Sharing new authors, books, movies, and products with you is such a joy! If you are looking for homeschooling reviews from a transparent relaxed learning eclectic lifestyle with two active middle school boys - - you may enjoy my main blog - .

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The War on Christmas, Bodie Hodge, A Review


I’ve been wanting to share The War on Christmas, Battles in Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression by Bodie Hodge with you – and I finally have minute to share.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. I have so many different ideas about the time period between Thanksgiving and New Years. I’m not that into the whole “Happy Birthday Jesus” part of Christmas, since it isn’t His birthday.  We’ve run all away around the block as we came to terms as a family what our traditions would be. We’ve settled for paying attention to Advent – the Coming of Jesus as a baby, and the anticipated coming of Jesus in the future. We also live in America, and have fun enjoying the traditions of our community, stories and movies.

So I was surprised that I really enjoyed The War on Christmas. I thought it was going to tell me that “Jesus is the reason for the season” or that I needed to teach my kids to give to homeless and the hungry in December.

What it does, is break down several areas regarding Christmas.

In What About Christmas the book talks about Jesus, his name, when he was born, the history surrounding the day and making it relevant to this generation.

Confusion and Misconceptions dig into XMas, the Wise Men and singing Angels.

The 5 Areas presented are What About Christmas, Confusion and Misconceptions, It’s All Baby Jesus, How Christmas Came to Be, and The War on Christmas

Each part of the 5 parts of the book are straightforward and give what we have learned, that most Americans Church Goers really have quite a few bits of the story off.

In the end, it is worth celebrating, which is what we came to terms with as a family. Truth is good. Communication is great. This is a Master Books book from New Leaf Press. It holds the bar with what I’ve come to expect with presenting truth in print.

The 5 Areas presented are What About Christmas, Confusion and Misconceptions, It’s All Baby Jesus, How Christmas Came to Be, and The War on Christmas.

I received a copy of this book which was published by Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group for free in return for a blog post and a review on a company such as Amazon. My opinion is my own, and I’m allowed to be fair positive or negative. I think this is a great book, worth ordering and discussing with your family.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Sound of Music Live!

(This is an ad post)

There are quite a few fun opportunities that come my way, being part of a great blog team. I was asked to host a Faith & Family Viewing Party featuring THE SOUND OF MUSIC, live on NBC!  - They sent me monies for snacks and prizes to give out – and I said YES!

So tonight, a few of my friends are going to gather with me to watch The Sound of Music.

You have a chance to join us online:

I will be giving away a prize package of a Poster, TShirt and Soundtrack on CD

Here’s how you can win:

Tweet with the tags #faithandfamily and #SoundofMusic and tag me in it – @pebblekeeper

Join me today – you may post anytime before Friday Morning – A tweet about your excitement? A tweet about how you feel with Carrie being Maria? A tweet about why you will watch it after it posts? Anything at all – with the tags #faithandfamily and #SoundofMusic and @pebblekeeper

Extra Entry – Chat about the movie on Facebook with the tags #SoundofMusic, #faithandfamily and #AngieWright – or tag me.

I will use these entries, assign a number to each, then use random number generator to pick a winner.

Additional prizes to be shared (post-party) are: poster, t-shirt, and soundtrack on CD!



From executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron ("Smash," "Hairspray," "Chicago") comes an instant holiday classic: "The Sound of Music," based on the original Broadway musical. Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer star as Maria and Captain von Trapp in this beloved story of the young novice who falls in love with Captain von Trapp and his seven children, set against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied Austria. The jewel in the Rodgers and Hammerstein crown, "The Sound of Music" contains some of the most famous songs ever written for the stage, including "The Sound of Music," "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," "Climb Every Mountain" and "Edelweiss."

This new version of "The Sound of Music" will be a faithful adaptation of the original stage musical, to retell the story for a whole new generation. And more than that, it will be broadcast LIVE, adding a whole new level of immediacy and excitement. Get ready to reintroduce your family to the most joyful, most emotional and most musical family adventure of them all. 

Discaimer: I received a $25.00 visa card from FlyBy Promotions Blogger Network to purchase snacks for my party in exchange for a blog post and promoting the movie with hashtags. I will be able to give a prize pack mentioned above through FlyBy Promotions Blogger Network to one winner.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Can’t Wait Willow! Ideals Children’s Books, a Review

Can't-Wait Willow! from Ideals Children's Books from Ideals Books on Vimeo.

  I was excited to be able to review Can’t Wait Willow! from Ideals Children’s Books. The idea is that Willow will be faced with challenges and be unable to wait, and learn a lesson.

My son, even though he is 12, did like the book, and we enjoyed reading it.

However, there are a few weird parts to the book. She is a very young girl leaving her home and walking through town on the way to the circus, alone, with a pocket full of money. She spends all of her money and spends time all over town so she misses the circus and the cotton candy that she desired. 

Then a man gives her a free ticket for the show the next day.

She gets to return to the show the next day with a new pocketful of money, buys two packages of cotton candy, is rewarded with a front row seat and gets to ride the elephant.

My son teased that he thinks the lesson is, spend your money how you want and someone will give you everything if you look sad enough. I sort of wondered where the parents were, and why the parents would let her return again alone the next day to meet the man. He turns out to be the ringmaster, but still, sort of weird.

That aside, the book is fun to read and the illustrator did a great job, I enjoyed the graphics.

If you are struggling in this area, as we are with my youngest son, this might be a great book to get to help facilitate the conversation of missing out because you spent your time and money on the good, instead of what you really wanted.

About Shine Bright Kids:

The Shine Bright Kids series provides children and their families with a relevant framework to help instill solid values and teach the importance of making good choices. The series teaches principles including: using good judgment, taking responsibility, self-control, having a positive attitude, and demonstrating perseverance.  Check out their website at for free reward charts, activities and other parenting resources.

About the Author: 
Christy Ziglar, financial planner, mother of twins and niece of legendary motivator and the world’s original optimist, Zig Ziglar, is bringing the same timeless wisdom and ageless advice to an entirely new, younger audience through her new Shine Bright Kids picture book series. 

Christy is available for Q&A, author interviews, Skype calls, etc.!

The first book in the series:  Can't-Wait Willow!

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

Friday, September 27, 2013

Moving Forward, A Review

Moving Forward by Everett L Worthington Jr. is a book about forgiveness. How to forgive yourself.  I’ve been reading it, page by page, all summer. I was looking for ways to identify with his story, to help my husband, with a tragic suicide death.  Maybe because I’m a woman, I have a hard time identifying with him at all. Over analyze? Over Clinical? Self Forgiveness of Self – is too much for me. This seems to be a very in depth step by step transparent journey to how he forgave himself after the tragedy in his own life.  Maybe since I don’t battle with personal forgiveness it didn’t strike a cord with me. I’m choosing to post  my review, half way/ 3/4 way through the book and move on.  Ha. Or rather Move Forward.

I received this book for free from

The Secret Keeper, a Review

9780764209802The Secret Keeper, from Bethany House part of the Home to Hickory Hollow.

I so enjoyed this  - and I rarely do with a series. It felt like I was coming home to Hickory Hollow with familiar characters.

I have started to read Amish fiction less and less, especially romantic Amish fiction.

This book is different.  The main character has been visiting and corresponding with a girl from Hickory Hollow for several years.  In her Englisher life, she has cut down to the most basic simple lifestyle. Her desire is to be Amish, making it through the Proving, and be baptized and join the church.

This story gently pulls you through what the Proving Process looks like. How the community reacts to an outsider, how fear and trust, faith and hard work intertwine.  As she learns that not all of ‘The People’ are perfect and without sin, there is question in her heart if she will ever measure up. Although the book is not centered around a beau, there is a character that gives her attention and you wonder through the book if they will get together. There is no pining over him, and no long drawn out ‘thought’ script of romance.

I believe this book could stand alone, or be the best thing since sliced bread if you’ve read other books in the series.  Beverly Lewis has done it again! Well Done!

I received a free kindle version of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Grace Unplugged, The Novel–A Review

I enjoyed Grace Unplugged.  I think the audience for Grace Unplugged and Own It is more for the teen crowd, especially young ladies. If you have a young lady in your life that loves to devour books, this would be a great one for her. I have read several like the Own It book, and I think it is critical for teens and new Christians to come to terms with what they believe and why. Owning your own faith a part from your family or mentors.

About Grace Unplugged the Novel

Grace Trey is an 18 year old singer as passionate about her Christian faith as she is her phenomenal, God-given musical talent. Both traits come from her father, one hit wonder Johnny Trey who found Jesus after losing his chart success two decades ago. 

When Grace encounters her own music break of a lifetime, the sudden dive into the "real world" puts her deeper beliefs to the test. Pop superstardom is just within reach but appears to require some spiritual compromise. Will Grace reject her faith, or will she own it? 

Movie Release: October 4, 2013

Grace Unplugged is based on the motion picture of the same name starring AJ Michalka (Super 8) and Kevin Pollak (A Few Good Men) with performances by award-winning artists Chris Tomlin and Jamie Grace. 

About Own It, Discover Your Faith in God

The movie Grace Unplugged tells the story of Grace Trey, an ideal Christian teenager who is also a phenomenal singer. But when she is pushed into the “real world” at the tender age of eighteen after getting the music break of a lifetime, her faith is put to the test.

Own It mirrors the film by asking what it means to really “own” your personal faith rather than just automatically following in the footsteps of parents, friends, or other influencers. Best-selling authors Hayley and Michael DiMarco help readers understand what to do when faith meets real world challenges.

Without solid beliefs, poor choices are likely to follow. You must take the time to really know who you are, who you are becoming, and who God made you to be. It's your personal faith . . . own it! 

About the Grace Unplugged Author

Melody Carlson has sold more than five million books. A professional writer for twenty years, she recently received the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Melody has two grown sons and lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest. 

About the Own It Authors

Hayley DiMarco is the best-selling author of more than thirty books including Dateable, Marriable, Mean Girls, and The Woman of Mystery. She has been a featured speaker at Women of Faith, Precept National Women's Conference, and MOPS Intl. among others and has consulted on the creation and enhancement of some of the largest stadium events for teens and young women in North America.

Michael DiMarco is a skillled communicator and teacher who has authored more than a dozen bestselling books including the 2010 Christian Bookof the Year for Youth, B4UD8 (Before You Date). He and his wife, author Hayley DiMarco, have one daughter and live in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Grace Unplugged

  • Written by: Melody Carlson
  • Publisher: B&H Books
  • Paperback: 304 pages 
  • Release Date: September 1, 2013
  • $15.99

Own It

  • Written by: Hayley and Michael DiMarco
  • Publisher: B&H Publishing
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Release Date: September 1, 2013
  • $14.99

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Orkin Home Education Kit, A Giveaway

WIN:  Winner Announced
The Orkin Home Education Kit includes:
• 2 Orkin Factoids 11x17 Posters
     - Poster #1 - The Pollinators
     - Poster #2 - The Recyclers
• 1 Orkin bug-finding flashlight
• 20 Rubber Toy Creepy Crawly Bugs
Be your own Orkin man! Use the flashlight and fun posters to learn about how every creature plays a part in our ecosystem.
To Enter:
Winner is Purple Squirrel
Comment on this blog post – One Entry
Comment on the post on
The prize will be sent via FedEx or USPS. No P.O. Boxes please. I am working with Orkin and Orkin supplied these materials to me for posting the app on my blog. I received no product or compensation – just passing a perk to my readers.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Get Out Alive–Bear Grylls–Win!


NBCUniversal Promotional Giveaway


Comment for your chance to win a Bear Grylls Survival Bracelet from Gerber!

Disclosure: This is a promotion of NBCUniversal, and NBCUniversal supplied these materials  to the winner. I did not receive any merchandise for this review.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dandelions on the Wind, a Review

I enjoyed this historical fiction novel based in Saint Charles, Missouri.  Although this does have a “romantic” story line as the center, we also get to meet some wonderful characters in town and learn about what the women are doing in this time.  Many have come from the East Coast to build their lives in Missouri, and are now feeling the pull to join the trains of wagons headed further west.

The main character is deep and insightful. Loosing her eyesight is a secondary theme of the book. We get to hear about her close friends and the choices they have for pursuing their life passions.  This was a quick read for me. I usually dislike series style books as they just seem to drop the story on the last page. This one fills your heart with the time, the town, the characters – and gives a wonderful breaking point for the story. I long to read the second book, but the characters are safely tucked into a great stopping point in the story. I recommend this book for a great weekend read!

Maren Jensen, a rejected mail-order bride from Denmark, works as a domestic on Elsa Brantenberg's farm and helps care for Elsa's granddaughter. Maren's failing eyesight has made having a family of her own seem impossible. When Rutherford "Wooly" Wainwright returns to the farm, now a Civil War veteran, he discovers that Maren has become an important part of his mother-in-law's and daughter's lives. Maren soon realizes there isn't room for both she and Rutherford on the farm and takes a job at a store in town, making it possible for Rutherford to start fresh with his family, but her absence in the home affects them all. In the end, Maren realizes God has been lighting her path all along.
Story Locale: St. Charles, MO, 1866

"Like a warm breeze ripples across a lake, Dandelions in the Wind offers a gentle crossing in this first-in a-series novel. Mona Hodgson gives readers characters we care about, a bit of intrigue, love, and a satisfying ending that promises more in the second series book. Well done!"
-Jane Kirkpatrick, bestselling author of Where Lilacs Still Bloom.

"Dandelions on the Wind is a sweet tale about the merging of two hurting hearts. The characters drew me, and I can't wait to read more about their lives…and their love!"
-Tricia Goyer, best-selling author of 33 novels including The Memory Jar

I received this book on my Kindle for free in exchange for a review from Waterbrook Press.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Flowers for Fannie, a Review


I was contacted by the Director/Screenwriter Sharon Wilharm to review Flowers For Fannie.  I am always on the lookout for great Faith Based movies so I said yes!

However, when it came, the back of the DVD case was a grave and the front of the DVD case was the two characters above, but with a graveyard in the back instead of clouds. I really like the DVD case above a lot better. I held on the to movie for a couple of weeks until I had time to watch it by myself without the boys interrupting.

I must confess, I didn’t expect a lot out of the film. I was pleasantly surprised when, quite quickly, I was in love with Fannie and wanted a friend for her. The characters introduced as family, church members and people in town are all enchanting.

The settings are beautiful, an old time town with a square and old homes that are furnished beautifully. You really want to have an invite to Fannie’s house for lunch.

I was really pulled into this story. I laughed, and was choked up, and delighted. I worried for a too sad ending – and was again, delightfully surprised with how they topped it off.

Set to be in stores in October 2013, I recommend this movie as an excellent feel good family film, suitable for all ages.

Flowers for Fannie - Movie Website

Facebook - Flowers for Fannie

I received a free copy of the DVD from the Director in the hopes that I would review the movie after watching.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Boundaries for Leaders, A Review

Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge

By Dr. Henry Cloud
Published by Zondervan

I originally requested this book to review from BookSneeze to help out a friend, in a new office management position.  I thought I’d read it to glean some tips for my hubby who is in Retail Management.  I ended up reading every single page, and enjoying the entire read. I like the way Dr. Henry Cloud writes, how he explains human behavior and our reactions to people’s actions.

Chapter by chapter I could see circumstances and results in my own life and that of my friends. My favorite section was The Emotional Climate That Makes Brains Work. My husband works in an extremely hostile work environment, has for the last 4 years.  I could see the choices of management and the fight or flight reactions. It helped me to see what he is going through. A fresh new manager came to the store a few months ago – ready to run the company and rule the world. He has how chosen Flight and switched retail establishments throwing away a thriving career path. Nothing anyone could say to him could change his mind and make him stay. I couldn’t figure it out until this chapter. I wish I had the guts to hand this book to the three executives in charge of our store. sigh.

If you are in charge of people, and are trying to figure out how to pull your team together – this is the book for you.  If you are like me, Type A. Take Charge. Run in and Fix. – then this is the book for you.  He gives so many example of how the same things can be said and presented, in just a bit of a different twist – to take your team to a winning level. I feel like a lot of what I say is misunderstood, and this book helped to explain reactions to me.

I have enjoyed the other Boundaries books, and this was no disappointment.

From the Publisher:

Book Description

An expert on the psychology of business and a co-author of the classic bestseller Boundaries explains how the best leaders set expectations and limits to get the results they want from their employees and from themselves.

In Boundaries for Leaders, Dr. Henry Cloud combines his knowledge of human behavior, business leadership, and neuroscience to help executives lead effectively, build organizational culture, develop strong teams, and get results from themselves and others.

What is a boundary? Simply put, a boundary is a property line that defines ownership, control, and responsibility. It sets limits on the behaviors and activities allowed on the property. Similarly, leadership success depends on shaping and defining organizational boundaries. When leaders set appropriate and healthy expectations that are in line with the ways people actually behave, organizations and their employees thrive. Beginning with a lucid description of how brains actually work, Dr. Cloud then applies those principles to the most critical aspects of a leader's work: how to manage teams, coach direct reports, and instill an organization with strong values and culture.

Filled with inspiring and practical examples, Boundaries for Leaders is essential reading for executives and those who aspire to lead-professionals who want to create successful companies, with more satisfied employees and customers, while becoming more resilient managers themselves. Its practical advice brings clarity and direction, helping leaders cut through the chaos and confusion, resulting in organizations that are positive and results-oriented. In short, it defines the essential boundaries that leaders must provide for their vision to become reality.

I received this book from Book Sneeze for free in exchange for a review on this blog.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Importance of Average Joes, From WaterBrook Multnomah

It was cool to see Troy Meeder’s book pop up in my Inspired Devotional this morning. I met him at a worship session in Central Oregon. He invited my boys to sign up for a session at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch.  I can not explain adequately – how peaceful one feels when walking up the hill along the driveway to the ranch. You just have to experience it. Anyway – shared his devotion – your men would love his book – not an affiliate or a review or a sponsor or a – anything – just sharing a book for a friend from a few years ago!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Copperhead, Movie Package Giveaway!

I am pretty excited about the movie coming out on June 28th, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Spend some time on the site below – and comment on this blog for a chance to win a Cooperheaad Movie Package including:

  1. A Movie Cash gift card (good for one movie admission)
  2. A movie poster signed by director Ron Maxwell (Gettysburg, Gods and Generals)
  3. Harold Frederic's book The Copperhead, which inspired the movie

This looks like a great flick!




a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received the same merchandise in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Confession- A Movie Review


I am a long time reader of Beverly Lewis – so I quickly accepted the offer to review the film, The Confession. Unlike other Amish story lines, this one does not take place on the farm, but follows the journey of a girl trying to meet and get to know her birth mom. This is part of The Heritage of Lancaster County trilogy, book 2.

  • The Shunning,
  • The Confession, and
  • The Reckoning

It might be helpful to read the Shunning first – but the movie does stand alone. I am glad that they are putting Christian literature to film, and am glad to support them with getting the news out about it.

CULVER CITY, CALIF. (April 10, 2013) – Katie Leclerc (TV’s “Switched at Birth”) and three-time Emmy Award® nominee Sherry Stringfield (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, TV’s “ER,” 1995-1997) star in the uplifting drama BEVERLY LEWIS’ THE CONFESSION, debuting on DVD June 11th from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and AFFIRM Films/Provident Films.

Directed by Michael Landon Jr. (Beverly Lewis’ The Shunning, Love Comes Softly), the inspiring film is a sequel to the Hallmark Channel’s hit movie, Beverly Lewis’ The Shunning, and is based on the second novel of “The Heritage of Lancaster County” trilogy from New York Times best-selling author Beverly Lewis. Katie Lapp (Leclerc), a young Amish woman, goes on a journey in search of her identity -- only to find herself embroiled in a mystery that must be solved before she can be reunited with the “Englisher” mother, who gave her up for adoption 20 years earlier.  The filmalso stars Bill Oberst Jr. (The Secret Life of Bees), Cameron Deane Stewart (Pitch Perfect, High School Crush) and Julia Whelan (TV’s “Once and Again”).

About AFFIRM Films

AFFIRM Films is a division of Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA), a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) company, dedicated to producing, acquiring, and marketing films that inspire, uplift, and entertain audiences.

About Provident Films

Provident Films, a division of Provident Music Group, produces and distributes faith-based films. Nashville-based Provident Music Group, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, has been one of the world’s leading Christian entertainment companies for more than three decades.

Disclaimer:  I received a free DVD copy from Edify Media in exchange for a review on my blog.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Guardian, Beverly Lewis, A Review

The Guardian, Beverly Lewis

(A review of a free book from Bethany House.)

A wonderful book from Beverly Lewis, of course.  I like that the drama/intense moment was set in the first few pages of the book. We jump into each character quickly and fully. The story jumps from character to character until each are knitted into each other’s lives. I adore the little Sarah of the story, and her Angel as well. The use of the Englisher kept the ending a bit of a mystery.  We know that the two main Amish Characters will come together from the first page, but their journey through pain and healing and discovery is worth reading to find out. I enjoyed the “Wise Woman” and the use of family in this story to help their way. A simple weekend read, Beverly Lewis never disappoints. For those of my friends who tire of Amish Romance, the main focus of the book is between two amish characters for sure, but the other characters share center stage well.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Guardian from Bethany House in exchange for a review.

Freefall to Fly, A Review

510 JZYdx0LFreefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning

Rebekah Lyons

(A review from a free copy of a hard bound book from Handlebar – publisher – Tyndale)

I asked to review this book when I read the introduction. It is Rebecca’s non fiction story of her own life – one that was turned upside down when she moved from the suburbs of the south to New York City with children.

Reading the preview – I realized that I would identify with her journey. We had created a life of wonder in a town full of homeschoolers. The world was our oyster and choices abounded with classes, friendships, gathering, churches – we thought we had it all. And then we moved to a tiny town, due to a transfer from a retail company for hubby, with no choices, people, youth groups, or homeschoolers.  How could God think that this was best for us?

Her first year in New York City – mirrors many of the feelings I had here on the coast.

I had picked up the book to read it several times in the last couple of weeks, but it would get too personal, too hard, not light enough for an afternoon.  So I’d put it down to read some fluff. Today, during the kids’ state testing, I finally had that block of time to dig deep. Go through the journey with her. Now, don’t get me wrong, she is a light hearted writer, and shares her journey with lightness and humor. It was just a little too close to my truth.

I have nine places where I had to pull out the pencil and underline passages. I’ve already thought of a friend that I will pass it on to this week.

Many times I had to re-read through a text.

Like on page 55 – “The changes in our life must come from the impossibility to live otherwise than according to the demands of our conscience, not from our mental resolution to try a new form of life. – Leo Tolstoy”

I understood as she tried to cling to her life.  Trying so hard to find “a new form of life”. She heard Jesus say, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”

It is in this surrender, this free fall – that the book is centered on. And fall long and hard she did. She did not mince words as she brought us through her anxiety attacks, depression and disappointments. I can’t really quote the whole book to you, to share it. But I can say -

Are you walking through a difficult period? Is your life out of control? Are you experiencing panic attacks. Have you lost hope? Can you imagine a life of being free? Come walk alongside Rebekah as she finds her hope. Through her children, husband, friends, and the word.

Friday, April 26, 2013

These are the Days of Elijah, a Review

RT. Kendall weaves us through the life of Elijah, a prophet in the Old Testament. I received this book for free from Baker Publishing Book in exchange for review.  I requested this book because of the title, “These are the Days of Elijah”.  We are going to a home style church that meets on Weds and have been experiencing the presence of God in amazing ways.  I had thought that the book was more towards current times – “How God Uses Ordinary People to Do Extraordinary Things” – but it is a walk through of Elijah’s actual life. 

That aside, the book was refreshing.  If you have not studied who Elijah was, what he went through, and how he stood for the Lord, and then ran in fear of a woman, and hid when depressed – then you will want to read this book.

I really enjoy R.T. Kendall’s style of writing. Deep enough to be a wonderful Bible Study with cross references and the verses printed out in the text, yet conversational, as if you are having visits with R.T. himself as he tells you about one of his friends. I have been privileged to sit in wonderful Sunday School rooms soaking in the sharing of these great men of old. It feels just like that when reading this book.

This type of conversation and deep learning by someone who is sharing from the heart is rare. He brings the historical knowledge forward in a way one can easily understand, enriches it with New Testament references from Christ and Paul, and then brings it to your level today of how it relates to you. I have enjoyed reading pages in the evening.

I am thankful for men like R.T. Kendall who write these wonderful works for us.  I recommend this book for anyone wanting to get to know Elijah or for a small group read.

Baker Publishing Group

ISBN  9780800795375
Dimensions  5.5 x 8.5
Pub. Date  Apr 2013
SRP  $14.99

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ring the Bell, a Movie Review & Giveaway

Screen Shot 2013-04-15 at 1.29.22 PM

I am so excited to introduce the movie Ring The Bell to you!  I just have a few words to help share my enthusiasm. Matthew West. Stephen Curtis Chapman. Casting Crowns. & Baseball. If you knew me you’d realize my review was now over. Ha.

We are in the thick of Youth League Majors Baseball here in our small tourist town.  And, since I just got my car out of the shop after 7 weeks for a 3 hour job, I can just say – I could identify with this movie.

We had to watch it in two parts, some during lunch and some after baseball practice.  My husband and boys came in and out. I think I may be a great mom’s movie. I LOVED the music and the concert with Casting Crowns. I gigged at Matthew West’s role with the baseball team and enjoyed seeing Stephen Curtis Chapman as the pastor. They did a great job. I paddle on the lake with Re-Creation in my MP3 Player and have been Matthew’s #1 fan since his first drive up Hwy 101 to sing in Coos Bay many years ago.  But beside these major favorites – I just have to share that the movie content was just. so. good.

It was captivating. It is not predictable. The story turns and twists. It doesn’t go where you’d expect, and save for the hint on the cover of the DVD, you don’t really know where it ends. In fact, the end is pretty open, you really don’t know what the main character will do with his experience in this small town.


I have the opportunity to give a copy of this DVD away and you are going to want it for sure! Comment here on this blog post for your chance to win!


From the Publishers - About Ring the Bell:

Ring The Bell shares the story of a slick, big city sports agent Rob Decker who seems to have it all. But on his latest mission to sign a high school baseball superstar, Rob becomes stranded in a small town where the simplicity of life—and the faith of the people—stand in stark contrast to his own fast-paced, win-at-all-costs mindset. Torn between these two worlds, will Rob have the courage to let faith transform his life? This heartwarming story of redemption is sure to entertain and inspire the whole family.

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

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

Ring the Bell is available on DVD for only $19.99 

DVD Special Features:

  • The Heart of "Ring the Bell"

  • Casting Crowns “The Well” Music Video

  • On Set with Casting Crowns

  • Famous Faces

  • A Very Special Movie

  • Ringing the Bell
  • The Artists and Music of "Ring The Bell"

  • Website:
  • Watch the Trailer:
  • Facebook:
  • Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

    Desperate, Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe


    DesperateHope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

    By Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
    Published by Thomas Nelson

    I do remember. As I sit in my cozy chair, computer on my lap, quiet home, hot coffee and the promise of a day filled with the adventures of my two older boys. I remember.

    The early times. When they were younger. When I didn’t know. When everything was new. And a friend came alongside to help me. At first it was my best girl friend, I’d drive to her house, hand her my crying son, or sometimes just park and point to the car seat as I fell onto her couch asleep before I found horizontal.

    The Lord has brought me friends and mentors and mentors who became my best friends at each point of my journey. Now, 15 years into being a mom, some days I forget how the very fiber of my life depended on those couch moments. 

    Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson had a similar relationship.  I already loved Sally, and met Sarah Mae through this book. Through Sally’s writings, she has already been one of my mentors. Through the power and connection of Social Media, I feel closer to her as I see her life on Facebook and send messages.  This book is open and transparent. Each writer a public figure – sharing their shortcomings and victories in mother hood.  I’d say this is targeted to the younger moms -

    I would say that, but I couldn’t. As much as this is an encouragement to those new moms, it pulls out a desire, a motherly obligation, to realize I am now at the stage of helping those younger moms. This book may give you a calling to become that mentor they so need. 

    I have been a bit hesitant to swap roles, my youngest is 12. I’m not sure how they will turn out and what sort of credentials or right I have to breathe into another’s home and family. However, I don’t have to be a fix it counselor with all of the right advice. I could just be the mom who steps in for an hour to watch the kids while mom naps. Or the mom who plays games with the kids at the park, or the mom who helps a small child with their math home work with a smile on days that their mom is exhausted.

    I actually read this book some time ago, joined a FB support group going through the book chapter by chapter and have made changes in my life because of the calling I have felt. I participated in a New To Homeschool gathering at the local Library, Got involved with our weekly mom meet up on Tuesdays and have tried to have an ear open for those moms who need an extra hand around town. I have been praying that my home may be warm and welcoming to anyone who stops by and needs a rest and retreat.

    No matter where you are on this journey of motherhood, I urge you to read this book, pray about your role in the community of believers and pre-believers – and take at least a small step at either reaching out and accepting help or lending a comforting ear or helping hand.  I couldn’t help but covet the time that Sarah Mae got to spend with Sally over tea and some flowers.  But then a flood of images of those who have been there for me comforted and took the coveting away and replaced it with thankfulness.

    Book Description, From the Publisher:

    "I just can't be a mother today."

    These words have been whispered to God in quiet desperation by mothers who love their children to the depths of their soul, but who are struggling with how hard motherhood is.

    Motherhood turns you inside out. Sometimes you feel overwhelmed by how tired you feel; the days go on and on, and you want to be a "good" mom, but you feel like a failure so much of the time. What happened to all your ideals? When did you end up feeling so...lost?

    Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson have been to the edge and back. Desperate is the story of one young mother’s trials and one experienced mentor’s priceless exhortations. Desperate is not a book about despair, nor is it a rule-laden mothering manual. It is a bouquet from a friend who has been there, reminding us that we are not alone. Sarah Mae’s unvarnished account of her own struggles mothering three feisty young children is a lesson in learning patience, loving idiosyncrasies, accepting help, and—most of all—leaning on God.

    Each chapter includes a brief Bible study with journal exercises to help you find your own quiet center, and get you back into the fray soul-filled and refreshed. Written with candor, empathy, and faith, Desperate is like coffee with a trusted girlfriend; one who knows how hard being a mother can be, and how to navigate the often turbulent road.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

    The Winnowing Season, Cindy Woodsmall, a Review

    Winnowing Season by Cindy WoodsmalI just finished reading The Winnowing season by Cindy Woodsmall. This is a part 2 of a Trilogy, and I had not read part 1. I knew from Cindy’s other books that this would not be a problem. I think that is why I love her books. Each can stand alone, but when you start reading, it’s like you are catching up with an old friend.

    I enjoyed the struggle that the characters went through, and the development of each one. There are enough characters and situations that you don’t feel like you are following one story line. Three main characters each have their own struggle, with a few extra side story lines to help thicken the story. A strong love triangle mixes through this series, and I enjoyed the journey. Outside of that triangle, this story is set in current day following a group of people who want a new fresh start. They are willing to be pilgrims of sorts, travel to Maine, purchase an 80 acre apple orchard, and use each of their skills to restore the orchard, properties, and livestock. Their hope it to start a new area to live in, with a few other families making plans to join them. They meet some fun characters that live in the town, and interact with the English quite  bit. This is more about their moving, hard work in the Orchard, organic farming, and trying to take care of their pasts than a simple Amish home based story. The parents play a limited role, no grandparents are mentioned, Shoe Fly Pie, Root Beer and Creamed Celery are missing along with tables laden with food. There are no weddings, and only a brief mention of fresh bread. This story is about the struggle of people trying to start over, who happen to be Amish. I carried the book with me everywhere for a couple of days in hopes of snagging a few minutes time to read more – until I finished it this morning. If you are in need for a great vacation book or a weekend read, and you enjoy Amish books – this one is delightful.

    The Winnowing Season by Cindy Woodsmall (Sneak Peek) by WaterBrook Multnomah

    Disclaimer: I received a free e-book in exchange for a review. I am participating in a contest by submitting the trailer and first chapter. I enjoy Blogging for Books and am glad to be a reviewer for them.

    Tuesday, April 16, 2013

    One Glorious Ambition: Book Review

    One Glorious Ambition : The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix, a Novel

    Jane Kirkpatrick


    On Sale Date: April 2, 2013
    9781400074310, 1400074312
    Paperback / softback / Trade paperback (US)
    $14.99 US / $17.99 Can.
    Fiction / Historical
    Paperback Original





    By now, as a reader of my reviews, I’m assuming you know that Jane Kirkpatrick is my favorite author. Jane has a way of finding women who have done interesting things, in times that women were expected to sweep out soddies, entertain families, and bring up children.  I have a feeling that Dorothea Dix is personal to her, since her “glorious ambition” pertains to the the mentally ill and Jane worked in this field for many years.

    This is definitely not a romantic novel, as Dorothea remains single throughout the book. I know many of you love historical fiction and dislike romance novels.

    As a homeschool mom, I really enjoyed this book. We’ve been studying The Art of Argument and the Discovery of Deduction. We have a couple of Homeschool Dads in the Bend area that have successfully run for Oregon seats in government. The Homeschool Testing bill is up again this year and they are asking for testimony.  There is a huge process, in getting laws in place or changed – that require argument on the floor. Dorothea spends many years in Washington DC arguing for her bill to help the mentally insane.

    Also going on during this period is the thought of the states and slavery. Abolitionists are also trying to get time before congress to argue their points.  We just finished watching Lincoln – and I could physically see the environment that Dorothea would have had to argue in. I could see her up in the seats trying to be a lady, urging her chosen spokesman to argue her bill through. I could feel her disappointment time after time.

    What can one woman do to change thousands of lives in America?  She doesn’t just wait for the Federal Government to change; she gets involved at a local city and state level. This has been my cry for the last few years. Yes, we need to be heard in Washington, but what are you doing in your state to make the spot you live better? Are you supporting your Representatives and Senators at a State level?  She got quite a bit more done targeting local entities.

    This was a great read. As usual, following a live person’s life, it is not full of mystery, twists, turns, crying, gnashing of teeth – this is following the life of a real person, through her real life, while she does extraordinary things and makes choices we agree, and sometimes disagree with. You really want to know how she gets on, and you’ll feel compassionate to her losses and gains along the way, and it will leave you wishing you could have helped her.

    A perfect weekend read.

    From the Publisher:

    A compelling women's historical novel based on the life of a woman who refused to be defined by her past, conventional Victorian thinking, or the people around her-and changed the face of mental illness in the 19th century.
    Growing up in household full of pain and tragedy, Dorothea Dix thought she was destined for nothing more than teaching and to raising her two younger brothers. She opened her first school for girls when she was fifteen and by twenty-three, was a best-selling author living an orderly and disciplined Boston life. But a visit to a prison to teach Sunday School to women in 1841 launched a new path for Dorothea, one that would turn her personal hardships into great strides for the less fortunate. Dorothea fought for the lives of those with mental illness, the poor and prisoners. Her political savvy, rare amongst women in her time, challenged those who made the rules in the almshouses, debtor prisons and private homes where mentally ill people were often chained and forgotten. Those tragic souls changed Dorothea, too, illuminating the path of peace within her own suffering and bring her "a happiness which goes with you."

    A GREAT BOOK CLUB PICK: The themes of mental illness and fighting on behalf of those that can’t fight for themselves will inspire deep discussion.

    Disclaimer: I received this book for free as part of BloggingForBooks.Org in exchange for a review.

    This is Our Time: Movie Review & Giveaway



    We watched This is Our Time as a family on Sunday afternoon. The movie opens as a mixture of Christian friends and siblings are graduating college and walk with them the first year that they are out on their own. To be honest – the story has a pretty slow start. Introducing us to each character. It has a very strong Christian Theme – but with nothing in particular other than wealthy young adults who use the words God and Christ and Pray quite a bit. They want to “Do what God Wants” and are sent on “Missions for God”. They make a choice of whether to pursue God’s Mission or their own financially secure careers. My husband did ask if this was the most boring overly “Christian” movie we had ever watched. I had to think that this quite possibly could be. Even a Veggie Tale Character doesn’t reference the fact that they are Christian this much.

    However, we had just finished watching a RedBox movie. In it, we heard so many curse words that mentally, I had to turn it off and I was glad the boys were no where near to hear.  It was expected, since it was centered around the mafia and illegal gambling. I did feel convicted that it is expected for a criminal to use foul language but feels uncomfortable for a Christian to say over and over that they are one.  Something to think about.

    About 2/3 of the way through the movie, a shift in the story comes, and from then on out, it picks up steam, emotion and surprises. It really was worth watching the very slow part to get to the end.

    Part of the heart of the company putting this on is to encourage young people to go out and work in the mission field. My favorite part is where one of the characters comes to the reality that God cares more about who we are, and who we become, than what we “do” for Him.

    We’ve been there with Youth Groups and Church Groups trying to find a movie that would appropriate for the entire gathering. I would recommend this movie. The attire is very modest, the relationships are very healthy, and the twists are normal and not over dramatized. The denomination of the group is unclear – so any denomination who Loves God and Christ and has a mentor in their life will identify. At graduation, I thought the mentor was a priest but he was wearing a staff graduation gown. He is a ‘professor’, they do not use the words pastor or such to describe. I could not find one offensive part that young eyes would not be able to view.

    Here is the rundown from the publisher:

    About This Is Our Time

    The movie tells the interwoven stories of Luke (T.J. Dalrymple) and AlĂ© (Erin Bethea), who marry right after school and move to India to serve as missionaries for Embrace A Village, a ministry that cares for those afflicted with leprosy and their families; aspiring financier Catherine (Kate Cobb), who joins a prestigious financial institution determined to make an impact on corporate America; Ryder (Matthew Florida), who lands an impressive job in social media and can’t wait to use the powerful medium for a greater good; and Ethan (Shawn-Caulin Young,) seemingly the odd man out, who struggles to find his God-given-purpose and feels sidelined by God.

    “What they all come to learn is that it never really was their time,” Arnold said. “It always was, always is, God’s time.”

    "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. 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."

    Comment to enter into a drawing to have a DVD mailed to your home.

    Monday, March 18, 2013

    Home Run, Freedom is Possible–A Review and Giveaway


    I quickly answered the request to review Home Run a novelization by Travis Thrasher based on the original movie. This movie follows after similar genres such as Fireproof and Courageous. As those movies were to Marriage and Fatherhood – Home Run is to Addictions and Celebrate Recovery. On the whole, the book is rather predictable, and knowing that “no one is beyond the healing of God” one is pretty sure that the main character Cory Brand will come to his senses.

    As far as fiction books go – I really enjoyed this one. The story pulled me in quickly and it was a great weekend afternoon read. The story’s main  line runs through Cory Brand’s anger and recovery. At the beginning of each chapter you get a peek at his childhood and growing up years to see why he developed alcohol addictions and anger.

    From a mom’s perspective – I’d question how much of this story would occur in the real world. Many women may read this book or watch the movie thinking it might be as powerful as the first two. However, I am not sure how much this over the top story will leave people identifying with the characters.

    So I have to give it two opinions – One – As a Fictional Christian Based story-  it ROCKS. Second – Thinking this would really show me a lot about Celebrate Recovery and how people go through it – I’m not sure that this book will pull people in.

    For a disclaimer – to the book and the movie – this guy’s life is really raw. Drinking. Girls. Stories of Incest and Rape. One nighters. Children who are physically and emotionally abused.  I can’t recommend this as a family film to watch with the 10 and under crowd.

    • Website
    • Facebook
    • Twitter - HomeRunTheMovie
    • More Info

    • Author: Travis Thrasher
      Book - Paperback Trade 
      ISBN: 0781408385
      ISBN-13: 9780781408387Item #: 125960

      From the Publisher: Baseball star Cory Brand knows how to win. But off the field, he's spiraling out of control. Haunted by old wounds and regrets, his future seems as hopeless as his past.
      Until one moment-one mistake-changes everything. To save his career, Cory must go back to the town where it all began. His plan is simple: coach the local baseball team, complete a recovery program, and get out as fast as possible. Instead, he runs headfirst into memories he can't escape ... and the love he left behind.
      Faced with a second chance he never expected, Cory embarks on a journey of faith, transformation and redemption. And along the way, he discovers a powerful truth: no one is beyond the healing of God. A novel based on the major motion picture starring Vivica A. Fox and Scott Elrod, Home Run is an inspirational story of the hope and freedom God offers each of us.

    About the Author

    Travis Thrasher is the author of more than a dozen works of fiction, including The Solitary Tales series, Isolation, and Ghostwriter. His writing is known for its honesty, depth, and surprising twists. Thrasher lives with his wife and daughters in Chicago.

    "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


    Comment below to be entered into the drawing

    . Comments will be counted and a random number will be chosen by a third party. I will contact the winner by e-mail. If a e-mail isn’t easily found, a second winner will be drawn. The book will be mailed to the winner within 2 weeks of winning.

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    Firefly Island

    This is a strange little book; strange in a good way. I enjoyed the journey of a congressional staffer changing her life from Washington DC to living by a lake in Texas.  I worked professionally for many years before having kids, and remember some of her journey as my own.  She gets married soon in the book, so there isn’t the book long love romantic story. But it does talk through how two people combine their lives and live out in love, bringing in the love of a child.

    One thing that I liked – was the beginning of each chapter. A quote to start them out. We are memorizing a children’s poem by Ogden Nash, so it caught my attention when I saw “To keep your marriage brimming, With love in the loving cup, Whenever you’re wrong, admit it; Whenever you’re right, shut up.” Ogden Nash.

    This was my first highlight out of 11 for this book in my Kindle Fire. I love the way she writes, “It wasn’t’ in the tides that the breath of God could be found, I decided, but in the water itself, in the endless rhythm of it, ever present, ever constant, louder amidst the storms of life, softer in the peaceful times. Not a god only moving twice a day like the mythical Tangaroa, but a God moving countless times. Always. Continually A God present in the deepest parts of our lives, sometimes crowded out by all the surface clutter as we stroll along the shore, our minds preoccupied with things that seem important. Then a wave rises higher than the rest, strokes soft and cool over sun warmed skin, and we hear it again, the constant breath of God. We think, How could I not have heard that all along?”

    As you can see from above, I just loved it when Mallory ‘thought’ in the book. My other connection with Mallory – was that she turned to blogging to log her adventures. Which, when we moved to Devils Lake – is what we did. Mallory shares, “An amazing thing had happened to me in my first weeks of blogging. Because I was writing about adventures, I started not only  seek them out, but to see them all around me. In seeing the adventure of this place, I’d begun to truly live my life, rather than hiding from it and complaining about it.”  I did find it a bit cheesy that she was the ‘Frontier Woman’ and one of my favorite bloggers is the Pioneer Woman. She’s not really in the Frontier, and it was just a little too close for me, but I quickly got over it.

    Bottom line – I really enjoyed this story. The story has many paths. There is never a time reading it where you think you know where it is going and decide to read it out to make sure. I recommend this book for sure.

    Book Description

    Publication Date: February 1, 2013
    At thirty-four, congressional staffer Mallory Hale is about to embark on an adventure completely off the map. After a whirlwind romance, she is hopelessly in love with two men--fortunately, they're related. Daniel Everson and his little boy, Nick, are a package deal, and Mallory suddenly can't imagine her future without them.
    Mallory couldn't be more shocked when Daniel asks her to marry him, move to Texas, and form a family with him and motherless Nick. The idea is both thrilling and terrifying.
    Mallory takes a leap of faith and begins a sweet, mishap-filled journey into ranch living, Moses Lake society, and a marriage that at times reminds her of the mail-order-bride stories. But despite the wild adventure of her new life, she discovers secrets and questions beneath her rosy new life. Can she find answers on Firefly Island, a little chunk of property just off the lakeshore, where mysterious lights glisten at night?


    Dislaimer: I received a Kindle Fire Download for free in exchange for an honest review on my blog.

    Sweet Scent of Justice–Debbie Wilson

    From the first paragraph, I was drawn in. Which surprised me because I found this book when Debbie Wilson contacted me a while ago to review a book she wrote about her story. I said yes, wanting to hear it, but not with full confidence of thinking it was going to be a great non fiction novel.

    The story is written in first person. From Debbie’s perspective. It is gripping. Each page leaves you wanting to flip to the next.  What happened? Will they ever know? And as I read this story that goes through many years, my heart started to break with Debbie and her family. Feeling her pain. I was hearing the story in a day, the heart breaking one that she lived her life with.

    Without giving the ending away – We have had two instances where resolution came in the exact same manner as her story this week. Two criminals that had done something to our family, and their capture was just like the Sweet Scent of Justice.

    Looking for a wonderful read? Are you nervous about many of the books out right now? This one will pull you in, race with adrenaline, bring you on the edge of your seat to scream unfair, yell at the family to get it together, cry on their shoulders and rally to justice together. It’s a good ride. I could see this becoming a film in the future.

    Thank you Debbie for sharing your story with wonderful words and transparency. Thank you for sharing your story with me.


    Sweet Scent of Justice WilsonTwenty-two years had passed since Kathy, a sophomore in college and a girl dedicated to living for her God, was brutally killed in her small college town. Twenty-two years of silent holidays and hidden family portraits kept the painful past under control, until Debbie Wilson ascended into the attic of her parents home on a secret quest to uncover the truth of her sister's unsolved murder and bring her killer to justice. Wilson could never have imagined how the triumphs and trials of her pursuit would force her to test her faith in God, belief in justice, and duty to forgive. Sweet Scent of Justice is a true crime memoir by a sister who experienced the miraculous ways God works in the lives of His children when they need His guidance the most. It offers hope and encouragement for those experiencing trials and tribulations in their lives. Wilson's personal tragedy strengthened her faith and belief in Christ, and it will strengthen yours too. Debbie Wilson

    Disclaimer – I received a free PDF of this book to read on my Kindle in exchange for a review on this blog.

    Monday, March 11, 2013

    JJ Heller Loved, a Giveaway


    I must have been living in a music hole under a rock – since I  have not been introduced to JJ Heller until this month. I received the JJ Heller LOVED CD to review. Before I agreed, I watched the video above, Who You Are. It is one of my favorite songs on the CD, and one that keeps playing when I walk about or swipe a dish.  “I don’t know what you’re doing, but I know who you are”. It has been a theme in my personal life the last few months for sure.

    JJ Heller has a quite quirky style. Maybe the female Christian version of Jack Johnson or Owl City? Her style is quite unique and her videos are fun, simple, enjoyable to watch.

    I need music to lift my spirit, direct my thoughts, and to help with exercise.  Before I review a CD I like to bring it through those paces. I started with the CD playing at home during the morning. The music is light and quiet. Not distracting to other conversations. The first time through, other than “Who You Are” the lyrics did not pull at my attention.

    Next I put the CD on my Amazon Cloud Player and downloaded the songs to our iPods and MP3 player. (I use a cheapo MP3 Player on the water.) Washing dishes and doing chores, I let it take over my thoughts during the mundane of the day. This is when my thoughts can turn to the what if’s, the need to’s, the don’t wannas – and I  depend on music and memory verses to pull out.  I enjoyed focusing on the lyrics. Some are quite raw, yet full of encouragement. “The pain is real, you can’t erase it, sooner or later you have to face it down”. “If I can talk, then I will sing for you, if I can walk, then I will dance for you, as long as I can Breathe, My heart will beat for you”.

    I didn’t get to paddle with this CD, but I did get a nice long beach walk. I found myself hitting replay on “Stay”. When you can’t feel a thing, after too many stings, when you forget about grace, the world is a lonely place.” She encourages us to open our eyes, let in the light, and stay. I listened to the simple lyrics several times, and they just spoke to me. “Create in Me” was another one that got the re-play. Before I knew it, I was at the Inn at Spanish Head and moving back to the parking lot. It kept my feet moving and my thoughts lifted up.

    JJ Heller’s LOVED comes out on March 12th – I recommend this for a purchase!

    About JJ Heller's LOVED

    When JJ Heller and her husband/co-writer, Dave, began writing for their sixth studio album LOVED, life looked a few shades darker, more painful and confusing than it had during the work on their work of the recent past. Over the past few years, the duo steered much of their material toward the whimsical and simple joys of life, love and new parenthood. But, when confronted by illness, death and broken marriages within their community, the Hellers chose to stay true to the weight of their season of life when crafting lyrics this time around.

    "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.



    Comment below to let me know you’d like a chance to win a CD!

    I will draw for a  winner and the CD will be mailed out.

    Friday, March 1, 2013

    VeggieTales–The Little House That Stood–Giveaway!


    We spent a fun evening watching The Little House that Stood. There are a couple of short films and a couple of songs on this new VeggieTales video. Even at the older ages, the boys still hung out to see what would happen. This would make a great gift for your family – or for a family with little ones. I think you will enjoy it! We did.


    About The Little House That Stood

    When the Three Little Pigs roll into Cabbageville looking to build some new houses, they meet one builder with a plan and two without a clue! Larry builds with hay, Mr. Lunt with bricks, but only Bob builds his houses on a firm foundation - following the wise plans from the Master Builder's Handbook! Will the Little Piggies make the right choices when it comes to building their houses - and their lives - on solid ground? Find out in this parable that shows kids when they follow God's blueprints, then can stand strong when the storms come! 

    "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. 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."

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

    Abel’s Field–Redbox Hit!

    Looking for a movie tonight at Redbox? We saw Abel’s Field in our local kiosk. (Check to see if your Local Kiosk Has it!) It is story of two lives that intertwine and end up saving each other.  One a young student, raising his sisters on his own.  One a lone man working for the school. Their journey together throughout about a year’s time is compelling.  It pulls you in quickly and leaves you wanting and longing until the end. 
    My boys and I watched this together in the afternoon. My oldest stayed with it, (15), and my youngest wondered off (12). It’s not really a feel good movie. It’s gritty. There are emotions. The characters are in situations that make you sort of scream at the screen. And although a faith based company puts these out, the lives portrayed are not goody goody and whole. There were a few times that I wanted to just call a few characters from the movie and give them a what for.
    We have had a lot of bad luck with Redbox movies – this movie I can gladly recommend.
    From the Publishers:
    • Abel's Field
    • AFFIRM Films/Provident Films
    • Releases January 22, 2013
    About Abel's Field
    Left motherless by tragedy and abandoned by his father, high school senior Seth McArdle (Samuel Davis) faces enormous pressure as he strives to support his little sisters. At school, he endures the daily bullying of the football team. But fighting back only finds him singled out for punishment and assigned to an after-school work detail under the supervision of the reserved groundskeeper, Abel (SOUL SURFER’S Kevin Sorbo). Much to his surprise, Seth discovers that Abel may be the only one who truly understands his struggles. As dark times lure Seth toward desperate measures, the reluctant Abel may be the one person who can point him back toward the light.
    "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

    Etched Upon My Heart


    Link to Etched Upon My Heart

    I was able to review this book the past few weeks.  I have opened it, read a couple of chapters, and then set it down.  I like her writing style. I love her passion. Her history is heart warming and breaking all at the same time. However, I just couldn’t get into it. I do have friends with girls who have stated that it was the best book they have read in a long time and they are thrilled to have it to help them with their daughters. I’m not sure if that was the disconnect for me? Having sons? Jill Kelly’s story is wonderfully written. It will speak to your heart. I could have been in a funk when reading it, or busy, or with my cold. I really wanted to enjoy this book as much as my friends did. I will pick it up again.

    “Heartfelt and honest, this book overflows with the deep desires and inspired longings I have for the two young girls I love beyond words. It addresses the common passion, hopes, and dreams that every mother has for her children.”

    From the Publishers:

    About the Author:
    Jill Kelly is the wife of former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. In September 1997, months after their infant son, Hunter, was diagnosed with a fatal disease called Krabbe Leukodustrophy, Jim and Jill founded the Hunter’s Hope Foundation. As chairman of the board of Hunter’s Hope, Jill helps children suffering from Leukodystrophy, and their families by raising awareness and research funds to fight this devastating disease. She and Jim live in Buffalo, NY, with their two daughters and three dogs. Hunter’s Hope Foundation can be found online at Jill is also the author of Without A Word.

    "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    Lord, I Give You This Day

    Lord, I Give You This Day

    Lord, I Give You This Day by Kay Arthur

    I’m on day 22 of this little devotional book. Hard bound with a pretty ribbon to mark my day. Slightly larger than the spread of my hand, it fits in my bag or on my chair table. Since I’ve had it, each day has infused God’s word and a bit of encouragement into my day.

    A few mornings ago we were talking about a character / sin issue in our home. And I said we’d do some bible study about it later. I went into my room to pray, be still, take a ‘mom time out’. I opened “Lord, I Give You This Day”.  It was January 16, I read these words: 

    Keep these questions before you today: Can a person really be saved and deny God’s right to rule over his life? Can you call Him “Lord,” refuse to do the thing he tells you to do and still go to heaven? Read Matthew 7:21-27 and meditate on Jesus’ words.

    I called the boys in later, we read the day’s devotion together and read Matthew and another suggested verse in Luke 6:46 – Why do you call Me, ‘Lord,Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

    My son sort of gasped.  “How did it know?”  The Bible is living and breathing. The Holy Spirit anxious to bring us closer.

    I love little devotional books. I own several. However, I see a trend in authors to want to bestow little happy thoughts to the reader. I don’t want a little happy thought book. That’s why God created Facebook. ha. I want to be encouraged, In the Word. I want to be admonished – In the Word. Exhorted in the Word. Hugged – In the Word.

    When I saw that Kay Arthur, the one that turned my whole heart to the Word, had a daily devotional – “366 Appointments with God”, I knew it would be full of His Word, and less of hers. I am glad, so glad, that I was not disappointed.

    Are you in a busy season? Need a simple way to be in the word daily?  This may be what you are looking for.  I encourage you to check it out!

    "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

    Monday, January 21, 2013

    The Utter Relief of Holiness

    The Utter Relief of Holiness, by John Eldredge, was offered to me by FlyBy Promotions to read and review. I thought about it. To be honest, John Eldredge has not always been a favorite author of mine. He is raw. The first book I read seemed unpolished. Jagged. It was back when I as more concerned with ‘looking’ like a Christian, and had not spent time just trying to ‘be’ one. Have you been there?  If you are a Christian you have to look and act a certain way? If you are a preacher you have to speak a certain way. Clean. Spiritual. Biblical. Focused.

    We started going to a congregation that spoke to the men in the audience – in a language that they could understand. Knowing that all men walking through the doors are not 20 year seasoned deacons of biblical studies. I remember that first Sunday when they spoke of Halloween, (Did they just use that word in a church service??) and talked of who Satan is. The lights went out and a scene from Star Wars played. Darth Vader, walking towards us.  The pastor comments – “Satan is not going to come to your house, in a Darth Vader suit, theme music playing – with a horrid case of asthma, he’s much trickier than that”.

    And such it is with John Eldredge. He knows what you struggle with. He knows what movies you identify with. He shares from that point. I have grown to enjoy the style of living my Sunday – the same way I live my Tuesday.

    As my walk has grown, so has my peace, hope and joy. Which brings us back around to this book -

    What if? What if the one thing that you struggle with the most, were no longer a struggle? What kind of relief would that bring?  Simple/hard things, for me would be car maintenance. Extra money after bills. Losing the desire to have a sweet snack before bed. Anxiety attack at quickly changed plans. Anger when being lied to.  What an utter relief to not have these little things in my life.

    What about Holiness?  Do you struggle trying to Be Holy? Have you ever even tried? John balances the need for us to be whole, in order to be Holy. To be Holy, one needs to be whole.  I was worried that I might not have time to finish the book before the review date – and that wasn’t a problem. I read it in 2 days. I have a list of people I want to lend the book to.

    Laid out in 2 sections, the Surprise of Holiness and The Way to Holiness, John gives simple identifiable goals to be whole and holy.

    I have  hard time – thinking of parts to share. I’d love to share the question on Chapter 5, but it was a surprise to me. That he would ask it, after convincing us we knew the answer. and then, point blank asking – wow. But if I shared the question with you, it would ruin the build up . I’m still pondering it. I find myself asking the question, searching, as I’m driving or walking the beach this week.

    We had an issue with living with holiness with the boys, and in “Choosing the Way of Holiness”, I had to stop and read a few pages to the boys.  On page 111, John shares a visual of leaning into Jesus, holiness.  Using Snowboarding as an example, the three of us understood. Standing at the top of the snow hill. Watching so many elated snowboarders enjoy the slope.  Yet, standing up, on this small board, one must lean back, while heading straight down, the idea that gravity would have you on your rear, pulls at you to lean forward too far, it’s a balance. Somewhat like riding a bike, when you get it, its yours, and the joy is yours, but you have to lean. He went on to talk about surfing, our current passion. He shares:

    “I’ve watched friends who are surfers, and it’s the same dynamic. There is a moment when you have to commit; you have to go with the wave or not. yes, there is some paddling on your part, but when the wave picks you up, your choice is to let it, to go with it, to accept its power and let it hurl you forward. you don’t create the wave; the wave power is utterly beyond you. Once it has you in its mighty grip, your part is to cooperate. Then the beauty comes. Holiness works the same way. What I mean is this: The Power is not ours. The power comes from God, from the presence of the living Jesus Christ inside us. He is the wave.  If we think we have to paddle fast enough to create the entire experience, we will end up frustrated and exhausted from all the striving The name for that is Religion. God offers something far better: “Let me be the wave.” “Quote by John Eldredge.

    Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13.

    The boys and I identify with this at a base core level. I started stand up paddling a year ago. I can’t tell you how strange it is for my body to stand up on a thin board, in a cold lake. It took me days to try. I’d sit, kneel, but not stand. Once I did decide to stand it was near a dock, clinging to the ladder as I stood more with the support, than trusting the board to hold me. I was sure that as soon as I stood up, I’d be flipped into the cold current.  Now, a year later, I can stand up, sit down, lay down, pup up, walk on the board, do a few yoga poses, I even took my wetsuit booties off on the board in the middle of a river once. I can walk off the dock directly onto the board. Besides hitting a dock on a very small race board, I have never accidently fallen off since that first week. I’ve always done something on purpose, to get into the water.

    And that is how I feel with this holiness / whole ness issue.  I see many people around me – not even trying to be holy. Or whole. They feel it is for someone else. Those people doing it – they must be more fit, stronger, more agile. In the holiness sense, they must have more experience, more knowledge, a closer deeper walk, they must be better, the must not struggle, so you decide not to even compete. Not to even try. Why try – as soon as you try on the label of holy, you’ll just get knocked over. At least it’s a great view from the shore or the top of the mountain watching others fly by.

    Are you tired? Do you struggle with the daily life? I have . I REALLY have this past month.  This book – really helped me to snap out of it. To be whole again. To pursue holiness. To pursue the Love of Jesus. I have so many people I want to just read this book to!

    I noticed on the website that there is a buy one get one for a friend free going on. The link is above.

    If you leave a comment, you’ll be entered to win a copy of the book as well.

    When you see this at your local bookstore – Grab it.

    About the Author: John Eldredge has written 12 books, including Beautiful Outlaw and New York Times bestsellers Wild at Heart and Captivating (written with his wife Stasi). His books have sold more than 8 million copies. He is the Director of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God. It has become a grassroots phenomenon with millions of followers.

    Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Utter Relief of Holiness in exchange for reading the book and posting my free opinion of it on my blog by a specific date.