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True North: Choosing God in the Frustrations of Life

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Life is hard, noone ever promised it would be anything other than hard. When trouble knocks us down do we look to the true north, to the One who created us? Often times we react like we aren't even in a relationship with Jesus when times get tough, acting much like the world does. The great battle is for our hearts and we can head north with them, or head south to false gods and what the world offers. Step by step Gary and Lisa Heim lead us through our frustrations, grumblings and groanings to a place where we can share grace, gratitude, and the greatest gift given to us and grow from there to giving and sharing the gift with others. Fantastic questions at the end of each chapter. Would make a good book study for a small/cell group or even as a couple wanting to reach toward God in times of troubles.
Montezuma Intrigue: The Adventures of John and Julia

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This is first in a series of 4 about the adventures of John and Julia Evans. Julia is a newspaper reporter for the town’s local paper, always on the look for that big break and the ‘assignment of a lifetime’. Typically getting the stereotypical ‘fluff’ stories, Julia’s interest is peaked when she finds a number of dead fish and cats killed by cyanide. She is determined to find out what is poisoning the water and who is sneaking up the mountainside to the abandoned mine. John shares a fondness for archeology with his friend Paul and they have been involved in digging in some local Anasazi archeological sites. Though the site was currently on hold, there were fresh diggings. It is illegal to collect artifacts and keep them, and John and Paul need to find who is up to this recent raid. Both Julia and John have an investigation to see too, yet each hold out on the other bits of information. John leaving out info so that Julia doesn’t pursue it as a story lead, and Julia not telling John of the dangers she is encountering when those travelling up the mountain find her nosing around. Mystery and suspense intertwined with fascinating facts about the Anasazi culture! The thing I absolutely loved most about this book was the relationship dynamics between John and Julia. Their relationship with each other symbolized to me a model of what faithful Christian marriages can look like, even 20 years after the ‘newness’ wears off. I loved how Linda Weaver Clarke used descriptions in each chapter of the ebb and flow of John and Julia’s relationship, the physical love for each other, the respect, and the learning to bear one another’s burdens. I also loved how conflict was resolved between the two, showing that even in strong relationships there are problems, yet with God as the center of the relationship, good can come from the resolution. I am excited to read the rest in this series as I so enjoyed the historical insight behind the Anasazi and the mystery that went along with it. Historical suspenseful fiction, the best of the best!! Add in a strong Christian family and you have a super fantastic story!
Falling to Pieces: A Quilt Shop Murder

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Falling to PiecesVannetta ChapmanA Shipshewana Amish MysteryWhen I first saw the cover of this book, and read its description I just had to contact the author for a copy to review! Amish mystery in Shipshewana sounded like such a great story, and a new Amish Fiction writer to spotlight. Vannetta’s first novel A Simple Amish Christmas was a bestseller and this series is well on its way to joining it!Daisy’s Quilt Shop is a hub for not only the tourists in Shipshewana during market days, but for the Amish ladies who gather to quilt and fellowship with one another. When Daisy is found deceased out in the garden she loved, Niece Callie inherits the shop. Having no desire or knowhow to run a shop, Callie hopes for a quick sale and to get back to her so called life in TX. She soon realizes that nothing is beckoning her back to TX and to sell her aunts shop may be easier if the shop reopens. Along with new found Amish friend Deborah, Callie reopens the store and makes some changes and upgrades by putting some of the Amish quilts on ebay for a higher selling price, much to the chagrin of the Amish Bishop. Local newspaper editor Mr. Stakehorn slanders Callie and her attempts to help sell the Amish quilts making for an uprising in the small community. Callie doesn’t take it standing down, insults Mr. Stakehorn and threatens to get back at him. Later that night Mr. Stakehorn is found dead…. Of course Callie is a prime suspect!!Along with her Amish friends, new newspaper editor Trent, and the officers of the local police force, Callie seeks to find out the mystery behind Mr. Stakehorn’s death and the recent burglaries. I loved the combination of the quilt shop, Amish and a good mystery. I have been to Shipshewana during market days when the town swells to 30,000 people and it was so fun to be brought back there to the small town setting and the friendships that developed between the English and Amish. Despite difference in living style, clothing, religion, Callie and her Amish friends came together with a mission in mind, and that helped to grow their relationship with each other, and within themselves. Deborah’s influence on Callie was a blessing to her working through some past issues that needed resolved.So excited that this was just the first in a 3 part series! Excited to join Callie back in Shipshewana for the next book A Perfect Square.
Forbidden

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Ted Dekker has brilliantly written this book as a “good vs. evil” book . Where the main character Rom has to learn how to cope with his new life. He not only learns true love, but also true sorrow as he weeps for some of the people he loves most. Meanwhile Saric has consumed an altered version of the blood that only brings out the worst of emotions; hatred, jealousy, envy, anger. So that he can rule the world. There are a few parts where the action gets a little gory especially in fights. Though not any worse than any of the rest of Ted Dekker’s books. Altogether this book has lots of action, surprising twists, and suspense that will keep you interested. Reading this series could more of a challenge to read because the second book is released in 2012, and the third in 2013. But most of Ted Dekker’s books are worth the wait.
Deeply Devoted (The Blue Willow Brides Book #1): A Novel

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Deeply DevotedMaggie BrendanCatharine Olsen becomes a mail order bride, leaving Holland for the USA, travelling by train to prairie land WY with her 2 young sisters in tow. Catharine became the guardian of Anna 15, and Greta 17 when her parents perished in an accident. Peter anxiously awaits the arrival of Catharine and is surprised when he sees her arrive with her two sisters. She kept that from him for fear he wouldn’t want her if he knew she had to care for them. Secret number one. Peter’s mother Clara had high hopes for him to marry Dorothy and is struck clueless when she runs into Peter and Catharine on their way to be married. Clara hires a PI to find some ‘dirt’ on this ‘gold digger’ that is taking up with her son. Secret number two. The PI finds that Catharine was married prior to coming to the USA, and she had not mentioned that to Peter either. Secret number 3.Secret after secret are kept between the couple, that slowly begins to tear at the trust that they had built up through their correspondence and courtship. They both seem deeply devoted, but are they enough so to reveal all the burdens that they are carrying, and bring them into the light?Rich in Wyoming history the novel felt like I was walking down the streets of WY in the late 1800’s. Mail order brides was an actual happening in America where there were hard working men, but no women to share their lives with. This is why I love historical fiction so well. Not only do you get a glimpse of history, of a different way of living, a different economy, dress, etc, but you also get a story that helps make that time period more real to the readers mind. I sure hope Maggie Brendan continues the series right where she left off. I can’t wait to see what happens to the sisters as they grow up on WY, and how deeply devoted Peter and Catharine can become to one another. I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for an honest review.
Passion to Action

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A testimony to God’s unfailing love, and how through Him your passion and desire to serve can be ignited. Jay and Beth Loecken were a typical family living the American dream, great job, nice house, cars, toys, and not lacking for any ‘thing’. Yet they were missing out on something and couldn’t quite put their finger on it. Deciding to take a mission trip to Africa with 3 of their 4 children and serve in a small community changed their way of thinking from then forward. They were missing what God had called them to and got caught up in the ‘stuff’ that the world calls us to. Giving up all the ‘stuff’ and going on the road in an RV the family set out to serve where God led them. They met families along the way that they were able to be blessed by and be a blessing. They worked side by side with churches sharing their message of not only talking about helping others, but coming along side of them and going out and getting programs started. Throughout the book Jay and Beth share their own personal testimonies, stories from their childhood, and ways God has worked in their lives. We read bits from the children and how the experience of travelling in the RV has affected them. An autobiography of their mission and how God brought it to fruition, not only in their own lives but also in a way to share it with others. I loved the open honesty of Jay and Beth, like they were talking to good friends in writing the book. They didn’t hold back from their story and make it sound all glittery and golden but gave us the hardships that came with starting a ministry such as this. They didn’t write as if they were hero’s, but more like those who they served were the real hero’s. They were very big into Random Acts of Kindness which is a universally understood concept. I loved how they could utilize that with fellow Christians as well as those who were unsaved. It was definitely a book that got me thinking, am I living for the now or am I living for eternity??
Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids with Love, Not War

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Plugged in ParentingBy Bob WaliszewskiThe subtitle of the book is How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids with Love, not War.. I just loved that!I tend toward being a bit ‘fussy’ about what my kids watch on TV and listen to in the music arena. Bob brings across the point that media does influence us and our children, that people are motivated by what they see and hear in the media. We cannot just take a back seat and be ignorant to the fact simply because it may be easier to not confront it. Crimes shows are mimicked, love scenes are mimicked and bad morals are taken in as acceptable to some who watch the shows, even Christians!Understanding where your kids are spiritually is the starting place for limiting media, not just setting up a bunch of rules. We are in a battle for our children’s minds and hearts. Encourage our Christian children to honor Christ with their choices in media.Bob uses scenes from shows on today to emphasize his point of how easily media can ‘slip’ in things that are ungodly. He then goes to quote scripture verses on how we should choose our friends, view our surroundings and keep from evil. All that can be used in our media experiences today. I was fortunate to be pretty on target with the thoughts and descriptions that Bob discussed. Only one TV, out in the open, the children listen to Christian music by choice, and the computer is in an open space as well. Does that mean we are immune, not at all. We can just see more clearly the things that are going on, and can continue to monitor and guard against the evil one infiltrating our children’s minds. Definitely a concept that Christian families need to consider and not just brush it under the rug!
Young and in Love: Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage

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Maybe “I Do” is Better Than “Just Don’t”. Amen! When I saw that Young and In Love was coming out I thought to myself “Finally!” Soon to celebrate my 18th wedding anniversary to my childhood sweetie, I was wishing that we would have had this book back then. The book is geared toward couples who are young and in love.. not for the singles, not for someone older who is waiting, not for those who believe in waiting for their career and all their plans to get their lives in order before getting married. Our culture has created this wide gap in between childhood and adulthood called adolescence and that stage of life is getting larger and larger, now saying that kids aren’t maturing until age 25! Ted Cunningham has couples test their maturity level earlier, look critically at their partner and their selves to determine if they are indeed ready for marriage despite what the worldly view tends to hold. He has them look at marriage as a privilege, a blessing, a permanent bond. Couples test their chemistry, competency and character to analyze whether God has put them together as a couple. Without Christ the early marriages wouldn’t work out, but then neither do the marriages that wait until they are ‘mature’. Ted uses key scripture in Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes and more to showcase God’s plan for marriage. Well written, interactive guide book for all young couples considering marriage at a young age. A trailblazer book that I pray starts a new revolution for young marriages!!
Tombstones and Banana Trees: A True Story of Revolutionary Forgiveness

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Tombstones and Banana Trees Medad BirungiPublished by David CookSource: Review Book from B & B MediaThis novel takes your breath away. A modern day Job story in a child package. Birungi was abused since he was in his mother’s womb, kicked by his father. His father’s increasing drinking let to continuous violence on the entire family both physically and verbally until his father abandoned them all together, leaving them on the side of the road with only the clothes on their backs. In a country like Uganda and the family ties that are in place, Birungi’s family was shunned and had never been at such a low place. Rage ravished Birungi as he continued to have horror and trauma explode his days. Amazing how all could be lost and yet, he was able to lose even more. Intense acts of violence and family members stolen from him, Birungi had no trust in anyone and had not experienced the unconditional love that comes from Christ alone. A children’s choir came to Birungi’s school and spoke about Jesus, his love and forgiveness. Birungi was so enraged he ran away and hopped on the long bus ride home to his mother, only to discover that he couldn’t outrun Christ. He accepted the Lord that day, forgave all the past, proclaimed the name of Christ to his village, and his Mother also was saved. He was the first teen in his village to become a born again believer. What a change in his family and those around him to see the great things God had done! This novel is profound. I have never read about such abuse, such grave circumstances, and such hopelessness. I personally was glad for the background information Birungi gave on his mother’s Rwanda heritage, the Uganda people, and the wars that forced such hatred among the people. The background information on the family structures and the ‘norms’ for the country helped me to leave the comfort zone of what I know in America, to realize the vast differences of life in other countries. I am amazed by Birungi’s transformation, and his personal testimony. Who can argue with that? You can go up to a stranger and speak to them of the Word of God and typically many will argue and dismiss you. But to give one’s own testimony and have such a rich “revolutionary forgiveness” to it, there is no opposition. Birungi was brought up out of the ashes, out of despair to a place of forgiveness and transformation that he shares with all to know. Phenomenal story.I highly recommend this book, to step out of the comfort zone we have, and realize the extreme poverty and difficulties that others around the world are suffering. You will also see that our God is in these places and continues to work miracles to this day. And I must add that the Title of the book is just fantastic!!I received a copy of this book from B & B media group in exchange for an honest review.
Let God Change Your Life: How to Know and Follow Jesus

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Let God Change Your LifeGreg LauriePublished by David CookSource: Review B & B MediaDiscipleship 101, written neatly and concisely into an easy to read and understand novel. Written from a Christian who has been in the world, and realized the vacuum sized hole in his heart for God, Greg Laurie uses the Word of God and breaks it down into step by step instructions for the new believer. The book walks the reader through the need for a relationship with Christ as the sole way to God. Explains how easily you can accept Christ into your life, and how to get ready for the changes that will follow. Often new Christians are left in a lurch without a guideline of where to go from here. Greg Laurie’s book would be an awesome discipleship tool for an older Christian to use to encourage a new believer. It would not only teach the new Christian, it would reignite the torch in the older Christian as well.Fantastic examples, clear writing, and true to life skills are found in Let God Change your Life. I highly recommend that Christians have a copy of this book to give out to new believers or seekers!
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