Friday, November 30, 2012

Cecil Murphey helps readers work through the messiness of life



In Making Sense When Life Doesn’t Cecil Murphey helps readers accept,
adapt and flourish when the trials of life throw them off track.

Life is like cleaning the house—no matter how hard you work to clean up the mess, tomorrow the clutter and disorder will reappear, and it will just need cleaning again. In Making Sense When Life Doesn’t: The Secrets of Thriving in Tough Times(Summerside Press, April 2012, ISBN 978-1609362249, $14.99) best-selling author Cecil Murphey writes that while life’s messiness is unavoidable, it’s how a person chooses to respond to the mess that matters.

None of us wants to be an expert on messes, but Murphey has walked through many hard times himself. In his career as a writer, pastor and missionary, he’s been a witness to what tragedy and change have done in the lives of countless others. Combined, these experiences allow him to share the secrets of thriving in tough times with wisdom and compassion.

In a gentle and encouraging way, Cec offers simple and profound insights for living a significant life such as:

·         I need the empty spaces in life to learn to accept fullness in life.
·         I need my opponents. They often speak the truth that my friends won’t.
·         To appreciate others’ accomplishments enables me to enjoy my own success.
·         We all have regrets about the things we’ve done. The biggest regrets are about the things we didn’t do.
·         It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself or get angry or depressed—that’s normal and natural. But don’t let those negative emotions control your life.
·         Changes will happen. I can accept them now, or I’ll be forced to accept them later.
·         We all have soft spots, and as long as they remain, we’ll automatically switch into a defensive mode to protect ourselves.


An excerpt from Making Sense When Life Doesn’t by Cecil Murphey ©2012 Summerside Press.

Why This Mess?
Why Now?

The title states the two ways I’ve heard the same question. We seem to think that if we’re good people, especially if we’re religious or spiritually minded, life will flow rather well for us, and we’ll encounter few hardships.

Then, without warning, chaos lands on top of us. Or confusion. Or problems. Regardless of the term we use, we don’t like it, and we don’t understand.

Asking either of the questions above comes out of our attempt to control life—and we need to get past that silly, futile idea.

The answer to both questions is simple:

I need this mess, and I need this mess right now.

Because I truly believe in a God who is sovereign, I also believe He knows what I need. I know what I want (or think I do), but I tend to opt for the easy, the quick, the expedient. Yet that’s not the way I mature as a person.

I want to grow, yet I hate going through the messes of life. We’ve all heard “No pain, no gain.” It works the same way with life as it does with physical fitness.

The messes in life are my best teachers. I don’t like them, but I need them.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Spend a Year at the Feet of Jesus


New Year-Long Daily Devotional from Joanna Weaver
Makes the Perfect Christmas Gift to Start off 2013 At the Feet of Jesus
Author Joanna Weaver confesses to being a fellow struggler when attempting to find a quiet time for study and reflection. She understands the challenges we all face. In her latest release, At the Feet of Jesus: Daily Devotions to Nurture a Mary Heart (WaterBrook Press / October 2, 2012 / hardcover / ISBN: 978-0307731005 / $ 15.99 / also available in e-book), Weaver gives readers the structure they need to grow closer to God. This 365-day devotional encourages and inspires women who want to deepen their spiritual lives as they spend a year at the feet of Jesus.

At the Feet of Jesus combines a conversational tone, real-life stories and insightful Bible teaching to engage readers at an emotional and spiritual level. Each page-per-day devotional includes a brief inspirational reading, a short Bible passage and a reflection question designed to create a greater hunger for intimacy with God.

Q: You admit to being a fellow struggler when it comes to finding quiet time for God. How do you find time to work on your relationship with God?

I’m learning that intimacy with God is a choice I have to make every day. It’s so easy to allow other things to crowd out my time with the Lord — to allow the “tyranny of the urgent” to take priority over what is truly important. But when I allow that to happen, it isn’t long before my soul begins to feel what my spirit lacks. And a malnourished spirit affects every part of my life. While I’m not completely disciplined at having a quiet time every day, I’m learning that if I set aside a consistent time and find a consistent place to meet God it really helps keep me on track. And when it comes to time alone with Jesus, the more time you take the more time you want!

Q: What tools have made it easier for you to structure your own devotional time?

Though I’d been raised in the church all my life and was a young pastor’s wife in full-time ministry, no one had taught me how to have a daily quiet time with the Lord. I knew I was supposed to — but I didn’t know how to. But God was so good to lead me to a year-long discipleship course that changed my life, offering structure and accountability as well as the how-to tools I needed to have a deeper relationship.

TIME + THE WORD + PRAYER has always been the formula for intimacy with God, but the discipleship class showed me how to read the Bible in a way that made it come alive to me. I learned how to read it as a love letter then respond to it through prayer and journaling, turning my quiet time into a living dialogue with and that has changed everything.

Q: In the story of Mary and Martha, Jesus says of Mary, “This is the better part.” What did he mean by that?

I believe Jesus was inviting Martha to enjoy the friendship Mary discovered as she sat at His feet. Martha was so busy serving Jesus, she didn’t realize she could know Jesus. And that is the trap we all fall into from time to time — even those of us who are seasoned Christians.

Martha was a woman who loved Jesus. She was operating in her gifts — the Greek word for “preparations” in Luke 10:38 is diakonia. It can be translated as “ministry.” Martha wasn’t showing off. She was doing what women did back then, working really hard so everyone else could worship. But Jesus offered her something she didn’t know she could have: intimacy with Him. It wasn’t “more” that Jesus required. In fact, I think it was less.

Jesus was saying, “Martha, Martha . . . come sit at my feet. Come find life for your soul.” And that’s the invitation He gives to each one of us today.

Q: Would you mind sharing with us what the words “at the feet of Jesus” mean to you?

Ah, I love that phrase! I had always viewed devotions as a duty — something all good Christians should do. One more thing to be added to my to-do list. But I’ve found that it’s so much more than that! When Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the “Better Part,” He wasn’t insisting that she add one more thing to her busy day ; He was offering her a relationship — a chance to take off her apron and lay aside her duties and just rest in His presence. That’s what “at the feet of Jesus” means to me, Hanging out with the Lord, just loving Him and allowing Him to love me.

Q: What are some of the areas that you encourage your readers to dig deeper into?

I really want people to get into God’s Word for themselves. Before I learned how to have my own quiet time, I once heard a woman say, “I love this book!” and she hugged her Bible to her chest. I remember sitting there thinking, “Wow. A lot of the time I don’t even understand that book.” But as I’ve spent time in the Bible, I have fallen in love with the Word of God. And that’s my prayer for those who use this devotional.

Don’t worry about what you don’t understand in the Bible. Start with an easy-to-understand book like Mark or James or one of Paul’s smaller epistles. Read slowly and in smaller portions. Think about ways to apply what you read to your life. Don’t worry about getting through the Bible in a year if you’re just starting out. Just let the Bible get through to you.  

Q: How do we find a balance of both worship and service?

As a pastor’s wife and mother, I’m constantly trying to find the answer to that question. To be honest, it looks different every day. Some days I have more time for contemplation and worship. Other days, it is busy, busy, busy. But I’m learning to invite Jesus into every moment rather than compartmentalize Him into a part of my day. To prayerfully ask Him to walk with me as I go about my tasks, rather than beat myself up when I haven’t kept my quiet time schedule. But I’m also learning to purposely guard and prioritize my time with Him. Because the truth is, I need Jesus! I don’t have enough on my own to be the wife, the mother, the friend I want to be. But He’s promised to provide everything I need if I’ll seek His kingdom first.

Learn more about Joanna Weaver and her books at www.JoannaWeaverBooks.com. Readers can also keep up with her via Facebook andTwitter.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Practicing the Presence of Jesus


Title: PRACTICING THE PRESENCE OF JESUS
Author: Wally Armstrong
Publisher: Summerside Press
October 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60936-702-2
Genre: nonfiction/Christian Living

Wally Armstrong has believed in Jesus for a long time. He knew about having a relationship with Jesus, but didn’t know Him as a real companion and friend.

One day, after Wally had a dramatic encounter on the golf course, his life was forever changed. In that moment, Wally realized that Jesus offered him the gift of friendship, up close and personal, that He shared with His disciples two thousand years ago.

In PRACTICING THE PRESENCE OF JESUS, Wally offers a clear approach to experiencing that same dynamic relationship, and he shares simple steps for interacting with Jesus as if he were sitting right beside you.

If you want an up and close friendship with Jesus, then PRACTICING THE PRESENCE OF JESUS could help transform you from the inside out.

I was raised being taught how to pray without ceasing, and as a fiction writer, I have a lot of “imaginary friends” that I interact with when I write. Jesus is not an imaginary friend, He is very real, but I knew most of these principles shared in this book from the very beginning. He is someone I share everything with as if He were right beside me … and He is.

But if this is something you long for, then do pick up PRACTICING THE PRESENCE OF JESUS and become friends with the savior. $12.99 hardcover. 128 pages.

***


When is the last time you sat down and really talked to Jesus?

An interview with Wally Armstrong, author of
Practicing the Presence of Jesus: Experience the Gift of His Friendship

Although professional golfer Wally Armstrong had pursued a relationship with Jesus for over 35 years, he always sensed that there was something missing. As Armstrong puts it, there's a big difference between believing something is true and experiencing something as real. In Practicing the Presence of Jesus: Experience the Gift of His Friendship (Summerside Press, October 2012, ISBN 978-1-60936-702-2, $12.99), Armstrong shares his personal journey of discovering Jesus as a real companion and true friend.

This is a portion of a longer interview with Wally Armstrong. If you would like to see the full interview, let me know, and I’ll send it right to you!

Q: You write about a deep spiritual hunger that led you on a pursuit to experience a closer relationship with Jesus. Was there any one event that awakened the hunger?

There has always been a deep desire to be an authentic believer and pursue a closer relationship with Jesus. He just seemed so unapproachable for many years. I didn't feel worthy and did not feel I had achieved the level of understanding or performance that I needed to get to that higher level.

In Practicing the Presence of Jesus, I talk about the series of events that happened when I picked up a book by Dallas Willard on spiritual disciplines and was tipped off on a book from the 1920s about friendship with Jesus. It was when I started reading the first paragraph of the book’s prologue titled “A Modern Vision of Jesus” that the hunger was heightened. For the next two hours, I totally indulged in this new experience with Jesus that took me to the beginnings of living life on the highest level. It was completely different than how I had envisioned, and it all had to deal with having the truth become a reality.

There's a big difference between believing something is true and experiencing something as real. Before this experience, I believed Jesus was alive, but I had no idea that he wanted to be my friend and companion every moment of every day. The picture I have in my mind now is standing shoulder to shoulder with Jesus facing my sin together. I always felt alone and that he would have nothing to do with me in the midst of my sin such as, impure thoughts or unfair criticism of someone.

Q: Tell us about the day you met “Jesus” in Augusta.

In the spring of 2004, I drove up to Augusta to follow the King – Arnold Palmer. I had no idea that I was going to see Jesus standing there in the flesh talking to another golf professional like me. The Jesus I encountered behind the 18th green had no sandals or beard or long flowing robe, but was dressed like every other spectator at the event with a golf shirt and slacks. He only stood out in the crowd because people had seen the movie The Passion of the Christ that winter and recognized Jim Caviezal’s face as that of Jesus. So when they saw Caviezel, they were saying “look Jesus is talking to that Pro over there!”

When I came around behind the 18th green to meet my friend Jim Hiskey and his granddaughter, Rachel, I had no idea that I was going to see Jesus there talking to another player. It was just God's timing that Jim asked me to come up there and meet his granddaughter or I may have missed this whole encounter. It was the affirmation that this was the picture that I needed to secure the truths that I believed in as well as validate the personal encounter I had with the real Jesus four months before.

You see months before I found myself in my library reading a book which encouraged the reader to envision what Jesus would look like today if he showed up in your world as someone like you or me. As I thought of this, I envisioned Jesus as a fellow golfer and all of a sudden he became approachable and alive and real for the first time. The truths about Jesus became a reality. So I began to engage him mentally, not only as my Savior and Lord, but as a friend. A friend who is up-to-date and spoke my language. I always heard the scripture “I am the way the truth and the life,” but now I realized that this was just not encountering truth or discovering a way or a lifestyle. He is a real living person who was always there, I just never saw him in that light.

Back to Augusta – Later that evening when I was on the phone being interviewed live on a national radio sports talk show, it all gelled and made sense when I began to describe what it was like to see Jesus in the crowd. It must've been similar to what the disciples saw or maybe Zacchaeus saw from up in the tree. He saw that Jesus as one of them. The moment I finished the interview  I felt as though God were saying to me, “now this is a wonderful way for people to connect with Me on a level they were created to experience, so tell others so they can meet Jesus as their personal friend in this simple uncomplicated way.”

Q: What is the chair experiment?

The chair experiment came about when I read the book I mentioned earlier, and the author’s own personal experiment of desiring “the friend’s” comforting presence and envisioning him in his office. The writer told the story of a man that a pastor once visited. The old Scotsman was ill and had a chair beside his bed. He made the Savior real by imagining him sitting in the chair and talking to him eye to eye as though he were his friend. When I read that from his old book, I decided to jump right in and visualize Jesus in my room and to imagine him as real.

Once that connection was made, and I saw that I could receive his gift of friendship as if he were a loving friend, I turned my desk chair to face me in my reading chair and began to imagine Jesus sitting across from me. I visualized what he would look like and how he would speak to me. This became a habit, and I could not get enough of this relationship every morning. I would get up and imagine him in the chair and mentally speak to him. Then, I would listen and imagine how He would be sitting and how he would be talking. The friendship was developed and nurtured day after day. To me it's finding space, a place for him not only in the morning for our special times together, but throughout the day whether it be imagining him in the car sitting next to me, on the golf course walking down the fairway together, or playing with my grandchildren. My desire is for him to be involved in my daily life and to acknowledge his presence in the good and the bad, knowing that everything is okay because he is there and as much alive today as he was with Peter and the disciples when they were on the beach cooking fish.

Q: What does it mean to practice the presence of Jesus? What steps are involved?

Practicing the presence of Jesus is something that takes discipline and work just like building a friendship with anyone else. It requires spending time with them and being totally transparent with them. It requires learning about them by asking sincere questions, sincerely listening and hearing with your heart.

My first waking moments start with meeting him wherever I am, whether it's in a hotel room on the road or at home in my den. This is the time when I am most alert and alive. It's an acknowledgment of his presence and his sovereignty and his love, the time when I talk to Jesus eye to eye and worship the Father for who he is.

I read his word in Scripture and visualized him speaking the same words to me in a modern setting with modern language. I know that he is present in all of my activities throughout the day, so there is an acknowledgment that he will be a part of everything I do and everything I think. It's more than a relationship but a companionship. A relationship is on and off, but a companionship is alive all the time because he lives in me and walks beside me every moment of every day. I desire for him to enjoy my life, and that I would be a loyal friend to him wherever I am and whatever I am involved in.

As I come to situations, circumstances, decision-making, and meeting people, I desire to have an awareness of his presence and check in with him during the day. Some days I may go for hours without this actively happening. I just think you develop a mindset to look back and to look ahead in order to have the assurance that He has been a part of it and will be a part of the future whether you want him to be there or not. It's a lifestyle and the mindset that follows the Scriptures of “come to me,” “learn from me,” and “fix your eyes on me” so His joy may be in you. The truth is because of his presence he experiences our life with us, now that an incredible truth to ponder.

Q: What do you mean when you talk about not only accepting Jesus as a Savior, but as a friend?

There is such a reverence to Christ and a loyalty to his sovereignty that some people like me keep him at arm’s length in the sky as a royal judge. They see him as a task master who requires them to shape up and get to work. They're not comfortable sitting at his feet and resting. They have no time to learn from him because they're too busy learning about theology and doing all kinds of benevolent things for others. They're becoming disciples on their own efforts and the have never been taught the first step of how to follow him as the living person he is and the friend that he wants to be.

They don’t see the gift of his friendship that is offered. We are talking about a living person who is a brother and is an advocate (someone who comes along beside to help). He is someone who is approachable and has walked in your shoes, experiencing everything to the same level that you experienced them. This is a side of Jesus that very few people see and understand. They have not been enabled to see a simple way of entering into this friendship.
That's what I am hoping that this little book will do: open up this side of Jesus that is personal and intimate and that people will enter in to this invitation he gives to be his friend and develop intimacy (which means – “in to me see). Now that's what friends are for.

Q: What can we learn about Jesus by looking at His relationships, especially with His father?

Jesus was the actually the first disciple, a disciple to his father. And because Jesus was the first disciple, we can learn many things by looking at the way that he described his relationship with his father. Then we can realize that these are the same opportunities we have to enjoy fellowship with the father and the son. It was his desire that we would be living together in communion with the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. In the Lord's prayer, Jesus encourages us to live on earth as it is in heaven, so we just live on this Earth with the triune God as it is in heaven. We are invited into their family as a son or daughter. It was once said, the son of God became a son of man so the sons of men could become the sons of God. God is in the business of building a family of sons and daughters who will live with him forever and ever. Jesus was sent to start the ball rolling again. He was mankind’s second chance. The best second chance ever and it's all about being saved by grace. On Earth as it is in heaven.

Armstrong invites readers to visit his website www.oldprobooks.com for more insights about receiving the gift of friendship Jesus offers us, and check out www.wallyarmstronggolf.com for free golf tips.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Designed for Devotion


Title: DESIGNED FOR DEVOTION
Author: Dianne Neal Matthews
Publisher: Baker Books
September 2012
ISBN: 978-0801072734
Genre: Devotional

DESIGNED FOR DEVOTION is a 365-day journey from Genesis to Revelation. Since there is no better way to know God more intimately other than to immerse yourself totally in His Word, DESIGNED FOR DEVOTION is designed to do just that. It combines fascinating historical background information about the Bible with practical application you can implement in your life each day. This devotional will take you through the Bible from beginning to end.

Key stories, characters, and basic teachings are highlighted. Old Testament passages that reveal Jesus as the Messiah are explored. There are historical information about each book of the Bible, including author, theme, and purpose. The Old and New Testaments are tied together to show the Bible as a single story. There is an application that will apply each day’s lesson to your own spiritual journey.

I love getting devotionals to review, and DESIGNED FOR DEVOTION is a good one. It begins with a portion of scripture for you to read from the translation or version of your choice, then it talks about the story and flows seamlessly into the application. Then it closes with another verse for you.

DESIGNED FOR DEVOTION is an excellent devotional book for yourself or for a friend. This would be a great gift for someone during the upcoming holiday season too. If you are looking for a new devotional then consider DESIGNED FOR DEVOTION. I enjoyed using it with my children when we had our family devotions. Recommended. $16.99. 384 pages. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Maid for Murder: Deadly Business



Title: MAID FOR MURDER: Deadly Business
Author: Susette Williams
Publisher: Self
November 2012
ASIN: B00A1U6WI8
Genre: cozy mystery

Bailey Tucker has inherited her grandfather’s cleaning business. Determined to learn the business from the ground up. When Bailey accidentally runs an employee over with a floor cleaner, she ends up covering his shift—and discovers a murder. The police are suspicious of her, but Bailey is eventually clearned—of this murder. Still, she keeps finding body parts…

Detective Max Wellington is quick to respond to Bailey’s cries for assistance when more body parts start appearing. Bailey’s employee, Nate, starts tapping into company and home video surveillances. But will this be enough to stop another murder? And when the killers target Bailey, what is next? Will anyone be able to save her?

MAID FOR MURDER: Deadly Business is a totally cute cozy mystery. The reader can’t help but fall in love with Bailey and Max – and even Nate. And of course, Bailey just has a talent for finding trouble—or maybe trouble has a talent for finding her. Either way, the book is laugh out loud funny at times.

Fans of cozy mysteries will love MAID FOR MURDER: Deadly Business and be asking for more cozy mysteries by this author. I hope Susette has more in the works. $4.99 (kindle only). 

*** I had read this book in the beginning stages, but from the other reviews it sounds like it has changed, so I'm not sure this review is relevant to the book with its contents now

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Debt-Proof Your Christmas


Title: DEBT-PROOF YOUR CHRISTMAS
Author: Mary Hunt
Publisher: Revell
September 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2143-5
Genre: Nonfiction/finances

Christmas—with no debt, less stress, and more joy!

Are you feeling the pinch of Christmas? Watching your best friend rush out and buy all the latest and greatest in technology for her children and moaning because you haven’t got those kinds of funds? Still paying off last Christmas when you totally overspent, because your child needed a (fill in the blank) because all his friends had one?

Well, it’s time to take Christmas in hand. Repeat after me. I am only going to pay cash for Christmas. Good. Say it again. Now, go put those credit cards in water and bury them in the freezer. No, I mean it. Cash only this Christmas. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

DEBT-PROOF YOUR CHRISTMAS is the latest book from Mary Hunt, a woman who went from over six figures credit card debt to writing books on how to manage your money. A woman who was just like you are and spent way more than she needed because those she loved had to have it.

If you are wondering how to finance your Christmas – or perhaps have already blown it with the Black Friday sales, then DEBT-PROOF YOUR CHRISTMAS is a must-read. Those who are struggling to get out of debt, pay off student-loans, unexpected car bills, etc that waylaid your year need to read this book. And wondering how others do it? There are stories from other real life people who went cash only for Christmas. Like the woman who shares she only gives four items per person for Christmas. One homemade item, one item to wear, one to learn with, and one thing they wanted.  Good advice. And may I suggest you can find brand new items cheap in your local thrift store—plus, the money you spend there goes to support some local ministry. DEBT-PROOF YOUR CHRISTMAS. Highly recommended. Recipes and other suggestions are included. $12.99. 240 pages.


In case you missed it, here is the direct link to watch Mary Hunt’s interview on the Today Show (with Kathie Lee & Hoda) talking about Debt-Proof Your Christmas.


It’s a really nice interview…

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Illusion


Title: ILLUSION
Author: Frank Peretti
Publisher: Howard Books
October 2012
ISBN 978-1-4391-9267-2
Fiction \ Christian\General

What if all the bad things that happened to you . . . didn’t?  What if all the accidents, all the bad decisions, all the pain and suffering from diseases and cancers could just be – skipped over?

In a poignant story of love, life, and loss, Frank Peroretti crafts yet another page-turner of a novel.  Dane and Mandy had the storybook romance; married at a young age, touring the world as a magician and beautiful assistant, taking the world by storm and loving every minute they shared together.  Then a motor vehicle accident took Mandy from him, and Dane struggled to start over again.

At a small coffee shop, Dane is mesmerized by the 19-year old beauty who is holding the audience spell-bound with her magic act.  She is performing illusions that even he can’t understand.  More disconcerting is the fact that her mannerisms, her quirks, her very persona is familiar . . . hauntingly so.  How could this be?

As Dane and his new protégé establish and begin to build a new professional relationship, the uneasiness grows.  As does the danger.  And for Dane, the climax will be more than he ever bargained for.

Frank Peretti does a thorough job at explaining otherwise complex theories while keeping the reader firmly hooked with his masterful prose and winsome storytelling. 

5 stars,  498 pages. $26.99 U.S.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Kirby Puckernut and the Christmas Surprise


Title: KIRBY PUCKERNUT AND THE CHRISTMAS SURPRISE
Author: Alicia Richardson
Illustrator: Don Seegmiller
Publisher:  Brigham Distributing
September 26, 2011
ISBN: 978-1450729390
Genre: Christmas

Kirby Puckernut is an elf in Els Mere, which is near the North Pole. He makes toys for Christmas, and as Christmas nears, he comes up with a brilliant idea. Kirby quickly rushes off to see Santa, and Santa agrees it’s worth a try, so he sends Kirby to live with a family with a teenage girl who doesn’t believe in Christmas magic.

Santa arranges to have Kirby sent special delivery and Kirby arrives. The children are fighting and the box gets knocked on the floor. Kirby is shaken up and scared, but not hurt. The family reads a note from Santa. The two younger children are excited to have their very own elf, but the teenager is very unhappy. She does something very mean and unkind and … is Christmas completely ruined?

KIRBY PUCKERNUT AND THE CHRISTMAS SURPRISE is a fun Christmas story centered around Santa and his elves. The girls (ages ten and seven) loved the pictures, and I read the story to them, then my ten year old read it over again. My sixteen year old couldn’t resist sitting down to read the pictures too.  The children all gave it five stars.

I did enjoy the story, though it saddened me all the fighting that went on in the family, and I think the story was a bit long. I also didn’t like that it didn’t bring out the real meaning of Christmas in anyway. It was all about the more secular meaning of Christmas. And that saddened me.  If you are looking for a great secular book about Christmas, then KIRBY PUCKERNUT AND THE CHRISTMAS SURPRISE is a treat. You and your kids will love it. And since my children gave it five stars – I will as well. Beautifully done in a hardbound book with a dust cover, perfect for gift giving. $17.95. 38 pages.


Kirby Puckernut and the Christmas Surprise - Book Trailer ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLyi1WmGVxI )
Kirby Puckernut Facebook Page: ( http://www.facebook.com/#!/puckernut?fref=ts ) - we have some fun coloring contests coming up in December. 
Kirby Website: (http://www.kirbypuckernut.com/home )
 
Additionally, Alicia Richardson, author of Kirby Puckernut, hopes that you’ll share in another of her family traditions. Support Kenya Keys as they build educational opportunities in rural Africa. For every book sold $1 will be donated to Kenya Keys.  Kenya Keys provides scholarships, builds schools and libraries, and creates leadership opportunities in an area where learning is as treasured as water. Kenya Keys has been helping African youth via educational outreach since 2005.
  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Amish Family Cookbook


Title: THE AMISH FAMILY COOKBOOK
Author: Jerry Eicher and Tina Eicher
Publisher: Harvest House Books
October 2017
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4377-2
Genre: Amish/Cookbook

I love cookbooks, so when I got the opportunity to review THE AMISH  FAMILY COOKBOOK, I jumped at it. This book is divided up into appetizers and beverages, breakfast foods, main dishes, grilling, vegetables and side dishes, and a whole lot of different sweets.

I tried three different recipes, baked oatmeal (which I didn’t take a picture of). It was great and highly recommended, chicken potpie with some modifications. I added a lot of leftover mixed vegetables to mine, which it didn’t call for, and didn’t use heavy cream, but instead I made a white sauce for it.

This is the chicken pot pie - both in the pie dish, and served. 

I also tried the blueberry muffins. They turned out great and made a quick lunch for a rushed day.   Here are the muffins. 

My son made the peppermint patties, and they are absolutely wonderful.

There are little side bars in the book that include jokes about the Amish and Amish proverbs which makes for interesting reading. If you love Amish cooking, are looking for a new cookbook or a cookbook for someone for Christmas or a gift of some sort, then THE AMISH FAMILY COOKBOOK would be great to consider! Highly recommend. It’s also spiral bound, which makes it easy to lay flat for baking/cooking ease. 260 pages. $14.99.




Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year / Christmas Blessings


Title: IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
Author: Susan Winget
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
July 2012
ISBN: 978-0736950398
Genre: Christmas/gift book

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR is chock full of absolutely gorgeous pictures of wintery and Christmassy things, quotations, lyrics of Christmas songs, ranging from the secular (Jingle Bells) to the religious (Joy to the World), poems, and sayings about Christmas. It is an absolutely beautiful hardcover book that would look great as a coffee table book and would be great to give as a gift to your secret sister or a co-worker, or someone whom you have no idea what to give them for Christmas.

I especially enjoyed looking at the pictures more than anything. I would have loved to have the gospel message of our Savior’s birth included in this book, or at least bits of it, but it wasn’t. There are pictures of Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus though.  A great little book. $12.99 hardcover. 48 pages.

***


Title: CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS
Author: Donald Zolan
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
July 2012
ISBN: 978-0736950374
Genre: Christmas/gift book

CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS is a sweet little hardcover gift book filled with adorable pictures of child angels. This book includes Bible references to our Savior’s birth, which I appreciated, along with inspirational Christmassy quotations, poems, thoughts, and snippets of songs.

I enjoyed reading CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS and looking at the pictures. This book would make an adorable gift for your secret sister, a friend or co-worker, or someone whom you don’t know what to get for Christmas. This would make a cute coffee table book. Beautifully done. $12.99. 48 pages. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Walking in Courage / Why Easter?


Title: WALKING IN COURAGE: Stories of Virtue’s Forest
Author: Tanya Shock and Roger Thomson
Publisher: Westbow Press
August 2012
ISBN:  978-1-4497-3443-5
Genre: Children

Charlie is a tiny mouse. On his way to school one day, he is accosted by a bully who steals his lunch and pushes him into a mud puddle. Charlie is hurt and upset and he cries, but a kind, grandfatherly skunk helps him out of the mud puddle and helps him get cleaned up.

Charlie determines to be kind to others, so when he sees the bullies attacking Angie skunk he is quick to step up to defend her. This gave Angie the courage to defend herself, and they became friends.

But when Charlie and Angie see one of the bullies, Daniel, crying in a mud puddle, will they be kind to him? Or will they bully him in return?

WALKING IN COURAGE is a cute little kid’s book. It has a great message about bullying and how kids should respond to it. A necessary lesson in this day and time. My girls (ages 10 and 7) read it through in a short time, and when I asked them what they thought of it they ranked it a 4 out of 5 stars because they expected Charlie’s dream to come true and instead that was kind of a part of the story that went no where.

I recommend this book for elementary age students in public school. If a private or Christian school has this problem then it’d be good for them too. Homeschooled children, probably not so much, unless the neighborhood kids bully them. Beautiful illustrations. Rather pricy at $12.95. 24 pages.

***


Title: WHY EASTER
Author: Barbara Reaoch
Illustrator: Carol McCarty
Publisher: Shepherd Press
February 2012
ISBN: 978-1936908318
Genre: Childrens devotions/Easter

Easter is a celebration of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But how many children know why Jesus died and came to life again?  This illustrated devotional contains 28 lessons – one for each day of the four weeks leading up to Easter – in a short, focused format designed to help parents show the Christ of Easter to their children.

Each devotionally is beautifully illustrated. It starts with a scripture reading for you to look up and read from the translation of your choice, then includes a recap of the story in story form for the child to listen to.  It ends with discussion questions to make sure the children understand what they heard, so you can help them clear up any misunderstandings.

A verse to memorize is included, as well as a discussion question for that verse, and a song to sing about Easter, and then a word or word phase to define and discuss.

Christians will want to make sure that their children will understand what we really are celebrating on Easter (not just Spring, candy, and the Easter bunny) and their children will come to a clear understanding of why we celebrate.

Recommended for church libraries, homeschoolers, Christian schools, and any other Christian house that has devotions with their children. Pricy at $14.95. 72 pages. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

No Safe Harbor

Title: NO SAFE HARBOR
Author: Elizabeth Ludwig
Publisher: Bethany House
October 2012
ISBN: 978-0764210396
Genre: Historical/romantic suspense

Cara Hamilton has gone to New York City to be with her brother, one she’d presumed dead, until she received a letter from him. Eoghan said he’d meet her there, but if he’s delayed to talk to no one, trust no one. Curious at the strange instructions, Cara keeps them in her mind, but when a business man befriends her on the voyage, then directs her to someplace to stay, and alone and scared, she’s met by Rourke Walsh, who escorts her to the boarding house, Cara wonders. Both men seem nice. And as long as she doesn’t mention her brother, then it’s okay to make friends. Right?

Rourke Walsh isn’t who he seems. His father was murdered by Eoghan Hamilton and he and his kin determine to avenge his death with Eoghan’s blood. They hope to track Eoghan down through his sister, Cara, and Rourke is assigned to trail her, just in case she is Eoghan’s sister.

Eoghan knows Cara is in town. He’s tracked her to the boarding house the day she arrived, but she was with Rourke—his enemy. In hiding, Eoghan is forced to bide his time. But with Cara in town, and the  enemy on his tail, is he safe? Is Cara safe? And can Eoghan save Cara from the truth about Rourke?

NO SAFE HARBOR is the newest romantic suspense from Ms. Ludwig. I enjoyed getting to know Cara, and Rourke, and even Eoghan. I wondered at what had happened to put Eoghan on the run, hiding, and why he worried about Cara’s friends, and I worried about Cara trusting so many so quickly when warned not to. Rourke is a dear, even though he was involved in scary business.

I thoroughly enjoyed NO SAFE HARBOR and couldn’t read it fast enough. I was intrigued by all the secrets and the characters and had to read to find out what happens. If you are looking for a great romantic suspense, then NO SAFE HARBOR is definitely a book to consider. Perfect gift for the suspense reader on your list—or for yourself. $14.99. 336 pages. 5 stars.

***
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To CELEBRATE the release of her newest novel, No Safe Harbor, Elizabeth Ludwig is giving away a Kindle Fire! Then on 12/6 she'll be hosting a fun Facebook Party where she will be chatting with readers and giving away fun prizes! Click for details and don't miss the fun.http://ow.ly/f8phi

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Enter to win a Kindle Fire from Elizabeth Ludwig celebrating the release of No Safe Harbor.http://ow.ly/f8phi  @LitFuse

 Book Info

About No Safe Harbor
She came to America searching for her brother. Instead all she's found is a web of danger.
Cara Hamilton had thought her brother to be dead. Now, clutching his letter, she leaves Ireland for America, desperate to find him. Her search leads her to a houseful of curious strangers, and one man who claims to be a friend-Rourke Walsh. Despite her brother's warning, Cara trusts Rourke, revealing her purpose in coming to New York.
She's then thrust into a world of subterfuge, veiled threats, and attempted murder, including political revolutionaries from the homeland out for revenge. Her questions guide her ever nearer to locating her brother-but they also bring her closer to destruction as those who want to kill him track her footsteps.
With her faith in tatters, all hope flees. Will her brother finally surface? Can he save Cara from the truth about Rourke... a man she's grown to love? 
Link to buy the book: http://ow.ly/f8pXm  

Meet Elizabeth:  
  Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author and an accomplished speaker and teacher. Her historical novelLove Finds You in Calico, California earned four stars from Romantic Times. She is the owner and editor of the popular literary blog The Borrowed Book. Along with her husband and two children, Elizabeth makes her home in Orange, Texas.

Learn more at www.elizabethludwig.com.

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