Showing posts from October, 2014


I was excited for the opportunity to read and review Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect with Them by George Barna and David Kinnaman. I belong to a large church that is active in soulwinning efforts, so books like this are great for insight on how to reach people. The book description reads:

"Churchless people are all around us: among our closest loved ones, at our workplaces, in our neighborhoods. And more and more, they are becoming the norm: The number of churchless adults in the US has grown by nearly one-third in the past decade. Yet the startling truth is that many of these people claim they are looking for a genuine, powerful encounter with God—but they just don’t find it in church. What are they (or we) missing? How can we better reach out to them? What can we say or do that would inspire them to want to join a community of faith? Containing groundbreaking new research from the Barna Group, and edited by bestselling authors George Barna (…

Never Ever Give Up: Author Q & A

Recently on my blog I reviewed the touching and heartwarming story of Jessie Joy Rees, who tragically passed away from cancer. However, before she passed away, she began the JoyJars and NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) movement, and her short life is still touching and blessing others around the world. Today I'd like to post a bit about her father, Erik Rees, who is carrying on Jessie's mission, and an excerpt of a brief interview.

Erik Rees is the Chairman of the Jessie Rees Foundation, better known as

“Jessie’s daddy” to the 310,000 Facebook fans he talks to weekly. Through Erik’s

leadership, Jessie’s mission to encourage every kid fighting cancer to “Never

Ever Give Up” is becoming a reality. He is the author of S.H.A.P.E.: Finding and

Fulfilling Your Unique Purpose for Life and of Only You Can Be You. He and his

wife, Stacey, live in Orange County, California, with their children, Shaya and JT,

and their four dogs.

Here is an excerpt of a Q&A session with him:

Never Ever …

Refined By Fire

Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace is author Mary Potter Kenyon's memoir of sorts about the tremendous loss she endured during a very short period of time: of her mother, husband, and young grandson. The book description reads:

"Where is the handbook for widows?" Mary Kenyon lamented as she planned a funeral for the beloved husband whose triumph over cancer she chronicled in Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage. During the ensuing weeks, as she attempted to make sense of his untimely death, she filled two journals, blogged, and read the inspirational writings of others who had gone down the road of grief before her--authors like C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle. She eventually found herself studying grief and bereavement in her quest to unearth answers to alleviating the pain associated with profound loss. In the process, she discovered a strength and emotional reserve she didn't know she had, along with an evolving faith that helped her face …

The Invisible Front

The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War by Yochi Dreazen is an exhaustive look at the huge crisis threatening our troops: PTSD and suicide. Dreazen's book focuses on the Graham family: Major General Mark and his wife Carol, and their children; Jeff, Kevin, and Melanie. The Grahams face the loss of both of their sons while in the Army: Jeff to a roadside bomb in Iraq, and Kevin to suicide. Jeff was lauded as a hero, while Kevin's death was met with silence. Mark and Carol are now on a mission to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide within the military. The book descriptions reads:

"The unforgettable story of a military family that lost two sons—one to suicide and one in combat—and channeled their grief into fighting the armed forces’ suicide epidemic.

Major General Mark Graham was a decorated two-star officer whose integrity and patriotism inspired his sons, Jeff and Kevin, to pursue military careers of their own. His wife Carol was…


Noah is a wordless picture book by Mark Ludy. I've never reviewed a wordless picture book before, so it's a bit different of a genre, but I selected this book because I have a 4 year old, 6 year old, and 8 year old and thought especially my 4 year old son would like this book because he loves the story of Noah and the ark. The book description reads:

"Mark Ludy’s latest book will appeal to adults and children alike. Digging deeper than the Sunday school tale of cuddly animals on Noah’s ark, the story follows the biblical text and illumines Noah’s relationship with God, his wife, family, nature, and humanity. Ludy’s world-class artwork lets people see, as though for the first time, the beauty within this story - revealing a clearer picture of the nature and character of God and his relationship to humankind. It’s immersive and epic in scale and scope. The wordless format invites conversation and storytelling, key building blocks of literacy. And as with his previous books…

Not Just A Hearer But A Doer

I recently read a devotional book by Yolanda Shanks entitled Not Just A Hearer, But A Doer: Deliberately Living Life Devotional Study. The title caught my eye because I feel like as Christians we can hear a lot of messages, but never actually do them or put them into action - and deliberate living is definitely the answer. The description reads:

"We sit in the pews. We sing the songs. We recite
Scripture–Scripture we know by heart. And yet buried in the midst of this routine are commands and requests straight from the Most High that go ignored. We've become so reliant on God fulfilling His end of the bargain that we fail to follow through with ours.

We've Become Hearers.

In 31 days, Yolanda Shanks' devotional study, Not Just a Hearer but a Doer, will help you find calls to action within Scripture... and then act upon them. Starting with small things, like seeing that the Lord is good and working your way up to bigger actions, such as being a bold witness for Christ,…

Playing Saint

Playing Saint is new author Zachary Bartels' debut novel. Sometimes I'm nervous about reading a new author, but the premise of this book sounded so intriguing that I just had to give it a shot - and I wasn't disappointed. The description of the book reads:

"Yesterday, Parker Saint’s only concern was his swiftly rising star power.

Today, he’s just trying to stay alive.

Parker Saint is living the dream. A cushy job at a thriving megachurch has him on the verge of becoming a bestselling author and broadcast celebrity—until life takes an abrupt turn that lands him on the wrong side of the law. To avoid a public scandal, he agrees to consult with the police on a series of brutal murders linked by strange religious symbols scrawled on each victim.

Parker tries to play the expert, but he is clearly in over his head. Drawn ever deeper into a web of intrigue involving a demanding detective, a trio of secretive Vatican operatives, and a centuries-old conspiracy to conceal a my…


Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured A Marriage by Mary Potter Kenyon is part memoir, part marriage book. I love reading memoirs, although sometimes have trouble reading cancer memoirs because many of them can be scary or depressing. This one, however, is neither scary or depressing, although it is sad since Mary's husband does pass away - not from the cancer (he was cured of his cancer and past his 5-year remission point), but rather of a heart attack.

The description of the book reads:

"When Mary Potter Kenyon’s husband David was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2006 she searched libraries and bookstores for books on cancer and the caregiving experience. What she discovered was a plethora of technical and medically-oriented books or those written by a caregiver whose loved one had died, a scenario she refused to contemplate. While serving as David’s companion during Wednesday chemotherapy treatments, Mary began journaling about their experience as a couple and parents o…

Blue Ribbon Baking From A Redneck Kitchen

Blue Ribbon Baking From A Redneck Kitchen by Francine Bryson immediately caught my eye because it's all about two of my favorite things: old fashioned Southern cooking, and desserts! I'd never heard of Francine Bryson or The American Baking Competition show, so I wasn't sure what exactly to expect, but I wasn't disappointed.

The description on the back reads:

"National pie champion, mom, homemaker, and self-proclaimed redneck, Francine Bryson won the hearts of bakers everywhere when she appeared on CBS’s The American Baking Competition and went on to become a finalist on the show. Known for her down-home Southern charm and sass (and for successfully pairing chocolate and peanut butter with bacon), Francine now shares her sought-after recipes and tips in her very first baking book.

“Here are the recipes and tricks I was taught by my Great-Granny, Granny, Nana, and Mama—the women who schooled me on the ways a Southern woman keeps a kitchen—and that I learned from t…

Tell Me About Prayer

Tell Me About Prayer by Stephen Elkins is the latest title in the Train 'Em Up series for kids. Other titles in the series include: Baptism, Bible, Church, Faith, Grace, Praise & Worship, and Salvation. The description reads:

"Train ’Em Up is an interactive, fun-filled, and affordable series that uses a train locomotive theme for teaching kids core Christian beliefs and principles. In Tell Me about Prayer, a friendly train conductor, Mr. Steve, teaches kids what prayer is all about, how we should talk to God, and why our conversations are so important to Him. Through bold graphics and interactive songs and stories, Train ’Em Up makes it easy for parents and teachers to explain biblical concepts like prayer in a way that helps with attention, memorization, and recall while building a solid faith foundation. Each book in the series includes a CD with sing-along songs and narrated stories with sound effects, plus a colorful sticker sheet!"

This is the first book of the…

Move On

Move On: When Mercy Meets Your Mess by Vickie Courtney was one of those books that, by the description, sounded like it would either be amazing or a flop, so I opened it up not sure what to expect. Well, it was amazing! The description reads:

"You can say good-bye to the person you've been pretending to be!

Life is often messy. God makes provision to help us move beyond our messes.

Oftentimes our first instincts are to hide, deny, ignore, or run. In Move On best-selling author Vicki Courtney helps readers come clean with their muddy messes, revealing the deeper issues they must face, including:

-the need for approval
-struggles and broken dreams
-Christian snobbery

It is in the middle of our messes, Vicki says, that Mercy shows up and offers us a safe place to process our struggles, imperfections, doubts, and fears. Once we face our messes, God, with his sweet mercy, can help us to get real, deal, and truly move on. Then with Mercy by our side, we a…