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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Collaborate Family + Church (Book Review)

I was truly honored to be a part of this blog tour for Collaborate, a unique book authored by Michael Chanley + 34 ministers, teacher, leaders and thinkers. The first chapter, by Michael Chanley, begins “Churches everywhere are desperately searching for how to best help families raise Christ-centered kids in our increasingly Christ-critical culture.” He asks if it’s the churches, the pastor’s, the families or the parent’s responsibility to develop a child’s Spirituality? He goes on to reference an important message he heard from Reggie Joiner, founder and CEO of the reThink Group. Reggie reminds us that the church has about 40 hours per year with a child, but parents have over 3,000. We have to get the message into the home. This book is a collaborative response to do just that. And every chapter is unique and thought-provoking.

As a passionate children’s ministry volunteer, previous youth ministry volunteer, mother of three children: one 26 year old son and two daughters (ages 10 - elementary school and 12 - middle school), I am truly committed to this movement! Although my son is an amazing young man and a blessing to my life, you are never too old to learn more or to be a better parent. As I consider my own spiritual walk/development and the individuals responsible for shaping/creating it, the first person who comes to my mind is my mother. She was an amazing Christian woman; she was the most humble, Christ-like human being I have ever known. However, when I thought about filling those shoes with my own children, I didn’t feel qualified. Collaborate addresses those concerns. It reminds those serving in ministry that parents need help along the way and who better to help them but the church.

There are so many chapters/authors/topics that inspired me that this review is difficult to write. One idea that stood out to me was by Brian Hayes, associate pastor for Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, Texas. He identifies four key church behaviors to assist parents. I believe these ideas would be beneficial in every church (but I’m not going to tell you what they are-you have to pick up a copy of the book to find out!).

I always appreciate Reggie Joiner; his passion for ministry/saving the lost, spiritual depth and intelligence come across in every word he speaks or writes. He states “If we can be more effective at engaging parents to partner in our ministries, and improve the quality of relationships in the family, we will increase the possibility of a child having a dynamic and authentic faith.” And isn’t that what we all want (as ministers or parents)?

I strongly suggest everyone read this book. (You can even buy a copy for every member on your church staff.) If the ideas shared in this book are implemented, the Spiritual future of our next generation will be changed.

(Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of collaborate from minister’s label as part of the book blog tour. Please visit Collaborate at the following on-line addresses:,,, or

Book Review COMING soon....

Stay tuned for a very special book review - coming later today....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

NEW audio-book review

I like to listen to books on CD while driving to work in the mornings. I always listen to Christian books (or sermons I've downloaded from the web). It's a fabulous way to start the day, expecially after completing my quiet time with the Father on the "porch". The afternoon commute is dedicated to NPR - so I have some small clue of what is going on in the world. I find the information I can obtain in approximately 30 minutes is quite sufficient!

This morning, after FINALLY completing "Providence" - I popped in a new book for review (provided by christianaudioreviewers program ( By the title, I thought it would be appropriate for my day (as I have a heavy heart for several grieving friends). The title: When Helping Hurts, I thought would address getting "too involved" in other's pain. (I tend to do that quite a bit, as I have had my fair share of grieving). Boy, was I wrong. The book starts off on a high note regarding missionaries assisting God in changing the life of a witch-doctor in a foreign country (I can't remember which country). He (the author) is amazed that he was able to assist God in this life changing event. Shortly thereafter, however, he begins to ponder how her life was changed in a negative way - by eliminating her only source of income and becoming an outcast (and endangering her life). Well, this was not my plan; and I almost turned the CD off. On second thought, I had a feeling God was trying to teach me something, so I let the book play. I was able to surmise that God wanted me to appreciate my numerous blessings; especially being born in the United States of America.

When I arrive at work (Naval Station Norfolk) most mornings, I am blessed to hear the National Anthem playing over the loud speakers. All individuals and automobiles are to stop and direct their attention to the US flag. Although I always sing along and feel a deep sense of respect and appreciation, today my appreciation went MUCH deeper. We are so blessed to live in a country where we can express our Christian views freely. I pray you are able to find something to be thankful for today too! More to come on this book soon.....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sandra Byrd’s new Teen/Tween Series – London Confidential

I noticed a book review opportunity on Tyndale Publishing for a teen/tween fiction book entitled London Confidential. I know you’re not suppose to judge a book by its cover, but I do it all the time, I just can’t help it – and I love this cover (not to mention the title!)! I usually don’t allow myself the pleasure of reading fiction either (as a full time employee, mother of 2 young children, passionate children’s ministry volunteer, and growing Christian I don’t have much time for “joy-reading”), but I gave in because I could justify recommending the book to my daughters! And recommend I did!

Book 1 in the series is titled Asking for Trouble, and the series takes place in London (there will be three more books in the series – one already out, 2 in the fall of this year). I have always wanted to visit London, so I found myself on a literary/visual journey through Savvy (the leading character). Not only that, the book revolves around journalism – a school newspaper to be exact. It reminded me of the days gone by when I was on the yearbook staff; particularly the competition for the best writing!

There were many reasons I loved this book: the writing was fabulous, the characters were believable, the story had a flow, but the best part was the ending! I can’t tell you why or it would give the story away – but let me sum it up to say that this book reveals a MUCH NEEDED lesson for the children and adults of today! So if you’re an older person (no ages need be provided), I would suggest you pick up a copy of this book and allow yourself the vacation. When you’re done, pass it on to a tween/teen nearby-they will thank you for it later!

Tyndale House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book.

Sweet & Bitter Providence ..... FINALLY!

For four months I have put off writing this review for Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper. It wasn’t because I was too busy or that I didn’t like the book; it was because I wasn’t sure what I thought about the word “sovereignty”. I had to conduct Bible searching, lots of sermon listening (which God provided) and spend many hours in prayer to come to an understanding of this term.

The book is a fabulous overview of the story of Ruth from the Old Testament. If you’re not familiar with the book of Ruth, I highly suggest you read it in your Bible – and follow up by reading/listening to John Piper’s account of the extras that aren’t included in the Word (numerous historical details and terminology of the day).

John Piper states that bad things are in God’s Plan for our lives. I had a very difficult time digesting that information. At the age of 18, I lost both of my parents (10 months apart). After being raised in the Church, I was so bitter that God would “allow” this to happen to me, that I went searching for answers (like the old song says: looking for love in all the wrong places…). After years of wandering, I returned to His Arms for healing, however, my main question had not been answered: Who controls death? Was it God or satan? After listening to this audio book, John Piper made it sound like God didn’t “allow” it, but actually “ordained” it! That was really hard for me (and it’s been a VERY LONG TIME since my parents passed away).

Now, after several months, I am at a place where I agree with John. His explanation made sense, although I didn’t want to accept it as being true. He (God, not John) has brought me to a safe place where I can honestly say that I KNOW I wouldn’t be the person I am today if this loss had not happened – and if I’m completely honest, my life is NOT for me, it’s to glorify God! He is now able to use me in ways I could have never been used otherwise.

I would highly recommend this book if you would like a fabulous overview of Ruth AND if you prayed the same prayer I did in February 2010 – “God, please grow me during this Lenten season, like you never have before”…just remember, be careful what you ask for!

I was provided a copy of this audio book by christianaudio reviewers program (