Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Book Review: Total Family Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra



About the book:

Total Family Makeover: 8 Practical Steps to Making Disciples at Home (Abingdon, September 2016)
Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won't depart from it. ---Proverbs 22:6

God calls us as parents to be key disciple-makers in our children's lives, but if we're honest, some days it's a battle just to get them dressed and ready for school on time. How can you mold their hearts when sometimes you can't even find their shoes?

In Total Family Makeover, author Melissa Spoelstra gives parents a way---a sort of spiritual track to run on---when it comes to building family discipleship. She focuses on eight key habits of growth:

-Spending Time in Prayer
-Reading God's Word
-Growing Through a Mentoring Relationship
-Finding Community in the Church
-Serving Others
-Taking Time to Rest
-Giving Back to God
-Sharing Your Faith
Disciples are made, not born. Whether your children are babes in arms or teenagers getting ready to leave the nest, making disciples at home starts with you! Give your family a makeover with this practical approach to helping your children learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

My Thoughts:  I thought this book was absolutely fantastic!  Chock full of practical ideas, but with the wise advice to pick a few ideas that are feasible for your family instead of trying to do them all, this book had the perfect balance between theory and practical application.

She devotes an entire chapter to each key habit of growth; first describing how Jesus modeled each attribute and how, as parents, we can too; and then describing how to train your children in these attributes, giving practical application ideas for each one. I loved it!

Not only did it give me ideas on how to teach my children, it also gave me ideas on how to improve in these areas myself!

I enjoyed all the chapters, but one chapter I enjoyed more than I would have originally thought was the one about finding community in church.  Some of her key points in this chapter....
Jesus calls us to a life of sacrifice, not convenience.
Jesus forgave others even in the face of betrayal and heartache within his faith community.  (umm, Judas?!)
Jesus calls us to function within the body for the benefit of others.
She really got down to our motives for attending church and the attitude we have when considering where to go to church, or whether to leave a church. Very insightful chapter!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with a complimentary review copy.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Book Review: The 10 Myths of Teen Dating by Daniel and Jacquelyn Anderson



About the Book: The 10 Myths of Teen Dating: Truths Your Daughter Needs to Know to Date Smart, Avoid Disaster, and Protect Her Future (David C Cook, September 2016)

There's no greater moment of panic in a parent's life than when their daughter begins to date.

Due to their lack of knowledge about the world their teens face coupled with the scant dating information they received as teens, many parents feel ill-equipped to guide their daughters through the minefield that is teen dating.

And by the same token, teenage girls crave information about dating and relationships. And left to their own devices, many will develop their own assumptions about dating by talking to their friends or watching the latest TV shows and movies. But that will only lead them down a path toward heartbreak.

So how do you engage your daughter in discussions about dating, relationships, and her future happiness? Expert educator Daniel Anderson and his twenty something daughter, Jacquelyn, help you navigate the biggest dating myths, including: the myth that a boyfriend will make your daughter happy, that she should trust her feelings, or that sex will enhance her relationship. Combining the latest scientific research with poignant personal stories, as well as proven truths and practical application, The 10 Myths of Teen Dating will equip you to teach your daughter how to date smart for today . . . and tomorrow.

My Thoughts:  I appreciated the real, commonsense, practical tips laid out by Daniel, based on solid principles of parenting through the dating years.  I thought the extra insights provided by his daughter were also helpful and provided a teenage perspective to each of the topics.

Though the Andersons didn't say anything that particularly surprised me, it was helpful to have it all written out and explained in such a practical way. The dating myths are definitely accurate and many girls fall for them.  I think this book may be required reading for our girls to go through together with me!


Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with a complimentary review copy.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Book Review: Jesus and the Beanstalk by Lori Stanley Roeleveld


About the Book: What if a fairy tale and ten Bible verses could free you to live an effective, fruitful life in Christ?

We live in unsettling, challenging times. Everywhere we look, we see giant problems: giant obstacles to sharing faith, giant barriers to peaceful lives, giant strongholds of fear. But what if you knew eight small secrets to unlocking a strength big enough to overcome whatever obstacle life may bring?
Using allegory and a bit of humor, Jesus and the Beanstalk explores a passage in 2 Peter 1 to uncover eight truths that will help you unleash a larger-than-life faith:
-Faith
-Goodness
-Knowledge
-Self-control
-Perseverance
-Godliness
-Affection for others
-Love
In this creative, refreshing perspective on spiritual growth, you will discover an unyielding strength when you tap the power of a God who is stronger than any beanstalk and bigger than your biggest giants.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2dcnopJ

My Thoughts:  Roeleveld employs a very personable writing style as she provides insights into how to topple the giant challenges in our lives.  It may be a quirky title and an enjoyable read, but it's far from a fluffy fair tale.  Indeed, this book is full of substance and I really enjoyed how Roeleveld tackled the subject matter, and often had insightful things to say in a way I hadn't heard before - her thoughts about Uriah the Hittite, and Martha (sister of Mary and Lazarus) come to mind.

A quote... "When you hear the whisper, Bathsheba can be yours and it won't hurt a soul, I want you to think about Uriah the Hittite."

I particularly enjoyed Lori's "One Stone for Your Sling" at the end of each chapter, where she summarized or reviewed its key point. 

Here are just a couple of them....
  • I have regrets; the cross testifies to that. But it also testifies to the truth that my regrets don't need to own me because Jesus Christ does.
  • Jesus didn't want Martha to become Mary; he wanted her to be a Martha who paid attention to him.
At the end, Lori gives instructions on how to use the book for individual study, for one on one discipleship study, for small group study, and even for a retreat.  

I really appreciated this book!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with a complimentary review copy.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Download Your Free How-To Guide for Bring Your Bible to School Day


bringyourbible 
Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are preparing for Hurricane Matthew to hit. For students in hurricane-affected states who are facing school closures but still want to participate in Bring Your Bible to School Day, the alternate date is Thursday, October 20.

This brings about a good point: Any day can be a day you organize your friends to bring your Bibles to school together!

By signing up during the month of October for Bring Your Bible to School Day (even if you missed the official celebration), you can download a free how-to guide for teens, parents, pastors, and elementary students. It's full of helpful information that will help you organize a day to take a stand for religious freedom and bring your Bible to school with your fellow classmates.

(Sign-ups must be received by midnight (MT), Oct. 7, in order to be automatically entered into the Newsboys giveaway.)

Plus Bring Your Bible to School Comes to Adventures in Odyssey



sept-oac-art-250x250 

Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Take the Bible Challenge with Odyssey Adventure Club

How much do you know about the Bible and its influence on our culture, history–and the whole world? Focus on the Family and Bring Your Bible have teamed up to create a quiz to test how much you and your kids know about the Bible. Take the quiz to find out!

Don't forget to mark your calendars to celebrate religious freedom with other students across the U.S. on October 6—Bring Your Bible to School Day! Students from kindergarten to college will be bringing their Bibles to school and sharing God with their friends in just a few short weeks. Sign up to be a part of the movement to protect religious freedom for future generations.


bybts-signup-sidebar 



By signing up, you’ll receive a free guide with tips, downloadable posters, sticker and T-shirt designs, information on your legal rights, and other fun, interactive activities.

You’ll also be automatically entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to hear the Newsboys, an award-winning Christian music band, in Dallas!

Plus Bring Your Bible to School Comes to Adventures in Odyssey
sept-oac-art-250x250 

Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Book Review: Starving Hearts by Janine Mendenhall



About the Book: Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage.

She yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way. . . .

Mr. Peter Adsley is joining the clergy, and he desires a godly wife by his side. After a failed attempt to obtain one, he engages in a clandestine meeting with the bewitching young woman who keeps crossing his path. But she is so unsettling.

Destined for disappointments, Peter and Annette both endure disgraceful situations. Will Peter’s faith sustain him through overwhelming setbacks? Can Annette overcome her doubts? Or will their starving hearts yield to the machinations of a mad man?

My Thoughts: This book definitely reminded me of a Jane Austen style novel, which means it was right up my alley! Romance, intrigue, suspense - what's not to love?!

The author also tackled subjects like hope, forgiveness, and faith; as well as dealing with the moral failings and ethical quagmires of the time period. Great character development and just a well written work. Looking forward to reading more from this author!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with a complimentary review copy.

Monday, 26 September 2016

See the Newsboys in Concert with Adventures in Odyssey


newsboys 




Want to be entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to hear the Newsboys, the award-winning Christian music band, in Dallas? Sign up to be a part of the movement to protect religious freedom for future generations: Bring Your Bible to School Day! Students from kindergarten to college will be bringing their Bibles to school and sharing God with their friends on October 6.

By completing the information on this page, you're automatically entered to win the chance to see the Newsboys with Focus on the Family and Adventures in Odyssey. Don't miss out on the chance to see a fantastic band with your family!

Plus Sign Up for a Free Two-Week Trial of Odyssey Adventure Club
sept-oac-art-250x250 



Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Book Review: The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray


About the Book: Robert came to Galveston to fulfill his promise to a dying man and look after his widow. He didn't expect to find love in the unlikeliest of places.

Robert Truax, former Second Lieutenant and Confederate officer in the Civil War, made a promise to his comrade Phillip Markham. If anything happened to Phillip, Robert would look after his beloved wife, Miranda. She was his life, his world, his everything.

After the war, Robert is left to pick up the pieces and fulfill his pact. When he arrives at Miranda's home in Galveston, Texas, things are worse than he imagined. Phillip's name has been dragged through the mud, everyone in town believes him to be a traitor, and his widow is treated as an outcast. Even more disturbing is her emotional well-being. Miranda seems hopeless, lost, and so very alone.

Robert had thought his duty would be simple. He would help Miranda as quickly as possible in order to honor a promise. But the moment Robert laid eyes on her, his plans changed. He's mesmerized by her beauty and yearns to help her in any way he can.

He makes it his duty to protect Miranda, turn her reputation around, and to find some way to help her smile again. But it doesn't prove to be an easy task---Robert knows something about Phillip that could shake Miranda to the core and alter her view of the man she thought she knew so well.

My Thoughts:  History is always more interesting when it's told in story format and you become invested in the lives of the characters, even when you know they are not real life people.  Particularly when the author writes in such a way that they feel like real life people with real life problems, circumstances, and emotions.

This book had history, romance, and intrigue, while dealing with post-war fall-out for both soldiers and the families affected long after the war was over.

It was also a good reminder of the importance of reputation - both to build a good one of your own, and to avoid ruining someone else's with gossip or unfounded accusations.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with a complimentary review copy.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Commit to Bring Your Bible to School October 6th

Celebrate religious freedom with other students across the U.S. on October 6—Bring Your Bible to School Day! Students from kindergarten to college will be bringing their Bibles to school and sharing God with their friends in just a few short weeks. Sign up to be a part of the movement to protect religious freedom for future generations.




By signing up, you’ll receive a free guide with tips, downloadable posters, sticker and T-shirt designs, information on your legal rights, and other fun, interactive activities.

You’ll also be automatically entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to hear the Newsboys, an award-winning Christian music band, in Dallas!

Plus Bring Your Bible to School Comes to Adventures in Odyssey
sept-oac-art-250x250 

Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Book Review: Like a River from its Course by Kelli Stuart

About the Book: An epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope.

The city of Kiev was bombed in Hitler's blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union, but the constant siege was only the beginning for her citizens. In this sweeping historical saga, Kelli Stuart takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little-known history of Ukraine's tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives.

Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine.

Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the "killing ditch." He survives, but not without devastating consequences.

Luda is sixteen when German soldiers rape her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.

Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the F├╝hrer's plans for domination
are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism. 
Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River from Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/28YOXRu

My Thoughts: This is one of the most well-written books I've ever read.

Kelli Stuart has gathered true stories from years of research and combined them into a work of historical fiction that will break your heart yet strengthen your faith at the same time. Though at times difficult to read due to the subject matter, Stuart writes with sensitivity and tact while still conveying sheer horror at the level of depravity to which man can sink.

One thing I really liked about this story was that she was able to focus on four completely different characters who saw the war through four unique perspectives, encompassing both sides of the war through both Ukranian and German characters, and managed to make me invested in the outcome of every single one.  Often when stories are laid out this way you become impatient while reading about the less interesting characters and just want the author to get back to your favourite storyline.  Stuart made it impossible to pick just one and instead made you eagerly anticipate the continuing development of each storyline.

Stuart's characters come through raw, real and, even though most of us cannot possibly relate, still relatable.  The way she writes draws you completely into the lives of the characters and immerses you in their world.  Well done!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Book Review: Journey to Heal by Crystal Sutherland and Naming our Abuse by Schmutzer, Gorski, and Carlson



About the Book: A path of hope and healing for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

A woman who was sexually abused as a child is confronted with many internal questions: Am I worthless? Will I get past the pain? Do I matter to God? These and similar questions can carve a deep hole in an already wounded soul. Too often, the lies of worthlessness are believed, the pain becomes too much to handle, and survivors find themselves making choices that lead to more heartbreak. With over 42 million survivors (both male and female) in the United States alone, the need for a clear path to healing is great.

Crystal Sutherland---herself a survivor of CSA---knows that while the recovery process is complex, healing is possible with God's help. For women who want to progress from simply coping to living abundantly, Journey to Heal guides readers through seven essential steps to recovery found in Scripture. Candid and open about her personal journey of healing, Crystal comes alongside her reader as a friend who understands. Infused with biblical truths, stories of hope from other survivors, and practical wisdom, this book leads women to discover the life of wholeness God has for them.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/25CIk1C

My Thoughts:  This was a difficult book to read due to the subject matter, and due to knowing (as we all do) victims of abuse.  It was a very well written book and would be extremely helpful as a tool to go along with counselling - this book is not a replacement for that!

After each chapter topic or step in the healing process, Sutherland includes a "Journey Essentials" section - a prayer, a scripture, a question, and some personal journalling space.

This book is helpful for those who would like to come alongside and support a friend who is in the healing process, and of course, extremely valuable for those working on their healing.  I highly recommend this book.


About the Book: A stunningly vulnerable look at the horrific realities of sexual abuse and how to overcome them.

Male sexual abuse is increasingly in the news, from scandals in the Catholic Church to exploitations at Penn State. Yet books and programs about healing are still overwhelmingly oriented toward the female survivor of abuse. As men who experienced childhood abuse, the authors of this book are uniquely qualified to address the healing process of male survivors.

Using the metaphor of a car accident, Naming Our Abuse leads the survivor from the Wreck to the Accident Report to Rehabilitation to Driving Again. This four-step model illustrates that healing is a process to be nurtured rather than something that can be healed in a single telling. Following the authors' examples, readers are invited to find solidarity with other male survivors and develop an understanding of their own wounding through journaling exercises.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1Zg5kfR
About the authors:

Andrew Schmutzer is a professor of biblical studies at Moody Bible Institute (Chicago) and a graduate of Dallas Seminary (ThM) and Trinity (PhD). He writes about integrative issues surrounding abuse, trauma, lament, and spiritual formation and speaks regularly on issues of sexual abuse. Find out more about Andrew on his Facebook: Andrew.Schmutzer
Daniel Gorski is a thirty-year veteran software engineer, having worked for AT&T, Lucent Technologies, Alcatel-Lucent, and Nokia. He earned a BS in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Illinois and an MS in Computer Science from Kansas State University, specializing in expert systems and software automation. 
David Carlson is a special education teacher, working in the suburbs of Chicago for the majority of his adult life. He takes great pride in being an advocate for his students and their families, helping them to navigate whatever challenges life may present. He is committed to encouraging and supporting male survivors through the various stages of their healing.

My Thoughts:  If the healing of abused women is seldom discussed, the healing of abused men is ignored even more.  This book is an incredible resource, both for those who have a loved one that has been abused, and for those men who have suffered abuse themselves.

This book moves through four steps on the journey to healing, each step told by all three authors, all of whom are survivors of abuse. This book lets men know that hope and healing are possible.  A desperately needed resource and one I recommend highly.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing the tours for Journey to Heal and Naming our Abuse, and for providing me with my complimentary review copies.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

FREE 14 Day Trial Is Now Available for the Odyssey Adventure Club!






Think of ways you can enjoy this summer for free:
  • Hiking 
  • Visiting parks in your area 
  • Swimming 
  • Camping in your backyard 
  • Visit a public museum or library 

Now, add more fun and imagination to your summer through the Odyssey Adventure Club!

The Odyssey Adventure Club will give you streaming access to more than 800 Adventures in Odyssey episodes plus a sneak peek of exclusive audio and video stories, on-line activities and daily devotions you can’t find anywhere else.

Start a free 14-day trial for your family today and make the summer even more fun!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Free Clubhouse Magazine Trial




Try 3 issues of the Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse® (ages 8-12) OR Clubhouse Jr.® (ages 3-7) magazine for free!

Created with kids in mind, Focus on the Family offers a world of fun and imagination through short stories, jokes, puzzles, and games as well as recipes and activities to do as a family. Plus, what child doesn’t like mail? Your child will enjoy getting this entertaining magazine each month in the mail.

Click here to sign up for the free Clubhouse® magazine trial.

Click here to sign up for the free Clubhouse Jr.® magazine trial.





Grow Your Child's Faith This Summer!
Now is the time to make sure your kids have the greatest adventure this summer with more than 800 Adventures in Odyssey episodes and non-stop listening fun! Sign up for the Odyssey Adventure Club today for just $9.99 per month at OACLUB.org.


Monday, 13 June 2016

Make Your Children World Explorers




Give your family summer vacation a makeover this year and turn it into a "staycation." Have your kids forget their summer boredom, turn off their screens, and instead circle the globe with Focus on the Family's "World Explorers" summer adventure kit!

Throughout the next two months, travel our colorful, diverse world, visiting 27 different countries on six continents. Part of the fun will be figuring out where the next stop is, using five clues that reveal interesting facts about the next country. Once you've determined where you're going, use the games, activities and faith lessons to give your kids a glimpse into that country's unique culture.

Click here to sign up and receive your free summer adventure kit.




Don’t Be Bored This Summer!

Now is the time to make sure your kids have the greatest adventure this summer with more than 800 Adventures in Odyssey episodes and non-stop listening fun! Sign up for the Odyssey Adventure Club today for just $9.99 per month at OACLUB.org.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Book Review: The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

About the book:
The Beautiful Pretender
(Thomas Nelson, May 2016)

What happens when a margrave realizes he's fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave's bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina's best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can't deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse---far deadlier---consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost? 

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1NZuPiD

My Thoughts:
With subtle references to Beauty and the Beast and The Princess and The Pea running throughout, this tale is filled with romance, intrigue, drama, and adventure while exploring topics such as deception, loyalty, personal responsibility, and faith.  Dickerson weaves it all together magically in this wonderful story of true nobility, showing us what it means to walk with integrity, showing love and respect to all, no matter their station.

I enjoy fiction books that manage to teach you something without come across as preachy, and Dickerson manages this effortlessly - at least, so it seems to the reader!

Looking forward to reading more from Dickerson.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Adventures in Odyssey Summer Challenge 2016

This summer, you can join Adventures in Odyssey’s Clubhouse Magazine and help children in the Middle East go to school and learn English. It’s Adventures in Odyssey's Clubhouse Magazine Exercise to Educate summer challenge!

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 6.01.34 PM

The Problem

Nearly 7,000 miles away from the United States, there's a war going on in the country of Syria. Many families have been forced from their homes. Parents have had to leave their jobs, and children have had to leave behind toys and friends.

Many of these families now live in refugee camps in nearby countries. They have tents instead of houses. Clean water is hard to come by. This war has put 2.6 million children out of school – some for more than four years already.

The Solution

Our friends at Focus on the Family Middle East know many families who don't have the money to buy a school uniform and pay for their children to go to school. They also know people who would love to teach children English in local churches.

You may not have a lot of money to help, but you probably have time, energy and excitement. Here's what you can do:

1. Go to to Whitsend.org/summer.
2. Print a sponsor sheet and exercise to earn points. You can do it for a week or the whole summer – just remember, the more you exercise, the more points you'll earn!
3. Ask your family and friends to sponsor your efforts.
4. Beginning in July, tell us how you did and receive a digital bundle from your friends at Adventures in Odyssey and Focus on the Family. The deadline to submit your information is August 31, 2016.

For participating and submitting your information, you will get a free Adventures in Odyssey episode from Album 51. You will also get 101 Surefire Ways to Strengthen Your Child's Faith – eBook and the audio book of Imagination Station #1, “Voyage with the Vikings.”

Make the most of your summer—exercise for your health and help other kids in need while you do!

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 6.01.25 PM

Don’t Be Bored This Summer!

Now is the time to make sure your kids have the greatest adventure this summer with over 800 Adventures in Odyssey episodes and non-stop listening fun! Sign up for the Odyssey Adventure Club today for just $9.99 per month at OACLUB.org.


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Book Review: Sit Stay Love by Dana Mentink


About the Book: Take one abrasive professional athlete, a quirky out-of-work schoolteacher, and an overweight geriatric dog, and you're ready for a lesson in love . . . Tippy style.

Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he inherits his deceased mother's elderly dog, Tippy, he's quick to call on a pet-sitting service.

Gina isn't thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie in the classroom. Furthermore, she can't abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.

As Gina travels through Cal's world with Tippy in tow, she begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is falling in love with her too . . .

Discover the charming story of Tippy, the dog who brought a family together.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1W95mqe

My Thoughts:  I must admit that I am not a dog person (ducking the flaming arrows), but I thoroughly enjoyed this quirky book.

With charming characters and an engaging storyline, this book is a quick and enjoyable read, while still managing to teach you a thing or two along the way.  If you're a dog lover, you'll love this book - and if you're not, you still will! :)

I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more books by this Dana Mentink.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Book Review: Synced - Living Connected to the Heart of Jesus by Jennifer Kennedy Dean


About the Book: Prayer can become extraordinary when we live connected to the heart of Jesus.

Synced encourages you to emulate the way Jesus lived His life. With real-life stories of people walking closely with Jesus, finding themselves in the right place at the right time, readers are challenged to examine what staying in step with the Spirit looks like. National best-selling author and known prayer expert, Jennifer Kennedy Dean, uses the familiar passage of the Lord's Prayer as anchor points to present the way Jesus lived His life in step with the Father through prayer.

Every moment is pregnant with purpose. Every moment is drenched in power. Prayer is no longer the means by which you attempt to get God to perform for you and becomes, instead, the means by which you connect with His heart and mind. A praying life is a life of peace and soul-rest. A praying life is lived in sync with the heart of Jesus.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1U7102O

My Thoughts: Prayer is one of the spiritual disciplines that many believers struggle with, myself included.  We often don't think we're praying often enough, long enough, effectively enough, but are at a loss of exactly how to improve our lacking prayer lives.  I was hoping this book would be helpful in that regard, but it wasn't quite as much as I had hoped.

I did appreciate the somewhat unique twist of using the Lord's Prayer to discuss how we can become synced with God, connected to the heart of Jesus.  However, I found it a bit simplistic in parts.  With the suggestion that if we could only be synced with God, blessings and ministry would just flow effortlessly, it smacked a bit of prosperity gospel to me at times.

I definitely believe that God does miracles, and that sometimes heaven's power reaches through our earthly circumstances at the exact time we need it.  But it doesn't always.  And it's not due to a lack of faith or a lack confidence that God can come through for us.  Sometimes faithful believers lose their homes when the money doesn't come in at the eleventh hour.  I do think that the author realizes that, I just wished it would have been stated specifically, and that she would have explained what it means when we don't see heaven's power in our earthly circumstances, despite our fervent prayers.

I did, however, really enjoy her focus on obedience as well as her chapter on forgiveness, and found that particularly insightful.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Book Review: Pocket Prayers by Max Lucado



About the Book(s): Pocket Prayers (with various authors; Thomas Nelson, March 2016)

Bestselling author Max Lucado has teamed up with six authors to write the Pocket Prayers series for those in need of peace, renewal, rest, faith, hope, joy, direction, serenity, and courage.

Short, simple prayers are very effective, which is why each book in the series contains forty guided prayers and complementary scriptures for any situation, including for:

-Moms (written with daughter Andrea Lucado)
-Grads (written with daughter Andrea Lucado)
-Dads (written with Mark Mynheir)
-Military Life (written with Mark Mynheir)
-Teachers (written with blogger Jennifer Hale)
-Friends (written with Betsy St. Amant)

Purchase your copies: http://amzn.to/1VgCJqv

My Thoughts: These books are perfect for guiding your prayer life specific to the category you fit in.  Each of the 40 prayers starts with a complementary scripture passage followed by the prayer that flows from that thought.

The prayers are very specific to the indicated category and are very practical and useful.  However, even though they are short, they are still very meaningful.

For example....
In Pocket Prayers for Teachers....
Psalm 139:13-14 You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.
a portion of the prayer reads "...Help the teachers and administrators in my school see your fingerprints on every student. Let each challenge be seen as an opportunity for good; let each character trait be seen as a reflection of your glory."

Snippets of prayers from other days.....
"...Bless each student in my class, especially those from troubled homes. Let them feel my love and attention, and please protect their innocence. Show me how to be their steady, dependable guide."

"...Help my coteachers tap into their talents and use them well. Let your glory shine in their skills so we can celebrate the achievement of our students through your mighty work."

"...Help my students get along and form lasting friendships."

Beautiful prayers, perfect for guiding a teacher's thoughts and prayers, and calming their hearts.

Snippets of prayers for moms....
"...Today I feel spread thing and overcommitted. I don't have the strength in me to do what needs to be done. Give me the energy I need just for today. Give me time for rest and rejuvenation."

"..Help my children to fix their eyes on you when they experience fear or anxiety. Show them who you are, and grow their trust in you."

"...Today I am worried about my children. Temptations surround them at school, with friends, online. Sometimes I feel helpless. Give me wisdom, and help me release them confidently to your care."

For dads....
"..Bless my wife today. Protect her, encourage her, and wrap your love around her. Help her focus on our relationship with each other and with you."

"Help me be bold with my faith and unashamed that I follow you so I will speak freely about you. Help me walk in courage and faith every day because my strength and dependence flow from the Holy Spirit."

"..Give me the heart of a servant leader. Humble my spirit so I will desire to serve as you served, to lead as you lead."

For friends....
"...I ask you to bring healthy relationships into my life and to protect me from relationships that would pull me away from you."

"...I need discernment today regarding the friendships I allow in my life. Give me wisdom to know which relationships to embrace and which ones to pass by."

"...I want to be strong for my friends when they go through trials and storms. Help me pick them up and point them toward you in every situation. Enable me to laugh with them as they rejoice and cry beside them as they struggle."

For the graduate....
"...Be with my friends who are starting new schools and new jobs. When situations arise, help them ask you, before anyone else, what they should do so they will make wise decisions."

"...Let this year be my chance to start over. Let it be the year I begin to follow you, really follow you. And let my life show the fruit of the Spirit to those around me."

"...I know graduation is an exciting time, but it is also bittersweet to say good-bye to family and friends. Give me joy and excitement in this time of change."

And for military life...
"...I pray I never have to enter the field of battle, but if I do, remind me that I am secure in you no matter what."

"...Please be with my family and chase their fears away. Comfort them and give them peace when I'm absent."

"...My family needs you. I have to train so often, and my job requires a lot of time away. Help them understand and be able to manage the days I am away. Reassure them that I'm following your will for my life."

6 short books for 6 specific people.  I really enjoyed these books and highly recommend them to you, or to give to someone as a gift.

We were encouraged to give at least some of ours away.

I am going to give the one for teachers to my friends, Pamela.
I am going to give the one for friends to my oldest daughter, Emma.
I am going to give the one for dad to my husband.
I am going to keep the one for moms!
I am going to give the one for graduates to one of the grads from our church.
I am going to give the military one to a couple from church.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Book Review: And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts


About the Book:

And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye (David C Cook, March 2016)

"I was here. I saw beauty. I embraced it." -Kara Tippetts

How do you live out extravagant love in the everyday moments? How do you celebrate grace when your life turns out differently than the one you dreamed?

Kara Tippetts discovered how to find joy in the small moments of life. She learned how to hold tight to hope even while battling intense physical and emotional pain. And she lived out the truth that God can redeem any story.

In her final book, Kara offers gentle reflections on living and dying well. She invites us to cultivate soft hearts even when we face great disappointment. Her ideas for living are hard-won, wrestled with in the crucible of family, illness, and faith. And her constant reminder is that whether we are in the midst of dark days or mundane moments Jesus is always there, life is surprisingly beautiful, and God is forever good.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1QVAvgz
About the author:


Kara Tippetts was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. She blogged faithfully at mundanefaithfulness.com. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, has been parenting their four children and leading the church the couple founded in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

My Thoughts: As far as I can recall, this is the first book I've read by an author about her own death. I've read books by authors who are deceased, but not so recently and not a biography written during the process.  It was definitely a different feeling reading this book - poignant and sad, yet also filled with hope.

Kara writes with transparency and honesty, giving us a firsthand glimpse into the end of her earthly journey.  She tackles, both for us and more importantly for herself, questions like "How does one die well?" and "How does one glorify God in death?"  Reading this book makes it clear that she was able to do both and do them well.

There were so many things to take away from this book, but one thing that struck me was that the time we spend right now leaning on God, learning of God, following Jesus - that time will serve us well when the time comes for us to lean on what we've done in the past.  That foundation was crucial for her, and it is for us as well.

A beautiful and heart rending book!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Book Review: The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer


About the Book: Thirteen years ago, Evie's firefighter husband was killed in the line of duty, leaving her to raise their young son, Cody, alone. Now, Cody is marrying the love of his life, and as he packs up his belongings, the house feels as empty as Evie's heart. But for all her planning and mad organizational skills, Evie could never have anticipated the dramatic shift her life is about to make.

Tattooed, rough-around-the-edges Jack raises quite a few eyebrows in the tight-knit community of Banister Falls. Where Evie's life is stream-lined, Jack's approach to living is moment-by-moment. But as Evie gets drawn into Jack's world---a world that isn't as safe or predictable as the one she's worked so hard to create---he challenges her to open her eyes to the problems outside the walls of the church.

Jack doesn't make Evie feel comfortable, but he definitely makes her feel something. Something she hasn't felt since Max passed away---or, maybe ever. Because even though Jack isn't anything like her late husband, he just might be everything she needs.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/21Zw8Tk

My Thoughts:  I read and reviewed The Dandelion Field, the first book in this series.  I loved the first book, and enjoyed the second just as much!

The biggest thing I appreciate about Springer's writing is how realistic it is.  She doesn't gloss over the sometimes harsh realities of life, or fill the book with eye rolling cliches.  Rather, she weaves a story of love and growth among difficult subject matter in a way that will touch your heart and cause you to reexamine yourself.

Loved it and can't wait to read more!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Nourish Your Family's Spiritual Health this Easter

If your family is like most, breakfast is rushed to get everyone out the door. Lunch is spent at school or work. So where does that leave dinner? Nourish your family's spiritual health as you eat supper together. Adventures in Odyssey and Odyssey Adventure Club want to give you a free resource to help you begin your new dinner tradition of making the most of your family mealtime, beginning this Easter season. Simply head to this page and fill out the form to receive a free sample of Whit's End Mealtime Devotions.



Want new resources to continue to build your family's faith, even after Easter is over? Consider signing your family up for the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:
  • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas. 
  • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users. 
  • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes. 
  • A new, members-only AIO episode every month. 
  • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more. 
To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter. and Pinterest.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Book Review: Lolli and Pop Find Kindness by Carolyn Snelling


About the Book: For preschoolers and early readers, author Carolyn Snelling offers little "Lolli" Cake and her pup named "Pop". This sweet duo share their adventures as they learn about GOd's Fruit of the Spirit. This first book, "Lolli and Pop Find Kindness", helps your early reader understand that while kindness can, at times, be hard to show, God hopes we can learn to easily share it with others.

My Thoughts:  Overall, I thought this was a delightful children's book.  My kids are a bit old for the target range, but I thought I would get their perspectives on it anyway.

I read it to my 8yr old son and he loved it!  When I asked him a few days later if he wanted me to read it to him again he immediately said yes, and he asked if there were more books about the other fruit of the spirit.  So Carolyn, you better get writing!

My almost 11 yr old daughter thought it was a bit dull, but she's probably too young to appreciate that kids younger than her would think it was cute.

My 13 yr old daughter however, thought it was a great book for kids and she thought they'd like it.

I found the illustrations delightful and overall the story was good.  If I'm going to be picky, I thought it odd that Lolli called her parents "mother" and "father", as in real life, I only hear "mom", "mommy" or "mama".  My only other minor complaint is that in one part of the book it's implied that kindness shouldn't be hard because it's a free gift from God, but in another part it acknowledges that it sometimes is hard.   It IS hard to be kind at times, and that's how you know you're showing the fruit of the Spirit, because it is only through the power of the Spirit that we can show kindness even when it is hard.

Overall all, very cute book, and I hope Snelling continues with more in the series!

I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Lolli and Pop Find Kindness released in January 2016 from Carpenter’s Son Publishing. For more information about the series, visit Snelling’s website at  http://www.heartofthecrosspublishing.com where there is also a video for children that introduces the series and the activities for children.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Easter Devotions and Activities for Your Whole Family




We're down to the final two weeks before we celebrate Easter and Jesus' resurrection. Do your children understand and grasp the full meaning of why we celebrate the holiday? Adventures in Odyssey and Odyssey Adventure Club want to provide your family with a week of meaningful, fun Easter activities to help make the holiday come alive this year. Simply head to this page and sign up to download your free PDF full of family devotions, egg wraps, recipes, crafts, and cards. Oh, and as a bonus, here's a free activity sheet from Focus on the Family!




If you're looking to dig into the Easter holiday more and want to build your kids' faith, consider signing your family up for the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:
    • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas. 
    • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users. 
    • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes. 
    • A new, members-only AIO episode every month. 
    • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more. 
    To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter. and Pinterest.

    Saturday, 12 March 2016

    Walk Through Holy Week with Odyssey Adventure Club








    The Bible is no doubt a timeless book, but often it's seen by the younger generation as ancient and antiquated. How can we make the stories of the Bible—particularly the Easter story—alive and exciting for our children? Adventures in Odyssey has created a free activity kit for families to experience the Easter story brought to life through eight days of Christ-centered and fun activities. Click here to sign up and download the kit for free.




    If you're looking to bring the Bible to life further during the Easter season, consider signing your family up for the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:

    Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas.
    On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users.
    24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes.
    A new, members-only AIO episode every month.
    A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more.

    To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter. and Pinterest.

    Thursday, 3 March 2016

    Begin Prepping for Easter with Odyssey Adventure Club



    Witness-the-Greatest-Story-Ever-Told



    Easter is right around the corner! It's an exciting time of year for families, churches, and Christians everywhere as we remember the greatest story ever told: how God loved us so much He sacrificed His Son so we could spend eternity with Him. Take advantage of the Easter season to spend more time with your family investing in your kids' faith.

    To get you started, you can download a fun cutout to have a craft night with your family and to prepare them for Palm Sunday. Plus stop by this page for a slew of crafts, recipes, and stories to share with your family during this special time of year!



    90-Devotions-for-Kids-Quote-1



    If you're looking to take one more step in investing in your kids' faith during the Easter season, consider signing your family up for the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:

    • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas.
    • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users.
    • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes.
    • A new, members-only AIO episode every month.
    • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more.

    To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.



    LinkWithin

    Related Posts with Thumbnails