Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book Review of To Know You by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel

This was an incredible read ... hard, challenging and also very intriguing, and inspiring. I love stories that feel real to my heart and this one ranks at the top for that.

Publisher's Blurb:
TNK coverJulia Whittaker’s rocky past yielded two daughters, both given up for adoption as infants. Now she must find them to try to save her son.
Julia and Matt Whittaker’s son has beaten the odds for thirteen years only to have the odds—and his liver—crash precipitously. The only hope for his survival is a “living liver” transplant, but the transplant list is long and Dillon’s time is short. His two older half-sisters, born eighteen months apart to two different fathers, offer his only hope for survival.
But can Julia ask a young woman—someone she surrendered to strangers long ago and has never spoken with—to make such a sacrifice to save a brother she’s never known? Can she muster the courage to journey back into a shame-filled season of her life, face her choices and their consequences, and find any hope of healing?
And what if she discovers in her own daughters’ lives that a history of foolish choices threatens to repeat itself? Julia knows she’s probably embarking on a fool’s errand—searching for the daughters she abandoned only now that she needs something from them. But love compels Julia to take this journey. Can grace and forgiveness compel her daughters to join her?
In To Know You, Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel explore how the past creates the present . . . and how even the most shattered lives can be redeemed.

To be completely honest, I found the book a difficult read. While the story and plot were very enticing, the constant POV switches made it a challenge for me. The book is set up chronologically, based on a time clock. Therefore instead of POV changes lined up based on scenes, you find yourself whirling to a new plot thread based on the clock. There are also several flashbacks. Eventually, I did adjust to the transitions, but cannot say it was a smooth read for me.

That being said the powerful content of the story still bled through. There are many great characters, each with their own investment in the main plot of the sick boy, as well as their own individual plots that are compelling on their own. It is an immensely deep and invested read covering difficult topics such as infidelity, adoption, intimacy issues in marriage, and even more crucial, the concept of redemption and forgiveness. 

A great book - not a beach/weekend read. Check it out for yourself and download the first three chapters free from Shannon Ethridge's website.

Thanks to Booksneeze and Thomas Nelson for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Changing the world one person at a time - or more?

Have you noticed there is a flood of kids out there changing the world?

I spoke at a camp this summer and using the movie tie-in of The Hobbit, I tried to convince a group of middle-schoolers that being small or young isn't an excuse. I gave them many examples of kids changing the world.

There are so many examples out there. Maybe there is a kid in your own home who is doing this too! (I'm thinking of you Benjamin!)

Recently I watched a fantastic movie called Little Red Wagon. It is the story of another such boy, Zach Bonner from the USA who did exactly that. The movie tells of how this young boy got started and how before he knew it he was running a charity foundation helping thousands upon thousands of needy children.

The bottom line is God is stirring the hearts of young people all over our world to make a difference. They are being challenged to start small impacting lives of people around them and then letting God take the reins of where He wants it to go. 

I really liked that the movie told a well-rounded story. Not just the facts of the boy and his journey but the ups and downs of a family trying to live out their lives together. There is no real mention or attention given to the faiths/beliefs of this family and I have not been able to ascertain if they are christian. However they are doing an amazing thing for God says 
"Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalm 82:3
And there is no doubt that is what Zach is doing!

There are a few language issues in the movie to be aware of - a lippy teenager, basically. However I still believe it is a very family friendly movie to watch. But beware ... you might want to get off your couch and do something amazing after watching it!

Check out an interview with Zach and also the dove foundation review.

Movie can be purchased at Walmart.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book Review of God Is Able by Priscilla Shirer AND Giveaway!

Do you believe that?

I mean, really believe that God is able?

This book might challenge what you know and believe about God's ability in your life.

Got an IMPOSSIBLE situation? IMPOSSIBLE. IMPENETRABLE. UNCHANGEABLE. Maybe so . . . until God gets involved. No matter the details of your circumstance, His raw power potential and immeasurable ability refuse to cower in the face of any challenge. Nothing is impossible with GodNothing. Not even that thing. This is the uplifting, well-reasoned answer from New York Times best-selling author Priscilla Shirer—not a denial of life’s adversities and troubles, but a biblical reminder that God is always up to great things, even when His great things are greater then instant remedies and visible change. He is a God who cares . . . and a God who CAN. Believe it. Experience it. God Is Able.

This book was a pleasant surprise for me. Priscilla takes one verse and dissects it every possible way to help us understand the fullness and the vastness of God's ability. The verse is Ephesians 3:20-21. A verse that many are familiar with but likely have never had it broken down quite like this. Each chapter takes a word or section of words from the verse and kneads it through until there is no mistaking what the intentions of those words are, and the power intended behind them.

Now don't go judging this as "I've heard all about that verse before." Because Priscilla has an amazing gift of peeling back YOUR layers and digging deep into YOUR heart to tell an new story about this verse.  You won't be disappointed.

The book has a very easy flow and is easy to digest in small parts. It also is short enough to read over a couple of days. Her light-hearted but get-to-the-point style of engaging the reader is refreshing and perfectly suited for this topic of opening our hearts to the greatest that God is able to do in and through us.

An excellent read and an excellent gift for someone you love who is struggling through that impossible situation.

Order your own or comment below to win a free copy courtesy of B&H Publishing Group and Priscilla Shirer.

In case you are curious, I have blogged about a previous book by Priscilla Shirer in January 2012.

Thanks to B&H Publishing for my free copy to review. The above comments are my honest opinion. Also thanks to B&H for the additional free copy to be given away as a prize.

Comment below to be entered into a draw for a free copy of God is Able. Be sure to leave me your spam-free email address so I can contact the winner. (Ex: jodi(dot)janz(at)gmail(dot)com)

GIVEAWAY EXTENDED!!! DEC 31st. Start your New Year out right with a new book!