men from just winging it to winning it. (publisher)


The book was actually quite good. Watson's advice was practical and answered many questions guys may have. It was an honest look at pregnancy and fatherhood from a male perspective, including mistakes he made, thoughtful things he did for his wife, and an acknowledgment that each pregnancy is different. So, what works with one, may not with another, but the important thing is to work it out.

The importance of the parents working together as a team was an emphasis I really liked. Speaking of teamwork, the football references are a theme to the layout of the book. I am more of a casual fan, but I knew what he was talking about. But, if you are buying this for a dedicated football fan, it will be something completely relatable. I actually thought it was a fun set-up considering his football career.

Some suggestions are out of the price range for many young couples having a child, but some are adaptable. But, the practical advice and explanations of some of the things to expect or to consider are priceless information. It's not a long book, and it's easy to read---IF you are giving it to someone who will actually read it. However, it's a good book to have on the shelves for an expectant father to browse through during a pregnancy, and it is set up in a way to concentrate on a section at a time. Great book for any man who is about to become a father, whether for the first time or already experienced.

I received a copy of this book from Icon Media Group in order to review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thank God for Boll Weevils - Rhett Barbaree



"Thank God for Boll Weevils" by Rhett Barbaree is an indepth look at the Southern soul as seen through the eyes of two God-fearing young women as they grow up in the early 1900 s, deep in the "Heart of Dixie"; Grabbing your attention with its charming southern dialect, the story entertains you with a rich wit and humor that is reminiscent of excerpts you might read from an old Mark Twain passage.The primary narrator, Janie Taylor, does a superb job painting the canvas of an era, of a people who once dominated the Post-Civil War South. Janie then draws you in to her close-knit family and community where a strong Christian moral presence is exhibited and leaves the reader yearning to live in such a time and place. (publisher)

The title immediately caught my attention. I am from Alabama and my grandparents had a cotton crop, so memories of picking cotton came rushing in. It took me a few pages to get into this, but I blame that on me reading the ebook (not a fan; I prefer a physical book every time). However, I quickly got into the rhythm and fell in love with the characters who populated the pages. The background, history, and people all came together to make a story that could easily have happened just as written. It's a story of people who want to do good for their fellow man and for themselves and work together for that purpose.

Barbaree's research, combined with a wonderful wit, kept me glued to the story. Of course, I know the basic history of how the boll weevil destroyed cotton and George Washington Carver's role in bringing hope and help to the area, but that merely enhanced Barbaree's storytelling skills. The main 2 characters---one white and one black: Janie, the daughter of the owner of the cotton gin and Sipsey, the daughter of a sharecropper were best friends who both shared the dream of becoming schoolteachers. As Janie goes to all-white Troy State Normal School and Sipsey to all-black Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, they maintain their close friendship, plus there is a friendship with George Washington Carver that forever impacts not only the families and friends of Janie and Sipsey, but life in south Alabama.

But what completely pulled me into the story was an account of the symbolism in the Biblical story of Sampson. It was a "lightbulb" moment with a fresh way of looking at the story. Two other parts that deeply touched me on a spiritual level were on generational curses and unforgiveness due to deeply buried resentment. Spiritual truths, history, likeable and admirable characters, with a twist of humor in a compelling story make this a near perfect book for me. In books and movies, I like to laugh and I like something that makes me think. Thank God for Boll Weevils is 5 stars!


BONUS INFO: Read about the author's incredible meeting with a young lady who later became a victim of the Colorado shooting rampage and how it ties in with a destructive bug, the South, and faith.
Breaking Christian News/Bonnie Kate Pourciau

Article in AL.com about the writing of the novel: Rhett Barbaree Combines History with Inspiration

LINKS:
Buy on Amazon
Thank God for Boll Weevils - Facebook
Tiger Iron Press

 



I received a copy of this product at no cost to myself from the Christian Women Affiliate (CWA) Review Crew. All opinions are my own.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Can I Just Hide in Bed 'til Jesus Comes Back

Depression, fear, a sense of unworthiness, and unfulfilled dreams can make women retreat to their beds—figuratively and literally—and refuse to face life. Yet most of the time, hiding in bed makes matters worse. Who needs emotional bedsores? Authors Martha Bolton and Christin Ditchfield gently show women how to climb out from under their emotional bedcovers, face their fears and doubts, and step into the lives God has planned for them. (publisher)

Can I Just Hide in Bed 'til Jesus Comes Back? Facing Life with Courage, Not Comforters takes a look at many things that women (and men) struggle with that puts a roadblock on their relationship with Jesus and fulfilling the plan God has for them. Just like with "The Parable of the Talents" (Matthew 25:14-30), God expects you to do something with the gifts/talents He has equipped you with instead of hiding in fear. It is easy to curl up under the covers, but Life is to be experienced and shared with others.

Both Bolton & Ditchfield have had times of wanting to stay in bed and avoid Life, and have had several struggles that were sometimes overwhelming, yet both have learned practical ways to get up and get moving forward. A good sense of humor is the best way to start and these women know how to laugh at themselves and bring joy to others. In fact, Martha Bolton has written comedy for such cherished humorists at Bob Hope and Chonda Pierce, as well as writing or co-writiing over 7 dozen books of humor and inspiration. Ditchfield, an author, speaker, and host of "Take it to Heart!" loves to inspire women to have a deeper relationship with the Lord and a life of passion and purpose.

This is not a book aimed for people who are in need of professional help. The intent of the book is to encourage women to get up and get living a full life. Sometimes all you need is a giggle or a smile to reignite your passion for life. This is perfect for you or a friend who simply needs a chuckle of encouragement. The chapters are small, so read one for a quick "pick-me-up" or if a small bit of encouragement is all you can handle right now. Sometimes we all have a tendency to want to wallow in our misery for a bit. I know I have to hit rock bottom at times before the need to laugh hits me. Or, you may be in bed for a legitmate cause, and need to know there is hope. Bottom line is that I enjoyed the book and appreciated their candor and laughter.

I received a copy of this book from the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are strictly my own. 

When God Made You - Matthew Paul Turner

Through playful, charming rhyme and vivid, fantastical illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves. (publisher)

Matthew Paul Turner
blogger, speaker, and author of Hear No Evil, The Coffeehouse Gospel, the What You Didn’t Learn from Your Parents About… series, and more says that he noticed that when he read children's books that dealt on topics of faith, they did not seem as imaginative as secular books. So, he wanted to write one that would be more creative and appealing to children. Illustrator David Catrow is primarily an illustrator/author of children's books but has also been involved with several animated film/television projects. (website)



When God Made You is probably more suitable for 6-8 year old kids since there is quite a bit of text that may not hold the attention of younger kids. I liked it, but did not love it. Perhaps the author and I simply have different speech patterns, but I did not always find the words flowing as smoothly as I expect with a rhyming book, and a couple seemed a bit forced. I got a bit bored with some of the repetition, but I am many years past the recommended reading level. The bright illustrations did demonstrate a sense of joy and fun as the child was assured that she was uniquely designed by God. For that age group the message is okay, so I can overlook the emphasis on the child being the center of attention rather than being created in the image of God to reflect Him. It's good, but not great.

I received a copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah's Blogging For Books program in exchange for an honest opinion. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

You'll Think of Me - Robin Lee Hatcher

Abandoned by her mother as a child, and loathed by her father, Brooklyn thought she had found love when she eloped with Chad as a teenager. However, once she became pregnant, Chad rejected her and their unborn child. Ten years later, she gets a letter that Chad has passed away, leaving their daughter his family home and acreage.

Derek, Chad's childhood best friend, is a deputy who dreams of expanding his property to become a full-time organic farmer. Chad's promise to sell him his 10 acres is broken when he leaves all to Alycia---along with a request that Derek be the father to Alycia that she never had.

Brooklyn reluctantly returned to the small Idaho town she left as a teen, hoping to provide her daughter with a life she never experienced. Derek's disappointment over losing the land, along with long-held misconceptions about Brooklyn and her distrust of others makes for an uneasy relationship as each learns to let go of the past and build a future with the plan God has for them.

You'll Think of Me (Thomas Nelson) is an easy read and enjoyable despite some very serious topics including daughters with no father or abusive fathers, domestic violence, single parenting, lost dreams, and forgiveness. Brooklyn learns that she can trust others and be part of a community while Derek learns that if he lets go of his own plans, he can trust God to provide what he really needs. Of course, these novels follow the same basic pattern, but the fun is seeing how the author both presents and resolves conflicts in each story. I felt this was a well told story that allowed character development and without the rushed ending that is often found. I really liked it and it is great for a relaxing Summer read. 


The publisher provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Fog of Confusion

The obliteration of symbols that remind us of the past, along with revisionist history, continues to baffle me. Racism is more rampant that I have seen since the 60s (albeit people confuse racism with nationalism, ethnicity, & religious beliefs). Verbal & physical violence has replaced civil discourse. Sexism with a[n imaginary] war on women (the rules of war vary dependent upon your POV) is fluid, esp with current gender confusion --- plus people who flatly refuse to heed reasonable concerns have led to everyone being confused. Logic & common sense have fled, along with the meaning of tolerance, leaving behind people wanting to validate their own beliefs to the exclusion of any other views. Far from a utopian society we are moving toward dystopian. The leadership of our country continues to spiral downward with the selection of candidates who are ill-equipped for the job. Moral decay is destroying our nation (& I mean MORALS, not religious faith & values. A lot of distortion there, too.) and personal responsibility is at an all time low. One of the saddest things about all of this, though, is that there is a new generation of Americans who truly don't remember the good or the progress made to overcome an imperfect past. When we cover our history and refuse to respectfully listen to a viewpoint other than our own, we are limiting their ability to see how far we had come or to avoid mistakes made by earlier generations.

The above was written on June 9, 2016. One year later, we continue to wander through a fog of confusion that both saddens & angers me. People now have such a narrow vision and refuse to believe that there are valid opinions other than their own---or that what they believe may not be truthful. Facts are twisted to fit an agenda, and some may make a compelling argument...unless one is willing to examine the full picture. However, the refusal to admit one was wrong is rampant, no matter what evidence is given. Name calling and pointing fingers without realizing that you are also doing the same has weighed heavily on me. I do try to look at the views of others, but sometimes it only bolsters my POV. I have to remind myself to show compassion to those with whom I disagree. Admittedly, that sounds arrogant, but sometimes an action or words are simply wrong. My prayer is that the Lord will open the eyes of those being deceived---and that includes me. Romans 12 is really speaking to me today. Consider reading it and applying the wisdom to your own life as I hope to do.

I may edit, or add more later, but time for self-examination right now. The words of Matthew 7:3-5, "
Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?
Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye." are also on my mind.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Chazown - Craig Groeschel

Do you know your Chazown? Chazown (kha-ZONE) is the Hebrew word for the dream, revelation, or vision God has for you. Craig Groeschel explains how to live a fuller, more exciting life by finding your unique, God-given gift. To help you understand the big picture, Groeschel will walk you through identifying your own chazown through your core values, spiritual gifts, and experiences. In this updated version, you’ll find . . .

·         A brand new introduction
·         Step-by-step instructions to uncover your chazown
·         Personal stories that show the principles at work
·         “You’re the Author” activities to help you apply what you’re learning
·         “Key Thoughts” that capture and make it easy to remember crucial concepts
·          A lively, thought-provoking study guide for individuals or groups




The book is a practical method of finding and putting together the parts that form your purpose. Using 5 spokes as a guideline, we see the areas that we must work on. They are relationship with God, relationship with people, finances, health/fitness, and work. No doubt that if even one of these are not in alignment, it affects other parts of your life. 

The book has short chapters that provide an interesting view and curiosity to learn more about finding your own talents and skills. If you are looking for direction and purpose, Chazown will help you. It may be the nudge you need to move you from dreaming and thinking about how to best serve God to action. 

I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Love Letter from God: Bible Stories for a Girl's Heart

Love Letters from God: Bible Stories for a Girl's Heart is a heart-warming lift-the-flap picture book designed for girls. Written by Glenys Nellist, the book is filled with simple stories from the Bible with the focus on notable women ranging from the well-known Eve, Esther, and Mary, to the unnamed, yet important, servant girl of Naaman, the widow with the mite, and the Samaritan woman at the well. Lovely illustrations by Rachel Clowes present "snapshots" from the lives of these women that help to tell the story of each. And, of course, there are the 'lift-the-flap' Love Letters that lets children open and read special messages from God, just for them.

Naturally, these are a very simplified version of each woman's story, but a good basic introduction. I do like that Scripture references are given for more in-depth study as a child grows. There is also a simple Bible verse to go along with each story that can be easily memorized by even a younger child. The book is recommended for 4-8 year-olds, and I certainly would be cautious about letting a younger child handle the book. (I had to rescue my copy from the clutches of a one-year-old who really wanted to pull out a couple of letters). The letters from God are an affirmative reminder of God's love and that He wants to have a relationship with us.


I received a complimentary copy of this product from Handlebar Marketing in exchange for this review.