Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top Ten Highlights from 2015

We are thankful for another year of God's faithfulness & favor and are excitedly looking forward to what He has in store for us in 2016!


1. Josiah did well on his SAT exam. He also received a letter of commendation from National Merit Scholarship Program for outstanding performance on the PSAT test taken last year.
2. Isaiah raised $2,130 for Steps for Life this year.
3. Alyssa received 3 awards at Dining Out (an annual AFROTC event celebrating cadets' achievement): Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction Award, American Legion Scholastic Excellence Award, and Reserve Officers Association (ROA) Award.   
4. Alyssa completed her AFROTC summer field training. 
5. In June, I had a retinal tear in my left eye and received a laser treatment for it. I am very thankful for the gift of seeing.
6. Alyssa did a freelance videography for 2 weddings and 1 dance event.
7. We had a wonderful vacation in Port Orford. Kayaking. Hiking in the Fern Canyon (in CA). Visiting beaches in Port Orford and Bandon.
8. Josiah got his driver's license.
9. God helped Eric find his missing wedding ring.
10. Eric bought me my first smart phone (iPhone 6s) and us our first iPad (Air 2).

Note: This year, we also ate lots of sushi and watched several movies at the theaters :). I also joined 6 different photo groups on Facebook. Josiah made his first CD (a combination of his own songs and some covers) for relatives. This year is the first time we put up Christmas lights outside. 


Here are some snapshots of our 2015. Happy New Year from our family to yours!
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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Stocking Stuffer Cards AND Clubhouse Magazine Christmas Stories, Crafts, and Recipes

OAC-Gift-That-Lasts-All-Year-Facebook-Cover

Tired of the Christmas shopping, the baking and sugar overload, the Christmas festivities that keep you away from your family during the season? Take time special time to spend with your loved ones and invest in your community—with Focus on the Family's help!

You can download a fun gift to give to your friends, family, and community! Each Christmas stocking stuffer card directs you to a special place to hear an Adventures in Odyssey Christmas episode. Plus, you’ll be able to read a special excerpt from Imagination Station #12, “Danger on a Silent Night.” Sign up here to download the free cards.

Plus stop by this page for a slew of crafts, recipes, and stories to share with your family during this special time of year!

Christmas_2015_Cards_Banner 

If you're still looking for one last gift to give your kids this year, give the gift of the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family, 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.
To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Town of Odyssey Cutouts and 101 Sure Fire Ways

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The holidays are a busy time . . . but life can be even more hectic! In the midst of work, after-school activities, grocery shopping, and business trips, how are parents supposed to find the time to build within their families a lasting foundation of faith?

Focus on the Family wants to step in and give you some tips. Sign up by clicking here for a free e-book called 101 Surefire Ways to Strengthen Your Child's Faith. With creative ideas on weaving faith into everyday conversations, turning family activities into learning opportunities, and having faith-filled holiday celebrations, this book is jam-packed with fun and interesting, easy, faith-building ideas for your family.

Another way to invest in your child's faith is through the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family, 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.
Another fun way to build your child's faith: have a family craft night and use it as a faith-building opportunity! Click the image below for a printable Town of Odyssey cutout set. Bonus points if you listen to an Adventures in Odyssey episode while you put together your town!
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To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

The Cultural Battle for Human Dignity | Evangelicals for Life

EFL Button

Clear your schedules January 21–22, 2016, because Focus on the Family and The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission will host Evangelicals for Life, a major pro-life conference held in conjunction with the March for Life event.

The event will take place in Washington, D.C., at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. Evangelicals from across the country will gather to hear from leading speakers, such as David Platt, Russell Moore, Jim Daly, Kelly Rosati, and others—to be equipped and encouraged to become a voice for life! The event will also be simulcast for FREE so individuals, churches, and organizations from coast-to-coast and around the world can take part.

Speakers will encourage evangelicals to engage the culture on issues of abortion and end-of-life decisions, and the event will affirm the evangelical belief in the sanctity of life, that every life matters to God and is created in His image.

For more information, visit http://evangelicals.life/.


Readers of this blog will receive 15% off their registration by using the code FocusLife.





Russell Moore will be speaking at Evangelicals for Life. He is President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is a theologian, ethicist, frequent cultural commentator, and author of several books. In the guest post below, he speaks to the importance of hosting the conference in the midst of the cultural battle for human dignity.


Why We’re Hosting the Evangelicals For Life Conference

By Russell Moore

As many Christians sat at their computer and watched a casual dinner conversation over the price of dismembered children, a lot of us probably thought: “But what can I do about this?” This is a question I hear often from pro-life evangelicals. Many Christians are utterly convinced in their heart of the personhood and dignity of the unborn, yet don’t know how to faithfully effectively advocate for life.

It’s important to understand that the cultural battle for human dignity doesn’t begin on Capitol Hill or on CNN. It begins in your family, in your local church, and in your neighborhood. In fact, many of the people we know most vulnerable to the abortionist’s rhetoric are not actually pro-choice, they’re just scared, scared to scandalize a church with their secret. The false gospel of the abortion clinic, which says, “We can make all your trouble go away for you,” is overwhelmingly seductive.

What these people need more than a lesson in embryonic development is to have the Gospel preached to their conscience. This means much more than simply offering “The Romans Road” or prompting a sinner’s prayer; it means speaking directly with the message of Jesus’ complete sovereignty of the universe, his righteous indignation on the murder of the unborn, and most importantly, his complete absorption of God’s wrath on the cross, and his invitation to mercy and fellowship and the imputed righteousness of the Son of God.

The Gospel disarms the appeal of the abortion clinic because it offers truth with love, judgment with mercy, and righteousness with grace. The consciences around us don’t believe what they’re telling themselves. They’re scared and confused. Shine a light on their conscience, and then present the Gospel of reconciliation.

Moreover, the pro-life movement has set an example worthy of our imitation when it comes to practical, holistic mercy ministry. For over 40 years since Roe v. Wade, those committed to defending unborn life have done much more than preach and teach; they have welcomed the scared, the vulnerable, and the wounded and loved them. This has looked like the establishment of crisis pregnancy centers all around cities. It has looked like adoption advocacy and building a culture of adoption in local churches. It’s true that our pro-life witness has a long way to go, but we do not, thankfully, conform to the caricature that says we believe life “begins at conception and ends at birth.”

FOTF-EFL 

Questions like these are why I am excited to be a part of the Evangelicals For Life Conference in January. This conference exists to help evangelicals articulate a truly Christian doctrine on the dignity of all human life. Being pro-life, after all, means much more than being against abortion on demand; it means believing in the dignity of the elderly and infirm, and advocating for compassion and inclusion of the poor, the orphan, and the widow. No doctrine of human dignity that fails to speak to these cases is fully “pro-life.”

Sometimes Christians are encouraged to leave issues like this behind. Sometimes the fight for human dignity is portrayed as “culture war” baggage. For those of us that watched an executive from Planned Parenthood talk about the most valuable anatomy of dead children, we know this to be false. The stakes for human life and human dignity could not be higher, and the plight of those ignored by the world does not go unnoticed by our heavenly Father.

We have a Gospel word to speak to the abortionist and the unborn, to the orphan and those not considering adoption. Will you join me in Washington, on January 21-22, as we seek to speak this word?

This article was adapted from the original article posted on Russell Moore's website.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

FREE download of “Simplifying and De-Stressing Your Holidays” and Gift Ideas

Holiday to-do lists often become longer and longer as we get closer to Christmas. From holiday parties to host, Christmas pajamas to coordinate, family pictures, gifts to buy, travel plans to finalize, and more, the joy of the season can often be lost in the midst of the hustle and bustle.

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Adventures in Odyssey and Odyssey Adventure Club have you covered. Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer, authors of Everyday Confetti, share ideas and tips for simplifying and taking the stress out of the holidays. Pointing to the real reason for the season, they offer ideas to help you keep Christ at the center. Click here for a free broadcast download to learn how to simplify and de-stress your holiday season.

Speaking of de-stressing, let me help you out with your last-minute gift shopping. One of my top recommendations: the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC) because it offers 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.
To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Check out these other gift ideas: 1. Give gifts that make a difference. There are many ways to do this: serving at a soup kitchen, donating money/blankets/coats/canned foods, etc. to the homeless shelters, visiting/go caroling at nursing homes, buying grocery for families in need, shopping through catalogs from organizations such as Gospel for AsiaWorld Vision, and Samaritan's Purse for the poor and for things that transform lives like Bibles, Gospel tracts (Did you know that you can buy 200 tracts for only $1?), Jesus wells, etc.  If you are looking for ways to spread the Gospel, share God's love, and make an eternal impact, please visit http://www.gfa.org/gift to request a catalog or browse online. Gospel for Asia is one of our favorite mission organizations.
2. Give gifts that make memories. Gifts of shared experiences, quality time, sacrificial love, and unconditional acceptance. Embrace family traditions that foster fond memories. Do something together to help those in need and discover the joy of giving (see some ideas above).
3. Give gifts that are personalized/custom-made. Unique, personalized gifts say, "You are special to me and this is made specially for you!"
4. Give gifts that are practical (including edible gifts). Practical gifts are useful and most likely appreciated. In addition, whenever they are used, you (the giver) will probably be thought of :). Treats, appliances, tools, towels, etc.
5. Give gifts that edify and entertain. Bibles/study Bibles, books, DVDs, CDs, games, membership to the OAC, etc.

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 :).

Like THE GOOD DINOSAUR on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarTheGoodDinosaur

Follow THE GOOD DINOSAUR on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thegooddinosaur  

Follow THE GOOD DINOSAUR on Instagram: https://instagram.com/thegooddinosaur/  

Follow THE GOOD DINOSAUR on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/disneystudios/the-good-dinosaur/

~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

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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.

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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 ThrivingFamily.com/Advent, or sign up to download it.

To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, 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: 
websiteTwitterFacebook

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 (bookfun.org) 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: 
websiteFacebookTwitter

~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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Intersect: Where Your Story and God's Story Converge


Intersect is a five-session DVD that is useful for evangelistic outreach and small group study. Each short film segment features a different person telling his or her story and a short reflection that points to God and His Word. The five main topics covered in the DVD are Expectations, Rest, Disappointment, Trust, and Control. These are common issues that people can easily relate to. The testimonies given are sincere and heartfelt. You'll hear from a father whose son has autism, a musician, a divorced teacher, a recovering gambler & addict, and a clothing designer/entrepreneur who's also a mom to 2 boys. Their willingness to be vulnerable and share their struggles/trials can help others be willing to open up about their own lives. This DVD will inspire conversations, discussions, and interaction. It includes a study guide which has five thought-provoking questions for each topic/theme and relevant Scriptures. If you look for ways to reach out to unbelievers, check out this creative resource which will offer you an opportunity to engage them and encourage them to think about God and look to the Bible for answers. The DVD is also helpful for believers to examine where they are in their faith journey and how they should respond to difficult challenges in their lives. God uses all kinds of people and works through many unexpected ways. When we give God our broken pieces, He makes a beautiful mosaic that reflects His light and love. That's where our stories intersect with God's story.


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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book Review: Gather around the Amish Table by Lucy Leid


I'm so pleased to have added this delightful cookbook to my cookbook collection! It is actually more than a cookbook. It consists of not only tested recipes but also interesting stories that accompany the recipes. Gather Around the Amish Table gives us a taste of the cuisine and culture in plain communities. Lucy Leid, an Old Order Mennonite in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, compiles over 200 favorite family recipes contributed by Amish and Mennonite families. I enjoyed reading stories and looking at beautiful, colorful photos (of delectable food and Amish daily life). The book is organized into 10 sections: Breakfast, Breads & Spreads, Soups, Sandwiches, & Pizza, Salads & Pickles, Vegetables & Side Dishes, Meats & Main Dishes, Cakes & Pies, Cookies, Desserts & Candy, and Snacks, Beverages, & Extras. "Extras" include bird treats, homemade baby wipes, menu for a barn raising (enough food to feed 180 men), and more. I picked out 3 recipes to try and was quite happy with the results. Below are the pictures. All three were easy to make and delicious! My husband couldn't stop raving about Broccoli Bonanza :). I really appreciate that most recipes in the book require only simple ingredients. I also find Lucy Leid's kitchen tips helpful. I highly recommend this unique cookbook!

~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, September 20, 2015

DVD Review: Adrenaline


Joseph Jenkins (Michael Rosander), a drag racer is devastated and depressed after his roll over accident during a drag race. With a class-3 spinal cord injury, his doctor predicts he would never walk again. In the hospital, he meets Elijah Salisbury (Gregory Alan Williams), a patient on a transplant waiting list who is strong in faith and has a cheerful outlook on life. They become close friends. Elijah encourages Joseph to not give up his passion and points him to God. When Joseph returns home, his dad's old racing pal, Paul Sharpe (John Schneider), reignites his passion for speed and helps him start racing again (this time on a race track, not on a street). Joseph gets to drive the 1967 Barracuda (aka "Adrenaline") which belonged to his dad who died when Joseph was only 12. Joseph's best friend, Trace Mallery, and Joseph's attractive physical therapist, Josie Rigsby, cheer him on. I enjoyed watching the DVD even though I knew very little about cars and racing. Adrenaline is a faith-based, family-friendly film about perseverance, perspective, and purpose. If you are fond of speed, racing, and/or cars, you ought to check Adrenaline out. The message will make you think about priorities and goals in your life. What or who are you living for? The DVD also includes behind the scenes, deleted scenes, and bloopers.

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


Friday, September 18, 2015

Israel Mission by Ray Vander Laan and Experience the Bible Giveaway



About the DVD: 
   
What's your mission?

God gave the assignment to His people thousands of years ago: to bring "lost sheep" back into the love and safety of His kingdom. He said to become a "Kingdom of Priests," and put God on display to show the world what He is like. It's still our task today. In this thirteenth volume of the That the World May Know ® film series, you'll glimpse the urgency and rewards of welcoming the strangers and prodigals the Lord longs to embrace. Discover the mission that can give your life - and the lives of those around you - greater meaning than you ever imagined.

Join renowned teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan as he guides you through the lands of the Bible. In each lesson, Vander Laan illuminates the historical, geographical, and cultural context of the sacred Scriptures. Filmed on location in the Middle East and elsewhere, the That the World May Know ® film series will transform your understanding of God and challenge you to be a true follower of Jesus.

Designed for use with That the World May Know: Israel's Mission Discovery Guide.

Filmed on location at these biblically significant sites in Israel and Jordan:

-Back to the Father's House - Negev Desert

-Show Them the Way - Timnah

-Prodigal Sons and Daughters - Qatzrin
-Return from the Far Off Country - Jerash
-Welcome Home - Qatzrin

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1KsCFRr
About the author:
Ray Vander Laan is the founder of That the World May Know Ministries and creator of the Faith Lessons video series with Focus on the Family. An ordained minister, he holds the chair of biblical cultural studies as a religion instructor at Holland Christian Schools in Holland, Michigan. He and his wife, Esther, have four children and fifteen grandchildren.

Find Ray online: 
website

My Review:

I used to watch That the World May Know Faith Lessons video series when they were in video cassettes. I was so thrilled to have an opportunity to review this DVD and the Discovery Guide (I didn't know that Ray Vander Laan is still making these videos)! This 13th volume is titled, "Israel's Mission: Becoming a Kingdom of Priests in a Prodigal World." It consists of 5 sessions filmed on location in the Middle East: Abraham and Sarah and Three Strangers (Negev, Israel), Israel at Sinai: The First Great Commission (Timnah, Israel), Jesus Renews His Mission: Seeking the Lost (Qatzrin, Israel), The Lost Son: In a Far Country (Jerash, Jordan), and The Seeking Father: The Lost Son Returns (Qatzrin, Israel). I've always wanted to visit Israel but while I cannot afford to go yet, this DVD series is the next best thing. Ray Vander Laan is a master of bringing the Bible to life by helping viewers experience the Scriptures in historical, cultural, and geographical context. The DVD comes with a leader's guide that contains helpful information needed for a successful small group. The Discovery Guide is an in-depth Bible study guide for groups or individuals. It enriches the lessons even more. In the Discovery Guide, you will find relevant Bible verses, details on each lesson, blank areas for taking notes when watching the DVD, discussion questions, data files (including black and white photos), Point to Ponder, Did You Know?, faith lesson, verses to memorize, Bible Discovery, Reflection, and more.

The lessons cover various topics such as patriarchal society, idea of "redeem" (go'el), the father's house (beth ab), kingdom of priests, the 3-part parable from Luke 15, idolatry, and Israel's mission from God. God's mission has not changed. He wants not only Israel but also all His redeemed children to show the world what it looks like when God reigns, to seek the lost and to become His agents of redemption. I enjoyed watching the DVD and appreciated the information and insight in the Discovery Guide. Both gave me a fresh understanding of God's Word. I highly recommend both! May we live passionately for God and boldly go out and make God known! "Give praise to the LORD, proclaim His Name; make known among the nations what He has done." (1 Chronicles 16:8)

"We are to live obediently within the world so that through us, it may know that our God is the one true God...We are the witnesses--the royal priesthood--through whom spiritually lost people come to know the God of the universe who loves them and longs to restore them." (p. 14 in the Discovery Guide)

"The dream of happiness in what you accumulate is hollow and hopeless." (Ray Vander Laan)

~I received the DVD and Discovery Guide via Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. To read other reviews, please visit here.

Our task as Christians is to bring “lost sheep” back into the love and safety of His kingdom. How are you doing at welcoming the strangers and prodigals the Lord longs to embrace? Learn how to work on your task with Ray Vander Laan's Israel's Mission, volume thirteen in the That the World May Know® DVD series.
 Discover the mission that can give your life—and the lives of those around you—greater meaning than you ever imagined. Filmed on location in the Middle East and elsewhere, the series will transform your understanding of God and challenge you to be a true follower of Jesus.

Celebrate the release of Israel's Mission by entering to win the entire That the World May Know® series—perfect for working through with your family, Bible study, or Sunday school class!

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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • All 13 DVDs in the That the World May Know® series
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 18th. Winner will be announced September 21st on the Litfuse blog.

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