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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Home To Heather Creek Giveaway

When the world around you falls apart, could it be that God is giving you a second chance? This is just one of the questions on Charlotte Stevenson's mind as she brings her three grandchildren to live on the family farm in Guidepost Books' Home to Heather Creek series.
Before the Dawn begins just one week after the funeral of Charlotte's daughter, Denise. Denise's three children barely have time to process the death of their mother before they must move to the Heather Creek Farm they have never visited with grandparents they barely know. At age 16, Sam is fiercely protective of his younger siblings. Emily is 14 and desperately misses her friends. Young Christopher is only 8 and just wants to fit in. While Charlotte tries to help her grandchildren adjust to their new life, she also wrestles with her own grief and the enormous task of bringing her family together. Bob believes the fastest path to adjustment is a firm routine, with structure and chores, the same way they raised their own kids. However, that route led to Denise running away from home as a teenager and an estranged relationship with her family. Charlotte is worried about making the same mistakes she made with Denise. Is this her chance to make things right?
It is spring when the children arrive, and as Charlotte looks around the farm, she hopes the new life around them will signify hope and healing. The miracle of new life, along with God's healing touch, reminds all of them that it's always darkest just before the dawn.

Sweet September picks up at harvest time, as the children are settling into a new school year. While the harvest should be an exciting time, the children don't seem to be getting into the spirit. Emily is struggling with farm life, Christopher spends most of his time alone, and Sam is failing school. Trying to learn from what did and didn't work with her own kids, Charlotte is determined to get her grandchildren back on track.
As tenuous family bonds threaten to break apart, a mystery on the farm might be the one thing that can bond the family together. Charlotte sets out to uncover the truth, and as the kids unite to find answers, this cobbled-together family learns more about one another and the love that binds them together.
The lives of the Stevensons and their grandchildren unfold in this captivating story of the remarkable change that comes from the love of family, the kindness of others, sheer persistence and unshakable faith. As readers follow the Stevensons' inspiring stories, it's almost impossible not feel a part of this friendly, loving community, where God's grace can be seen in every circumstance.

About the Author: Kathleen Bauer is the pen name for a team of writers who have come together to create the Home to Heather Creek series.

My Thoughts:
The Home to Heather Creek series tells the story of family angst and dysfunction.  An estranged daughter dies and leaves her three children to be raised by their grandparents.  These children, who have just lost their mother, have to adjust from living in a busy city to living on a farm in Nebraska where cell phone signal and internet connection is come and go.  The writers of this series capture the emotion of both the grandparents and the children so well.  The reader also gets to hear and "see" the story from the perspectives of all the characters which adds a particular depth to an already emotionally driven story.
I found myself aching for Charlotte, the grandmother.  This woman exhibits a strength like no other and the writers capture her so well.  The characterization is this series is excellent and right on point with what could very well be a true story.  The transition this family experiences truly is one of beauty from ashes.  You will be inspired by taking the time to read!

Don't miss the amazing giveaway!

Enter Today - 9/16 - 10/5!


Happy Reading,

Monday, September 23, 2013

One With Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation

Marcus Peter Johnson (PhD, University of Toronto) is assistant professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute. Along with writing his doctoral dissertation on union with Christ in the theology of John Calvin, he is also the author of several scholarly essays. He and his wife, Stacie, live in Chicago with their son, Peter, and are members of Grace Lutheran Church.

Despite our love for the Bible, emphasis on the cross, and passion for evangelism, many evangelicals ironically neglect that which is central to the gospel.  In our preaching, teaching, and witnessing, we often separate salvation from the Savior.
Looking to the Scriptures and to church history, Marcus Johnson reveals the true riches of our salvation by reintroducing us to the foundation of our redemption - our mysterious union with the living Christ.
The book consists of and introduction and 8 chapters:
1.  The Nature of Union with Christ
2.  Sin and the Incarnation
3.  Justification in Christ
4.  Sanctification in Christ
5.  Adoption and Sonship in Christ
6.  Preservation and Glorification in Christ
7.  The Mystery of the Church in Christ
8.  The Word and Sacraments of Christ

"This book is concerned with repairing an ever-widening fissure in evangelical theology...We are content, more often than not, to refer to the 'atoning work of Christ' or the 'work of Christ on the cross' as the basis for our salvation.  Yet, as important as such expressions are for a robust evangelical soteriology (the study of salvation), we are in dire need of the reminder that Christ's saving work is of no benefit to us unless we are joined to the living Savior whose work it is."  (from the introduction, pg.15)
Drawing from what Johnson calls his "shocking encounter" with the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformer John Calvin, he offers his readers a theologically robust and scholarly look at our union with Christ.  Johnson looks closely at church tradition, but even closer at Scripture to help his readers understand this union upon which our very salvation is dependent.  One With Christ reads somewhat like a textbook and requires a careful and slow reading.  Johnson utilizes strategically placed and in depth foot notes to engage the reader in his understanding of the text.

Johnson is thorough in his explanations.  He doesn't just throw an idea before his reader without the careful exposition of Scripture for clarification on his point.  He quotes often from Calvin himself as Calvin's theology greatly influenced Johnson's understanding of union with Christ, but  presents the thoughts of others as well.  There is much to gain from a careful study of this offering from Johnson. 

You can read an excerpt from the book by going HERE.

*I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Crossway) for the purpose of this review.


Raw Edge

The Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
Raw Edge
Abingdon Press (September 17, 2013)
Sandra D. Bricker
For more than a decade, Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While honing her chosen craft of screenwriting in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver. 
The Big 5-OH! was released by Abingdon Press in the Spring of 2010, and the novel was very well-received, garnering a couple of nibbles from Hollywood. 
Always the Baker, Never the Bride was released by Abingdon Press in September 2010. With its phenomenal reviews, the novel spawned a series of three more books based on the popular cast of characters at The Tanglewood Inn, a wedding destination hotel in historic Roswell, Georgia. The series cemented Sandie's spot in publishing as a flagship author of Laugh-Out-Loud romantic comedy for the inspirational market.
"Being allowed to combine my faith and my humor with my writing dream," says Bricker, "well, that's the best of all worlds, as far as I'm concerned!" 
Sandra can be reached through the Contact link on her Website.

Grayson McDonough has no use for teal ribbons, 5k runs, or ovarian cancer support groups now that his beautiful wife Jenna is gone. But their nine-year-old daughter Sadie seems to need the connection. When Annabelle Curtis, the beautiful cancer survivor organizing the memory quilt project for the Ovacome support group, begins to bring out the silly and fun side of his precious daughter again, Gray must set aside his own grief to support the healing of Sadie’s young heart. But is there hope for Gray’s heart too along the way? 

If you would like to read the first chapter of Raw Edge, go HERE

My Thoughts:
This book was perfect in every way! I've read all of the Quilts of Love books in the series so far and Raw Edges is by far my very favorite!  Bricker writes with the perfect blend of emotion, humor, heartache and love.  Her characterization is can't help but fall in love with Sadie.  Not only does she have an effect on her daddy in the story, but she effected me!  Bricker has a unique way of causing you to feel what each character is feeling at any point in her story.  My heart was involved in this one from page one!  Grab a box of tissues and read this book!  You'll cry and laugh so hard you cry and you won't be the same when you turn the last page.  A sign of an excellent novel for me is  one that I can't seem to get out of my heart and mind once I finished reading...this one will linger for quite some time.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fired Up

Meet Mary: Mary Connealy writes fun and lively "romantic comedy with cowboys" for the inspirational market. She is the author of the successful Kincaid Brides, Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie's Daughters series, and she has been a finalist for a Rita and Christy Award and a two time winner of the Carol Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters.

Connect with Mary:

Rollicking Wild West Adventure and Romance from Bestselling Author Mary Connealy
Dare Riker is a doctor who saves lives, but someone seems determined to end his. It may have something to do with the traitors he dealt with during the Civil War, or it might be related to the recent incident with Flint Greer and the ranch. Whoever the culprit is, he or she seems really fired up, and Dare can't let his guard down for a moment, which is a challenge, since right now he's trying to win the heart of the recently widowed Glynna.
Glynna Greer came west as a mail-order bride and ended up in a bad situation. Now her husband, Flint, is dead, and she's determined to care for her son and daughter on her own. She wants to believe Dare Riker is as decent as he seems, but she's terrified to lock herself into another marriage. She plans to support her small family by opening a diner---never mind that cooking is not her greatest talent. The men in Broken Wheel, Texas, are so desperate for home cooking that they seem willing to overlook dried-out beef and blackened biscuits.
Glynna can't help but notice that danger follows Dare wherever he goes. There's the avalanche. And then the fire. But things really get out of hand when someone plunges a knife from Glynna's diner into Dare's back. Are Flint's cronies still plotting revenge? Is Glynna's son engaged in a misguided attempt to protect his mother? Is a shadowy outsider still enraged over past injustices? And can Dare survive long enough to convince Glynna to take another chance on love?

You can visit HERE to see what people are saying about Fired Up.

My Thoughts:
Fired Up, the second book in Mary Connealy's Trouble In Texas series, is my first to read by her.  Mary weaves a delightful story full of lively characters.  You will love the tenacity and spunk of Glynna!  The camaraderie between Dare and his friends was a nice component to a plot full of twists and suspense.  The development of feelings between Dare and Glynna is tender and the wild west adventure will keep you turning the pages until the end.  

Don't miss Mary's evening of book chat, prizes and fun on October 8th:
Enter Today - 9/17 - 10/8!

Mary Connealy Fired Up

Happy Reading,

Friday, September 20, 2013


Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.
Dani does love traveling. She’s been to some amazing places (Greece, Hawaii, the Keys) and there are many more she hopes to visit in the future.  And while she’s not quite up to sky-diving, cave diving or heli-skiing (too high, too enclosed, too cold!) she and her family love hiking, canoeing, wave jumping and a ton of other outdoor adventures a little further down on the risk scale.
One of her favorite quotes is..."Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."  William Wordsworth.
Connect with Dani on Facebook, Pinterest and Amazon.  You'll also want to visit her website which can be found HERE.
When her friend goes missing, every minute counts!
Darcy St. James returns to Alaska to join a journalist friend undercover on the trail of a big story.  But when Darcy arrives, she finds her friend has disappeared.  Troubled by the cruise ship's vague explanation.  Darcy uses her cover as a travel reporter to investigate further.
The last person Gage McKenna expects to see during his Summer aboard a cruise ship leading adventure excursions is Darcy.  And in typical Darcy fashion, she's digging up more trouble.
He'd love to just forget her - but something won't let him.  And he can't help but worry about her as they are heading into more remote regions of Alaska and eventually into foreign waters. Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they push, the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.
My Thoughts:  Stranded is the third book in Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series.  Each book in the series tells the story of a different McKenna sibling.  Pettrey's books, while not being "preachy", clearly and honestly tell of each sibling's unique struggle and growth in their faith.  Stranded tells Gage's story. His is a story full of adventure, suspense, mystery and relationships. I was encouraged by Darcy's faith in the midst of very trying circumstances and how her fear didn't overcome her faith. I have fallen in love with the McKenna family.  Pettrey does an exceptional job of continuing the McKenna's story from one book to the next without re-telling too much of the previous story.  The book could be read as a stand alone novel, but I would recommend catching up with Submerged and Shattered, the previous two books in the series, in order to experience the depth of the McKenna's story.  This series is most certainly taking its place on my keeper shelf!  
*I received a complimentary copy of the book from Bethany House for the purpose of this review. 

Happy Reading,

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness

Ann Spangler’s sensitivity to the ever-changing spiritual and cultural climate in which we live has enabled her to address themes of profound interest to many readers. Praised for the freshness, depth, and honesty of her writing, Ann writes in ways that reveal not just her intellectual curiosity but her desire for a deeper connection with God. An award-winning writer, Ann published her first book in 1994. It became an instant best-seller. Since then she has followed up with several best-selling books, including Women of the Bible (co-authored with Jean Syswerda), Praying the Names of GodPraying the Names of Jesus and The One-Year Devotions for Women. Together, her books have sold millions of copies.
By paying attention to the spiritual and emotional hungers that animate us and by finding creative ways to explore God’s self-revelation in Scripture, her writing surprises by revealing a God who is often far bigger and better than we might imagine.
In addition to writing, Ann has enjoyed a lengthy career in Christian publishing, working for William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Servant Publications, and Zondervan Publishing in marketing, editorial, and management roles. Her broad experience in publishing has convinced her that readers are looking for well-written books that explore the connection between spiritual experience and everyday life, books that engage the mind and strengthen the heart.
You would be blessed by a visit to her website found HERE.
You can also connect with her on Facebook by going HERE.
God is bigger than you think!
Many people feel both drawn to God and afraid of Him.  How can they feel close to a perfect God Whom their flawed self is incapable of pleasing?
Fortunately, God has revealed truths about Himself in Scripture than can untangle our confusion.  In this daily guide to studying and praying according to God's attributes, Ann Spangler resurrects old-fashioned words like holiness, omniscience, and omnipresence.  Far from boring us, these words, when excavated for their biblical meaning, paint a thrilling vision of God that can help us experience Him more deeply.  They can also prevent us from making the colossal mistake of concluding God is too weak, distant, or uncaring to help us when we need Him.
Praying the Attributes of God will help you see that God is far bigger and far better than you could ever hope or suspect.

My Thoughts:
Ann Spangler and her sincere writing are such a blessing!  True to her website's by-line, "Exploring the connection between spiritual experience and everyday life", Ann writes toward that goal and is careful to point the arrow straight to knowing God better.  Praying the Attributes of God is a well-written, well-organized and deeply practical book.  The book is organized into 17 chapters covering the following attributes of God:

  • Loving
  • Good
  • Infinite
  • Unchangeable, Immutable
  • All Powerful, Omnipotent
  • Present Everywhere, Omnipresent
  • All Knowing, Omniscient
  • Patient
  • Wise
  • Eternal, Self-Sufficient
  • Jealous
  • Just, Righteous
  • Merciful
  • Faithful
  • Holy
  • Creative
  • Transcendent
Each chapter is divided into five days of Scripture study, background information, devotions, Bible promises and prayer designed to help you draw nearer to the heart of God by understanding Who He is.  At the end of each week, Ann gives the reader a list of scriptures for continued and further meditation and prayer.

I can highly recommend this profound resource!  Get your copy today!  You can do so at by going HERE.

*I received a complimentary copy of the book from Tyndale for the purpose of this review.


Blessed Child

Ted Dekker (born October 24, 1962) is a New York Times best-selling author of more than twenty novels. He is best known for stories which could be broadly described as suspense thrillers with major twists and unforgettable characters, though he has also made a name for himself among fantasy fans.
Dekker was born to missionaries who lived among the headhunter tribes of Indonesia. Because his parents’ work often included extended periods of time away from their children, Dekker describes his early life in a culture to which he was a stranger as both fascinating and lonely. It is this unique upbringing that forced him to rely on his own imagination to create a world in which he belonged.
After leaving Indonesia, Dekker graduated from a multi-cultural high school and took up permanent residence in the United States to study Philosophy and Religion. Upon earning his Bachelor’s Degree, he entered the corporate world and proceeded to climb the proverbial ladder. But his personal drive left him restless and, after many successful years, he traded corporate life for wide range of entrepreneurial pursuits that included buying and selling businesses, healthcare services, and marketing.
In the early nineties while visiting a friend who had just written a book, Dekker decided to pursue a long held desire to be a novelist. Over the course of two years he wrote two full length novels before starting from scratch and rewriting both. Now fully enamored by the the process and the stories, he realized that storytelling was in his blood and a new obsession to explore truth through story gripped him anew.
He sold his business, moved his family to the mountains of Western Colorado and began writing full-time on his third novel. Two years and three novels later his first novel was published.
Dekker’s novels have sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Two of his novels, Thr3e and House, have been made into movies with more in production. Dekker resides in Austin, Texas with his wife Lee Ann and two of their daughters.
You must visit Dekker's's quite amazing!  You can find it HERE.
The young orphaned boy was abandoned and raised in an Ethiopian monastery. He has never seen outside its walls — at least, not the way most people see. Now he must flee those walls or die.
But the world is hardly ready for a boy like Caleb.

When relief expert Jason Marker agrees to take Caleb from the monastery, he unwittingly opens humanity’s doors to an incredible journey filled with intrigue and peril. Together with Leiah, the French Canadian nurse who escapes to America with them, Jason discovers Caleb’s stunning power. But so do the boy’s enemies, who will stop at nothing to destroy him. Jason and Leiah fight for the boy’s survival while the world erupts into debate over the source of the boy’s power.

In the end nothing can prepare them for what they will find.

My Thoughts:
I've been hearing so much about Ted Dekker lately.  So, some months back I connected with him on Facebook.  I kept thinking, "I've really got to read something by this guy!"  Blessed Child is my first Ted Dekker book to read and it WILL NOT be my last!  I now have a goal to read everything he has written and collect those books on my keeper shelf.  His character development and plot construction is superb.  Hear from Ted and Bill Bright (co-writer of Blessed Child) from "a note from the authors"..."We set out to honor the Holy Spirit with an unapologetic rendering of His power, to draw a grand portrait of out God across the canvas of our world, an offering for His pleasure, rather than one for the pleasure of man."  And this..."We would both like to thank the many friends who encouraged us to write from our hearts rather than from good political senses."  They do both and do both very well! You won't be the same after reading this one!

*I received a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review from Thomas Nelson as part of their Booksneeze Blogger Review program.

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Born of Persuasion

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Born of Persuasion
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 1, 2013)
Jessica Dotta

Born in the wrong century–except for the fact that she really likes epidurals and washing machines–Jessica Dotta writes British Historicals with the humor like an Austen, yet the drama of a Bronte.

She resides lives in the greater Nashville area—where she imagines her small Southern town into the foggy streets of 19th century London. She oversees her daughter to school, which they pretend is an English boarding school, and then she goes home to write and work on PR. Jessica has tried to cast her dachshund as their butler–but the dog insists it’s a Time Lord and their home a Tardis. Miss Marple, her cat, says its no mystery to her as to why the dog won’t cooperate. When asked about it, Jessica sighs and says that you can’t win them all, and at least her dog has picked something British to emulate. 

Jessica can be reached through the Contact link on her Website.
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The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland. 

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly. 

If you would like to read the first chapter of Born of Persuasion, go HERE

My Thoughts:
I've just added three new books to my "keeper" shelf:  Born of Persuasion and the two books to come in this new series by Jessica Dotta!  If you like Jane Austin, you will LOVE Jessica Dotta.  I loved her characters.  The period detail in this novel is expertly woven by Ms Dotta into a story full of intrigue that keeps you turning pages.  I've stayed up late reading this one!  I can't wait to read the other books and follow Julia's story!  Don't miss this series!

Happy Reading,

Monday, September 16, 2013

This Means Love: Service Projects For Women Who Want To Make A Difference

Group Publishing has a new and amazing resource for women.  The B&B Media Group, Inc. sent me a complimentary project box for the purpose of this review.

As women, we desire to give back and to make a difference in our homes and in the world at large around us.  The difficulty comes in knowing where to start due to the volume of need in our world.  Serving doesn't always have to involve getting a passport and traveling to another country!  It can be as simple as a good deed done for the neighbor next door.

Group has developed a resource to help ease some of the difficulty in knowing where to begin in your service to others.  This Means Love service kit includes everything you need to meet with a group of women and then live out the love of Christ in some very practical ways.

The kit contains:

  1. 12 Project Guides providing everything a leader needs to plan that project:  a supply list, devotion, and complete instructions for each service activity.
  2. Graphics CD - This handy disc has reproducible items used in projects and promotional items to help you get the word out about your group.
  3. One copy of the This Means Love Bible study - Six sessions on what the Bible says about serving, and how it affects our faith.  You'll need one for each woman in your group.
The beauty of this resource is that all the questions and guess work is done for you.  Even if you don't feel like you have the talent or ability to lead a group of women, you can do it with This Means Love!  The instructions are very detailed on the project guides.  The resource is versatile in that it could be used as a six week Bible study/challenge or can be broken up and used one session at a time over six months with one service project/study completed per month.

Some times its nice to meet over our coffee and refreshments to study God's word together and then sometimes we are compelled to do something; to put those studies into action.  This Means Love helps groups of women do both!  Grab a kit and form a group of women to join you and watch the beauty of the body of Christ in action!

You can order your kit today at Group by going HERE.  The kit can also be found at by going HERE.


He Knows Your Name and The Power of an Ordinary Prayer

Today I have two beautiful gift books by Worthy Publishing to showcase:  He Knows Your Name by Travis Cottrell and The Power Of An Ordinary Prayer by Michael W. Smith.  Both books were sent to me by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Worthy Publishing is a privately held, independent voice in Christian and inspirational publishing, based in Nashville, Tennessee, comprised of three divisions. Worthy Books publishes a boutique list of trade titles across a broad spectrum of genres, including current events, biography, fiction, devotionals, spiritual and personal growth, and specialized Bibles. Ellie Claire is a line of gift and paper expressions, and Freeman-Smith is a value-priced, impulse book imprint.
Dove Award-winning Travis Cottrell grew up in Boone, N.C. By the time he was a teenager, his love for music was firmly established and the Lord's calling on his life was clear.  Travis surrendered to ministry, and he's known the joy of serving the Lord and leading His people in worship since he graduated from Belmont University in 1992.
For the last 15 years, Cottrell has served as the worship leader at Beth Moore's Living Proof Live conferences.  In addition to his writing, arranging, singing and leading, he has managed to carve out time to record several solo projects.  Embracing the rich traditional hymns of his childhood, along with modern music of today, Travis uses a blended style of worship to help lead people from all generations and backgrounds into worship.  
Travis serves as worship pastor at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN.  He and his wife, Angela, have been married 19 years, and have 3 children.  Travis likes to dance in the kitchen with his wife, sing in the car with his kids, laugh like crazy with his friends and marvel that God would be so gracious to use boy from Boone to help make His name famous.  He prays he never gets over it.
(Biographical information taken from Travis's website which can be found at

Surprised by God When You Least Expect It

Beth Moore joins her dear friend Travis Cottrell in showing you how to fully experience God’s presence at surprising times and places in your own life.
According to Cottrell, God’s goodness is predictable. His mercy is dependable. His ability to work in every moment of every reader’s life, leading them to him, is unfailing. But often in those moments, even the most devout are distracted by great distress, failing to see or acknowledge God’s presence and provision. Cottrell reminds readers that God is the hope, strength and deliverance we desperately need. In every circumstance, especially those moments when we least expect it, God’s voice can be heard and his presence discerned.
My Thoughts:
There is everything to like about this beautiful gift book, from the cover to every page of content in between.  Comprised of an introduction by Beth Moore and ten short chapters by Travis, He Knows Your Name contains important reminders that God knew us before the foundation of the world and is intimate with and cares about every little detail of our lives.  Each of the chapters end with two pages of space for reflection and application and ends with a quote, scripture and prayer.  Typical of Travis's conversational an easy going style, He Know Your Name is full of Travis's desire that the reader understand the scandalous and abundantly transforming love of God toward those who would trust in Him.
*You can order the book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble as well as CBD
Michael W. Smith is a multiple-time Grammy and Dove Award-winning singer/songwriter, having recorded more than twenty-two albums and written numerous hit songs. He is also involved in relief work both at home and around teh world.  He is also the founder of Rocketown, an outreach to teenagers in a 38,000 square foot facility in downtown Nashville, TN.  Smith has written several best-selling books, including Old Enough to Know and Friends are Friends Forever. He and his wife, Debbie, have five children and live in Nashville.
You can learn more about Michael, his music and his writing at his website found at

A touching gift book that helps readers understand the power and beauty of prayer and how it can transform our hearts, so that we can be a catalyst for transformation in others. 

Many of us seek to be blessed more than we seek to bless others. It’s our heart aligned with the heart of God that brings blessing, because He is by nature extravagantly generous and loves giving gifts. No matter where readers are on their journey with God, they will be motivated and inspired to open their hearts and discover the abundant joy and peace that can be theirs through the power of a simple prayer of blessing.

My Thoughts:
What a beautiful book to have displayed on the coffee table in your home during this Fall time of year. The colors and graphics used are calming and very inviting.  Divided into six chapters as well as an introduction, The Power Of An Ordinary Prayer shines a light on the transforming power of communicating with God in prayer.  Each chapter addresses one part of the prayer of blessing Smith uses in his own life: praying for the promises of God, praying for spiritual health, praying for a pure mind, praying for personal holiness, praying for backyard blessings, and praying for spiritual victory. Interspersed throughout each chapter are stopping points for reflection as well as additional scripture and quotes to encourage application.  Through bold scriptural support, personal stories and loving exhortation, Smith offers his readers a stunning reminder that when we pray we speak to the heart of a loving and generous God.  
*You can order the book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and CBD.
Thank you Worthy Publishing for sending the complimentary copies of each book!  They are a beautiful addition to display in my home and my heart.  Highly recommended!!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Shades of Mercy

The Christian Fiction Blog Alliance introduces today
Shades of Mercy
River North; New Edition edition (September 1, 2013)
Anita Lustrea
Caryn Rivendara

Authentic. That’s the word heard over and over when women describe Anita Lustrea. She is a popular speaker at women’s conferences and retreats, and an amazing communicator as co-host of the award winning Midday Connection radio broadcast. Her deep desire is to communicate freedom to women and help them nurture and care for their soul. Anita is the co-author of “Come to Our Table: A Midday Connection Cookbook” and “Daily Seeds from Women Who Walk in Faith”, a Devotional for women. Her first solo venture as an author releases in November, 2010, “What Women Tell Me: finding freedom from the secrets we keep.” Anita and her husband, Mike Murphy, a pastor, along with her teenage son John live in the Chicago suburbs. When she’s not traveling or speaking, you can find her reading and drinking a venti hot tea at her local Starbucks. 

Caryn is a sought-after writer and speaker. She’s the author of four books—Shades of Mercy: A Maine Chronicle (River North, September 2013), Known & Loved: 52 Devotions from the Psalms (Revell, April 2013), Grumble Hallelujah (Tyndale House, September 2011), and Mama’s Got a Fake I.D. (WaterBrook Press, March 2009)–and a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.Meneutics as well as columnist for Re:Frame Media’s ThinkChristian blog. She has written dozens of magazine article. Her work has appeared in such publications as Christianity Today, Relevant, FamilyLife, and Engineering and Mining Journal (you read that right). Caryn leads workshops and speaks at conferences and church groups across the country. She’s also a regular guest on Moody Radio’s Midday Connection with Anita Lustrea and Melinda Schmidt and has been featured on such radio shows as The John and Kathy Show, Changing Worldviews/WOMANTalk with Sharon Hughes, I Thought She Said with Faith Daly, The Paul Edwards Program with Paul Edwards, and Talk from the Heart with Rich Buhler, among many others. Caryn also appeared on The Harvest Show. Caryn earned a B.A. in English from Calvin College and attended the University of Chicago’s publishing program. She lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Rafael, her three kids, a rescued pit bull terrier, two hermit crabs, and several tank fulls of who-knows-what-kind-of fish. Caryn and her family are members of Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church in Elmhurst, Illinois, where Caryn recently joined the worship staff. 
It's 1954 and the world-even the far Northwoods of Maine-is about to change. But that change can't happen soon enough for fourteen-year-old Mercy Millar. Long tired of being the "son" her father never had, Mercy's ready for the world to embrace her as the young woman she is-as well as embrace the forbidden love she feels.  When childhood playmates grow up and fall in love, the whole community celebrates. But in the case of Mercy and Mick, there would be no celebration. Instead their relationship must stay hidden. Good girls do not date young men from the Maliseet tribe. At least, not in Watsonville, Maine. When racial tensions escalate and Mick is thrown in jail under suspicion of murder, Mercy nearly loses all hope-in love, in her father, and in God himself. 
If you would like to read the first chapter of Shades of Mercy, go HERE.
The book link is:

My Thoughts:
Having the opportunity to read Shades of Mercy was such a blessing!  What the authors of this book have given their readers is a story that addresses a huge scar in our history and an even larger scar for our present times - racism and injustice.  Through the story of Mercy and Mick, Lustrea and Rivadeneira, shine a light on the ugliness of judging another human being by the color of their skin or the "people" they come from rather than treating others with the dignity they deserve due to being created in the image of God.  The struggle of loving God and loving thy neighbor...even those very different from one we all deal with every day.  The characters in this story, especially Mr. Pop (LOVED him and his wisdom), help the reader to flesh out what loving they neighbor looks like practically in our daily lives.
Lustrea and Rivadeneira write with bold truthfulness, peeling back the curtain on a part of the depravity of humans, but at the same time, they offer a tender love story that because of the transforming power and relentless pursuit of God and His grace, withstands so much to survive.  What a lesson is taught in Shades of Mercy...a very important one for us all!  Get this book and be prepared to be challenged and encouraged to "seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God."


Monday, September 9, 2013

The Sword Study: II Timothy

Endorsed by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Kirk Cameron and Joni Eareckson Tada, The Sword Study, from The Shelby Kennedy Foundation, is an incredible discipleship resource sure to revitalize your family's time in God's word.  The foundation exists to help families strengthen their personal relationship with the Lord.  They do this by coming along side parents as they disciple their children through in-depth study of the Word of God, Scripture memory and prayer.
The Sword Study series was originally created for competitors in The Shelby Kennedy Foundation's National Bible Bee.  Tammy McMahan and her husband Mark (authors) have been committed to the foundation and its programs both nationally and locally since it first began in 2009.  Tammy now serves as the Vice-President and author of the family-centered Sword Study Bible study series.  Mark and Tammy home school their five children on their small farm near Wilmington.

Thanks to the generosity of Glass Road Media and Management, I was sent the complete set of study materials of the latest installment in The Sword Study series:  2 Timothy.

The study is arranged for the in-depth study of one book of the Bible for five days each week.  The daily study consists of devotion, investigation of the scriptures, and guided prayer following the A.C.T.S. model.  Each days study takes approximately 20 minutes.

Organized into different levels according to age, each study provides in-depth material from the same book of the Bible.  Each study book is synchronized to cover the same truths at the same time but with graphics and learning tools appropriate for the age group.

  • Level 1 - Ages 4-7, is an activity book with coloring, drawing, matching and other fun learning tools.
  • Level 2 - Ages 7-10, contains light reading, fill-in-the-blank, and application sections.
  • Level 3 - Ages 11-14, involves more investigation and questions for the student to answer.
  • Level 4 - For teens and adults, steps up the reading and the depth of study including the definition of several Greek or Hebrew terms.
  • Level 5 - For the parent or study leader with guidance and background to lead a group of all ages.
Our family consists of my husband and myself and our three children, ages 15, 7 and 4.  My husband and I have struggled with consistency in family Bible study/devotion due to the differences in our children's ages. The difficulty comes in finding a way to go beyond a very shallow look at scripture but have something that reaches the age difference and level of understanding in our children.  What an answer to our dilemma as well as that of many other Christian families The Sword Study series provides!

The beauty of this age appropriate and synchronized in-depth discipleship tool is that it can be utilized in your church as well.  Along with the daily guide, a weekly "Family Bonfire" time is provided to celebrate your family's growth and make family discipleship a reality instead of the struggle it sometimes can be.  I really appreciate the emphasis on prayer that is provided as well the concentration on scripture memorization.  The entire family memorizes the same passage each week.  The passages memorized correspond to what is being studied throughout the week.  Bible memory cards in four different translations (KJV, NKJV, NASB and ESV) are provided.

I can't think of or recommend a better or easier way to get your family in God's word than through this amazing resource.  You can explore sample pages and learn more about The Sword Study series by going HERE.  You can purchase the study series from or Barnes and  The series contains studies focusing on 1 John, 2 Timothy, 1 Peter and Colossians which can all be found at the foundation's store as well as major online retailers such as the ones mentioned above.