Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Operation Kid-to-Kid Brings Comfort to Kids in Crisis

Operation Kid-to-Kid Brings Comfort to Kids in Crisis

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—What do think about when you read headlines about economic hardships, natural disasters, and politically charged conflict? Circumstances like these set families and entire communities reeling, and few people are affected as profoundly as the children involved. How do the littlest victims cope with the changes and uncertainty around them? And what can the church do to reach out specifically to these little ones?

Group Publishing, the premier publishers of children’s Bible curriculum including Sunday school and VBS, believes that some of the best ministers to children experiencing disaster and hardship are other children. That’s why they have created a program called Operation Kid-to-Kid (OK2K), which partners with nondenominational Christian ministries like International Bible Society and World Vision to provide opportunities for children in North America to share God’s love with other children in difficult or disastrous situations. Since its inception ten years ago, Operation Kid-to-Kid projects have impacted millions of kids all over the world.

“Operation Kid-to-Kid is a great way to teach kids compassion and service,” says Joani Schultz, cofounder of Group and OK2K. “Children learn by doing. It’s one thing to drop a nickel in the offering plate, but when kids make a gift with their own hands, when they can be creative and personal, this leaves a real impression on both the givers and the receivers.”

This year’s OK2K project features two easy to make (no sewing required) Comfort Critters—small plush turtles with a sewn in pocket for exchanging pictures or notes of encouragement and hope. After they make the turtles, each child will keep one and send the other to a child in need. With a cute little turtle as a friendly and safe messenger, children will understand and communicate Christian compassion and the hope of Jesus. . . and they’ll have fun doing it. Group offers many other resources for OK2K initiatives, including an affordable booklet entitled The Survivors: For Kids in Tough Places.

Over the years, OK2K has become one of the largest forces mobilizing children in serving other children around the world through gifts of school supplies, Bibles, hygiene kits, Christmas gifts, Bible coloring books, and socks and shoes. Between recent natural disasters and the global economic crisis, there are more opportunities than ever for children to show the love of Christ to other children—and not just for a VBS event. Operation Kid-to-Kid can mobilize service projects any time of the year.

Group is also starting a new venture between OK2K and Lifetree Adventures, an organization that combines unique vacations with meaningful service projects. This new venture will be the “follow through” option for those who feel called to take the VBS OK2K effort to the next level. For 2009, Operation Kid-to-Kid will sponsor a trip to New Orleans for children’s leaders to deliver the Comfort Critter turtles to Katrina victims.

“There is still much to be done in New Orleans after the nation’s largest natural disaster. You saw the horror of Hurricane Katrina where over 1,500 people died,” says Group VBS Senior Editor Jody Brolsma. “But did you know Christians have led the way, quietly rebuilding and cleaning up after the disaster? Now you can help minister to the children of the 7th Ward, where flooding caused massive destruction. Take your passion for Jesus to kids who have lived through challenging times.”

This trip is open to adult volunteers, but space is very limited. Service activities will include painting, cleanup, and repair of a volunteer center and homes in the 7th Ward and connecting with kids after school.

Plan now to connect with Jody and reach out with love to the kids and families of New Orleans, November 8-13, 2009. Visit www.lifetreeadventures.com or call 1.800.747.2157 to review the itinerary and reserve your trip.


Since 1987, The B & B Media Group, Inc. has used its broadcasting, marketing and advertising experience to provide the specialized and strategic publicity necessary to achieve the public relations goals of each client. The Barnabas Agency, a division of The B & B Media Group, Inc., is a proven provider of exceptional public relations and personal management services for authors, speakers, ministries and organizations.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Title: REST: Living in Sabbath Simplicity
Author: Keri Wyatt Kent
Publisher: Zondervan Books
ISBN: 978-0-310-28597-7
Genre: Inspirational/Christian Living/ spiritual growth

Is it possible to learn how to rest so that we have the energy and focus needed to live a meaningful and joyful life?

In REST, Ms. Kent invites us to discover the ancient practice of the Sabbath. Taking a day of rest, as the Lord demonstrated on the seventh day of creation. She maintains that if we take this day of rest then we will renew our energy, boost our joy, and heighten our impact on the people around us.

For some years our family has practiced taking Sundays off and making them a day of rest. My husband is a pastor, and he was so worn out after preaching, he needed the afternoon between services to regroup, and rest. Our family quickly learned to take the opportunity to read, play games, or nap during Sunday afternoons.

There are some issues I disagree with in REST, such as it is okay to take your kids to mandatory ball games or practices on Sunday, but perfectly fine to only attend evening service at church if it is a topic you are interested in. However, that was just one contributors suggestion and not necessarily something the author condones.

If you are looking for ways to find the rest you need in your busy day to day life, then I highly recommend REST. It will help you learn how to take the time you need to reconnect, pause, play, pray, and, of course, REST. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book, as well as notes. $14.99. 220 pages.

Rest on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310285976

Keri Wyatt Kent’s Website: http://www.keriwyattkent.com

Keri Wyatt Kent’s Blog: http://keriwyattkent.com/soul/

Keri Wyatt Kent’s Facebook Profile: http://www.facebook.com/people/keri-wyatt-kent/776473409

Follow Keri Wyatt Kent on Twitter: http://twitter.com/KeriWyattKent

List of all participating bloggers: http://blogtourspot.com/kent-blog-tour/kent-blog-tour-stops

The Rest Flickr Group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/rest

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Longing

Author: Beverly Lewis
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0584-2
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Nellie Mae Fisher is going on with life after her breakup with beau, Caleb Yoder. She doesn’t feel that she is able to date yet, since she still loves Caleb, but when Mennonite Chris Yoder starts showing interest in her, she is intrigued. The whole family is still reeling from Suzy’s untimely death, and Rhoda subsequently leaving the family home to date an Englischer.

Caleb Yoder is trying to be an obedient son to his father but it is hard when he is stripped of his inheritance and kicked out. Still, when his father has a bad accident, Caleb is quick to answer his summons and work the farm that he no longer has any claim to, while try to reconcile his differences with his father. But when Caleb’s father starts changing—Caleb is worried. Is it the medicine, or has he discovered some truth?

Rosanna and Elias King are still hurting from being forced to give up their adopted twins. Rosanna is shocked when three Amish families step up and offer to give her their unborn babies. Forced to make a decision, Rosanna must decide if she’s even willing to trust virtual strangers for a baby, or to continue waiting on God.

THE LONGING is the highly anticipated conclusion to The Courtship of Nellie Fisher series. Readers will want to read the first two books in the series first, since all three of them are tightly woven together and you must read them in order to make any sense of it. I enjoyed reconnecting with Nellie Mae and her family and watching them heal from all the trials and tribulations they went through in The Parting and The Forbidden.

THE LONGING is a satisfactory conclusion, neatly tying up all the loose ends from the previous books. I’ve anxiously awaited this book and couldn’t wait for it to land at the top of my to-be-read pile. This is a beautifully written book, full of well-developed characters, and so vividly described that you can picture the Amish country-side. $19.99 hardcover. 347 pages.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

From Fiction to Real Life - Author Changes Orphans' Lives with Education

From Fiction to Real Life, Author Changes Orphans’ Lives with Education

Author Tom Davis and Children’s HopeChest sponsor the Scared $1 Million Education Fund and Writing Contest

I shall live in hope of getting what I seek another day. ~ Swazi proverb

The number one need in Swaziland, Africa, is not what you think. It’s true: Swazi people face the realities of poverty and disease and have great, pressing needs which must be met. But meeting these needs alone will not give children what they need to overcome their circumstances and to change their world—this can only happen through education.

In his new release, Scared (David C Cook, June 2009), author Tom Davis tells the story of Adanna, a young Swazi girl, and a jaded U.S. photojournalist on assignment in her country. Based on his experience working with orphaned children in Swaziland, Davis reveals the power of words to change lives—and the power of God to bring light and new life, even to the darkest of places.

Adanna’s life story could be a blueprint for any of the thousands of Swazi kids Davis has met and worked with as CEO of Children’s HopeChest (www.hopechest.org) — a global orphan care organization. These children are brimming with potential, but lack even a shred of opportunity.

Beyond meeting basic, practical needs, the mission and passion of Children’s HopeChest is to provide orphaned children the tools they need to become independent adults and mature people who can impact their communities and culture. One of the best paths for reaching this goal is education. With that in mind, Davis and Children’s HopeChest have developed the Scared $1 Million Education Fund and Writing Contest.

The writing contest will be launched with the release of Scared this June. It is open to high-school aged orphans who are presently connected with HopeChest carepoints in Swaziland. Entries will be received in three categories: short story, poetry, and personal essay/memoir. The grand prize for each category is a university scholarship, and runner-up submissions will receive other prizes appropriate to their culture and need.

How the Writing Contest Works

– Children will submit their writing pieces (maximum of one per category). Submission deadline is September 1, 2009.

– A panel made up of Swazi teachers and HopeChest carepoint staff will judge all entries and select the top ten from each category.

– The top ten finalists in each category will be posted on the Scared website, www.scaredthebook.com, December 1, 2009. People around the world are invited to log in and cast a vote for their favorites in each category.

– Winners will be announced March 2010.

For more information about the contest, visit www.scaredthebook.com

Friday, June 26, 2009

Traveling On -

My sixteen year old says he wrote this poem. I told him if he sends it to me, I'd post it on my blog. Let me know what you think.

traveling on

I look upon the sea of grass,
and the beauty of the flowers,
the endless miles and great mass,
so peaceful like light Spring showers.

Foot prints on the hot Summer sand,
waves crash on the once quiet shore,
infinity of sea and land,
vibrations to my inner core.

The rolling green hills of tall trees,
streams thru the soft forest floor,
as I fall to my tired knees,
I desire to travel on and see much more.

~by Michael S. Hilton

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Misfortune Cookies

Author: Linda P. Kozar
Publisher: Heartsong Presents Mysteries
ISBN: 978-1-59789-929-1
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Best friends Sue Jan and Lovita own a beauty shop/boutique and love food and fun. The difference is that Sue Jan is boy crazy, but refuses to see the man right in front of her. Lovita has given up on love and marriage.

When eating lunch in a Chinese restaurant, Lovita gets a strange fortune from the cookie – “your father was murdered. A man in a Stetson will tell you more tomorrow.” Lovita’s life was thrown into a tailspin. She’d believed her father died of a heart attack.

However, when the man in a Stetson shows up, Lovita finds herself led into a world of international spy rings, devastatingly handsome strangers, and other strange fortunes in their fortune cookies!

MISFORTUNE COOKIES is a humorous story set in a small town in Texas, with two Chinese restaurants owned by the same family! So the misfortune cookies literally showed up where Lavita did. I had to keep reading to find out whether her father was really murdered or whether it was a heart attack as they believed.

There are two yummy sounding recipes included at the end of the book, but to be honest I’m kind of afraid to try them since the book used them to make some characters sick (though I’m sure the correct recipe is the one in the book). Full of fun, romance, and intrigue, there is even a tornado thrown in for good measure. Don’t miss MISFORTUNE COOKIES. $6.95, available from www.amazon.com. 249 pages.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Operation Kid-to-Kid

Give your kids a hands-on mission project and a chance to serve needy children around the world

What do think about when you read headlines about economic hardships, natural disasters, and politically charged conflict? Circumstances like these set families and entire communities reeling, and few people are affected as profoundly as the children involved. How do the littlest victims cope with the changes and uncertainty around them? And what can the church do to reach out specifically to these little ones?

Group Publishing, the premier publishers of children’s Bible curriculum including Sunday school and VBS, believes that some of the best ministers to children experiencing disaster and hardship are other children. That’s why they have created a program called Operation Kid-to-Kid (OK2K), which partners with nondenominational Christian ministries like International Bible Society and World Vision to provide opportunities for children in North America to share God’s love with other children in difficult or disastrous situations. Since its inception ten years ago, Operation Kid-to-Kid projects have impacted millions of kids all over the world.

“Operation Kid-to-Kid is a great way to teach kids compassion and service,” says Joani Schultz, cofounder of Group and OK2K. “Children learn by doing. It’s one thing to drop a nickel in the offering plate, but when kids make a gift with their own hands, when they can be creative and personal, this leaves a real impression on both the givers and the receivers.”

Q: What is Operation Kid-to-Kid™?

A: Operation Kid-to-Kid™ is a partnership of Group Publishing, Inc. and nondenominational Christian organizations dedicated to creating hands-on service projects for children in North America. Operation Kid-to-Kid™ projects have ministered to kids all over the world. Over the years, Group’s Operation Kid-to-Kid™ has become one of the largest forces mobilizing children in serving other children around the world. Millions have been impacted with gifts of comfort critters, school supplies, Bibles, hygiene kits, Christmas gifts, Bible coloring books, and socks and shoes. Operation Kid-to-Kid™ gives children a meaningful service project that will change their hearts as they help change the world.

Q: What is a Comfort Critter? Where do I get the Comfort Critters?

A: Comfort Critters are adorable, easy-to-assemble crafts designed especially for kids to make and receive. Custom-made Comfort Critters are available from Group and Group suppliers. This year’s special critter is a cuddly little turtle that reads “God Cares” and features a pocket so each child can include a special message to another child in need.

Q: We all want to teach our kids about God’s compassion. Why are the Operation Kid-to-KidTM Comfort Critters so effective for this purpose?

A: Children learn by doing. While activities like collecting spare change definitely serve a good purpose, it’s hard for young children, who don’t really understand the value of money yet, to understand how the money they collect will minister to other children. But all children know what it’s like to be scared or lonely. They know how a teddy bear, stuffed animal, or blankie makes them feel better. As they use their own hands to make these little turtles, they are creating personal, tangible expressions of compassion. The handy sewn in pocket gives them the opportunity to send a message from their own hearts. And because they make two turtles—one to give away and one to keep—they will have a touchable reminder that other children are struggling and in need of compassion and comfort.

Q: How many Comfort Critters will I need?

A: You will need two for each child participating—one for them to keep, and one to give away.

Q: Can I use a different Comfort Critter for our church service project?

A: Not if you are distributing it through International Bible Society for disaster relief. They’re counting on receiving these Comfort Critters with the special message of God’s love. IBS has learned it’s important that items distributed to children should be identical. No child should feel less special because his or her Comfort Critter doesn’t look like the others.

Q: Do I have to send my Comfort Critters to the International Bible Society for distribution?

A: Feel free to tweak your Operation Kid-to-Kid™ program. You can use your Comfort Critters as a local community service project—or send the items with your church mission team.

Q: Besides the Comfort Critters, what other Operation Kid-to-Kid™ projects can my group participate in?

A: There are so many ways to involve children in ministry throughout the year. Through the Rome VBS program, you can send monthly Bible readers to children in the underground church around the world. Since it is dangerous for these children to own a Bible, these comic book-style readers offer much needed encouragement.

The Operation Kid-to-Kid Prayer Bear missions program warms hearts and minds and allows children to share the joy of God’s love. Kids will learn what it means to help others as they create a Prayer Bear that says “Jesus” in English, Spanish, and French. Plus, everyone can personalize a message to put in their Bear’s pocket to send to an orphan in Africa. Join us in one of the world’s largest forces mobilizing kids in serving others around the world.

This easy, hands-on mission program can serve those in your local community, be sent to military personnel, or simply be sent to the International Bible Society for distribution to children around the world.

For more information about Operation Kid-to-Kid, visit www.ok2k.org.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Multiple Streams of Contentment

Multiple Streams of Contentment

By Karen Whiting

My mother didn't smile on my wedding day. She spent the day overwhelmed with sadness although she loved me and loved my fiancé. He was everything she wanted in a husband for me. The wedding stayed within budget and everything went off fairly smoothly. My extended family all attended, everyone got along, and tried to cheer her up. Yet, my wedding photos will always show her sad expression.

The day before the wedding my mentally handicapped brother had lost his little job of waiting on tables at a school cafeteria. Although social workers could easily place him in a new position, mom remained discontented and focused on that problem the entire day. She made the mistake of magnifying one problem, so that it robbed her of joy on such a happy occasion.

Many people let one problem override all the blessings in their lives. It steals their contentment. They forget to trust their anxieties to God and rejoice in the blessings he has given them.

Some people fixate on something until it changes their personality and fills them with negative emotions that spill out in sin. Herodias, in Matthew 14, is an example of a person whose discontent led to a life of sin. She had a husband but chose the sin of adultery. She must have been discontent with her husband. She felt more discontent at hearing John the Baptist speak of repentance and point out her sin. That led to her plotting the murder of John the Baptist. She trampled over people and even used her beautiful daughter to get her way. She ignored John's calls to repent, the one action that would have healed her heart and given her joy. Her bad choice snowballed into disaster for many.

In contrast, Paul spoke about contentment, in Philippians four, and said that he had learned to be content in prosperous circumstances and impoverished situations. His circumstances could not rob him of his joy or peace. It is very seldom that every detail in life is perfect because we live in a fallen world, but we can make choices that help us remain content despite our circumstances.

My mother finally discovered how to be content after a stroke left her partially paralyzed. She started to listen as we expressed gratitude for her life and what she could still do. When she complained that she could no longer do crafts, I mentioned that with her good hand she could write letters, a lost art, to grandchildren away at college and to her friends. She struggled to use a walker and spent much of her time in a wheelchair, but she spent time thanking God for her blessings of family, the patient care-giving of my father, the use of one hand, and a new ministry of writing letters of encouragement to family and friends. She realized that joy came as she filled her life with multiple streams of contentment.

Viewing all the different blessings in life is like seeing many streams that flow into an ocean or a lake. If one stream dries up, others keep flowing. One stream of contentment we can create is to do something for others. It gives us purpose. List your abilities and talents and consider ways to use them to bless others.

God is a giver of blessings. We learn in James 1:16-17, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. Blessings from God may be in the form of friends, financial security, a home, health, pets, clothing, and food. The meeting of our basic needs is a gift. Each one of these can become a stream filled with blessings. So let the abundance of gratitude for blessings flow into your heart. Consider each aspect of life as a different stream. There is always one stream that is bubbling up with blessings to fill your life with contentment.

In Philippians four, Paul provides wisdom regarding contentment: he urges people to live in harmony, rejoice in the Lord, and give anxieties to God in prayer. He encourages people to let their minds dwell on positive thoughts, stating that we should think about what is true, lovely, honorable, pure, true, and anything excellent. Positive thoughts help our emotions flow in an optimistic direction. To do this, list the blessings in each stream of life.

Spiritual streams include a relationship with Jesus, prayer, church family, Christian music, Bible study, and church fellowship.

Relational streams include family, friends, faith friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and new people we meet.

Blessings in daily life include past memories, pleasant thoughts, encouraging words, compliments, accomplishments, laughter, and smiles.

In creating the world, God also created beauty to provide natural streams of contentment filled with beautiful sunsets and sunrises, wonders of nature, blossoms, gentle breezes, showers that cause the earth to spring forth in color, and creatures that scurry and fly about.

After listing the positives, praise God for each one. Thank God for each friend and every little circumstance that is going well.

Then list past prayer requests that God answered. Thank God again for each response. Then add any new prayer needs. It's easier to trust God and give away worries when you recall the past times when God met your needs.

To prevent the flow of blessings from drying up, of being blocked as a dam blocks a river's flow, spend time nurturing the streams. Paul's contentment continued in prison and despite hardships. He nurtured his relationships. He continually prayed and wrote letters. He sent greetings to friends and encouraged his companions and fellow-workers with praise. Paul's later years stood in stark contrast to the discontented man who watched alone, as his soldiers stoned Stephen (Acts 7:58-8:3). They placed Stephen's cloak at Paul's feet. It's a lonely image of someone isolated from others. He made threats from the anger of discontentment and asked others to write letters for him, letters to imprison Christians. As a Christian, he viewed the blessings in life as gifts from God and knew the joy of friendships.

Paul developed a network of friends everywhere he traveled. And he encouraged his friends to live in harmony and stay focused on their relationship with Jesus. Paul's letters to Timothy urge Timothy to continue his relationship with God, to visit him, and to fill his life with loving actions.

Paul's wise words offer ways to keep the streams flowing. First, continue in your relationship with God. Do not let blockage occur from sin. His letters encourage people to keep the relationship with God right and strong. He sang songs in jail and praised God in the midst of trialsSecondly, work at relationships. Keep in touch with people, invite them to

visit, praise them and express gratitude for their friendship. Paul generated streams in lives of others. Paul had discovered the truth of Jesus' words in John 7:38, "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.

My mother suffered from cancer in the final months of her life. When she called to say she had cancer I asked, "Mom, are you ready to go home to the Lord?" She said, " Yes." I could hear joy in her voice in spite of pain that filled her body. My children put together little care packages and wrapped up a tiny treasure to open each day. They made little crafts, wrote cards, wrapped photos, and taped messages. She smiled at each little gift. She had something positive to look forward to each day. My father, her husband of fifty years, read Scriptures at her request. She nurtured the streams.

My mentally handicapped brother had to be coaxed to visit her. He didn't think mom would know him because she was so near death. As he entered the room I asked, "Mom, do you know who is here." She almost yelled, something very difficult for her to do and said, "Johnny. I hear Johnny." That melted Johnny's heart and he stayed by her side for the afternoon, holding a cup and straw for her to sip water. She thanked him. She had learned to work at the relationships even when it became most difficult.

Until her final hours my mother did not feel pain. As she passed on to heaven, my dad and some siblings surrounded her. My mother had learned an important truth: streams of contentment can be a powerful force to ease pain, change our perspective, and create peace in our hearts.

About the Author:

A creative person with creative solutions- that's Karen Whiting! She has a heart for busy women and desires to help them free up time for what God has truly called them to do in relationships and ministry. She challenges listeners to discover ways to connect, serve, and treasure one another.

Karen found time to follow God's call to write even while she and husband, Jim moved around the US and raised their five children. They currently live on Maryland's eastern shore and are new grandparents.

An author of ten books for women, families and children, Karen writes to creatively strengthen families. Her articles have appeared in dozens of magazines, including Focus on the Family, Today's Christian Woman, Christian Parenting Today, and Parent Life. Karen has been named Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in the World, and Professional Speakers Network member of the year award. Karen has been a guest on numerous radio shows and hosted the educational television series Puppets on Parade. With humor and inspiration, Karen loves to encourage women to nurture their relationships and family life.

Find out more about Karen at her website http://www.karenwhiting.com/

To schedule Karen for a speaking event or interview, please contact Kathy Carlton Willis Communications at WillisWay@aol.com or check out http://kcwcomm.blogspot.com/ .

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wild Goose Chase

Author: Mark Batterson
Publisher: Multnomah
ISBN: 978-1-59052-719-1
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

Most of us have no idea where we’re going most of the time. Perfect. Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit—An Geadh Glas, or ‘the wild goose.’ The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious, I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to follow the Spirit through life. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something. Most of us will have no idea where we re going most of the time. And I know that is unsettling. But circumstantial uncertainy also goes by another name: Adventure. (From the back cover)

The book contains chapters with such interesting titles such as”

 Yawning Angels
 Dictatorship of the Ordinary
 Eight-Foot Ceilings
 A Rooster’s Crow
 Good Old-Fashioned Cuts

And others, that it first glance seem to have nothing to do with anything – except, possibly taking you on a Wild Goose Chase. But with interesting stories, thoughts, and applications, Mr. Batterson makes his point, and then even includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter. I would like have seen lines there so you could record your thoughts, but that is what notebooks are for, so you don’t deface books.

All in all I’d say that this book does give you something to think about. $13.99. 183 pages.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

God's Little Princess Devotional Bible

Author: Sheila Walsh
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-4003-0879-8
Genre: Inspirational/bible/devotional

GOD’S LITTLE PRINCESS DEVOTIONAL BIBLE is a really cute hardback Bible/devotional for girls ages 4 – 7. My seven-year-old has claimed my copy which I just got to review and is anxious for me to hurry up and review this so she can have her Bible back. There is even a tiara, with jewels on it decorating the front cover, and the word Bible is in sparkly pink letters.

Every little girl likes to pretend they are a princess, and if they are a Christian, they are a princess, the daughter of a King, the greatest King who created us and rules over everything.

GOD’S LITTLE PRINCESS DEVOTIONAL BIBLE has Bible stories, shared straight from the verses in the Bible, and then includes another page of thoughts for girls to consider, as well as memory verses for girls to memorize each day. The Bible also includes songs, special activities, quizzes, “beauty-tips” (for playing dress-up) and so much more.

There are also colorful pages, well done drawings, and designs which are guaranteed to keep your little princess’ attention, and even help to draw her into the message. My seven-year-old absolutely adores this Bible Devotional. A great gift for your favorite little girl for any reason. #16.99 hardback. 337 pages.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren
Publisher: David C Cook
June 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6708-0
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Odessa St. Clair, along with her brother, Dominic and her sister Moira, has been sent to Colorado Springs to chase the cure. After all, Odessa is suffering from consumption, the disease that has killed not four of her brothers. But by the time the train arrives in Colorado Springs, Odessa has passed out and is near death.

Several days after their arrival, Odessa finally wakes up. There she begins to get to know some of the others in the hospital recovering from consumption. But soon, some one apparently murders the miner, Sam O’Toole, who was also recovering from consumption. But before Sam dies, he passes her a poem which leaves clues which might direct her to him mine. A mine he claimed carried a fantastic vein of silver. If Odessa recovers completely from consumption, should she try to follow the clues? And if she does, what will she discover?

It has been many years since I’ve read a novel by Lisa T. Bergren. I read her books back in the beginning when she wrote contemporaries, but when she started writing historicals, for some reason I stopped reading her books. But now, one has come into my hands to review. And I was pleasantly surprised that Lisa T. Bergren has only improved—a lot—since the beginning.

I knew Odessa would survive from reading the back cover copy, but just beginning the book in the first few pages, I began to fear for her life. Odessa clearly suffered and her brother and sister were frantic for her. I also hoped that Dominic would get his act together and do the job he was supposed to do, instead of itching for a fight. I worried he would be killed. I fell in love with him though, and I want to read more about Nic someday.

A big plus was the after words section of this book, where there is an interview with Ms. Bergren, Discussion questions, and some fascinating information about the history of Colorado Springs and some of its real inhabitants. Don’t miss this great new historical. $14.99. 416 pages.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Join us for a Sugar party!!!

Susan May Warren is wrapping up the celebration for the release of her new book, Nothing But Trouble with a SUPER FUN FACEBOOK Party.

Here's Susan to tell us all about it...PJ Sugar is a girl who I’ve fallen in love with – and I’m excited that others have too! I wrote PJ for everyone who feels just a little messy, just a little like they can’t quite get it right. (I’m so there!) And who needs to hear that God loves them. Period. Full stop. Hallelujah.

Grab a few of your friends…some sugar cookies (or whatever Sugary goodness you prefer), your favorite beverage and your computer and let’s chat. June 19th from 5-7 PM PST, I’ll be answering your questions, giving you a sneak peak into book 2 in the PJ Sugar collection, letting you test your trivia skills, giving away books and a GINORMOUS Sugar Basket! Also…everyone in attendance will receive a downloadable book plate and discussion questions for Nothing But Trouble for your book club, reading group, or just for yourself!

So grab a few of your friends and come join me on June 19th from 5-7 pm (PST) on Facebook.

My Facebook account name is Susan May Warren

Wow. We at Litfuse can't wait - this is sure to be a fun party. Help Susan Spread the Word by posting this button on your blog/website! Email Amy (amy@litfusegroup.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) and she'll send you the button code! And, yep - just like last time, we'll be giving away a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com to one lucky person who posts the button. Send us a note at amy@litfusegroup.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it that you've got your button up and we'll enter your name into the pot. Twitter and facebook it and get additional 5 entries! Include your twitter/facebook id in the email too!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Would Die for You

Authors: Brent and Deanna Higgins
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3244-8
Inspirational/youth/Christian living

BJ Higgins was fifteen years old when he went on a mission trip. While there, he unfortunately contracted an infection on the mission field, which ultimately killed him. But even as his illness progressed, BJ was all about God, witnessing to others, and praising Him with every breath.

I WOULD DIE FOR YOU is the celebration of BJ’s life, written by BJ’s journals and blogs, as well as stories from family and friends. Even the lead singer of Mercy Me remembers BJ and wrote a song to honor BJ’s life.

I found I WOULD DIE FOR YOU rather disjointed and hard to follow, as the time-line seemed to be all over the place. Still, the book is written as though Brent and Deanna were sitting right across the living room from you, cuddling on the couch, while remembering their son and the stories of his life—jumping from time period to time period as the memory hit—kind of like one would after a funeral when visiting with the family, sharing your random memories.

For such a young man, BJ put the cause of Christ above himself. His room was filled with posters exalting God, and even now after his death, some are treating it as a shrine where they go to be closer to the God that BJ loved.

I have never been on a mission trip and probably will never go on one, but I have to admire all the sacrifices that BJ made for the sake of the kingdom. Read his story to be inspired and challenged to live each day making a difference for God. Pictures are scattered randomly through the book. $12.99. 224 pages.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tour de Force

Author: Elizabeth White
Publisher: Zondervan
April 2009
ISBN: 978-0-310-27390-5
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Gilly Kincade has dreamed of making soloist in the New York ballet for some time, and when the soloist in the performance of Swan Lake injures herself badly enough requiring a trip to the Emergency Room, Gilly gets her chance. She is prepared…mentally and physically, and she knows the part well.

Artistic Director Jacob Ferrar has left New York and is trying to pursue his career in ballet while getting a degree in physical therapy on the side. When he sees Gilly Kincade perform, Jacob is captivated by the beautiful woman who danced her way across the stage. Gilly is perfect for projects that Jacob has on his mind, and the fact that she’s an outspoken Christian makes her even more perfect.

But Jacob’s dreams have obstacles to overcome before they become reality. And an injury that Gilly sustains may make her incapable of performing even if Jacob is able to reach his dream. What will it take for Gilly and Jacob to achieve their desires?

TOUR DE FORCE is the latest book by Ms. White, and like her previous books, TOUR DE FORCE is a winner. Written in a tight, concise manner, the reader is instantly engaged completely in the story, and even the fact that they may not be familiar with ballet or its terms isn’t an issue, as a glossary of ballet terms is included in the book. For instance, I didn’t know that Tour de Force is a ballet term meaning an arresting, vital step; a feat of technical skill such as a series of brilliant pirouttes or a combination of outstanding jumps and beats. Knowing this, makes the title much more meaningful after having read the book.

Gilly, in spite of being way out of my league, is a real, fun-loving, quirky character, that would have been fun to know if she were real. Jacob is a great hero, flawed, with problems that could drag him down, but he has a faith in God that keeps him going, even when situations go from bad to worse.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading TOUR DE FORCE, and reconnecting with some of the characters in Ms. White’s book Off the Record as well. I did the ballet terms a bit overwhelming, and I was glad that there was a glossary in the book. Don’t miss TOUR DE FORCE.

Tour de Force on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310273900

Elizabeth White’s Website: http://elizabethwhite.net

Elizabeth White’s Facebook Profile: http://www.facebook.com/people/beth-white/509505831

List of all participating bloggers: http://blogtourspot.com/ewhite-blog-tour/ewhite-blog-tour-stops

The Tour de Force Flickr Group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/ewhite-tourdeforce

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No-Cost Big Reward Father's Day Gift Ideas

No-Cost Big Reward Father's Day Gift Ideas

By: Sharon Lovejoy Autry and Laurie Lovejoy Autry

There we sat at dinner - a time that, in my mind, is supposed to be calm and non-stressful. (I've heard food digests better.) But, after a draining workday, little things can seem huge. The kids were planning yet another summer business endeavor which crawled all over my husband. He began lecturing the negatives of such an endeavor...point 1, point 2...I felt like we were in a business meeting. I must have rolled my eyes. I glanced at my daughter who wasn't listening to her father. She was looking at me. Her response to point 1 and 2: rolling her eyes.

Children do what we do . . . Boy, that's a scary thought for me. How do you treat your husband? Do you respect him with your words, actions, attitudes, eyes? I struggle sometimes when I feel so justified in my disrespect. Can you relate? I think the best thing we as moms can do to help our children to respect their dad is to treat him with respect ourselves. Here are some Father's Day (and everyday) tips to help our children respect their fathers:

A compliment a day goes a long way! Brag on your husband in front of your children (and in front of him).

Show me the love! Let your children know how much you love their daddy. Show affection in front of your children. They may say, "Yuck!" but it provides much needed security for their lives.

Instead of being put-out -Pray! Include your children in praying for dad's job, leadership, etc.

Give him grace . . . Show him grace even when he doesn't deserve it . . . remember, neither do we. Nehemiah 9:17b says "But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love."

Phone Manners. Next time you are in the middle of something and your husband calls you on the phone, be aware of your tone of voice, are you respectful? . . . little ears may be listening and learning.

"Daddy's Home!" Be as excited to see your husband when he comes home from work as your children are! Make yourself stop what you are doing to greet him.

Choose your battles -When you think your husband is being unfair (and it's a battle you need to fight) talk to your husband in private; listen first and speak last. Psalm 141:3 "Set a guard over my mouth O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips."

Try these no-cost (big rewards) Father's Day gift ideas and see if it proves to be the gift that truly keeps on giving!

Laurie Lovejoy Hilliard and Sharon Lovejoy Autry are wives, moms, sisters and great friends. They are the founders of Mom and Loving It Ministries whose mission is to provide hope for families by encouraging and equipping moms.
After these sisters and their families toured 40 states speaking and singing to thousands of moms, they settled in the North Texas area near their hometown of Whitesboro. They've been featured on numerous TV and radio shows and have written Mom and Loving It: Finding Contentment in REAL Life, and Hold You, Mommy: Moments with God for Moms on the Go. Their musical CD, Hold You, Mommy has encouraged thousands. Laurie and her husband Charles, have four children, Sharon and her husband Pat, have three.

This twosome inspires audiences at their Mom and Loving It Conferences to move from simply enduring motherhood to enjoying it. Through their genuine hearts and relatable stories, moms are put at ease and challenged to be a "Mom and Loving It!"

To find out more about using their books as studies in your ladies group, having them for a conference or to sign up for a free monthly Mom-e-Moment visit them at http://www.momandlovingit.org/

Monday, June 15, 2009

Meeting Daddy by Cynthia Ruchti

Meeting Daddy

By: Cynthia Ruchti

Amy was six weeks pregnant when her husband’s army unit deployed to Iraq for eighteen months. I felt my friend’s pain deep in my bones, aching with a brand of grief reserved only for times like that. Caring for her two young children and their home would be stress enough for her without the added demands and challenges of a new baby on the way. Concern for her husband’s safety would mask every remotely joyful moment. The wonder of labor and delivery lay shrouded in loneliness. And the child would be many months old before meeting his or her daddy for the first time.

Change a few details and backtrack more than fifty years and that was my story.

My father served with the Marines during the Korean Conflict. Four days after I was born, his unit shipped out, leaving my mom and me to fend for ourselves for the next thirteen months. When relating my personal history, I have to start with that. It shaped my beginnings. I lived my first thirteen months seven thousand miles away from the dad who loved me and wasn’t allowed to hold me until I was already walking and capable of squirming out of his arms.

He’d read magazines during Mom’s labor. Fathers weren’t welcome in the delivery room in those days. He saw his first glimpses of me through the nursery window. Then he obediently reported for duty aboard the ship that would take him far from us and into the arms of daily danger.

In an era before the invention of camcorders, camera phones, and e-mail, my mother and father had only air mail letters to connect their hearts. Letters and scalloped-edged black and white photos.

As the firstborn child, my photo album bulged, all the more so since still pictures offered my dad his only tangible evidence that I was alive, growing, and as happy as a child can be without her father.

Mom would have sent him a lock of my hair from my first haircut if I’d had any to spare. When I learned to blow kisses, she’d “collect” some in an envelope to send to him. An amateur artist, Daddy sketched cartoonish scenes from his Marine unit—jeeps and tents and enlisted men and helicopters. Even before I understood a word she said, my mom read those letters to me over and over again. They were my lullabies. She showed me his picture and talked about what a wonderful daddy I had.

Mom wanted me to know who he was and what he was like before he came home. From the stories they’ve told, both of my parents were nervous about that first meeting. They worried I’d be frightened of the stranger who was my father. He’d survived the war, but my fearing or resisting him would have killed him, they said.

To compound the concern, I was just at that age when a toddler begins to fear strangers. Somebody would smile at me in church and I’d start screaming.

But my mom had prepared me well. The pictures. The letters. Her gentle words about how much that smiling man in the pictures loved me. I’m told that when he finally came home and walked through the front door, I looked up at my mom, pointed to the tall Marine and asked, “Daddy?” Mom nodded, her throat imploding on itself. Her nod was all the assurance I needed. The next minute I was in his arms, dodging his tears of gratitude that I’d accepted him.

I give my mother a lot of credit for the success of that first meeting. She had prepared me well, leaving nothing to chance. My toddler mind entertained no doubt that he cared about me. I knew that truth before he even got home from the war because of what my mother taught me about him.

If the Lord walked into the room in a few minutes, would the people around me recognize Him not by His beard or hair or flowing robes, but because of how I have described Him?

Would people meeting Him for the first time find the situation comfortable and reassuring because of how well I prepared them?

Am I constantly showing others snapshots of the Lord through the way I live and love, the things I say about Him, the things He said that I pass on to them?

Do I talk about Him frequently, with loving words, expressing how very much He loves even those who have not yet met Him?

Would His sudden presence seem intimidating and frightening, or more like a warm homecoming?

In light of how you and I act day to day, would others respond to His entrance into their lives this way:

“Oh, sure! I recognize Him. I've heard my neighbor talk about Him. I've seen my coworker act like that. I've heard those same affirming words coming out of my brother-in-law's mouth. I've seen examples of what He's like. His amazing love and generosity and compassion and caring don't surprise me at all. They are just what I expected from what my friend shared about Him. I heard that His touch brings healing. I heard that He can help make sense out of the questions that trouble me. I didn't need more of an introduction than the one my friend already gave me. I’d recognize Jesus a mile away.”

Pictures and reflections and stories and evidence still lack the wonder of that first face-to-face encounter. As I Corinthians 13:12 (KJV) reminds us, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

*Article reprint from Victory in Grace.

Cynthia Ruchti writes stories of “hope that glows in the dark.” The drama/devotional radio broadcast Cynthia writes and produces—The Heartbeat of the Home—airs on 16 radio stations and two cable/digital television stations. Cynthia is editor of the ministry’s Backyard Friends magazine. She also serves as current president of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her debut novel—They Almost Always Come Home—releases in spring 2010 with Abingdon Press

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Love Finds You in Romeo, Colorado

Author: Gwen Ford Faulkenbury
Publisher: Summerside Press
ISBN: 978-1-934770-46-7
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Claire Caspian is back in Romeo, Colorado, but this time she has her five-year-old son, Graeme with her. Her husband has passed on, and when Claire is offered a job as English professor at the college, she is quick to move back to the desert town of Romeo, even if she has to live with her grandmother. When Graeme has a severe asthma attack at school, Claire is shocked as she was certain that allergens would be fewer in the desert.

The doctor, Stephen Reyes, is compassionate, but he fears that Graeme’s asthma is getting worse as Graeme gets older, something not uncommon. So he sends Graeme to a specialist. Still, Stephen can’t help but think about the beautiful green-eyed Claire, and he begins to look for her at local sporting events.

When Stephen shares his interest in Claire with his male nurse, the nurse is quick to inform Stephen that Claire is married. But Stephen wonders where her husband is. And he still can’t seem to keep his distance. How will this misunderstanding get cleared up? And is Claire even open for a new love?

LOVE FINDS YOU IN ROMEO, COLORADO is another wonderful romance published by Summerside Press. So far, I’ve enjoyed all the books in this new line that I’ve read and I hope that it will be around for along time to come. Romeo, Colorado is a real town set in the desert areas of Colorado, though this book, unlike some others in this collection, does not give any further information about the town.

I enjoyed getting to know both Claire, and Stephen, though both, being professionals did take a bit of time for me to warm up to. The author was very good at weaving descriptive terms about the setting through the book, so I could almost see the town and surrounding areas. I especially enjoyed one of the secondary characters, Maria, as she was very well-developed and bubbled with life. I’d like to see more about this character.

Don’t miss any of the Love Finds You In series, and especially not LOVE FINDS YOU IN ROMEO, COLORADO. It is a nice visit to a different area, and a great summer time read. $12.99. 318 pages.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Mission-Minded Family

Author: Ann Dunagan
Publisher: Authentic Books
ISBN: 978-1-934068-43-4
Genre: Inspirational/Christian education

In a mission-minded family, there seems to be a God-infused energy. A passion for the lost. And a spiritual depth and hunger that reaches into the heart of the culture. A family that is called for missions need to have an attitude of self-sacrifice, and a total submission to God’s will.

In THE MISSION-MINDED FAMILY Ms. Dunagan shows us what the concept really means. She includes activities for the family to participate in as well as resources to help those who are not mission-focused to become so. She also discusses the need for balancing and prioritizing your everyday life as well as going into what a mission-minded family’s finances might look like if they were focused on missions.

This book contains the following features:

1. Hymns and Poems
2. From a child’s perspective
3. Mini Missionary Biographies
4. Mission stories
5. Teaching opportunities

There are also startling facts scattered through the book, such as:

--more money is spent each year on chewing gum than on missions
--every fifty-two days more money is spent on pet food than is spent annually on missions

World Maps, resources, and other notes are included at the end of the book. If you are in a small church trying to reach the community, or a mission church, or even just want to expand your churches missionary base at home or abroad, then THE MISSION-MINDED FAMILY is a great way to start. It is chock-full of advice and stories that will inspire you. 230 pages.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wind of the Spirit

Author: J.M. Hochstetler
Publisher: Sheaf House
March 2009
ISBN: 978-0-9797485-3-0
Genre: Inspirational/historical

At long last, the continuation of the American Patriot Series, WIND OF THE SPIRIT is here. A sequel to Daughter of Liberty and Native Son, WIND OF THE SPIRIT is set during the prequel to the Revolutionary War, when Washington is gathering his troops, and the French is aligning with the Indians, and the British troops are coming into America.

A spy, Elizabeth Howard walks along completely free with the Loyalists, yet she is listening to every word they speak, and reporting the findings back to George Washington so he can make his plans accordingly. She is also being wooed by the handsome young doctor she assists, but she isn’t certain which side he’s really on. Is he a loyalist, or a Son of Liberty? Still, Elizabeth is reluctant to take him up on his offer to wed because she is still in love with Jonathan Carleton, who has vanished.

Jonathan has returned to his native roots and is now known as White Eagle. He is chief of a Shawnee Indian tribe, and leading attacks against settlers who enter the Indian territories of Ohio from Pennsylvania. A shaman is against White Eagle, arguing with him and discounting him on every turn, and White Eagle fears there will soon be an uprising. A widow, Blue Sky, considers him to be her future husband, and White Eagle is having trouble resisting her charms. After all, he’ll probably never see Elizabeth again.

When the British gets wind of Jonathan’s location, they set out to execute him for treason, but Elizabeth joins Colonel Charles Andrews to attempt and find Jonathan before the British. But is love able to bridge the gap that has distanced them, both physically and mentally?

I loved this series when it first came out, and was one of the reviewers who wrote the author asking about when the third book in the series would be coming out. I was so disappointed to hear that the contract had been cancelled and there would be no continuation in the story and I hated the way Jonathan and Elizabeth were separated at the ending of Native Son. But sometimes, the timing just isn’t right, and the book will make a stronger impact later. And that is the case with this book. As it has been some years since I read Daughter of Liberty and Native Son, it did take me awhile to remember what had happened in the previous books. But by the time I’d gotten to the middle of chapter two, I had recalled the previous two books and was ready to find out how WIND OF THE SPIRIT would end. It was equally fascinating to know that some of the areas I’d visited on our recent trip East this year were places written about in this story and I could see the forts – as I actually walked in some of them that were mentioned.

Don’t miss WIND OF THE SPIRIT, and if you did happen to miss the first two books they should be available on www.amazon.com or at www.cbd.com. $13.99. 368 pages.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An Interview with Deborah Vogts

Deborah Vogts is the author of SNOW MELTS IN SPRING. I'm supposed to get a book to review, but it is late, and I'm supposed to feature Deborah this week, so we are doing an interview. When the book comes later I'll do the review about this new release.

Deborah, tell me a little bit about your background and your family.
I’m a stay-at-home mom and wife to a loving husband. We have three daughters, ages 22, 17, & 12. We live in SE Kansas where we raise and train American Quarter Horses—my husband & daughters train them & I do the bookwork (both financial & fictional.)

Sounds like you are busy. What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?
A few of my hobbies include baking, playing the piano, sewing, gardening, and of course reading. I also enjoy taking walks with our two golden retrievers. I also help teach Sunday school, and we are involved in 4-H, so summer can get pretty hectic with 4-H projects.

I wish you lived closer so you could teach me how to play the piano. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Hmmm. How about the ability to see into the future. That could be both a blessing & a curse.

What has God been teaching you lately?
To stay on course. One thing I’ve been learning about the publishing business is that there is always something to do, whether writing, editing, marketing, research, keeping up with email and publishing news. Add to that church/Bible study and family, and life gets a bit frazzled at times. I’ve learned I’m not the best at multi-tasking, so I’m trying to learn how to manage my time more wisely.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Let’s see. When I was really young, I thought it would be really cool to have a mud pie business. After that I thought I could be a fashion designer, a professional pianist, oh, and a writer.

I'm glad you decided to be a writer. Where are you headed next?
I’m continuing on with the Seasons of the Tallgrass series. I’m waiting for edits of my second book, Seeds of Summer and have started working on my third book, tentatively titled Blades of Autumn. One of the neatest parts of the publishing process is seeing what the creative team comes up with for a cover. I’m eager to view the cover for Seeds of Summer, a story about a former Miss Rodeo Kansas queen, and her return to the Flint Hills to care for her deceased father’s ranch and her two younger siblings. After the Seasons of the Tallgrass series, I’ll wait for God’s lead to see what happens next.

I'll be looking forward to reading the book!

Snow Melts in Spring on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310292751

Deborah Vogts’ Website: http://deborahvogts.com/

Deborah Vogts’ Blog: http://deborahvogts.blogspot.com/

Deborah Vogts’s Facebook Profile: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Deborah-Vogts/46635298612

Follow Deborah Vogts on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DeborahVogts

List of all participating bloggers: http://blogtourspot.com/vogts-blog-tour/vogts-blog-tour-stops

The Snow Melts in Spring Flickr group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/snow_melts/

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs

Created by Stephen Elkins
Illustrated by Tim O’Connor
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-59145-239-3
Genre: Inspirational/children/Bible stories

100 BIBLE STORIES, 100 BIBLE SONGS is the perfect Bible for your little one. With colorful illustrations that are sure to grab your child’s attention, and a short easily read Bible story that have songs that go along with it—what could be better?

From the beginning (Genesis) to the end (Revelation) and everything in between, 100 BIBLE STORIES will help your child learn the basics in bible stories, and with some well thought out applications, the child will be able to take biblical teachings to heart.

Plus, there are two CDs included with this book, including a mix of old favorites and new songs that I’ve never heard. My husband (who loves children’s songs) was thrilled with the CD arrangements which include not only children’s songs but also hymns and spirituals as well.

My two young daughters love 100 BIBLE STORIES, 100 BIBLE SONGS are both are anxious for me to finish reading it so they can carry it to Bible school and church. While not technically a Bible, this is a great first “Bible” for your children. And even for slightly older children with their own real Bibles, this is a great story book. Also excellent for children’s church ministries, and Sunday School classes. $19.99 hardcover, with two CDs. 205 pages.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Survival Tips

Saved By the Bell

A Summer to Remember

Sharon Lovejoy Autry

The final bell rang. The kids screamed for joy. Mom sits in the carpool line wondering, "What in the world are we going to do all summer?!"

Maybe as summer has begun, you've found yourself resentful and angry because your children constantly "interrupt" your schedule. If that's how you're feeling, you're normal.

But, wait. We wanted these kids, right? Are they really interruptions or blessings in disguise? How can we move from simply surviving the summer to making it a summer to remember?

Here are a few ideas to get you out of the summer survival rut:

1. Realize they won't be this way forever. What is it about your kids that you won't have in two years? If you are a parent of:

Preschoolers: Look at their hands and notice how tiny they are. Enjoy that.
Elementary children: When you're away from home, call them. Their voices sound small on the phone. That always reminds me to enjoy their innocence rather than expecting them to act like little grown-ups.

Tweens: Laugh at and enjoy their giggles (usually girls) and the fascination they have with being gross (usually boys)! Hopefully that won't last forever!

Teens: Even if they are driving you crazy, make your home the safe place. I still remember the fun place our parents created at home. It was our refuge. Let kids feel safe in your home by cutting down on the criticism and looking for ways to build them up. Mom and Dad's secret was a ping-pong table. We spent hours there.

2. Say "no" with a smile. It makes you and your child feel better. They know you have some regret at having to say no. You are on their team.

3. Play music. Anger and music don't usually dance. Movie soundtracks, praise songs, music from my teen years or even classical stations. I rarely find myself upset with my kids when we have music playing in the background.

4. Go outside. Sometimes taking a walk or bike ride with the kids can do wonders to change everyone's perspective.

5. Things aren't always as they seem. Remember that the way you are seeing things at this moment is probably not how it will look in a couple of hours. Frustrations can build and dissolve quickly when you have kids.

6. Offer them 30 minutes of your time. After they have helped pick up around the house let them pick what the two of you will do together and watch their eyes light up! For older kids, offer them the day off after helping for an hour.

7. Ask your kids what they think is fun. You might be surprised to find that their idea of fun often doesn't cost any money. My sister was amazed to find that her 7-year-old son's idea of "fun" was playing tag in the front yard with dad, mom and his little sister.

8. Slow down. Successful parenting doesn't mean you have your children involved in every possible extra-curricular activity. Successful parenting means you are there for them. If you've been running all year, it takes "practice" to enjoy staying home. Don't give up. Turn off the computer, TV, cell phone, etc. and read or play games (no matter what the age of your children).

9. Pray. When you are at your wit's end, ask God to help you remember what to do with your kids. On our own, it's hard to enjoy the moments because "life happens." But God has a way of giving us perspective that will slow us down and help us see our families the way He sees them: with love and compassion.

The next time you blow your top or realize you're just surviving your kids instead of enjoying their clumsy feet, silliness, or their constant desire to talk on the phone, stop and think, "one day I'll miss this!" The funny thing is, tomorrow we'll be longing for today. If we choose to think like that long enough, the kids won't be the only ones sad to hear the school bell ring this fall.

Sharon (Lovejoy) Autry, a mom of 3, co-authored Mom and Loving It, Finding Contentment in REAL Life with her sister, Laurie (Lovejoy) Hilliard, mom of 4. http://www.momandlovingit.org/

Monday, June 8, 2009

Courting Miss Adelaide

Author: Janet Dean
Publisher: Love Inspired Historical
September 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-82796-3
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Adelaide Crum is a spinster. And while she’ll never marry, she’d still love to have children. A darling little girl, one she could teach to sew… so when Adelaide hears of an orphan train coming to her town, she hurries to meet with the committee so she can be approved for a child.

Unfortunately, the committee doesn’t exactly see things her way. They insist that a child needs a mother and a father and they refuse to even consider her pleas for a little girl. Still, Adelaide can’t help but go when the orphan train arrives and pick out the child she wants…only to have that child go to a man and a woman.

When Adelaide struggles to heal from this newest rejection, she starts writing fashion articles for the newspaper editor, Charles Graves. She soon finds a friend in Charles, but for whatever reason, he refuses to support her quest to declare the home that the little girl went to unfit. Not even when the little girl is dropped off in town. Not even when evidence suggests otherwise… What can Adelaide do to make Charles see the truth?

COURTING MISS ADELAIDE is Ms. Dean’s debut novel, and it is a winner. Full of life, laughter, and unexpected twists and turns, COURTING MISS ADELAIDE is a novel that needs to have reviews written about it, so people will know what a treasure is lurking in stores waiting to be discovered.

Adelaide is a realistic heroine, feisty and caring, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with her. I also cared for Charles and felt for him as he battled his demons. A secondary character, Fannie, also won my heart and I hope to see more about this character sometime. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.50. 279 pages.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

One Perfect Day

Author: Lauraine Snelling
Publisher: Faith Words
ISBN: 978-0-446-58210-0
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

One Perfect Day. One Perfect Christmas. And that is what Nora Peterson is aiming toward. Next year, her two twin teenagers will be off at college and she wants this holiday to be one to remember. If only her husband would cooperate. But Gordon is delayed on a business trip overseas, and all the preparations are left to Nora. Of course.

Jenna Montgomery is used to handling the fast, frantic pace of the emergency room, but she still can’t come to grasps that her daughter needs a heart transplant, or she will die. Now this possibly might be Heather’s last Christmas, unless they get a miracle. A miracle she is desperately praying for.

Christmas eve…and Jenna gets her miracle. But for the miracle to occur, then someone has to die. And when Nora gets the news that shatters her life, then somehow she must struggle on. Is there any such thing as ONE PERFECT DAY?

ONE PERFECT DAY is definitely a book to read with a box of tissues by your side. No one truly understands what it is like to lose a child until they have gone through it. And no one can truly know what it is like to be on the waiting end for a transplant unless they have been there. Somehow, Ms. Snelling has managed to pull all the emotions from both ends of the spectrum together so the reader can identify and relate to both Nora and Jenna.

ONE PERFECT DAY is a Christmas story which I think is actually better read in June than in December. It is not a story of peace and good-will, but instead a story about depression. Grief. And miracles. Miracles that sometimes are not exactly easy to receive.

Don’t miss ONE PERFECT DAY. If you know anyone who has lost a child, or been on a waiting list for a transplant, (and who hasn’t known one or the other?) then ONE PERFECT DAY is a must read. And this is a gentle reminder that everyone needs to mark the place on their driver’s license to be an organ donator. Discussion questions are included at the end. $13.99. 303 pages.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Journey to the Well

Author: Diana Wallis Taylor
Publisher: Revell Books
March 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3309-4
Genre: Inspirational/biblical fiction/Women’s fiction

Did you ever wonder what happened to make the woman at the well the way she was?

Marah is only thirteen, but considered a woman in her Samaritan community. She is also in love with her childhood friend, Jesse. But Jesse is a poor shepherd boy and he fears he is unable to pay the bride price so he hesitates to speak to his father about marrying Marah. When Marah’s aunt (and guardian) wants to return to her hometown, she basically sells Marah to be wife of the one man in town that Marah fears, the sandal maker.

Forced to abandon her dreams of happiness, Marah sets out to just survive. But in a cast of many men who are out to use her, even survival is a challenge. Will Marah ever meet a man who can save her?

JOURNEY TO THE WELL is the fictionalized account, the author’s view, of what might have happened to the woman that Jesus met at the well. The woman who claimed that He told her everything that happened to her. Readers of biblical fiction will enjoy following Marah from her younger years through all the circumstances that might have caused her to have more than one husband, and the methods that a desperate woman used for survival.

I enjoyed getting to know Marah, and her friend Hannah. I often felt for Marah, who was the same age as my oldest daughter is when the story started. I can’t imagine my daughter being forced into the same circumstances as Marah at the age of thirteen. JOURNEY TO THE WELL is a well-researched portrayal of Marah’s life. Don’t miss this account of a biblical story. $13.99. 329 pages.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Beloved Captive

Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo
Publisher: Barbour Books
ISBN: 978-1-60260-230-4
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Emilie Gayarre grew up with luxury, but when she was old enough, she left home to work as a teacher on the island of Fairweather Key. However, now her father is possibly dying, and Emilie, as well as her sister, have been called home. As Emilie’s sister couldn’t make the trip, Emilie went alone, but once at her father’s side she learns that her luxurious life was all a lie. In fact, a stigma attached to her birth could steal any hope for a happy future.

Caleb Spencer wants a career in law. But as a career naval officer, he is instead trying to redeem the shadows in his past. When he learns that another sailor takes a shot that was intended for Caleb, he is awed that someone else would be willing to die for him.

Sparks fly when Emilie and Caleb meet, but with his past and her secret more is at risk than just Caleb’s career. Is it possible for Emilie and Caleb to release the ashes of the past and make a new life under truth?

BELOVED CAPTIVE is the second book in Ms. Y’Barbo’s Fairweather Key series, but it easily stands alone. I enjoyed getting to know Emilie, though some of her memories of her family mansion were quite difficult to read about. Still, Emilie seemed to be a favorite among the servants with everyone glad to see her, in spite of the secrets that most of them probably knew. Caleb was a bit harder for me to get to know and some of the dialog in his point of view was stiff, and not easily followed.

As a whole, BELOVED CAPTIVE, while not my favorite of Ms. Y’Barbo’s books, still was a very good read, and I enjoyed getting to know the Fairweather Keys, as well as the characters. Don’t miss the first book in the series Beloved Castaway as well as this second book, BELOVED CAPTIVE. Risk, Romance and Redemption set in the Florida Keys. $14.95. 318 pages.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Vote of Confidence

Author: Robin Lee Hatcher
Publisher: Zondervan
May 2009
ISBN: 978-0-310-25805-6
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Who says a woman can’t do a man’s job?

Gwen Arlington is happy with her new life in Idaho. She’s teaching piano lessons to darling little angels and getting to know her sister and her father after being raised in the east by her mother. However, Gwen is stunned when her sister suggests that Gwen should run for mayor in Bethlehem Springs. After all, the only candidate running is the town drunkard. While Gwen believes in women’s rights, she’s not sure that she is qualified to run as major—at least until the town newspaper offered to endorse her.

Morgan McKinley is fed up with delays that are keeping him from realizing his dream of opening a hot springs resort. Now it seems that the new mayor will need to sign approval of the resort spa. When Morgan learns that the only candidate is a drunkard, he decides to run for mayor himself. It’d be the best way for him to realize his dreams.

Gwen and Morgan are instantly attracted to each other, but still, they are both running against each other for mayor now, and both are out to prove that they are the most qualified for the position. But the townfolk isn’t sure what to think. Who is better? The town drunk, a woman, or a newcomer?

A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE is the first book in Ms. Hatcher’s new series Sisters of Bethlehem Springs. I enjoyed getting to know Gwen and her sister, as well as Morgan and some of the other characters. The hero and heroine certainly had a lot of conflict as they were both after the same position, and it kept the book interesting.

If you enjoy reading historical fiction, and/or you are a fan of Robin Lee Hatcher, then you certainly won’t want to miss A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE. It is a book is sure to hold your interest. $14.99. 272 pages.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Castles in the Sand

Author: Sally John
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
ISBN: 0-7369-1317-3
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Susan Starr doesn’t know how to react when her nineteen year old daughter, Kenzie, announces that she’s pregnant—and has no intentions of getting married. Susan’s husband, Drake, has no qualms. After all, he is the senior pastor of his huge San Diego church, and he has a reputation to uphold. He tells his daughter to get out and don’t come back. That she is no longer their child.

Taught not to talk back to or disagree with her husband, Susan sits silent while her daughter is forced out into the rain with only the clothes on her back. But Susan is plunged into despair. Drakes reaction is so harsh, and Susan doesn’t want to give up relations with her only child. Desperate for a hideaway, Susan seeks refuge at a beach house that her sister-in-law rented. And she attempts to reach out to her daughter. But reaching out to Kenzie is causing marital problems with Drake.

Will Susan learn to stand up to her husband when it matters, save the marriage, and still salvage her relationship with Kenzie?

CASTLES IN THE SAND is an older book that I picked up to read after I read Trish Perry’s novel following up on this series. I really enjoyed getting to know Susan, her circle of friends and family, and her daugher’s not-exactly-in-laws. This is a wonderful book, and even though it is second in The Beach House series (The Beach House is first in the series) it easily stands alone.

I could relate to Susan’s dilemma aobut how to respond to her husband and yet be true to herself and her own heart, and I had to applaud her for getting away to think things through. I couldn’t help but wish that maybe Drake would see the light as well—and even Kenzie who had several issues to work through. Don’t miss CASTLES IN THE SAND. It is a great summer read when you are thinking about beach houses and getting away. Discussion questions are included at the back of the book. :$12.99. 333 pages.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mohamed's Moon

Author: Keith Clemons
Publisher: Realms
May 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59979-525-6
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Reviewed by Laura V. Hilton

When Mohamed’s father decides to become a suicide bomber in order to ensure that his wife and child will be taken care of, he dies a hero for Allah in their native land of Egypt. But Mohamed’s mother is less than thrilled, especially when her husband’s death means that her brother-in-law is claiming her as his second wife, and her young son as his. A Christian, she wants more for her son, and will do just about anything to escape.

Twelve years later, Mohamed is in the United States, preparing his own terrorist attack to bring the USA to its knees. But in the states he runs into the girl he used to love in Egypt. Worse, she’s a Christian. Even worse than that, she’s engaged to an identical twin brother that Mohamed didn’t even know he had.

Now, Mohamed must decide what he should do. Perform the terrorism act that he is ordained of Allah to complete and kill both his brother and the woman he loves...or defy Allah and somehow stop his militant group from acting.

MOHAMED’S MOON is being compared with Some of Ted Dekker’s books. I have honestly never read any of Dekker’s books, so I have nothing to base this comparison on. However, MOHAMED’S MOON is gripping and I was quickly caught up in the lives of the main characters and carrying for them. I’m not a Muslim, and don’t really understand a concept of a god that requires suicide bombers in order to be a hero, but Mr. Clemons did a good job of showing the turmoil that a suicide bomber might feel to come to that decision and then execute it.

I did enjoy reading MOHAMED’S MOON and highly recommend this book. $13.99. 336 pages.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Never the Bride

(reviewed for Armchair Reviews)

Chick lit
June 2009
5 stars

Never the Bride
Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge
WaterBrook Press

Reviewed by Laura V. Hilton

Jessie Stone has dreamed of her perfect wedding, the perfect proposal, the perfect groom every since she was a little girl. But at thirty-four years old she is desperate for her dream to come true. Desperate enough to try speed dating. Desperate enough for just about anything.

Except God. God showing up, unexpected totally threw Jessie for a loop, especially when He demanded she give up her purple feather pen. But the purple feather pen has been around almost as long as Jessie has been writing perfect proposals in her journal. How can God possibly ask her to give it up?

When Jessie’s friends believe Jessie is certifiable, Jessie isn’t sure what to do next. How does one describe a God who has become REAL? And how can she possibly trust God to write the perfect romance for Jessie?

I read a co-written book (The Ultimate Gift) by Ms. Gutteridge before so I while the title tempted me, and the fact that Ms. Gutteridge writes funny stuff tempted me, I was a bit concerned that maybe this would be another book I didn’t care much for. However, I didn’t have anything to worry about. Jessie is a totally loveable heroine, if a little over the top, but still one that I couldn’t help but fall in love with. And since I love chick lits I enjoyed the style of the writing of this book. But I also loved the topic, the unexpectiveness of God posing as a stalker, a counselor, a date…

I totally love Never the Bride and highly recommend this book. This is a book that will speak to every woman, whether she’s single and looking, or whether she’s happily married but is being asked to trust God with something entirely different. I can’t wait for the movie to come out. If it is anything like the book, it will be great. $13.99. 310 pages.

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