Monday, November 30, 2009

Touching Wonder


Title: TOUCHING WONDER: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas
Author: John Blasé
Publisher: David C. Cook
September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6465-2
Genre: Inspirational/Christmas/gift book


John Blasé decided to spend time in 2007 going through the advent and studying it extensively. This study time has resulted in this retelling of the birth of our Lord, and the events preceding and proceeding. Using Eugene Peterson’s The Message coupled with Mr. Blasé’s thoughts on how the recipients of the news might have responded. The end of each section is a prayer which appears to be hand-written by Mr. Blasé.

The whole book is beautifully done and will make the reader look at the story of the advent in a whole new way. You will feel the tear as Zachariah accepts the unbelievable news that at her advanced age, his wife, Elizabeth would bear a child. You can see Elizabeth awe as she recognizes the changes of her body. You can almost feel the pain Mary felt as she gave birth to God’s son.

This book, TOUCHING WONDER will be a book that you will want to read again and again, during each and every holiday season. An excellent gift for anyone on your gift list, the book is beautifully done, and aptly named. TOUCHING WONDER: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas. $12.99 hard cover. 122 pages.

Heard the Christmas Story a Few Too Many Times?

With his instant classic, Touching Wonder, author John Blase

breathes new life into the story of the Nativity


Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—Little children understand how amazing the Nativity story is. But, sometimes, as we become men and women, we put away the childlike with the childish. The result? We lose something vital—the wonder of it all. When author John Blase went looking for the lost wonder of Christmas, he went back to the place he’d last seen it—the stories from Luke 1-2. What he found fills the pages of his new book, Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas (David C Cook, September 2009), with flesh and bone and dust and night and a baby’s cry; the intimate union of human and divine—the Incarnation.



By boldly imagining the first two chapters of the gospel of Luke, writer, editor, and former pastor John Blase has created an instant classic for Christmastime. In a tale that reads like a novel parallel parked by the record of Scripture, Blase beckons those who could use a little wonder in their lives to step onto the stage of history and witness the long awaited coming of the Messiah. With Eugene Peterson’s The Message Bible translation as his backdrop, Blase adds his own voice and commentary to the historic events, exploring the renowned drama from an array of viewpoints.



In Touching Wonder, readers will meet a cast of unruly unlikelies—a frightened teenaged girl, a worried carpenter, a collection of senior citizens, a disillusioned young shepherd, even an angel or two—moving toward the realization that the little one just born is the One. This imaginative retelling of the grand miracle will leave readers wide-eyed, slack-jawed, and heart-full. The Lord is come!



In this lovely and distinctive book to be read…and re-read…and pondered in the heart, young and old will recapture the wonder of the Christmas story by seeing through the eyes of those who lived it. The book’s graceful design and Amanda Jolman’s beautiful line drawings combine to make this a thoughtful Christmas gift as well as a wonder that families will treasure for years to come.



Author Bio: John Blase’s work includes Living the Questions and Living the Letters Bible-study series, the Worldviews reference book (TH1NK), Real Life Stuff for Couples, and The Message Children’s Bible. A former pastor, John currently edits by day and writes by night. He and his wife, Meredith, have three children and make their home in Colorado.



Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas by John Blase

David C Cook/September 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4347-6465-2/hardcover/128 pages/$12.99

www.davidccook.com

You are invited to visit uReadBooks.com to listen to this new Christmas audio special!



uReadBooks presents:

Touching Wonder – A Christmas Radio Special



Does it seem like you have heard the Christmas story a few too many times for it to still hold the wonder that it once had? With his instant classic, Touching Wonder, author John Blase breathes new life into the story of the Nativity. Just in time for the holiday season, uReadBooks.com presents a half hour Christmas special featuring excerpts from this new book.


About the book:

Little children understand how amazing the Nativity story is. But, sometimes, as we become men and women, we put away the childlike with the childish. The result? We lose something vital—the wonder of it all. When author John Blase went looking for the lost wonder of Christmas, he went back to the place he’d last seen it—the stories from Luke 1-2. What he found fills the pages of his new book, Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas (David C Cook, September 2009), with flesh and bone and dust and night and a baby’s cry; the intimate union of human and divine—the Incarnation.



By boldly imagining the first two chapters of the gospel of Luke, writer, editor, and former pastor John Blase has created an instant classic for Christmastime. In a tale that reads like a novel parallel parked by the record of Scripture, Blase beckons those who could use a little wonder in their lives to step onto the stage of history and witness the long awaited coming of the Messiah. With Eugene Peterson’s The Message Bible translation as his backdrop, Blase adds his own voice and commentary to the historic events, exploring the renowned drama from an array of viewpoints.



In Touching Wonder, readers will meet a cast of unruly unlikelies—a frightened teenaged girl, a worried carpenter, a collection of senior citizens, a disillusioned young shepherd, even an angel or two—moving toward the realization that the little one just born is the One. This imaginative retelling of the grand miracle will leave readers wide-eyed, slack-jawed, and heart-full. The Lord is come!



In this lovely and distinctive book to be read…and re-read…and pondered in the heart, young and old will recapture the wonder of the Christmas story by seeing through the eyes of those who lived it. The book’s graceful design and Amanda Jolman’s beautiful line drawings combine to make this a thoughtful Christmas gift as well as a wonder that families will treasure for years to come.



Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas by John Blase

David C Cook/September 2009

www.davidccook.com



To listen to or download the program, visit www.ureadbooks.com/touchingwonder.







You are invited to visit uReadBooks.com to listen to this new Christmas audio special!





uReadBooks presents:

Touching Wonder -
A Christmas Radio Special




Does it seem like you have heard the Christmas story a few too many times for it to still hold the wonder that it once had? With his instant classic, Touching Wonder, author John Blase breathes new life into the story of the Nativity. Just in time for the holiday season, uReadBooks.com presents a half hour Christmas special featuring excerpts from this new book.





About the book:

Little children understand how amazing the Nativity story is. But, sometimes, as we become men and women, we put away the childlike with the childish. The result? We lose something vital—the wonder of it all. When author John Blase went looking for the lost wonder of Christmas, he went back to the place he’d last seen it—the stories from Luke 1-2. What he found fills the pages of his new book, Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas (David C Cook, September 2009), with flesh and bone and dust and night and a baby’s cry; the intimate union of human and divine—the Incarnation.



By boldly imagining the first two chapters of the gospel of Luke, writer, editor, and former pastor John Blase has created an instant classic for Christmastime. In a tale that reads like a novel parallel parked by the record of Scripture, Blase beckons those who could use a little wonder in their lives to step onto the stage of history and witness the long awaited coming of the Messiah. With Eugene Peterson’s The Message Bible translation as his backdrop, Blase adds his own voice and commentary to the historic events, exploring the renowned drama from an array of viewpoints.



In Touching Wonder, readers will meet a cast of unruly unlikelies—a frightened teenaged girl, a worried carpenter, a collection of senior citizens, a disillusioned young shepherd, even an angel or two—moving toward the realization that the little one just born is the One. This imaginative retelling of the grand miracle will leave readers wide-eyed, slack-jawed, and heart-full. The Lord is come!



In this lovely and distinctive book to be read…and re-read…and pondered in the heart, young and old will recapture the wonder of the Christmas story by seeing through the eyes of those who lived it. The book’s graceful design and Amanda Jolman’s beautiful line drawings combine to make this a thoughtful Christmas gift as well as a wonder that families will treasure for years to come.


Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas

by John Blase


David C Cook/September 2009

http://www.davidccook.com/


To listen to or download the program, visit www.ureadbooks.com/touchingwonder.





Sunday, November 29, 2009

Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire


Title: LOVE FINDS YOU IN BETHLEHEM, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Author: Lauralee Bliss
Publisher: Summerside Press
October 2009
ISBN: 978-1-935416-20-3
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Tom Haskins needs a wife. At least that is what everyone tells him. Actually, Tom is happy with his life as an up and coming artist, at least until all his friends settle down and start pushing for Tom to do the same. So, at a friend’s urging, Tom places an ad in a New York newspaper for a wife. And a Sara McGee responds.

Sara is surprised when her friend hands her a letter and tells Sara that she is going to New Hampshire to be a man’s wife. Who would want her? After all, Sara is homeless, poor, uneducated, and ugly. But still, this man sent money for her ticket to Bethlehem. So she packs up her meager belongings and goes.

Tom’s friend has already set Tom up with Annabelle, a wealthy socialite from Boston, but Tom still wants to meet the lady of means from New York City. He certainly isn’t expecting a homeless person to be the one answering his ad. Now what does he do? How can he explain to Sara she isn’t what he expected—while Annabelle is everything he ever dreamed of. And what if the most precious gifts don’t always come as expected?

LOVE FINDS YOU IN BETHLEHEM, NEW HAMPSHIRE is the latest in the Love Finds You series. This book is a historical, set during the Christmas season, so it’s a fantastic book to consider reading during this holiday season.

Not exactly what I was expecting in the way of a romance, LOVE FINDS YOU IN BETHLEHEM, NEW HAMPSHIRE is still a tender story. I am not used to the types of main characters that are featured in this book, Tom Haskins seems rather easily swayed by other’s opinions at first, and Sara McGee is severely lacking in self-confidence. Still, if you like tender Christmas themed stories, then LOVE FINDS YOU IN BETHELEM, NEW HAMPSHIRE is a book to consider. $12.99. 295 pages.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida


Title: LOVE FINDS YOU IN HOLIDAY, FLORIDA
Author: Sandra D. Bricker
Publisher: Summerside Press
December 2009
ISBN: 978-1-935416-25-8
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Cassie Constantine didn’t expect to find herself a widow at fifty-five. But she is, and in the midst of her holiday plans, her grown daughter calls and informs Cassie that she won’t be coming home for Christmas. So, Cassie decides to take advantage of the lull and go down to Holiday, Florida, and get the vacation house that her deceased husband loved ready to put on the market, and then head back home to her Boston brownstone.

Cassie no sooner arrives in Holiday than a neighbor’s pontoon runs into the end of her dock, forcing Cassie to make even more repair work necessary on the house. But a member of the demolition boating crew happens to be Richard Dillon who makes Cassie’s heart beat faster.

As Cassie gets involved with the neighbors, she starts taking dance lessons and letting loose from her formerly predictable ways. But can she give up her established life in Boston to take a risk on Holiday love?

LOVE FINDS YOU IN HOLIDAY, FLORIDA is the second book I’ve read by Ms. Bricker and one of my top five favorite books so far in the Love Finds You series. I thoroughly loved Cassie, Richard, and the host of other quirky characters introduced in this story. I could see the Florida landscape, I could hear the dance music, and I loved all the renovations Cassie made on her vacation house getting it ready to sell. Add a touch of mystery to this romance and we have a recipe for enjoyment.

LOVE FINDS YOU IN HOLIDAY, FLORIDA is a fun Christmas themed book that is sure to be a favorite for holiday seasons to come. So grab your dancing shoes, and get ready to do the hustle at a neighborhood Christmas party you won’t soon forget. $12.99. 328 pages.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Patchwork Christmas

Title: A PATCHWORK CHRISTMAS
Author: Kristin Eckhardt
Publisher: Guideposts
October 2008
Contemporary women’s fiction

Charlotte wants to make Christmas memorable for her three orphaned grandchildren, but circumstances seem to dictate the their holiday would be just as rough as the rest of the year – their first year since the loss of their mother. A bully is picking on Sam at school and as a result Sam is suspended from school. Another bully is picking on Emily, and Emily tries her hardest to ignore her, but it is difficult when confrontations are forced.

Things seem to be picking up for Sam when his best friend from California calls to invite him to California for Christmas, but Charlotte is heartbroken. She wants Sam to stay in Nebraska with them and celebrate Christmas with the family.

As Charlotte learns how to handle difficult situations will she discover that she can trust God to work things out the best way for their family?

A PATCHWORK CHRISTMAS is the fifth book in the Home to Heather Creek series. Each book in the series is written by a different author, but they all feature the same family as they follow Charlotte and her family through this first difficult year. I had the privilege of reading most of the books in the series, even ones that follow this book, and know that each of the stories stand alone. I’m reading the series out of order, and it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference, though I imagine that it might be smoother if a one could read them straight through, in order.

I enjoyed getting to know Charlotte and her family and I sympathized with some of the things that happened in the story—like when Emily was given the part of a sheep for the Christmas pageant. I know my fourteen year old daughter would die of mortification if that is what she had to do in a pageant, and so Emily’s response was completely realistic. I loved the blizzard in the book – I could actually see the snow and feel the chill. If you are looking for a great Christmas read, pick up A PATCHWORK CHRISTMAS. Available by calling 1-800- 431-2344. 262 pages. Hardcover.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Battle Ready


Though they may not know it, those who want to serve God will undoubtedly face unexpected hardships, seasons of frustration and seeming futility, and find themselves painted into what seem like impossible corners. And then there are the giants, those brutal, lumbering monstrosities that crash into our lives—unexpected and uninvited—and show every intention of taking up residence. These giants don’t have six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. Instead, they take on the ugly face of disease, disappointment, depression, addiction, financial reversal, career setback, family breakdown, and personal failure.

“The diverse giants we fight can threaten our peace, well-being and very existence. And the man who desires to be used by God will face not just one giant in his life, but many,” writes Steve Farrar. “That’s the nature of the Christian life. It’s from faith to faith or, to put it another way, from giant to giant.”

In Battle Ready, Farrar teaches men the importance of training and preparing for combat with these giants by examining the real life biographies of men who made an impact in their world, Bible warriors Caleb and Joshua. While exploring the lives of Joshua, who led the Israelites into the Promised Land, and Caleb, who trusted God, and not himself, for victory in battle, Farrar offers perspective, strong counsel, and hope for every man who longs to serve God.

Excerpts from Battle Ready by Steve Farrar:

Giants

If you want to be used—really picked up and significantly utilized—by the living God, you’re going to have to fight the giants.

If you think that sounds simplistic, you’re right.

It is simple. But it’s also the truth.

Joshua and Caleb were used by God. They didn’t squander or waste their lives. They were used, made a difference, contributed, gave more than they took, and, consequently, their lives are remembered and valued to this day. Why?

Because they were willing to fight the giants.

You probably know the story. Joshua and Caleb were part of a twelve man team sent out by Moses to do some advance reconnaissance work in the land of Canaan. The children of Israel had just left hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt and were headed to the Promised Land, the land of Canaan. In Numbers 13, God told Moses to pick a leader from each of the twelve tribes in order to do special ops in the land.

The twelve men completed the mission and returned to give their report to Moses and the people of Israel. They reported that it was a fabulous land of milk and honey. They even brought a cluster of grapes out with them—a cluster so heavy it took two men to carry it. But then they got down to the nitty-gritty:

However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.

But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” (vv. 28–31)

These ten spies are quaking in their boots. All of these different tribes of -ites have given them the heebie-jeebies. The battle hasn’t even begun, and these guys are already looking for the locker room.

But they weren’t done yet with their cowardly report. The old King James Version does the best job of capturing the trembling in their hearts and the shaking of their voices:

But the men that went up with him said, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.”

And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (vv. 31–33)

Did these ten men go on to be used by God?

Did they ever inspire anyone by their example?

Did they ever lead men into battle?

Were they remembered as men of honor and courage?

Are you kidding me?

The Greatest Giant

Heart attack, loss of job, a wife with cancer, a son in jail, fighting off a foreclosure—those are all legitimate giants. But what is the greatest giant of all? I teach a men’s study in Dallas on Wednesday evenings, and I recently asked that question of the men: “What is the greatest giant of them all?”

When I asked for verbal feedback, it came fast and furious. The answers ricocheted from every corner of the room.

Pride!

Pornography!

Lust!

Guilt!

Regret!

Failure!

Betrayal!

I interrupted the responses and said, “Those are very good answers—very wise answers—but they are all wrong. What else have you got? What is the greatest giant of them all?”

Selfish ambition!

Greed!

The love of money!

Multiple divorces!

Growing up without a father!

An ex-wife who degrades you before the children!

Failing as a father!

Lying!

Breaking a trust!

Fear!

I broke in and said, “I want to commend you for those answers. They aren’t superficial, and they are gut-level honest. And those are all big giants. But once again they’re all wrong. Let me give you the answer. The biggest giant of them all is God.”

And just that quickly, the room of several hundred men grew very quiet. In fact, you could have heard a pin drop as the reality of the answer penetrated the mind of every man in the room.

Every man has fought and is fighting giants. And make no mistake, these giants are huge. Sometimes, however, in the process of grappling with these intimidating, overwhelming giants, we forget the greatest Giant. God is the greatest of all the giants.

Joshua and Caleb knew that, and that’s why they stood up and spoke against the panic of the other ten spies.

Samuel Adams and John Hancock knew it as well, and that’s why they stood and spoke against tyranny in the name of almighty God. God is the trump card of your life. It doesn’t matter what giant you may be facing—booze, porn, guilt, lying, cocaine, failure, invading armies, whatever—God trumps your giant. He will always trump the giants—every single one of them. But we can so quickly forget that He is there.

After the recent presidential election, some Christians were elated and some were depressed. Many who were depressed expressed great concern over the continuing survival of our democracy. Now that’s a major giant.

Samuel Adams and John Hancock wanted a democratic nation to be born. I don’t know of any serious Christian who doesn’t want it to survive.

So how do you defeat this particular giant? You go to Daniel 2:20–21:

Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings.”

The follow-up to God Built, the first in the Bold Man of God series, Battle Ready will prepare men of all ages, at every stage of their spiritual walk, to become men God can use—men who are battle ready!

©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. Battle Ready by Steve Farrar. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Author Bio: Steve Farrar is the founder and chairman of Men’s Leadership Ministries, an organization dedicated to equipping men for spiritual leadership. He is a frequent speaker at men’s events and conferences across the country and is the best-selling author of God Built and Point Man. Steve and his family reside in the Dallas, Texas area.

Battle Ready: Prepare to Be Used by God by Steve Farrar
David C Cook/September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6869-8/256 pages/softcover/$14.99
www.davidccook.com www.stevefarrar.com

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why Did God Give Us Emotions?


Title: WHY DID GOD GIVE US EMOTIONS
Author: Reneau Peurifoy, R.A.
Publisher: LifeSkills Publications
September 2009
ISBN: 978-0-929437-16-3
Genre: Christian living

Emotions can take us to the heights of ecstasy and throw us into the depths of despair. They bind us together and tear us apart. They can make us courageous and lead us to self-sacrifice, or they can be the force behind acts of evil and destruction.

Did you ever wonder why God made us this way? Did God give biblical advice on how to manage or control or emotions? In WHY DID GOD GIVE US EMOTIONS, Mr. Peurifoy takes us on a detailed look at the sources of our emotional responses and the role that our emotions play in our thoughts, actions, and relationships with others and with God.

Mr. Peurifoy worked on this book for over twenty years, studying the many facets of our human emotions. He holds a master’s degree in counseling, and so he is qualified to discuss this topic with some degree of expertise. To quote Mr. Peurifoy:

“From the very start I’ve had two goals: I wanted to look at what science has learned about emotions from a biblical perspective, and I wanted to do it in a way that would strengthen the reader’s walk with God,” Peurifoy states. “Over the last two decades, I’ve seen the strengths of science and psychology in helping people and making our lives more comfortable. I’ve also become acutely aware of the inability of science and psychology to address the true source of human misery: sin and our separation from God. I believe that God has helped me write a book that will be useful to many.”

WHY DID GOD GIVE US EMOTIONS addresses these questions, among others:

• Are some emotions “good” and others “bad”?
• The role of medications in treating emotional problems
• How our core beliefs affect our interpretation of events
• How emotions are the true window into our souls
• How to stop hiding from “taboo” emotions
• What keeps us from hearing God
• The role emotions play in becoming the person God wants us to become

WHY DID GOD GIVE US EMOTIONS is an excellent resource for pastors, counselors, and those that struggle with emotional issues. Discussion questions and suggested activities are provided, along with guidelines for managing emotions more effectively so that they glorify God. Also excellent for small group study. $16.95. 227 pages.



Q: Let’s talk about the “elephant nature” of emotions. Why are emotions such a mystery to us?



A: A well-known Indian parable tells of six blind men who encounter an elephant for the first time. As each one touches a different part of the elephant, they arrive at conflicting conclusions as to what the elephant is like. The first man touches the elephant’s leg and states that it is like a pillar. The second touches the tail and declares it to be like a rope. The third touches the trunk and says it is like the thick branch of a tree, etc. Although each man’s perception is accurate, none has really understood the true nature of the elephant.



The same thing can happen with emotions when individual aspects of emotions are studied without stepping back periodically to see how they interconnect. The four main aspects of emotions explored in detail in Why Did God Give Us Emotions? include:



· The subjective nature of emotions: This includes how they make you feel, how they focus your energy and attention and how they urge you to take actions to obtain the things you want and avoid the things you don’t want. This aspect of emotions also includes the experiential understanding of events and concepts that is much more powerful than simple knowledge.



· The physical side of emotions: This includes the various parts of the brain associated with emotions, the physical reactions they cause in your body and the ways injury, illness or other malfunctions of the brain can affect how you think and feel.



· The mental side of emotions: This includes the role that your thoughts and beliefs play in generating emotions and how emotions, in turn, affect your thoughts.



· The spiritual side of emotions: This includes the way emotions reveal both your true character and the nature of your relationship with God as you struggle to live in a broken world. It also includes the way emotions give us insights about the nature of God.



Q: Can some emotions be good and others bad?



A: Christians sometimes spend a great deal of time pondering this question, whether some emotions, such as love, are good and others, such as anger, are bad. This is similar to wondering whether your hands are good or bad. Emotions, like every other aspect of your being, were originally intended to help you enjoy and serve God. However, just as the actions of your hands can be pleasing or abhorrent to God, your emotions can also serve good or evil. What we need to focus on is the source of the emotion or action. The source of evil lies in a mind and heart tainted with sin. The actions you take and the emotions you experience are just the outer expression of what is in your heart and mind. Yielding to the Holy Spirit transforms your inner being into what God intended it to be. As this occurs, your emotions, desires and thoughts are transformed so they function more closely to what God intends.



Q: In the introduction to Why Did God Give Us Emotions?, you point out that this book was twenty years in the making. Why such a long process?



A: When I completed my first book, Anxiety, Phobias & Panic: Taking Charge and Conquering Fear in 1988, I knew that I wanted to write a companion version from a Christian perspective. However, after being back in church for only four years and with so many conflicting ideas from my wanderings still in my head, I knew I wasn’t ready. In 1995, I started attending classes through Fuller Seminary’s extension program to deepen my understanding of the Bible. At this time I learned Greek and began studying the New Testament in Greek. A year later I wrote the first draft of this book but realized after several chapters that I was not yet mature enough in faith or understanding to write the book I wanted to write. So, I put it aside. I made another attempt to write it about five years later, but again was dissatisfied with the results.



Now, after twenty years of being humbled and growing in Christ, I believe that God has helped me write a book that will be useful to many. From the very start, I’ve had two goals: I wanted to look at what science has learned about emotions from a biblical perspective, and I wanted to do it in a way that would strengthen the readers’ walk with God. Over the last two decades I’ve seen the strengths of science and psychology in helping people and making our lives more comfortable. I’ve also become acutely aware of the inability of science and psychology to address the true source of human misery: sin and our separation from God.



Why Did God Give Us Emotions? by Reneau Peurifoy

LifeSkills Publications September 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-929437-16-3/240 pages/softcover/$16.95

www.rpeurifoy.com www.whyemotions.com


Thank you to the publicist for providing a copy of this book.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana and contest


Title: LOVE FINDS YOU IN LONESOME PRAIRIE, MONTANA
Authors: Tricia Goyer & Ocieanna Fleiss
Publisher: Summerside Press
November 2009
ISBN: 978-1-935416-29-6
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Julia Cavanaugh is an orphan. Raised in an orphanage, when she grew up she became kind of the second in command at the home. But then the headmistress decides to get married and she puts all the girls on an orphan train west—with Julia to accompany them. Julia plans to return to New York as soon as the children are delivered to their new homes but when she gets there she discovers an unpleasant surprise—she’s been promised to an old prospector to be his mail-order bride.

When Julia misses the train, trying to escape the miner’s unwelcome attentions, she turns to a circuit rider preacher for assistance. But the parson, Isaac, has further unwelcome news. Julia’s ticket was one way. She had no options but to stay. Isaac did manage to talk to the prospector into holding off on the “staking of his claim” though.

With no where to go and no friends, Julia is at a loss what to do next, and her options are bleak. What are God’s plans for a lonely woman stranded in the middle of the vast Montana prairie?

LOVE FINDS YOU IN LONESOME PRAIRIE, MONTANA is a combined effort between two authors. I didn’t feel much of Tricia’s voice in this story, but even if she didn’t do much other than loan her name, the writing was still stellar. The first two chapters kind of dragged a bit for me, but once I got into chapter three I was into the story and I had to keep reading to see what happened next. The first two chapters, while dragging, did set the stage for events that would follow for both characters later in the book.

Julia and Isaac were both wonderfully developed characters and I fell in love with both of them. There are also a host of other characters that were fun, quirky, and nice to get to know. I enjoyed reading LOVE FINDS YOU IN LONESOME PRAIRIE, MONTANA, and I’m looking forward to this teams’ next book coming by Summerside Press. $12.99.
348 pages.

ABOUT THE BOOK!

In 1890, Julia Cavanaugh travels west from New York City to unite orphans in her care with new families.

Imagine her horror when she discovers that she's to be "delivered," too--as bride to an uncouth miner! But with no return fare, Julia's options are bleak.

What does God have planned for her on the lonesome prairies of Montana?

Read more!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Tricia Goyer is the author of several books, including Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights, both past winners of the ACFW's Book of the Year Award for Long Historical Romance. Goyer lives with her family in Montana. To find out more visit her website: www.triciagoyer.com

Ocieanna Fleiss is a published writer and has edited six of Tricia Goyer's historical novels. She lives with her husband and their four children in the Seattle area. Connect with Ocieanna on Facebook!


BUY THE BOOK!
http://www.triciagoyer.com/store.html?n=1

Contest:

The authors, Tricia and Ocieanna, have put together one humdinger of a contest for this blog tour! Enter the Fall in Love With Lonesome Prairie Contest and WIN a perty Montana Gift Basket!



To enter, simply fill out the entry form (http://www.triciagoyer.com/contest.html ), (then tell 5 or more friends about the contest)! The winner will be announced December 14th, just in time for an old-fashioned Montana Christmas. Giddy-up!



The Winner of our ‘Fall in Love with Lonesome Prairie’ giveaway will receive a fantastic Montana Gift Basket, including:

*Winter fleece throw

*Huckleberry chocolate bar

*Paula Dean candle

*Burt’s Bees gift set

*Wild Huckleberry taffy

*Montana stationary notebook

*Montana greeting card set

*Montana ball cap

*Montana apron

*Montana refrigerator magnet

*Charlie Russell 2010 Montana Calendar

Monday, November 23, 2009

An Amish Christmas


Title: AN AMISH CHRISTMAS
Authors: Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Barbara Cameron
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
November 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59554-821-4
Genre: Inspirational/Amish/Christmas

It’s Christmas time in Paradise, Pennsylvania, and three Amish couples experience hope, redemption, and new life.

A Miracle for Miriam – by Kathleen Fuller. Miriam has been in love with Seth since they were in school together, but when she was fourteen, Seth stomped all over her heart. When he grew up he left the Amish faith. But now Seth is back, and he seems to be interested in pursuing a relationship with Miriam. But Miriam is having nothing of it. After all, she’s still the same four-eyed, ugly beanpole he made fun of when they were kids. Can Seth convince Miriam that in his eyes she is beautiful?

A Choice to Forgive – by Beth Wiseman. Lydia has built a life for herself when her fiancé Daniel vanished one Christmas eve. She married Daniel’s brother Elam, and they had three children. But now Elam is dead, and Daniel is back, and he’s asking Lydia for forgiveness and a second chance. Lydia doesn’t believe she’s capable of providing either. How can she go back to normal life with her long lost love as her neighbor?

One Child – by Barbara Cameron. Sarah has wanted a baby for as long as she’s been married, but her pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Now a very pregnant woman and her husband are stranded at Sarah’s house during a blizzard, and the Englisch woman is in labor. Will Sarah be able to accept the responsibility of carrying for someone so very different who has the one thing Sarah wants?

AN AMISH CHRISTMAS is a collection of three Amish stories, written by three very different women. I absolutely loved this collection, though my very favorite story is A Miracle for Miriam, and my second favorite was A Choice to Forgive. Really, it was tough to choose between the two. I enjoyed The final story too, but it didn’t read as smooth as the first two, and at times seemed a bit of an information dump.

If you like Amish stories and or Christmas stories, you will not want to miss AN AMISH CHRISTMAS. Hardcover, with an absolutely beautiful cover, this book is also wonderful for gift giving. Plus discussion questions and a couple Amish recipes are included at the end of the book. $16.99. 444 pages.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Shadows on the River & The Thanksgiving Target

Two suspense for your reading pleasure



Title: SHADOWS ON THE RIVER
Author: Linda Hall
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
April 2009
ISBN: 978-0-373-44336-9
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Ally was only fourteen when she witnessed a murder on the riverbank. The murder went unpunished because it was a prominent family, and they convinced everyone that Ally couldn’t have seen what she thought she saw—that Ally was crazy and needed help. Ally’s father ended up losing his job and they were forced to move away from the community.

Years later, Ally still wonders if she imagined the whole thing. But when the murderers financial advisor is killed, Ally is out for revenge. This man, Larry, can’t get away with two murders. And when a new employee at the boat design place where Ally works seems to have an agenda against Larry, they team up to prove his guilt.

But soon, some one seems to be targeting Ally and her young daughter Maddy. And when someone else is killed, the solving takes a sense of urgency.

SHADOWS ON THE RIVER is probably the best Love Inspired Suspense I’ve read in a long time. Definitely different than the rest, this one still held my interest to the end. Written in first person, I got to know that main character, Ally, very well, and I also grew to care for her deaf daughter, Maddy, and Ally’s small circle of friends.

If you are looking for a good suspense, then SHADOWS ON THE RIVER is definitely one to consider. While I did figure out who the killer was pretty early, I still wanted to keep reading to see how the story played out. Ms. Hall made me care about the characters in this book. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. Available from www.steeplehill.com. $5.50. 204 pages.

****

Title: THE THANKSGIVING TARGET
Author: Laura Scott
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
November 2009
ISBN: 978-0-373-44364-2
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Army lieutenant Max Forrester is excited to be stateside and able to celebrate Thanksgiving with his sister, Melissa. He’s been in Iraq for some time, and has missed seeing his little sister. But when Max arrives in town, he discovers that Melissa is in the hospital beaten into a coma by her boyfriend, Gary. And now Melissa is fighting for her life.

Tara Carmichael is Melissa’s social worker. She was stunned when the hospital calls to tell her about Melissa’s condition, and horrified to learn that Melissa’s abusive boyfriend has been allowed to do this to her. When Max arrives on the scene, Tara is apprehensive, until she is able to prove that Max is who he says he is.

But it soon becomes apparent that someone is after Tara as well. Max is torn between being at his sister’s side and taking care of the woman who cares for his sister. If only he could find a way to care for both women at once. But Tara and Melissa aren’t the only ones in danger when the stalker’s true target is revealed…

THE THANKSGIVING TARGET is the first book I’ve read by Laura Scott, and since I can’t find any information on previously published books, I believe this is her debut novel. THE THANKSGIVING TARGET is a well-written story, with a voice that is unique in the suspense line.

I enjoyed getting to know Tara and Max. They are both well-developed characters with issues to work through that could hamper their eventual get-together. Ms. Scott did an excellent job writing a formula story, but still one that held my attention from the beginning to the end. I look forward to reading many more books by Ms. Scott in the future. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book.

Thank you to the author and The Suspense Zone for providing the copy of these books for review.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Gathering of Finches


Title: A GATHERING OF FINCHES
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher: Multnomah
June 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60142-247-7
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Cassie Hendrick was the oldest daughter, but her parents both favored her younger sister, Margaret and didn’t care who knew it. One fateful day, Cassie happened to be accompanying her father when he stopped to talk with a business associate, Josiah Stearns. Cassie, growing bored of waiting in the cab, climbed out and approached her father, essentially inviting Josiah for tea. But her father suffered a stroke, and within a matter of days, died.

Cassie is stunned when Josiah appears and requests her hand in marriage. Her mother tries to refuse, instead insisting that Margaret would be the better choice, the prettier one, the lady, while Cassie is just…nothing. Nothing, but Cassie. But Josiah won’t be swayed. And soon, Cassie finds herself married to Josiah.

But marriage, even with all its benefits, doesn’t bring Cassie what she needs or wants most—happiness or forgiveness. And even though her husband is prosperous, and adoring, Cassie must learn her lessons on her own. What will it take to bring her heart peace?

A GATHERING OF FINCHES is the newest book by Jane Kirkpatrick. I’ve read most of her books thus far, and am looking forward to reading many more. Rich in description, I could see the setting, taste the food, and hear the surrounding noises, including the harshness of Cassie’s talking bird.

Written in first person, it was easy to get to know Cassie, and I couldn’t help but feel her pain as her father basically supports her worthlessness in his eyes with his dying words. I hoped that Josiah’s love would help Cassie to realize that she does have worth, and she does deserve to have happiness. Based on a true story, a fascinating letter by the author (at the end of the book) gives dates, and tells the rest of the story. I highly recommend reading that portion of the book after finishing the novel. Previously published in 1997, this is a reprint. $6.99. 387 pages. .

Friday, November 20, 2009

Double Cross


Title: DOUBLE CROSS
Author: James David Jordan
Publisher: Broadman & Holman
October 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8054-4754-5
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Taylor Pasbury’s day started ordinarily enough. Prominent televangelist Simon Mason was dead, and as Simon’s body guard, Taylor feels compelled to investigate the reason behind the half a million dollars that has vanished from his ministry account. The logical place to start is with Simon’s top assistant, Elise. But when Taylor and Simon’s daughter, Kacey, arrive at Elise’s house, they discover she’s committed suicide, and even left a note that makes sense. Still, something doesn’t feel right.

Not more than a few hours after leaving the scene, Taylor’s mother reappears after abandoning Taylor as a child. But Taylor doesn’t have much time for niceties. She is more interested in the disappearance of the money, of a company owned laptop, and the strange feeling she has about Elise’s death. But when Taylor begins to investigate, shots begin to fly.

Now, Taylor with her mother in tow, is headed down a twisting trail of danger and deceit, and is discovering that nothing can be taken at face value. Will she discover the truth leads to revelation and restoration…or disaster?

DOUBLE CROSS is the first book I read by James David Jordan, but I’m sure it won’t be the last. This book was exciting, fast-pasted, and the story started with the changing moment, as all good books should. Written in first-person, it was easy to get to know Taylor, and to grow to care about her and her friend, Kacey.

DOUBLE CROSS grabbed my interest from the beginning and held it all the way through. I wanted to find out if Elise’s death was in fact a suicide, as appearances suggest, or if she was murdered. Where did the laptop go? And where is the money? I also hoped that Taylor and her mother would work out their relationship issues. Don’t miss DOUBLE CROSS. $14.99. 387 pages.

Q: Double Cross is your third novel, but writing is not your full time job. You are a successful business attorney. Tell us how and why you started writing.

A: I’ve always enjoyed writing and always considered it a challenge to write a novel and get it published. Like most beginning writers, I was naïve and didn’t know how much I didn’t know about writing. I knew that when I did write, I wanted to write about life’s "big" issue which, at least in my mind, is faith.

Q: How much of your inspiration for writing novels comes from your true life experiences as an attorney?

A: Very little really. I don’t want to write about work because it would be too much like being at work. Writing and sports are what I do to get a break from being an attorney.

Q: Your latest book is a follow-up to Forsaken in which your main characters were presented with what seems an almost impossible dilemma. Can you share what that situation was and why you chose to address this thought-provoking topic for your book?

A: In Forsaken, a famous televangelist is forced to decide between his faith and his daughter’s life. It’s a dilemma that is perfect for a Christian suspense thriller. I chose it because of the Bible verse that says that if we don’t love Jesus more than our family members, we’re not worthy of him. That’s a tough rule, and I wanted to explore what it would be like to be faced with that choice.

Q: Double Cross continues the story of Taylor Pasbury. Tell us about Taylor and what makes her tick.

A: Taylor was raised by her father, a former Special Forces officer, after her mother ran out when she was a child. Taylor knows how to take care of herself and did stints on a Dallas SWAT team and in the Secret Service before opening her own security agency. She’s the person you want next to you in a crisis, but she is terribly insecure on a personal level which makes her attractively vulnerable. Her father was murdered when she was seventeen, and she’s been adrift. She’s not someone anyone would describe as a religious person which makes her an interesting narrator for a novel with a Christian theme.

Q: You have a knack for weaving deep spiritual truths into intriguing story lines. What’s the secret to making a spiritual point without creating a plot that seems too contrived?

A: The trick is to find a story idea in which the characters would naturally be expected to think about spiritual angles. Let’s face it. Despite what the popular press and Hollywood would like us to believe, the average person in this country does think about spiritual issues—not necessarily daily or even regularly—but not just rarely, either. Some events in life naturally focus the ordinary American’s mind on the spiritual. Even people who don’t consider themselves religious are generally willing to consider spiritual issues as long as they’re not presented as part of an evangelical bludgeoning.

Q: This book deals a lot with abandonment. Was there anything in your own life or in the lives of others around you that made you take on this difficult subject?

A: Perhaps, but Double Cross is not a book about me or about anyone I know. My characters tend to be composites, with characteristics of many different people I’ve met.

Q: In Forsaken, Taylor Pasbury deals with the pain of losing her father. In Double Cross, she is set alongside her eccentric mother. What do you hope comes across to readers through Taylor’s relationship with her mother?

A: In many ways Taylor’s mother is remarkably self-absorbed, but Taylor comes to understand, at least to an extent, why it is so difficult for her mother to give unconditional love. She also learns some important things about how faith and forgiveness work. Most importantly, she learns that grace can never be earned.

Q: Taylor, like so many young adult women, has difficulty finding men that she can trust. Talk about the connection between a young woman’s relationship to her father, and how that translates to her relationship with other men. Is there a connection there that you hope will penetrate your readers?

A: First, I don’t pretend to have any unique insight with respect to a twenty-nine-year-old woman’s dating relationships. I didn’t even understand that when I was twenty-nine myself. But I do know that Taylor is hyper-critical of men, perhaps because she believes that none of them can measure up to her father (who made a terrible sacrifice for her when she was young). She has difficulty identifying a good man, even when he’s right in front of her. Like many young women, I think, she’s attracted to the bad boys. For Taylor, part of dealing with the many problems her background has created for her is learning that there are some good men out there if she’ll just cut them some slack.

Q: You write about characters who are very flawed and sometimes self-destructive. Why have you chosen to present a message of faith through such messy characters?

A: I don’t think anyone gets much out of reading about religious super heroes. We’ve all got our faults and our problems, and Christians don’t have to be perfect people. In many ways, I almost think God likes us better when we don’t try to act so perfect and instead acknowledge our own flaws.

Q: Is this the end of the road for Taylor Pasbury, or will we see her again?

A: Right now, it looks as if Taylor is going to appear again in a Michael Crichton-style techno thriller. She is going to walk the border line between science and religion when she’s hired to protect an orphan boy who has a baffling ability that causes a lot of powerful world players to want to get their hands on him. I just need to find the time to write it.

From Suicide to Sacrifice
In James David Jordan’s new thriller, Double Cross,

an ex-Secret Service agent deals with the truth about her past

“The day my mother came back into my life began with a low December fog and a suicide.” So begins James David Jordan’s latest novel, Double Cross, which follows the exploits of Taylor Pasbury, a young ex-Secret Service agent with a checkered past and a penchant for finding trouble. Even as a high school kid, Taylor knew she was not like most other girls. Raised by her father, a retired Special Forces officer, she learned to camp, shoot, and most of all, take care of herself. Now a young adult, Pasbury opens her own security agency and finds herself in the middle of a mysterious case full of danger and intrigue.

When the top assistant of her former client turns up dead, all signs point to embezzlement and suicide. But in the world of Taylor Pasbury, nothing is as it seems. A trail of clues leads to Taylor’s mother, who abandoned her when she was nine. What begins as a suicide investigation becomes a personal quest to find the truth about her past.

Double Cross is an action-packed story that provides thrilling twists and turns as well as a thought-provoking look at the personal and spiritual struggles of characters who are as complex as they are flawed. Ultimately, it’s a story of self-examination that describes Taylor’s journey toward the conclusion that some sacrifices can never be earned.

James David Jordan is a successful business attorney in Dallas, Texas, and was named by the Dallas Business Journal as one of the most influential leaders in that legal community. Jordan followed his aspirations of becoming an author, taking five years to create his first book, Something That Lasts, which was well-received by both critics and the public. His second book, Forsaken, won the Reader’s Choice award from RelzReviews and The Suspense Zone.

Jordan writes with a commitment to tell page-turning stories that challenge readers to explore and grow in their faith. With gripping authenticity, Jordan examines subjects of family and faith and skillfully draws readers into the crisis faced by Taylor Pasbury. Along the way, readers will find ample opportunity to re-assess their own life situations and wrestle with their own thoughts about forgiveness and grace.



Double Cross by James David Jordan

B&H Publishing Group October 2009

ISBN: 978-08054-4754-5/softcover/302 pages/$14.99

Visit the author’s website to view the trailer - www.jamesdavidjordan.com


Thanks to the publicist for providing a copy of this book

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Levi's Will




Title: LEVI’S WILL
Author: W. Dale Cramer
Publisher: Bethany House
2009, reprinted from 2005
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0712-9
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary

Will Mullet decides to run away from his over-bearing father and the shame he caused the Amish church. In the darkness, when the family slept, Will, and his younger brother, Tobe, crept down the stairs and hopped a train heading south.

Will & Tobe’s Amish upbringing served them well. Both boys knew how to do a man’s work, but Will was running into problems in the work world. Pretending to be in the World was one thing. But there was a war going on. And Will was no longer claiming any part of the Amish. And so Will enlists in the military.

It is said that a man can’t go home again. When the war was over, can Will go home again? Will he even want to? And is there a way to build a bridge across generations?

I read LEVI’S WILL when it first came out and I enjoyed it then. I was thrilled when I got the chance to review it as a reprint. LEVI’S WILL is powerfully written, a story of relationships between fathers and sons, and between brothers.

The story is told more than shown, so as a reader I was kept distant, still, I couldn’t help but care for Will while not appreciating some of his decisions. I highly recommend LEVI’S WILL whether you read it in 2005 when it first came out or if this is the first time you discovered it. $13.99. 396 pages.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Christmas Miracles & interview with Cec and Marley


post a comment to be entered to win a wonderful Christmas basket from the author

Atlanta, GA) Many ordinary people experience Christmas miracles—those special moments during the season of giving and receiving when Christmas becomes more than just a holiday. In Christmas Miracles (St. Martin’s Press, October 2009), Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson share the stories of those who have recognized the special moments that transcend daily experience and transform their lives.
In these stories, people overcome desperate situations through a miraculous twist of fate—all during the most wonderful time of the year. A young boy sits down to read a Christmas book and discovers that his learning disability has vanished. A woman stranded in a blizzard is rescued by a mysterious stranger who she suspects is an angel. And a woman living far from home gets an answer to her prayer in the form of an unexpected gift.



Bestselling author Cecil Murphey says, “We all face discouraging times, whether it's the lack of money, being stuck on a road in a snowstorm, feeling stress, or being hungry and homeless. But God's help is available. I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural. We start by asking, and in strange and wonderful ways God tiptoes into our dark nights; we experience renewed joy in life and witness God in action through people and unexpected events.”


Interview with Cecil “Cec” Murphey

by Marley Gibson

Co-authors of Christmas Miracles, from St. Martin’s Press

I am extremely privileged to have the opportunity today to talk to my friend and co-author, Cecil “Cec” Murphey, and to chat about our upcoming book, Christmas Miracles.

Marley: Cec, thanks for spending some time with me today.

Cec: Marley, it's great that you could take time away from important things like making a living to spend a little time with me.

Marley: I’m so jazzed about our Christmas Miracles book that’s coming out soon. I’ve had a lot of questions from folks wanting to know how we met, what brought us together, etc. So, I thought we’d do a back and forth on how it all came to be. Of course, I have to give props to our amazing agent and friend, Deidre Knight, for bringing us together. For those of you who don’t know, Cec co-authored the runaway New York Times bestselling hit 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper.

Cec: I have to say thanks to Deidre Knight as well. Between Deidre and my assistant, Twila Belk, I've been able to sell quite a few books. 90 Minutes in Heaven has been my big book. I'm also proud of a book I wrote in 1990 called Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. The book has never been out of print and has hit close to four million in sales. Early this year, Cuba Gooding Jr. starred in the made-for-TV film version.

Marley: That’s amazing! You are truly prophetic and definitely “the man behind the words.” Now, people ask how we teamed up. Sadly, there was a personal tragedy that brought Cec and me together as friends.

Cec: True. In early 2007, our house burned and our son-in-law died. Aside from the grief over Alan, we lost everything. Deidre and Jan, my-then-assistant, sent the word out of our tragedy without telling me. I'm immensely grateful for every gift people sent, but I probably wouldn't have admitted I needed help and wouldn't have asked. They taught me how much we need other people.

Marley: Deidre put out a call to other clients of The Knight Agency, to help Cec and his family out in any way in their time of need. At the time, my company was moving and we were cleaning house. We had a ton of office supplies that we were either going to throw away or give to some of the charities the company worked with. I got my boss’ permission to send a large care package to Cec…full of office supplies for him to re-stock his writer’s office. You name it…post-its, staples, paper clips, pens, pencils, markers, white out, ruler, scissors, paper, notebooks, notepads, envelopes, a laptop case, tape, glue, folders, binder clips…etc. A veritable potpourri of office delights. I was hoping that it would help Cec have a sense of getting his office back so he could keep working.

Cec: Marley's gift was the most unexpected I received. We hadn't met, although Deidre Knight had spoken of her many times and kept telling me she was wonderful. I wonder if you can imagine what it was like for me to open that box from someone I didn't know. I saw all those practical things for my office and yelled for my wife. I felt as if I were reading a first-grade book. "Look! Look and see! Oh, look!" I was overwhelmed by the gift and even more to receive it from a stranger. Those supplies were the most practical gift anyone could have given me. I'm still using black paper clips and red folders from Marley.

Marley: Awww…thanks, Cec! I didn’t have to think twice about doing it. Writing is such a solitary “sport,” but the writing community always astounds me with how they help their own. Not long after that, over plates of spinach and Gouda omelets, Deidre introduced me to Cec in person and I was thrilled to finally meet the man behind the words. Deidre knew we needed to work on a project together and thus began our brainstorming. What did you think of that first meeting, Cec, and cooking up the idea to work together?

Cec: Deidre and I had already spoken about a Christmas book and I had some idea about what it should contain, but nothing had come together. One day Deidre told me that Marley was coming to visit her and she wanted us to work together on a Christmas project. Marley and I talked before we ate and again during the meal. Everything felt right to me. I knew my strengths and Marley knew hers (and Deidre knew both of us). Everything clicked. Marley, a far better networker than I am, immediately sent out the word for submissions. Within days she had almost four times more than we could use. (She read every one of them!)

Marley: I was truly impressed with the submissions we received and it was hard narrowing it down to the ones we chose for the book. We’re fortunate to have such a go-getter agent in Deidre Knight. Cec, can you share how the whole idea of Christmas Miracles came about and what you thought of the project originally?

Cec: For me, it actually started while I was on the rapid-rail train from the Atlanta airport when I listened to teens talk about Christmas and it was mostly about gifts. I had the idea then, but nothing really came together. Months later when Deidre I and had a meeting, she brought up the idea of a compilation and mentioned my working with Marley. I've been Deidre Knight's client since 1997 and I've learned to listen carefully when she comes up with an idea. I said yes before she gave me all the information.

Marley: That’s the truth about Deidre! Getting back to those submissions, I want to say we got more than two hundred submissions for Christmas Miracles. So many wonderful stories to read through and select for the book. It was a challenge to pick and choose which ones were right for the book, but I loved every minute of it. After I chose the entries that would go into the book, Cec toiled long hours editing the works for a unified voice. What was the biggest challenge you found in the editing process, Cec?

Cec: I've been a ghostwriter and collaborator for twenty-plus years and this was a switch to give the book a unified voice—which was mine. It would have been easier to stay with each writer's voice, but the book—like many compilations—would have been uneven in tone and quality. When I discussed this via email with our delightful editor, Rose Hilliard, she was (to my surprise) familiar with my work. She told me she liked the warm tone of my writing and that I don't waste words. "That's the voice we want," she said. It still wasn't easy, but it was an exciting challenge. After Marley and I agreed on the stories and gave them that unified voice, our editor pulled six contributions. Although different, Rose felt they were too similar to other stories.

Marley: Can you give our readers a preview of the book? A favorite story perhaps…or one that moved you to tears? (I have to say the little boy who wished for nothing but to be able to read a book all the way through because of his stutter had me bawling when I read the submission.)

Cec: That's not fair! I liked them all. The one that touched me most, however, is the last story in the book, "Sean's Question." We had almost finished the book and I was teaching at a conference in Florida. I felt we needed one strong story at the end. Despite all the good ones, I didn't feel fully satisfied to conclude the book. On the last day of the conference, I met a conferee named Sara Zinn for a consultation. As we talked, I mentioned Christmas Miracles and that I still needed one more story. "I have a Christmas story," she said and told me about Sean. As I listened, tears filled my eyes—but, being the macho type I am, I was sure it was an allergy. Sara wrote the story, and it became the one I sought.

Marley: Oh yes…that one is an emotional one all right. It was meant to be in the book because of how you met at the conference. Now, you and I have both had challenges in our lives that others might have found too much to take, but we are both very strong in our faith and our relationship with God. How do you think Christmas Miracles is going to help others feel closer to God and experience His miracles in their own lives?

Cec: Awareness and appreciation are the two things I want readers to grasp. Awareness means for them to realize that they're never totally alone in life. Those unexpected, out-of-the-ordinary events remind us of that. Appreciation means to be thankful for what we already have. Too often, and especially at Christmas, we focus on what we'd like or what is supposed to make us happy. Christmas Miracles gently reminds readers of both.

Marley: In this day and age when our country is fighting two wars, unemployment is high, and a lot of people have a lack of hope and faith for their future, what do you want readers of the book to take away from Christmas Miracles and how can the stories in our book help provide comfort to those struggling?

Cec: I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural (as in one of Marley's stories). I call myself a serious Christian. For me, the world's greatest miracle began with the birth of Jesus. Regardless of a person's religion, this book encourages readers to think about life during the Christmas season and see that life as more than gifts and celebrations. It's also a reminder that God loves us and hears our needy cries.

Marley: Beautifully put, Cec, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Can we share what’s next after Christmas Miracles? J

Cec: Why it's the Cec and Marley show, of course. Because of our go-getter agent and our enthusiastic editor, we've already received thumbs up for The Christmas Spirit. This will be stories of people who express the true spirit of Christmas by acts of love and kindness, for release in the fall of 2011.

Marley: And I can’t wait to start working on that project! Thank you so much for your time, Cec, and answering my questions. It was a privilege and honor to work with you and I look forward to our future projects together. You’ve helped me along during a trying time and I appreciate your friendship and support.

Cec: I liked this project because Marley had to send out the word, collect submissions, read them, and discard the weaker ones. I get to see only the better-written stories. (Don't tell her that I have the better job.) Although I mentioned only one story, all of those in the book touched me because of the poignancy of their situations and the miraculous answers. I won't say the stories increased my faith, but they increased my appreciation for the delightful mix of human need and divine intervention.

Marley: Thanks again, Cec! God Bless! And to our readers, please be sure to pick up a copy of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, out October 13, 2009 from St. Martin’s Press. It’s a great stocking stuffer or gift basket filler. We hope you, too, will discover your own Christmas Miracles in your life.







Another chance to win:


http://pixnpens.blogspot.com/2009/10/christmas-writing-contest-win-cash-and.html

We're seeking Christmas stories of all sorts - fiction or nonfiction (but the writer must specify which one) - with a limit of 1500 words. Deadline is Noon, November 25th. Stories will be chosen for publication: on Pix-N-Pens during the month of December and/or for publication in a book we'll publish called A Pixel Perfect Christmas 2009. We'll choose some finalists, and post that in early January for readers to vote. We'll tally votes with scores they've received to become finalists and the top three winners will receive cash prizes ($100, $75, and $50), and the Reader's Favorite will receive a huge box of books.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Green


Title: Green
Ted Dekker
Thomas Nelson
September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59654-288-5
Genre fantasy

Reviewed by Michael Hilton

Green is a great book that completes all the History Chronicles: the Lost Books, the Paradise Books, and, more specifically, the Circle Series. As in Black, Red, and
White, the main character, Thomas Hunter is still fighting battles between good and evil…The Circle and the Horde. Except this time not with swords, but with ompassion, despite the rejection of his son, Samuel, and others that are in doubt of Elyon's plans.

The book began with the reenactment of the great wedding followed by an all night celebration worshiping Elyon, but then Samuel ruined the night of celebration by killing one of the Horde, who had been stalking the circle for years, killing at will. Thomas scolded him for doing that because they had put there killing days behind them, But Samuel insisted that they should strike back at the horde and get revenge, Samuel convinced some of his followers to assist him in his quest for
revenge.

I was hooked from the first pages of the book to the last; I literally stayed up till about three o-clock in the morning reading the book. It would have to come in about second place of all my favorite books by Ted Dekker, the first of which being Saint. the only problem with the book was the ending which was not as good as I was hoping it would be; but it still it served its purpose in connecting the circle series. Overall it was a great book and I would definitely read it again. 392 pages. $25.99 hardcover





Book Description
At Last . . . The Circle Reborn

The story of how Thomas Hunter first entered the Black Forest and forever changed our history began at a time when armies were gathered for a final battle in the valley of Migdon. Green is a story of love, betrayal, and sweeping reversals set within the apocalypse. It is the beginning: the truth behind a saga that has captured the imagination of more than a million readers with the Books of History Chronicles.

But even more, Green brings full meaning to the Circle Series as a whole, reading as both prequel to Black and sequel to White, completing a full circle. This is Book Zero, the Circle Reborn, both the beginning and the end. The preferred starting point for new readers . . . and the perfect climax for the countless fans who’ve experienced Black, Red, and White.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Piece de Resistance


Title: PIECE DE RESISTANCE
Author: Sandra Byrd
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7329-0
Genre: Inspirational/chick lit

Lexi Stuart has finally earned her chef’s hat and now she is back in the USA working for what should be her dream job at the high-end bakery called Bijouse. Unfortunately, she finds herself working with Margot who seems to intensely dislike Lexi, and seems to think she rules the bakery. Not only that but Lexi finds herself having to make this lavish bakery a successful business in just a few months. This requires more than Lexi’s ability to make an amazing wedding cake.

To make matters more complicated, Lexi’s French beau, Phillip, and his daughter Celine, have migrated to the USA, and Lexi’s lawyer friend, Dan, wants to renew the relationship they had before she went to France. Suddenly Lexi finds that life contains more “ooh la la” than she can handle.

Now the fate of Lexi’s business and her love life are hanging by a thread. Can Lexi find the recipe for success and learn to trust God through the process?

PIECE DE RESISTANCE is the third and final book in the French Twist series. While PIECE DE RESISTANCE easily stands alone, I recommend reading the books in order, starting with Let Them Eat Cake and then Bon Appétit so you can follow Lexi along in her romance and her career.

Written in first person, I easily got to know Lexi and grew to care for her. I loved following along with her as she tried to make sense of her life. Some yummy sounding recipes are included in the book as well as some other fun surprises. The book ends with a unique twist, which makes it fun. Don’t miss PIECE DE RESISTANCE or any of Ms. Byrd’s other books. $13.99. 304 pages.

Thanks to A Romance Review for providing a copy of the book for review.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fit For My King


Title: FIT FOR MY KING: His Princess 30-Day Diet Plan and Devotional
Author: Sheri Rose Shepherd
Publisher: Revell
November 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1916-6
Genre: self-help

Sheri Rose Shepherd did not have the easiest life. Coming from a severely dysfunctional family, she found comfort in overeating, and in using drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t until one of her step-moms confronted her about her problems did Sheri start turning her life around. She lost all her excess weight in one year and gave up all her bad habits (including drugs and alcohol.) However, she started finding comfort in winning beauty pageants.

Eventually, Sheri did find how God wanted her to handle life, and in this book, she shares how God healed her from an eating disorder, helped her conquer chronic fatigue, and gave her the strength and wisdom to lose over sixty pounds and keep it off.

If you are struggling with weight loss, Sheri will help you win it once and for all. In this thirty day devotional, she includes diet tips (such as give up sugar, white flour, and other things), drink lots of water (good for us anyway), and getting our beauty sleep.

Each devotional starts with a portion of scripture, the devotional, a prayer, and a plan of action. There are also little treasure box of thoughts included.

The end of the book includes some wonderful sounding recipes that have the added benefit of being healthy for you. Don’t miss this unique devotional. FIT FOR MY KING is a weight loss program that will give you the plan of action needed to succeed. $14.99 hardcover. 202 pages.



“Available November 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Sheri Rose Shepherd is the founder of His Princess Ministries and the author of several books, including the bestselling His Princess: Love Letters from Your King. She was the popular subject of a prime-time Billy Graham special and will be touring with Extraordinary Women in 2010. She lives with her family in Orange County, California.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Love Revolution


Title: THE LOVE REVOLUTION
Author: Joyce Meyer
Publisher: Faith Words
September 2009
ISBN: 978-0-448-53856-5
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

The Revolution

I take up compassion and surrender my excuses. I stand against injustice and commit to live out simple acts of God’s love. I refuse to do nothing. This is my resolve. I am the Love Revolution.

This is the creed that those at Joyce Meyer’s ministries have agreed to live out, and they are inviting us to join them. We, as Americans, as humans, are used to living selfishly with everything being all about number one—Me.

Joyce Meyers points to a verse in Luke (Luke 6:38) as being the answer. It is more blessed to give than to receive, and she suggests that we should start giving out love. Politics, economics or technology is not the answer, and she calls upon us to be the person who answers the call for action—be the person who helps someone in need, someone who practices an aggressive act of kindness.

If we live only for ourselves, we will never be satisfied, and reminds us that the Bible teaches that it is only when we give ourselves away that we receive not just what we’ve given, but bonus and blessing.

Guest writers, such as Darlene Zschech from Hillsong, Martin Smith of Delirious?, Pastors Paul Scanlon and Tommy Barnett, and John Maxwell help out Ms. Meyers by contributing to this book.

I’ve enjoyed reading Ms. Meyer’s latest nonfiction book, and encourage you to do the same. It will change the way you look at the world and its problems, and the way you perceive the answers, one that introduce a new way of living—one that will change your life and your world. Don’t miss this book. $21.99 hardcover. 250 pages.



Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Code of Honor / Flashover / Kitty Litter Killer

Three suspenses for your consideration


Title: CODE OF HONOR
Author: Lenora Worth
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
April 2009
ISBN: 978-0-373-44333-8
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

CHAIM agent Brice Whelan’s mission is to get into the jungles of Argentina, get the missionary woman, and get out. When drug dealing guerrillas attack the building, they received an urgent call from missionary/nurse Selena Carter. Now one of Selena’s co-workers is dead, and Brice is supposed to get Selena out of the jungle.

But when Brice arrives, Selena refuses to get into the plane and leave “her people.” With bullets flying, and a fighting woman on his hands, getting Selena out is proving more difficult than Brice anticipated.

When Brice finally succeeds on his mission, he discovers that Selena isn’t as safe as her missions organization and father thought she’d be. The drugs have entered Georgia, and Brice is still responsible for keeping her safe. Even if Selena doesn’t want him there.

CODE OF HONOR started out reminding me strongly of a movie “Last Flight Out” put out by a Christian producer. But the story did change along the way, so it was a distorted mirror image. I did enjoy Ms. Worth’s take on a missionary story, what might be involved with rescuing a missionary from a dangerous field, and what would happen if the danger followed her home.

With plenty of action to keep the pages turning, CODE OF HONOR is sure to be a book that anyone who likes suspense and romance will enjoy. Brice is a realistic heroine that I couldn’t help but fall in love with. And Selena is feisty, regretting her urgent phone call since it means that the mission expects her to leave her post, yet finding that the danger never truly left her. Don’t miss CODE OF HONOR. Available from www.steeplehill.com or www.amazon.com. $5.50. 218 pages.

*****

Title: FLASHOVER
Author: Dana Mentink
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
January 2009
ISBN: 978-0-373-44324-6
Genre: Inspirational/ romantic suspense

Ivy Beria is a determined firefighter, hurt on duty when she goes into a burning building to look for a person possibly stuck inside. She is airlifted to a hospital, but when recovering, a neighbor, Moe, says something about the fire.

Tim Carnelli has loved Ivy for as long as he can remember, but she was in love with another man, and he doesn’t want her on the rebound. He is thrilled with Ivy comes to him with a double mystery—Moe has gone missing, and Moe’s only friend is dead. Ivy is convinced they are related.

While working together, Ivy discovers she has feelings for Tim. But this mystery has the potential of ending this romance before it begins.

FLASHOVER is Ms. Mentink’s second book. Beginning with a burning building, Ms. Mentink does an excellent job drawing the reader into the scene. I could almost smell the smoke and see the flames dancing. The part where Ivy talked to Moe seemed a bit contrived, but it is fiction, and it did help the story along.

The action was non-stop, and held my interest. Tim was the perfect hero, kind, considerate, and intelligent, and Ivy, while she made some bad decisions, had a feisty personality that was interesting to read about. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. Available at www.steeplehill.com. $5.50. 211 pages.



*****
Title: KITTY LITTER KILLER
Author: Candice Speare
Publisher: Heartsong Presents Mysteries
2008
ISBN: 978-1-60260-071-3
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Trish Cunningham is anxious to see her best friend, Abbie happily married to her detective fiancé, Eric Scott. After her first disastrous marriage to Philip, Abbie deserves to be happy. But before the wedding she has to field her mother-in-law who seems to think that Trish’s young daughter is a shoplifter, and her mother who wants her to move in a larger house.

The day of the wedding shower though, Trish’s mother discovers a body outside the back of the church. Abbie is the last person who saw Philip alive – and they were witnessed having a hostile argument in the local convenience store.

Once again, it is up to Trish to prove someone’s innocence. And soon the murderer is after her…

KITTY LITTER KILLER is book three in Ms. Speare’s Trish Cunningham Mystery series published by Heartsong Presents Mysteries. I had the opportunity to read book one in the series, Murder in the Milkcase, but not book two, Band Room Bash. All three books easily stand alone though, and I understand that this collection of three will eventually be published in a three-in-one book.

I enjoyed reading this cozy mystery and trying to figure out who the killer really was before the end of the book. I also hoped Trish could work out her relationship problems with both her mother and her mother-in-law. Don’t miss KITTY LITTER KILLER available from www.heartsongpresents.com, www.amazon.com, www.cbd.com, or maybe your favorite bookseller. $6.95.253 pages.


Thanks to The Suspense Zone for sending these three books for review.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

White Picket Fences


Title: WHITE PICKET FENCES
Author: Susan Meissner
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
October 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7457-0
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Tally’s father has discovered the possibility of treasure buried in Poland, treasure that belonged to his great-grandfather who died in a Jewish concentration camp. So, he leaves his seventeen year old daughter in the car of her maternal grandmother and heads off to Poland. But within days of being left, Tally’s grandmother dies. Unable to locate Tally’s father, the state sends her to live with her virtually unknown aunt and uncle.

For all appearances, Amanda Janvier and her family have the perfect family. Two kids, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence. But things are not always as they seem. A horrific secret lies in their seventeen year old son, Chase’s, life, and Amanda and her husband don’t want to talk about it or even to remember it.

A school project has Tally and Chase working together. When they interview two Holocaust survivors they become shockingly aware that the whole family grapples with hidden secrets – and the past could destroy them all…

WHITE PICKET FENCES was a very well written book by a talented author who had the ability to take many different story lines and weave them together in away that read seamlessly. There was one thread left unaddressed in my opinion, but that also opened the door for a potential sequel to this book.

I enjoyed getting to know Tally, Andrea, Chase, and most especially the two Holocaust survivors. I enjoyed reading about their story, which was based on a very real event from the past. I highly recommend WHITE PICKET FENCES as a book that will stay with you, a story you won’t soon forget, with realistic characters who are so very well developed they could be your next door neighbors. An interview with Susan Meissner is included at the end of the book. $13.99. 350 pages.


Summary:

Amanda Janvier’s idyllic home seems the perfect place for her niece Tally to stay while her vagabond brother is in Europe, but the white picket fence life Amanda wants to provide is a mere illusion. Amanda’s husband Neil refuses to admit their teenage son Chase, is haunted by the horrific fire he survived when he was four, and their marriage is crumbling while each looks the other way.



Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won’t make them go away.



Readers of emotional dramas that are willing to explore the lies that families tell each other for protection and comfort will love White Picket Fences. The novel is ideal for those who appreciate exploring questions like: what type of honesty do children need from their parents, or how can one move beyond a past that isn’t acknowledged or understood? Is there hope and forgiveness for the tragedies of our past and a way to abundant grace?



Author Bio:

Susan Meissner cannot remember a time when she wasn’t driven to put her thoughts down on paper. Her novel The Shape of Mercy was a Publishers Weekly pick for best religious fiction of 2008 and a Christian Book Award finalist. Susan and her husband live in Southern California , where he is a pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. They are the parents of four grown children.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Daniel's Den


Title: DANIEL’S DEN
Author: Brandt Dodson
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
February 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2477-1
Genre: Inspirational/thriller

Daniel Borden and Laura Traynor live in different areas of the country and live very different lives. Daniel is a successful and wealthy stock broker in New Orleans, while Laura owns a floundering bed and breakfast in the Shenandoah Valley, while struggling to make ends meet by working two jobs and raise her young son, Andy.

Laura wouldn’t have said life was good, she was still deeply in debt from her husband’s unsuccessful treatment of cancer, and struggling to make payments on the bed and breakfast. Daniel had a good life, perfect in most every way. He’d never married and lived alone with his dog, Elvis.

But then things change. It all started with a black van that seemed to be everywhere that Daniel went…and a not so innocent visit Laura experienced from a real estate agent. Then suddenly, both Laura and Daniel find themselves fleeing hit men. Their enemy is common; the “game” is dangerous. And its very high stakes.

DANIEL’S DEN is the first book I’ve read by Brandt Dodson. At first glance from the cover I thought maybe it was a youth book. I was very surprised when I picked it up to read and find out that not only is it not directed toward youth, but that he is a writer to be compared with Brandilyn Collins and Dee Henderson.

The story is fast paced with short paragraphs that easily hold your attention but at the same time draw you into the story. Both Laura and Daniel are realistically developed characters that will make you care. If you like thrillers or suspense, then you won’t want to miss DANIEL’S DEN. $14.99. 318 pages.

Thank you to Harvest House for sending me a copy of this book for review.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Set Apart


About the Book:

(Marion, Kentucky) - In a world of self-love and materialism it's reassuring to know that God's Word has a better plan for living. Renowned author and speaker, Jennifer Kennedy Dean, provides insight to the life of Christ, specifically the Sermon on the Mount, in her new book, Set Apart: A 6 Week Study of the Beatitudes.

Through careful study of the Hebrew traditions of biblical times, Dean leads participants into a deeper awareness of this early ministry sermon series by Christ.

Jennifer guides readers to a heightened understanding of each beatitude, correlating the Ten Commandments with the Sermon on the Mount to tie these Old and New Testament principles together. Dean shares how living the Set Apart Life is an exciting and life-changing spiritual journey. Participants surrendered to Christ will see a total transformation: outward actions of holiness as well as inward attitudes of joy. Believers following along in this workbook will experience the life God intends. This blessedness comes from seeking and knowing God. Anything outside the realm of Jesus Christ results in emptiness--the ultimate opposite of blessing.

Each chapter includes interactive questions for readers to answer, emphasizing God's desire to reproduce the character and attitudes of Jesus in each Christian's life. Along with the Bible study book, there is a Leader Kit that includes six DVD sessions and a CD with bonus material for small-group leaders. Jennifer's website, www.prayinglife.org, provides opportunities for previewing the Set Apart materials and extra resources for pastors and leaders.

http://www.tangle.com/view_video.php?viewkey=7a2a32c15229df5a5359

New Hope Publishers
ISBN: 10-1596692634
ISBN: 13-978-1596692633
Release Date: 9/1/09
Retail: $14.99


****I think this is an excellent devotional. I haven't worked through the whole book, but I have completed a couple days so far and browsed through the rest. I am looking forward to spending the time to work through this book.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean is Executive director of The Praying Life Foundation and a respected author and speaker. She is the author of numerous books, studies, and magazine articles specializing in prayer and spiritual formation. Her book Heart’s Cry has been named National Day of Prayer’s signature book. You’ll find articles and daily quotes from Jennifer at the National Day of Prayer website. Her book, Live a Praying Life, has been called a flagship work on prayer.

Jennifer was widowed in 2005 after 26 years of marriage to Wayne Dean, her partner both in life and ministry. They are the parents of three grown sons. Jennifer makes her home in Marion, KY.

An Interview with Jennifer Kennedy Dean

You are known for your extensive research and your fresh insights. Do you have a method for gleaning new concepts?

Of course, the truths are not new, but I think I sometimes am able to frame old truths in new ways. I always find that when I put the words of Jesus into their original Hebraic setting and experience the scene through the viewpoint of His real-time audience, some new little fragment of truth finds its way into my thinking. I like to let the Scripture breathe. To let it sit in my heart until its full aroma has time to emerge. There's the hard-core research, and then there's the marinating. Turn your imagination loose and unfurl your curiosity, and listen to the living Word.

You have a series of Bible studies in the format of Set Apart, designed to be interactive. This series of studies has video series and leader's kits available. What is the advantage to this kind of format?

I try to produce a new Bible study with video series every year. I like the interactive format because I like to pull the reader into the Scripture to experience the Word. I like to challenge the reader to interact with the thoughts and ideas and to take the time to absorb them and apply them, rather than just to read. The other thing I like about this format is that it can be done by an individual, or as a group. In the video series, I like to be able to teach the main points of the material and set the learners' up for a productive week of personal study. I love feeling like I get to be part of your Bible study group! The kits have lots of other resources for leading a small group in the study.

Several of your studies have theme songs that go with them, as Set Apart does. How do these songs come about?

I have developed a song-writing relationship with a talented musician named Roxanne Lingle. I write poems, we turn them into lyrics, Roxanne composes and arranges the music, and Roxanne records the songs. For Set Apart, we have the theme song in the form of a music video, which is a new addition. In the leader's kit you have the audio track, accompaniment track, lead sheet, and the music video. The theme song becomes an important and worshipful part of the study experience.

Adapted from Set Apart by Jennifer Kennedy Dean

"I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor 12:9-10).

My weakness is my greatest asset in the Kingdom. My weakness is where God meets me. My weakness is where Christ's power is most clearly displayed in me. Only when I am confronted with my own helplessness can I experience the power of Christ in me.

"Your helplessness is your best prayer. It calls from your heart to the heart of God with greater effect than all your uttered pleas. He hears it from the very moment that you are seized with helplessness, and He becomes actively engaged at once in hearing and answering the prayer of your helplessness." (O. Hallesby, Prayer)

I recently had the tiniest glimpse of how powerfully helplessness speaks. A few years ago, I lost my husband to brain cancer. During the final months of his illness, he became utterly helpless. The man I had leaned on for 26 years, whose strength I counted on, was now dependent upon me for his every need. During those weeks, my ear was tuned to his every sigh, his every restless movement, every change in his breathing pattern. If I had to be out of his room for even a few minutes, I had a monitor with me so I could hear him if he needed me. When he was strong, I was not so attentive. His needs did not fill my waking moments, when he could meet them himself. His helplessness spoke louder than any word he might have spoken. Because of his helplessness--because I knew he could do nothing on his own--I was on watch day and night.

My experience is but a pale shadow of the reality of the Kingdom, but still it helps me understand how my weakness is the opening for His strength. The fact of my helplessness is the only prayer I need. It speaks louder than eloquence.

Let your helplessness and your weakness be the offering you bring to Him. He is not waiting for you to be strong. He is waiting for you to recognize that you are weak.

GRAND PRIZE DRAWING

Please leave a comment to be entered in a drawing to win the following items from Jennifer. If you are a leader (small groups, book club, Bible Study, Women's Ministry), please note that you are--you will automatically be entered in the contest. If you are a member of one of these groups at your church or community, mention that you are a group member.

You will be entered to win:

A Set Apart Leader's Kit (video and leader resources and a student book) retail $79.99

A copy of Fueled by Faith (retail $19.99)

Jennifer will have a live web event just for your group

THIS BLOG TOUR COORDINATED BY KATHY CARLTON WILLIS COMMUNICATIONS. A COMPLIMENTARY COPY OF THE BOOK, SET APART, WAS GIFTED TO ME IN EXCHANGE FOR RUNNING THIS TOUR ON MY BLOG.