Friday, November 29, 2013

Book Review of A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman

Uncover the art you were made to live.

Cover ArtPublisher's Blurb:
Do you desperately fear you have nothing to offer the world but secretly hope you're wrong? 
You were born to make art. You were made to live art. You might not see yourself as an artist, but you are--in so many unexpected ways. In what you create, whether poetry or pie, sculpture or sand castle, calligraphy or conversation. It's time to uncover the shape of your soul, turn down the voice of the inner critic, and move into the world with the courage to be who you most deeply are. 
Creating a life of meaning is not about finding that one great thing you were made to do, it's about knowing the one great God you were made to glorify--in a million little ways.

This amazing little book is jammed packed with golden nuggets of all shapes and sizes ... a million different ways you can gain insight, inspiration and courage packed into this wonderful item.  Emily P Freeman has done a wonderful job of breaking down barriers, opening dark closets and sweeping out unused corners in my life from her book A Million Little Ways. A true delight.

Originally I found her poetic style of writing a little confusing and even distracting. However the more I dove into the book and allowed her whimsical flow to rest with me, the more I began to see and understand her message. It isn't a

Friday, November 22, 2013

National Adoption Day

Today is a wonderful day to celebrate family.

Every family looks different. Some are big and some are small. Some are biologically all related and some are not. Those are not what defines a family. People who love you and accept you; people who look out for you and encourage you - that's family.

Today in the Unites States many are celebrating a new kind of family - the adoptive one.

According to the National Adoption Day website there are more than 100,000 children waiting in the foster care system to be invited to join a Forever Family.

I live in Canada and our research states there are over 30,000 children available for adoption today.

I cannot speak from direct experience about the impact of adopting a child. Someday we hope to do this as a family and have had many dis

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I am in love with HOPE

Let me tell you about my day. It started with a movie and ended with a hurting young girl. And hope.

It was my first day off in a long time. If I wasn't working I was driving kids around. But this day I was AT HOME. And it felt good.

After the usual cleaning and little jobs around the house I settled down to watch a movie I had rented from the Library that was over due. It was titled Have A Little Faith, based on the book from Mitch Albom.

Here is a blurb about the book, and ultimately the movie from Albom's website.
Have A Little Faith begins with an unusual request: an 82-year-old rabbi from Albom’s old hometown asks him to deliver his eulogy.  
Feeling unworthy, Albom insists on understanding the man better, which throws him back into a world of faith he’d left years ago. Meanwhile, closer to his current home, Albom becomes involved with a Detroit pastor – a reformed drug dealer and convict – who preaches to the poor and homeless in a decaying church with a hole in its roof. 
Moving between their worlds, Christian and Jewish, African-American and white, impoverished and well-to-do, Mitch observes how these very different men employ faith similarly in fighting for survival: the older, suburban rabbi, embracing it as death approaches; the younger, inner-city pastor relying on it to keep himself and his church afloat.

If you haven't heard of it before feel free to check out this little video clip from Mitch Albom talking about the book and then reading the first mesmerizing pages. (scroll down the page a little way)

The movie is an interesting one that I enjoyed a lot. It isn't family friendly in the sense that you would want your young children watching it. However I still give it a high recommendation. It was aired as a Hallmark TV movie a few years back. There are a few videos and trailers on YouTube if you are interested.

However the movie is not the reason I am writing. Instead I want to share with you what happened when I had to pause the movie to answer my phone.

There is a young woman my daughter knows that is going through a hard time. Family issues, boyfriend issues and the like but she is handling it all in an unhealthy way. That afternoon I paused my movie to receive a phone call from my daughter asking if this girl could stay with us that night as she had nowhere to go. I agreed hesitantly.

I resumed my movie only to be interrupted a few minutes later by the mother informing me her daughter was on suicide watch and did I mind that? Soon my afternoon was taken up with phone calls to the High School Resource worker, our local Family and Social Services and the concerned mother.

I began to fear for what I had gotten my family into. After I received my last phone call I hit my knees in prayer. Only God knew what our evening was about to transpire into. I prayed for the young woman too and the dark place she'd found herself in. I thought of myself at her age and drew so many parallels.

But God is good.

He is faithful to help those who call upon His name.

He did a miracle in my life and he could do it in hers.

I returned to my movie to catch the happily ever after ending as is crucial to all Hallmark Movies.  But it was the last line of the film that actually moved my spirit. As the movie wrapped up and the main character, Mitch Albom gives his final thoughts he says as his last words:
I am in love with hope.
Me too.  It turns out our evening was uneventful, the young gal went off to school with my kids the next morning and met with all the official people she needed to after her morning classes.  But as she left our house she hugged me and thanked me for giving her a place to stay and in my mind I replied. "I am in love with hope."

Whatever you are facing today may you find these words etched somewhere in your spirit. Hope is a powerful thing. God is good at His job of redeeming lives. No matter where you are or what you are facing ... hang on to hope. He will see you through.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Book Review of Relentless Redemption by Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson

Inspirational & comedic speaker, Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, is the co-host for the national daily show, The 700 Club Canada. Called by God to the media miraculously one night in 1999, she has interviewed hundreds of celebrities and many great men and women of faith like Josh McDowell, Pat Robertson, Tony Campollo, Dr. Gary Chapman, Bill Hybels, Patsy Clairmont, and Thelma Wells.
Over 90 of her celebrity interviews have aired on The BIOGRAPHY Channel Canada. She's interviewed Hollywood favorites Josh Duhmel and Jesse Metcalfe, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Stedman Graham and Henry Winkler to name a few. She has hosted numerous television programs over the years as well as produced and starred in her own comedy sketch show Coffee Shop Girl.
However, the real story of where she came from and the brokenness she experienced as a young woman, has never been told. Devastation so severe, she lived for years believing she would never recover and had permanently disqualified herself from her destiny.
God's relentless pursuit of her is meticulously recorded on the pages of this book. Her story will inspire and ignite you to realize no matter how tragic your journey has been, it's never too late! God has called you to a great work and the secrets to rising out of the ashes are contained in detail. Her comedic style of writing will also cause you to laugh out loud at God's vindication and outrageous Relentless Redemption.

The power of a testimony could not be summed up any better than in this book, Relentless Redemption, with it's perfect title. Laura-Lynn's story is powerful and demonstrates the Hand of God at work like so many of the Bible stories we read. Despite the awful choices she'd made and the complete mess her life was in due to her own selfishness and pride, God had a plan. A plan to REDEEM, to RESTORE and to REBUILD.

Her message couldn't ring any louder that God has a plan for you too. No matter where you are, what you've done or how unworthy you feel. Tyler Thompson talks in the book about a time she visited a recovery house for people suffering with addictions.
"You are not your addiction, you are not your failure, you are not your shame, you are not even your incredible successes. You are God's child. Created to embrace Him as Daddy. He takes your "stuff" in exchange for His power.
Feeling disqualified? Don't believe it! Feeling rejected? Don't embrace it! Feeling despair  Don't accept it! Feeling sad? Don't receive it! Feeling alone? Don't trust it. Trust in truth not feelings. The truth is you are royalty, qualified, received and entitled to joy, hope and redemption."
One thing I loved about this story and how Laura-Lynn has written it is that we often pray and ask God to intervene in our messes and our failures and mistakes. Then when our situation doesn't change we think He won't, can't or simply doesn't want to help us. Reminiscent of awesome stories like Moses wandering the desert, Abraham and Sarah waiting for a promised child or Joseph knowing God had plans greater than slavery and prison for him; this story tells perfectly that in God's timing we will see the outcome of His ever patient and capable hand at work.

The book is well written and well put together. It is an easy read that keeps you on your toes.

If you love testimonies ... read this book.
If you love a happily ever after that isn't a fairy tale ... read this book.
But especially read this book if you feel any of those things listed above. If you feel like you are stuck and will never get out ... read this book. God has made a way where there seems to be no way. I promise.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Satellite Sky Solutions and Graf-Martin Communications Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Surprisingly Fun Family Film

Have you heard of the movie Ring The Bell?

It is a film by Provident Films. It's written and produced by Mark Miller (a.k.a Sawyer Brown). Wow, that's a great flashback memory to my high school days dancing to a made up dance routine and screaming the lyrics to The Race Is On with my friend Nadine. (Opps ... too much information.)

Anyway, Mark Miller is a busy man. He has added film maker to his impressive resume of Country Rock star, Beach Street Record Label owner and Grammy and Dove award-winning producer for Casting Crowns and other great Christian artists. Feel free to check out an interview about Mark's life and his christian roots.

Back to the movie ...

The movie is about a slick, Big City Sports Agent who wanders down to Small Town America to sign an up and coming Baseball star. The movie is loaded with famous faces and even includes an entire Casting Crowns concert scene. And if you are a baseball fans you will want to see the faces that show up in this movie!

The movie has a great message and a real feel-good sense about life and faith. It's message teaches about priorities, the greater call upon our lives and of course the redemption of a heart that's turned from God.  "This heartwarming story of redemption will entertain and inspire the whole family." Check out the Dove Foundation's review as well.

I will add one personal comment. Although I thoroughly enjoyed this movie I have to admit it was a slow start for me. I found the beginning scenes stereotyped, amateurish and just plain cheesy. But let me give you the poke and encouragement to be patient, have faith and hold on because the movie soon warms your heart and endears you to the characters until you dry your tears in the final scene. Stick it out ... because it's worth it.

There is also a study guide available on the movie website to enhance a group setting or family movie night.

I definitely give this one a thumbs up! The race is on to go out and get your own copy!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Review of The Message Remix by Eugene Peterson

Are you familiar with the bible translation The Message?

I had read some scripture versions from The Message New Testament but I had never owned one. It was a treat to sit down and read through scripture as if it were a story book. In Eugene's own words he says,
The Message is a reading Bible. It is not intended to replace the excellent study Bibles that are available. My intent here is simply to get people reading it who don’t know that the Bible is read-able at all, at least by them, and to get people who long ago lost interest in the Bible to read it again.” Eugene H. Peterson
For the purpose of this book review, I obviously couldn't read it cover to cover as I would with other review books. Instead I placed it next to my NIV Study Bible at the coffee table where I do my morning devotions. Then each morning I would read my scripture segment from my NIV and then from The Message.

I think The Message:Remix has earned a permanent place there!

I found the language easy to process and very visual. If you aren't familiar with this version please pick your favorite scriptures and google them with The Message in the search line. Check out for yourself the impact and imagery that could be added to your personal bible study.

As for the actual book I received I have a few points I wanted to make about it. I love the compact size and the pleasing wood surface cover. I liked how the scripture references were in the side margins instead of within the actual text. This helps the words to flow more like a story.

However I found the pages far too thin and difficult to turn. The words from the back side of the page were distractedly obvious on the page I was reading.

At the beginning of each book of the Bible there is an introductory page. I found these informative and enlightening. Peterson is a Pastor and his pastor-heart is found on every page but especially in the introductions. Each one I read felt like sitting in a pew listening to a great reflection in a sermon. (Hopefully that doesn't sound boring to you - that is not my intention.)

One last comment is that The Message: Remix is intended for a Youth market. From the sections I read I found it useful and applicable to all ages.

If I have piqued your interest, please check out a few places. First is a website, Read Think Pray Live. Secondly, is an interview with Eugene Peterson, Faithful to the End.

"Book has been provided courtesy of NavPress and Graf-Martin Communications Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller.” 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Book Review of Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge

The first and only word that comes to mind is ... WOW!

Stasi Eldredge: Becoming Myself BookIf you've ever wondered if your life will ever change, Stasi Eldredge's book, becoming myself assures you that "God will complete the good work he's begun in you." In this book, Stasi shares her personal struggles with weight, self-worth, and her past, teaching readers that God wants them to participate in their transformation as he completes his good work in them. She invites women to look at their pasts, especially their mothers, with honesty and mercy and to look toward their future with hope. Embrace God's dream of you!

For several reasons, Becoming Myself, was an amazing book to read. It was filled with so many encouraging words and insightful thoughts on living the life of a Woman-Created-By-God. (that's you, by the way). All the boxed quotes below come from Stasi Eldredge and will give you a glimpse into her heart.

Her passion is to speak into the lives of women. Women who have asked themselves:
We Are Not Our Past
  • is change really possible?
  • is there something better than this?
  • will I ever feel whole?
  • who am I really?
  • am I beautiful? acceptable? worthy?
  • can I truly find freedom?

Stasi has a gentle yet convicting way of speaking into the hearts of women in her new book. She is honest and transparent as she guides you through so the many variables, facets and angles that make you ... you. I warmed quickly to her words.

I need to point out that this is not a weekend read. It was difficult for me to absorb it as a book reviewer on a deadline. Instead Stasi's book would be better taken slow and unhindered. There were many places I felt her words convict my heart and want to dig down deeper- but I couldn't. There were many places when the flow of emotions would not allow me to continue reading- but I had to. 

God is a DreamerLet me encourage you to grab a hold of this book if you are wondering about, seeking after healing or change in your life. Stasi says, "the very fact that we long for the change is a sign that we are meant to have it." So get the book, read it slow and patiently and watch God unveil the true you - the one He envisioned, dreamed of and then created.    

A study guide is also available for purchase & great for small groups & bible studies.

"Book has been provided courtesy of David C. Cook and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller.”