Sunday, October 31, 2010

Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

I absolutely loved Courting Morrow by Laura Frantz! Set in the "wilderness frontier" Morrow and her father face numerous challenges. Her mother and sister are murdered by the Shawnee Indians. Her brother is captured by the same. With war threatening to break out, danger is always near. Morrow works hard to help her father but ultimately must face what she will do if/when she loses him too. Battling unforgiveness and prejudice, will she choose a marriage of convenience or find the love of her life?

I've not read many (if any) books set in the frontier country during the Revolutionary War. Excellent combination of historical events. Made me want to live during that time period! The author did a fabulous job of developing the characters. I would love it if she decided to write more to Morrow's story! Highly recommend!!!

5 stars (out of 5)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Topical Memory System: Hide God's Word In Your Heart by NavPress


NavPress's Topical Memory System consists of a course workbook with an introduction to memorization and meditation of Scripture and twelve essays by various authors on topics that most people struggle with. Topics include knowing God's will, self-image, dealing with sin, guilt, perfectionism, anger, depression, sex, money, stress, suffering, and love. The other component is a book of memory verse cards and a card holder. The cards are perforated so you can you easily separate them and put them into the holder. Each topic has six memory verses written in six versions, so hopefully your version of choice is included.

What a wonderful resource! I know I need to memorize Scripture, but I find it somewhat difficult. This book gives simple, practical helps that I feel certain will make things a little easier. The essays were helpful to gain biblical perspective on each of the twelve issues. Additionally, the questions at the end of each chapter helped me really digest what I studied in the Scriptures. The system is set up in a way where you can master this discipline as long as you are just that ... disciplined. This would be a great book to work through with an accountability partner or small group or even your spouse.

The following quote pretty much sums up the basis for the rest of the book:

"The most substantial way to solve your deepest problems is to take them to God in prayer and to find His solutions in Scripture. In prayer, we call out to the living God from the depths of our soul; in Scripture memory and meditation, we find that God is calling us from the depths of His living Word. ... Both memory and meditation are vitally important. Scripture memory puts God's Word in your mind. Prayerful meditation puts God's Word in your mind. Having the mind of God directing your life can really help you overcome your anxieties" (pg. 6).

5 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this book from NavPress in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Favorites from Childhood

I have ALWAYS been a reader. As a little child, my books were my favorite "toy." I would cart them around in a little shopping cart. I would even tuck them in with me at night. As I got a little older, my books went everywhere with me ... to the ball fields to watch my brother play, to football games with my parents, in the car, to church, to school, on the bus, everywhere. My mom would send me outside to read just so I would get some fresh air! I walked around the halls at home, reading a book, trying not to bump into anyone or anything.

I started thinking back to some of my favorites today ... and this is the list I came up with. What were your favorites growing up?

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
This was one of my all-time favorites! My original copy is so tattered, but still in a box in the attic. I also loved the others in her series ... those cute little green books.

The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
I LOVED these books! My favorite was The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday. Strangely, I didn't have this book. But one of my best friends did. I think I read it every time I went to her house.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Well, pretty much any Dr. Seuss, but this was my favorite. I even started memorizing it in 9th grade. :)

Nursery Rhymes
I know tons of nursery rhymes! And I love them all. I had several different books with nursery rhymes in them. Those are probably the first books I ever read myself.

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parrish
What funny stories! They still make me laugh out loud!

The World's Best Fairy Tales: A Reader's Digest Anthology
I think there were two of these. My parents read out of these at bedtime for years. They probably hated them because the stories were so long, but I loved the stories!

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
Classics!!! Piglet was my favorite character.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
This one still makes me cry.

Disney Record Books
I had TONS of these. Snow White, The Fox and the Hound, Bambi, The Wizard of Oz ... oh these were so great! We had to have "rest time" every day, and I was allowed to listen to these in my room instead of taking a nap when I got older. I love that little chime sound! :)

Curious George by Margaret and H.A. Rey
My fave is the one when Curious George goes to the hospital. My grandparents had this book at their house and it was read often!

Well ... this list got longer than I intended. So, we'll continue later. I've enjoyed the reminiscing!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Least Among You

The Least Among You is a great movie! Based on a true story, it tells of a young man who goes to seminary in order to escape the life of the ghetto. What he doesn't know is that he's the first black student at the seminary. He faces prejudice from classmates and teachers alike and struggles to get through the first semester. Along the way, he is changed and the people around him are as well.

I thought the movie was very well-done. It caused me to consider how each of the characters felt. It was both thought-provoking and moving. It deals with tough topics in a positive way. The movie reminded me of movies like Finding Forrester and Glory Road. I was also impressed that the movie wasn't "cheesy" like many Christian-themed movies are. Well done! (I'm also not sure why the movie is rated PG-13. Perhaps for some of the issues they addressed?)

4 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this movie from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers


Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers is the moving conclusion to the two-part series Marta's Legacy. The story picks up where it left off in Her Mother's Hope. When tuburculosis sends Hildemara Rose to the hospital for several months, her daughter Carolyn doesn't understand why her mom isn't around anymore. She develops a close relationship with her Oma Marta - which separates her from her mom even more. And so the story continues, with misunderstandings, lack of communication, destructive patterns, and family tragedy. When tragedy strikes, Carolyn disappears only to come home years later - pregnant, unmarried, homeless, and an alcoholic. Her daughter May Flower Dawn grows up torn between her mother and grandmother. Eventually she desires to be the bridge between the two and prays that God will break down the walls in her family.

I devoured this book in two days. I couldn't get enough! While I was anxious to find out what happened with Hildemara Rose, I couldn't bear the thought that more terrible things would happen to her and her family! I wanted to literally shake them at times and yell at them to talk to each other! At times, it was even difficult to read - because it was so realistic. I was torn between needing to know what happened and wanting to set it aside because it was too hard. Full of emotion, I laughed and cried and fumed and stewed and hoped they would all be okay.

Please, please read this series. I recognized some of these unhealthy patterns in my own relationships and am praying that the Lord will keep my eyes opened to them.

If you missed the blog tour post earlier this month, check it out here.

5 stars (out of 5)

A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by the Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mend Mark Giveaway!!!

EDIT: Congrats to Hillary! Hope you enjoy your new bracelet!

It's time for a giveaway! The B&B Media Group sent me two Mend Mark bracelets - one for myself (thanks!) and one to give to one of you!

If you missed my first post about this neat bracelet, check it out here. The bracelet is made of silicone (or something like it) and is super cute. Plus, for a marketing nerd like me, the packaging is really fantastic! (Go ahead, laugh!) A portion of the proceeds for each bracelet sold goes to Living Water International, which puts wells into communities lacking clean water.

So ... cute bracelet for you = clean water for people in need. Win, win!

If you would like a chance to win one of these bracelets, post a comment telling me which name or characteristic of God you identify most with right now. Post a link to this contest on Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog and leave another comment(s) linking back to your posts for more entries. I'll draw for a random winner on Friday, October 22.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

If you only read one book this year ...


Oh. My. Goodness. This book is unbelievable. A few friends and I were talking about the best books/authors at lunch the other day. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers won hands down! (One friend even admitted to never having read a novel until she read Redeeming Love. She wondered if anything else would ever measure up ... probably not!) Well ... Her Mother's Hope comes in at a very close second for me!

Her Mother's Hope is part one of Marta's Leagcy. Francine tackles the topic of the mother-daughter relationship ... complicated at best! Francine follows Marta through her life and allows her relationship with her family, but particularly her mother, to shape how she responds (and rebels!) to the situations she encounters. As Marta grows up, leaves home, marries, and has children, we see how her relationship with her mom and everything that has happened to her until now, shapes her relationship with her own daughter Hildemara Rose. And the story of complicated relationships continues ...

The book held my attention from the first page until the last. I found myself breezing through 30-40 pages in one sitting. Rivers has an incredible ability to evoke emotions. Thirty pages in, I found myself so angry I was grinding my teeth. And it continued from there - hope, despair, anger, frustration, laughter, disappointment, so many emotions! Her descriptive writing style made me feel like I was part of the story. I could envision the setting, characters, and truly feel what they were feeling.

Best of all, though, the story caused me to take a close look at my own life. Marta's struggles throughout her life and her mother's reminder to find things to be grateful for reminded me that I need to have an attitude of gratitude rather than pessimism (which Marta seemed to thrive on). Hildie's childlike faith encouraged me to have simple trust in the Lord. Just two small examples, but there were many more as well!

If you only read one book this year, this is it! (And the sequel, of course!)

5 stars (out of 5)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Prince's Poison Cup by R.C. Sproul


The Prince's Poison Cup by R. C. Sproul is an allegorical story about the fall of man and Christ's sacrifice for our salvation. Grandfather tells Ella a story about a king whose people have turned away from him. He has to send his son - the prince - to drink a cup of poison to heal their stony hearts.

I thought the author did a great job of conveying the gospel through a "fairy tale" type story. The bigger message was clear and a parents' section at the end provides additional support for those who aren't as confident in unpacking these truths with their kids. Much of the book has great description as well, with only a few exceptions. The illustrations are beautiful and helped tell the story visually.

4 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this book from The Reformation Trust in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Vigilante's Bride by Yvonne Harris


Years after his family's tragic deaths, Luke Sullivan is still trying to come to grips with the man who made his life miserable. Robbing a stagecoach and kidnapping his mail-order bride, seems to be a first step at getting back at him and trying to save the girl. Emily McCarthy is fairly put out at being kidnapped but ultimately begins to appreciate her new home at New Hope. Together they try to solve the mysterious things going on at New Hope and learn what faith is really all about.

I really enjoyed Yvonne Harris's first historical romance. The Vigilante's Bride is fast-paced and kept me flipping the pages as fast as I could. The author provides a great balance of romance and adventure. While the book is set in the Montana Territory in 1884, the author does a great job of helping you relate to the characters as though they were in the room with you.

5 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr


Ruth Livingstone's father sends her - and a small child - to live in a small town, under a false name, with strangers. He's facing legal issues related to his work to bring women out of prostitution. In Toms River, though, Ruth finds things to be much harder than she anticipated. And when things take a turn for the worse, she must decide if she will continue to trust in God. A blossoming friendship with Jake Spencer brings a new twist as well. Can she trust him with her secrets?

After being introduced to Delia Parr earlier this year, I was excited to read another of her novels. She's a very descriptive writer, which allows you to feel like you're actually with the characters. The characters are well-developed as well. Facing difficult situations forces each of them to take a hard look at what they really believe. I did find it a little hard to get started, but once I got into the book, I thought it was great!

4 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Blog Tour: Between a Rock and a Grace Place by Carol Kent

Interview with Carol Kent

Tell us about the Christmas gift you received. How did it help you to find grace in the middle of a seemingly hopeless situation?

Two weeks before Christmas our doorbell rang at 9:15 p.m. It was dark outside and by the time my husband, Gene, joined me at the front door, we were surprised to find no one there. It was already dark, but my eyes fell on a large, exquisitely wrapped gift. The card on top said, “Mom.” Initially, it felt like a bad joke. Nine years earlier our son, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy had been arrested for murdering his wife’s first husband and he was in prison serving a life-without-the-possibility-of-parole sentence.

However, I am a “Mom” and the package was left on my doorstep, so I opened it. The note appeared to be in my son’s unique handwriting. The note expressed his deep love for me and his gratefulness for what I had done to help him since his arrest. He said a “friend” had helped him deliver the surprise. Opening the box, I discovered a gorgeous russet-colored silk jacket—and it fit me perfectly.

That night I discovered something new about God and something I had forgotten about myself. He loves to interject divine surprises into our lives. His timing is always perfect, but it had been a while since I had been surprised by joy, wonder, and grace in the middle of one of the tight spots of life.

What are “grace places,” and how can hurting people in need find them?

All of us experience tight spots when life turns out differently from our dream. When we face the overwhelming obstacles of life, we can experience the last thing we ever expect—the sweet spot of grace. Grace places have a variety of forms, but some include:

  • Receiving love when we don’t deserve it
  • Finding safety in the middle of a fearful and uncertain experience
  • Being comforted by friends and family (people who are extensions of God’s love)
  • Experiencing the embrace of God when we have run out of strength and courage

“Grace means the free, unmerited, unexpected love of God, and all the benefits, delights, and comforts which flow from it.” (R.P.C. Hanson)

How important are contentment and gratitude in finding grace and peace?

My son, Jason, is teaching me that I need to choose contentment and thanksgiving in all things. As an inmate in a maximum-security prison, all of his personal items must fit in one small one-foot-high and one-and a half-feet-deep and two-and-a half feet long steel lockbox. He has learned to live comfortably with very little, which brings him a surprising sense of peace.

When I was visiting him one weekend I asked how he holds on to hope in the middle of a life-without-the-possibility-of-parole sentence. He said, “Mom, I have a gratitude list. Whenever the clouds of depression try to discouragement, I get out a piece of paper and write down everything I have to be thankful for. I’m thankful I have two parents who will be my advocates for as long as they live. The average number of years a lifer gets visits is five years and then no one comes anymore. I’m also thankful I can be a missionary on a compound that houses up to 1,700 men.” I’m learning from Jason that I find contentment when I choose to be thankful and when I invest my time in helping other people.

What are some unexpected gestures of kindness you’ve received in the past, and how did they help you through difficult times?

A couple of years ago Jason’s appendix ruptured and he was rushed from the prison to a civilian hospital. Gene and I were not allowed to know where he was and I prayed for someone to care for him as a mother would. He had two armed guards in his room at all times. Nurse Betty was assigned to Jason’s care. She treated him with respect and extraordinary care—and I knew she was a direct answer to my prayers.

A group of people who called themselves our “Stretcher Bearers” received an e-mailed monthly update on how to help with our needs. We were blessed with meals, cards, and financial gifts, often just before we needed extra funds for the next legal payment. These amazing people waited with us for two and a half years through seven postponements of the trial.

How has your definition of adventure changed over the years, and why is it important to retain adventure in your life, despite your situation?

True adventure is seeing the potential of living for things that matter in the middle of your current circumstances. We had the adventure of launching a nonprofit organization that helps to empower our son to facilitate classes by having books and DVD teaching series sent to the prison. We also have the adventure of reaching out to other people who are in crisis, which brings purpose and deep meaning to our lives.

There is a theme of surprise throughout the book. What is one of the greatest surprises you’ve had?

The powerful story of Tammy Wilson and Matthew Ben Rodriguez is in this book. Tammy contacted me after I spoke at an event she attended because my son is incarcerated in the same prison where Matt, the man who killed her mother thirteen years ago is incarcerated. She had been praying for someone to lead Matt to Christ and asked if Jason would try to meet him. It turned out that Jason and Matt were already friends and this amazing story is one of forgiveness, redemption, and restoration that can only be explained in the supernatural dimension.

Between a Rock and a Grace Place releases 10 years after your son, Jason, was sentenced to life in a maximum security prison and includes excerpts from Jason’s letters. Can you tell us how he’s doing now?

He has just taken his 8th group of men through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Course and he will be facilitating a biblical counseling class on marriage and family this fall. He has a prayer group of twelve inmates who fast and pray for the needs of each other and their families. Prison is a depressing, dark, and sad place, but Jason is living for things that will outlast him.

When you received news about Jason’s clemency hearing being denied, how did you respond?

I wailed like a baby, sobbed, felt angry, hurt, and disappointed in God. Then we saw Jason a day after this devastating news. He was calm and very much at peace. He hugged me as I wept and said, “Mom, this case isn’t about having the best attorney or about having the favor of Florida’s top executive political leaders. If I am ever allowed to walk in freedom in this lifetime, it will be because God miraculously opened a door that was closed.” My son helps me to develop an eternal perspective and that day he comforted me.

What advice do you have for those who are stuck between a rock and a grace place?

In the middle of your own hurt reach out to someone else who needs help worse than you do. When you involve yourself in meeting the needs of others, you discover an unexpected freedom on the inside. Corrie ten Boom once said, “What did you do today that only a Christian would have done?”

As a result of your journey, you and your husband have founded the nonprofit organization Speak Up for Hope. What are the goals of the organization, and how can people get involved?

Our vision: To help inmates and their families adjust to their new normal.

Our mission: We exist to provide hope to inmates and their families through encouragement and resources.

Please go to www.speakupforhope.org for a list of practical ways individuals, churches, and organizations can help with specific projects. Our goal is to live out the truth of Prov. 31:8-9: “Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice. Stand up for the poor and destitute!”

Where may we connect with you further or to purchase a copy of Between a Rock and a Grace Place?

I would love for you to visit my web site at www.CarolKent.org, browse through the various events and other resources available. You may also join me on my Facebook page, please click here.

About the Book

From bestselling author Carol Kent comes a riveting journey of facing the impassible obstacles of life and discovering the last thing ever expected—the sweet spot of grace.

Carol Kent and her husband, Gene, are now living what some would call a heartbreaking life—their son, Jason, a young man who initially had so much promise, is now living out a life sentence for murder in a maximum security prison. All their appeals have been exhausted at both the state and federal levels—humanly speaking, they have run out of options. But despite their hopeless situation, Carol and her husband live a life full of grace. Kent reveals how life’s problems become fruitful affliction where we discover the very best divine surprises, including peace, compassion, freedom, and adventure. Through the Kent’s remarkable ongoing journey, Jason’s riveting letters from behind bars, and true “grace place” stories from the lives of others, Between a Rock and a Grace Place reveals that when seemingly insurmountable challenges crash into our lives, we can be transformed as we discover God at work in ways we never imagined. With vulnerable openness, irrepressible hope, restored joy, and a sense of humor, Carol Kent helps readers to find God’s “grace places” in the middle of their worst moments.

About the Author

Carol Kent is the bestselling author of When I Lay My Isaac Down and A New Kind of Normal. Carol is an expert on public speaking, writing, and on encouraging people to hold on to hope when life’s circumstances turn out differently from their dreams. She lives in Florida with her husband Gene.

Carol Kent is a popular international public speaker best known for being dynamic, humorous, encouraging, and biblical. She is a former radio show co-host and has often been a guest on Focus on the Family and a featured speaker at Time Out for Women and Heritage Keepers arena events. She has spoken at The Praise Gathering for Believers and at Vision New England’s Congress. She is also a frequent speaker at Women of Virtue events across the country.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by Zondervan in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Baby Bible Christmas Storybook by Robin Currie


The Baby Bible Christmas Storybook is a great way to introduce Scripture to little ones. Each page references one or two verses and tells the "story" of Jesus' birth. Additionally, hand motions, questions, gestures, etc. are prompted so the reader will involve babies/toddlers in the reading of the story. The book is very simple and the illustrations are cute. There are other books in this same series as well.

4 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this book from The B&B Media Group in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Little Town of Bethlehem

Little Town of Bethlehem is a documentary produced by EGM films, who also produced End of the Spear (2005). The film shines a light on a non-violence movement that is spreading through the Middle East. Three young men from completely different backgrounds are featured throughout the film. They tell their personal stories, talk about their families, and share their religious backgrounds.

I thought this was an interesting topic and, having recently been intrigued by other documentaries, was interested to watch this one. The film is a little slow at the beginning and was a little hard to follow throughout. However, after a little while, I felt like I was able to follow along a little more easily - although the story never really got off the ground. The three men brought different and unique perspectives to the table. They talked a lot about the difficulties that they faced, but were fairly matter-of-fact about these things. I did like the "insider's view" that the film presented and felt like I got past the tourist vantage point. It would have been helpful for me to have had a better grasp of the history of the conflicts in the Middle East over the past 30-40 years before watching this movie. If the goal is to bring awareness, I felt it assumed a good bit of previous knowledge and understanding. It probably would have been helpful for me to watch this with someone and discuss as we watched.

Check out the press release for more details about the content of the film.

3 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this film from The B&B Media Group in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Is Peace in the Middle East Really Possible?



There is no shortage of opinions, emotions, and actions regarding finding “peace in the Middle East.” While some are familiar with the issue and others are personally impacted by the conflict, many more are unaware, uninformed, and unconcerned about this critical global issue. Little Town of Bethlehem is a groundbreaking new documentary that shares the gripping story of three men—a Palestinian Muslim, a Palestinian Christian, and an Israeli Jew—born into violence and willing to risk everything to bring an end to violence in their lifetime.

Filmed on location in the West Bank, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, Little Town of Bethlehem brings awareness to a growing non-violent movement in the Middle East that rarely, if ever, makes international headlines.

Sami Awad is a Palestinian Christian whose grandfather was killed in Jerusalem in 1948. Today he is the executive director of Holy Land Trust, a non-profit organization that promotes Palestinian independence through peaceful means. Yonatan Shapira is an Israeli Jew whose grandparents were Zionist settlers who witnessed the birth of the Israeli nation. Today he is an outspoken advocate for the non-violent peace movement, both in his homeland and abroad. Ahmad Al' Azzah is a Palestinian Muslim who has lived his entire life in the Azzah refugee camp in Bethlehem. Today, Ahmad heads the non-violence program at Holy Land Trust, where he trains others in the methods of peaceful activism.

Little Town of Bethlehem honestly and respectfully shares Sami’s, Yonatan’s, and Ahmad’s stories. With all three men referencing both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi during individual interviews, it is clear that their words, thoughts, and actions on nonviolence are still profoundly impacting today’s nonviolent movement. The images of these three men standing firm in the face of overwhelming opposition are inspirational, but Little Town of Bethlehem is not just about inspiring viewers. The filmmakers also raise the question, “Can the cycle of violence be broken?”

Little Town of Bethlehem was produced by EthnoGraphic Media (EGM), an educational non-profit organization exploring the critical issues of our time. Other feature films and documentaries from EGM include The Grandfathers (2009), Miss HIV (2008), and the award-winning End of the Spear (2005) and Beyond the Gates of Splendor (2002).

Like all EGM films, Little Town of Bethlehem was created with a global youth audience in mind. But this film will connect with any viewer who desires a deeper understanding of conflict resolution. “The major themes in the film are universal and timeless. The desire to end violence through nonviolence is not a demographic phenomenon, though often it is youth that mobilize. The theme of this film is appropriate for anyone who deals with conflict. This hopeful message of equality is for all,” says Jim Hanon, chief creative officer at EGM and the film’s director. “Little Town of Bethlehem doesn’t focus on who’s right or who’s wrong. The focus is on three men from different places and with different backgrounds who struggle together toward this common goal through nonviolence. We feel that the nonviolent approach promoted by the film is a humanitarian message with the power to transcend religions, nations, politics, languages, and cultures.”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Mark of Love


Have you been “Marked?” The Mend Mark is a mission, a movement, an entire revolution. It is a bracelet meant to remind its wearers of Christ’s love and sacrifice, and its message is the passion of its creator, Hunter Harrison.

The Mend Mark is an innovative and distinctive bracelet that is designed to reflect the scars and nail holes of Jesus. When worn, the band resembles the deep holes of the nail driven into the wrists of Jesus during his crucifixion. By bringing the story of Jesus’ life and death to constant awareness by wearing a bracelet, Mend Mark is meant to powerfully remind wearers of the ultimate act of love Jesus made for all of humankind.

Harrison’s mission is to remind all to remember Christ’s love in both his life and death. But more than only a poignant recollection, the Mend Mark is meant to inspire and motivate wearers to live a life of service. Harrison strives to bring people together around the simplicity and power of love as lived by Jesus. But this is no example of passive love. The Mend Mark calls individuals in all walks of life to love with a profound sincerity and commitment great enough to change a neighborhood, a community, a world.

Harrison leads this call to love and sacrifice by example and joins hands with each Mend Mark bracelet purchaser to take the first step in global change. A portion of each bracelet sold goes to support Living Water International, an organization combating the clean water crisis victimizing over one billion people worldwide. Each $5,000 given will result in one well drilled, providing a community with clean water.

But wearers should be prepared to be seen. Unique in its design, the Mend Mark is sure to be noticed and gives wearers an opportunity to share the story of the profound love of Jesus for each and every person. “It was important to me that the design was simple and generic enough that the observer had to ask about it to know what it meant. But I also wanted it to appear distinctive enough that it sparked curiosity,” reveals creator Hunter Harrison. “I wanted it to require the wearer of the product to engage in conversation about the love of Christ (and hopefully show that love to others) instead of just letting the product talk for them.”

Launched in late 2009 after a year and a half of packaging, material, and design development by Harrison, the bracelet has been sold across the United States, Canada, and the UK and has been featured in retail stores as well. The Mend Mark bracelet movement has grown to further fame after being worn during performances by American Idol winner Lee Dewyze, Idol runner up Siobhan Magnus, Decifer Down, Israel Houghton & New Breed, Pillar, and Finding Favour, to name a few. Says Harrison, “I want it to be more than just another bracelet; I want it to represent a movement.” Based on the way things are going, a movement is exactly what it is becoming.

Sold online for $9.99. Contest for a free Mend Mark bracelet coming soon! :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sammy and His Shepherd: Seeing Jesus in Psalm 23 by Susan Hunt


What a sweet story! Sammy (a sheep) meets a new friend whose life isn't as great as his. Throughout the book, Sammy tells his friend how great his shepherd is, how he takes care of the flock, how he can trust him, etc. Each two-page chapter takes a sentence from Psalm 23 and uses Sammy's relationship with his shepherd to demonstrate our relationship with Christ.

Susan Hunt does a great job drawing the parallels between sheep and us. She clearly presents biblical principles and children will easily be able to understand the bigger message. Additionally a discussion guide for each chapter is provided at the end to help parents and teachers discuss the book with their kids. The illustrations by Cory Godbey are excellent as well.

5 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this book from Reformation Trust in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Code Triage by Candace Calvert


This may be the best book I've read all year - fiction wise, at least! Considering the number of books I've read this year, that's saying something!

Code Triage is the third book in Candace Calvert's Mercy Hospital series. (However, you don't necessarily need to read the first two to enjoy this one.) With only a week left until their divorce is final, Nick Stathos is still hopeful that he can save their marriage. Leigh on the other hand is trying to figure out how to move on. Further complicating matters, Samantha Gordon has fixed her sights on Nick and is determined to do whatever is necessary to win him over. A number of other challenges - including elderly neighbors in distress and a shoot-out in the hospital where Leigh works - draw Leigh and Nick together, but will they be able to overcome the issues that originally pushed them apart?

I love, love, loved this book. The storylines and Calvert's writing reminded me of Terri Blackstock and Dee Henderson. The characters were believable, and the way they dealt with their problems was pretty realistic. (I could see myself in them at times.) The book was fast-paced and kept me intrigued.

I will definitely go back and look for the first two books in this series!

5 stars (out of 5)

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Blog Tour: Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers

Interview with Francine Rivers

How has exploring the relationship between your mother and grandmother helped you understand yourself?

This is a question I would love readers to ask themselves at the end of Her Mother’s Hope. I realized early in the story that I have many of my grandmother and mother’s character traits, both good and bad. They both had tempers. So do I. They both had low self-esteem. I’m always striving to “measure up”. They both chose spouses who respected them. So did I. Both women had strong faith and servants’ hearts, something they encouraged in me. My mother extended grace to others -- a trait I want to cultivate to the end of my days. By holding onto her anger, Grandma lacked the peace and joy she could have had in her last years. I tend to relive past hurts. Writing about Marta made me decide to let go, forgive and move on. For whatever reason, Grandma couldn’t and missed out on so much joy in her last years. Sometimes people deeply hurt as children take offense where none was intended. Holding a grudge causes suffering, especially for the one who won’t let go. Jesus said to forgive one another as He has forgiven us. Forgiveness frees us, even if the other person refuses to join in the process of reconciliation. As I examine my own life, I see how much I’ve been forgiven. How can I not extend God’s grace to others? The best way to experience the fullness of God’s presence in my life is to surrender it to Him. And in that surrender, we are made more complete and joy-filled.

Mother-daughter relationships are often complicated and fraught with emotional land mines. What was your approach to exploring the complexity of those relationships in a fictional setting?

Questions, lots of questions! Every time I told someone I was working on a book about mother-daughter relationships, people wanted to share their family stories. As I wrote Her Mother’s Hope, I wanted readers to see through each woman’s eyes, and understand how the past shaped each in the way she responded to her mother. Hildemara doesn’t believe her mother loves her, but it is out of Marta’s pain and loss that tough-love techniques were forged. Marta wants to strengthen her daughter for whatever lies ahead. Sometimes what we view as rejection can actually be an act of sacrificial love. We seldom know the experiences that shaped our mothers, the deep hurts, traumatic events, broken relationships. I hope women who read this book will want to share those things with one another.

Writing a novel is not for the faint of heart. What was the most difficult part of writing this family saga? What came the most naturally to you?

The most difficult part of writing any novel is getting out of my own way. I have to get rid of preconceived notions about themes and characters and plot. The first draft of this novel came in at over 1000 pages and was too biographical. I wanted the story to shift back and forth from present to past, trying to show what happened to create the rifts and valleys between Hildemara, Carolyn and May Flower Dawn. I was too cautious, too afraid to harm to my grandmother and mother’s memory.

A wonderful editor wrote me an insightful letter in which she listed what she wanted to know about each the characters. Her letter got my creative juices flowing. She helped me look at the story in a new way. I set the first manuscript aside and started over. I found it better to move from one generation to the next in a linear story. This time the characters followed my grandmother and mother’s timeline, but took on a life of their own. They became unique individuals rather than the shadow of real people.

After readers finish this series what do you want them to remember? What questions and feelings do you want it to provoke on a spiritual and emotional level?

I hope and pray readers who have had difficult relationships with their mothers or daughters will let go of the pain and anger and allow God to work in their lives. God can work all things together for good for those who trust and love Him. Following Jesus’ example changes the way we see people. It changes the way we relate to one another. Even when the chasm is too deep to cross, we can decide to forgive. Some people wear grievances like a dirty coat. With God’s strength, we can strip it off and be free. When people finish reading Her Daughter’s Dream, I hope they will want to extend God’s grace and forgiveness. I hope they will tear down their walls and use their life experiences to begin building a bridge.

Who do you see as the audience for this story, and does that differ from your previous readership?

I am fortunate to work with Tyndale House. If a writer does well in one genre, publishers encourage the writer to continue in the same genre. Tyndale has given me the freedom to go wherever the story leads. I have done historical as well as contemporary. This two-part saga was intended to be one LONG book. Splitting the story into two parts made it more affordable for readers, and eliminated the need to delete entire sections. Hopefully, both women and men will enjoy Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream. Men play a strong role in the lives of all four primary characters: Marta, Hildemara Rose, Carolyn and May Flower Dawn. And both books have much to do with faith, how it presents itself, how it grows, often under difficult circumstances and in unexpected ways.

Where may we connect with you further or to purchase a copy of HER DAUGHTER'S DREAM?

I would love for you to visit my web site at www.FrancinceRivers.com, browse through the various events and other resources available, as well as sign up for my mailing list. You may also join me on my Facebook page, please click here.

About the Book

Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers
In the dramatic conclusion to the New York Times best seller Her Mother’s Hope, Francine Rivers delivers a rich and deeply moving story about the silent sorrows that can tear a family apart and the grace and forgiveness that can heal even the deepest wounds.

Growing up isn’t easy for little Carolyn Arundel. With her mother, Hildemara, quarantined to her room with tuberculosis, Carolyn forms a special bond with her oma Marta, who moves in to care for the household. But as tensions between Hildie and Marta escalate, Carolyn believes she is to blame. When Hildie returns to work and Marta leaves, Carolyn and her brother grow up as latchkey kids in a world gripped by the fear of the Cold War.

College offers Carolyn the chance to find herself, but a family tragedy shatters her newfound independence. Rather than return home, she cuts all ties and disappears into the heady counterculture of San Francisco. When she reemerges two years later, more lost than ever, she reluctantly turns to her family to help rebuild a life for her and her own daughter, May Flower Dawn.

Just like Carolyn, May Flower Dawn develops a closer bond with her grandmother, Hildie, than with her mother, causing yet another rift between generations. But as Dawn struggles to avoid the mistakes of those who went before her, she vows that somehow she will be a bridge between the women in her family rather than the wall that separates them forever.

Spanning from the 1950s to present day, Her Daughter’s Dream is the emotional final chapter of an unforgettable family saga about the sacrifices every mother makes for her daughter—and the very nature of unconditional love.

About the Author


Francine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in English and journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market, and her books were highly acclaimed by readers and reviewers. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, a mother of three, and an established romance novelist.

Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. First published by Bantam Books and then re-released by Multnomah Publishers in the mid-1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea, set during the time of the California Gold Rush, is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction. Redeeming Love continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association's top-selling titles, and it has held a spot on the Christian best-seller list for nearly a decade.

Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous novels with Christian themes—all best sellers—and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous honors, including the RITA Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, and the Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In 1997, after winning her third RITA Award for inspirational fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers of America's Hall of Fame. Francine's novels have been translated into over 20 different languages, and she enjoys best-seller status in many foreign countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, and South Africa.

Francine and her husband, Rick, live in northern California and enjoy time spent with their three grown children and taking every opportunity to spoil their grandchildren. Francine uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and she desires that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by the Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.

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