Thursday, 20 October 2016

Book Review: Jesus and the Beanstalk by Lori Stanley Roeleveld


About the Book: What if a fairy tale and ten Bible verses could free you to live an effective, fruitful life in Christ?

We live in unsettling, challenging times. Everywhere we look, we see giant problems: giant obstacles to sharing faith, giant barriers to peaceful lives, giant strongholds of fear. But what if you knew eight small secrets to unlocking a strength big enough to overcome whatever obstacle life may bring?
Using allegory and a bit of humor, Jesus and the Beanstalk explores a passage in 2 Peter 1 to uncover eight truths that will help you unleash a larger-than-life faith:
-Faith
-Goodness
-Knowledge
-Self-control
-Perseverance
-Godliness
-Affection for others
-Love
In this creative, refreshing perspective on spiritual growth, you will discover an unyielding strength when you tap the power of a God who is stronger than any beanstalk and bigger than your biggest giants.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2dcnopJ

My Thoughts:  Roeleveld employs a very personable writing style as she provides insights into how to topple the giant challenges in our lives.  It may be a quirky title and an enjoyable read, but it's far from a fluffy fair tale.  Indeed, this book is full of substance and I really enjoyed how Roeleveld tackled the subject matter, and often had insightful things to say in a way I hadn't heard before - her thoughts about Uriah the Hittite, and Martha (sister of Mary and Lazarus) come to mind.

A quote... "When you hear the whisper, Bathsheba can be yours and it won't hurt a soul, I want you to think about Uriah the Hittite."

I particularly enjoyed Lori's "One Stone for Your Sling" at the end of each chapter, where she summarized or reviewed its key point. 

Here are just a couple of them....
  • I have regrets; the cross testifies to that. But it also testifies to the truth that my regrets don't need to own me because Jesus Christ does.
  • Jesus didn't want Martha to become Mary; he wanted her to be a Martha who paid attention to him.
At the end, Lori gives instructions on how to use the book for individual study, for one on one discipleship study, for small group study, and even for a retreat.  

I really appreciated this book!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with a complimentary review copy.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Download Your Free How-To Guide for Bring Your Bible to School Day


bringyourbible 
Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are preparing for Hurricane Matthew to hit. For students in hurricane-affected states who are facing school closures but still want to participate in Bring Your Bible to School Day, the alternate date is Thursday, October 20.

This brings about a good point: Any day can be a day you organize your friends to bring your Bibles to school together!

By signing up during the month of October for Bring Your Bible to School Day (even if you missed the official celebration), you can download a free how-to guide for teens, parents, pastors, and elementary students. It's full of helpful information that will help you organize a day to take a stand for religious freedom and bring your Bible to school with your fellow classmates.

(Sign-ups must be received by midnight (MT), Oct. 7, in order to be automatically entered into the Newsboys giveaway.)

Plus Bring Your Bible to School Comes to Adventures in Odyssey



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Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Take the Bible Challenge with Odyssey Adventure Club

How much do you know about the Bible and its influence on our culture, history–and the whole world? Focus on the Family and Bring Your Bible have teamed up to create a quiz to test how much you and your kids know about the Bible. Take the quiz to find out!

Don't forget to mark your calendars to celebrate religious freedom with other students across the U.S. on October 6—Bring Your Bible to School Day! Students from kindergarten to college will be bringing their Bibles to school and sharing God with their friends in just a few short weeks. Sign up to be a part of the movement to protect religious freedom for future generations.


bybts-signup-sidebar 



By signing up, you’ll receive a free guide with tips, downloadable posters, sticker and T-shirt designs, information on your legal rights, and other fun, interactive activities.

You’ll also be automatically entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to hear the Newsboys, an award-winning Christian music band, in Dallas!

Plus Bring Your Bible to School Comes to Adventures in Odyssey
sept-oac-art-250x250 

Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Book Review: Starving Hearts by Janine Mendenhall



About the Book: Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage.

She yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way. . . .

Mr. Peter Adsley is joining the clergy, and he desires a godly wife by his side. After a failed attempt to obtain one, he engages in a clandestine meeting with the bewitching young woman who keeps crossing his path. But she is so unsettling.

Destined for disappointments, Peter and Annette both endure disgraceful situations. Will Peter’s faith sustain him through overwhelming setbacks? Can Annette overcome her doubts? Or will their starving hearts yield to the machinations of a mad man?

My Thoughts: This book definitely reminded me of a Jane Austen style novel, which means it was right up my alley! Romance, intrigue, suspense - what's not to love?!

The author also tackled subjects like hope, forgiveness, and faith; as well as dealing with the moral failings and ethical quagmires of the time period. Great character development and just a well written work. Looking forward to reading more from this author!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with a complimentary review copy.

Monday, 26 September 2016

See the Newsboys in Concert with Adventures in Odyssey


newsboys 




Want to be entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to hear the Newsboys, the award-winning Christian music band, in Dallas? Sign up to be a part of the movement to protect religious freedom for future generations: Bring Your Bible to School Day! Students from kindergarten to college will be bringing their Bibles to school and sharing God with their friends on October 6.

By completing the information on this page, you're automatically entered to win the chance to see the Newsboys with Focus on the Family and Adventures in Odyssey. Don't miss out on the chance to see a fantastic band with your family!

Plus Sign Up for a Free Two-Week Trial of Odyssey Adventure Club
sept-oac-art-250x250 



Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Book Review: The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray


About the Book: 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.

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.

My Thoughts:  History is always more interesting when it's told in story format and you become invested in the lives of the characters, even when you know they are not real life people.  Particularly when the author writes in such a way that they feel like real life people with real life problems, circumstances, and emotions.

This book had history, romance, and intrigue, while dealing with post-war fall-out for both soldiers and the families affected long after the war was over.

It was also a good reminder of the importance of reputation - both to build a good one of your own, and to avoid ruining someone else's with gossip or unfounded accusations.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with a complimentary review copy.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Commit to Bring Your Bible to School October 6th

Celebrate religious freedom with other students across the U.S. on October 6—Bring Your Bible to School Day! Students from kindergarten to college will be bringing their Bibles to school and sharing God with their friends in just a few short weeks. Sign up to be a part of the movement to protect religious freedom for future generations.




By signing up, you’ll receive a free guide with tips, downloadable posters, sticker and T-shirt designs, information on your legal rights, and other fun, interactive activities.

You’ll also be automatically entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to hear the Newsboys, an award-winning Christian music band, in Dallas!

Plus Bring Your Bible to School Comes to Adventures in Odyssey
sept-oac-art-250x250 

Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Book Review: Like a River from its Course by Kelli Stuart

About the Book: An epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope.

The city of Kiev was bombed in Hitler's blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union, but the constant siege was only the beginning for her citizens. In this sweeping historical saga, Kelli Stuart takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little-known history of Ukraine's tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives.

Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine.

Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the "killing ditch." He survives, but not without devastating consequences.

Luda is sixteen when German soldiers rape her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.

Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the F├╝hrer's plans for domination
are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism. 
Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River from Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/28YOXRu

My Thoughts: This is one of the most well-written books I've ever read.

Kelli Stuart has gathered true stories from years of research and combined them into a work of historical fiction that will break your heart yet strengthen your faith at the same time. Though at times difficult to read due to the subject matter, Stuart writes with sensitivity and tact while still conveying sheer horror at the level of depravity to which man can sink.

One thing I really liked about this story was that she was able to focus on four completely different characters who saw the war through four unique perspectives, encompassing both sides of the war through both Ukranian and German characters, and managed to make me invested in the outcome of every single one.  Often when stories are laid out this way you become impatient while reading about the less interesting characters and just want the author to get back to your favourite storyline.  Stuart made it impossible to pick just one and instead made you eagerly anticipate the continuing development of each storyline.

Stuart's characters come through raw, real and, even though most of us cannot possibly relate, still relatable.  The way she writes draws you completely into the lives of the characters and immerses you in their world.  Well done!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Book Review: Journey to Heal by Crystal Sutherland and Naming our Abuse by Schmutzer, Gorski, and Carlson



About the Book: A path of hope and healing for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

A woman who was sexually abused as a child is confronted with many internal questions: Am I worthless? Will I get past the pain? Do I matter to God? These and similar questions can carve a deep hole in an already wounded soul. Too often, the lies of worthlessness are believed, the pain becomes too much to handle, and survivors find themselves making choices that lead to more heartbreak. With over 42 million survivors (both male and female) in the United States alone, the need for a clear path to healing is great.

Crystal Sutherland---herself a survivor of CSA---knows that while the recovery process is complex, healing is possible with God's help. For women who want to progress from simply coping to living abundantly, Journey to Heal guides readers through seven essential steps to recovery found in Scripture. Candid and open about her personal journey of healing, Crystal comes alongside her reader as a friend who understands. Infused with biblical truths, stories of hope from other survivors, and practical wisdom, this book leads women to discover the life of wholeness God has for them.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/25CIk1C

My Thoughts:  This was a difficult book to read due to the subject matter, and due to knowing (as we all do) victims of abuse.  It was a very well written book and would be extremely helpful as a tool to go along with counselling - this book is not a replacement for that!

After each chapter topic or step in the healing process, Sutherland includes a "Journey Essentials" section - a prayer, a scripture, a question, and some personal journalling space.

This book is helpful for those who would like to come alongside and support a friend who is in the healing process, and of course, extremely valuable for those working on their healing.  I highly recommend this book.


About the Book: A stunningly vulnerable look at the horrific realities of sexual abuse and how to overcome them.

Male sexual abuse is increasingly in the news, from scandals in the Catholic Church to exploitations at Penn State. Yet books and programs about healing are still overwhelmingly oriented toward the female survivor of abuse. As men who experienced childhood abuse, the authors of this book are uniquely qualified to address the healing process of male survivors.

Using the metaphor of a car accident, Naming Our Abuse leads the survivor from the Wreck to the Accident Report to Rehabilitation to Driving Again. This four-step model illustrates that healing is a process to be nurtured rather than something that can be healed in a single telling. Following the authors' examples, readers are invited to find solidarity with other male survivors and develop an understanding of their own wounding through journaling exercises.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1Zg5kfR
About the authors:

Andrew Schmutzer is a professor of biblical studies at Moody Bible Institute (Chicago) and a graduate of Dallas Seminary (ThM) and Trinity (PhD). He writes about integrative issues surrounding abuse, trauma, lament, and spiritual formation and speaks regularly on issues of sexual abuse. Find out more about Andrew on his Facebook: Andrew.Schmutzer
Daniel Gorski is a thirty-year veteran software engineer, having worked for AT&T, Lucent Technologies, Alcatel-Lucent, and Nokia. He earned a BS in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Illinois and an MS in Computer Science from Kansas State University, specializing in expert systems and software automation. 
David Carlson is a special education teacher, working in the suburbs of Chicago for the majority of his adult life. He takes great pride in being an advocate for his students and their families, helping them to navigate whatever challenges life may present. He is committed to encouraging and supporting male survivors through the various stages of their healing.

My Thoughts:  If the healing of abused women is seldom discussed, the healing of abused men is ignored even more.  This book is an incredible resource, both for those who have a loved one that has been abused, and for those men who have suffered abuse themselves.

This book moves through four steps on the journey to healing, each step told by all three authors, all of whom are survivors of abuse. This book lets men know that hope and healing are possible.  A desperately needed resource and one I recommend highly.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing the tours for Journey to Heal and Naming our Abuse, and for providing me with my complimentary review copies.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

FREE 14 Day Trial Is Now Available for the Odyssey Adventure Club!






Think of ways you can enjoy this summer for free:
  • Hiking 
  • Visiting parks in your area 
  • Swimming 
  • Camping in your backyard 
  • Visit a public museum or library 

Now, add more fun and imagination to your summer through the Odyssey Adventure Club!

The Odyssey Adventure Club will give you streaming access to more than 800 Adventures in Odyssey episodes plus a sneak peek of exclusive audio and video stories, on-line activities and daily devotions you can’t find anywhere else.

Start a free 14-day trial for your family today and make the summer even more fun!

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