Monday, June 30, 2008

She Always Wore Red by Angela Hunt

Fairlawn Funeral Home Series

Book 1 – Doesn’t She Look Natural
Book 2 – She Always Wore Red
Book 3 – She’s in a Better Place - coming Spring 2009

Once again Angela Hunt delivers an intriguing tale with interesting characters. Expect some twists and turns and enjoy the ride as read this book jammed full of life lessons and spiritual applications.

Back Cover of Book says:

Jennifer Graham – mother, student, and embalmer’s apprentice – could use a friend. She finds one in McLane Larson, a newcomer to Mt. Dora. While McLane’s soldier husband serves overseas, Jen promises to support McLane, then learns that her tie to this woman goes far deeper than friendship. When a difference of opinion threatens their relationship, Jennifer discovers weaknesses in her own character…and a faith far stronger than she had imagined.

If you haven’t read Doesn’t She Look Natural, start there, but read the whole series. You will chuckle, shed a tear or two, and learn more about life and death in the Fairlawn Funeral Home series.

Go here for She Always Wore Red discussion questions.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Looking for a Miracle by Wanda Brunstetter

Looking for a Miracle is the second book of four in the Brides of Lancaster County Series.

Book 1 – A Merry Heart
Book 2 – Looking for a Miracle
Book 3 – Plain and Fancy
Book 4 – The Hope Chest

During my time of bed rest, I decided to read some slower paced books in addition to my normal fare of action packed fiction. Wanda Brunstetter writes stories set in Pennsylvania's Amish country.

Looking for a Miracle further develops one of the characters we met in A Merry Heart. Rebekah was about to walk home from school when a severe thunderstorm rolled in and her Aunt Miriam decided to take her home in her buggy to keep her safe. Rebekah went outside to wait where a tree branch fell on her paralyzing her from the waist down. In A Merry Heart, Rebekah was a happy child who didn’t seem to be affected by her disability, but when the teenage years hit in Looking for a Miracle her attitude changes for the worse.

Back of Book says:

As a child Rebekah suffered a freak accident that left her legs paralyzed. Now, confined to a wheelchair most of the time, she feels that she will never measure up to the expectations of her Pennsylvania Amish community that a woman marry and raise a family. She longs to be loved for who she is, but she has come to believe that marriage is not for her and that she will always be a burden to her family.

When Daniel Beachy – who as long seemed smitten by Rebekah’s cousin – begins to spend time with Rebekah, she believes it is only because he feels sorry for her and is interested in obtaining her new business. After all, what man would choose a woman with a handicap such as hers for a wife?

Will Rebekah ever find the miracle she is looking for?

Check your local library for a copy of Looking for a Miracle and journey with Rebekah as she seeks her miracle. I'm looking forward to reading Plain and Fancy, the third book in the series and learning more about another of Wanda's delightful characters.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Merry Heart by Wanda Brunstetter

A Merry Heart is the first book of four in the Brides of Lancaster County Series.

Book 1 – A Merry Heart
Book 2 – Looking for a Miracle
Book 3 – Plain and Fancy
Book 4 – The Hope Chest

This is the first book by Wanda Brunstetter that I’ve read and I find it similar to the Amish books that Beverly Lewis writes. I typically read novels with more action and suspense, but I enjoyed reading A Merry Heart because I grew up in Ohio and we came in contact with the Amish a lot. They are honest, compassionate, and loving people that take care of each other. It has always amazed me how they stick together as a community and care for those in need. If someone suffers because of an illness or loses property in an accident or storm the whole community comes together to meet the need. How incredible it would be if we too could follow their example to the degree that they do.

A Merry Heart is a sweet story of a young woman who hardened her heart to love after the man of her dreams married another. She and others considered herself and old maid. Then suddenly there are two available men showing an interest in her, but they are not the men she would have chosen. One man is from outside her Amish faith and the other just seems to need a mother for his six year old daughter.

Back Cover of Book says:

Miriam Stoltzfus was once filled with wonderful dreams for a future with the man she’d loved since childhood until he moved away and married someone else leaving her heart a bitter shell. Now Miriam is known in her community as the “old maid” schoolteacher with a “heart of stone.”

Amos Hilty wants to court Miriam but she’s certain that he only wants a mother for his daughter and a wife for convenience. Her heart warms to a more interesting friendship in the form of Nick McCormick, a newspaper reporter outside her Amish faith who is easy to talk to and incredibly makes her smile again.

Will Miriam ever let go of the bitter spirit and surrender her will to God? Or will she leave the Amish faith and find what she longs for in the outside world?

If you’d like to escape the hustle and bustle of our busy world and enter the slower paced lifestyle of the Amish, grab a copy of this book and find a quiet corner to read.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

You’ve Got a Friend written by Joni Eareckson Tada and illustrated by Jeff Meyer

Ages 4-10

This book is useful in helping children learn about physical disabilities, being a friend, and loving their neighbor. Children can be encouraged to care about others through reading this story. Parents can help by giving their children suggestions on how they can share God’s love to those who are wheel chair bound, sick, hospitalized, etc. All children have something to contribute, something to share with their world and most need the love and guidance of their parents or guardians to help them on their way to becoming compassionate, loving adults.

Back of the Book says:

Ben Brewer is stuck. Stuck in the blues. All he really wants – and needs – is a friend. Somebody to play with. To share jokes and stories with. To race up and down the street with, like the other kids do on their bikes. Tony, Ben’s neighbor, has a brand new bike that he’s going to ride in the neighborhood race on Saturday. But he doesn’t want to go alone, so he invites Ben to come along. What Ben doesn’t know is that Tony often feels lonely. He needs a friend too. And what neither boy knows is that God has a plan. With some heavenly help, Ben and Tony are both about to discover the friend that’s been there all along.

Find a copy of this book at your local library or bookstore and spend some time with your children giving them the tools they need to love all people they come in contact with throughout their lives.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Healing Stones by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn

Healing Stones confronts a devastating problem in our society – infidelity. At times we may think if we keep our sin private, it won’t affect anyone else, but it does in ways we may not grasp until its too late.

In this novel the guilty partner realizes the destruction to the family and seeks restoration, but is it too little too late? Journey with the quirky, yet likable therapist as he helps his client look back over life, choices and beliefs that led up to the decision to be unfaithful. Even when things aren’t going as we would hope in this family, situations occur that bring opportunities for growth and healing. Journey with the Costanas family as they deal with the aftermath of unfaithfulness and find some useful life applications that may apply to your life or to the life of someone you love.

If you or someone you care about is suffering because of unfaithfulness in marriage or any other emotional problem, please seek help through a Christian counselor or Pastor. I used to work as a counselor at a Christian Counseling Center and have witnessed first hand the wonderful work of God in the lives of hurting people. He can change your life too!

September 3, 2008 Update:

I just read from the author's blog that book 3 is in the works now.

Sullivan Crisp Series

Book 1 - Healing Stones
Book 2 - Healing Waters (will be released December 08)
Book 3 - Healing Sands (being written now September 08)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Jesus Must Be Really Special by Jennie Bishop and illustrated by Amy Wummer

Jesus Must Be Really Special is a book that encourages training children and passing on a Godly heritage to them. The book is narrated by a young boy who observes his family love Jesus and each other in their day to day interactions. Parents may find new motivation to attempt Family Night with their children because of the samples shared in this book. There are special sections throughout the book to support parents – some are (Faith-Filled Environment, Teachable Moments, Time With God, and more).

Inside the Front Book Jacket it says:

Jesus must be really special because my mom and dad love Him so much. I mean, they REALLY love Him. I’ve been watching them, and I know!

In Jesus Must Be Really Special the young narrator comes to know and love Jesus by watching his parents and participating in their lifestyle of faith.

His family’s experiences, told in a gently humorous style, will capture your child’s attention and lead him to discover that he loves Jesus too.

Uplifting sidebar notes offer practical help for easily and intentionally passing on your faith.

Enjoy Jesus Must Be Really Special with your family and begin to share the blessings for living out your spiritual legacy.

Enjoy this book with your children as you pass your faith along to the next generation. To learn more about Heritage Builders check out their website to discover resources, activities and families to pass on a spiritual heritage to your children.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Debt by Angela Hunt

Today I finished another book by Angela Hunt. Each of her books that I have read are unique, yet they all challenge me to look deeper at my walk with Jesus Christ and to examine my motives and to consider how I might live differently because of my love for Jesus.

The Debt is a beautiful story of one woman’s (Emma Rose) sorrows and losses and how they were redeemed for God’s glory. Her personal walk in the sin and the pain of the world was short lived compared to the time spent serving God in full-time ministry and her past was pushed into the back of her memory for the most part. After coming face to face with a person from her past, she realized that love sometimes takes us out of our comfort zone and into a place where love is needed and can grow through the nurturing, grace of God.

From the back cover:

But when Emma Rose receives a phone call from a living, breathing remnant of her troubled past, she finds herself wondering if something in her life is woefully out of balance. The presence of this unexpected intruder soon threatens everything Emma Rose has believed about her calling, her marriage, and her relationship with God.

The Debt not only invites readers to embrace the painful heartache and incomparable joy that accompany a soul’s redemption, but it challenges us to follow Christ to new and unexpected places.

Thought provoking quote from The Debt:

“The things that tempt me from following God daily aren’t sinful things,” he wrote. “They’re good things – duty to my family, to my father’s company, to the people at my church. But if I am going to devote myself to following God, I must be willing to leave the good things behind as I seek the best thing – total submission and obedience.”

If you want to enjoy a wonderful story and take away some gems of wisdom, find a copy of The Debt. Then follow Jesus to the place where you can share His love with a hurting world.

For the discussion questions go here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

God Loves You Very Much written by Cindy Kenney and illustrated by Bryan Ballinger

Age Level: Ages 6 and under

We bought this book for my daughter (as a gift from our newborn son) and gave it to her in the hospital after his birth.

On each page of this fun, rhyming, board book, kids meet their favorite Veggie Tales characters who encourage them to remember that God loves them very much.

Bob the Tomato says:

“God made you special, but here is the rest…
He loves you so much – he thinks you’re the best!”

Kids will giggle their way through each page as Bob, Larry, and their Veggie friends share a special message that will last a lifetime!

This is a fun book that will be enjoyed by young and old and everyone in between.

Friday, June 13, 2008

God Made You Special by Eric Metaxas

Age Level: 6 and under

This is a delightful board book that children will want you to read over and over again. It can be read for fun or it can be educational as children identify the vivid colors on each page or count the characters.

The back of the book says:

Bob, Larry, and all your favorite Veggies Tales friends want you to know that God made each of us special, different, and unique! This message can be a powerful reminder to little ones that they are special too.

Bob’s read and round, and he bounces ‘cause he has no feet. Madame Blueberry lives in a tree. What makes her special? She’s as blue as can be. What about those French Peas? They speak with “zee accent.” Tots will discover that it’s okay to be different, because God made you special and he loves you very much. Through fun rhymes and humor, and some help from those lovable Veggies, little ones will realize that God makes everyone special!

Grab a copy of this fun-filled book and spend some quality time with your little munchkins.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Grace and Truth Paradox Book Giveaway

This month, Randy Alcorn is giving away The Grace and Truth Paradox to three randomly drawn winners. If you would like a chance to win the book, go to Randy's blog and make a comment by June 27. Winners will be announced in his blog on Monday, June 30.

I read this book a few months ago and think that many people could benefit from the truths shared.

Some thought provoking quotes I liked from the book:
People sensed that Jesus loved them, even when He spoke difficult words. He was full of grace and truth. He drew them out of the night like a light draws moths.

We’ve redefined Christlike to mean “nice.” By that definition, Christ wasn’t always Christlike. He confronted people with sin, raised His voice, threw tables, and called people snakes, blind hypocrites, and whitewashed tombs. If we don’t talk about sin and hell because we want to be nice, we’re trying to be nicer than Jesus, who spoke a great deal about both.

"Why should we have to choose between conservatism's emphasis on truth and liberalism's emphasis on grace? Why can't we oppose injustice to minorities and to the unborn? Why can't we oppose greedy ruination of the environment and anti-industry New Age environmentalism? Why can't we affirm the biblical right to the ownership of property and emphasize God's call to voluntarily share wealth with the needy? Why can’t we uphold God’s condemnation of sexual immorality, including homosexual practices, and reach out in love and compassion to those trapped in destructive lifestyles and dying from AIDS?

Something to think about that is for sure... For more information, comments, questions and answers on this powerful book, check out Randy's website. I encourage you to borrow or purchase a copy of this book. You could read it quickly or slowly depending on how much you plan to digest.
June 30, 2008 Update:
Go to Randy's blog to find out the winners of The Grace and Truth Paradox giveaway.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Opening Windows Compiled by Mary Fairchild

I spent a few weeks reading this book because I wanted to stretch it out and take bits and pieces slowly to give me a chance to absorb them. It isn't really profound or even anything new, but its a breath of fresh air from many authors, such as Max Lucado, Gary Smalley, Joni Eareckson Tada, Wayne Watson, Philip Yancey, Bill Hybels and more. Each chapter starts with a quote and Scripture verse, followed by a reflection. At the end of each chapter there is a section entitled "Your Fresh Take" and it asks the reader to consider different elements from the chapter and to make application to life. It ends with a short prayer that starts like this... "Lord, as I open..." (in reference to the open windows in the title).

It is a book that you could buzz through quickly or one that you could spend some time thinking through the questions. I think it would be productive to journal the answers to "Your Fresh Take." Actually, I'm going to use several of them in my other blog - Actions Speak Loudest. For an example, check out this post and/or this post.

For info on Mary Fairchild who compiled the book go here.

Happy reading and growing in Jesus!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Winners Announced for Deception Giveaway

Randy Alcorn's blog announced the winners for the May book giveaway. Three people will be given signed copies of Randy's novel, Deception, check his blog to see if you are a winner.

Next month’s giveaway is Randy’s book The Grace and Truth Paradox—check his blog and enter the contest on June 9. This is another great book and I will try to post about it soon.

God Gave Us Two by Lisa Tawn Bergren (art by Laura J. Bryant)

God Gave Us Two by Lisa Tawn Bergren and illustrated by Laura J. Bryant is a delightful book, we purchased for my daughter before the birth of our son. It's a book that we are going to share again with the whole family as we are planning on the arrival of our third blessing in December.

Journey with Little Cub, Mama and Papa as they travel through Mama's pregnancy with anticipation and joy for the arrival of the new life that God is bringing to their family. Little Cub learns that the new life is not a replacement just a special addition.

The Back of the Book says:

Now that Mama polar bear has another baby in her tummy, Little Cub is bursting with curiosity. "Why do we need a new baby?" she asks. "If we don't like the new baby, can we send it back?"

"Will you forget me when the new baby comes?"

Gently and lovingly, Mama and Papa assure their firstborn that the new baby is a gift from God they want very much, just as Little Cub was - and still is.

"God gave us you. Now he's given us two!"

The winsome sequel to God Gave Us You, God Gave Us Two playfully affirms a child's uniqueness and place in the family and helps little ones accept, appreciate, and love their new siblings.

This is a book, I'm thrilled to have on our family bookshelf. I hope it is a bonus for your family too.

Monday, June 2, 2008

God Gave Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren (art by Laura J. Bryant)

This is a beautiful book written by Lisa Tawn Bergren and illustrated by Larua J. Bryant that I bought for my daughter's first birthday. As you read God Gave Us You with your children you can share the miracle of life and how special each child is to both parents and God.

The back cover of the book says:

When a charming polar bear cub climbs into bed one night, she asks her mama a very important question - one that little "human cubs" often wonder about too:

"Where did I come from?"

As Mama Bear tucks her young cub under the quilts, she gently, tenderly, and reassuringly communicates the message loving parents everywhere (bears and non-bears alike) want their little ones to hear: "We wanted you very, very much, and we as so very glad because...

"God gave us you."

Perfect for bedtime, naptime, storytime, or anytime. God Gave Us You provides a valuable opportunity to build children's self-esteem every day and assure each one that he or she truly is a welcomed, precious, and treasured gift from above.

This is a book, I'm glad that we own as it can be read over and over again through the years.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

God Thinks You're Wonderful Mom! by Max Lucado

My eight year old daughter picked out this book for me for Mother's Day in addition to Heaven by Randy Alcorn. God Thinks You're Wonderful, Mom! is a quick read full of one-liners and childlike illustrations. It's a perfect book to bring a smile to a mom's face.

There are several section that ask a question and give answers on the following pages, for instance:

His Greatest Gift?
He has chosen to give you the gift of Himself.
Newborn babies stir our tears.

God thinks you're worth His kindness and He's a good judge of character.

If you need a smile or some encouragement check your local library for a copy of this charming book and thank God for the blessing of your children!

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39