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Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Must Read



About the book:
One moment Carrie Weaver was looking forward to running away with Lancaster Barnstormers pitcher Solomon Reihl-plans that included leaving the Amish community where they grew up. The next moment she was staring into a future as broken as her heart. Now, Carrie is faced with a choice. But will this opportunity be all she hoped? Pr will this decision, this moment in time, change her life forever?

A tender story of love, forgiveness, and looking below the surface, The Choice uncovers the sweet simplicity of the Amish world-and shows that it's never too late to find your way back to God.

About the author:
Suzanne Woods Fisher's interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Dunkard Brethren Church in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine. Suzanne's work has appeared in many magazines. She has contributed to several nonfiction books and is the author of Amish Peace and the novel The Choice.


My review:
Hold on to your bonnet! Suzanne Woods Fisher’s new book The Choice is riveting! Of all the Amish fiction I have read, this is by far my favorite. Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. This talented author introduces the readers to the main character Carrie Weaver. (What a great last name because she’s constantly “weaving” in and out of so many difficult situations.) In the second chapter, after Carrie’s father dies and the love of her life abandons her, Ms. Fisher writes: Carrie didn’t think it was possible that a heart could break twice, in just one week. When I read that sentence it was a slam dunk for me. Carrie completely captured my heart. I found myself hovering over her like a smother mother wanting to help her find her way.

There were so many great lessons interwoven in this book. The reader discovers God is the God of second chances. I loved the little Amish quotes and food for thought. My favorite was ‘If you listen through the wall, you’ll hear others reciting your faults.’

The best news of the day is The Choice is a series. This is good news for me because if it wasn’t I think I would plunge into deep depression and be in desperate need of Prozac. ;-)

I highly recommend this book. You will enjoy it immensely!

The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher is the first in the Lancaster County Series; an Amish love story set in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and published by Revell.

Thanks to LitFuse Publicity and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book to review.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Plain Pursuit Beth Wisemen



I’ll admit it. I have an O.C.D. when it comes to Christian Amish fiction. Beth Wiseman’s Plain Pursuit is now on the top of my “favorites” bookshelf. Once I started the riveting story of career minded Carley Marek taking a forced vacation deep in the heart of Amish country, I couldn’t put it down. Just when Carley is getting adapted to the Plain community, her Amish friend’s son becomes gravely ill. (This is where the book really gets exciting.) A young doctor diagnoses the boy with end-stage renal failure and in need of a kidney transplant. There were moments I had to close the book and brush some tears from my eyes. I think it was because on June 12, 2008, our son gave his daddy a kidney. All the emotions Carley went through, I personally experienced, too. If you need to de-stress, this book is for you. Within the first few pages, you will be transported to life with the Amish and woven throughout the story are eternal spiritual truths. I give Beth Wiseman’s Plain Pursuit a perfect 10!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sins of the Spirit




The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. Luke 15:28a NLT

Lord, today I was hurt and angry. When the one who hurt me extended friendship, I responded coolly. I was justified. After what “she” said, I had a right to treat her that way. After all Your Word does say people will reap what they sow. Who does “she” think “she” is making such condescending statements? And you know, Lord, what Your Word teaches about pride. She just oozes with her uppity ways. I haven’t done anything to deserve her cruel comments. In the long run, distancing myself will teach her a valuable lesson! Her behavior is unacceptable. I refuse to reward such dysfunction. After all, her attitude doesn't bring honor to You. I certainly don’t want to enable her. I’ve settled it once and for all. I am right. No doubt about it. There is no need in discussing it further. I am positively... positively... positively miserable.

Why am I in such unrest, Lord? How is it possible that I can I be right and yet be so wrong?

In the depths of my soul, I discern “I” am part of the problem. “I” am like the prodigal son’s older brother, who wouldn’t go in because of his heart was diseased with anger and hurt. The Holy Spirit gives me a much-needed diagnosis -- sins of the spirit; a spiritual malady, which can render the patient powerless to love. Many times manifestations can be masked and difficult to detect, but only for a short time. Eventually, everyone will notice their lovelessness. If not given a biblical antidote of love and humility, the disease can spread to vital organs of the soul.

Symptoms include:
• Polite coolness when friendship is available
• Consumed with proving your point
• Touchiness, sensitivity
• Needing to persuade others to embrace your point of view
• Loving your opinions more than you love people


“Forgive me, Lord. I’ll righten my wrong. Life is too short for me to nurse this grudge. Help me to not be like the older brother and refuse a relationship. Help me respond in a way that brings glory and honor to You.”

Just had a great review for One Noble Journey at http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org/OneNobleJourney.aspx
Enjoy,
Dixie

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Holy Deafness



But Jesus, not heeding the word spoken…. Mark 5:36

My friend hurt my feelings. She spread “her view from the pew” to several other friends. Her comments waltzed their way into my house and infuriated me. I was sure I had been fatally wounded. Falling to my knees I wailed, “Speak to me from Your Word.” I opened my Bible to the gospel of Mark.

“But Jesus, not heeding the word spoken…”

It was soul food. I knew I needed “holy deafness” or I would become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. I sat quietly and began to pray.

Lord, give me holy deafness when hurtful words are said. Help me to continue to be about my Father’s business and not be shipwrecked because of cruel comments that have pierced my soul. Help me to pray as You prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Sometimes, Lord, those You have called me to serve sting, and I find it difficult to wash their feet, but You, Master, washed Judas’ feet and called him, “Friend.” You knew, from the beginning, what was in his heart. Yet You humbled Yourself and ministered to him just hours before he would betray You.
I openly admit, Lord, that my heart sometimes resists and screams, “I can see through them.”

But You, Lord, plead with me, “See them through.”

My stubborn will resists. “I’m not budging an inch.”

But You, Lord, entreat me, “When they ask you to go one mile, go with them, two.”
I can go the second mile, as long as You go with me, Lord. You make the bitter sweet.

Lord, grant me holy deafness so I can obey Your Word. I’m in earnest when I say I want to be like You. I place Your cup to my lips, Lord, and I drink. I realize it’s the only way our world will ever come to know You. If You, Savior, live out Your life through Your children.

Lord, give us holy deafness to the careless conversations with those we come in contact with, but give us keen hearing to Your Holy Spirit.

He who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Embracing Your Freedom by Susie Larson


If you are like most women and have suffered from time to time with an attitude of indifference, you must read Susie Larson’s new book Embracing Your Freedom. Her words of hope and conviction will jumpstart your Christian walk and cause your heart to beat again with fresh faith and purpose.

Embracing Your Freedom gives you a peek behind the scenes of people who have sacrificed for the rights and freedom of others. It would inspirational enough just to read the true stories of these heroes sprinkled throughout the book, but Ms. Larson doesn’t stop there. She challenges her readers to come up a level and not just experience freedom for themselves, but to fight for the freedom of others, too. She says it best in the following excerpt from her book:

Embracing Freedom also means being willing to fight for more freedom and influence than our parents enjoyed. May we take what our parents offered us and build on it, push past it, make something more of it, so our children may make something more of it, so our children may enjoy a greater level of freedom than we ever did.

Embracing Your Freedom will leave eternal “footprints” in every reader’s soul. I was expecting a book on social injustice saturated with depressing statistics. Instead the book challenged me and changed me forever. The following excerpt moved me beyond words.

Enlarge your heart to include people who long for the freedoms you enjoy. And for His name’s sake, press on, take risks and recover every shred of who God intended you to be.

This book should be read by every leader in the Body of Christ. It will rekindle ministry fires and make the leadership more effective.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Living Life in the Zone



My favorite part in Living Life in the Zone is when authors Kyle Rote Jr. and Dr. Joe Pettigrew give instances in the Bible where God made major changes and transformations in the lives of different biblical characters after a 40 day period. Then they offer men of all ages the opportunity to have a 40-day spiritual game plan of their own. They hope by setting time apart each day the Holy Spirit will transform their readers lives, too.

This isn't your typical devotional book for men. It is an "intense" study and jam-packed full of sheer inspirational stories from successful coaches and professional athletes,whose lives have been changed by the transforming power of Jesus Christ and guarantees to help men experience a vibrant faith in Jesus Christ.

If you have a sports-minded man in your life, he will love this book. Living Life in the Zone isn't a book you read once and put away. After your first 40 day spiritual game plan, you can start all over again.

On a scale of 1 - 10.... I give Living Life in the Zone a perfect 10. You just can't find flaws in a book that challenges you to be all God intended you to be.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Father Knows Best







2010 has started with numerous full circle moments because they seem to be popping up everywhere I turn these days.

Childhood pictures of my two older brothers and myself are hard to come by. We do have a few black and white photos, but color photographs are almost obsolete. Our mother tells us most of our treasured pictures were destroyed by flood waters. God always seems to know when I need a little "wink" from Heaven and He sent me one today.

A few years ago, my grandmother's brother passed away and sometime later his daughter was rummaging through some old photos. She discovered a few photos she thought we might be interested in. You can imagine how thrilled we were when we opened the thick envelope and colored pictures of us as kids dropped out. In the picture above I am the little girl dangling Bongo, a children's picture book, from my hand. I'm clenching another unknown book in my other hand.

Of all the pictures she could have sent, she sends one of me holding a children's book. Somehow that spoke to me. It seemed it was already in God's plan for me to write for little ones. I pray my words will help shape small souls for Jesus!

After examining the picture for a few minutes, I brushed a tear or two from my eyes, and took another sentimental journey. I was probably around eight and visiting my paternal grandma. She had cut and stapled a few sheets of white paper together and told me to write a book about anything I wanted to. I began to write about an oriental woman, who worshipped idols. I remember titling my story Mae Sue's God.

Fast forward forty years later, I was hired by a precious Vietnamese woman named Mai Spencer to ghostwrite her life's story. Mai had been a Buddhist for most of her life, but when she lost her third child she called out to Jesus and her life was forever changed. I didn't write about Mae Sue's God, but I did write about Mai Spencer's God. ;-)

I don't believe in coincidence. I know this was Divine providence.

2010 is the year of full circle moments. Be on the lookout for them. ;-) They will build your faith in a Father who always knows best.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Prisoner of Hope

I just learned that One Noble Journey was chosen by The Children's and Teens' Book Connection to be in the Top Ten Favorite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens and Teens You can read more about it by going to the link below.
http://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/tctbcs-top-10-favorite-books-of-2009-for-kids-tweens-and-teens/

Friday, January 8, 2010

Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle by Nicole Weaver



Nicole Weaver's new children's book Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle promises not to disappoint the little ones in your life. The exciting adventure begins with a sparkling ocean and a little girl Marie hunting for seashells. She spots something shining in the distance.(This is the part in the book where boys and girls plagued with wiggle wormitis will sit at rapt attention when they discover what the mysterious item is. Could it be the most beautiful seashell ever?) Marie runs over to the shiny item and discovers it is a stranded sea turtle. (I can just hear children oooohing and ahhhhing at this point.) The sea turtle needs to be put back into the ocean, but Marie isn't quite strong enough to help him back into his familiar waters. Maria's parents think the sea turtle would make a nice stew, but Maria convinces them to help save the sea turtle.

There are some important lessons I think children and their parents will learn after reading this book.

1. The importance of families listening with their hearts and not just their heads.

2. Children will hone their critical thinking skills. While her parents and Marie had differing opinions of what should be done with the sea turtle, they worked together and came up with a satisfying solution. Children will learn how cooperation makes a person become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

3. Children will also learn the art of compassion for God's creatures. Marie exemplifies this lost art and will give parents opportunities to discuss treating animals with respect.

4. Children will be exposed to different cultures and discover even if we live in different parts of the world, compassion never goes out of style.

If you have a hesitant little reader in your home, Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle would whet their reading appetite and give them a love for learning more about sea turtles.

What makes Nicole Weaver's story even more captivating are Ruben Chavez's amazing illustrations. Marie's merciful heart shines through each page.

You can purchase Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle at www.amazon.com.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Full Circle Moments



Defining moments - we all have them. A place and time when you reflect on incidences that changed your perspective forever. You realized your purpose and marched to the beat of a heavenly drum.

This week our church called for a week of prayer. Every morning and every evening we meet for an hour and seek the Lord. Tonight as we prayed the Lord's presence was so near. In stillness and quietness, you could sense the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of the prayer warriors. My soul was overcome with an attitude of gratitude for the way God had led our family. As I was thanking the Lord for His faithfulness, my husband led out in a familiar chorus.

Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name.
He has done great things! He has done great things! He has done great things!
Bless His holy name.


As we sang, I reflected on past answers to prayer and those memories boosted my faith for the future. I knew the same God who had taken us through in the past was going to walk beside me in the future. And at that moment I was reminded of a story I had heard from my grandfather about a tragedy that happened to my great-uncle years before I was born.

Uncle Ernie was my paternal grandfather's baby brother. Right after he married and had two children, he bought a house in Floyd, Iowa. In January in the 1930s, he lost his house to a house fire. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but they lost everything. They decided to not rebuild, but moved to Oklahoma, where they lived until Uncle Ernie passed away.

Fifty years later, my husband Paul accepted a pastoral position at a little church in Floyd, Iowa. This church was built on the very lot where my Great-Uncle's house had burned to the ground. As God blessed the congregation, a building project for a new sanctuary was started. As the construction workers started to dig, they hit the foundation from my great-uncle's old home. A chipped ceramic coffee cup was salvaged and brought to me for inspection.

"I bet it was Uncle Ernie's coffee mug." I said staring at the old cup.

It was a full circle moment for me. My husband and I have now served the congregation of the Gospel Lighthouse Church in Floyd, Iowa, for nearly 30 years. A few years ago, Uncle Ernie's son Eldon built the cabinets and book shelves for my husband's new office. Even though Eldon was only five years old when the tragedy occured, he still remembers watching the flames devour his home. God has restored in ways above and beyond our wildest dreams. Eighty years ago my family suffered over the loss of their home, but now in that very spot stands a church. The fire that once destroyed the hopes and dreams of a young family has now been replaced by an eternal fire, which offers hope to whosoever will may come.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

IF I COULD BE ANYTHING BY KEVIN MCNAMEE



I am fast becoming an avid fan of children's author Kevin McNamee. I was trying to think exactly what it is about his two new children's books The Sister Exchange and If I Could Be Anything that won my heart. I believe I know the answer - His writing keeps the reader grounded as to what is of utmost importance in life. Before you read the last sentence of his books, you realize, more than you ever did before, just how precious and important family and loved ones are.

A child's imagination will be expanded when they read Mr. McNamee's delightful rhyming tale If I Could Be Anything coupled with Marina Movshina's colorful illustrations. Children will love imagining being an eagle soaring high in the sky or a bat hanging upside down in a cave. If I Could Be Anything is purely an "Imagination Station" that children of all ages will thoroughly enjoy.

And just when the reader is tranported all over the world dreaming about what he wants to be, Mr. McNamee penned these words:

But I'd want to be
with the ones that I love,
and with those who love me.


Those words made me want to stand to my feet and cheer.

When I was a child, after my grandmother read me a story she would ask me what I thought the moral of the story was. Over 50 years later, I continue to look for the deeper meaning of a good book. I felt the moral this story seemed to convey - Go ahead and dream. In fact, dream big, but be sure your priorities are grounded and you know who the important people are in your life and whatever you do... never, ever take them for granted.

You'll have to excuse me for now... I've got to go love on our new grandbaby and tell my husband how thankful I am for him.

To purcase If I Could Be Anything go to www.guardianangelpublishing.com. You'll be glad you did.

The Sister Exchange by Kevin McNamee



Kevin McNamee's new book The Sister Exchange is going to help mothers from across the globe enlighten their children on just how precious and unique the bond between siblings really is. I think every home with siblings would benefit from this book and would suggest it as a baby shower gift for the big brother or sister of newborns. It would also be a great addition to a church library as a resource for young families.

The Sister Exchange has more depth than your average children's picture book. It meets an emotional need that an older sibling might not be able to express, but Mr. McNamee does an excellent job of using humor to teach just how sacred and eternal family relationships really are.

Heartstings will be tugged when the little souls in your life read about how big sister Brianna wants a new and improved little sister rather than Julianne, the one she has been given. Her wise mother listens intently, goes along with Brianna's request and makes a quick phone call to The Sister Exchange. Families will roar together with laughter when they read about the possible prospects The Sister Exchange offers Brianna.

Another favorite part of The Sister Exchange for me was Kit Grady's amazing illustrations. They are sooooo adorable you want to frame them and hang them on your wall. There's something about Brianna and Julieanne's faces that will capture the hearts of children of all ages.


You can purchase The Sister Exchange at:
http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/sister-exchange.htm

While you are there, be sure to check out Kevin McNamee's other book If I Could Be Anything.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tiny Angel by Nancy Carty Lepri



In a day and age when chapter books for tweens can sometimes be more hype than substance, Nancy Carty Lepri's Tiny Angel is a breath of fresh air. When ten-year-old Macy Carver's dad is transferred to a new town, Macy leaves behind everything she knew even her best friend. Suddenly she is the new kid on the block and is the recipient of cruel bullying. Then, she receives an unexpectant heavenly visitor - her guardian angel Jody.

There are numerous positive lessons children can learn from Tiny Angel.

1. The gift of compassion - Macy's keen discernment helps her look beyond herself and extend friendship to Tommy, a needy boy in her school.

2. Another perspective - Macy gives readers another view from her pew. She is able, through the help of her guardian angel Jody, to see beyond herself.

3. Generosity - Macy could have been selfish and kept the award money she won from the spelling bee competition, but instead she sees a need greater than herself and donates her money to help those in need.

4. Convictions - Macy's life reflects her heart of mercy for the underdog while continuing to stand up for what you believe in even if it means being rejected.

5. Educational - Children will hone their spelling skills when they attend the spelling bees with Macy and her friends.

6. Faith - Little hearts will grow in their faith when they fall in love with Macy's guardian angel Jody and learn that only faith can devour fear.

Macy isn't some goody-two-shoes. Ms. Lepri pulls back the curtain and allows us to see Macy's struggles.

I think Tiny Angel should be read in elementary schools everywhere. It would open up dialogue about bullying and how devastating it can be to an individual and teach students the lost art of compassion.

If you want a great book with some character building lessons tucked in every chapter for the children in your life, you will want to get a copy of Tiny Angel.

You can purchase Tiny Angel by Nancy Carti Lepri at http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/tiny-angel.htm. While you are there, you may want to look around at some of their other amazing books.

Friday, January 1, 2010

George Fox




Because the economy was drastically unstable, the villagers turned inward, caring little about the affairs outside their own town. Little did that sleepy town realize there was one among them who would shake all of England. (quote about the boy George Fox)

I always enjoy reading about the lives of people who have laid down their lives for the Cause of Christ. Today I read about George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, who lived through persecution after persecution yet humbly shared his faith in Jesus with everyone God brought across his path.

As a boy, George struggled socially. He was a misfit and a loner. I'm not quite sure why I was so moved by learning of his disposition and then years later see how God used him, but I was.

For twenty-one years now my husband Paul and I have invested in the lives of children and young people. Lighthouse Academy, a Christian school in the church where my husband pastors, was started in August 1988. Monday through Friday, Paul stands before the students in Opening and shares truths from God's Word. The students come in every flavor. We have our extroverts and introverts, too, like they did in George Fox's day. I guess the word that continues to resonant in my soul about our precious students is POTENTIALITY! We don't know how God may choose to use each one of them, but we can be sure He will.

I pray each child whether gifted or not will sense God's love for them through our lives. I never want to be guilty of prejudging a child and thinking God cannot use him or her. The Spirit of the Lord uses ordinary people to perform extraordinary feats!

I wonder if you or I are mentoring a future George Fox. A child that through our eyes doesn't appear to be of use in God's vineyard, but through God's eyes can shake the world. God sees things differently than we do. As the old saying goes... He doesn't look for ability, but availability.

George Fox's story has left a deep impression on my soul this New Year. I hope I am not guilty of being "sleepy" and not realizing what God is doing in the midst of my community. I pray every child the Lord sends through our doors will feel loved and come to know God has a Divine destiny for their life. After reading about George Fox, I don't think I will look at a child the same ever again.

There's a Beetle in my Bed by Bill Kirk



If you want a fun, yet educational, read for the little ones in your life, you've got to get Bill Kirk's newest book There's a Beetle in my Bed. Mr. Kirk has delivered a grand slam with this amusing story. Who would think a gentle nudge from an imaginary beetle hiding in your bed could make learning so much fun? After reading this story, you will be giggling and chanting together with your children:

"There's a beetle in my bed.
I just saw him duck his head."


The rhyming story is guaranteed to tickle the funny bones of children of all ages and the neatest part about the book are the "Factoids" on each page. So while the children are enjoying the story of the little boy who is afraid of the growing beetle in his bed, they are expanding their scientific knowledge, too.

Bill Kirk's text coupled with Suzy Brown's colorful illustrations are a match made in "Picture Book Heaven."

For more information on how you can purchase There's a Beetle in my Bed go to http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/beetle-bed.htm

While you are there, check out some more great books published by Guardian Angel Publishing. You won't be disappointed.

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