Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Book Review: Total Family Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra



About the book:

Total Family Makeover: 8 Practical Steps to Making Disciples at Home (Abingdon, September 2016)
Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won't depart from it. ---Proverbs 22:6

God calls us as parents to be key disciple-makers in our children's lives, but if we're honest, some days it's a battle just to get them dressed and ready for school on time. How can you mold their hearts when sometimes you can't even find their shoes?

In Total Family Makeover, author Melissa Spoelstra gives parents a way---a sort of spiritual track to run on---when it comes to building family discipleship. She focuses on eight key habits of growth:

-Spending Time in Prayer
-Reading God's Word
-Growing Through a Mentoring Relationship
-Finding Community in the Church
-Serving Others
-Taking Time to Rest
-Giving Back to God
-Sharing Your Faith
Disciples are made, not born. Whether your children are babes in arms or teenagers getting ready to leave the nest, making disciples at home starts with you! Give your family a makeover with this practical approach to helping your children learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

My Thoughts:  I thought this book was absolutely fantastic!  Chock full of practical ideas, but with the wise advice to pick a few ideas that are feasible for your family instead of trying to do them all, this book had the perfect balance between theory and practical application.

She devotes an entire chapter to each key habit of growth; first describing how Jesus modeled each attribute and how, as parents, we can too; and then describing how to train your children in these attributes, giving practical application ideas for each one. I loved it!

Not only did it give me ideas on how to teach my children, it also gave me ideas on how to improve in these areas myself!

I enjoyed all the chapters, but one chapter I enjoyed more than I would have originally thought was the one about finding community in church.  Some of her key points in this chapter....
Jesus calls us to a life of sacrifice, not convenience.
Jesus forgave others even in the face of betrayal and heartache within his faith community.  (umm, Judas?!)
Jesus calls us to function within the body for the benefit of others.
She really got down to our motives for attending church and the attitude we have when considering where to go to church, or whether to leave a church. Very insightful chapter!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!

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

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Book Review: The 10 Myths of Teen Dating by Daniel and Jacquelyn Anderson



About the Book: The 10 Myths of Teen Dating: Truths Your Daughter Needs to Know to Date Smart, Avoid Disaster, and Protect Her Future (David C Cook, September 2016)

There's no greater moment of panic in a parent's life than when their daughter begins to date.

Due to their lack of knowledge about the world their teens face coupled with the scant dating information they received as teens, many parents feel ill-equipped to guide their daughters through the minefield that is teen dating.

And by the same token, teenage girls crave information about dating and relationships. And left to their own devices, many will develop their own assumptions about dating by talking to their friends or watching the latest TV shows and movies. But that will only lead them down a path toward heartbreak.

So how do you engage your daughter in discussions about dating, relationships, and her future happiness? Expert educator Daniel Anderson and his twenty something daughter, Jacquelyn, help you navigate the biggest dating myths, including: the myth that a boyfriend will make your daughter happy, that she should trust her feelings, or that sex will enhance her relationship. Combining the latest scientific research with poignant personal stories, as well as proven truths and practical application, The 10 Myths of Teen Dating will equip you to teach your daughter how to date smart for today . . . and tomorrow.

My Thoughts:  I appreciated the real, commonsense, practical tips laid out by Daniel, based on solid principles of parenting through the dating years.  I thought the extra insights provided by his daughter were also helpful and provided a teenage perspective to each of the topics.

Though the Andersons didn't say anything that particularly surprised me, it was helpful to have it all written out and explained in such a practical way. The dating myths are definitely accurate and many girls fall for them.  I think this book may be required reading for our girls to go through together with me!


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

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



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.

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.

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