Friday, November 7, 2014

CD Review and Giveaway: Manic Drive's VIP

VIP is Manic Drive's latest album. This Canadian band is new to me but I'm glad I was given the opportunity to review this album. I enjoyed listening to the CD even though it's not really my style. The music is upbeat and fun to dance along. The lyrics are faith-filled, God-centered, and encouraging. I'm impressed that they wrote all their music themselves. The band members are all in their twenties. They bring vibrant pop (plus a little rap) music and creatively present the message of the Gospel and Christ's love to the young generation. "At the end of the day, we are on a mission that far exceeds entertainment; our driving force is our desire to reach those who don’t know Christ with His message of hope as well as to encourage believers to a closer and real-life walk with Christ...Ministry comes first as we strive to encourage each other especially in our walk with God. This is an unprecedented time in history and we are all tired of the stale and mindless. A genuine experience with God is paramount to walking out this life of faith. So many people feel useless or out of place, but we are here to say that we as a generation can shake the world in amazing ways... even through the smallest actions.” ~Michael Cavallo (one of the band members, quote taken from their Facebook page)

There are 10 songs on this album:
1. Electric (featuring Trevor McNevan of Thousand Foot Krutch)
2. VIP (featuring Manwell)
3. Street Lights
4. King of Mercy
5. Good News
6. I Hide You Seek
7. Song to Sing
8. Fire
9. Indestructible
10. Rhythm

My favorite songs from this album include King of Mercy (talking about the depth of God's grace, mercy, and kindness), Fire (shining the light of Jesus), and Indestructible (God's protection, power, and strength). I also like Street Lights (a prayer asking God to lead us) and Song to Sing (it includes a few lines from familiar hymns). Good News is a joyful song that is fun to sing. The title song, VIP, is about who we are in Christ, made on purpose for a purpose. If you like fast-paced, contemporary Christian music, check this album out. Catchy tunes and meaningful messages! It will make a cool Christmas gift for teens and young adults. 

GIVEAWAY: You can win a copy of this CD! Only valid in US & Canada. Ends 11/20.
To Enter: Please leave a comment sharing who your favorite Christian musician or band is. 
For Extra Entries: (please leave a separate comment for each one that you do):
- Follow Manic Drive on Twitter
- "Like" Manic Drive's Facebook page
- Subscribe to Manic Drive's YouTube channel
- Follow this blog via GFC or NetworkedBlogs
- "Like" my page "Christ Alone" on Facebook
- Follow me on Twitter: @treasuredbyGod 
- Follow me on Pinterest
- Share the link to this giveaway post on Facebook 
- Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter
~Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Movie Review: Big Hero 6

Opening Date:                  Friday, November 7
Rating:                               PG
SYNOPSIS:
From Walt Disney Animation Studios, the team behind “Frozen” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” comes “Big Hero 6,” an action-packed comedy-adventure about the special bond that develops between Baymax (voice of Scott Adsit), a plus-sized inflatable robot, and prodigy Hiro Hamada (voice of Ryan Potter). When a devastating event befalls the city of San Fransokyo and catapults Hiro into the midst of danger, he turns to Baymax and his close friends adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago (voice of Jamie Chung), neatnik Wasabi (voice of Damon Wayans Jr.), chemistry whiz Honey Lemon (voice of Genesis Rodriguez) and fanboy Fred (voice of T.J. Miller). Determined to uncover the mystery, Hiro transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called “Big Hero 6.”

Inspired by the Marvel comics of the same name, and featuring breathtaking action with all the heart and humor audiences expect from Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Big Hero 6” is directed by Don Hall (“Winnie the Pooh”) and Chris Williams (“Bolt”), and produced by Roy Conli (“Tangled”). 

REVIEW:
Thanks to Allied-THA, my family and I were given an opportunity to attend a 3D advance screening of this film. We really enjoyed it from the beginning to the end. Hiro Hamada is a 14 year old genius who lives with his older brother, Tadashi (voice of Daniel Henney) and Aunt Cass (voice of Maya Rudolph). His brother encourages him to put his gifts to good use. After Tadashi dies in a fire, Hiro is in turmoil. Baymax steps in to help Hiro. Friendship blossoms between Hiro and his brother's invention, Baymax (a caring, huggable inflatable robot who's made to be anyone's personal healthcare companion). His brother's four best friends join Hiro and Baymax to find out who the man with the mask trying to kill them is. They discover that the villain steals Hiro's invention (microbots) and uses it as a weapon. Revenge creeps in but goodness prevails. 

Big Hero 6 is a wonderful, entertaining movie about brotherly love, benevolence, friendship, teamwork, courage, compassion, and sacrifice. Heartwarming and funny! We laughed a lot. You are going to love Baymax. I wish I could have one :)! The animation is excellent. The setting which is the city of San Fransokyo (San Francisco+Tokyo) is captured brilliantly. Big Heroes with big hearts! 8 thumbs up from 4 of us for Big Hero 6!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas


About the book:
Discover how to live out a sacred marriage. You believe your marriage has eternal purposes. you long for it to reach beyond your home and encourage others. But what does it look like to have a spiritually intentional relationship in the midst of dirty dishes, work deadlines, and car pools? In Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas showed us that God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy. Now, in A Lifelong Love, Thomas gives us the practical tools to craft our marriages into inspiring relationships that breathe spiritual life to others. Whatever season of marriage you are in, A Lifelong Love gives your the practical help you need to infuse your marriage with a spiritual passion that will not only change you but will change the world around you.

About the author:


Gary Thomas is writer-in-residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, a frequent guest on Focus on the Family and FamilyLife Today radio, and a popular speaker. His award-winning books, including The Sacred Search, have been translated into over a dozen languages and together have sold more than a million copies worldwide. Thomas and his wife have been married thirty years and have three children.

My Review:

Marriage according to God and His Word is meant to last for a lifetime...as long as we both shall live, not as long as we both feel loved. Our society treats marriage as a casual relationship that can end in a divorce whenever it doesn't work out the way one spouse (or both) feels/thinks it should. This book shows how to live out a sacred marriage that is pleasing to God and honoring Him. The secret or key to a lifelong love/a lifetime marriage is not found in a formula or 1-2-3 steps, but rather in God who is Love and who designs marriage. The author presents marriage from an eternal perspective and from God's principles. The book is divided into 3 main parts: The Magnificent Obsession, Growing Together, and The Journey Toward Love. Each chapter ends with thought-provoking questions for reflection & discussion and a prayer. At the end of the book, there is an appendix titled, "God Hates Domestic Violence".

Have you ever thought of God as your Father-in-Law (assuming your spouse is a believer)? The author helps readers see their spouse through God's eyes and treat him/her as God wants His precious child to be treated (with love, benevolence, honor, and respect). The focus of marriage should first be a magnificent obsession with God and His kingdom. A Lifelong Love will help you and your spouse grow closer to God and to each other. The book will challenge and encourage you to rely on God, obey God, glorify God, and rest in God no matter how your spouse responds. You will find practical, Biblically sound advice on how to improve your intimacy. It does take work and effort; you have to be intentional and prayerful. When you put God first and aim to please God in everything you do, your spouse and your marriage will greatly benefit and be blessed. It will change self-centered marriage (which is doomed to fail) into God-centered marriage (which will last for a lifetime). I highly recommend this book to any couples who desire a spiritually rich & satisfying marital relationship!


"When God becomes part of the equation, it's not what we get from or even bring into our marriages, but it's what we do with His empowering presence that creates a rich intimacy and a beautiful relationship." (p. 18)

"Since marriage is one of the most profound acts of worship any two believers can ever share, it is impossible to be married in a sacred manner without the Holy Spirit being active in our lives, helping us to understand what it means to love, giving us the power to love, convicting us when we fail to love, renewing our hearts when we grow weary in love, and pouring out hope when we grow discouraged in love." (p. 74)
"And that's the miracle of marriage--it forces us to depend on God, and all of life is transformed when we live in dependence on Him." (p. 76)
"Creating a marriage worthy of my calling means creating a marriage where the character of Jesus is displayed for all to see." (p. 110)

"Love is a disposition to do what is best for the other, out of the inner compulsion from the Holy Spirit, to serve this person's best interests." (p. 256)
"Biblical love isn't a feeling to be felt; it's a commitment to be kept." (p. 263)
"The Biblical goal is a shared experience of God living in us and God's love being made complete in us." (p. 281)

GIVEAWAY: You can win a copy of this excellent book! Only valid in US & Canada. Ends 11/15.
To Enter: Please share the best marital advice you've ever received. 
For Extra Entries: (please leave a separate comment for each one that you do):
- Follow Gary on Twitter: @garyLthomas

- "Like" Gary's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/authorgarythomas
- Follow this blog via GFC or NetworkedBlogs
- "Like" my page "Christ Alone" on Facebook
- Follow me on Twitter: @treasuredbyGod 
- Follow me on Pinterest
- Share the link to this giveaway post on Facebook 
- Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter

~Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Sue Hooley's 2015 Daily Planner


Meet Sue Hooley:
The Daily Planner was designed by Sue, wife of Dan for 24 years and mother to six lovely children, two girls and four boys ages 5-21. The planner was developed after several years of motherhood and homemaking. Sue understood that a homemaker's day can rarely be scheduled and structured the same as the one before – not every task can fit neatly into the time-slot allotted by other planners. Since her first publication in 2010, thousands of homemakers have benefited from the daily planner.

2015 Daily Planner
List Price: $13.99 with free shipping on three or more
Format: 6x9 Spiral bound 
Order at: http://www.homemakersfriend.com

Features include: 
  • Two-page Weekly layout with menu planning and to-do list
  • Two-page Month layout
  • Year Calendars with place for notations
  • Perforated Shopping Lists
  • Tasks Lists and Projects & Events Sections
  • Information Section
Picture
Picture
My Review:
I've been given Sue Hooley's 2014 and 2015 Daily Planners to review. I've enjoyed using the 2014 one. I am so thankful for these planners. Can't wait to start a brand new year with the beautiful 2015 Daily Planner! As you can see in the top picture, the front cover is bright and cheery with the photo of black-eyed susans. The planner is perfect for busy homemakers who have to juggle many responsibilities and activities. It helps me be more focused and organized. I know myself that I can no longer just rely on my memory :). The planner consists of 7 sections: yearly calendar, monthly calendar, weekly planning, tasks list, projects & events, information, and shopping lists. For homeschool moms (or dads), you can use this planner to write down your homeschool schedule, too. There's plenty of space for writing notes. The 2015 Daily Planner also includes 2 additional months (December 2014 and January 2016) to simplify the transition.

What makes the planner very special to me is all the Bible verses which are God's promises and all the insightful, inspirational quotes that scatter throughout the planner. They are so uplifting and encouraging. I highly recommend this delightful Daily Planner! It will make your life easier and help you manage your time better (more efficiently). Wondering what to get for your relatives or friends who are homemakers this Christmas? Look no further; this planner would make an excellent gift :)!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

THE BACHELOR By Stehpanie Reed | Kindle Giveaway and Facebook Party!

reed
Don't miss Stephanie Reed's newest book in the Plain City Peace series, The Bachelor. This compelling second book deftly weaves together the strands of a solid, simpler time with the turmoil of an era of change, revealing the strengths of both in its powerful narrative.

Join Stephanie in celebrating the book's release by entering her Kindle giveaway and RSVPing to her Facebook launch party on October 28th!
The Bachelor, Stephanie Reed
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Bachelor by Stephanie Reed
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 11/9. RSVP for the Facebook launch party today for a chance to connect with Stephanie and Amish fiction fans and a chance to win some great prizes! Winner will be announced November 10th here.
bachelor-enterbanner

Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: Yes or No by Jeff Shinabarger


About the Author:
Jeff Shinabarger is a social entrepreneur and author of two books: More or Less and Yes or No. Jeff has a vision to make Atlanta a center for social innovation and has personally engaged in over 100 start-ups solving problems through the community he leads called Plywood People. His work has been featured by CNN, USA Weekend, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Huffington Post, Christianity Today, Coca-Cola, Relevant Magazine and Chicago Sun Times. He is the co-founder of Q and creatively led Catalyst for 8 years. Jeff and his wife, Andre, live in East Atlanta Village and have two children.


My Review:
Every day we have to make choices. We know that there are consequences to our choices. Some decisions are easy to make because there are no serious, long-term consequences. But other decisions are huge, life-altering, and world-impacting. A young adult/adult's life presents many opportunities for decision-making on significant issues such as choosing a college, major, career, spouse, house, etc. We desire to make wise choices but sometimes it can be quite difficult and challenging. We don't know what to do. Too afraid? Too overwhelmed? Too indecisive? The author helps us readers explore our natural decision-making styles, identify our philosophy of choice, and employ key strategies in order to make good/right choices. He groups decisions into 3 categories: daily decisions, moments of tension, and transition times. This book focuses mainly on the last two. 


Each chapter starts with an insightful quote and ends with a "Take Action" section (how to put ideas into action) and thought-provoking questions for groups to ponder and discuss. The author shows us crucial factors to consider when making a decision and guides us through six steps in the decision-making process so that we can improve our decision-making skills, become discerning & confident decision makers and capable & courageous problem solvers. Decision-making is very important because it usually affects not only our own lives but also other people's lives. The author asks wonderful questions about our motives: "Am I loving people, or am I loving the idea of doing good? Do I desire the best for each person I come in contact with, or do I desire to feel the best about myself for the good I am doing?...Is this for the good of others, or is it making me look and feel good?" (p. 65) I think most of us (if not all) have struggled with these from time to time. The fear factor is also addressed.

The author shares his tested wisdom learned from his own experiences and offers us practical advice from a Christian perspective. I'm glad I made the right choice to review this book. When I first received this book, my 21 year old daughter needed to make an important decision so she borrowed the book and finished it in one day. Even though she still didn't feel ready to make her decision at that time, she found the book helpful. Yes or No is a great informative read for anyone, especially those in leadership. We can make a difference in this world with our decisions. We all are given the gift of choice. May we use it wisely, conscientiously, and for God's glory! 

"I believe that the words yes and no are the most powerful words in the dictionary. They define what we love, what we will be known for, and what we will do with our lives...These are definitive words: words that significantly change the trajectory of life." (p. 20)
"The difference between our lives and a page-turning book is that we can't go back and start over... Our choices determine our future." (p. 29)
"At each stage, life is meant to be lived. Wherever you are in your journey, fully embrace the experiences you live in right now, because these experiences prepare for tomorrow." (p. 34)
"As we move forward on the path God has for each of us, I can't state strongly enough that true wisdom comes with seeking God, not self." (p. 85)
"Once we begin to find God's wisdom, discern the significance of our own experiences, and gather knowledge from others, we have the tools to curate life in a meaningful way." (p. 91)
"Much of the joy of life can be found when we realize what a great privilege it is to live intentionally making choices, remembering all that God has given." (p. 154)

*If you would like to take the free decision-making style assessment, visit http://www.yesornobook.com/ .

~ I received a free copy of this book via Icon Media Group in exchange for my 
honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: The Family Toolbox


Do you agree with me that parenting must be the most challenging and the most rewarding job in the world :)? My husband and I have been doing this job for over 21 years; yet we are still learning, growing and figuring things out. Our two sons who are still at home are 16 and 13. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to review the Family Toolbox, a fantastic parenting resource from National Center for Biblical Parenting. The Family Toolbox is a DVD program that helps parents and teens engage in meaningful discussions, equips parents with valuable tools, and trains teens to embrace 16 life success principles. I really enjoyed using this friendly format. It gets teens' attention and encourages their interaction. There are 8 two-minute video clips that show family members having arguments, problems, conflicts, complaints, tempers, all sorts of issues that take place in typical households with teenagers. Parents can also watch the 10-minute teaching videos for each session and learn from the two parenting experts, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller (pictured above). The DVD comes with a Parent and Teen Discussion Manual which includes worksheets for teens and parents, main takeaway points, and relevant Bible verses. 

I appreciate the Biblically-based heart approach in this program. I agree that focus on behavior modification appeals to children's selfishness and that a true lasting transformation requires a heart change. The behavioral problems are symptoms of heart issues. We don't want to train our kids up to be a bunch of Pharisees who are perfect on the outside but rotten on the inside. This program offers practical advice and strategies that aim to help teens mature and develop heart qualities such as self-control, responsibility, thoughtfulness, respect, honor, diligence, cooperation, and more. The life success principles taught in the DVD are essential principles that will serve teens well for the rest of their lives. The lessons are filled with parenting wisdom and insights that affirm what I've been doing right and remind me what I need to improve on. I really like the emphasis in the last lesson on honoring one another above ourselves (Romans 12:13). I came up with an acronym for H.O.N.O.R. 
Humbly value others above selves
Obey with a good attitude
Never put others down
Offer others the best
Respect others in words and deeds

16 Life Success Principles:
  1. Be Respectful Even When It's Hard.
  2. Develop Internal Motivation.
  3. Develop Healthy Habits for Following Instructions.
  4. Look for Ways to Contribute to Family Life.
  5. Solve Problems Instead of Generating Conflict.
  6. Instead of Sarcasm, Develop the Skills of a Peacemaker.
  7. Learn to Value Correction.
  8. Apologize Well.
  9. Develop a Plan for Being Responsible.
  10. Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes.
  11. Train Yourself to Accept No as an Answer.
  12. Avoid Arguing.
  13. View Your Family as a Team and Look for Ways to Work Together.
  14. Learn Self-Control to Manage Anger.
  15. Practice Flexibility When Plans Change.
  16. Learn to Handle Unfairness Well.
I highly recommend the Family Toolbox to all families with children ages 10 and up and youth ministry leaders. It is one of the best Biblical parenting resources available.


National Center for Biblical Parenting: http://www.biblicalparenting.org/
Hashtags: #familytoolbox #heartparenting

Note: You're invited to The Family Toolbox Facebook Party today (10/16) from 5-7 p.m. Pacific time. There will be an opportunity for you to ask your parenting questions and win great prizes. They'll be giving away a copy of the Family Toolbox, the Christian Parenting Handbook, $50 and $25 gift cards plus other Biblical parenting resources.

Family Toolbox Facebook Party