Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Simpliest Way to Change the World


How to make disciples using hospitality

Deep down, every Christian wants to make a difference. But for many of us, the years come and go and we never do. The good news is: change can be as simple as opening your front door.

The Simplest Way to Change the World is about biblical hospitality and its power for the gospel. Since people will sooner enter a living room than a church, hospitality is a natural and effective way to build relationships for Christ. You'll learn:

How the home can be a hub for community
How hospitality leads to joy, purpose, and belonging
How it grows families to love the things of God
How it's not about being the perfect host
How to be hospitable regardless of your living space

Hospitality is a beautiful legacy of the church, and a great way to make disciples. As you open your life up to others, you share in the very character of God and experience His joy. And you get to witness lives change—including your own.

Includes 20+ creative ideas for hospitality, plus questions for small groups


My thoughts: This is a book that I would love to do with a small group! I hadn't really thought about how just opening ones home to others can be a game changer, since when you open your home to others, you are opening yourself up to deeper friendships. I love to have people over, but I generally have excuses about the state of my house that keeps me from hosting more. After reading this book, I want that to change. I look forward to applying the message of this book to my life!
I received this book from Moody in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Out of Darkness



To purchase your copy, click here.


About the Book

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Book title: Out of Darkness

Author: Erynn Newman

Release date: May 18, 2017

Genre: Romantic suspense

Elisabeth Allen gave her heart to Jesus as a little girl and to Drew Marek as a teenager. When their wedding day finally arrives, it’s the happiest day of her life–until a car bomb transforms her dream come true into a living nightmare.

As Best Man at the wedding, Gabriel Di Salvo promises Drew–his best friend and CIA partner–he’ll look after Elisabeth, but he never dreams it will become necessary so soon. As Elisabeth struggles to put the pieces of her life back together without Drew, Gabe becomes her rock, and as they share their grief and begin to heal, their friendship gradually deepens into something more.

Three years later, Gabe and Elisabeth are planning a future together when he receives a shocking call from the one man who can upend his happiness: Drew. Suspecting someone at the CIA is behind his abduction, Drew refuses to come home. Instead, he asks Gabe to bring Elisabeth to him. Now Gabe just has to figure out how to let her go.

Drew and Elisabeth race across Europe, dodging international arms dealers and attempting to reclaim what was stolen from them. But years of captivity and torture have left their mark on Drew. He is no longer the same boy Elisabeth fell in love with, but he is still her husband, and she’s determined to build something new and leave her relationship with Gabe in the past, if her heart will get the memo.

When their enemies close in and the threat of a terrorist attack escalates, Gabe may be the only person they can trust. Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe are thrown into a fight for their lives–one that will test their loyalties to God, country . . . and each other.


My thoughts: This book is hard to put down! I love that it is suspenseful and unique. I love that you don't know how the book will end from the beginning, since it doesn't follow the usual format. (I mean this as a compliment!) I also love the themes of faith and God. I highly recommend this one!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author

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Erynn Newman is a pastor’s kid, raised in churches all over the Eastern Seaboard. Since earning her degree in Christian Studies, she has traveled the world and served as a missionary, a counselor, an ESL teacher, and a nanny. Though she has never worked with the CIA, her DVR contains a veritable Who’s Who of international spies. She is a Carolina girl, a wife, and Mama to a very busy little boy, two cats, and a gaggle of characters that live inside her head.

20 Facts About Out of Darkness

  1. I write novels while the rest of the house sleeps. That’s also when I do most of my editing work and social media stalking. During the day, I get to hang out with an awesome 4-year-old who is the reason I get up in the morning (both because he’s my heart and because he’s staring into my soul asking me to make pancakes).
  2. I don’t like wine or coffee. My writer fuel is partially frozen Cherry Pepsi.
  3. It took me a long time to realize I was a writer. I thought that everyone made up imaginary people and back stories for them and imagined the lives they lived and sometimes talked to them in traffic. Turns out no. Fortunately other writers found me and helped me figure it out.
  4. My greatest nemeses are also my greatest inspirations. Facebook and Netflix. Finding the balance of hanging out with other writers and readers and being inspired by great story telling and actually doing the work is the hardest thing for me.
  5. I am obsessed with casting characters. Finding the perfect actor/actress or model who embodies my characters is one of my favorite parts of the process. I also do this for every single book I read.
  6. So, of course now you want to know who I chose for Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe. I’m glad you asked.
    • Drew is based on Matt Bomer’s portrayal of Bryce Larkin in the show Chuck (there are quite a few nods to this show hidden throughout Out of Darkness).
    • Elisabeth is partially based on a character from a show I watched when I was in college (also a waitress and artist), but she looks like this model.
    • Gabe is based not that loosely on (young) Anthony DiNozzo from NCIS.
  7. Our house has a really great office with a nice desk and comfortable chair that looks out on our wooded back yard. But I work almost exclusively while sitting on the couch with my laptop propped up on the back of it. My uniform is yoga pants and an old t-shirt. The author life is G.L.A.M.O.R.O.U.S.
  8. I got my start writing fan fiction. Most of it has been obliterated from the interwebs, but there may still be a few Star Wars stories floating around out there (I owe this to my love for Ewan MacGregor and my hatred of Annakin Skywalker). Fan fiction is also the way I found my very first critique group. And our leader, Susan Kaye Quinn, best-selling author and real life rocket scientist, helped me realize I could be a real author. And later she taught me how to publish. I want to be her when I grow up.
  9. Speaking of fan fiction, the original idea for Out of Darkness was a fan fiction based on that character from that show I talked about above. The waitress/artist who lost her first love and then fell for someone else. And then when her love returned, he was… recast. And terrible. And she forgot who she was and made every wrong decision. And everyone was miserable ever after.
    And I was like, what even IS this show?!?! So I started writing my version of how it should have gone.
    But then a surprising thing happened. My characters took on lives of their own, and I fell in love with ALL of them, and I knew I had to tell their story. So I started creating a different back story for them (and I introduced them to Jesus), and then they became their own characters and started telling me what to do. And I’m a little insane now, but I’m not even mad because I love what this story has turned into (and turned ME into).
  10. I started writing Out of Darkness in its earliest form in 2006. I stopped and restarted several times. I wrote other things that may or may not ever see the light of day. I learned that I was writing all wrong, and I ripped it apart, started over and stitched it back together piece by piece. In fact, my original chapter one is now chapter FOURTEEN. And all of that is after the first fifty pages that now comprise First Light, the prequel novelette that tells the story of how Drew and Elisabeth met and fell in love.
  11. Of all the exotic locations mentioned in Out of Darkness: Venice, Italy; Paris, France; Cordoba, Spain; Trim, Ireland; and even Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, I have been to two—Baltimore and Paris.
    Google Maps Street View and Wikipedia are an author’s best friends.
  12. Music inspires me to write, but I can’t write to music. I often hear a song that makes me think of a scene or helps me get the emotion right. And I add those to my play list, but when I write, I prefer quiet (or instrumental music).
  13. I want the Gospel to be front and center in every story I write (including my own), but there were two scenes in particular that I really felt like the Holy Spirit guided me in writing. One is when Drew finds his Bible in the backpack Gabe packed for them, and the other is Gabe’s argument with God when he decides to let Elisabeth go. In both instances, I feel like God really led me to the right Scriptures and gave me the words in a way I didn’t experience with any other scenes.
  14. The hardest scenes were all of the ones with Drew and the gas. Both because I don’t like to torture my characters (contrary to what you may believe) and because the science behind the weapon is way above my head. I worked with a couple of microbiologists to get it at least to plausible/possible, but I’m sure there are still some issues with my science there.
  15. I cried several times while writing this book. Elisabeth and I grieve much the same way, so I saw a lot of myself in her moments crying out to God—especially in the ones where she just wanted to feel Him and couldn’t. I cried when Drew fell apart reading his Bible, and I cried at the end when I wasn’t sure who would live or die.
  16. Gabe was the biggest surprise of the writing process. He was supposed to be out of the picture after chapter sixteen. He was just supposed to be a supporting character in the first half of the book, but at every turn he was tapping me on the shoulder and telling me, “there’s so much more to my story.”
  17. A few scenes didn’t make it into the final book. Two of them are in the outtakes section of my website, but don’t read those until after you’ve read the book. Seriously.
  18. After being told by one agent that Out of Darkness would never sell because it didn’t fit neatly into a genre category, I signed with my current agent in 2012, and we submitted it to several publishers. I received lots of compliments on my writing, but ultimately, people didn’t seem to like the fact that both of my leading men were good guys, and there was no one to root against. One even suggested that I make Gabe complicit in Drew’s abduction. And one suggested I kill Drew (again!) so Elisabeth and Gabe could end up together. Both interesting ideas, but neither were the story I wanted to tell. In the end, I decided to indie publish, which has been really challenging, but I’m so happy with the way everything turned out. We all got the ending we were supposed to have.
  19. Speaking of endings, the one in the final version is very different from the original. I’ll try not to be too spoilery, but let’s just say that the original ending was far less happy, but I felt like it was the only way out. One of my characters made a choice that I couldn’t see any way around. And I thought that a happy ending would be too fake. I didn’t want to tie everything up with a pretty pink bow and say “they all lived happily ever after,” because after everything they’d been through, that wouldn’t be real life. But a very good friend of mine convinced me that I could instead tie everything up with a frayed knot. It’s still messy and difficult and a little raw, but I think it’s real… and full of hope and possibility.
  20. So what’s next, you ask? There’s more to explore here perhaps, but I honestly don’t know what comes next for these characters. That’s something I’m still thinking about.
    The story I’m working on right now also begins in D.C. but takes place mostly in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the story of an ex Army Ranger who has to protect his three little brothers when the youngest witnesses their parents’ murder. And there may also be a girl involved.

Blog Stops list

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Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Erynn is giving away a grand prize of a signed copy of Out of Darkness, a signed copy of First Light, The Joy Eternal~A Sweet and Bitter Providence CD, a $10 Starbucks gift card, and Italian Chocolate Hazelnut Creme Cookies.!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Included in Chist


A new kind of Bible study…

After the success of her first two books, Heather Holleman received many requests to write a Bible study. And as a college English instructor, she wanted to make sure it really taught and didn’t simply inform. So she surveyed several women about what their dream study would look like, then got to work.

The result is Included with Christ, a narrative-driven study where you can bring your life before Scripture in the context of community. Together women will discern their personal shadow narratives—ways they are living outside of their identity in Christ—and then rewrite those narratives according to biblical truth.

This in-depth, 8-week study in Ephesians willequip women with six “signature stories” of God’s work in their lives—helping them combat exclusion, loneliness, weakness, decay, emptiness, and silence.

Designed to facilitate honest sharing and help you internalize biblical truth, Included in Christ will provide community and connectedness as well as spiritual nourishment. It will also guide you in how to share your story and the hope of Christ with someone who doesn’t yet know Him.

My thoughts: I haven't done a study on the book of Ephesians before, so I was excited to pick up this 8 week study! The book is excellent to use alone or in a group. I love how there is a lot of thought provoking questions at the end of each day's reading. I love words, so I had fun with this part, but I appreciated that Heather offers a bit of help for those who don't care for journaling and need ideas.
This study helped me to take a step back from my life and examine the ways that I need to change, especially some of my thought patterns. I also really liked the background on the book of Ephesians, as it is a letter showing how all people are a part of God's family, that God longs to gather us to Him.
I highly recommend this study book!
I received this book from Moody in exchange for my honest review.

The Action Storybook Bible Contest

DOES YOUR CHILD LOVE COMIC BOOKS?
HOW ABOUT SUPER HEROES?

Now is your chance to have DC and Marvel illustrator Sergio Cariello make your child's dream come true!



 


Parents!




David C Cook is proud to introduce the newest book in the Action Bible collection: The Action Storybook Bible (coming October 2017). Pre-order The Action Storybook Bible from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or ChristianBook.com to reserve your copy today. Plus click the graphic below to enter to have a chance to win an illustration of your child as a super hero by Action Bible artist Sergio Cariello (who has also illustrated comics for DC and Marvel!).




 


The giveaway is open until September 11, 2017, 5:00pm MST.  Your entry must be received by then to be eligible. Five winners will be chosen at random from eligible entrants.




{THE ACTION STORYBOOK BIBLE}

Families see the Bible in motion and put their faith into action!
The Action Storybook Bible invites families with young children to explore God’s redemptive story together. An entry point into the world of The Action Bible, it tells of the amazing creation story, powerful kings who reigned over ancient Israel, God’s miraculous gift of eternal life through Jesus, and more! God’s promise for the world is displayed throughout every page. Discover your family’s place in God’s incredible story and together put your faith into action!
Interactive features include:


  • Fifteen key episodes from God’s Word—each one loaded with several stories along with over 350 brand-new illustrations throughout.
  • Short and easy readings—for children ages eight and under with rich, colorful images.
  • Life, Faith, Action! features—conclude every episode and invite families to talk about how God moves in the stories, how to see God in life today, how to put faith into action, and how to easily talk to God with a suggested prayer.
  • Hall of Fame visual index—the place to look up favorite Bible characters by discovering their icon connections and finding them in the stories.
Learn more and purchase a copy here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Two of Us


After two broken engagements, nurse practitioner Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she only trusts herself and God, and she's focused on her eighteen-year-old sister, Lucy, and caring for patients. Just as she applies to work for an international aid organization, a phone call from Lucy, who's pregnant and running off to marry her twenty-one-year-old boyfriend, throws a wrench into all of Mia's plans.
Jake Tanner may have recovered from the physical injuries he sustained on the job as a police officer, but his heart has yet to heal from losing his former partner in the tragedy. He's poured himself into starting a camp for the sons of fallen officers and mentoring Sam, the adult son of his deceased partner, who's asked him to be his best man at his wedding.
Mia is expecting a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn't expecting Jake. And Jake, who can't help envying Sam and Lucy, doubts he'll ever experience their happiness for himself. But maybe Jake's courage and Mia's caring spirit are just what they need to bring them a lifetime of healing and a forever kind of love. . . .

My thoughts: Another wonderful, thought provoking story from Victoria Bylin! I love how she crafts characters full of depth and personality, giving us a couple with hopes, fears, and dreams of their own. I love the over all message of this story, one that I've had to learn, sometimes our dreams can change over the years, into something even more beautiful than we imagined.
I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Deal or Duel


In the face of the political instability and financial turmoil of the American Revolution, only one individual always came out on top: Alexander Hamilton. Pit your survival instincts and spending savvy against all the founding fathers (and mothers) in this historic action card game whose simple objective is as old as Ameritocracy itself: get all the money or die trying.

My thoughts: So, I will be the first to admit that I haven't gotten into the whole Hamilton rage, but I did think that this book was kind of a fun way to embrace history.;) I have enjoyed playing it since it is easy to learn and a fun way to learn more about different historical characters.
I received this game from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Praying for Girls


Scripture-Based Prayers for Your Daughter's Specific Needs

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by concerns for your daughter, enjoy the peace that comes when you pray targeted prayers for her straight from the Bible. No matter your girl's age, pray confidently about struggles she may be facing now and in the years to come.
Covering five vital areas of a girl's life--her identity, heart, mind, relationships, and purpose--this easy-to-use book is ideal for anyone who feels intimidated or uncertain about what to pray for the girl they love. Rounding out the book are conversation starters and fun activities to help you guide your daughter into becoming a godly woman.

My thoughts: Having a daughter myself, I was thrilled to pick up this book and figure out how to better pray for my daughter (and son too). This book was the perfect one to pick up! I love that it is more of a manual or workbook than just a book to read quickly and move on. The chapters are wonderful and specific. If you have daughters, I highly recommend getting a copy of this book!
I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.