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Friday, June 29, 2012

Exposed: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him

I love that title!  That title alone is what made me want to read this book.  God is truly irreplaceable.  When our lives are broken as Shannon's was, God is the only Person who is able to put us back together again - to restore us - to give us beauty for ashes.  He is irreplaceable!

Shannon M. Deitz is the founder of Hopeful Hearts Ministry and a world-wide speaker reaching out through personal testimony to offer the hope of Christ's light and love to those who are suffering.  Through this ministry, Shannon offers presentations to groups such as women's penitentiaries, women's shelters, women's clinics and teen shelters.

From Shannon's Story, which can be found on her website
"What did it take for me to get over myself?
Death of my first love in high school, rape when I was seventeen and then yet again my freshman year in college, self-abuse (physical and substance), depression, utter despair, and an imminent threat of a chronic physical ailment – rheumatoid arthritis, and ultimately realizing I had no ‘real’ control over my own flesh and blood as I tried to deal with my first born who was finally diagnosed with ADHD and Impulsivity Disorder.
At the age of 27, after6 years of marriage to Neal and two beautiful boys, Ryan and Seth, I finally let it all go.  I couldn’t live anymore.  Face down on my bedroom floor I had my moment in life where I knew it was time to die.  Die to self.
All of my fears were no more because I’d already lived through hell.
For the first time since I was a young girl I felt peaceful.  Nothing CHANGED in my life at that very moment but my PERSPECTIVE changed because I no longer had the weight of the outcome resting on my spirit.
Eleven years later God has literally, physically, put me on the path he originally had planned for me when he created me in my mother’s womb.  Not long after the moment of surrender on my bedroom floor I felt a strange tug to teach the teens at the church and to simultaneously figure out what there was to our Catholic faith BEYOND the tradition.
In two years time we found answers for my son, my marriage survived a near divorce, and I was led into full time youth ministry."

 In Exposed:  Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him, Shannon tells her story.  And it is an amazing story of her courageous journey and how she experienced God's healing grace.  This is not your typical biography.  Shannon tells her story in a very unique way by sharing her memories "in the perception of the age in which they were experienced."

I appreciate Shannon's transparency and candor in telling her story.  Some parts are hard to read.  I applaud Shannon and her courage.  Many times we don't like to talk about such things as what she shares in her book...things too messy...things we'd rather push away and not deal with.

This book is a blessing, because it not only tells the story of a broken life, but it also tells the story of a God whose amazing grace reaches to the depths of depravity and raises up a mighty and beautiful warrior for Him!  It shines the Light into the dark places.

I encourage you to get this book, especially if you've been involved in any kind of abuse or know someone who has.  Those involved in women's ministry would be particularly helped by this book as it provides a vivid picture of the suffering of many who you may have the opportunity to minister.

A portion of the proceeds of the book goes directly to help survivors of abuse through the Maria Goretti Network.

Exposed can be purchased at by going HERE.



Thank you B&B Media for sending me a copy of the book for the purpose of this review.


Doctor's Devotion

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Doctor's Devotion
Love Inspired (June 19, 2012)
Cheryl Wyatt
 Born Valentine’s Day on a Navy base, Cheryl Wyatt writes military romance. Her Steeple Hill debuts earned RT Top Picks plus #1 and #4 on eHarlequin's Top 10 Most-Blogged-About-Books, lists including NYT Bestsellers. Cheryl loves interacting with her readers and can be found almost daily on Facebook.

Word from the Author:
I do regular giveaways including a Kindle for every 250 people who join (aka "Like) my Facebook author page: and I'd LOVE for word to spread about that. We have a lot of fun there as I ask for frequent reader input on current books, with helpers being mentioned in the acknowledgements and fun stuff like that.
Cheryl can be reached through the Contact link on her Website,

A Doctor’s Vow.

When he fled Eagle Point years ago, former air force trauma surgeon Mitch Wellington left only broken dreams behind. Now he’s back with a new dream—opening a trauma center in the rural area and saving lives. He hopes to hire the quick-thinking nurse who impressed him during an emergency. But Lauren Bates lost her faith and doesn’t believe she deserves to help anyone. Mitch knows firsthand what loss feels like. And it’ll take all his devotion to show Lauren that sometimes the best medicine is a combination of faith, community—and love.

Eagle Point Emergency: Saving lives—and losing their hearts—in a small Illinois town.

If you would like to read an excerpt of the first chapter of Doctor's Devotion, go HERE.
My Thoughts About The Book:
I always like to be gracious in my reviews of anyone's work; however, I have to say that I just didn't like much about this book.  It read in places like a Harlequin romance that had been cleaned up a bit by attempting to add a "Christian" twist.  The attraction between the main characters was jumped on in the first few pages and the plot was too predictable.  The "Christian" twist was just plain cheesy for the most part.  The general storyline is a good idea and I will read more of Ms Wyatt because of this hoping the writing will be a little more developed elsewhere.
Happy Reading,

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Five Miles South of Peculiar

I'm posting this review today as part of a blog tour for Glass Road Publications.  They sent me a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of review.  The opinions are my own.

Taken from Angela's bio section on her website
"Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes for readers who have learned to expect the unexpected in novels from this versatile author. With nearly four million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 100 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to nonfiction books, to novels.  
Angela admits to being fascinated by animals, medicine, psychology, unexplained phenomena, and “just about everything” except sports. Books, she says, have always shaped her life— in the fifth grade she learned how to flirt from reading Gone with the Wind.
Her books have won the coveted Christy Award, several Angel Awards from Excellence in Media, and the Gold and Silver Medallions from Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. In 2007, her novel The Note was featured as a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel. Romantic Times Book Club presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
Also in 2006, Angela completed her Master of Biblical Studies in Theology degree. She completed her doctorate in 2008 and was accepted into a Th.D. program in 2009. When she’s not home reading or writing, Angie often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences. And to talk about her dogs, of course."

You can connect with Angela on her website or on her Facebook page.
Book Synopsis from the back of the book:
"If these three sisters don't change direction, they'll end up where they're going.  Darlene Caldwell has spent a lifetime tending Sycamores, an estate located five miles south of a small town called Peculiar.  She raised a family in the spacious home that was her grandfather's legacy, and she enjoys being a pillar of the community. Sycamores is the kingdom where she reigns as queen...until her limelight-stealing twin sister unexpectedly returns.
Carlene Caldwell, veteran of teh Broadway stage, is devastated when she realizes that an unsuccessful throat surgery has spelled the end of her musical career.  Searching for a new purpose in life, she retreats to Sycamores, her childhood home.  She may not be able to sing, but she hopes to use her knowledge and experience to fashion a new life in Peculiar, the little town she left behind.
Haunted by a tragic romance, Magnolia Caldwell is the youngest of the Caldwell girls.  Nolie has never wanted to live anywhere but Sycamores.  She spends her days caring for her dogs and the magnificent gardens she's created on the estate, but when she meets a man haunted by his own tragedy, she must find the courage to either deny her heart of cut the apron strings that tie her to a dear and familiar place.
Can these sisters discover who they are meant to be when life takes an unforseen detour?  In a season of destiny, three unique women reunite and take unexpected journeys of the heart."

My Thoughts about the Book:
I've read some of Angela's other books and have been impressed with her writing.  I was a little disappointed in Five Miles South of Peculiar.  The story is very slow moving and was hard to "get into".  Only until about page 130 (around chapter 8) was my interest really piqued.  With so many sluggish parts to wade through, it almost seemed as if Hunt was just filling up space.  With that said, the story is a good one with great character development.  A nice touch are the recipes included at the end of the book:  Darlene's Very Vanilla Cupcakes and Mayor Henry Hooper's Favorite Toffee Mocha Cream Torte, as well as the discussion questions and author interview.  
Once the reader trudges through the slow beginning, she will be in for a great story of the unshakable bond of sisterhood and family and the discovery of the truly important things in life.

The book can be purchased at by going HERE.  

Happy Reading,

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Search

We are into day two of our Backyard Bible Club in our neighborhood.  The weather here in SW Florida has turned it into mostly a "Living Room" Bible Club, but that's okay!  We've had 11 kids from our neighborhood to come and we are having the best time with them.  Hopefully, on Thursday I'll be able to share some pictures with you from our time with the kids.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Search
Avon Inspire; Original edition (June 19, 2012)
Shelley Shepard Gray
 Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold over thirty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, Abingdon Press, and Avon Inspire. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.

Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page.
  In the second book in her Secrets of Crittenden County series, New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray delivers another page-turning romance set in Amish country

The serenity of the quiet Amish community of Crittenden, Kentucky is disrupted when Abby Anderson discovers the body of Perry Borntrager in an abandoned well. Perry had been missing for months. Everyone figured he had left the order during his rumspringa. As friends and family reel from this news, and are faced with the first death by mysterious circumstance to occur in their small town in over 20 years, a homicide detective arrives to help solve the crime

Before Perry disappeared, Frannie Eicher and Perry had been secretly courting. Now that it’s common knowledge that he was murdered, it’s up to Fannie to decide whether or not to tell everyone about the secrets he told her.

After much deliberation, she decides to tell Luke Reynolds, the visiting police officer, what she knows. At first, the two meet only on the context of discussing Perry’s death. Then, Luke begins to feel more and more at home, both with Frannie, and in Marion. The only problem is that he feels a romantic pull toward Frannie. Frannie feels that same attraction toward Luke, but is afraid to give her heart to him. After all, she doesn’t want to leave her faith.

As Luke uncovers more secrets about Perry and the case draws out, his time in Marion runs out. He has to decide whether to go back to his job with the Cincinnati Police Department…or stay in Marion.

If you would like to read the Prologue of The Search, go HERE.
My thoughts about the book:
This book is the second in a three part series.  I did not have the opportunity to read the first installment in this series.  I think that hindered the way I was able to take in the story of The Search.  Shephard jumps right into things at the very beginning.  I think by not having read the first book a lot of the story was lost.  I would certainly suggest reading the series in its entirety.  With that said, the story is a good one with rich characters, a little Amish romance and mystery.  I would really like to read the third book Found, which will debut later this year.
There were a few editing errors in the book.  The cover of the book was a  distraction in that the author's name was more prominent than the title of the book, which is located at the bottom and is in white.  
Happy Reading,

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Pressure's Off

"We're never more deceived than when we think we're living for God but in fact are living for His blessings.  When we persuade ourselves that our job is to pray properly, live morally, and love meaningfully, and that God's job is to reward us with whatever blessings we most want, we're deceived.  We have a fleshly view of the Christian life.  We live apart from grace."

Living apart from God's grace and living on the performance treadmill...have you ever been there?  Have you ever treated your relationship with God more like a "to-do" or "not-to-do" list as if you could gain His favor by doing all the right things or bring on His punishment if you mess up?

The Pressure's Off:  Breaking Free From Rules and Performance by Larry Crabb would be a helpful book if you answered "yes" to any of the questions above.  Endorsed by J.I. Packer, Brennan Manning and  Cal Thomas, The Pressure's Off really is an amazing look at God's grace.  With a thoroughly biblical foundation and keen insight, Crabb lays before the reader two paths in life:  The Old Way and the New Way.
"The Old Way promises a better life filled with good things that make you happy...The second path is The New Way.  In this arrangement, God first plants a desire in your heart, a longing that actually values His presence over His blessings; then He invites you to live out that desire, to abandon yourself to what you most want.  It takes you out of control, but is sets you free.  The New Way promises a better hope than the good things of life.  It promises nearness to God, and it delivers, though not right away and often through suffering."
I really feel this book again is about grace and freedom...freedom to live in grace.  And it could be life changing for some who don't have a firm grasp of the abundant life Jesus wants to give them!  The really great thing about the 2012 edition of The Pressure's Off, is the eight week workbook that is included!  Sometimes people can be put off by a book AND a workbook.  Well in this new edition, you have both in one volume.  This would be an excellent resource for a small group Bible study or could be used in a discipleship relationship.

You get no "psycho-babble" or "look within yourself" mumbo jumbo here...just clear, throrough, solidly biblical guidance to a life that honors and glorifies a life that takes the pressure off you and teaches you to worship the One True God in spirit and truth with your life!

Dr. Crabb is a well-known psychologist, conference and seminar speaker, Bible teacher, author and founder-director of NewWay Ministries.  He also serves as spiritual director for the American Association of Christian Counselors.  To learn more about Dr. Crabb and NewWay Ministries, visit the ministry's website by going HERE.

To order The Pressure's Off at, visit HERE.

WaterBrook Multnomah sent me a copy of this book for the purpose of review as part of their Blogging For Books program.

Please be kind and take a second to rank this review! 


Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review of "No Greater Love" and Catching Up

I have so much to catch you guys up on!  I mentioned a little about our vacation back home to MS/AL in THIS POST.  What I haven't shared with you is all the amazing pictures of family and fun we had and all the sweet moments in the midst of a trying and discouraging situation with the car.  Plus, our family is helping with a backyard Bible club a sweet couple in our church is hosting this week at their home and we will be hosting one in our neighborhood next week!  Busy and fun times are going on around our neck of the woods.

I hope to get around to sharing more about our trip back home later in the week and will be sharing about the backyard Bible clubs as well so stay tuned on those things.  Today I want to share with you a book I've recently read and a ministry that uniquely reaches out to both orphans and widows in Ethiopia.

Tyndale House Publishers sent me a copy of No Greater Love by Levi Benkert.  Levi cares for orphans in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, along with his wife Jessie and their four children - Nickili, Luella, Ruth and Edalawit (Everly).  Their ministry is Bring Love In and you can visit them at their website found HERE.  In the book, Levi, with the help of co-author Candy Chand, shares Levi and Jessie's initial time in Ethiopia working with an orphanage and the experiences there that lead to the ministry Bring Love In.

Without much planning or thought, Levi moves his family to Ethiopia to a little village named Jinka to work with an orphanage that largely housed children rescued from "minji killings".  Tribes in that area feared "spirits" who they believed would some how harm them or discipline them in some way if children with some defect were not killed.  Or if the tribe was not notified of a couple's plan to conceive of if a child's upper teeth came in before their bottom teeth.

These babies would be taken right after birth and either left to die on their own or their mouths would be stuffed with dirt and they would suffocate.  Levi and his family quickly saw the desperation in the work that lay before them.  He tells their story and the story of these children in No Greater Love.

Reading this book did several things for me:
  • Reminded me of the desperate need for the gospel all over the world.
  • Helped me realize the need to pray more for people on missions such as these in remote parts of the world.
  • Reminded me that God is powerful enough to work with even my mistakes and misunderstandings to affect His purposes.
You won't waste your time by reading No Greater Love.  So hop on over to and order your copy HERE.  And by all means, visit the website for Bring Love In.  You will be blessed!
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Happy Reading,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Shame Interrupted

Edward T. Welch, MDiv, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF).  The B&B Media Group sent me his latest book Shame Interrupted:  How God Lifts The Pain Of Worthlessness & Rejection for the purpose of review.  Shame Interrupted is endorsed by popular pastor Mark Driscoll and Dan Allender, PhD,professor of Counseling Psychology at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.

In Shame Interrupted, Welch seeks to bring the darkness of shame into the marvelous light of God's Word helping the reader to identify shame in their own lives and begin to understand the truth of how God sees them.  There are discussion questions at the end of each chapter which help the reader to apply principles taught within the chapter.  The book is thorough and biblical as it points to Scripture as the ultimate "word" on dispelling shame.  Shame Interrupted would be a helpful resource to pastors, lay counselors or for use in a discipleship/training class.  Welch's writing style in the book is conversational and engaging.  The only real criticism I can give the book is that the first few chapters are a bit repetitious and "wordy".

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
"This is the gospel:  God touches us.  All the talk about cleanness and uncleanness points to this divine touch.  This is what the universe itself was waiting for.  It is an unbalanced transaction that displaces our shame and replaces it with holiness.  The apostle Paul put it this way: 'For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.'  With our touch, Jesus becomes our scapegoat.  In his touch, Jesus takes our sin and absorbs our shame and we receive his righteousness."
"This is faith:  we reach out and touch the Holy One.  Faith means we believe that the kingdom of heaven has come to us in Christ.  It means we believe there is hope in Jesus and only in him.  It means we believe that rescue, healing, covering, acceptance, and cleansing are possible, and possible only in Jesus.  Faith - touching Jesus - means saying, 'Jesus, I need You.'"
This book can be purchased at by going HERE.

Happy Reading,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gaining Perspective

According to the Free Online Dictionary, perspective can be defined in the following ways:
  • A view or vista
  • A mental view or outlook
  • The appearance of objects in depth as perceived by normal binocular vision
  • The relationship of aspects of a subject to each other and to a whole
  • Subjective evaluation of relative significance
  • The ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance
And finally these two definitions:
  • a way of regarding situations, facts, etc., and judging their relative importance
  •  the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it
I share that with you, because I've been gaining a little perspective since returning home from our vacation back home in MS and AL.  The day after school was out for the Summer, we packed up and headed to MS and AL to visit with our extended families and for Mike to fulfill some preaching/singing engagements.  We knew when we left that we really needed some tires on our van; however, Mike said he had prayed about it and felt the Lord leading us to go and trust Him to provide for the tires through the engagements he had booked.  We had a smooth trip going up.  The kids traveled well and our three old who is just recently fully potty trained did not have the first accident!

We stopped off in Little Rock, MS first to visit with my brother and his family.  We had the best time with them!  On Monday we headed to my mom and step-dad's house in Meridian.  Mike was scheduled on Wednesday to be present at a downtown Bible book store to sing and offer his cd with customers as they came into the store.  On Tuesday he went downtown to visit with the owner of the store and to checkout his area to set up prior to his three hour engagement with them on Wednesday evening.

He had been gone from my mom's for a little over an hour, when he called me and said, "I need you to come pick me up."  To which I replied, "Why do I need to come get you?"  To which he replied, "The van died."  Immediately I just wanted to vomit!  I knew right away, this is something major.

And it was...the transmission was gone; our second one in two years I might add.  We replaced the transmission in our other vehicle a little over two years ago.  I wrote about it HERE.  Mike had the van towed to a repair shop owned by a previous church member who attends a church Mike had served at in Meridian and he recommended a transmission shop to do the repair.  The guy at the transmission shop told Mike he could have it repaired the following Tuesday and that no matter what the cost, our price for the repair would not be over $1500.  He understood our situation that we were trying to get back home to Florida.  So immediately Mike began rounding up $1500 cash.  By Tuesday he had exactly that much after a gracious loan from his mother and a few other sources.

When he went to pick our van up, he was told the repair was close to $1800.  So, again Mike rounded up the difference.  Mind you the $1500 was quoted to Mike on four different occasions, but we learned the hard way that somebody's "word" really doesn't mean much anymore.

I cried.  I spit, and I sputtered, "How unfair!"  I was sad, mad and ugly bitterness was creeping in.  I just did not understand why!  

I needed some perspective.

Just the other day I read this Facebook post by Randy Alcorn:
"Worry is the product of a mind that lacks perspective.  Such a mind needs to fill itself from the reservoir of God's Word, not the innumerable concerns that constantly vie for our attention."
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  Psalm 46:10
You see, taking from the definitions of perspective given at the beginning of this post, I needed to understand this major setback in relationship to the Sovereign God of the Universe and I needed an accurate point of view and the ability to see it.

So thankful that as the old children's song says, "God's still working on me to make me what I need to be.
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars, the sun and earth and Jupiter and Mars.  How loving and patient he must be, 'cause he's still working on me."