Friday, July 31, 2009

Gone to Green

Author: Judy Christie
Publisher: Abingdon Press
August 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4267-0024-8
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary women’s fiction

Lois Barker is an editor at a large paper in the Midwest. She is on the corporate ladder, on the way up, and the owner of the paper has as much as promised a promotion to Lois. When her good friend Ed decides to get out of the city and realize his long time dream of owning his own paper, Lois is thrilled, though she wonders how she’ll manage without her good friend.

It’s a bigger surprise when Ed dies unexpectedly from leukemia, and wills the ownership of his new paper to Lois. Lois wants to give it up; she wants to move up the corporate ladder. She does not want to move to Green, Louisiana and own her own paper. So, Lois is majorly shocked when she hears herself tell the owner of the city paper that she is going to commit career suicide and head south to take care of Ed’s dream.

The paper is not at all what Lois expected. Twelve employees, total. A ramshackle building. A rat-infested house thrown in to sweeten the deal. Now, Lois must battle prejudice and financial corruption, and makes friends—and enemies—with a host of people who will change her life. Will Lois fulfill her year’s obligation to Ed’s paper and stay, or will she run to the first city paper to offer her a way out?

GONE TO GREEN is Ms. Judy Christie’s debut novel, but she is no stranger to daily newspapers. She brings that knowledge to good stead in GONE TO GREEN, a story to is completely set around the news.

This new book, the first contemporary I’ve read by this new publishing house, doesn’t have quite the same impact as the first historical I’ve read by this company, but it still provides plenty to think about, entertainment, and realistic characters that the readers will love. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Lois, and the townsfolk of Green, and even the reporters and editors in the city paper that Lois left. GONE TO GREEN is a novel to consider. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 224 pages.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Blue Like Play Dough

Author: Tricia Goyer
Publisher: Multnomah
ISBN: 978-1-60142-152-4
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/motherhood

Tricia Goyer is just an ordinary woman who struggles with all the same issues as the rest of us, when it comes to motherhood. Often times, the everyday push and pull leaves Ms. Goyer feeling smooshed, a feeling we can all relate to. In BLUE LIKE PLAYDOUGH, Tricia Goyer shares her journey from a rebellious pregnant teen to a busy wife and mother with big dreams of her own.

Like all of us, the author’s life is as messy and filled with doubts. But God showed up in the midst of her life, from a spider interrupting homeschool lessons, to play dough in the hands of a child.

BLUE LIKE PLAY DOUGH will help all of us mothers realize that God has more in store for us that we can possibly imagine. But only if we let Him mold our lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this account of motherhood by Tricia Goyer. It is full of laughter, understanding and inspiration. I found it amazing to know how Tricia’s life in some ways paralleled mine.

BLUE LIKE PLAY DOUGH is a book that will be going on my keeper shelf to refer back to time and again and possibly share with my daughters as they become mothers. This is a book that all mothers will relate to, whether they are great grandparents, or facing the first uncertain days as a mother of a newborn, wondering why babies don’t come with instruction manuals. Pick up a copy of BLUE LIKE PLAY DOUGH for yourself or for a friend. $13.99. 195 pages.

Read an excerpt:

About the author: Using her own experiences as a teen mother, and leader of today’s generation, Tricia’s vision is to be a voice of hope and possibility for teenage girls, pregnant teen girls, mothers and wives through her educational and inspirational speaking, workshops and books. Her intention is to serve ordinary women by encouraging extraordinary things with God’s help. Tricia expresses real life, real hope, for real women.

Tricia is the author of 20+ books and has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Guideposts for Kids, Focus on the Family, Christian Parenting Today, Today’s Christian Woman and HomeLife Magazine. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from American Christian Fiction Writers, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award in 2005.

In her fiction novels, Tricia writes contemporary and historical stories that feature strong women overcoming great challenges. She recreates historic wartime eras with precise detail through perseverant and comprehensive research.

Each of her World War II and Spanish Civil War novels tell the inspiring stories of engaging characters—and a God whose hand is evident in the landscape of history and the obstacles of ordinary lives.

Tricia speaks to groups interested in these eras, with the intention of preserving and honoring the memory of the men and women who served.

She also speaks and conducts workshops for teens around the nation, and offers programs to assist teens and teen moms through Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana , which she founded. Tricia is a frequent workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Convention.

Author website: watch a video and read the endorsements

Link to purchase the book:

Blog tour schedule!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When Someone You Love Has Cancer - free basket of books

Be sure to read to the end, and leave a comment if you want to be entered to win a basket of books!

Author: Cecil Murphey
Illustrator: Michal Sparks
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2428-3
Genre: Inspirational/gift book

Author Cecil Murphey has walked through the journey of cancer with someone he loves. And as a pastor, he has counseled and comforted many. But when his wife was told she had cancer, being a caregiver and encourager took on a different meaning.

Written by many different people who cared for people with many different kinds of cancer, WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE HAS CANCER is sure to help reach and comfort anyone, whether their loved one has breast cancer, colon cancer, or some other type.

Beautifully illustrations as well as well-articulated prayers make this book complete. I enjoyed thumbing through the seascapes, the lighthouses, the garden pictures, and other locals within the pages of the book.

There is also a helpful section at the end of the book about what to do and what not to do when someone you know is diagnosed with cancer. It is sure to help you, whether you are ministering to a close loved one or whether it is just an acquaintance that has had the dreaded diagnosis.

I’ve just finished going through chemo for breast cancer and it has not been the easiest road to follow. It would have been nice if this book had been out for my husband, children, and friends to read before I started down this road. I wasn’t allowed to grieve. And while I didn’t get angry at God, it would have been nice to know I didn’t have to be strong twenty-four hours every single day. That it would be okay to cry about my hair coming out in handfuls. And that I could mourn the loss of a body part that had served me well as I nursed each of my five children. It would have been nice to have had the luxury of mourning, and someday, when no one is around maybe I will belatedly grieve. Maybe.

But now, there is this wonderful little gift book out to help other caregivers. If someone you know has cancer, don’t miss this little book. It will help open your eyes to what they are going through, it will help you know what to say or not to say. It will help you to know how to be there for your loved one.

About the Book:

The World Health Organization reported that by the year 2010 cancer will be the number one killer worldwide. More than 12.4 million people in the world suffer from cancer. 7.6 million people are expected to die from some form of cancer. That's a lot of people, but the number of loved ones of cancer sufferers is far greater. What do they do when a special person in their life is diagnosed with this devastating disease?

Murphey brings his experiences as a loved one and many years of wisdom gained from being a pastor and hospital chaplain to his newest book When Someone You Love Has Cancer: Comfort and Encouragement for Caregivers and Loved Ones (Harvest House Publishers). His honest I've-been-there admissions and practical helps are combined with artist Michal Sparks' soothing watercolor paintings.

Readers of When Someone You Love Has Cancer will receive:
• Inspiration to seek peace and understanding in their loved one's situation
• Help in learning the importance of active listening
• Guidance in exploring their own feelings of confusion and unrest
• Suggestions on how to handle anxiety and apprehension
• Honest answers to questions dealing with emotions, exhaustion, and helplessness
• Spirit-lifting thoughts for celebrating the gift of life in the midst of troubles
Murphey explains why this is a much-needed book: "Most books about cancer address survivors. I want to speak to the mates, families, and friends who love those with cancer. I offer a number of simple, practical things people can do for those with cancer."

Interview Questions

1. The first sentence of your book reads, "I felt helpless." Tell us about that feeling.

Because her doctor put Shirley into the high-risk category, I felt helpless. To me, helpless means hating the situation, wanting to make it better, but admitting there was nothing I could do for her.

2. On that same page you also write, "One thing we learned: God was with us and strengthened us through the many weeks of uncertainty and pain." How did you get from feeling helpless to that assurance?

Shirley and I sat down one day and I put my arm around her. "The only way I know how I can handle this," I said, "is to talk about it." Shirley knows that's my way of working through puzzling issues. "Let's consider every possibility." If her surgeon decided she did not have breast cancer, how would we react? We talked of our reaction if he said, "There is a tumor and it's obviously benign. Finally, I was able to say, with tears in my eyes, "How do we react if he says the cancer is advanced and you have only a short time to live?" By the time we talked answered that question, I was crying. Shirley had tears in her eyes, but remained quite calm. "I'm ready to go whenever God wants to take me," she said. She is too honest not to have meant those words. As I searched her face, I saw calmness and peace. I held her tightly and we prayed together. After that I felt calm. Since then, one of the first things I do when I awaken is to thank God that Shirley and I have at least one more day together.

3. When most people hear the word cancer applied to someone they love, they have strong emotional reactions. What are some of them? What was your reaction when your wife was diagnosed with breast cancer?

As a pastor, a volunteer chaplain, and a friend I've encountered virtually every emotional reaction. Some refuse to accept what they hear. Some go inward and are unable to talk. Others start making telephone calls to talk to friends.

Me? I went numb, absolutely numb. That was my old way of dealing with overwhelming emotions. I heard everything but I couldn't feel anything. It took me almost two weeks before I was able to feel--and to face the possibility that the person I loved most in the world might die.

4. "What can I do for my loved one with cancer?" That's a good question for us to ask ourselves. How can we be supportive and helpful?

Many think they need to do big things; they don't. Express your concern and your love.

Be available to talk when the other person needs it--and be even more willing to be silent if your loved one doesn't want to talk. Don't ask what you can do; do what you see needs doing. To express loving support in your own way (and we all express love differently) is the best gift you can offer.

5. Why do you urge people not to say, "I know exactly how you feel"?

No one knows how you feel. They may remember how they felt at a certain time. Even if they did know, what help is that to the person with cancer? It's like saying, "Stop feeling sorry for yourself. I know what it's like and I'm fine now."

Instead, focus on how the loved one feels. Let him or her tell you.

6. Those with cancer suffer physically and spiritually. You mention God's silence as a form of spiritual suffering. They pray and don't seem to sense God. What can you do to help them?

God is sometimes silent but that doesn't mean God is absent. In my upcoming book, When God Turns off the Lights, I tell what it was like for me when God stopped communicating for about 18 months.

I didn't like it and I was angry. I didn't doubt God's existence, but I didn't understand the silence. I read Psalms and Lamentations in various translations. I prayed and I did everything I could, but nothing changed.

After a couple of months, I realized that I needed to accept the situation and wait for God to turn on the lights again. Each day I quoted Psalm 13:1: "O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?" (NLT)

I learned many invaluable lessons about myself--and I could have learned them only in the darkness. When God turns off the lights (and the sounds) I finally realized that instead of God being angry, it was God's loving way to draw me closer.

7. Guilt troubles many friends and loved ones of caregivers because they feel they failed or didn't do enough. What can you say to help them?

We probably fail our loved ones in some ways. No one is perfect. If you feel that kind of guilt, I suggest 3 things:

(1) Tell the loved one and ask forgiveness.

(2) Talk to God and ask God to forgive you and give you strength not to repeat your failures.

(3) Forgive yourself. And one way to do that is to say, "At the time, I thought I did the right thing. I was wrong and I forgive myself."

8. Do you have some final words of wisdom for those giving care to a loved one with cancer?

Be available. You can't take away the cancer but you can alleviate the sense of aloneness. Don't ever try to explain the reason the person has cancer. We don't know the reason and even if we did, would it really help the other person?

Be careful about what you say. Too often visitors and friends speak from their own discomfort and forget about the pain of the one with cancer. Don't tell them about your cancer or other disease; don't tell them horror stories about others. Above all, don't give them false words of comfort. Be natural. Be yourself. Behave as loving as you can.

About the Author:

Cecil Murphey is an international speaker and bestselling author who has written more than 100 books, including the New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper). No stranger himself to loss and grieving, Cecil has served as a pastor and hospital chaplain for many years, and through his ministry and books he has brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world. For more information, visit

Something Extra!

Cec designed the appendix to be the most practical part of the book. He's witnessed too many situations where genuinely caring people had no idea what to do, so he has tried to givea few general guidelines.

1. Before you offer help. Learn about the disease before you visit. Determine to accept their feelings, no matter how negative. Pray for your loved one before you visit. Don't throw religious slogans at them, such as, "This is God's will" or "God knew you were strong enough to handle this."

2. What you can do now. As the first question, don't ask, "How are you?" Instead, ask, "Do you feel like talking." Don't offer advice. Be willing to sit in silence. If you need to cry, do so. Be natural. If appropriate, hug your loved one. Human touch is powerful.

3. Long-term caregiving. The overarching principle is to let the seriousness of the disease determine the amount of time and commitment you offer. This can be a time for you to help them spiritually. Think about tangible things you can do that say you care. Plan celebrations for every anniversary of being cancer free.

Ask them reflective questions such as:
• What have you discovered about yourself through this experience?
• What have you learned about relationships?
• How has your faith in God changed?


The Grand Prize Winner Will Receive:
When Someone You Love Has Cancer
90 Minutes in Heaven (hard cover)
Heaven Is Real (hard cover)
Daily Devotions Inspired by 90 Minutes in Heaven (hard cover)
90 Minutes in Heaven, gift edition (selections)
90 Minutes in Heaven, audio (5 CD set)
Heaven Is Real, audio (6 CDs)
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
Think Big
Everybody Loved Roger Harden
Everybody Wanted Room 623
Everybody Called Her a Saint
Committed But Flawed
Immortality of Influence (hard cover)
Touchdown Alexander (hard cover)
Aging Is an Attitude
My Parents, My Children: Spiritual Help for Caregivers

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

George Washington Stepped Here

Author: K.D. Hays
Publisher: Heartsong Presents Mysteries
ISBN: 978-1-59789-594-1
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Karen Maxwell has gone to work for her brother after her divorce. She is officially his secretary but is necessary for all the work that Dave doesn’t want to do. Still, when Dave offers her a chance to do investigative work, Karen jumps at the chance. Until she learns that the assignment is a rather iffy one.

The local historical society has claimed that their most treasured artifact seems to have been stolen. The artifact is actually a piece of leather that some claim that George Washington wrote battle plans on, but the society itself is divided on the issue. Some claim that there is no proof that George Washington was ever in the area. And others insist that he had been quite good friends with the taverns owner and stayed there several days.

To get to the bottom of the investigation, Karen volunteers at the museum. Of course, she has dual motives. In addition to finding out who took the artifact, Karen also wants to find out more about the blacksmith. Now, to convince her two kids to go along with the plan…

GEORGE WASHINGTON STEPPED HERE is part of the Karen Maxwell Mysteries, and, while I’m not sure, I think it was the first in the series. Since the cozy mystery collection by Heartsong has been discontinued, anyone interested in this book or series will have to look for the book which will have all three stories about Karen Maxell in it.

I enjoyed reading this story. It brought back found memories of taking my children to reenactments and historical museums when we lived in the Grand Rapids area. There is a lot of valuable history to be learned at these reenactments, and I think Karen Maxwell discovered this in the story as well. Not only that but she got to know some interesting people as she delved into the mystery. I did figure out who-dun-it fairly early in the story, but the telling was so interesting I had to keep reading—to see if I was right, and to see if the budding romance had a chance. $6.95. 244 pages.

Monday, July 27, 2009

How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I'm Surrounded by Loose Cannons

Author: Kathi Macias
Publisher: New Hope Publishers
ISBN: 978-1-59669-204-6
Genre: Inspirational/Christian life

When Kathi Macias decided to run a tight ship, and embark on a journey to become a Proverbs 31 woman, she discovered that it isn’t as easy as it sounds—especially with all the loose cannons rolling around on the deck.

Wisely, Kathi decided to ask a woman at church for her help and guidance on this journey. But little did Kathi expect this woman to dissolve in helpless laughter at the idea that she might be considered a Proverbs 31 woman. This mentor-to-be promptly sat Kathi down and shared with her a story that is guaranteed to make any woman blush, yet is a real learning tool when you consider that even though embarrassing moments may occur, you will find something to treasure out of that lesson.

Modern women find the Proverbs 31 woman quite difficult to emulate today. How can you get it all together, keep everything under control, and run a tight ship? After all, this biblical example is a perfect woman—an excellent wife, cherished mother, impeccable housekeeper, thriving entrepreneur—all rolled into one.

I laughed out loud several times as Kathi shared her journey and struggle with Proverbs 31, and learning the ultimate lesson, that we need to begin each day on our knees, completely dependent on God.

If you are embarking on a journey to become a Proverbs 31 woman (and who among us doesn’t want to be practically perfect) then I highly recommend HOW CAN I RUN A TIGHT SHIP WHEN I’M SURROUNDED BY LOOSE CANNONS. You will laugh your way to a better understanding of what being a Proverbs 31 woman really means.
Each chapter ends with a section called Making it Personal that offers one (or more) question(s) to get you thinking about what you read and relating it to your life. $13.99. 205 pages.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana

Author: Melanie Dobson
Publisher: Summerside Press
ISBN: 978-1-934770-74-0
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Anna Brent and her father run a safe-house on the underground railroad. But the town is unaware of their activities. After all, most of the people in town are for slavery, and believe the slaves should be returned to their rightful owners. But as Anna and her father witness the condition of the slaves as they arrive, and hear their tales, they are convinced that helping them get to Canada is the right thing to do.

Daniel Stanton is new in town, but he has already made a stand for freedom. He’s been fired from his last two newspaper jobs since he’s so anti-slavery. His sister is terrified that he will not be able to keep the job in Liberty, Indiana. Yet, Daniel can’t understand why his sister can turn such a blind eye to the fate of their colored neighbors.

Yet, harboring slaves is a dangerous mission. Anyone caught assisting them is subject to imprisonment—or worse. So, when Anna’s secret work is threatened, can she trust Daniel to help the slaves on the next step of the journey?

LOVE FINDS YOU IN LIBERTY, INDIANA is another great read by this new publisher. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Anna and Daniel, and the secondary characters. The cover is kind of dark and spooky looking, but it does adequately portray the fear and the tension that the people in the story feel at times. There is a touch of suspense, and enough conflict to keep the pages turning.

Don’t miss LOVE FINDS YOU IN LIBERTY, INDIANA or any of the other great books in this series. Anna will grow on you and even through the issue she champions is long over, you will be drawn into the story and feel the plight of the slaves as they desperately search for freedom. I especially enjoyed reading the author’s notes at the end of the story. $12.99. 348 pages.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Midnight in Madrid

Author: Noel Hynd
Publisher: Zondervan
March 2009
ISBN: 978-0-310-27871-9
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Alex Daluca is an FBI agent currently working with the US Treasury. She is on vacation in Barcelona when her boss calls and requests that she goes to Madrid to work with a multi-national team on an art theft. She needs to locate a small carving called The Pieta of Malta.

The assignment seems simplistic, but Alex soon discovers that it is anything but as she is forced to crisscross across Europe, through a web of intrigue, danger, and betrayal. Soon the legend and mystery surrounding the relic becomes complex with claims of supernatural powers.

Many have already lost their life for this museum piece, and Alex could be next. Will she find it before the villains?

MIDNIGHT IN MADRID is the second book in The Russian Trilogy though it seems to easily stand alone. I didn’t have the luxury of reading the first book in the story, so I really have no idea what is a continuation and what is not, but there are parts of this story that feel unfinished, possibly leading into the third book in the series.

The story is fast-paced and has very well-developed characters. The historical research and details in the book appear to be right on target, with a lot of information included about the Spanish Civil War. There is quite a bit of violence in the book, but the scenes sometimes can be quite scary. If you enjoy reading suspense, don’t miss MIDNIGHT IN MADRID. $14.99. 384 pages.

Media Release:

When a mysterious relic is stolen from a Madrid museum, people are dying to discover its secrets. Literally.

U.S. Treasury agent Alexandra LaDuca returns from Conspiracy in Kiev to track down the stolen artwork, a small carving called The Pieta of Malta. It seems to be a simple assignment, but nothing about this job is simple, as the mysteries and legends surrounding the relic become increasingly complex with claims of supernatural power.

As aggressive, relentless, and stubborn as ever, Alex crisscrosses Europe through a web of intrigue, danger, and betrayal, joined by a polished, mysterious new partner. With echoes of classic detective and suspense fiction from The Maltese Falcon to The Da Vinci Code, Midnight in Madrid takes the reader on a nonstop spellbinding chase through a modern world of terrorists, art thieves, and cold-blooded killers.

Midnight in Madrid on Amazon:

Noel Hynd’s Website:

Noel Hynd’s Facebook Profile:

List of all participating bloggers:

The Midnight in Madrid Flickr Group:

Meet the author of Midnight in Madrid, Noel Hynd.

Noel Hynd
Noel Hynd was born in New York City and grew up in New York and Connecticut. He began writing professionally before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in International Relations.

He lives in Culver City, California with his wife and their three cats.

Noel goes to Honduras for a yearly medical mission to Honduras with friends and members of All Saints’ Parish, Beverly Hills.

Learn more about Noel at

Friday, July 24, 2009

Religion Saves

Author: Mark Driscoll
Publisher: Crossway
July 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4335-0616-1
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

In Mark Driscoll’s ministry, he decided to open up his website for questions people have to ask about religion. He had many responses to these questions with quite a mind-boggling following on-line. As a result, Mark Driscoll decided to address a series of messages on these topics, and subsequently even offering a question and answer time after one of the worship periods for anyone who wanted to pursue the topics further. The support was overwhelming.

RELIGION SAVES is the result of the web-site and the messages. The nine topics addressed in this hard-cover book are the most popular of the questions asked, and not all of them are technically about religion. In fact, three of the topics are about sex.

The chapters start out with the question in bold print, and then Driscoll goes into detailed answers, some of which made me gasp as I tried to picture a pastor saying some of these things! I can see where he would have the “bold, in-your-face” style of preaching that is mentioned on the back cover. Some of the other comments made me laugh out loud, as I could totally relate, especially to the comments made about him having five children (I also have five children) and feeling like freaks who have escaped from an Amish compound.

The nine most popular questions (starting with the 9th and working the way to the top are:

9. Birth Control
8. Humor
7. Predestination
6. Grace
5. Sexual Sin
4. Faith and Works
3. Dating
2. The Emerging Church
1. The Regulative Principle

As I mentioned earlier, the questions are each answered in great detail. Driscoll has even listed the scripture references that give even a vague reference to the topic at hand.

I have to be really impressed by the time and effort Mark Driscoll put into this book and have to recommend it highly to anyone who has questions about any of the nine topics mentioned above, any pastors (who might have those who have questions in their office), and church libraries. This is truly a great book, well thought out, and answered in detail so that there won’t be any questions. Don’t miss RELIGION SAVES. $19.99 Hardcover. 287 pages.


Religion Saves: And Nine Other Misconceptions

After 343,203 online votes on the Mars Hill Church website, nine questions for Pastor Mark Driscoll emerged as the ones most urgently calling for answers.

Inspired by 1 Corinthians, in which Paul answers a series of questions posed by the people in the Corinthian church, Pastor Mark Driscoll set out to determine the most controversial questions among visitors to the Mars Hill Church website. In the end, 893 questions were asked and 343,203 votes were cast. The top nine questions are now each answered in a chapter of Religion Saves.

After an introductory chapter devoted to the misconception that religion is what saves us, Driscoll tackles nine issues: birth control, humor, predestination, grace, sexual sin, faith and works, dating, the emerging church, and the regulative principle. Because the purpose of this book is to address commonly asked questions, all readers will find relevant, engaging material, written in Driscoll's distinctively edgy, yet theologically sound style.

In his distinctively edgy, yet theologically sound style, Pastor Mark Driscoll addresses the nine most controversial questions posed by visitors to the Mars Hill Church website. This book is part of the Re:Lit series.

Link to buy the book:

About the author:

Meet Pastor Mark!

Mark Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, one of the fastest-growing churches in America . He is president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and is the author of several books, including Vintage Jesus.

Pastor Mark preaches on Sunday, trains pastors, and writes curriculum. Mark is married to his high school sweetheart, Grace, and they enjoy raising their three sons and two daughters. More about Mark here!

Link to read and/or listen to an excerpt:

Schedule: Link to schedule

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What the Bayou Saw

Author: Patti Lacy
Publisher: Kregel
April 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8254-2937-8
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Sally Stevens might have left New Orleans for the Midwestern state of Illinois, but she is still a southerner. She has hidden all her secrets in a sunny disposition and sugar-coated lies. And there they stayed, hidden beneath her smiles, as she taught in a university in Normal, Illinois.

When one of Sally’s students is brutally attacked, Sally is stunned, shocked, and horrified that the university is more interested in covering up what could be a hate-crime rather than caring about the girl who must go on living after this horrific attack. When Sally’s boss suggest she visits the girl in the hospital, Sally is quick to agree, but not to smooth things over for the school, but rather to hopefully let the girl know that she cares.

Unfortunately, that plan doesn’t go so well. Sally is white and the black student doesn’t seem to appreciate her getting involved. And when Sally tries to stress that she understands what the student is facing instead, Sally finds herself remembering long suppressed memories of segregation, a chain link fence, and a blood oath…and then Sally is forced to face the truth that she has long buried.

WHAT THE BAYOU SAW is the second book I’ve read by Ms. Lacy, and while I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I did her first book, WHAT THE BAYOU SAW is a book t hat will stay with you for a long period of time, forcing you to deal with your own thoughts of bigotry, rape, and hate crimes—whether these are topics you normally think about or not.

WHAT THE BAYOU SAW is not an easy book to read. Whether you want to or not, the deep point of view forces you to identify with these characters and feel the pain, the horror, and the despair. The characters are very realistically developed, the setting expertly described, the story puts you there. Ms. Lacy is definitely a very talented author, and not afraid of tackling tough issues. Don’t miss WHAT THE BAYOU SAW. It is a story that will make you think—and more importantly, make you feel. $14.99. 293 pages.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Surrender the Wind

Author: Rita Gerlach
Publisher: Abingdon Press
August 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4267-0072-9
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Seth Braxton fought with the Patriots during the Revolutionary War, and his life was saved by a compassion man when he was captured and sentenced to death by hanging. But life after the war wasn’t all easy. Seth’s Virginia home was damaged during the war, and his father has died.

Soon, however, Seth receives a surprise: his estranged grandfather has died and has left his English estate to Seth. Seth is thrilled with the prospect of reuniting with his younger sister, but wary of going to England after fighting against them during the war. Seth goes to the lawyer and tells them he is unable to go to England, but the lawyer convinces him to at least visit his sister. The decision is made when Seth sees the portrait of the lawyer’s niece, Juleah, and promptly falls in love, though he doubts that they will be attracted if they meet in person.

When Seth arrives in Devonshire, he finds his sister ill, and mourning the death of her two-year-old son. Juleah happens to be on hand, and Seth is instantly smitten, though loving Juleah seems to open a sinister plot of murder, abduction, and betrayal.

SURRENDER THE WIND is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Gerlach. I’d thought this might be her debut novel, but upon some investigation I find she has three previous novels published. The plot line is well thought out, with plenty of conflict and tension to keep the pages turning.

The conversation between all the characters is a bit stilted, but that might be how people talked during the early days of our country. The setting is expertly described, so much so that I could feel the drafts and the chill in some of the scenes. I couldn’t help but care for Seth, his sister Caroline, and Juleah, as well as some secondary characters. There are some heartbreaking moments so be sure to read this book with a box of tissues close by.

SURRENDER THE WIND is a good read, and though at times, all seems to be lost, the characters’ strength and faith keep them going. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 383 pages.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How Do You Know God's Your Father?

Authors: Kay Arthur, David & BJ Lawson
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
July 2009
ISBN: 978-0-307-45762-2
Genre: Inspirational/Bible Study

Designed for small group studies, HOW DO YOU GOD’S YOUR FATHER? is designed to help people to know here they’ll spend eternity. Many people, even those who profess to be Christians, hope they’ll have a place in Heaven, or that their place there will be secure.

The authors of HOW DO YOU KNOW GOD’S YOUR FATHER? want you to know, rather than guess, about the future. So, in this study of 1 John, you will find definite answers about where you stand with God.

You will also learn about how a person’s lifestyle reflects the character of the one to whom they belong—whether God or the devil—and you will learn what it means to walk in light rather than in darkness.

Using the New American Standard Bible, all scripture references are printed out in the side margins of the book, so if you forget your Bible, or don’t carry the preferred version for this study, then you can easily follow along. There are plenty of questions, with spaces to write your answers, in each section.

HOW DO YOU KNOW GOD’S YOUR FATHER? is a six-week Bible study, one short three to five pages for you to read, discuss, and answer the questions for each day, in about forty-minutes or less. While this study can be done on your own, I think it is better designed for small groups, such as Sunday Schools, lunch-hour Bible studies, etc. This will be a valuable tool to have to minister to, and teach, those who say that they are not sure where they are going, or not sure if God will really forgive their sins and let them in. $7.99. 54 pages.

Summary for 40 Minute Bible Studies

The 40 Minute Bible Study series from beloved Bible teacher Kay Arthur and the teaching staff of Precept Ministries tackles important issues in brief, easy-to-grasp lessons you can use personally or for small-group discussion. Each book in the series includes six 40-minute studies designed to draw you into God’s Word through basic inductive Bible study. There are 16 titles in the series, with topics ranging from fasting and forgiveness to prayer and worship. With no homework required, everyone in the group can work through the lesson together at the same time. Let these respected Bible teachers lead you in a study that will transform your thinking—and your life.

Titles Include:

•The Essentials of Effective Prayer •Being a Disciple: Counting the Cost

•Building a Marriage That Really Works •Discovering What the Future Holds

•Forgiveness: Breaking the Power of the Past •Having a Real Relationship with God

•How Do You Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk? •Living a Life of Real Worship

•How to Make Choices You Won’t Regret •Living Victoriously in Difficult Times

•Money & Possessions: The Quest for Contentment •Rising to the Call of Leadership

•How Do You Know God’s Your Father? •Key Principles of Biblical Fasting

•A Man’s Strategy for Conquering Temptation •What Does the Bible Say About Sex?

Author Bio:

Kay Arthur, executive vice president and cofounder of Precept Ministries International has worked with her teaching staff to create the powerful 40-Minute Bible Studies series. Kay is known around the world as a Bible teacher, author, conference speaker, and host of national radio and television programs.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The King's Legacy

Author: Jim Stovall
Publisher: David C. Cook
June 2009
ISBN: 978-1-434765-93-2
Genre: Christian living

Once upon a time, a benevolent and much-loved king decided that the time had come to leave a lasting legacy for future generations. So, he called his trusted advisors together and asked them what a lasting legacy would be. One wise man suggested that a great monument would be excellent. Another suggested a minted gold coin. A third suggested a statute. But the oldest, and most trusted advisor suggested that the legacy should be the wisdom of the ages.

So, the king pondered this, and was left with the question. What is the wisdom of the ages? None of his wise men knew. So, the king called together the town folk, and one by one they listened to the wisdom they have learned.

But as the king hears from more and more of his subjects, he becomes worried and restless. From so much profound and wonderful wisdom, how will he discern the Wisdom of the Ages? How will he know when he has found it? The answer comes in a form that no one, from the king to the lowliest peasant, could expect. For the greatest wisdom comes from the most unexpected of places….

I thoroughly enjoyed reading THE KING’S LEGACY, and as the towns’ people came in one by one with their wisdom, I could see the king’s dilemma. Much of the wisdom shared was truly inspired, and I could sympathize with the king. How would he be able to choose?

In THE KING’S LEGACY we hear from many different types, from a merchant, to a poet, a soldier, a farmer, a doctor, a teacher, a parent, a jester, and many many more. This book is truly thought provoking and you will gain a lot from reading this book. I’m going to recommend that my teens read this book. An excellent resource for any of us who are going in search of wisdom. $12.99. 144 pages.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Engaging Father Christmas

Author: Robin Jones Gunn
Publisher: Faith Words
ISBN: 978-0-446-17946-1
Genre: Inspirational/Christmas/contemporary

Miranda Carson has just returned to England to spend Christmas with her Scottish boyfriend, Ian, and his family, who manages a tea shop in a small town in the English country-side. But Ian is running late meeting Miranda at the airport, and the first person Miranda sees is her former boyfriend, Josh. After a few minutes spent catching up, Josh goes his way, and Ian arrives, whisking Miranda off to…the hospital, where his dad had just been admitted with a heart attack.

While visiting with Ian’s mother in the tea shop, Miranda’s deceased father’s wife shows up, and Miranda spends a few minutes talking with her, hoping that the family matriarch will make her welcome. But Margaret is as cold and stand-offish as ever, making Miranda wonder if she will ever truly be welcomed as her father’s daughter, a member of the family. Still, her brother Edward does extend some effort, and Miranda loves Edward’s two children, Julia and Mark.

But, as Miranda searches for love and acceptance, a family to belong to, she finds some more in the arms of Father Christmas.

In this long awaited sequel to Finding Father Christmas we see Miranda returning to England. I enjoyed the way this novella played out, revising the charming people and country I encountered in the first book and getting to know the characters in a slightly deeper level. Miranda has changed a lot in the two books, becoming more open to love, and not as skittish. I enjoyed seeing her transformation.

Don’t miss this charming Christmas novella, and even though I read the book in July, that doesn’t mean you have to! Christmas will be coming very soon, and this will be a book to look for when they start stocking Christmas novellas in November. If you pick up Finding Father Christmas and ENGAGING FATHER CHRISTMAS the dual will make a charming gift for someone, especially if you include a pack of their favorite English tea. $13.99, hardcover. 159 pages.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Live Relationally: Lessons from the Women in Genesis

Title: LIVE RELATIONALLY: Lessons from the Women of Genesis
Authors: Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose
Publisher: David C. Cook
June 2009
ISBN: 978-1-434767-48-6
Genre: Inspirational/devotional

LIVE RELATIONALLY is a devotional that offers a new approach at the important women in Genesis. Sometimes, in the Bible studies, women are neglected or down-played, so LIVE RELATIONALLY helps to remind readers that women are central to God’s story—and His plan.

Genesis is full of women who experience the things women experience today. Death, marriage, divorce, rape, and family tragedies, making the study of Genesis timely for today’s women.

LIVE RELATIONALLY includes deep questions, insightful comments, and life-application exercises.

Divided into five sections, each devotional in LIVE RELATIONALLY includes:

Lift up (prayer)
Look at (God’s word)
Learn about (new insight)
Live out (application)
Listen to (quotes from other believe)

I highly recommend LIVE RELATIONALLY for your Bible study – either as an individual, or in a small group setting. Only twenty minutes a day, but the lessons are very deep and sure to leave you with a deeper understanding of God’s word, and His message.

Designed in a way that strongly reminds me of a Beth Moore workbook, this is sure to become a favorite of study groups and women. I am going to go back through the copy of my book more intensively and use it in my quiet time with God. $14.99. 288 pages.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Twelve Ways to Turn Your Pain into PRAISE and interview ---- AND GIVE AWAY

post a comment for a chance to win a free copy of this book.

Author: Linda Newton
Publisher: Warner Press
ISBN: 978-1-39317-316-6
Genre: Inspirational/personal growth

If a personal is physically or emotionally abused, it can leave deep scars, along with feelings of shame, guilt, and despair that you struggle with for the rest of your life. Ms. Newton has experienced this firsthand, and as a counselor, she has talked with many who have struggled with the same issues.

Yet, Ms. Newton has learned that God can heal you from an abusive past. And she has helped other women to work through this healing process.

Some of the ways that 12 WAYS TO TURN YOUR PAIN INTO PRAISE can help you is to teach you how to:

 stop blaming God for your circumstances
 stop “renting space in your mind” to corrosive memories
 manage your emotional pain while God cleanses it from your heart
 realize your full potential by seeking God’s purpose for your life

You will also learn the 12 P’s:

 Predicament
 Perspective
 Power
 Prayer
 People
 Patience
 Plan
 Pardon
 Provision
 Priorities
 Passion
 Purpose

Plus each chapter ends with a “Truster Reconstuctor” which includes a question for you to ponder, an activity for you to do, or something to think about, which will be way to apply what you learn in each chapter to your own life.

12 WAYS TO TURN YOUR PAIN INTO PRAISE was different than I anticipated, but not in a bad way. While I can not personally relate to the struggles that an abused person suffers, I do see how some of the applications in this book could be helpful. This book would be a valuable addition to any counselor, or women’s direction, in your church. 121 pages.

Linda Newton “12 Ways to Turn Your Pain Into Praise:
Biblical Steps to Wholeness in Christ”
Blog Tour

Opening: I’m delighted to be here with you sharing about something that puts wind in my sails—helping people heal from emotional pain and lead empowered lives.

What a timely book, 12 WAYS TO TURN YOUR PAIN INTO PRAISE: BIBLICAL STEPS TO WHOLENESS IN CHRIST! With our current economic and political climate we certainly need steps to turn our pain into praise.

I agree. I find that the same tools that help us deal with our damaged past can guide us through an insecure future. I wrote this book to help people who feel “stuck” because of the dysfunction, divorce, depression, abuse, grief and guilt in their lives, but I am walking through these same principals each day in my counseling office with folks who are dealing with the difficulties of job loss, anxiety, and marriage issues in a struggling economy.

You’re a counselor and an abuse survivor. Will you tell us a little of your story?

I grew up in the deep South and I wish I could say we spent happy hours saying, “Yes Ma’am” and “No Sir” and “Good Night, John-Boy.” But nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, I was ten years old before I realized that God’s last name wasn’t damn! My Daddy took off when I was five, and raising four kids alone brought out the worst in my mother. She became abusive with a bust-your-lip, black-your-eye kind of punishment--the kind of pain that stings your face for a while but sears your soul for a lifetime.

The neighbor-lady from across the street took me to church, I found Christ and He changed my life. That church helped me get to Christian college. On my quest for my own healing, I became a Christian counselor and have had the privilege of working with God’s precious people for the past seventeen years in my office at a growing church in California.

You talk about one of those people, Donnetta Jean, as she moves through the steps to get the healing that she needs. Is she a real person?

Donnetta represents the many damaged people in today’s postmodern culture—distanced by pain from the God they desperately need.

When I read a self-help book, I love to see personal examples of the tools presented, but I find myself wondering how the person in the example turns out. In 12 Ways you get to walk through the process from start to finish as you see the healing of Donnetta Jean unfold. Then you know the path for your own healing.

You started each chapter with a word that starts with the letter “P.” That had to take some work.

Each chapter is one of the steps, and I did that to make them easy to remember. I’m at the stage of life when I stop and think and forget to start up again! Alliteration helps things stick in my head.

My first “P” is Perspective. Chapter 3 and 4 include Prayer and the Power we find in God’s Word. They are pivotal parts of recovery, to be sure, but until we adjust our perspective to see what’s good in life, we can’t reap the benefit of prayer and scripture reading. Before I shifted my perspective, God could have parked a burning bush by my front door to convince me of His love, and I would have stamped out the fire and complained about the inconvenience! It took a long time for me to train myself to see the cup half full instead of always seeing it half empty. But without that fundamental change, it wouldn’t matter how much God intervened in my life to bring good, I wouldn’t see it as such.

Can you share the rest of your chapter titles?

1. Predicament: Donnetta Jean Jones
2. Perspective: Honey Let Me Tell Ya
3. Power: I Got a Rock (Which tells us what the Bible says about us.)
4. Prayer: Present In His Presence
5. People: We’re In This Together
6. Patience: Locust Lunch
7. Plan: Jesus In the Rearview Mirror
8. Pardon: The Healing Power of Forgiveness
9. Provision: Jettisoning Emotional Baggage
10. Priorities: Making the Main Thing the Main Thing
11. Passion: Warts and All
12. Purpose: The Real Thing
Epilogue--Praise: Chocolate Chip Muffins.

This book can serve as a workbook for the reader as well, right?

Yes, at the end of each chapter, I’ve included an exercise titled, “Truster Reconstructer” to help the reader pause, ponder and personalize each step. I told you I like alliteration! If you complete the exercises in this book you will have the equivalent of 12 sessions of therapy. At the national average of $80 an hour, the price of one book is quite deal! But don’t stop with just one book. 12 Ways works as a powerful small group study. Each chapter presents an obstacle to faith and the scriptural solutions for that obstacle. Women have shared with me they feel like it is equivalent to 12 weeks of applicable Bible study.

In your chapter on People, your mentioned the importance of confidence only you didn’t call it self-esteem. You called it “Jesus-teem.” What does that look like?

We have heard enough over the past few years about self-esteem, but Scripture tells us that when we embrace the Lord’s view of ourselves, we’re free to be comfortable in our own skin. God’s view of us is revealed in his Word and through the compliments of others. In chapter 3 about the Power we find in the Bible, I have included a page full of verses with the personal pronouns left out and a blank space provided for you to write in your name. That way you can take ownership of each verse, let it soak into your soul, and change the way you feel about yourself. When we can fully get our heads around how God feels about us, it changes the way we feel about ourselves. That’s Jesus-teem!

You mentioned compliments defining us. Can you explain that?

My old pastor used to say that compliments are bouquets thrown from the hand of God.
When we don’t take the compliments given to us, it’s as though we are ripping the heads off the flowers God has given us, throwing them to the ground, and stomping them. Compliments are God’s way of telling us who we are. When we receive them it builds our confidence in the qualities and gifts He’s given us. But when we don’t, we remain static and self-critical.

I took those words to heart and stopped dismissing compliments some twenty years ago. In that time God has had the opportunity to remake my self-image. Before that I had to climb a ladder to look an ant in the eye!

“Jesus in the Rearview Mirror,” now there’s a title. Tell us about that chapter.

God has a plan for us, but many times the view we have of what is happening around us as we cruise through life is often challenging, even frightening. From our viewpoint, looking through the windshield, we only see calamity, but all the while God is working. Later, when we look back over our lives, as we peer into the rearview mirror, we are able to see the Plan that God was working out all along. Recognizing God’s plan builds our faith.

In your chapter on Pardon you share about the healing power of forgiveness. It’s not always easy to forgive someone who has caused us pain. Was that difficult for you?

It was one of the hardest things I had to do. That’s why I walk through the process with you. We learn that forgiveness doesn’t make the offender right; it just makes us free. We also see that forgive and forget is not a biblical concept. Instead it’s forgive and set boundaries.

Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves, and many times we find that we have to forgive God because He didn’t do things the way we thought He should.

You present a powerful prayer exercise to help people unpack their emotional baggage in the chapter on Provision. What can you tell us about that?

Years ago a wonderful Christian counselor taught me this life-changing prayer exercise to help me dump the anger, hurt and resentment of my abuse. Until that point, I thought I would have to bear the burden of my painful childhood forever. But I walked out of her office that day a new person. I have had the privilege of sharing this gift many times in my office and now, I am sharing it for all to read. It’s enough that abuse victims have experienced pain, we don’t have to keep reliving it. We can be set free, thank God!

You tell Donetta’s story of healing and your own story in a way that keeps us turning the pages to see what’s going to happen next. Have you always been a storyteller?
I’ve always loved stories especially ones I can relate to. I recently published two stories in Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover’s Soul and one in Chicken Soul for the Tea Lover’s Soul and now What I Leaned From My Dog, due out in October 2009. I believe everybody has a story—a string of stories that make up life. In fact one of the steps in my book to turn pain into praise is to write down those moments in your life when God shows up—the stories of his faithfulness. I call them “Monumental Moments.” After writing down my monumental moments for years, I filled a book with stories that was recently published by Warner Press.

My book of stories, Better Than Jewels: 31 Days of Biblical Insight for a Woman Seeking God is a devotional that starts each day with a scripture from Proverbs and a short relevant story to illustrate that verse. In it, I share more of how God miraculously intervened in my life to turn Tennessee trailer trash into a fully loved follower of Christ! It’s currently available through Barnes & Noble, or on my website

The pain in your life hasn’t hindered your sense of humor, has it?

I hope not! My goal for all the books I write is for the reader to laugh, learn, and leave each page feeling closer to the Lord.

Are you working another book?

Yes. My working title is You Can Fix Stupid: Seven Savvy Choices for Mind, Body and Soul. I deal with people everyday who are in terrible situations that were preventable. I want to give folks information to make better choices and avoid being “stupid.” I am working on a blog on my website that addresses these issues.

What else is on your agenda?

I love speaking and since my books have come out, God has opened doors for me to share with groups all over the world. Folks in today’s busy culture like to have teaching material accessible to play in their cars or on their computers. So I am making CD sets available for each of my retreat topics. Each set has 4, forty-minute talks in a handy labeled holder. They are available on my website

Joy for the Journey: Peace For Your Path reviews some of the topics in 12 Ways to Turn Your Pain Into Praise.
He Delights in You: Rest in His Love helps the listener make the 12-inch drop from the head to the heart to truly understand how crazy God is about His kids—namely the one sitting in your seat!
Communication Drive: The Road to Caring Communication is a series presented at a communication workshop that teaches you how to “talk with the hand” not talk to the hand as often happens when we find ourselves in conflict!
Stress Management for the New Millennium: What to Do When Your Reality Check Bounces to offer tools to help the listener deal with the anxiety, anger and depression that modern culture manufactures. I’ve recently finished a series on how to get the most out of your prayer life. Women’s retreats are my passion and I would love to speak at yours. You can contact me on my website.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your book?

Since the book’s release last fall I have heard feedback from readers and I can say with confidence that whether you are seeking tools to empower those you are helping or needing the tools to transform yourself, you will walk away from this book spiritually stronger as you learn to:
• remove your offender’s face from God and stop blaming Him for life’s pain
• stop renting space in your head to bad memories and offenses
• relinquish the stinkin’ thinkin’ that causes you to emotionally circle the drain
• stay constantly connected to Christ with time-tested tools to process your pain
• realize your full potential as you seek God’s divine purpose for your life.

Closing: Thanks so much for having me on your blog. I hope your readers will visit me online at Please remember that God deeply desires to turn your pain into to praise.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Snow Melts in Spring

Author: Deborah Vogts
Publisher: Zondervan
July 2009
ISBN: 978-0-310-29275-3
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Mattie Evans veterinary business is floundering. She’s lost the confidence of the local ranchers when she had a series of misfortunate events. Mattie wants to remain in the Flint Hills of Kansas, even though her family has lost their ranch, but to do so means that she has to survive. And now, she is basing her survival on a long-shot.

Gil McCray’s horse has been hit by drunk drivers. Mattie initially recommended putting the horse down, as there was no way Dusty could survive the operation and recovery needed for such massive injuries. But John, Gil’s father, refused to allow Mattie to put down Gil’s horse.

Gil has fled the ranch and stayed distant, due to unpleasant memories. Now, with the news of his horse, Gil makes a surprise business home. He can’t stay long, as a pro-football player, he has to be on the playing field. But with his father – and his horse – ailing, Gil doesn’t know whether to stay or to go… He certainly doesn’t count on falling in love.

SNOW MELTS IN SPRING is the d├ębut novel by Ms. Vogts. With realistic characters, expertly described scenes, and conflict, the pages are sure to keep turning. I couldn’t help but care for Mattie and Gil, and even crusty John won a piece of my heart. But the true hero of the story, for me, had to be Dusty. I wanted that horse to survive, to heal broken relationships and reach out to help other hurting people. How can a horse do that? Read the story to find out.

SNOW MELTS IN SPRING is a wonderful story, and I am definitely looking for to reading more books by this talented new author. Don’t miss SNOW MELTS IN SPRING. A yummy sounding recipe is included at the end of the book. $10.99. 303 pages.

Deborah Vogts
Deborah Vogts and her husband have three daughters and make their home in Southeast Kansas where they raise and train American Quarter Horses. In writing the Seasons of the Tallgrass, a contemporary romance series for Zondervan, she hopes to share her passion for one of the last tallgrass prairie regions in the world, showing that God’s great beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there.

Learn more about Deborah at

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Live Deeply

Title: LIVE DEEPLY: A Study in the Parables of Jesus
Authors: Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose
Publisher: David C. Cook
June 2009
ISBN: 978-1-434799-86-9
Genre: Inspirational/devotional

LIVE DEEPLY is a devotional for anyone who has ever wanted to know more about Jesus’ parables. It is an in-depth study guide for women—alone or with a small group—to dig deeper into the meaning of these parables.

The lessons are separated into one devotional per week, divided into sections for you to follow each day of the week. There are lots of suggested Bible reading, and questions for you to journal about, in order to get the most from this Bible study.

Based on the inductive Bible study method, each lesson carries vivid imagery of Ancient Israel, but includes modern applications for today.

Divided up into five L’s, this devotional includes

Lift up (prayer)
Look at (God’s word)
Learn about (new insights)
Live out (applications
Listen to (quotes from other believers)

If you have ever done a Beth Moore Bible study, this devotional reminded me strongly of the workbook I went through with Beth Moore, except there is no DVD to watch with this study.

I was very impressed with this devotional, and even though I just gave it a quick glance through this time, I will be going back through this book and spending more time—just twenty minutes a day—learning more about Jesus’ parables. Highly recommended. $14.99. 304 pages.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Certain Jeopardy

Publisher: B&H Books
Copyright: 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8054-4853-5
Genre: Military Christian Fiction

“Your safety rests in the hands of six men . . . they are Special Ops and their mission has just been upgraded from difficult to impossible.”

I am forever grateful that my freedoms are protected by the many men and women in uniform. Whether serving on active duty or in the reserves, these men and women lay it on the line every day to safeguard the country they have vowed to serve, honor and protect. In CERTAIN JEOPARDY, we are introduced to a special unit comprised of such individuals. The author, a former Special Ops soldier himself, and a military chaplain, writes from his personal experiences to draw you into a world where the warriors still reign supreme.

Throughout this fast-paced book, the author balances the emotional roller-coaster experienced by the “home team;” the families who send their loved ones into harms way for the greater good, with the almost inhuman tension experienced by the individual team members as they go about the dirty business of war. In addition, Captain Streucker explores what it means to be both a Christian, and a warrior. And he does so in a refreshingly open and honest manner. One can almost read the message that Captain Streucker is sending throughout the book: being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re a wimp!

Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from the horrors of war,either. This book is not for the squeamish; Captain Streucker handles every aspect of war . . . from engaging the enemy, to capture and torture, in grisly detail. Because war isn’t pretty.

For those interested in a military action novel from a Christian perspective, I would highly recommend CERTAIN JEOPARDY.

$14.99 softcover. 381 pages.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mom Needs Chocolate

Author: Debora M. Coty
Publisher: Regal
April 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8307-4592-0
Genre: Inspirational/humor

What’s a run-down ragged mom to do? Your spirit yearns to soar, but your feet—and faith—are stuck in the diaper-by-diaper mud of everyday responsibilities. How can you de-muck when you’re chronically exhausted? (from the back cover)

MOM NEEDS CHOCOLATE is a humorous book that will help you get back into touch with joy and faith. Starting out with an inspirational quote and a verse, each chapter launches into a funny story that will make you laugh as you remember the times when your own child got into similar mischief, or in sympathy as you thanked God that you never had to experience something else.

With chapters with titles such as:

 I’m Terribly Sorry—Sort Of…
 Does Growing Mold Count as Gardening?
 Even Moses Started Out as a Basket Case…
 I Prefer My Rocky Road on a Cone, Please.
 Forget Pennies from Heaven—I Want Twenties!
 And others

you know the stories are filled with lots of humor which will help you laugh your way back into peace. Practical encouragement for Mothers of all ages, from the ones parenting the very youngest to those with empty nests, this book is sure to be a winner.

Pick up a copy for your favorite mother—and another for yourself—as soon as possible. MOM NEEDS CHOCOLATE and this book is the next best thing. $14.99 hardcover. 238 pages.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Call of Zulina

Author: Kay Marshall Strom
Publisher: Abingdon Press
August 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4267-0069-9
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Grace Winslow is the privileged daughter of a English sea captain and an African Princess. But when Grace is being forced into a loveless marriage with a slave trader just to add more gold to her gambling, drunk of a father’s coffers, Grace decides her only option is to flee. Where, she doesn’t know.

But when Grace heads off toward town with nothing but the cloths she had on, she finds herself almost forced up the hill to Zulina, slave quarters where her father stores the slaves before shipping them out to sea. But once there at the slave house, Grace finds herself a captive, and in the midst of a slave revolt.

Despite being held for ransom, viciously maimed, and threatened with death, Grace finds herself sympathizing with the plight of the captives, and understanding for the first time the brutality and ferocity of the family business. She is especially moved by the African Caberto’s passion, determination and willingness to sacrifice anything for freedom. Will Grace risk everything to follow her heart?

I will admit that THE CALL OF ZULINA has been in my to-be-read pile for awhile, and I’ve been hesitant to pick it up and read it. Another historical, and this one set in Africa. I didn’t think it would be that good. But THE CALL OF ZULINA is far from being just another historical. This one stands head and shoulders above the rest. I couldn’t help but falling in love with Grace, half English, half African, and fitting in no where. I couldn’t help but feel for the Africans captures and torn from their homes and families, and no one caring whether they lived or died. I couldn’t help but hope the prisoners would succeed in their quest for freedom even though the odds where severely stacked against them.

THE CALL OF ZULINA is a book that I very highly recommend. The story grabbed my interest from the first page and held it until the end. Even though the book is in some places very violent, and very graphic, it moves the heart, and I recommend reading this book with a box of tissues close. If you read one book this year, make sure it is THE CALL OF ZULINA, book one of the Grace in Africa series. This book is a winner. $13.99. 320 pages.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Who Made You a Princess?

Author: Shelley Adina
Publisher: Faith Words
May 2009
ISBN: 978-0-446-17962-1
Genre: Inspirational/teen

Shani might have been born a heiress, but she knows when she’s not wanted. She was a mistake and her mother doesn’t hesitate to let Shani, and anyone else know that little detail. But still, Shani doesn’t lack for anything. She attends a private school, attends all the hottest concerts and is supplied with every want that money can buy.

Except one. Shani wants Danyel Johnstone. She was imagining that they were just beginning to develop mutual feelings for each other but when she approaches Danyel to see if he possibly felt the same, he kindly but gently shot her down. But all is not lost. After all, Shani intends to get her man, and intends to let nothing stand in her way.

But then she learns that the Prince Rashid al Amir has been sent to her private school to prepare for an eventual MBA at Stanford as well as to romance Shani…his future wife. Shani can’t believe her parents believe in this archaic tradition, but it seems they do, and have practiced it for generations. Will Shani fulfill her family duties and become a princess? Or will she continue her pursuit of Danyel?

I couldn’t really relate to the story in WHO MADE YOU A PRINCESS? at all. Written in more modern slang, possibly some of it ebotics, I had a lot of trouble understanding it the way it was written. And living in a more rural, more Caucasian area of the country, I had never heard slang like what was used in the book. So, while this is a contemporary romance, I am definitely not a qualified reviewer for this book.

That being said, if you live in a more urban area and are more current with slang terms then this might be a romance that you will be able to get into. A Prince, real girls, black churches with strong worship teams, and handsome guys—there is a lot to like. So, while the audience for this book might be severely limited by the writing, and it is probably considered dated as slang tends to change and evolve quickly, it is a book that will appeal to some…I’d suggest checking it out of a library first before purchasing to make sure it’s a book you’d want to spend money on. $9.99. 228 pages.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life

Title: DIRECTION: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life
Author: Cheri Cowell
Publisher: Beacon Hill Press
ISBN: 978-0-8341-2335-9
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

Sometimes, trying to discern the will of God feels like a guessing game, or as the author put it, like picking between apples and oranges. While both options may sound really good, only one is God’s will, and how are we supposed to choose which one is the right direction to go?

Ms. Cowell maintains that the key to making these decisions is to stop trying to guess God’s will, and to begin focusing on discerning His way.

In DIRECTION, this pastor’s daughter, seminary student, and former youth ministry director presents six questions that we all need to ask ourselves when it comes to decision-making. In addition to exploring these questions, she also includes plenty of examples by others who have used them to find God’s way in the story of their lives.

The questions are:

1. Is this aligned with the character of God?
2. Is there an obstacle or opposition?
3. Is it God-sized?
4. Does it require steps of faith?
5. Is it stretching, growing, and strengthening me?
6. Does it require me to adjust, prune, and realign my life?

In addition to these six questions, there are also two other chapters, plus an informative Introduction and Epilogue, as well as much more information in the Appendix. Discussion guide questions are included at the end of the book. If you are looking for DIRECTION in your life (and we all will be at some point) then don’t miss this book. $14.99. 192 pages.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Texas Heat

Author: Debra White Smith
Publisher: Avon Inspire
ISBN: 978-0-06-148316-4
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary/intrigue

Jack Mansfield has loved Charlie forever, but when she dumped him for a fast-working, smooth-talking jerk, Jack was sure Charlie had ripped his heart out along with his liver and kidneys and all other vital organs. So, when Charlie comes back to town, divorced with a young child, Jack is quick to “accidentally” put himself in her pathway. It took over a year for her to stop giving him a cold shoulder, but eventually, Charlie started warming up…but then, he was issued a warrant for Charlie’s arrest for embezzling more than $100,000 from the bank where she works.

Charlie is more than stunned when Jack shows up to arrest her. She hadn’t known anything like that was happening and had no idea how it had gotten pinned on her. She was right in the middle of baking cookies for a church function when Jack showed up, ripping her little girl’s heart in pieces to see her mother taken away by the police.

But either Jack’s instincts are failing, or Charlie is innocent. Jack is convinced it is the later, and he asks his brother, a private investigator, to check into this and find the real embezzler. Will Jack manage to save Charlie from prison, or is she murdered by the perpetrator?

I have long loved Debra White Smith, ever since I read my first book by this author as a newlywed. It was a pleasure to be able to read for review TEXAS HEAT. Charlie seemed like a loveable heroine, secure in her faith, but shattered by the accusations against her and more than a little worried about what would happen to her little girl if she had to go to prison. Jack wore his heart on his sleeve for Charlie, but he struggled to maintain a professional distance when he had to deal with her on this case so he couldn’t get into trouble for conflict of interest.

I really enjoyed reading TEXAS HEAT. The book also includes discussion questions, a letter from the author, and a preview of book to in this new series Lone Star Intrigue. $12.99. 231 pages.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Blessings of the Heart/Samantha's Gift

Author: Valerie Hansen
Publisher: Love Inspired Classics
2003 – republished in December 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-65126-9
Genre: Inspirational/romance

In BLESSINGS OF THE HEART, Brianna Walker lives in her dream home, a virtual mansion for just one person. She has a housekeeper, and valuable belongings. But when she has a pond built on her property, the last thing she expects is for the dam to break, washing down the ravine and destroying the only home of a poor man and his two young boys.

Mitch Fowler has spent all his money trying to find his sons after his wife ran off with them, and now he is penniless, jobless, and living in a shack with no running water. At least until the flood washes it out. The only thing Mitch can do is to go to wealthy Brianna for help. But Brianna hates kids, hates dogs, and hates mud. Still, she can’t exactly leave them out in the rain.

What happens next is definitely a comedy of errors. Whatever could possibly go wrong, did, and whatever had to go right, didn’t. Is it possible for a wealthy spoiled woman to fall in love with a poor man who is – and has – everything Brianna hates?

In SAMANTHA’S GIFT, kindergarten teacher, Rachel Woodward literally runs into the new school counselor on her first day of school. Despite her instant attraction, Rachel has reasons to stay far away from an attractive man. But then she ends up with orphaned Samantha in her class, a tiny girl who needs a firm hand, and someone to love her.

Sean Bates is new to Arkansas, but not to education. Newly hired from Cleveland, Sean is quick to find that Arkansas has some residents he’d like to know better. But when he tries to reach out to little Samantha, he quickly realizes she looks on him as a father figure. Will he really be in a position to father a lonely little girl? And will this child bring love to his own life?

These two classics from Valerie Hansen were a gift to me from the author – just for fun. I really appreciated reading these two stories, set in the fictional town of Serenity, even though it is based strongly on a real life town not too far from me. I read these two stories with a smile on my face, especially the first one as, like I said above, it seemed a comedy of errors. It kept me laughing and turning the pages to find out how these two completely mis-matched souls could possibly find a lasting relationship. Don’t miss this Love Inspired Classic. $6.50. 507 pages.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The I Believe Bunny

Author: Tish Rabe
Illustrator: Frank Endersby
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-4003-1476-8
Genre: Inspirational/children

Bunny lives in a beautiful glen of flowers and sunshine, but one day, the sun refused to shine and it rained for hours! Bunny’s friends invited him to come play someplace sunny and dry, but Bunny didn’t want to leave his beautiful rainy glen. So, as he wandered around in the wet land, he heard a mouse calling for help.

The mouse was caught in a raging river and would surely drown unless Bunny did something quick to rescue her. But when he called for help, all his friends were far away. Bunny did the best he could, but he seemed doomed to fail, until he decided to turn to God in prayer.

Immediately, God answered and He showed Bunny how he could be a friend indeed and help someone in need.

THE I BELIEVE BUNNY is an absolutely adorable tale about the power of prayer. The book is beautifully illustrated and the rhyming tale is easy to follow and hold a child’s interest. I read the book right away to my seven-year-old and four-year-old daughters and they both loved the story and wanted it read over and over.

Not only is the book engaging, but it also teaches children the value of prayer, and how God answers prayer. I highly recommend THE I BELIEVE BUNNY. $9.99 hardcover.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sunset Beach and interview

Author: Trish Perry
Publisher: Harvest House Publisher
June 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2675-1
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Sonny Miller has just graduated from college, and her graduation gift from her mom is a week stay at a beach house in San Diego. Sonny is hoping that she and her mother will have a heart-to-heart talk and Sonny will learn all the secrets her mother has kept over the years.

A short time before leaving for the beach house, Sonny learns of an aunt, Melanie that she has never met, so she is quick to invite her to the beach house as well. It is time for the three of them to get to know each other, Sonny believes. But her mother thwarts her plans when she shows up with Irena, a classical singer who is struggling with issues of her own.

The three Miller women have strong personalities, and the clashes begin almost immediately. When Sonny finds herself in over her head, she has to decide whether to let the issues go, or to keep pushing for answers. But as the sisters begin to reconcile, Sonny begins to make some surprising connections.

SUNSET BEACH is book three in The Beach House Series started by Sally John. I loved Trish Perry’s Beach Dreams enough to go back and read Ms. John’s stories, and I was glad to see the beach house lives on in SUNSET BEACH.

I couldn’t help but love Sonny’s Aunt Melanie. She is a real sweetheart, a kind individual who is there for her husband, son, and when she learns of her existence, her niece. Sonny was a bit too pushy in a way, but that pushiness also matched her chosen career. Teresa (Sonny’s mom) took a lot longer to learn to like as she seemed to hold everyone—even readers—at a distance. I loved the romance that opened up in the book too.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading SUNSET BEACH, and I loved the cover illustration enough to want to head for the beach and spend time in that little cottage myself. I am thankful that Ms. Perry allows us to spend time there vicariously through the pages of this book. Discussion questions and an excerpt from Beach Dreams are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 328 pages.

Sunset Beach on Amazon:

Trish Perry’s Website:

Trish Perry’s Blog:

Trish Perry’s Facebook Profile:

Follow Trish Perry on Twitter:

List of all participating bloggers:

The Sunset Beach Flickr Group:

Tell me a little bit about your background and your family.
I’m the middle child; middle girl. I was raised as one of five kids by my British mum and my WWII Air Force vet dad. I lived in Newfoundland (Canada), California, Colorado, and finally Virginia, which I’ve called home for the greater part of my life. I love it here. Most of my family still resides in Virginia, which is a bonus.

My late sister lived a rough lifetime of medical problems, which had a distinct bearing on our family lifestyle and our sensibilities toward the hardships of others. Her eventual death may have been a blessed relief for her, but it was a huge loss for us. The loss is what brought me to the Lord.

Both of my children are believers, which brings me such peace. I have a 29-year-old daughter, who is one of the coolest, smartest, most intuitive women I know. She’s blessed me with a remarkable grandson, now five. And my 16-year-old son is brilliant and funny, and he tells me daily that I’m weird (but I can hear the “I love you” in there when he says it).

What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?
Novels and films are constants in my life; if I’m home and not working, I’m usually absorbed by one of those. I love good stories. I enjoy varied styles of music. I love to sing and served on my church’s worship team until my writing schedule got so busy. I still serenade the neighbors on occasion, whether they want me to or not. I’m a self-admitted former disco queen, and I still love to dance. And I make sure to get together with girlfriends at least once a week. Socializing, dining, and laughing—it’s like having your batteries charged!

If you could vacation any where in the world, where would you be and why?
I’d love to take a tour of Europe, both the touristy spots and the secret, unblemished spots. I’ve never given great thought to why Europe draws me more than other parts of the world. But I suppose the fact that my heritage is rooted in Europe makes it more appealing to me. And I’m spoiled, to an extent, by the creature comforts of the U.S. I love learning about life in the other continents, but I’m not a roughin’ it kinda gal. I’m not proud of that, but I’m absolutely aware of it!

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Well, hands down, I’d have to be able to teleport. Frankly, I’d travel a lot more if it weren’t for airports! I would have chosen the superpower of flying, but who wants to carry all that luggage in the air? If I could teleport, I could have my luggage in my circle of teleportability (you have heard of those, yes?), and it would teleport with me, free of luggage searches and additional-baggage fees.

What has God been teaching you lately?
I’ve been blown away by how clearly He forgives my weaknesses. Things have occurred in my life over the past 18 months for which (right or wrong) I carried a burden of guilt. You know, that feeling of “how did I contribute to this mess?” Yet He has blessed me so abundantly in the midst of my feelings of conviction, that He amazes me daily with His obvious love. The blessings keep me humbly aware of how much I need Him. And they instill in me such a strong desire to serve Him and to follow His guidance and will.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I probably wanted to be an actor when I was a child. I memorized dialogue, imagined scenes, and studied actresses I admired. But I never went out for Drama in school. I was horribly shy and couldn’t imagine auditioning for anything. Still, I was well served by my obsession with dialogue and the visual exercises of creating scenes in my mind. Sometimes I still come up with my scenes and dialogue by simply visualizing them on screen or acting them out with imaginary characters. I try to keep these antics private, of course. I’d be in big trouble on one of those Big Brother type of reality shows.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Be Hopeful

Title: BE HOPEFUL: NT Commentary 1 Peter (How to make the best of times out of your worst of times)
Author: Warren W. Wiersbe
Publisher: David C. Cook
1982/ reprinted June 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6743-1
Genre: Biblical commentary New Testament

When I was growing up, the name Warren Wiersbe was a synonym for a great Bible teacher. My parents devoured books by this pastor/teacher and I learned early to respect his knowledge. So, when I was offered the change to review this commentary by Dr. Wiersbe, I was quick to jump at the chance.

BE HOPEFUL is everything that it was toted to be. Not only is it a verse by verse commentary on the biblical book of 1 Peter, but it also contains a overview of the books topic as a whole, as well as ends each chapter with a brief discussion guide (with plenty of room for the reader to write his/her answers) which also makes this commentary not only an excellent study guide, but it also could be useful in the Sunday School classroom, or small group study on the book of 1 Peter.

A introduction by Ken Baugh is included in the front of the book, entitled The Big Idea, which goes on to talk about the one thing that made the Christian faith unique. Ultimately, the decision came down to grace being the one thing that really sets Christianity apart from other world religions. We are not saved by works of righteousness, but by the grace of God.

BE HOPEFUL – as well as 1 Peter – is written for Christians who are going through suffering and persecution. And in the current time-period, Christians are going through trials and tribulations for being Christian. The only comfortable Christian will be a compromising Christian, but the comfort will be costly.

The theme of this commentary is simply “Be hopeful! Suffering leads to glory! I can give you all the grace you need to honor Me when the going gets tough!”

BE HOPEFUL is a book that definitely belongs on every pastor’s or serious Bible scholar’s shelf. An invaluable tool for believers. Part of the original fifty-two BE series.. $12.99. 163 pages.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Return to Love

Author: Betsy St. Amant
Publisher: Love Inspired
July 2009
ISBN: 978-0-373-87540-5
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Gracie Broussard is stunned to look out of the penguin tank and see an old flame standing there watching her as she fed the penguins. Carter Alexander had broke her heart years ago when he basically threw her love back in her face, and went off to start his contemporary band, complete with blond groupies.

Now, Carter is insisting that he’s changed. Not only that but he’s hanging out with the church youth pastor and integrating himself into all parts of the church’s youth group. Not only that, but it seems that everywhere Gracie turns Carter is there, waiting.

Now, Gracie is trying to organize a gala to benefit the penguins, but all the bands in the area seem to be booked—even the school marching band. She has no choice but to ask Carter if he’s willing to perform. But since the new building is supposed to be named after Carter’s father, a man he disliked, she doesn’t believe he will help out. What can Carter do to prove to Gracie that he’s not the man who left—that he’s different?

RETURN TO LOVE is the first published novel by Ms. St. Amant and it is definitely a good book. I enjoyed reading a book that is set around a penguin display at a zoo. It is a great change of pace from the same ole scenes. I also enjoyed getting to know Gracie and Carter. I didn’t get to know Carter as well as I would have liked, he did seem to be holding back in the story, but Gracie is very well developed.

If you enjoy contemporary romance and want a great escape book, then RETURN TO LOVE is definitely a book to consider. It is wonderfully written, a unique setting, and a love story that you won’t want to miss. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.50. 211 pages.

Back cover copy:

"I'm not the man I used to be!" - if only Gracie Broussard could believe that. Years ago, Carter Alexander broke her heart and betrayed her. Now, just when she needs him most, he's back -- asking her to believe he's changed. But this time, its not just Gracie who'll be hurt if he disappears. A penguin keeper, Gracie urgently needs to find a new home for her beloved birds. Carter is the only one who can help. He promises that she can trust him, that he's not the rebel he once was. And that he needs Gracie as much as her birds do.

Links to blog and website:

And here's the link to amazon for purchase:

Bio: Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her contemporary romance RETURN TO LOVE is under contract with Steeple Hill Love Inspired for a July 2009 release, and the sequel A VALENTINE’S WISH is contracted for a February 2010 release. Betsy has also been published in the Christian Communicator magazine and Praise Reports: Inspiring Real Life Stories of How God Answers Prayer. One of her short stories, Kickboxing or Chocolate, appears in a Tyndale compilation book, and she is also multi-published through The Wild Rose Press. Betsy has a B.A. in Christian Communications and regularly contributes articles to Betsy is a wife, author, new mother, and avid reader who enjoys sharing the wonders of God’s grace through her stories.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Proverbs Driven Life

Author: Anthony Selvanggio
Publisher: Shepherd Press
ISBN: 978-0-9815400-5-4
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

A PROVERBS-DRIVEN LIFE is a study of the wisdom God has given us in the Biblical Book of Proverbs. By using this wisdom wisely we can learn how to live as God intended, especially in light of what is true about ourselves, others, and the world we live in.

The author, Mr. Selvanggio maintains that the study of Proverbs will guarantee a life that will result in spiritual and practical blessings.

A PROVERBS-DRIVEN LIFE is divided up in six parts:

Part One: Foundations—A PROVERBS-DRIVEN LIFE values wise living and wise speech as essential and inseparable.

Part Two: Work—A PROVERBS-DRIVEN LIFE practices a faithful work ethic and faithful ethics at work.

Part Three: Wealth—A PROVERBS-DRIVEN LIFE understands the place and purpose of material wealth.

Part Four: Friends—A PROVERBS-DRIVEN LIFE knows that friendship is intended to be redemptive.

Part Five: Marriage—A PROVERBS-DRIVEN LIFE embraces marriage as the most significant of relationships and guards it jealously.

Part Six: Children—A PROVERBS-DRIVEN LIFE accepts the calling to raise children as a task delegated and directed by God.

A PROVERBS-DRIVEN LIFE will help us to glean as much as we can from the Book of Proverbs, to live the way God intended when he included the book of practical wisdom. Not only explaining the proverbs, A PROVERBS-DRIVEN LIFE will teach you how to read the Book of Proverbs, and ultimately points you to Christ. 201 pages.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn

Author: Liz Johnson
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
July 2009
ISBN: 978-0-373-44343-2
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Kenzie Thorn is the governor’s grand-daughter, and working as a GED instructor in prison, her life is in danger. The only trouble is, Kenzie doesn’t realize it. As far as she’s concerned, she’s just an ordinary civilian doing a job she loves, even though her grandfather is doing his best to talk her into quitting and going to teach kindergarten, not criminals.

Myles Parsons is FBI, but his job is to pretend to be an in-mate and to protect Kenzie from who-ever wants her dead, without letting Kenzie know who he really is. So, when the opportunity presents itself, Myles is quick to kidnap Kenzie, hoping to get her to a safe-house where he plans to reveal all, and she’ll be kept alive while he goes back and finishes the investigation.

It’s the perfect plan. Except Myles fails to take into consideration Kenzie’s strong personality. Myles attempts to get her into a safe house, but the stubborn woman won’t go! As Myles’ plans start crumbling, he finds himself falling—in love—with the woman he needs to keep alive.

THE KIDNAPPING OF KENZIE THORN is the debut novel by Liz Johnson. I have to admit that this is a unique premise, an FBI agent masquerading as a criminal in order to protect someone. I had to admire the writing, even though I wasn’t entirely sure that the situation would work in real life.

Kenzie is a plucky heroine, full of fire and vigor, willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the desired end result. Myles thinks quick on his feet, and while he may take the time to make plans, they seldom followed along the way he hoped so he had to react more often than not.

I enjoyed reading this debut novel and look forward to seeing many more books by Ms. Johnson. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.50. 219 pages.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Defying Autism: A Miraculous Story of Hope and interview

Author: Karen Mayer Cunningham
Publisher: Creation House
May 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59979-628-4
Genre: Inspirational/Christian Life/Family

Karen Mayer Cunningham married the man of her dreams, and since he was a church man, expected the blessings to come pouring down. Instead, she found herself the mother of a baby boy named James… a boy who went from being sweet and gentle to increasingly loud and violent, exhibiting bizarre behavior such as eating drywall and rubber.

Desperate for answers, Karen visits a doctor, but she is assured that her child is normal, nothing is wrong. Her husband is convinced that James behavior is just because Karen was a bad mother.

When Karen learns about a program at a local school for three year olds who can’t talk, Karen is quick to enroll James. But what happens instead is a nightmare, as her family is reported for abuse not once, but twice, and James was still not getting the help he needed. Can Karen possibly find James the help he needs and save her marriage in the process?

DEFYING AUTISM is a true story based on the struggles of one family. While not claiming to have all the answers, the author does hope to offer:

 Help for those with autistic children or loved ones.
 Hope that there is a Lord that still performs miracles of healing.
 Healing for those who struggle with a loved one’s diagnosis.

DEFYING AUTISM will take you on a day-to-day journey with a mom who struggled to overcome the challenges and in the process witnesses an incredible miracle.

Written in a conversational, compelling style, DEFYING AUTISM held my interest all the way to the end of the book, odd for a nonfiction, and really odd for a book that really has no bearing on my current life. God has not gifted me with an autistic child (thank you, Lord!) and I really have to admire the courage and fortitude that Ms. Cunningham exhibited as she struggled with both her child and her search for answers. Don’t miss DEFYING AUTISM. It is a book that is invaluable reading for anyone who might come in contact with an autistic child and its family. Should be required reading for anyone who might work with children in a church nursery or school setting as well. $14.99 hardcover. 113 pages.

and an interview with Karen Mayer

You have a real mix of talents in addition to being an author. Will you please tell us about yourself?

I am a stand up comic and speaker with a passion to impart truth and hope to people and to remind them that God is still purposed to have them move into their destiny.

Your new book, Defying Autism, is about your son, James. Will you tell us a little about him?

James is my first born, the apple of my eye. He was born right on time, perfect in every way. He progressed and hit all of the appropriate markers ahead of time. He was one of those vey easy babies that you could pass to anyone and he was still a happy baby. He was pointing and babbling at a year, and into everything!

He sounds adorable! At what point, did you start to notice that something was wrong?

We took James in for his 18-month check up and shots, after which his behavior took a dramatic, turn for the worse. When we brought him home, he would run to the same spot in the hall and stand with his back to the wall and slam his head backwards into the sheetrock. To say this was upsetting was an understatement, but then I thought maybe this is the dreaded terrible twos, or little boys are rough. So we would redirect him and send him on his way. The redirecting stopped working; it was though he could not stop behaving this way. He had many other strange habits, obsessive behaviors that began to appear. He would eat the little pieces of sheetrock, where he had actually put a hole in the sheetrock, he pulled the wallpaper off and ate it, he pulled up the corners of the carpet and ate the foam underneath it, he ate the rubber lining out of our car doors, he watched videos for hours standing in front of the TV.

What did you do? Who did you go to for help?

First we went to other parents of children. I owned a salon so I had the free advice every hour from women who had “already been through it”. I wanted to believe as they all said, that this is a phase, this is the two’s, little boys do strange things. We then went to professionals, pediatricians, speech therapists, ENT specialist, pediatric specialist, state agencies, MHMR and of course our church for lots and lots of prayer.

What can you tell us about autism?

Autism is a severely handicapping disorder that begins at birth or with in the first two and half years of life. For many years autism occurred in 5 out of 10,000 births, however since the early 1990’s the rate is now calculated at 1 in 150 births. Most autistic children are perfectly normal in appearance, but spend their time in disturbing behaviors, which are marked differently from those of normal children. They may stare into space for hours, throw uncontrollable tantrums, show no interest in people including their parents, and pursue strange repetitive activities with no apparent purpose. They have been described as living in a world of their own. Some autistic children have remarkable giftings in certain areas such as music or mathematics, and all need help.

What was your greatest fear?

My greatest fear was losing my child at five or ten years, or as an adult, to an institution. I would watch the movie Rain Main over and over again and assume that would be the best outcome for my son.

What was a typical day like for you and your family?

A typical day for us would be James up before we woke with a video in and grunting for what he wanted. He would only eat a few foods, several times a day he would throw up to let you know he didn’t want or like something.

Crying, tantrums and fits filled the day from sun up to bedtime. His fits had no beginning and sometimes it felt as if there would be no end. In the spring of 2000, when he was almost 6, he was still in a diaper, on a bottle and only spoke 20 words.

Did school help James?

School did help James; he did much better with a strict structured environment. The opposite of that however, is that it is hard to duplicate that environment at home with a family. School helped James academically, but not emotionally or socially.

Did church help James, or you?

Unfortunately, church did not help James at all. My husband and I were music ministers and would fill-in at churches that were looking for a fulltime staff person. This meant a lot of changes every few months – new locations, new staff, and new strange glares inferring what a bad mother I must be for my baby boy to behave in such a way. Church turned into a place I dreaded and had been such a place of family and belonging before.

What was the turning point for you in this journey?

Having heard the weekly cry of my heart for help for my child, one of my clients recommended a ministry team, a deliverance team, Gospel Revelation Ministries. I didn’t know what deliverance was, but I had no doubt I needed some. I went through personal deliverance and then followed with James in the spring of 2000. I was terrified but they said that God said he was going to be healed, so I stood with their faith. As we brought James into to the room for deliverance, he began to thrash and point to the door to leave, he was ready to go. The team prayed and laid hands on him. They said that the first demonic curse would have to go in Jesus’ name to the dry places. With that, my son reached his hand out and screamed, “come back, come back, come back, come back!!!” He was calling out for the demons that were leaving him. That was the turning point!

So, what was next?

The first thing I did was the most difficult. I changed my mind.

I changed what I believed that God could –and would – do if petitioned. I changed what I thought about the stories in the Bible. I changed my belief in what is available to us, TODAY, by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

When I began to be open to the truth of the scriptures, and not just what someone else said I should believe, or someone else’s interpretation of the scriptures for me, then…the Word of God began to truly be a light unto my path.

That was several years ago. How is James today?

James is wonderful! He is 15 years old going in to the 9th grade. He’s six foot tall and an amazing athlete. God’s promise is that he will restore our minds daily and James has caught up with remarkable speed. He is still about 2 ½ years behind academically, and in three resource classes, but is making up lost ground daily. He is completely healed from the oppression of autism.

What do the professionals say?

Doctors say it is something, maybe higher than what they have in the medical field. It is nothing short of a miracle!

What can families hope for who have children with autism?

Families can believe and stand for their loved one’s healing. Jesus is in the miracle working business. He healed James.

James’ story could be anyone’s story. I was not the “good” Christian, but I stood, no matter what, believing for my child’s healing. Your healing may be through diet, environmental changes, behavioral changes, or even the way James was healed. However it comes, do not waver from the promises of God. Exodus 15 says, “I am the Lord your God who heals all of your diseases.” He is Jehovah Rapha, our God who heals. If it is in His name, it is in His will!

Karen, where can our readers get a copy of your book, or find out how to have you come and speak for their group or organization?

They can find out more about my book and speaking information on my website at I would love to hear from any of you who are dealing with autism in your family or among your friends. I hope you are encouraged by our story – that there is hope, healing, and freedom for your situation.

About the Author

The ups and downs of life have taught Karen Mayer Cunningham that laughter really is the best medicine for what ails you. Her passionate narratives can as easily make you laugh as they can move you to tears. Karen draws many of her stories from her daily life and more specifically from being the mother of a severely autistic son. More than once Karen wondered how she would face the trials that crossed her path. The weight of the responsibility of a handicapped child, became the cross roads of her life. Her story of how God super-naturally altered and prospered her life will uplift and refresh you. Whether she is opening for a Grammy award winning musician, redirecting a sales force or lifting up the hearts of a women's encounter, she cuts through with comedy and clarity; challenging others to take it up a notch or two. Karen knows that through he release of emotions you will internalize her message of possessing the promises and purposes of God, that will take you on the road to truly joyful living.

Karen is a gifted stand-up comic, motivator, and author. She and her husband, Cortney, live in Houston with their three beautiful children, James, Paige, and Caden.

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