Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In the Spirit of Spreading the Christmas Spirit

Well . . . I have never before participated in any sort of reading / book challenges before. Today, that is changing . . . twice!

Yep. I'm participating in two challenges during the month of December. Won't you join me?!
First up, Christmas in July, in December hosted by Wall-to-Wall Books.

The Challenge:
  • Read only (or as many as you can) Christmas books during the month of December.
  • Do at least one Christmasy giveaway during December.
  • Books read during December 1-31, 2011 qualify.
She also posted a list of books that she plans to read during December, so if you need ideas of Christmas books, you might want to check it out.

The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge

Next, The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge hosted by the True Book Addict at The Christmas Spirit.

The Challenge:
  • Read Christmas books (novels, craft books, short stories, poems, etc.). Pretty much anything related to Christmas counts!
  • If you want to post reviews or progress updates, there is a linky list available for that.
  • Challenge Levels:
    • Candy Cane: 1 book
    • Mistletoe: 2-4 books
    • Christmas Tree: 5-6 books
    • Fa La La La Films: Christmas movies count for this one! (optional)
    • Visions of Sugar Plums: Books read with your kiddos count for this one. Great idea! (optional)
  • Books read during November 21-January 6 count so stretch the fun out!
These are right up my alley. Not a lot of rules to complicate things. And really low minimum requirements. Plus, I was love reading Christmas books and this will be a little extra motivation to actually do it!

Happy Reading!

We have a winner!

Wow . . . so sorry for the delay in announcing the winner of the God Makes Lemonade giveaway! I'm sure you can understand the craziness of the holidays, being out of town, and work.

First of all, let me say THANK YOU to all three of you who entered. I can tell that you truly care about your friends who are struggling right now. I'll be praying for them and for you as you minister to them.

However, there can only be one winner.

Congratulations to Janice!

I hope you, Melissa, and Karen enjoy the book!

I'll get the books out to you right away. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

Just in time for Christmas (and free to download as an e-book right now!), here's my teaser from Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson.

"Please," he said quietly. "Just stay for dinner. I don't care whether you forgive my rudeness or not. In fact, you can completely ignore me. But for my mother's sake, stay." (pg. 68)

Random Bits & Pieces

I've had several things swirling through my head over the last few days. So, instead of trying to figure out how to work in several posts, you're getting them all in one. :)

I haven't posted Friday's Freebies in a while because truthfully there haven't been many (if any) new freebies out there. Today, however, I found one that I just had to share with you. Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson. I am actually about halfway through it right now (courtesy of the public library!) and this one is definitely a keeper! You can download from Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, or anywhere else ebooks are sold.

Katie from Legacy of a Writer has a giveaway going on right now for a copy of Sandra Byrd's To Die For. I'm looking forward to reading this one, so be sure to check out the giveaway!

Katie is also thinking about hosting a book swap of sorts on her blog. If you're interested in participating and cleaning out your book shelves, let her know so she can include you!

Karen Kingsbury (you know, the author of The Bailey Flanigan series!) posted a really fun book sharing idea on her Facebook page yesterday (11/28/2011 at 9:13 am). Basically, she wants to connect readers who have a copy of Longing that they would be willing to share with someone with a reader who would like to read the book but can't afford it. Great idea, huh?! My copy was an advanced e-galley so I can't participate, but if you are interested check out the details on Facebook.

I'm working on a fun little Christmas quiz. Hoping to post it sometime this month. If I do, you have to promise to participate!

I'm also thinking about a couple of other things to possibly do this month to help us connect a little better. I mean, I love seeing that lots of people are out there reading (thanks, stats!), but I'd love to have a bit more interaction with everyone from time to time.

Okay. That's enough for me. I'm sure it's enough for you ... if you're still reading! Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Christmas Angel

I recently learned about a fantastic new way of teaching children about the true meaning behind Christmas. You know - Christ ... and giving. Not presents ... and getting. It's called The Christmas Angel. I reached out to Lisa and Patrick Dorough, the creators, and Lisa was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
Patrick and I have been married for 11 years and have 3 kids:  Riley (6) , Cooper (5) and Hudson (2)  We live in Alabaster, AL and attend Westwood Baptist Church.

What's the story behind The Christmas Angel?
As a parent there is nothing more exciting than watching your little ones get hyped-up about Christmas. You anxiously wait for this moment, from the time they are born…and then that special time finally arrives. Your children become eager to help put up the Christmas tree, string up colorful outdoor lights, and listen to catchy Christmas tunes. This is our story; this is our tale to tell: Our oldest daughter was four years old, and our middle son was three, and they were pumped for what Christmas had in store. As any good parent would do, we thought of all the possible fun and creative traditions we could start with our children. We specifically wanted ideas that would make an impact on their childhood. STRESS!!! We scattered our memories of our own personal childhood traditions, and also discussed with our closest friends, what they did for their children. On a four hour car trip to the coast, my husband and I started brainstorming. We talked about Santa, elves, making homemade candies and cakes, but there was one thing we both agreed on. We wanted to teach our children the true meaning of Christmas, and instill in them values that would last a lifetime. Before you know it, The Christmas Angel idea literally fell into our laps! I jotted our creative thoughts onto a notepad that I was using for last minute gift ideas. The concept was certainly God-inspired, and this inspiration will stay in our hearts forever.  What an amazing opportunity we have as parents to instill values and principles into our children. The Christmas season is about a precious story to celebrate a gift that none of us deserve, but have an opportunity to receive. The birth of Jesus is the greatest example of love. So how can we show the same love to others? Simply by putting others before ourselves. We should help our children focus on giving rather than receiving, for that is the true spirit of Christmas.

How can people use The Christmas Angel with their children?
Each morning The Christmas Angel will visit our kids during the Christmas season and leave them a message in her golden dust. Each message is something for that child (children) to do for someone else.

What do people get when they purchase The Christmas Angel?
A keepsake tin, a plush Christmas Angel, an illustrated book and a pouch of golden dust

What do you hope children will take away from the story?
That the reason we celebrate Christmas is because the amazing gift of Jesus and how we can share that gift with others.

What do you hope parents will take away from the experience?
Being intentional with their children to teach giving and to create memories with their children that are of eternal value.

What were some of your favorite Christmas traditions as a child? With your children now?
Decorating the tree, listing to Christmas music and putting up the manager scene. Every Christmas Eve my dad would take us to buy my mother her Christmas gift.

What has been the most rewarding thing to come out of The Christmas Angel for you and your family?
A lady emailed us saying that the golden dust reminded her of the verse Matthew  15:4  "you are the light of the world"  The verse talks about our job as Christians is to bring light to this dark world.  As you play out the Christmas Angel and children start focusing on others/ less fortunate and what an impact they will have on this dark world. Patrick and I didn't want people to get caught up in the "product" so when we received this email it was awesome that someone saw the intent of why we are doing what we are doing!

Where can people purchase The Christmas Angel?
There is a list of retailers on our website. You can also purchase on our website or at your local Books-A-Million store.

How can people keep up with what you are doing?
Our website:
Facebook: The Christmas Angel

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Our hopes and dreams is that this product helps restore the spirit of Christmas one message at a time. One day the imagination of Santa and elves will go away. Although  the angel playing out "messages" will go away to  the tradition and the heart  of giving has been formed and THAT will never go away.....pretty awesome if you think about it!

The Christmas Angel is a brand new product. If you haven't heard about it yet, it's because this is the first Christmas that it's been around! I hope you'll help me spread the word!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Guest Blogger: Tricia Goyer

I'm thrilled to host Tricia Goyer as a guest blogger at iblog4books today! If you haven't had a chance to read her latest book Remembering You, be sure to check it out soon! You can read my review here. Please give Tricia a warm welcome and leave her a nice comment or two!
In the last ten years since I started interviewing veterans for my WWII novels, most have passed away. Some of them—realizing their days on earth were coming to an end—returned to Europe one last time with their family members to walk along paths they've never forgotten. Those trips inspired my most recent novel, Remembering You.

One of the most amazing experiences was when I received an email from a woman named Hana. She'd heard of my book and knew I'd interviewed some of the veterans. She asked if I'd interviewed any medics. Then she told me an amazing story. Hana was born on a cart just outside of Mauthausen. Her mother had survived being a prisoner of another camp and was transported to Mauthausen at the end of the war.

Hana was just three weeks old when the Americans arrived, and she was very ill. Because of the filthy conditions she got a skin infection and sores covered her body. No one expected her to live. Yet one of the medics saw the small baby and knew he had to do something. Even though it took most of the day, he lanced and cleaned all Hana's sores, saving her life. Over the years she'd wanted to find the medic, but didn't know where to start.

I was amazed by Hana's story and told her I knew one medic—maybe he remembered who that man was. I gave Hana the contact information and I soon heard the good news. My friend LeRoy “Pete” Petersohn was the medic who'd saved her life! The two were soon reunited! After all these years Hana was able to look into the eyes of the man who saved her and thanked him. After all these years Pete was able to meet the woman he saved. “Baby!” he called out when he met her.

Remembering You is a work of fiction, but the experiences of the men are true. The experiences of the main character, Ava, are also true-to-life. I was busy with life when God pointed me to an amazing story, and to even more amazing men. I'm so thankful I took time to listen and care. I'm so thankful I allowed these men to share what … and who … they remembered most.

Tricia Goyer is a homeschooling mom of four and an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in national magazines. She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia's written numerous novels inspired by World War II veterans, including her new release Remembering You. Tricia lives with her husband and four children in Arkansas. You can find out more information about Tricia at her website.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!!! Praying everyone has a wonderful day and takes time to give thanks to the One who gives us all things!

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blog Tour: Remembering You by Tricia Goyer

Oh. My. Word. I just finished the last page of Remembering You by Tricia Goyer. I'm not sure that words can adequately express my thoughts on this book!

Grandpa Jack and Grand-Paul and their grandchildren Ava and Dennis reunite for a tour of Europe to visit the sites where they first became friends 67 years ago in the midst of World War II. As they reminisce about the war, they all realize that in order to move forward to the future, you have to be freed from the past.

This is an amazing story of love, loss, regret, family, friends, faith, and forgiveness. Tricia Goyer has an uncanny way of telling a story. The way she weaves together the past and present is dynamite. I felt as thought I was traveling through Europe with the foursome.

By the time, I reached the end of the book, I realized that I was thinking about the men who fought in World War II in a whole new light. They have always seemed so "old" and I've never really realized that most of them were teenagers or young men fighting such a terrible war. Goyer was able to show Grandpa Jack and Grand-Paul as (old) men who were still deeply affected by their actions in war - both good and bad - 67 years later.

I think more than even the amazing stories of war, though, I enjoyed the relationships in the story. Between two old friends. Between grandfathers and grandchildren. Between a man and woman who thought love was lost. The relationships are exceptional and realistic enough to make me talk out loud to the characters (only once or twice!).

Remembering You is one of the most powerful stories I have read this year. Powerful enough to make me laugh and cry and to give me a desire to listen to my grandparents' stories a little more closely.

If you're interested in what others are saying or want to purchase a copy of the book, click the links! And plan to stop back by on Friday when Tricia will be guest blogging on iblog4books!

I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity and the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Book
35-year-old Ava Andrews' dream job is interrupted by an unusual request--fulfill her 84-year-old grandfather's last wish by joining him on a battle site tour of Europe. Ava is sure her boss will refuse her request. But, instead, he gives her a directive of his own--to videotape the tour and send it back as mini-segments for the show she produces.

As if juggling these two things isn't hard enough, Ava is soon surprised again ... twice. First, Ava and Grandpa Jack arrive in Europe, only to discover the tour is cancelled. Unwilling to let down her grandfather or her boss, Ava and Grandpa Jack head out on their own. Then, while they're on their way, the pair soon meet up with Paul, her grandpa's best friend, and his grandson Dennis. The same Dennis who just happens to be Ava's first love.

Before she knows it, Ava and Dennis are swept down memory lane as they visit the sites that are discussed in the history books. And even though Ava's videotaping old soldiers, she can see their youth, their hopes and fears, and their pride in their eyes. Soon Ava learns the trip isn't just for them ... it's for her too--especially for her heart.

Read an excerpt, watch a video and find out more here.

About the Author
Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, 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 in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. On Tricia's weekly radio show, Living Inspired, she shares stories of inspiration and encouragement. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. For more about Tricia and her other books visit her website.

Win a Kindle Touch for YOU and a Friend from Tricia Goyer!

Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her novel, Remembering You, with a KINDLE Touch Giveaway for you ... and for the friend of your choice. Then on 11/29 she'll be wrapping up the release of Remembering You with a Book Chat Party!

During the first half of the party Tricia will be chatting, sharing a sneak peek of her next book, and giving away a ton of great stuff. Then she'll head over to her website for a Live Chat! Readers will be able to chat with Tricia via video or text.

Don't miss your chance to win a Kindle Touch for yourself ... and to "remember" a friend this holiday with a Kindle Touch for them!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Kindle Touch and a Kindle Touch for a Friend (winner's choice!) 
  • A copy of Remembering You by Tricia Goyer for each
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 29th. Winner will be announced at Remembering You Facebook Party on 11/29. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away copies of her other WWII books and gift certificates to Starbucks and So grab your copy of Remembering You and join Tricia on the evening of the 29th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How much do you know about WWII?) and lots of giveaways.
Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

This week's teaser is a bit different. Of course, I hope that it will still intrigue you enough to read the book, but I just loved this quote!

Also, most of the time, being chosen means accepting the pain with the joy and knowing the joy is greater because the pain was there. 
Remembering You
by Tricia Goyer
p. 293

Are you curious to learn more about the book? Come back tomorrow for my review!

Longing by Karen Kingsbury

TODAY is the release date for Karen Kingsbury's latest novel Longing. In honor of the release ... here's my review!

Karen Kingsbury has done it again. She has written a book that made me laugh, cry, and think about my relationship with God in a new way. Certainly not an easy feat!

I just finished reading Longing, the third books in the Bailey Flanigan series. And just before this one, I read Learning so I would be all caught up. I finished both of them in three days, so I think you could safely say that I enjoyed them. (Grin.)

I was immediately drawn into the story and am not sure how I will be able to wait until March for the final book in the series. Karen has a unique way of telling a story in such a way that you feel like you’re friends with the characters. I found myself conflicted as Bailey examined her relationships with Cody and Brandon. I thought I was a Cody fan, but I’m now officially rooting for Bailey and Brandon. Hopefully, Cody will be able to find a love that will change his life too.

I love the way that Bailey’s relationship with the Lord truly does impact every aspect of her life – family, work, love, friends. Every part of her is different because she relies on the Lord to lead her. Challenging for sure. The way that God speaks to her by bringing Scripture to mind as she wrestles through problems is such an encouragement to really get in the Word.

The relationship between Bailey and the cast of Hairspray was definitely unique. What a great testimony to how important it is to consistently speak up for and live for Christ – especially in the most difficult places. The difference in her relationship with her castmates from Learning to Longing was remarkable, and it was thrilling to see how some of those relationships continued to change in Longing!

I realize that this seems a bit all over the place, but let me just say that I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of Longing (and Learning too). The tension between Bailey and Cody and Brandon was torturous at times, and even now I’m not sure of how exactly the story will conclude. I can’t wait to read the final installment when it comes out in March.

I highly recommend Longing and the entire Bailey Flanigan series. I think it would be super helpful to start at the beginning of the series so you won’t miss out on what all’s going on. And if you want to start at the very beginning, then start with the Redemption, Firstborn, Sunrise, and Above the Line series before moving onto this one. (I’ve read them all . . . you won’t be disappointed!)

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

About the Book
Longing, book three in the Bailey Flanigan Series, picks up where Learning ended. After a long and lonely silence from Cody Coleman, Bailey Flanigan becomes closer to her one-time Hollywood co-star, Brandon Paul. Nights on the town in New York City and long talks on the balcony of Brandon's Malibu Beach home make Bailey dizzy with new feelings and cause her to wonder if her days with Cody are over forever.

About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America’s favorite inspirational novelist, with nearly 20 million books in print. Her Life-Changing Fiction™ has produced multiple bestsellers, including Unlocked, Leaving, Take One, Between Sundays, Even Now, One Tuesday Morning, Beyond Tuesday Morning, and Ever After, which was named the 2007 Christian Book of the Year. An award-winning author and newly published songwriter, Karen has several movies optioned for production, and her novel Like Dandelion Dust was made into a major motion picture, now available on DVD. Karen is also a nationally known speaker with several women’s groups including Women of Faith. She lives in Tennessee with her husband, Don, their daughter and five sons, three of whom are adopted from Haiti.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blog Tour: The House of Hope by Elisabeth Gifford

Robin and Joyce Hill and their family had a vision for taking care of sick orphans in China. Taking children into their home (in beds in the dining room) eventually turned into opening Hope Foster Home. Many of the children they took in were medically fragile and either needed someone to take care of them in the final days of their lives or until they were well enough to be adopted. To date, they have cared for over 1000 orphans.

What a great story about real people who overcame numerous obstacles to find their way to the ministry God had for them. The book begins by telling about the families that Robin and Joyce grew up in. Knowing their challenges makes you appreciate the way they have given their lives over to God even more!

I especially enjoyed the stories of the children they have cared for. Reading Katherine's story and how loved this dying little orphan-girl was was especially touching. Having worked in an orphanage myself and cared for a baby who died made this story all the more real to me.

More than just a moving story, though, this book will challenge you to examine your life and ask God what He is asking YOU to do. The Hills have an amazing testimony of faith and obedience. I can't wait to share The House of Hope with others!

An additional bonus of purchasing a copy of the book is that 100% of the proceeds goes to help fund the work at Hope Foster Home. Visit the website for more information.

Read what other bloggers are saying or go ahead and buy a copy of the book!

I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity and Monarch Books in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Book
One couple’s powerful ministry to some of China’s most vulnerable children.

Robin and Joyce Hill lived in a gated community in Beijing. Their family’s life was marked by luxury and the security of Robin's job as an engineer. Then one day, as members of their church, they had a chance to tour a state-run orphanage. Haunted by the needs of the children they saw there, for the next four years they tried to help the institute in meaningful ways.

In 1998 the Hills planned to leave China, but instead felt a sudden call from God on their lives. They left their gated community--reserved for only non-Chinese residents--moved their family into a small apartment miles outside of Beijing and immediately began to take in foster children.

They took in any child, but especially those that needed extra care—terminally ill children that couldn't receive care elsewhere, and those that needed complicated and expensive surgeries that the Hills soon began to coordinate and sometimes pay for out of their own savings.

What began as Hope Foster Home is now New Hope Foundation. As they continue their work, the Hills enjoy support from major corporations and high-profile philanthropists as well as the trust of the Chinese authorities. The Hills' story is an inspiring example of God's care and provision for those whom society does not value. Learn more about Hope Foster Homes here.

About the Author
Elisabeth Gifford is a journalist who has written for the London Times and the Independent Newspapers. She lives in Kingston, England, and teaches children with dyslexia.  

What Others Are Saying
"I strongly support Robin and Joyce Hill's New Hope Foundation which is saving so many orphan lives in China. Read this amazing story of God's grace and accept the challenge to make a difference!"
-- Steven Curtis Chapman

"I had the privilege of going to China and witnessing the work that God is doing through Robin and Joyce Hill. They are wonderful servants of God who lovingly care for the 'least of these.' I hope that many will read this book and consider their example."
-- Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love

The publisher is sponsoring a $50 "GET / GIVE" GIVEAWAY. One winner will receive a $50 gift certificate for themselves AND $50 will be given in the winner's name to Hope Foster Home.

To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using #HFH) about The House of Hope or share about it on Facebook! If you tweet using #HFH, you'll be automatically entered. If you share on Facebook or your blog, email the publicist and let them know.

Easy peasy. Good luck!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blog Tour: The Art of Helping by Lauren Littauer Briggs

All of us want to offer comfort and support to someone who is hurting, but we often don’t know what to say or do. The Art of Helping—What to Say and Do When Someone is Hurting addresses 30 of the most common heartaches people face and takes away your fear of involvement by helping you understand what people are feeling and going through. From over 100 interviews and her own life experiences, author Lauren Briggs shares proven advice and offers practical help with a list of what to say— and do.

Why should I read The Art of Helping?

Do you know someone who is facing a crisis and wondered what you could do to help?  Have you ever faced a difficult time and wished your family and friends knew what you were going through and knew how to help you?

I found that during my darkest hours, no one knew how much I was hurting, what I was going through or how they might help.

This is a book you’ll want to read before you need it—so that you will have ideas of what you can do and how you can respond—when you first hear the news. We want to help our family and friends through the hard times, but the right words or actions just don’t come to mind. The Art of Helping will give you the tools and enable you to turn thoughts into action.

How will The Art of Helping change me?

The Art of Helping is your go to book when life gets tough. It is a social Bible filled with concrete, tangible action items to empower you to make a difference at times when we would otherwise feel helpless. When people get this book in their hands, they always say, “How I wish I had this book when my friend needed help.”

What are some basic Do’s and Don’ts I need to know?

DON’T wait before you make contact.
DO Respond as soon as you hear the news.

DON’T SAY “If there’s anything you need, give me a call.”
DO Offer a specific thing you can do.

DON’T put pressure on yourself to do something you don’t like to do.
DO use your gifts and talents to help.

DON’T minimize what they are going through.
DO offer caring statements of acknowledgement.

DON’T ASK “When will you be your old self again? or Aren’t you over it yet?”
DO understand that once their life is touched by tragedy, they will never be their “old self” again. They will eventually reach a “new normal” but life will never be the same.

What are some of your favorite creative suggestions in The Art of Helping?
  • A mother of two young children picked up a hurting family’s laundry on Mondays, took it home and returned it all laundered and folded on Thursdays.  
  • A man volunteered to come mow the lawn once a week and do some simple “honey do” chores. 
  • My sons brought their game boy to the hospital for a friend going through chemo therapy. Every few days they would bring a different game to swap.
How can I learn more about The Art of Helping?

The Art of Helping is reshaping the way people reach out to others. To view more information, visit my website: You can follow me on Facebook as Lauren Littauer Briggs and on Twitter as @Laurenbrgs. The Art of Helping is available in e-book and paperback formats through If you would like an autographed copy of The Art of Helping, email me at

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Guest Blogger: Don Jacobson

I'm honored to host guest blogger Don Jacobson today. Don is my first (and hopefully not my last!) guest blogger.  Don has twenty-five years of experience in the publishing industry, including being the president of Multnomah Publishers. He oversaw the production of more than one thousand titles and has worked with best-selling authors such as Randy Alcorn, Joni Erickson Tada, Henry Blackaby, Robin Jones Gunn, Karen Kingsbury, Andy Stanley, Burce Wilkinson, and James Dobson. Please help me welcome Don to iblog4books . . . and be sure to stay until the end for a fun announcement!

These days I meet a lot of discouraged people. Times are tough. You probably know folks in your inner circle, as I do, facing struggles like unemployment, debt, medical concerns, lack of access to education, military deployment of loved ones, divorce, anxiety, depression...the list goes on and on. Maybe you’re facing some of those lemons too.

I was swapping stories with some friends and we were talking about times when we felt burned out, frustrated, and alone. Then a funny thing happened: our conversation switched to stories about the remarkable things that have happened in our times of great need—the perfect job at just the right time, an anonymous donation, reconciliation with a loved one. I was so encouraged. Sometimes it’s when we think life can’t get any more sour that something sweet surprises us with hope.

Even when we can’t physically fix the problems in our friends’ lives—and if we can, we should!—we can always give each other the gift of encouraging stories. You may not be able to help pay your friend’s medical bills or provide a job, but you can talk about the times in your life when you unexpectedly discovered hope.

I call those lemonade stories, and I recently created a book project called God Makes Lemonade to share hope across America. I’ve read hundreds of true stories about everyday folks who are surprised by unexpected sweetness in the midst of sour circumstances…and more stories are arriving on my desk every day.

As a result of God Makes Lemonade, we’re spreading hope by supporting a better quality of life for single moms and their children too. When my wife and I were talking about a worthy cause where we could send the royalties from the book, nothing made sense to us like giving those royalties toward supporting single moms. They endure more stress and heartache than most of us can imagine—I really believe single moms and their children are the widows and orphans of our day and I love being able to support them in this way.

If you need some encouragement or if you know someone else who does, take some time today to think about your story. When were you afraid things would never work out? When were you surprised by hope? Do you have a lemonade story? Share it. There are millions of people out there who need hope and inspiration.

Don Jacobson is the creator of Lemonade Books, a series of books that tell true stories about everyday folks discovering something sweet amidst sour circumstances. He’d love to hear your story and he pays for stories approved to be published in future books. Find out how to purchase a copy of God Makes Lemonade or submit your story at their website. Also, follow God Makes Lemonade on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway Details!
Don and the folks over at God Makes Lemonade are so excited about their new book that they are allowing me to give away two copies! In order to enter, comment on this post and tell me the first name (only!) of someone you know who could use the encouragement of hearing some lemonade stories. If I choose your name, I will send a copy to you AND to the person you mentioned in your post. Sound like a good deal?!

The giveaway will continue through 11:59pm on Wednesday, November 23. I can only ship to U.S. addresses, so sorry to all my international friends! Make sure to leave an email address in your comment so I can get in touch with you. One winner (and his/her friend) will be randomly selected after the period to enter is over.

UPDATE on 11/20/2011: I heard today that there may be some issues with the comment function on this post. I've checked the comment settings and things seem to be in order. If you have trouble leaving a comment, email me at iblog4books (at) gmail [dot] com and I'll take your entry that way. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Friday's [Almost] Freebies

So there aren't really any new freebies this week, but I wanted to point you to a couple of great sales that are going on at Family Christian and LifeWay. These aren't free, but they are great deals!

Family Christian is having their 50% off books deal for 40+ titles. These include several that I've read (and reviewed) recently, so don't miss the chance to get them at half-price! These deals end TODAY.

LifeWay is also having some great sales on books. Check out this list of titles included in their $5 fiction sale (ends Nov. 26) and their $5 Christmas book sale (not sure when this ends)! You can't go wrong with a $5 book ... and you might find some great Christmas gifts!

Hope you have a great weekend! Happy shopping!

* I was not requested to post about these deals. I am not receiving any compensation from any stores, publishers, or authors. I just love a good deal and wanted to pass it along!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

We've Got a Winner!

Congratulations to Michelle!
[samc3dp@ ...]

You are the winner of this month's (in)courage giveaway!

(I've emailed the coupon code to you, so let me know if you didn't get the email.)

Have a great time shopping in the Dayspring store!

Thanks to everyone else who stopped by and to those who entered. I'm hosting another fun giveaway that starts tomorrow (Friday), so be sure to stop back by and check it out.

[FIRST Wildcard Tour] 40 Days to Better Living: Depression

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Barbour Books (November 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings – The B&B Media Group – for sending me a review copy.***

This little Reader's Digest sized book really packs a punch. Highlighting the 7-step Model for Healthy Living, the Church Health Center provides a balanced way at looking at personal health. This edition focuses on depression. Other issues focus (or will focus) on hypertension, weight management, diabetes, aging, among others.

The book consists of six weeks worth of daily lessons. Each week features a story of a real person struggling with depression. Each day features a morning reflection, questions to think through about faith, medical, movement, work, family and friends, nutritional, and emotions, and an evening wrap-up. Each day's "lesson" is around four pages in length.

I appreciated the balanced view of health. Health is not just about what we eat and how much exercise we get. It's so much more than that, and this book does a great job of helping you explore all aspects of having a healthy lifestyle. The questions are all fairly simple and easy, so one day's exercise could take as much or as little time as you wanted to put into it. I also liked how each day was just one step more on the journey to good health ... a few stretches, starting a journal, drinking water, etc. All were simple and easy steps and totally manageable because you were doing them one at a time. It seems that a lot of "health" resources encourage setting really huge goals (running a marathon or losing 50 pounds or being vegetarian or whatever) which seem so unattainable and impossible. This "plan" actually seems feasible. Overall, I feel like I have a few new tools to help me combat the winter doldrums and look forward to several future titles in this series.

*NOTE: If you are struggling with depression, I recommend this resource, but I would also highly encourage you to find a trusted friend, family member, pastor, counselor and talk with them about your struggles. Don't try to deal with this alone!

Depression is a serious condition—and 40 Days to Better Living: Depression provides clear, manageable steps for people to manage it, through life-changing attitudes and actions. Readers can select one or more elements of the 7-step Model for Healthy Living—Faith, Medical, Movement, Work, Emotional, Family and Friends, and Nutrition—and follow the 40-day plan to improve their lives, just a bit, day by day. With plenty of practical advice, biblical encouragement, and stories of real people who’ve taken the same journey, this book—from the Church Health Center in Memphis, the largest faith-based clinic of its type in the U.S.—may be one of the most important books your customers will read this year.

The 40 Days to Better Living series offers clear, manageable steps to life-changing attitudes and actions in a context of understanding and grace for all people at all points on the journey to optimal health. With plenty of practical advice, spiritual encouragement, and real stories of those who have found a better life, this simple and skillfully crafted book inspires readers to customize their own path to wellness by using the 7-Step Model for Healthy Living as a guide:

· Nutrition: pursuing smarter food choices and eating habits

· Friends and family: giving and receiving support through relationships

· Emotional life: understanding feelings and managing stress to better care for yourself

· Work: appreciating your skills, talents, and gifts

· Movement: discovering ways to enjoy physical activity

· Medical care: partnering with health care providers to optimize medical care

· Faith life: building a relationship with God, neighbors, and self

Along with tips from the Model for Healthy Living, the easy-to-read format features a Morning Reflection and an Evening Wrap-Up as well as a place for documenting plans, progress, and perspectives. Targeted scriptures and prayers that undergird the focus of each day’s message make this compact book an excellent choice for a daily devotional.

Subsequent titles in the Better Living series will be released bi-monthly and address key health topics including hypertension, diabetes, depression, weight management, stress management, aging, and addiction. All promise substantial support to those who are ready for a newer, better way of living—body and spirit.

From the time Scott Morris was just a teenager, he knew he would do two things with his future—serve God and work with people. Growing up in Atlanta, he felt drawn to the Church and at the same time drawn to help others, even from a very young age. It was naturally intrinsic, then, that after completing his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia he went on to receive his M.Div. from Yale University and finally his M.D. at Emory University in 1983.

After completing his residency in family practice, Morris arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1986 without knowing a soul, but determined to begin a health care ministry for the working poor. He promptly knocked on the doors of St. John’s Methodist Church and Methodist Hospital in Memphis inviting them to help, and then found an old house to refurbish and renovate. By the next year, the Church Health Center opened with one doctor—Dr. Scott Morris—and one nurse. They saw twelve patients the first day and Morris began living his mission to reclaim the Church’s biblical commitment to care for our bodies and spirits.

From the beginning, Morris saw each and every patient as a whole person, knowing that without giving careful attention to both the body and soul the person would not be truly well. So nine years after opening the Church Health Center, he opened its Hope & Healing Wellness Center. Today the Church Health Center has grown to become the largest faith-based clinic in the country of its type having cared for 60,000 patients of record without relying on government funding. The clinic handles more than 36,000 patient visits a year while the wellness center, which moved to its current 80,000-square-foot location on Union Avenue in 2000, serves more than 120,000 member visits each year. Fees are charged on a sliding scale based on income. Visit the author's website.

AND NOW...THE FIRST FEW PAGES: Click on the images to see them larger:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

This week's teaser comes from Accused by Janice Cantore. I'm only 56 pages in, but so far it's quite intriguing!
Carly turned at the sound of her name and saw the public information officer jogging her way. "Soto, what's up?"

"I guess your career is what's up. I hear you're talking to one of the mayor's murderers."

(pg. 29)

Are you hooked yet?

Also, don't forget about the giveaway that's going on right now. You have until tomorrow night to enter. Click here to get all the details and to enter!

(There's also another giveaway coming up over the weekend, so be sure to check back for those details.)

The Christmas Story [Part 2]

It's time for the next five verses. I don't quite have the first five memorized, but I'm going to keep pushing forward.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.  7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.  8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  10 And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people."
Luke 2: 6-10

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bloodlines by John Piper

John Piper's latest book Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian is now available. I haven't had the pleasure of reading it yet, but I feel like based on the topic and the author alone, it is probably one of the most needed books of our time.

There is a 19-minute documentary detailing John Piper's personal experience with racism in the South in the 1960s. It's pretty powerful.

Genocide. Terrorism. Hate crimes. In a world where racism is far from dead, is unity amidst diversities even remotely possible?

Sharing from his own experiences growing up in the segregated South, pastor John Piper thoughtfully exposes the unremitting problem of racism. Instead of turning finally to organizations, education, famous personalities, or government programs to address racial strife, Piper reveals the definitive source of hope—teaching how the good news about Jesus Christ actively undermines the sins that feed racial strife, and leads to a many-colored and many-cultured kingdom of God.

Learn to pursue ethnic harmony from a biblical perspective, and to relate to real people different from yourself, as you take part in the bloodline of Jesus that is comprised of “every tongue, tribe, and nation.”
A friend of mine recently reviewed this book, so feel free to check out her review if you're curious about what someone who's actually read the book thinks!

A Whisper of Peace by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Let me preface this by saying that I have now had the privilege of reviewing three books by Kim Vogel Sawyer. (Check out my reviews for In Every Heartbeat and Courting Miss Amsel.) I thoroughly enjoyed the previous two . . . both were 5-star books for me. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy A Whisper of Peace as much as the others.

Siblings Clay and Vivian arrive in Alaska ready to take the gospel to the natives of a remote village. Certain that this is what God has led them to do, they move into the village and begin building a mission school. When they meet Lizzie, an outcast from the village, they must decide if they will continue to befriend her or give in to the demands of the village leaders and have no further communications with her. As they wrestle with how to handle the situation, they realize that more is at stake than their friendship with Lizzie.

Kim Vogel Sawyer does an excellent job of taking you to eighteenth-century Alaska. The way she describes some of the challenges and life in the village made me feel as though I was there. I especially thought it was funny when two children who come to live with Clay and Vivian constantly comment on how often they made them "wash up." There were a number of small details like that to let me know what life was like . . . and how it was different for Clay and Vivian.

The book was a bit slow for me . . . I just had a hard time really getting into it. After a while, I felt some connection to Vivian and Lizzie and wished that their friendship would have been more of the focus of the book. Clay seemed a bit overbearing at times and I didn't quite understand his and Lizzie's relationship. The attraction really seemed more physical than a true relationship. I think I could have gotten more into the book if the characters had a bit more depth. It seemed that they each portrayed a stereotype, and the problems they faced were handled simply.

While I love Kim Vogel Sawyer and would highly recommend her novels, this one just didn't work for me. Check out the other review online, though, as many of them were quite positive, and you might have different taste than me!

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

About the Book
Ostracized by her tribe because of her white father, Lizzie Dawson lives alone in the mountains of Alaska, practicing the ways of her people even as she resides in the small cabin her father built for her mother. She dreams of reconciling with her grandparents to fulfill her mother's dying request, but she has not yet found a way to bridge the gap that separates her from her tribe.

Clay Selby has always wanted to be like his father, a missionary who holds a great love for the native people and has brought many to God. Clay arrives in Alaska to set up a church and school among the Athabascans. He is totally focused on this goal... until he meets a young, independent Indian woman with the most striking blue eyes he's ever seen.

But Lizzie is clearly not part of the tribe. And befriending her might have dire consequences for his mission. Will Clay be forced to choose between his desire to minister to the natives and the quiet nudging of his heart?

About the Author
Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of nineteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren. She invites you to visit her website for more information.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Update [The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy]

I have been meaning to post this for a couple of weeks now, but I've had quite a bit to post. So sorry that it's a little behind schedule!

A few weeks ago, I posted a review for The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy. In the review, I mentioned that the "gift" that Audrey has made me just a little uncomfortable. I just wasn't sure what to think. Was she psychic? Was it metaphorical? Was I over-analyzing?

Erin was kind enough to point me to a post on her blog where she addressed this very topic. I wanted to make sure and pass it along to you all in case you were wondering the same thing.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Any Karen Kingsbury fans out there?

I love Karen Kingsbury. Well . . . I love her books. I don't actually know Karen, but I'm sure she's great.

I digress.

The third book in the Bailey Flanigan series Longing will be released on Tuesday, November 22.

Not to rub it in, but I've already gotten my hands on it. It. Is. Fantastic.

Amazon, Lifeway, and are all running specials if you pre-order the book online. If you pre-order now, you'll be one of the first to get the book . . . and at a great discount!

Here's the trailer for the book. Enjoy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz

A friend introduced me to Laura Frantz about a year ago. The same friend recently loaned me another incredible book by Laura Frantz.

The Colonel's Lady may be the best book I've read all year. No lie. It's fantastic! Laura Frantz again takes readers on a journey to the Kentucke frontier during the American Revolution. Roxanna Rowan arrives at a remote fort in the frontier only to learn that her father has recently died and she must remain at the fort until it is safe for her to return to Virginia. A difficult commanding officer, peace negotiations with Indians, impending attacks from the British army, traitorous acts from someone within the fort . . . there isn't a dull moment from the first page until the last!

Laura Frantz is an incredible writer. Her writing style is absolutely beautiful. The way she describes the people and places in this story made me feel as though I were actually there in Kentucke in 1779. I think I would recognize these characters if I met them on the street!

I am such a huge fan of Laura Frantz. My only complaint is that she can't write fast enough for me! If you haven't yet read Laura Frantz's books, consider this your invitation. I can't wait to see what she writes next!

About the Book
Can love survive the secrets kept buried within a tormented heart?

Roxanna Rowan may be a genteel Virginia woman, but she is determined to brave the wilds of the untamed frontier to reach a remote Kentucky fort. Eager to reunite with her father, who serves under Colonel Cassius McLinn, Roxanna is devastated to find that her father has been killed on a campaign.

Penniless and out of options, Roxanna is forced to remain at the fort. As she spends more and more time with the fiery Colonel McLinn, the fort is abuzz with intrigue and innuendo. Can Roxanna truly know who the colonel is--and what he's done?

Immerse yourself in this powerful story of love, faith, and forgiveness set in the tumultuous world of the frontier in 1779.

About the Author
Laura Frantz credits her grandmother as being the catalyst for her fascination with Kentucky history. Frantz's family followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky in the late eighteenth century and settled in Madison County, where her family still resides. Frantz is the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter and Courting Morrow Little and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Blog Tour: A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander was absolutely fantastic! Set in Nashville's Belmont Mansion after the Civil War, I loved reading Claire and Sutton's story. Claire is grieving the loss of her mother when her father dies and her beloved uncle betrays her. Alone in a new city, she receives unexpected help in finding a job at the Belmont Mansion as the personal liaison to Mrs. Adelicia Acklen (a true character!) Meanwhile, Sutton is trying to make his own way in life - grieving his father's death, emotionally supporting his mom, and trying to save his family's land and honor. His suspicions of Claire and her suspect timing at Belmont soon give way to affection and friendship.

Claire and Sutton were phenomenal characters. Once I got to know Claire a bit, I really connected with her. And Sutton was just . . . dreamy. (Is that cheesy or what?!) I really did love their relationship, and the way you could feel their romance. In spite of all the proper ways of interacting, their affection for one another was nearly tangible (in a good, clean way). Even when they weren't sure if they were supposed to be together or not.

I was completely enthralled by the Belmont Mansion. The incredible wealth and beauty of the mansion and grounds were inspiring. The way that Tamera describes it made me feel like I was actually there. I'm definitely going to have to check it out soon. (I'm sure Hubs will love that! Grin!)

I'm fairly certain that I was born in the wrong time period. The thought of living during the late 1800s / early 1900s is absolutely fascinating to me. The dresses, the parties, the mansions, the proper etiquette. Sigh. It would be so fun to experience that . . . just for a day or two maybe.

While I had trouble getting into the book at first (maybe I was just in a weird mood??), I wasn't ready to put it down when I reached the last page. Tamera, I can't wait to read more about the Belmont Mansion. Any chance you could write faster?!

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House and Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and hones review.

About the Book
A fake. A forger. More than anything, Claire Laurent longs for the chance to live an authentic life, to become the woman she wants to be. And she'll be given that choice. But will it come at too costly a price?

Claire Laurent's greatest aspiration is to paint something that will bring her acclaim. Yet her father insists she work as a copyist. A forger. When she's forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville only a year after the War Between the States has ended, her path collides with attorney Sutton Monroe. She considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But after he later refuses to come to her aid, Claire fears she's sorely misjudged the man. Finding herself among the elite of Nashville's society, Claire believes her dream to create a lasting impression in the world of art is within reach--but only if her fraudulent past remains hidden.

The Federal Army has destroyed Sutton's home and confiscated his land, and threatens to destroy his family's honor. His determination to reclaim what belongs to him and to right a grievous wrong reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined--as well as the woman he loves.Set at Nashville's historic Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, A Lasting Impression is a sweeping love story about a nation mending after war, the redemption of those wounded, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves--and each other--for who they really are.  

About the Author
Tamera Alexander is a best-selling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers. Having lived in Colorado for seventeen years, she and her husband now make their home in Nashville Tennessee, along with their two adult children who live near by. And don't forget Jack, their precious--and precocious--silky terrier. For more information please visit

Contest from Tamera Alexander!

Kindle Fire Giveaway and Facebook Party from Tamera Alexander! While Tamera and her book,  A Lasting Impression, are traveling across the country virtually (with a few international stops as well!), she will be hosting a Kindle Fire Giveaway (11/4 - 11/15) and preparing for a lavish Southern-Style Facebook Party (11/15) (dripping with hospitality, of course). She will be giving away Southern Food Baskets, books, and an array of other fabulous freebies! Don't miss a minute of the fun. Swoon!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Kindle Fire (shipped as soon as it releases)
  • A copy of A Lasting Impression and 3 other special books Tamera wants you to have (for Kindle)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 15th. Winner will be announced at A Lasting Impression Facebook Party on the 15th. Tamera will be wrapping up the A Lasting Impression celebration with an author chat and giving away Southern Food Baskets (Loveless Cafe Food Baskets, books, Amazon & Starbucks gift certificates, and copies of Christy Jordan's Southern Plate cookbook), six gift certificates to Starbucks and, and copies of A Lasting Impression! So grab your copy of A Lasting Impression (it's okay if you don't have one yet- you might win one!) and join Tamera on the evening of November 15th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How much do you know about the 1860's?) and lots of Southern-inspired giveaways (complete listing here).

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on the 15th!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Last Chance Weekend


This weekend is your last chance to see October Baby until it releases nationwide this spring. It's really important for as many people as possible to go see the movie so that it will be released in more theaters this spring. Here is a letter from John Erwin, one of the writers and directors of the movie.

To the October Baby family,

I wanted to write a personal note to everyone and say THANK YOU for all your support for October Baby. It's the film and message Hollywood said no to, but you have said yes! Thousands of people have seen it over the past two weeks and it's amazing to see the impact it's having. Post abortive woman are finding the healing they need, young girls are being inspired to make good choices, and the faith community is rallying together to say WE BELIEVE IN LIFE!

Now I am asking you to help us finish strong. Because we are planning to release the film nationally next Spring, we have decided that this will be the final weekend for the October Baby limited release. Theaters and film bookers don't look at anything but the numbers, so a strong final weekend will prove that the film is sustainable and help us get into hundreds of theaters in the Spring. We've had an amazing run so far, but we desperately need an incredible finale! So please consider this a personal invitation from me to join the October Baby family and stand for life together this weekend!

Thank you again and I'll see you at the movies!
Jon Erwin
co-writer, co-director

* They are also offering discounted tickets ($5 per person) to groups of 15 or more who go see the movie this weekend. Email octoberbaby (at) erwinbrothers (dot) com if you're interested. So get a bunch of people together and go see the movie!

A Marriage Carol

A Christmas Carol is one of my all-time favorite Christmas stories. It really doesn’t matter to me if it’s the original version by Charles Dickens or the cartoon Mickey Mouse version or the more up-to-date version with Jim Carey. I just love the story. There is something about looking carefully at the past and the present, then looking toward the future, and taking note of what path you’re on. But also the redemption of the “Scrooge” character . . . none of us are lost causes.

I was thrilled at the chance to read A Marriage Carol by Gary Chapman and Chris Fabry. The authors focus their version of A Christmas Carol on a couple who is on the brink of divorce. Literally on their way to the divorce attorney’s office. Neither has committed a major offense. Instead, they have suffered a series of minor offenses, miscommunications, gradual disinterest, and basically have ended up living separate lives even though they are married. When they are involved in a car accident on the way to the attorney’s office, Marlee finds her way to a house at the top of the hill, which just happens to be a marriage retreat center. The couple who run the center take her on a trip through time to see what her marriage has actually been like.

While the idea of looking back and looking forward is not new, Chapman and Fabry do a great job of applying a classic story to a modern-day marriage relationship. Practical relationship helps are intertwined through the story. However, the story is not at all preachy. Rather, through Marlee's thoughts and her conversation with the couple at the retreat center, these truths seem to naturally flow through the story.

A short book, at only 128 pages, I quickly read this in one sitting.  I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys a wonderful Christmas story as well as for anyone looking for hope for their marriage.

I received a free copy of this book from Moody Publishers and Net Galley in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Book
Jake and Marlee, a typical couple, are about to call it quits.  Over time they have drifted apart; the sparks are dead.  Marlee is convinced she married the wrong man and Jake feels tied down to the wrong woman.  Jake is distant and tired of being controlled while Marlee is tired of being the only one trying  to the save their marriage.

They go to bed Christmas Eve, in separate rooms, each is too short to be shouldn't hurt like this...their marriage must end for happiness to return. 

But their lives are about to take a turn.  The ghosts of Marriage Past, Marriage Present, and Marriage Future reveal to Jake and Marlee how past choices, present realities, and their potential future might look if they do not change their "stories".
Jake and Marlee experience a Christmas gift that will radically change their thinking and cause them to look at marriage not for what they can get out of it but for what God can do in and through their marriage.

About the Authors
Chris Fabry is a graduate of W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and Moody bible Institute's Advanced Studies Program. Chris can be heard daily on Love Worth Finding, featuring the teaching of the late Dr. Adrian Rogers. He received the 2008 "Talk Personality of the Year" Award from the National Religious Broadcasters. He has published more than 60 books since 1995, many of them fiction for younger readers. Chris collaborated with Jerry B. Jenkins and Dr. Tim LaHaye on the children's series Left Behind: The Kids. His two novels for adults, Dogwood and June Bug, are published by Tyndale House Publishers. Chris is married to his wife Andrea and they have five daughters and four sons.

Gary Chapman, PhD, is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The 5 Love Languages. With over 30 years of counseling experience, he has the uncanny ability to hold a mirror up to human behavior, showing readers not just where they go wrong, but also how to grow & move forward. Dr. Chapman holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively, MRE and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke Univeristy.
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