Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Movie Review: The Good Dinosaur

U.S. Release Date:                    November 25, 2015
Voice Cast:                               Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Marcus Scribner, Raymond Ochoa, Jack Bright, Steve Zahn, AJ Buckley, Anna Paquin, Sam Elliott
Director:                                   Peter Sohn
Producer:                                  Denise Ream
Executive Producers:             John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Andrew Stanton

My Review:
The Good Dinosaur is a cute story about an Apatosaurus named "Arlo" and a boy named "Spot" who became friends and shared an exciting adventure together. Arlo struggles to make a mark in this world because he is fearful/easily frightened. He lives with his mom, dad, brother, and sister. A tragedy strikes and he gets lost & tries to find his way home. He and Spot encounter some interesting dinosaurs...friendly ones and unfriendly ones.

The animation is amazing; it looks so real! Beautiful landscape. There are some perilous situations and some funny moments. I like Spot (a fearless orphan boy who acts like a dog) but I wish he talked. I also love the background music which effectively sets up the mood. The Good Dinosaur is a lovely story that values family, friendship, kindness, forgiveness, and doing the right thing in spite of fear. It's not as touching or memorable as some other Pixar movies but it's still a feel-good family film. I think younger kids (4 to 9) probably will enjoy this movie more than older kids :).

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~Special thanks to Allied-THA Marketing for the opportunity to attend an advance screening of Disney Pixar's The Good Dinosaur for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

“Tales of Christmas Past” Thriving Family Magazine Advent Calendar


What’s on your children’s Christmas wish list? As excited as they might be about that new toy, as every parent knows, the thrill of the gift will eventually wear off. Focus on the Family and Adventures in Odyssey have created the perfect gift for those who want to give their children or grandchildren a present that will provide year-round fun with eternal impact.

The Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC) offers families 24/7 access to 25 years’ worth of Adventures in Odyssey (AIO) episodes in a safe online environment where children can explore and learn. Christmas really is the perfect time to tap into your children’s imagination while infusing faith and fun into their day . . . and every day of the year.

To celebrate the holidays this year, the OAC is offering free content for everyone, including an Advent calendar, a broadcast download with tips to create a memorable Christmas, AIO cutouts and Christmas stocking stuffer cards. 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.
In keeping with AIO’s rich heritage of teaching children about biblical principles — such as the importance of giving — a portion of each OAC membership benefits Focus on the Family partner organizations. Here are a couple of examples of what has been accomplished through Odyssey Adventure Club members:
The Odyssey Adventure Club wants to reach beyond fleeting entertainment this Christmas, partnering with parents in helping their kids grow deep in faith and find their place in God’s story.


Speaking of the holidays, you can prepare for Christmas with Thriving Family's 2015 Advent Activity Calendar — Tales of Christmas Past: 25 Inspiring true stories of the season. Assemble a beautifully designed Advent poster to help your kids focus on Christ this Christmas. Then read Scripture passages and stories that relate to individual flaps on the poster. You can also create easy-to-fold booklets for each story. Get more information about this year's free Advent calendar at, or sign up to download it.

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

Friday, November 13, 2015

Book Review: Get Your Story Straight by Kristen Hatton

About the author: 
Kristen Hatton is a native Texan now putting roots down in Edmond, OK with her church-planter/pastor husband and their three children. With a public relations background from Southern Methodist University, Kristen has a wide array of professional experiences, none of which she counts as important as the job of being a "present" mom. Through leading a small group Bible study of teenagers, she has discovered her passion for teaching and writing about God's grace.

Find Kristen online: 

My Review:
Get Your Story Straight is a 52-week devotional for teens and young adults. It aims to help young Christians live Gospel-focused, Christ-centered lives. The author wants to steer teens away from performance-focused, self-centered living toward the beautiful story of the Gospel. Jesus is the Hero/Main Character of the story, not us. This book is unlike many teen devotionals that try to be hip and cool or culture-relevant but shallow in their messages. It starts from the beginning with creation in Genesis and unfolds the wonder of the gospel through Old Testament and New Testament passages. You will see what the gospel is all about, how the whole Bible points to Jesus, who Jesus is, and why we desperately need Him. This devotional will also teach teens an inductive Bible study method which involves 3 steps: observation (what the Scripture passage says/reveals), interpretation (what the passage means in context), and application (how you can apply what you have learned from the passage in your life).

The book is divided into 3 parts: Getting the Story Straight (Chapters 1-18), My Life Mixed into the Story (Chapters 19-35), and The Story in Me Lived Out with Others (Chapters 36-52). Each part begins with a Bible verse for memorization. Each week's devotion consists of Day One: Straight from the Word, Day Two: The Word Applied, Day Three: Straight to My Heart, Day Four: Word and Deed, and Day Five: Journaling and Prayer. Each day's devotion has questions or instructions and blank space for readers to write down answers, questions, and thoughts. I personally love journaling while reading/studying the Bible each day. It's a great way to let God's Word sink in our heart and mind. I'm so glad that the author does not sugar-coat anything and presents the gospel message in an easy but effective way that teens can understand and realize its impact. I also really like all the thought-provoking questions that will help readers reflect & respond and draw them to dig deeper into God's Word. The book covers many important topics such as justification, identity, purpose, grace, freedom, idolatry, worry, faith, endurance, church, friendship, forgiveness, repentance, discipleship, and more. 

I highly recommend this challenging, inspiring, & insightful devotional to any teens, especially the ones who enjoy journaling. It can be used for either individual study or small group study. This book would make a wonderful Christmas gift for teens in your life. It can help them grow spiritually more mature and experience the transforming power of the grace-filled gospel in their lives.

~I received a copy of this book via Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. To read other reviews, please visit here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Book Review: Purposeful Parenting by Jean S. Barnes

I think every parent agrees that parenting is hard work. We parents must be vigilant and intentional in parenting and training our child(ren). Based on Biblical principles and psychology, Purposeful Parenting presents six crucial ingredients for bringing out the best in our children: unconditional love, discipline, purpose & passion, character, responsibility, and perseverance. The book is packed with helpful advice, doable ideas, practical tools, and insightful tips. Each chapter includes "A Step Toward..." (concise tips for parents to put into practice) and "My Purposeful Parent Check-In" (a checklist to help parents examine how they are doing with their purposeful parenting). The author concludes the book with Parenting Takes a Team and My Prayer for Purpose. At the end of the book, you'll also find Your Skills and Abilities Checklist. I enjoyed reading this encouraging book and learning quite a bit from it. It's the kind of book that you would want to underline and reread because there's so much great information in it. The author shows parents how to change the challenges into opportunities to guide and train their children. I highly recommend this fantastic parenting book to every parent, stepparent, and grandparent. I'm definitely keeping this book for my kids to read when they become parents :).

"They need that just-right discipline; without it, no wonder researchers find children grow up with less (and sometimes lacking) impulse control, self-reliance, social responsibility, and independence." (p. 89)

~I received a free copy of this book via The Book Club Network ( in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

DVD Review: When Calls the Heart: Follow Your Heart

When Calls the Heart series is inspired by Janette Oke's novel and produced by Michael Landon, Jr. This DVD is the fifth/final DVD of Season 2. Jack (Daniel Lissing) and Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) have not seen eye to eye since they parted in Hamilton. When Jack confronts a counterfeiter in a fight, Elizabeth must confront her own feelings towards Jack. Mayor (Henry Gowen) demands Abigail (Lori Loughlin) to make repairs on her cafe in a short period of time; otherwise, it will be shut down. Pastor Frank Hogan volunteers to help Abigail and Elizabeth with the required repairs to meet the deadline. Meanwhile, Bill Avery (Jack Wagner) returns to Hope Valley hoping to find out where the rest of the counterfeit money is hidden even though the case is closed. His wife, Nora, follows and accuses Abigail for stealing her husband. Rosemary regrets her decline to Lee's previous attempt at courtship and realizes that she made a mistake when he starts courting Molly Sullivan. As Jack and Elizabeth search for Rip (Jack's dog) during an intense storm, they take shelter in an old mineshaft and have time alone to talk things out. When their relationship begins to blossom once again, Charles shows up unexpectedly. In Hamilton, Julie expresses her discontent with her situation and her desire for freedom to live her own life. The ending will leave you long for Season 3 :). I really enjoyed this DVD; I think it's my favorite one from Season 2. I like seeing the chemistry between Rosemary and Lee. And I am curious to know more about Pastor Frank's secret past. The DVD also includes exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews. 

~I received a free copy of this DVD via Edify Media, Inc. in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Book Review: God Made All of Me by Justin Holcomb and Lindsey Holcomb, Illustrated by Trish Mahoney

The statistics about victims of sexual assault are disheartening. We live in a dark & dangerous world. We parents must teach our kids how to protect their bodies. God Made All of Me is a well-written, colorfully illustrated book that parents can use to talk with their two to eight-year-old children about bodies. It helps children understand that God made all their body parts and they are all good and that God loves them and cares about their safety. The book covers several important topics such as the private parts, the difference between appropriate touch and inappropriate touch, the difference between surprise and secret, saying no whenever they don't want to be touched, asking for help from people whom they trust and feel safe with, and more. There's a note to parents or caregivers from the authors at the beginning of the book and there's a section at the end of the book titled, "9 Ways to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse." I appreciate the healthy guidelines and Biblical perspectives presented in this book. One way to prevent sexual abuse is to educate and empower our children to protect their own bodies and to respect others' bodies. I highly recommend this must-have book to every parent and caregiver of young children. 

About the Authors:
Justin Holcomb, PhD, is an Episcopal priest and professor of theology and Christian thought at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. He is the author of On the Grace of GodKnow the Heretics, and Know the Creeds and Councils, as well as the coauthor of Is It My Fault? and Rid of My Disgrace. He also serves on the boards for REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade) and GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments).Connect with Justin:website, Facebook, Twitter

Lindsey Holcomb, MPH, counsels victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and is the cofounder of REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade). Lindsey has provided crisis intervention to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and conducted a variety of training seminars to service providers. She is also the coauthor of Is It My Fault?and Rid of My Disgrace.
Connect with Lindsey online: 

~I received a copy of this book via Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. To read other reviews, please visit here.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

DVD Review: When Calls the Heart: Heart and Home

When Calls the Heart series is inspired by Janette Oke's book series and produced by Michael Landon, Jr. This DVD is the fourth DVD of Season 2. Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) and Jack (Daniel Lissing) decide to go back to Hamilton after hearing that Tom (Jack's brother) and Julie (Elizabeth's sister) were involved in a car accident. Tom ends up in the hospital while Julie is hiding in her bedroom. Elizabeth's family blames Tom's recklessness and irresponsibility. Jack's search for the truth about the accident leads him to develop a friendship with a beautiful & helpful nurse, Faith Carter. Bill Avery (Jack Wagner) parts ways with Abigail (Lori Loughlin) and reconnects with his wife and father-in-law. Lee Coulter and Rosemary team up to combat Henry Gowen's underhanded scheme. Jack tries to help Tom find purpose in life and take a step in the right direction towards a brighter future. Elizabeth's father offers Jack a job in his company. While Elizabeth sees this as a generous offer, Jack sees it as an insult. The relationship between Jack and Elizabeth is being tested once again. Immaturity. Responsibility. Trickery. Identity. Dignity. Truth. Forgiveness. Entangled and confused hearts abound :). Lots of interesting, delightful characters such as Rosemary, Lee, and Faith. I enjoyed watching this DVD and look forward to seeing the next one. If you're looking for a family show that's not only entertaining but also presenting Biblical values (not in a preachy way), check this series out!

~I received a free copy of this DVD via Edify Media, Inc. in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.