Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!!

Luke 2:11
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.



My Mom and Dad at Christmas Eve Candle Light Service.
Merry Christmas!! 

This is my favorite pic of the entire weekend. I had the privilege to join my parents for the celebration of Christ's birth at their church...Wesley United Methodist Church. It was beautiful. I grew up understanding that Christmas is about our Lord. It is a celebration of the birth of Christ....our Savior!

I am thankful for family tonight...and for the gift of a Savior...Jesus! He truly is the light of the world!!

Friday, December 9, 2016

There Will Always Be Enough...The Future Is In His Hands

So that there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come. Genesis 41:36

The Lord holds today and tomorrow
in the palm of His hand.
Do not be afraid.
One of my all time heroes of the faith is Corrie ten Boom. I love her writing and her life story! She was filled with faith and courage. She has mesmerized me sense high school where I was originally introduced to her kindness, compassion and strong belief in Jesus Christ. 

Many mornings, my daughter and I begin our day reading one of her devotionals together from a book called: Each New Day. I have the original version published in 1977, however there is a new version with a beautiful cover and perhaps organized in a different manner, available on Amazon. (Click here if you're interested in purchasing it. It is Christmas time you know...great gift idea!)

Anyway, this morning's reading was beautiful...as always. It is a gentle reminder for me and maybe you today, that we don't need to fear tomorrow. The Lord holds today & tomorrow in the palm of His hand!

The following is a copy of the December 9 Devotional:

Joseph filled the barns in the time of plenty to be prepared for the time of famine. (see Genesis 41:29-36) Gather the riches of God's promises which can strengthen you in the time when there will be no freedom. Nobody can take away from you those texts from the Bible which you have learned by heart.

Lord Jesus,
We do not fear the future because we know You who have the future in Your hand. What a joy to know that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Movie Review- To Joey With Love: A Story of Life, Love & Hope

1 Corinthians 13:13 (MSG)
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. 


Before I begin...let me just say that I am having a drawing for a free DVD copy of this amazing film. Look to the right side of my blog. See the Rafflecopter? It starts at midnight tonight and will end December 20, 2016. I will email the winner! 
Be sure to stop back by my blog or my Facebook Page @OnlyALittleWhile and sign up!

The movie, To Joey, With Love: A Story of Life, Love & Hope That Never Dies  (click on the preceding title for the official trailer) is presented by Provident Films a Hickory Films production. The film will be released in DVD format & ON-Demand December 20th, 2016. (Order by clicking here.) It is classified as a PG film in the documentary genre. It was written, filmed and directed by Rory Feek. Production is by Aaron Carnahan. 

Movie Critic Reviews 

A beautiful film that captures the true
meaning of the message to
"trust steadily in God", as described in
1 Corinthians 13:13.
"I walked away with a greater appreciation for the brevity of life and with a goal of loving those around me even more."
Christian Examiner

"The movie leaves viewers with an urgency to live every day as if it is a gift, thank God for what He has given, and enjoy the simple moments of life."
Movieguide®

"The film will inspire you to love deeper, and to grab every opportunity in every moment."
Christianity Today


My Personal Review

To Joey, With Love is a touching documentary narrated by Rory Feek. The film chronicles the story of the past two years with his wife Joey Feek. Their journey through the birth of their first and only daughter, Indiana is highlighted, as well as Joey's diagnosis with cervical cancer. The emphasis is placed on the path of learning to trust God's plan for their lives, rather than relying on their own direction. It is a compilation of live footage filmed mostly from their home which is about an hour from Nashville, Tennessee. 


Here's my take-away from this movie. First, I found myself wishing from the very beginning that I had been a part of the Joey+Rory Fan Club. The brief shots of some of their concerts made my heart warm, not only due to the beautiful music, but also because of their interactions with one another. 



Secondly, I found the movie to be extremely transparent and pure. Much of the time, I had the feeling that I was viewing something sacred. Let me explain. Because the filming is live and this family is simply living their "story", there really isn't any "acting" going on. The impromptu footage shows clips from the actual birth of their daughter (albeit discrete footage), daily chores on their homestead, phone calls, physician consults, morning routines, meals, prayer circles and lots of spontaneous family interactions. Watching such natural and unposed scenes will illicit a broad spectrum of feelings. 


The range of emotions experienced by the viewer runs the full continuum from happiness and laughter to fear and sadness. As you participate in Rory, Joey and Indiana's lives, you realize that this is not a film for my "entertainment" per se, but rather it generates a reflective experience creating a pause and recognition of the sanctity of life. This is a movie with the potential to assist in bridging the gap between this temporal world and the next. The sincere way that Joey and Rory applied the promises that God has given us in His Word is somewhat mind boggling. 


Finally, I think the target audience for this movie is very broad, but somewhat unique. It is most certainly for anyone who has been blessed by "Joey+Rory" music. If I had known this couple prior to this film review, I would be very encouraged to see how God gave them, as Rory says, "A great story." Watching the movie would give me a peace about Joey's ultimate healing. It would ease a sadness that most certainly must be present for those who knew her as a public figure. In my opinion, any believer in Christ who watches this movie will be inspired and challenged as they walk through a day with this couple. I also feel anyone dealing with cancer, either personally or through a family member/friend, will find hope and comfort through the viewing of this film. Hearing Rory's faith filled statement that he gave when the news that the medical treatments were no longer deemed curative for Joey, uncovered a bold and empowering way to accept the will of God. He said, "We came home. Not to die. But to live." A final potential audience is anyone searching for truth, as this couple's faith is tangible and will intensify the urgency to discover a loving Savior in Christ.
  

In conclusion, To Joey, With Love is a very moving work. It has much to say about the preciousness of life and the choices we make with regard to how we live each day. It teaches us to confront the fact that we "only have a little while" to walk in a steady trust in God and live a life filled with hope and an extravagant love for one another!
1 Corinthians 13:13 

This CD was released in 2016. Christmas shopping anyone?

Joey+Rory released a new CD in 2016, titled: Hymns That Are Important To Us
It is on my Christmas wish list! (Hint..hint to my family who are reading this.) 

Thank you to Icon Media Group for allowing me to view this review copy of  To Joey, With Love. I was not required to write a positive review, but only to watch the film and give my honest opinion. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Book Review~ The Prayer of Protection: Living Fearlessly In Dangerous Times by Joseph Prince




Book Description
This book is a beautiful reminder of the
confidence we are given when we are
hidden in Christ!

In these days of danger, trouble, and evil, New York Times bestselling author Joseph Prince reveals how God's children can have round-the-clock protection through the power of prayer.


THE PRAYER OF PROTECTION unveils the Bible's ultimate psalm of protection, Psalm 91, to help you understand more about how God guards His children. Joseph Prince offers simple keys and practical advice to finding and resting in the secret place of the Most High, where no evil can even come near you. You'll begin to live unafraid and with boldness as you allow the certainty of your heavenly Father's love and the sure promises of His Word to guard your heart against every fear. Come under the wings of the Almighty and live life divinely protected, 
positioned, and free from all fears with our covenant-keeping God!


My Personal Review

The Prayer of Protection~Living Fearlessly In Dangerous Times by Joseph Prince and published by FaithWords is an insightful work; it provides reassurance and comfort that we can live a protected and peaceful life in Christ.

Joseph Prince clearly communicates to the reader that the promises of protection located in Psalm 91 are relevant and tangible for each of God's children, today. His newest book, The Prayer of Protection breaks down Psalm 91, verse by verse with the intent to strengthen the reader's walk with Christ through the faith building truths that are found within this wonderful chapter in the Bible. The author points out that our culture breeds fear and weakness, from the constant media frenzy of negativity, to the belittling commentary about our God. This continual saturation of fear mongering can force us into an unfruitful paralyzing state. He asserts that as Christians, we need to stand firm in our hope in the Lord; we need to cling to the Word of God and not allow insecurity to take a stronghold in our lives.

The book is divided into twelve chapters. Each chapter carefully inspects a verse or two from Psalm 91. The prevailing message of getting the Word of God into our hearts is emphasized throughout the book, as Pastor Prince writes, "It is so important for you to invest time in getting God's living and powerful Word into your heart." He also contends that "we must involve the Lord Jesus in our lives every day, because only Christ can deliver us and keep us safe." 

I love the personal faith building testimonies that are scattered throughout this book. These illustrations of perseverence serve to provide examples of God in motion. The stories from other's trials create a fantastic sense of applicability that is inspiring. I also enjoyed the depth of which the author explores various words from the verses and uncovers their meaning within the Bible. In so doing, Prince unveils an understanding of the truths to a much deeper level. He continually stresses the importance of quoting the written Word of God, which will, "put up a shield of faith and release power as you declare that your God shall deliver you..". The author reminds us that when the Lord Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He did not merely "think" about scripture, He spoke it out loud. "The enemy will always try to keep you self-occupied and in fear. God wants you Christ-occupied and in faith." The author challenges the reader to memorize Psalm 91 and speak it with authority over your most difficult situations and watch what God does. He encourages us that worship through praise will activate angelic forces to guard us against all sorts of enemy attacks.

Finally, I was drawn into this book simply based upon the sincerity of the grace and mercy message that it contains. As we know, it is already so difficult to live in this world on a day to day basis, so a book that encourages hope, security, strength, confidence and love through the grounded roots of the gospel of Christ and the written Word of God is a HUGE winner in my mind! As Prince writes, "God has already foreseen the problems that we will face in this day and age, and His protection and covering over us is all-encompassing." 

The Prayer of Protection by Joseph Prince does not teach a formulaic "name it and claim it" ritualistic memorization of chanting nonsense, but conversely Prince pleads for each of us to have a relationship with Christ and then utilize this book as a tool to be explored slowly with an open Bible and a receptive heart to the Word of God. It also beckons to be read in an intimate small group where transparency within the setting would allow the Spirit of God to break chains, bring down walls of insecurity and draw people together through the chord of Christ. Whether you read this book in a quiet devotional setting with the Lord or in tandem with others, I would highly recommend you read it! 

Joseph Prince has provided a free 30-day prayer plan available to correlate with the book’s teaching and further your experience. Please click the following link if you would like to participate: http://www.faithwords.com/divineprotection. He also provides a link within the book that will provide answers to the perplexing suffering of Job through a free audio message of bonus content. 

Thank you to FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group Inc., for this review copy of The Prayer of Protection by Joseph Prince. The opinions within this review are my own; I was not required to write a favorable review.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Book Review: Think Better Live Better (A Victorious Life Begins in Your Mind) by Joel Osteen



2 Corinthians 2:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 



This is a fast and friendly motivational
read!!

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Bestselling author Joel Osteen shares how reprogramming your thoughts to remove negativity will lead to a more blessed, fulfilled life. Your mind has incredible power over your success or failure. THINK BETTER, LIVE BETTER offers a simple yet life-changing strategy for erasing the thoughts that keep you down and reprogramming your mind with positive thinking to reach a new level of victory. As a child of the Most High God, you are equipped to handle anything that comes your way. To claim your destiny, start thinking about yourself the way God does and delete the thoughts that tear down your confidence. When you train yourself to tune out the negativity and tune into your calling, you'll begin to live the wonderful plans God has made for you.



About the Author

JOEL OSTEEN is the author of eight New York Times bestsellers. He is the senior pastor of America's largest congregation, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. More than 45,000 people attend services there every week. His televised messages are seen by more than 10 million viewers each week in the United States, and millions more in 100 nations around the world. His 24-hour channel on SiriusXM Satellite Radio and millions of social media followers have prompted numerous publications to name him as one of the most influential Christian leaders in the world. He resides in Houston with his wife, Victoria, and their children. You can visit his website at www.joelosteen.com.


My Personal Review

Think Better Live Better by Joel Osteen provides the reader with encouragement and direction to take positive control of one's thought life and in so doing, unleash the abundant life that God has designed for each of us.

The book's foundation is built upon the truth that "We are who God says we are..." not who "other people say we are". Pastor Osteen reminds us that we are "born into royalty, created to reign in this life" and we should never forget those truths or we will miss the greatness God is calling us to. Think Better Live Better is a quick motivational read that will ignite your passion and desire to serve the Lord. This book has a steady flow of interesting stories to spur you on and breathe faith into your walk.

The continual reminder that we need to "reprogram of our minds" if we are repetitively thinking negative thoughts is clearly communicated. The use of analogies adds an interesting layer to the book. My favorite description of what it is like when we think negatively is when Pastor Osteen compares our lives to being stuck in a cocoon. He explains that "the enemy would love to keep me in my cocoon, thinking these wormy thoughts. He wants us to struggle, to be insecure, to be burdened by addictions and bad habits. It all starts in our mind." But, the author goes on to clarify that we can break out of the cocoon by speaking the truth of scripture over our minds. Anytime the self limiting thoughts creep in we need to confront them by saying, "I can do all things through Christ. I am strong in the Lord. If God be for me, who dare be against me?" 

The totality of this book is based on scripture and taking back our lives for the Lord through meditation on the Word of God and focusing on the promises that are found in the Bible. Osteen references Joshua 1:8: "If you will meditate on God's Word day and night, you will prosper and have good success." The author champions us to concentrate on the "promises of God... not the problems" of life.

Think Better Live Better gives several examples of people in the Bible, who would never have met the full potential that God had in mind for them had they listened to the labels other people had placed on them. We are challenged to care more about the label of the Lord than what the naysayers will say. Speaking the truth over our situations and not allowing fear of tomorrow to grip our today is another excellent piece of advice found in the pages of this book. 

Think Better Live Better by Joel Osteen is currently available for preorder by clicking here. It will be released tomorrow, October 4, 2106. 

Thank you to FaithWords Publishing for this review copy of Think Better Live Better (A Victorious Life Begins In Your Mind) by Joel Osteen. I was not required to write a favorable review, but to simply give my honest opinion of this work. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Review: The Loyal Heart (A Lone Star Hero's Love Story) by Shelley Shepard Gray

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10



Description

Robert came to Galveston to fulfill his promise to a dying man and look after his widow. He didn’t expect to find love in the unlikeliest of places.

Robert Truax, former Second Lieutenant and Confederate officer in the Civil War, made a promise to his comrade Phillip Markham. If anything happened to Phillip, Robert would look after his beloved wife, Miranda. She was his life, his world, his everything.

This is an excellent Historical 
Christian Fiction read;
I loved it!
After the war, Robert is left to pick up the pieces and fulfill his pact. When he arrives at Miranda’s home in Galveston, Texas, things are worse than he imagined. Phillip’s name has been dragged through the mud, everyone in town believes him to be a traitor, and his widow is treated as an outcast. Even more disturbing is her emotional well-being. Miranda seems hopeless, lost, and so very alone.

Robert had thought his duty would be simple. He would help Miranda as quickly as possible in order to honor a promise. But the moment Robert laid eyes on her, his plans changed. He’s mesmerized by her beauty and yearns to help her in any way he can.

He makes it his duty to protect Miranda, turn her reputation around, and to find some way to help her smile again. But it doesn’t prove to be an easy task—Robert knows something about

Phillip that could shake Miranda to the core and alter her view of the man she thought she knew so well.





Acclaim For Shelley Shepard Gray

"Gray is a master at integrating rich details and historical accuracies to create an engaging tale that will take the reader back in time. Strong secondary characters are well integrated. It is a shame to see this series end."
                              -ROMANTIC TIMES 4-Star review of Whispers In the Reading Room

"Full of vivid descriptions and beautiful prose, Gray has a way of making readers feel like they are actually in Chicago during the World's Fair...the mystery surround the 'Slasher' keeps the reader engaged throughout."
                              -RT BOOK REVIEWS, 4-Star review of Deception On Sable Hill




My Personal Review

I loved this Historical Christian Fiction book surrounding the Civil War era. It is a believable story filled with interesting and extremely well developed characters. 

The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray is the first book in a 2 volume series of the Lone Star Hero's Love Story. (The second book: An Uncommon Protector will be released 2/07/17.) The story begins with the conversation of some Confederate prisoners of war making a pact to always look out for one another. They are being held captive on Johnson's Island in Ohio, surrounded by Lake Erie and little availability to escape. The author does a fantastic job of describing their dismal outlook and the hopelessness that most surely would have been a part of their lives on a daily basis. Immediately, the reader is struck with a connection and desire to know what happens in the lives of these men.

The drama that unfolds upon the release of the soldiers is created quickly within the first few chapters and spins a web of talented writing filled with suspense, mystery, devotion and a bit of romance along the way. It is such a cliche...but in all sincerity...this one was hard to put down! The main character, Miranda Markham pulls at your heart strings as she navigates the waters of grief. The loyalty to his comrade Phillip, makes Robert Truax's character shine as well. The development of the house staff was so good, I could almost audibly hear their voices and see the expressions on their faces.

This book caused me to do some research of the Confederate States of America Officers' POW Camp located on Johnson's Island, Ohio. Additionally, I did a little digging into Galveston, Texas, both during and after the Civil War. When the storyline is so interesting that you want to do more study of the time period that is being dramatized, I think you can safely label it as a "good Historical Fiction" book. I also found myself learning a lot of new vocabulary words within this read. Gray does not sell her readers short and assume that the average adjectives will do, rather she ceases every opportunity to tap into the English language with a plethora of variety. I love that!

This is the first book written by Shelley Shepard Gray that I have had the privilege to read, but I will definitely be reading the next book in this series! I can't wait to see where she takes us! 

Thank you to Zondervan for this review copy of The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray through the BookLookBlogger program. I was not required to write a favorable review, but simply to read the work in it's entirety and give my honest opinion. 


Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: Successful WOMEN of the BIBLE by Katara Washington Patton


BOOK DESCRIPTION

The second book in a new series that brings the experiences of favorite Bible characters to challenges of contemporary life.

Contemporary "success" is often defined in financial terms or by number of Twitter followers. But for women of faith, success is so much more. And it turns out the timeless qualities of success are exemplified by women on the pages of their favorite book, the Bible. Deborah's model leadership is just as relevant today as it was in the age of the Hebrew judges. Esther's courage to stand up for a cause, Miriam's joyful support of others, Priscilla's exemplary partnership skill, Lydia's business acumen, and other characteristics of women in the Bible are embodied in lively storytelling. Busy Christian women--often working and raising a family--crave examples of success. Here are distilled principles they can use to succeed in today's noisy culture. The lessons of these icons of the faith apply, even in the age of Facebook and Instagram.


 ABOUT AUTHOR


Katara Washington Patton has written and edited Christian books for children, teens, and adults and has created supplemental materials for books by T.D. Jakes, Beth Moore, and Joyce Meyer. She served as general editor and writer of Aspire: The New Women of Color Study Bible. She holds a M.Div. from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.


MY PERSONAL REVIEW

Successful Women of the Bible by Katara Washington Patton~published by Faith Words~ is a beautifully insightful book that has significant spiritual application for women everywhere!

I absolutely loved Successful Women of the Bible. I'm confident that, if you are a woman, you will see some of your strengths and perhaps a few pitfalls of your weaknesses amidst the pages of this thoughtful read. The author, Katara Washington Patton carefully analyzes the lives of some prominent women of the Bible to create an engaging work that will encourage your heart.

The author clearly defines behaviors that will lead to a closer and more effective walk with the Lord as she evaluates eleven different women of the Bible. She also highlights the importance of women standing together in courage and unity to accomplish certain difficult tasks, citing the story of the "Daughters of Zelophehad", which I might add, I had never studied...so that was a treat! She describes them as a "group of women in the Bible whose interdependence changed the history of a people and further inspires an independent gal like myself to value interdependence even more than independence." (Italics my own.) 

Patton challenges women to "learn that depending on others is not a sign of weakness, but interdependence" that "could actually make me and others stronger." As an "older gal" myself...I can verify from some years of experience... that Patton's statement is definitely true in my life! When I see the amazing women that the Lord places in my life as "teammates" rather than "competition", I am much more sensitive to the Spirit's leading and therefore more apt to accomplish His kingdom purposes.

The format used in this book allows a clear picture of what attributes to recognize within yourself that will assist you in experiencing the complete plan that God is calling you to. At the end of each chapter, Patton takes the creative liberty to write a fictional letter from the Biblical character that singles out their love and devotion to God! I loved Priscilla and Esther... 

"I am Esther, queen of the land. Called for such a time as this. It's not just about me. I can and will influence and impact other's lives. God always has a plan and a plan of escape for those trapped. I will seek to do all that I can to be a voice for the voiceless and lift up the ones without, sometimes scared, but always trusting in God. I know I have been placed on this earth for more than myself and my comfort. I am the voice, I am the arms, I am the eyes of those who need it the most. I know God is all over my life and is directing my story, so I listen for His prompting and His cues so I might follow."

Successful WOMEN of the BIBLE by Katara Washington Patton will be released tomorrow- 8/23/2016 and can be purchased here. It's an incredible read. I highly recommend you snatch it up...you will definitely be refreshed!!

Thank you to Faith Words for this review copy of Successful Women of the Bible by Katara Washington Patton. I was not required to write a favorable review, but rather to give my honest opinion of it's content. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Book Review: The Gold by Krista Wagner


Another intriguing work by Krista Wagner.
Publishers Description

Ten-year-old Amanda is constantly teased and tormented in school. Her home life is less than satisfactory where her widower father, who is often away on business trips, leaves her in the care of her indifferent teenaged sister. Worse, not a day goes by when Amanda doesn't miss her mom. TO escape reality, Amanda creates fantasy stories, but when she discovers a talking golden pebble, her imagined world turns into a new-fangled reality.

Praise For The Gold

"I loved the way the story unfolded and the magic and mystery were revealed. This book is bound to be a winner with audiences of all ages."

~Susan Day
author and illustrator of the Astro's Adventures series

My Personal Review

The Gold by Krista Wagner & published by Clean Reads is a short fantasy novel that will keep your attention from beginning to end. The publishing information for this book is specifically labeled for the 10-18 year old age group. The main character, Amanda, is in fifth grade. She lives with her Dad and sister. She spends much of her time at home alone or with her preoccupied teenage sister. 

As the story unfolds, the reader learns a little about Amanda's Mom who "passed away from a long term ailment". The incredible sadness and loneliness that her mother's passing has created is tenderly and realistically portrayed from a young girl's perspective. The author's development of Amanda's character creates a connection with the reader immediately and her adventures are spun from there. It is at times a whimsical ride and at other junctures a tumultuous journey.

Here is my take on this novel. First of all, the book left me wanting more. Right from the start, I wanted to know more about the past...so a prequel would be exceptional....and I definitely want to know what happens in the future....so a sequel is a must. Secondly, I greatly appreciated the presentation of the sensitive matter of bullying. Wagner's vivid description of the emotions encountered during episodes of harassment is exceptional. The author also beautifully illustrates how important it is to be connected and aware of what our children are experiencing, so that we can show them love and avoid feelings of desperation and isolation. Finally, I think this work is entertaining for the younger reader and simultaneously has the potential to deliver a sense of hope to a hurting heart. I will be watching for the next book in this series!


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Book Review: SHATTERED PRAYERS: A Testing of a Father's Faith by Kenneth Ching


I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG)

Praise For Shattered Prayers
A touching memoir describing the
endless challenges surrounding parents
of a special needs child. 

"Shattered Prayers is an artful examination of faith in the face of suffering. In recounting his family's story, Ching allows the reader access to a father's inner dialogue with a candor that is at turns frightening, vulnerable, and beautiful--often at the same time. And while the book's primary preoccupations are questions of faith, the story is told with a sense of drama that keeps the reader rapt."
--Gabriel Urza, author of All That Followed

"Shattered Prayers is a very real and honest look at the struggles of parenting a child with special needs. Kenneth Ching writes with transparency, expressing his frustrations with God and despite losing hope at times, never losing faith. He reminds us that although God doesn't always work the way we expect him to, he still loves us and our children even more than we can imagine."
--Claire Yorita Lee, author (with Shari Rigby) of Beautifully Flawed


Product Description

Kenneth Ching lived a comfortable life--with a great job, a big house, and an easy faith. He went to church and believed in God's goodness. But when his son is born with a serious and rare genetic condition, his life is thrown into terrifying chaos.

In this honest and raw memoir, Ching brings to life his experience of letting go while learning to truly trust the Savior he claims to know. Ching doesn't shy away from asking the hard questions: Why does God answer some prayers but not others? How does prayer work? Is God even listening?

Shattered Prayers is ultimately a story about recognizing God's presence and faithfulness in the midst of brokenness. And how one man thought God ruined his life by giving his son a terrible disease, but eventually realized God was actually fighting to save his faith and his son's life. 

My Personal Review

Shattered Prayers: A Testing Of A Father's Faith by Kenneth Ching is a beautifully transparent look at life through the lens of a father with a special needs child.

Kenneth Ching bravely shares his questions and uncertainty about the plan of God as he faces the reality of caring for a child with enormous special needs that at times are even life threatening. This book brings a close-up look at the details and dilemmas that are often hidden to the outside world when a family member has a severe physical and developmental challenge.  The intense emotion felt throughout Shattered Prayers, as the reader is swept away by the author's narration, provide a tangible feel to what it might be like to live for a day in the life of this devoted mother and father. It is so well written, in fact, that often times during the reading of the book, it seems as though the reader is  literally hearing every thought that Ching thinks. 

As the author navigates a straight path into his heart, questions are uncovered that we may have thought before, but have never been brave enough to breathe out loud. This transparency releases a freedom that allows the reader to ponder the fairness of situations like suffering and tragedy. As you fall in love with the author's son, Joshua, you begin to unearth suppressed questions of your own as it relates to the hardships of life. In fact, Ching states that "We can ask hard questions (God is very big and is in no way afraid of or unable to handle hard questions), and we can even get a few answers or glimpses of things that help us understand, but God simply does not promise to answer our questions. He's not Google, He's God." The author's portrayal of a gracious and merciful God who allows us to come to Him for the answers flows throughout this work.

My take away from this book is three fold. First of all, I now appreciate to a much greater degree the incredible challenges that a family with a special needs child face on a daily basis. Secondly, I have a deeper comprehension of how to assist a family in this situation; that it is more effective to physically help in tangible ways and talk less...it really is okay and in fact sometimes better to not say anything in an attempt to "fix it". Finally, I am encouraged by Ching's conclusion that our faith is not determined by "our" faithfulness, but by "God's" faithfulness to us. God, through His son, has promised to radically save us and all we are asked to do is to trust in Him. Whether big questions, small questions, trials or mountain top experiences...the trust in a loving God and His Son, Jesus Christ is what truly matters in the end. 

Shattered Prayers: A Testing of a Father's Faith by Kenneth Ching will be available for purchase tomorrow (7/20/2016). Don't miss the opportunity to read this poignant text penned by a clearly passionate lover of Christ...it will change you!

Thank you to Kirkdale Press for this complimentary review copy of Shattered Prayers. I was not required to give a positive review, but only to read the book in it's entirety and provide an honest opinion.



Sunday, June 26, 2016

Book Review: MESSENGER BY Moonlight by Stephanie Grace Whitson

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. Psalm 23:1(KJV)



Publisher's Description


Bestselling author Stephanie Grace Whitson's latest historical novel features an adventurous young heroine who works for the Pony Express.


Orphaned Annie Paxton and her brothers may have lost the only home they've ever known, but they're determined to make a better future in St. Joseph, Missouri. Annie dreams of a pretty house with window boxes, and having friends, and attending church every week. But then her brothers spot the ad for a new venture called the Pony Express. "Wanted," it reads, "Young, skinny fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders and willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred." Sure enough, both her brothers land jobs as Express messengers, and Annie puts her dreams on hold to work as a cook at Clearwater Ranch, a station along the Pony Express route.

Annie struggles to adapt to her new job--work made all the more challenging when she has so many to feed and few ingredients. The gruff station owner, George, doesn't seem inclined to make her life any easier, or at least not at first. But slowly a friendship builds between them. When Annie attracts the attention of a refined, dashing lieutenant from the nearby fort, she'll have to learn how to trust her instincts and follow her heart, even if she's conflicted about which way it's leading her.

Editorial Reviews

"Whitson's fascinating look at the Pony Express and those who lived in the Midwest during that time is entertaining and intriguing. The romance is unexpected, beautifully developed and well-balanced with action and family drama. The faith message is touching and relevant."―RT Book Reviews on Messenger by Moonlight

"Messenger by Moonlight is a well-researched tribute to the strong and courageous men and women of the Pony Express."―Historical Novel Society

My Personal Review

MESSENGER BY Moonlight by Stephanie Grace Whitson is an exceptionally entertaining, well written and engaging book! From the first page, right up until the last, I found myself thoroughly absorbed in the action and completely transported back in time to the days of the Pony Express. 

The story circles around the main character, Annie Paxton, who is surrounded by two loving brothers who make it their mission to provide for her after the loss of their parents. From the very beginning of the novel there is a strong message of the importance of family connection.  The theme of perseverance during difficult times and leaning on the Lord in the face of adversity is effectively communicated  throughout the book, as well. 

As the Paxton brothers carry out their new jobs as Pony Express messengers, Annie accepts a job as a cook at a large ranch on the route. She has very little experience and not a great deal of supplies, but she learns how to manage with the help of the station manager, George Morgan. The interactions and relationships that develop at the ranch are fun and authentic and evoke many emotions from the reader.

The trials and harsh times that were a part of this era in history are narrated so vividly, that  I found a whole new appreciation for the modern comforts of air-conditioning, heat, cars, medicine, communication, and easily accessible food! It's amazing what we take for granted. I also had no idea what the Pony Express riders had to endure as they navigated their treacherous routes, nor was I aware of the speed at which they were required to run them. Not only were they having to deal with the elements, but the dangers of predators, illness, horse injuries and much more.

Pony Express route covering 1900 miles
MESSENGER BY Moonlight has everything a good Christian Historical Fiction book should have. It informs, causes reflection, brings a spirit of worship, entertains, and provides a clear vision of a loving Savior in Christ. Perhaps the only thing missing is a map illustrating the 1900 mile Pony Express Route and a few approximate station locations to serve as a point of reference. Maybe it's because I am such a visual learner, but I found myself wanting to see their path and the location of the Clearwater Ranch. At one point while reading the novel, I went on a search to see a map of their journey. I have provided that here from the National Park Service website. 

I would like to thank FaithWords and Hachette Book Group Inc for this complimentary review copy of MESSENGER BY Moonlight by Stephanie Grace Whitson. I was not required to give a favorable review, but only to read the work in it's entirety and give an honest opinion. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Book Review: Making Disciples~Applying Truth In Daily Living by Carla Maclachlan


“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Praise for Making Disciples

Making Disciples is both challenging and life-changing. My awareness of the power of Scripture to influence daily life has greatly increased. I now live life with a heavenly, rather than worldly, perspective. - J. Elfrink

God is using Making Disciples to transform my life! When I began to embrace discipleship and disciple making, my walk with Christ deepened. I better understand now that God is working in the moments of my days to bring Himself glory. - B. Williams
An excellent book filled with the truths
of God and a challenge to grow in
those truths on a daily basis.

After experiencing Making Disciples, I sense the urgency to know and teach God's Word. I've learned to listen beyond the normal conversations to seek God's opportunity. - B. Porter

Publishers Description

Jesus tells His followers to “go and make disciples”. You understand what it looks like to "go" (consider all the places you’ve been in the past few days.) But what does it look like to make disciples? Are you prepared to invest in the lives of others? 
Making Disciples is a practical book that will help you:
  • Understand God’s purpose for disciple-making 
  • Recognize and prepare for evangelistic opportunities 
  • Practically apply biblical truth in daily living 
  • Communicate and demonstrate living by faith 
  • Engage others in formal and informal discipleship


My Personal Review

Making Disciples creates a path leading straight to the the thrown of grace where you find reflection, repentance, reconciliation and relationship! Making Disciples~Applying Truth In Daily Living by Carla Maclachlan is a beautiful call to apply the truths of the Bible directly to our lives and to cultivate a greater awareness and responsiveness to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

This book challenges the reader to take a deeper look at the principles of becoming a disciple of Christ, and further still, abiding with Christ and thereby communicating this love with others as we transform into His likeness day by day. The author defines a disciple of Jesus as “someone who chooses to believe in, learn from, and follow Him. Discipleship is a process by which believers are taught biblical principles and how to apply them in practical ways.” Maclachlan exhorts the reader to allow the Holy Spirit to speak into our individual circumstances and make changes as He directs. By increasing our sensitivity and opening our hearts to the will of God, we will experience the abundant life that He has for us.

The need to study God’s word and use it as our “discipleship instruction manual” is emphasized frequently within the chapters of Making Disciples. With scripture references on nearly every page, the author earnestly expresses that without the “infallible Word of God”, we will be ill equipped and unprepared to handle the daily divine appointments that the Lord has designed for each one of us. I enjoyed the analogy Maclachlan gives, as it relates to this subject, when she explains that just as nursing education is to be applied at a later date to help patients with their physical needs, we also should “anticipate using what God is teaching us to enhance the spiritual well-being of others.” Great thought!

The point that it is God’s ultimate goal for us to “reproduce His truth in the lives of others” is clearly conveyed throughout the writing. It is asserted that “receiving the gospel is merely the starting point of salvation and discipleship, not the end goal.” Because it is our aim to share the truth of Christ with those who don’t know Him, it is important for us to have many tools in our tool belt so that we can be messengers of the gospel in it’s entirety. Found within the pages is a very in-depth section covering the details of introducing an individual to Christ and presenting the full plan of redemption for their life.

The idea that spiritual growth is the catalyst to becoming an effective disciple of Christ is given a great deal of attention. This growth will only happen when we allow the Holy Spirit to train us. We must also consider forming mentoring “relationships that are intentional and purposeful in teaching, guiding, and training others to walk daily by faith in the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This mentoring process will help to promote spiritual maturity in others as well as in ourselves. The author even provides a helpful outline for beginning a mentoring connection. She is careful to explain that because of the uniquely created individuals that God places in our lives, we need to be acutely in tune with the leading of His Spirit and every discipleship opportunity that the Lord presents to us, adjusting our plans accordingly.

The subjects of surrender, sanctification, and faith are discussed at length. These daily decisions of obedience are paramount to moving forward in an abundant life with Christ; they are not a one time event, but rather a moment by moment choice to relinquish your right to self will and give that over to the will of God. Galatians 2:20 is used as a reference to this conclusion.

The final chapters discuss issues of our identity in Christ, the consequences of sin, learning from the past, adversity and more. I especially enjoyed the author’s sensitive approach to the matter of facing difficulties when it is not a direct result to personal sin. The point that our perspective will change, but perhaps not our circumstances, when we apply the truths of God in the trials of life is something that I have experienced in my own life. The scripture reference given here is John 16:33 where Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Recognizing and accepting God’s enormous purpose in the trials of life will give us spiritual victory over our situation.

Visit Carla at www.carlamaclachlan
My overwhelming impression of Making Disciples is very positive. It is written for a wide audience in that a person who is not familiar with the Bible, Christ, or God’s plan of salvation will read this book and quite possibly be drawn into a saving faith and a consistent scripture intake along with application of His Word. On the opposite side of the pendulum, the plethora of valuable and applicable information on discipleship that is contained within this book will certainly draw the spiritually mature Christian to pursue a more intimate and fruitful walk with Christ as they apply the truths of God on a daily basis through prayer, communion and the mentoring process.

Making Disciples is an excellent book. Unless I completely missed the point, however, it should be read slowly, prayerfully, and with a heart that is open to the voice of the Lord. It is not a book to scurry through and put up on your shelf to check off as “read.” No, in actuality, it should be marked “to be read again”. The rationale for this advice is simply that in a continually changing world, you will always be in a different circumstance. Yes, it might be similar, but NEVER the same and therefore, you will be able to reach for your Bible and this little gem of a book and prayerfully proceed. The Biblical  truths and discipleship process will provide you with just the right direction for the new situations that you most certainly will find yourself in.

Thank you to Bound By Faith Publishers for this paperback review copy of Making Disciples~Applying Truth In Daily Living by Carla Maclachlan. I was not required to give a favorable review, but simply to read the book and give a summary with my personal opinion of it’s content. I also was not required to purchase an E-copy, but I did so because I want to have an easily accessible copy for frequent referencing. I would highly recommend this book to non-Christians and Christians alike. I am confident that your life will certainly be changed by Carla’s passionate love for God and her clear communication of His truths.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Book Review: Unstuffed~Decluttering Your Home, Mind & Soul by Ruth Soukup

2 Corinthians 2:9(NIV)
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.




Praise for Unstuffed

"As women, we have the tendency to overstuff our lives, our schedules, and our homes with things that really aren't beneficial. And our souls suffer because of our unwillingness to let go. Ruth Soukup tackles this issue head-on and gives practical steps to be purposeful with the stuff we let in our sacred spaces. You'll be thankful you chose this book!" -Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Best Yes

"A warm, easy-to-follow guide that offers actionable steps to creating a calm, prayerful, stress-free life." -Simple Grace Magazine


Author's Description

Great tool to help identify areas of our
lives where clutter congregates!
STUFF. It's everywhere. Lurking in corners and closets, spilling onto counters and coffee tables, creating havoc everywhere we look. And it's not just the physical clutter that weighs us down. Oh no, it is the stress of overbooked schedules, and the weight of life that sometimes feels oppressive and totally out of whack.

New York Times bestselling author Ruth Soukup feels your pain--she has been there too. Through personal stories, Biblical truth, and practical action plans, she will inspire and empower each of us to finally declutter not just our home, but our mind and soul as well. Unstuffed is real, honest, and gets right down to the question we are all facing--how can we take back our lives from the stuff that is weighing us down?

In this book, together we will:

• Create a comprehensive vision for our homes, and make instant changes to improve its overall function.

• Discover that more closet space is not the solution, and instead learn how to set strict limits for the stuff we bring in

• Overcome the frustration of dealing with our kids' influx of stuff and implement practical solutions for keeping the chaos at bay.

• Recognize the pitfalls of an overstuffed schedule BEFORE it gets out of hand, and instead learn to combat the culture of busy that keeps us running from one thing to the next.

• Finally conquer that mountain of paperwork that threatens to tumble down around us at any moment.

• Let go of the guilt that gets attached to gifts and instead learn to separate our loved ones from their stuff.

• Begin to cultivate our real friendships while eliminating the toxic relationships that weigh us down.

Personal Review:

Unstuffed~Decluttering Your Home, Mind, & Soul by Ruth Soukup is a well written book that addresses physical clutter, mental traps, and spiritual truths. This is a great read that is descriptively “stuffed” full of practical advice and tangible application!

Unstuffed is not only a great tool to have in your arsenal of weapons to help fight the clutter monster, but it’s also a transparently thoughtful work that serves to assist the reader on a deeper level by uncovering potential issues in our minds and hearts that may be hindering our ability to live “clutter free” lives. The author begins the book by acknowledging her own love for material things and our western culture's propensity to collect and hoard too much stuff. This genuine spirit of authenticity is felt throughout the reading of this book, as Soukup tears down walls of shame, embarrassment and guilt that often accompany the accumulation of unnecessary and unwanted stuff.

Not only does the author give a systematic plan of attack to take back our homes and win the war against the perpetual cycle of things piling up in them, but she also helps us to reformat our thinking to prevent a returning problem in our homes. In addition, the book could also double as a "practical parenting guide", as it covers many great strategies for raising well balanced children and modeling a healthy lifestyle as it relates to our belongings and spirituality. 

Ruth Soukup does a great job of communicating the chaotic feel that our high tech world has created with the constant influx of information and little to no margin in our schedules. She reveals that her desire to be constantly busy is a struggle she has to guard against to maintain a peace of mind and a less scheduled home. I love the "Red Flag" section where she gives a list of "warning signs" to help the reader identify if they are in trouble. 

Finally, and most importantly, Ruth ends with the source of all freedom as she identifies our need to allow the gift of Christ as the ultimate answer to all of our needs. She candidly shares of some desperate times in her life and the grace that she has come to know as she walked through this period of darkness. Her conviction to lean on the Lord and remain in a prayerful state are refreshing and extremely encouraging. This is an excellent read!!

Thank you to Zondervan Publishing for this review copy of Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup. I was not required to write a favorable review, only to read the work in it's entirety and give an honest opinion of it's contents. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Book Review: Uneven Exchange by S.K. Derban


"Thus says the Lord to you; 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's.'" 2 Chronicles 20:15


PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION

This is a great summer read!!
Grab some ice tea and curl up for some
action & suspense!
Like fire and ice, Alexandra Callet’s life runs hot and cold. At the age of thirty-three, Alexandra owns a stunning home and a successful interior design company. But she is in love with her business partner, Jake Taylor, and he doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a woman. She should be on top of the world, but instead she feels dragged down by the void in her heart. Hoping for answers, she decides a trip to Mexico might soothe her soul.

Jake Taylor only pretends to be a confirmed bachelor. Jake has been entranced by Alexandra’s determination and exotic beauty since the moment they met, but she has no idea how he feels. He considers confessing his love, but fears jeopardizing their friendship and business. He’s caught in a web of pretending he doesn’t care, and doesn’t see a way out of it. Alexandra is recruited for a dangerous mission. Following her trip to Mexico, her resemblance to a member of an assassin’s family leads Alexandra to be recruited by the DEA. Her training leaves her distracted, and her business begins to suffer. Jake notices her sudden change, and feels her slipping both personally and professionally beyond his reach. Should he finally take the chance…before it’s too late? After all, he has nothing to lose. However, when Alexandra returns to Mexico for her mission, things go terribly wrong. Will she be able find the strength to fight and escape the peaceful haven that has now become her prison? Or will Jake lose Alexandra forever....

My Personal Review

Uneven Exchange by S.K. Derban is the perfect combination of intrigue, suspense and romance...a perfect read for a weekend get-away!

This book captures the reader's attention from the first chapter and spins a tale of love, strength and perseverance from that point forward. The main character, Alexandra Callet is an independent business woman who, due to her resemblance to an assassin's sister, is asked by the Drug Enforcement Agency to help with a case. As the story unfolds, additional vibrant characters emerge to sufficiently entertain and engage the reader. The training that Alexandra goes through to go undercover is actually very informative, as I had no idea of the involvement behind the scenes of such an assignment. While I am sure this only touched the surface of what it would really be like to take on such work, there is enough detail to seem realistic and hold your attention.  

What I like most about this book is the continual line-up of interesting and unique characters with enough development of each one to feel a level of connection that goes beyond the surface. That is difficult to pull off in a short novel like this, but Derban does it. The sense of "what will happen next" is a dominating feeling throughout the read and therefore another excellent job by the author.

Finally, while this is not officially labeled a "Christian" genre book, the author has definitely utilized her platform to point to Christ through some of the thoughts and actions of the main characters. There are several times in the book where they pray, read the Bible and reference their reliance on Christ for strength and wisdom. It's not overbearing...just a hint of grace and wisdom poking through...I loved that.

Uneven Exchange by S.K. Derban is a wonderful book to throw in your suitcase and read on a weekend get-away or.....simply step outside into the shade of your own backyard and travel with the crew to Mexico! You will definitely enjoy this read!!