Friday, May 29, 2015

Take the Plunge Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse magazine’s Summer Challenge.


Take the plunge into faith and fun this summer

Focus on the Family and the Odyssey Adventure Club
offer exciting summer plans for active families


Summer . . . a time that kids pine for during the school year and parents may anticipate with something akin to dread. Fearing refrains of “I’m bored” or hours spent on the couch playing video games can make moms and dads nervous about the long, hot months stretching before their family. Focus on the Family’s Odyssey Adventure Club offers an answer, encouraging parents and kids to embrace faith and fun with the Take the Plunge Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse magazine’s Summer Challenge.

The Take the Plunge challenge features:
  • Master Mind Monday — commit God’s Word to memory   
  • Ways to Play Wednesday — spend active time with your family 
  • Faith Sharing Friday — share God’s love with others

The Take the Plunge challenge helps families memorize at least five verses, engage in five activities together and share their faith with five people before the school doors swing open again.  Those who sign up will receive an 11-week plan with suggested verses to memorize, activity ideas (such as visiting a war memorial) and ways to witness (such as passing out popsicles at the park with an invitation to your church), making this challenge the perfect tool for parents who want summer to be a time of spiritual and social stimulation for their kids.

"Research tells us that the more senses we involve when teaching children a principle, the more likely it is to stick,” Plugged In editor and Adventures in Odyssey podcast host Bob Smithouser says. “Bible memorization by itself is great, but it becomes even more powerful when put into action. Know it. Share it. Live it.”

Families who sign up to take part in the challenge at www.whitsend.org/summer will have access to weekly verses to memorize, ideas for family fun and suggestions for service projects that allow a family to share their faith. Additionally, anyone who signs up to participate in the Take the Plunge challenge will receive a free scene from the latest Adventures in Odyssey album, as well as a free story from the book Strange Journey Back.

The Odyssey Adventure Club offers 24/7, on-the-go access to more than 800 episodes of Adventures in Odyssey, as well as a new, members-only episode every month. OAC is a safe, fun environment where children can explore, create and imagine, all while developing their faith and learning biblical truth.


To learn more about the Take the Plunge Challenge and the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Who are the Hutterites?

Few outsiders know anything about the Hutterites, a Plain Christian group related to the Amish and Mennonites. Maendel’s story, Hutterite Diaries, invites readers into deeper understanding of this community of faith, calling us to take seriously the example of Jesus and the early church in our daily living. Hear straight from plain Christians as they write about their daily lives and deeply rooted faith in the Plainspoken series.

HutteriteDiaries_CMYK{MORE ABOUT HUTTERITE DIARIES}


(MennoMedia, May 2015)
What would it be like to share all your possessions and live in Christian community?
In Hutterite Diaries, Linda Maendel offers a rare glimpse into the daily routines and communal faith of her people, the Hutterian Brethren. From stories of working together to bring in the fall potato harvest to laugh-out-loud tales of sisterly love laced with revenge, Maendel invites readers into her Bruderhof, or colony, nestled on the prairie of western Canada. Here children and adults work, play, eat, and worship together, crafting a community of goods and living out an alternative to the individualism and consumerism of mainstream society.
Few outsiders know anything about the Hutterites, a Plain Christian group related to the Amish and Mennonites. Maendel’s story invites readers into deeper understanding of this community of faith, calling us to take seriously the example of Jesus and the early church in our daily living.

{MORE ABOUT LINDA MAENDEL}


Linda Maendel is a Hutterite author, blogger, and educator who lives in Elm River Colony outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Find out more about Linda at http://www.hutt-writevoice.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Kristy Cambron shares the inspiration behind A Sparrow in Terezin

An interview with Kristy Cambron,
Author of A Sparrow in Terezin


Just like a single candle can brighten a dark room, a glimmer of hope can sustain the soul in dark times. In her highly-anticipated second novel, Kristy Cambron shines a light on the resiliency of the human spirit in A Sparrow in Terezin (Thomas Nelson/April 7, 2015/ISBN: 978-1401690618/$15.99).

Q: Your new book has a unique title — A Sparrow in Terezin. Where is Terezin, and what happened there?

Terezin (or Theresienstadt in German) was a small fortress and garrison city converted to a ghetto and concentration camp during WWII. Positioned just an hour automobile ride north of Prague in what is now the Czech Republic, the 18th-century fortress was an ideal place for the Nazis to set up a Gestapo prison for political prisoners early in the war. By 1941, the camp was converted also to a ghetto and transport camp for mainly Czech, but also Soviet, Polish, German and Yugoslavian Jews. Of the approximate 150,000 prisoners who passed through Terezin during the course of the war, nearly 90,000 were deported to Auschwitz or other extermination camps. Of the 15,000 children who were sent to Terezin between 1942 and 1944, fewer than 100 survived the war.    

Q: How was Terezin different than other concentration camps we may be more familiar with?

Terezin was cruelly referred to as the “Model Ghetto” or “Paradise Camp,” but the horrors of indiscriminate killings, starvation and disease that occurred there made it anything but. The Nazi regime used this camp as a propaganda tool and transport camp, beautifying parts of the city late in the war as a model to show how “well” the Jews were being treated in all of the concentration camps. In reality, the Nazis used a beautified Terezin — with a public park, window boxes with flowers, even painted-plaster meat that hung in butcher shop windows — all as a ruse to mislead the International Red Cross. To alleviate over-crowding before the arrival of Red Cross workers, the Nazis shipped tens of thousands of Jews from Terezin to killing centers (such as Treblinka and Auschwitz) in occupied Poland.

Q: What compelled you to tell this particular story from the World War II era?

In early 2004, I was a young college student in an art history class. I remember the moment when the professor presented a topic I’d never heard of — the art of the Holocaust — and I was instantly captivated. From that day on, I devoured any books I could find on the subject, especially Elie Wiesel’s Night, which I still read every year. I remember hearing that whisper in my soul, that this topic was special somehow; the art of creation and worshipping God, even in the midst of the most horrific of circumstances one could imagine. It’s a stunning expression of beauty I still can’t fully understand. And though it’s a very weighty subject, I wanted to give a voice to these known artists, to help others hear their story. So I stored the idea away, hoping someday I’d know what to do with it. Ten years later, it turned into this series. 

Q: Tell us about the children of Terezin. Where did you first hear their story?

While studying for my undergraduate degree in art history, I completed much research on the art of the Holocaust, specifically, the prisoner camp art of Auschwitz and the children’s art of Terezin. During that research, I came across I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp 1942-1944 (Schocken Books, 1993). This book changed my heart forever. There are stunning pieces of the children’s art inside its pages. Watercolors. Cut-paper collages in brilliant colors. There are peaceful still-life portraits and others, more heart-wrenching, of work details and guards with machine guns. There are songs and poetry, all imagined by the sweet little hands and hearts of the children of Terezin. The art of these children refused to leave my heart. The images are so heart-wrenching that they beg for a voice. It’s because of them Sophie and Kája’s story was born in A Sparrow in Terezin.

Q: Why did the arts thrive in Terezin? What do you think the appreciation of the arts tells us about humanity?

A real shocker for me was to learn that not only did the arts community exist in Terezin, cultural life seemingly thrived. Despite the lack of basic sanitation, food and clean water (and people dying by the thousands), great effort was put into the arts. There were academic lectures on topics such as medicine, the arts and Jewish history, full symphony and chamber orchestra performances — Brundibar (or Bumble Bee) was a children’s operetta both written and performed within the camp. There was even a 10,000-volume Hebrew lending library.  An appreciation of the arts would usually be exciting to research, but given the conditions the people endured, the investment in it here is heart-breaking. The lack of humanity is sickening. 

Q: What lessons can we learn from your heroine, Kája, as she uses her education and abilities in the concentration camp? How were her talents able to aid her survival?

Like Adele’s journey in The Butterfly and the Violin (the first book in the series), Kája’s skills had a very large part in her survival. She was smart and brave in a way she couldn’t fully understand. But in the world of Terezin, she had a better chance than most. In a cultural community that was thriving, Kája would have been seen as added value. And though survival was a big part of her motivation, I think there was something greater: hope. She knew most of the children in her ghetto school would ultimately not survive. Instead, she used her God-given gifts to infuse them with hope in the best way she knew how. I love the fact that in the end, she cared more about the children (her little sparrows) than she did about her own survival. This brave part of her story tugs at my heart like few things can.

Q: Did you struggle telling such a devastating story? How did you manage to infuse A Sparrow in Terezin with a message of hope?

That’s a great question. The simplest answer has to be — yes. Some of the research was so gut-wrenching that I had to take breaks just to get through it. I broke the book into segments on The Blitz, the contemporary storyline and the scenes in Terezin. Because the ghetto scenes were so heavy, I’d have to step away from both research and writing for a time, work on something else and come back to them later. But despite the difficulty, I wanted the story to have hope. In fact, everything hinges on it. Joshua 1:9 is the foundation for Kája’s journey, both before and during her time in Terezin. There had to be hope for her to lean on, to know that no matter what was happening around her, God was still faithfully by her side.

Q: Do you ever wonder if you would have had the same courage and strength shown by Kája and so many others during the Holocaust?

This is the one question I hoped you wouldn’t ask. Why? Because I can’t imagine such circumstances, let alone possessing the courage to answer the challenges they pose. I wonder if I could have had a thimbleful of that bravery, to be bold and strong, even in the face of evil. There were so many of the WWII generation who stepped out in faith, who were strong and put their lives on the line for the generations that had yet to come. It’s a kind of sheer selflessness you just don’t find every day. I wanted Kája’s heart to be made of that same brand of courage. 

Q: Because of Kája’s stand, a little girl named Sophie survives and grows to have an impact on the second heroine in A Sparrow in Terezin, Sera. What does that teach us about the importance of leaving a personal legacy?

There’s so much in a story — I think that’s what endears Sera to Sophie’s character. It’s the story that carries on long after we’re gone, long after each generation passes and the world we live in is continually made new. For every decision we make and for every road we walk in life, the sphere of influence in which God places us has purpose, and stories are the witness of that.

Q: What does Sophie’s painful past teach Sera about forgiveness — especially in regards to her new husband?

I heard a quote once: “How can you ever expect to lead anyone out of the desert if you’ve never been through the desert yourself?” I happen to love that Sophie is wise enough to recognize this at just the right time. She skillfully uses a past story as a catalyst to affect a future outcome.  A testimony (AKA a past journey) is often how we as Christians share our own faith. It’s not because we have a perfect journey with Christ that the story holds weight. (Usually, it’s quite the contrary.) It’s all about grace.

Q: How important is forgiveness in marriage? Have you ever struggled with this in your own marriage?

My husband and I have been married for 14 years. In that time, I can say it’s been an amazing journey with my best friend. (But notice I never said it was easy.) The absolute best thing we’ve done in our marriage is to forgive authentically. We’ve both made mistakes. Said things we didn’t mean. Tried and failed to be a perfect spouse. That’s why I love the outcome of the situation Sera and William find themselves in. They’re newly married — their love not yet tested. But all at once the wedding is over and they’re faced with a real person in front of them. They’ve got to ask themselves some tough questions. “Can I really forgive this person?” “Do I still love him or her, even after the mistakes he or she has made?” They’re tough. Edgy, even. Forgiveness is not for the faint of heart. For some of us, it takes 14 years to get it right. And for others, such as Sera and William, it’s a hurdle they have to overcome almost immediately.   

Q: What advice do you have for the person who has been hurt or betrayed by his or her spouse and thinks forgiveness is completely impossible?

Not knowing each individual struggle, my biggest piece of advice would be to stick close to Jesus through it. If you invest in your relationship with Christ, knowing only He can change the other person’s heart, what once seemed impossible may start to see the light of possibility break through. Getting into a Bible-believing church is another major step. You’ll gain strength in the fellowship and find support. And your heart may begin to awaken. There are many pieces of the puzzle to get to forgiveness, but the true in-depth grace we all crave can only be found in that relationship with our Savior. Until He fulfills us, nothing (or no one else) can.     

Q: What are some ways to rebuild trust in any relationship after it’s been broken?

My husband has a saying: “Faith for today.” I love that! And he’ll remind me of that often with a, “Honey, we just need faith for today. We’ll get more when tomorrow comes.” Whether it’s trusting God, surrendering our will to His, or offering and receiving forgiveness in our lives — it starts with focusing on the faith needed for the “now.” Rebuilding trust can take a while. It may take dozens of faith-for-today moments before you start to gain traction in it. The key is to remember that it’s a marathon; not a sprint. We may not be ready to forgive overnight. Sometimes, it’s a faith-for-today process of lots of overnights jumbled together. Just keep it up. Make the choice to dive into faith each day until you don’t have to choose it any longer. By then, “broken” will be a part of the past, and trust will be the characteristic of the future.

Q: You wrote A Sparrow in Terezin during a difficult time in your own family; what happened, and how did it impact your writing?

I did. Much of The Butterfly and the Violin was edited at the local cancer center, as my dad underwent chemo for a rare and aggressive form of leukemia. The remainder was edited in the weeks after he passed away. So with this second book, the writing came on the hinges of grief for our family. A Sparrow in Terezin would be my very first writing journey without my larger-than-life and 100% supportive dad cheering me on from the sidelines. I wanted to tell a story of courage and faith, but to be honest, I felt neither at the time. That’s when I remembered a text message my Dad had sent me months before. It was simple: “Joshua 1:9.” My dad had a genius way of saying the most with the fewest words possible. I knew that despite the fear, despite the pain and uncertainty, I’d never be alone. In fact, there’s a scene in the book where Kája finds herself crippled with fear, just as she’s about to venture into Nazi-occupied territory. That scene in the Norwich station bathroom was patterned after a particularly difficult moment I had while my dad was in ICU. Like Kája, I just simply asked God to “be there.” I just needed to know that though circumstances were poised to get much worse, He wouldn’t let us go through it alone. And as we spent time in ICU and said a peaceful goodbye to one of my best friends, I felt God’s presence more than any other time in my life. I’m not a fan of the pain it took to get there, but the lesson learned on faithfulness changed my life. He IS faithful, and we have this book because of it. 

Q: How do your readers inspire you as you continue to write?

Every day I’m inspired by readers! They’re so very supportive. And I can’t tell you how much the connections on social media, the cards and emails, or the hugs of encouragement mean to me as a writer. Before a pen is put to paper, the readers are prayed for. I assure you, they’re thought of with every step in the writing and editing process. And my heart sings every time a reader steps into a book-signing line and shares his or her story with me. It’s the kind of amazing I couldn’t have imagined before becoming an author. These readers — friends and brothers and sisters in Christ — have become cheerleaders in the process, and I’m so grateful. They’ve added such meaning to my life.

Q: What is the number-one message you would like readers of A Sparrow in Terezin to walk away with?

Above all, my hope is that readers walk away from this reading experience with a changed heart — to know that no matter what journeys life brings, they can have strength and courage with every step. We can stand firm on the truths in Joshua 1:9 and find our courage in Him, whether it’s in circumstances as horrific as the Holocaust or the discouragements of our everyday lives. He can still bring beauty from ashes. He can (and will) still breathe life and color and hope into every situation.



To keep up with Kristy Cambron, visit www.kristycambron.com and TheGROVEstory.com storytelling ministry. You can also become a fan on Facebook (KCambronAuthor) or follow her on Twitter (@KCambronAuthor). 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

‘The Proposal at Siesta Key’ 5-Book Giveaway

Don’t miss Shelley Shepard Gray’s newest series, Amish Brides of Pinecraft, and the second book in the series, The Proposal at Siesta Key! “Shelley Shepard Gray brings readers into the Amish world with style and grace,” says Romantic Times Bookclub. Penny’s time with Michael has brought her happiness, but will she be able to follow her heart? Or will she be faced with the one thing she’s sure she’ll never have the courage to do?
Enter to win a copy of The Proposal at Siesta Key—five winners will be chosen! The winners will be announced June 15 on Shelley’s blog!



A Proposal at Siesta Key

{MORE ABOUT THE PROPOSAL AT SIESTA KEY}


(Avon Inspire, May 2015)
A young Amish woman, yearning for freedom, crosses paths with a handsome Mennonite celebrity in a deeply moving tale of friendship and self-discovery—the second installment in the unforgettable New York Times bestselling author’s new Amish Brides of Pinecraft series.
Penny Troyer rarely disobeys her parents. In the years since her sister’s tragic death, they’ve wanted nothing more than to keep her safe…even if it means never leaving the house.
But tonight, she’s bending the rules because Michael Knoxx, the most famous member of The Knoxx Family Singers, a traveling Mennonite Evangelical family —is scheduled to speak. Penny has heard of Michael—how he lost part of his leg in a terrible accident and uses the experience to inspire others—and knows she must meet him. So, for the first time ever, Penny stands up to her parents and goes out on her own.
Though he speaks about living life to the fullest, Michael knows he needs to take his own advice. Life on the road is grueling and Michael wants to slow down, to rest…to perhaps meet someone who sees him as a man, not just a celebrity. So when a twist of fate allows him the chance to stay a little longer in Pinecraft, Michael knows God is showing him a new path, especially when he discovers how much he and Penny Troyer have in common.
But new friendships can’t stop time. Soon, Michael’s time in Pinecraft will be over and he’ll be back on the road. Her time with Michael has brought her happiness, but will she be able to follow her heart? Or will she be faced with the one thing she’s sure she’ll never have the courage to do?

Shelley Shepard Gray

{MORE ABOUT SHELLEY SHEPARD GRAY}


Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.
Find out more about Shelley at http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Bachelorette has a bunch of jerks and weirdos to choose from

I am fairly certain that I will lose cable and/or electricity while The Bachelorette is on tonight. It's just a hunch.

Today, I spent Memorial Day shopping with my mom for clothes to wear on a business trip in four weeks. Of course, it also involved going to Hobby Lobby. And Cracker Barrel. #noshame

Here I am, all ready to start blogging at 7:00 after rushing around the house doing this and that, and the show doesn't start until 8:00 tonight. Seriously? Grumble. I have things to do, so I'll go do them for an hour and come back.


Tonight, Kaitlyn picks the first group of men she wants to take out on a date. From the previews, it appears there will be a lot of kissing, and the drama is already starting.

To start off the show, Chris Harrison checks in with Kaitlyn the morning after the rose ceremony. They talk about early kisses and guys who were interested in Britt.

Meanwhile at the mansion, all the guys are still comparing notes about who voted for Britt and who voted for Kaitlyn.

Over at the hotel, Britt is crying to her momma about how she is coming home because she didn't get voted in. However, there is a knock on the door. Brady had arrived to get time with Britt and see if it turns into love. He seems a little drunk. Maybe he always slurs. In his intro video last week I couldn't understand anything he sang. Something about him reminds me of Lyle Lovett.

Back at the mansion, Chris Harrison delivers the first group date card.

Daniel, Justin, Jared, Corey, Tanner, Kupah, Ben H, and Ben Z. "I see this ending with a ring." 

JJ doesn't see any competition in that group. A little arrogant if you ask me. However, he doesn't think there are any guys serious about marriage in that group.

The date is a boxing date so Kaitlyn can see who is willing to fight for her. Kaitlyn has some help in the form of Laila Ali. Some of the guys throw a pretty weak punch. While some men try to talk to Kaitlyn and get their time in, she has forgotten Kupah is even on the date because he's in his own world training.

To prove their stuff, they are going to compete in a tournament. I'm not sure any of them are too sure of themselves.

First round:

Ben Z vs. Daniel -- Not really a great match. Maybe the tallest guy there vs. the fashion designer. Ben wins.

Corey vs. Justin - Corey wins.

Ben H. vs Jared - Jared is small, but scrappy.

Tanner vs. Kupah - Kupah was the winner.

Semi-final round:

Ben Z vs. Corey - Ben Z wins

Jared vs. Kupah - Kupah wins

Final round: 

Big Ben Z vs. Jared. Ben knocks Jared senseless. Jared says he is alright, but the doctor thinks his reaction time is slow and that he needs to go to the hospital.

Later that night, when all the guys are gathered for the rest of their date, Kaitlyn takes Ben off first. He does feel bad about what happened to Jared. Then, the two talk about cooking. Suddenly, he changes the direction of the story and say that he had to grow up cooking because he lost his mother at 14 to cancer that was discovered after a fall.

Next up is Justin who has a four year old son with an insane name. That's about the extent of what we see.

One by one she talks to the guys - some just in flashes of screen time. While she's talking to Daniel, a messenger brings her a note. The note says that she needs to come down right now because someone needs to see her. It's Jared, fresh from the ER.

Jared is supposed to get rest, but he makes a stop to see her, take a quick walk down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and steal a kiss. He says that it was worth the punch to the face.

Back at the mansion, JJ is bragging about his connection to Kaitlyn. Suddenly, the next date card arrives.

Clint - You take my breath away. - Caitlin

JJ is bummed about it, but unphased. He is certain he will still get a rose. 

On the group date, when it is time to hand out the date rose, she pulls off Ben Z where she gives him a rose, and the make out session ensues.


The next day it's date with Clint time. Of all the guys, I can't believe this is the first date. This is the guy who drew Chris Harrison on a triceratops. While he may have artistic talent, he's one of the least attractive guys.

They go to some house and Kaitlyn tells Clint they are going to do an underwater photo shoot. How bizarre.

They get dressed up, then do some bizarre breathing exercises to get ready. (What is it with gurus and breathing on this show?)

Back at the house, Tony is talking about how stupid the boxing date he didn't go on was. It's about fighting, not about love. It looks like someone gave him a black eye before he arrived.

On the date, Andi and Clint jump into the water. The photographer/guru tells them about being expressive and how water makes for intimacy. Kaitlyn just hopes she doesn't reflexively hold her nose under water the whole time.

After several shots, they share their first kiss under water. Yawn.

Date card time! Tony "needs to have the opportunity to know whether or not what he is looking for and what she is looking for can co-exist together" 

JJ, Jonathan, Joshua, Chris, Ian, Joe, Tony.  - I'm looking for a man who will stand up for me. 

Tony seems surprised she noticed him. JJ talks smack about Tony already. I cannot stand JJ. 

That night, Kaitlyn tells Clint that talking to him the first night left an impression on her. He came off as intelligent and having his act together with a good personality.

Flash over to the mansion again where Tony is wearing his robe and having a conversation with some random guy whose name I haven't figured out yet. Tony asks if Kaitlyn is supportive, and also slips and says Britt's name by accident.

On the date, Kaitlyn tells Clint that she is looking for a best friend. He doesn't say much of anything in general, but she finds him to be a hunk of a man who brings out her romantic side. I still don't know anything about him. However, she felt the chemistry and gave him the rose. She claims it may be her best first date ever. Ok. If you say so.


The next day, it's time for the group date. Humor is very important to Kaitlyn, so she takes the 7 guys to a comedy club. Helping out on this date is comedian Amy Schumer.

JJ is hoping the date is stand up comedy, and that may be the only thing he is right about. It's a secret dream of his. The rest of the guys don't seem as excited.

Each guy is tasked with telling their best joke on the fly. Kupta bombs, followed by Chris. JJ tells the best of the three, but Amy is unimpressed.

They bring in three more female comedians to help the guys prep for the evening. They all consult with the men to help them write their jokes. Amy has the same opinion of JJ that I do. He needs humility and a sense of humor.

Time is up, and it's time for the men to try to impress.

Ian is up first. He can't get started without having issues with microphone. With the encouragement of one of the comedians, he builds his material around the fact he looks like the guy from the Old Spice commercials. While he doesn't get paid by Old Spice, he does have a lifetime supply because he sweats like Juan Pablo on "The Women Tell All."

Joshua is big on making sure he says "hi." Rather than being known as a welder, when he is trying to impress them, he says that he is a steel infusion specialist. If he really, really wants to impress them, he says it with a whistle. Why he whistled, I have no clue.

Chris is more than nervous. He says he's probably the least funny one. He makes fun of this and how bad the comedians thought he was. He says, "they told me if all else fails, unbutton your shirt." So he does. He does a better job than most.

Tony claims he feels he has been training for this his whole life. Supposedly, he's excited. I can't tell if he's sincere or being funny with his whole speech. Neither does anyone else in the audience. (JJ says he can't even here him because blah, blah, blah, I don't listen to JJ.)

JJ insults Tony though the audience laughs. For all the build-up, that's all we get from him.

We get a snippet of Joe making fun of his Kentucky accent, but Jonathan must not be funny. Unless I was looking down at the computer, I don't think any of his act was showed.

As the evening continues on, Joshua says he's never been in love below. He comes home to his dogs, and is pretty funny talking about how one way that relationship was.

Meanwhile Tony rambles on about who knows what when gathered with the other guys. Finding love is what Tony has been training for his whole life. When he gets his time with Kaitlyn, he starts by talking about how into Britt he was, and how scared of Kaitlyn he was. He starts rambling, and I think Kaitlyn stars to zone out.

Randomly, back at the house... Someone is knocking on the walls, and Justin thinks someone is at the door. He falls for this trick numerous times. 

JJ talks to Kaitlyn about his three year-old daughter and seems like a different person for a moment. They kiss. I yawn. (I really wish this came on an hour earlier so I could go to sleep now. I'm sleepy.)

Joe takes Kaitlyn out just to make out. He says, "well, I'll be." She finds it hilarious because she thought that was a phrase only said in movies.

Although Kaitlyn tells the guys she made some great connections, she tells JJ to keep up the sensitive side and gives him the rose for the date. UGH.


Now, the evening we've all been waiting for... cocktail party and rose ceremony.

There were three guys who didn't go on a date. Will they get their time in tonight? (Shawn, Ryan and Cory)

When Kaitlyn arrives and makes her speech, she can't even complete her toast before JJ drags her out. He has his rose, so all the guys are really ticked about it.

Last night was amazing, and comedy was great even though it was out of my comfort zone. He wants her to know that he is there to fight for her, and he will be aggressive, even if he makes enemies. JJ comes back into the house saying he knows they all hate him, but he's not sorry. He is so utterly arrogant, it's not somewhat amusing.

Ian takes her aside to tell her his life story in a nutshell, including how he was injured after being hit by a car. Dramatic story for points. Pity points maybe even. She finds him very compassionate though. She can't figure out what it is, but she finds something attractive about him. Kissing skills, perhaps?

As the evening goes on, they guys continue to stew over JJ, and he only makes it worse. Tony can handle no more. JJ is going to do anything he can to pick people off himself and push buttons to irritate people. If he says "sorry, not sorry" one more time, I may pay someone to beat him up.

Kupah doesn't want to be the minority representative if he just meets a quote and there is nothing else there. Instead of trying to make a connection, he questions Kaitlyn about it. She calls him on not paying attention to her or try to talk to her during the boxing date. "You were all into it with Laila." As he talks too much, you can tell she is getting turned off by all of this. She tells him that honestly she felt a connection until right now. He effectively overthought everything and got himself talked out of anything happening in the future. She says she needs some time to think about it.

Kupah goes back to the guys and starts mumbling on and on. Kaitlyn tells him he doesn't have a quiet voice and takes him out front so that she can send him off. He tells her that she's hot and sexy, so he doesn't want to go home. He gets aggressive and argumentative with her. She gives him the option of leaving now or leaving in front of all the other guys during a rose ceremony. Someone had a chip on his shoulder. He gets into it during his exit interview with producers.

We don't even get to a rose ceremony because he's carrying on so bad that Kaitlyn can't even do an interview and she storms back outside.

So utterly frustrating. What a jerk. I still hate JJ more.

In other news... Brady and Britt spend a week together and decide to try to make a go of it. Whatever. Rebound after the disappointment of not making the show. I bet it lasts all of two seconds. 


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hear O Israel


Hear O Israel

(Deut 6:4-6); © Howard Publishing (Howard Assets, LLC)
Used by Permission. CCLI # 1132191

Hear O Israel,
the Lord thy God is one God.

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God
      with all of thy heart, (Girls echo)
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God
      with all of thy soul, (Girls echo)
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God
      with all of thy mind, (Girls echo)
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God
      with all of thy strength. (Girls echo)

Hear O Israel,
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God
      with all of thy heart, (Girls echo)
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God
      with all of thy soul, (Girls echo)
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God
      with all of thy mind, (Girls echo)
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God
      with all of thy strength. (Girls echo)


Hear O Israel



Saturday, May 23, 2015

I was up until 3 AM finishing Water from My Heart

Even though I work in the book industry, it is truly sad how little I've been able to sit down and read for pleasure over the past I don't know how many months. I won't even start on how I can't figure out where the past five months have gone. I must be getting old.

I've been wrapped up in crafting or wasting too much time fiddling with my phone while watching TV. It's amazing how much time I blow on my phone (why did I get back into Words with Friends?) or just goofing around on the internet. Like how I've been sitting here with my laptop for probably an hour to type up this review while yawning so hard I have tears streaming down my cheeks as my eyes water from being so tired. That right there is back on point. I was up until 3 AM this morning reading Charles Martin's Water from My Heart (CenterStreet).

Part of the reason why was because I promised a review on the blog tour today, and part of it was I really, really wanted to finish this book.

It's no secret that Charles Martin is one of my favorite authors, so I put aside my paint pens over the past week or so and read. Last night, I polished off the last 150 pages. Let me start with a little a bit about the story.




About the book:

Charlie Finn had to grow up fast, living alone by age sixteen. Highly intelligent, he earned a life-changing scholarship to Harvard, where he learned how to survive and thrive on the outskirts of privileged society. That skill served him well in the cutthroat business world, as it does in more lucrative but dangerous ventures he now operates off the coast of Miami. Charlie tries to separate relationships from work. But when his choices produce devastating consequences, he sets out to right wrongs, traveling to Central America where he will meet those who have paid for his actions, including a woman and her young daughter. Will their fated encounter present Charlie with a way to seek the redemption he thought was impossible--and free his heart to love one woman as he never knew he could?

My review:

The book description doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the story. However, I hate long reviews of a book that rehash everything that happened in the story. To me, a review is telling what you thought of the book, the writing, etc., not a longer summary of the book full of spoilers, so I won't do that. (Pardon my soapbox moment as I get into that discussion regularly).

The author has an amazing talent for bringing the reader into the thought process of the main character. What has happened to him to cause him to approach the way he did? What decisions led him to where he is now? Even when a character has done something you would never approve of, you want to be on his side and root him on. You may not want to like the guy, but you do.

Charlie's story is a journey of learning it's never too late to start over and that the decisions of your past do not have to dictate your future. While on the surface it may seem that you are a bad person, you can still have a kind and giving heart. You can turn your life around and be forgiven. There is always an opportunity for redemption. Since there is, of course, a romance thread, there is also someone out there that can love you.

With impeccable research, the reader feels like they have visited Miami, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Bimini. (I really want to go on vacation now.) Not only that, what could become a messy web of details is perfectly interwoven and connected together. I admire the gift of being able to tell a story and keep all of the details straight.

You really should check this one out!

*I received this book from Center Street in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:

Charles Martin is a New York Times bestselling author of eleven previous novels. His work is available in 17 languages. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and their three sons.

Learn more about the author and his books at http://charlesmartinbooks.com/

Friday, May 22, 2015

Heidi Bond’s Who’s the New Kid? Fitbit Giveaway and Facebook Party

In a world of fast-food convenience and non-stop busyness, how do we keep our kids healthy? Heidi Bond's debut book, Who's the New Kid?, is here to help. Filled with helpful diagnostic tools, easy-to-make recipes, eye-opening nutritional information, fun exercise ideas, and practical tips and advice, Who’s the New Kid? will not only show parents how to help their kids lose weight naturally but also introduce them to simple, yet effective lifestyle changes that will benefit the entire family.

Celebrate the release of Who's the New Kid? by entering to win a Fitbit and RSVPing to Heidi's June 9th author chat party!

whosthenewkid-400

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Fitbit
  • A copy of Who's the New Kid?
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 9th. Winner will be announced June 9th at Heidi's Facebook partyRSVP here! Plus, participate in the #WhosTheNewKid conversation by pinning a family-friendly, healthy recipe (or two) to a Pinterest board!

whosthenewkid-enterbanner

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on June 9th!

Author Heidi Bond invites parents and grandparents to join her on June 9 at 8:00 PM EDT when she hosts a live Facebook party to discuss her new book, Who’s the New Kid?: How an ordinary mom helped her daughter overcome childhood obesity—and you can too! (Tyndale House Publishers/May 19, 2015/ISBN 978-1496402141/$17.99).

During the Facebook party, Bond will talk to readers about her daughter Breanna’s journey from childhood obesity to losing 40% of her body weight, competing in junior triathlons and even qualifying for the junior Olympics in swimming — and all without the help of diet pills, fads or surgery. Bond will share ideas from the 40-day meal and exercise plan included in Who’s the New Kid? and also answer reader questions.

“For so many years, obesity was like a cancer that had taken ahold of us,” Bond admits. “Now it’s not even a part of our lives. Considering childhood obesity is now an epidemic in the United States, it’s so important to Breanna and me that we use our experience to help others. No one should go through something like this feeling as helpless and alone as we did in the beginning.”

Throughout the hour-long Facebook party, hosted on Bond’s Facebook page, readers will also have an opportunity to interact with other parents struggling with this issue and discuss solutions outlined in the book. At the end of the Facebook party, the winner of a Fitbit will be announced. The Fitbit giveaway is being held in conjunction with the blog tour for Who’s the New Kid?, being coordinated by Litfuse Publicity Group during the three weeks (May 19 - June 9) leading up to the webcast.

Who’s the New Kid? is an inspirational story that also delivers information that sheds light regarding how to safely shed pounds and get healthy,” said Maria Eriksen, Senior Marketing Director with Tyndale House Publishers.  “The Facebook party will be the perfect forum for families to approach Heidi with their own concerns and get some encouraging lifestyle tips.”

Booklist’s review of Who’s the New Kid? states, “Bond’s advice is so practical that every reader will find it useful. Childhood obesity is an urgent topic, and the success of Bond’s commonsense methods, which have been well documented and celebrated on national news shows, make this straightforward book a solid library purchase.”  


Who's the New Kid

{MORE ABOUT WHO’S THE NEW KID?}


(Tyndale, May 2015)
Who’s the New Kid? shows readers how Heidi helped her daughter lose weight without the aid of fad diets, medication, or surgery and how other parents can do the same with their kids.
At nine years old, Breanna Bond weighed a whopping 186 pounds. Just walking up the stairs to her room was a challenge. Her legs chafed to the point of bleeding from rubbing against each other, and her school days were filled with taunts of “Hey, Fatty!” Breanna’s mom, Heidi, was devastated and wondered, How can I get my daughter healthy again?
In just over a year, Heidi’s plan worked! Breanna dropped 40 percent of her body weight and was transformed from a morbidly obese child who spent her days in front of the TV eating chips and chocolate to a vibrant, healthy, energetic little girl.
Filled with helpful diagnostic tools, easy-to-make recipes, eye-opening nutritional information, fun exercise ideas, and practical tips and advice, Who’s the New Kid? will not only show parents how to help their kids lose weight naturally but also introduce them to simple, yet effective lifestyle changes that will benefit the entire family.

Heidi Bond

{MORE ABOUT HEIDI BOND}


Heidi Bond has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, and The Biggest Loser. A sought after speaker, she has helped thousands of parents who are struggling with overweight, underactive children. Heidi lives in Clovis, California with her husband, Dan, and their children, Breanna and Nathan.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cynthia Ruchti’s ‘As Waters Gone By’ Summer of Fun $100 Giveaway

Can a marriage survive when separated by hundreds of miles and impenetrable prison walls? Find out in Cynthia Ruchti's new book, As Waters Gone By. Emmalyn and Max Ross may have to endure the fight of their lives to mend the tattered fabric of their marriage. His actions ensured she could never be a mother and put him in prison, giving their relationship a court-mandated five-year time-out.

Cynthia is celebrating the release of As Waters Gone By by giving away a summer of fun to one lucky reader!

as waters gone by - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $100 cash card to put toward your trip to Madeline Island (discover the beauty of the setting of As Waters Gone By) or your summer vacation destination
  • A book-club set (10 copies of As Waters Gone By and a downloadable starter kit) so you can start your own summer book club
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 10th. The winner will be announced June 11th on Cynthia's blog.

as waters go by-enterbanner 

Plus, now through mid-July, sign up for Cynthia's mailing list for a five-day virtual tour around Madeline Island for the chance to win a Hemmed in Hope prize pack. Each day begins with an email from Cynthia that introduces where you'll be “visiting” that day (all key places from As Waters Gone By) with various interactive elements, including“I wish you were here” postcards, trivia quizzes, and an ongoing Island scavenger hunt. The person who interacts the most will win a Hemmed in Hope prize pack (valued at more than $200). That includes:
  • The letterpress block Hope sign from DaySpring
  • A set of 6 Hemmed in Hope notecards showing a hope-themed Bible verse
  • A leather “I can’t unravel, I’m hemmed in hope” journal
  • Signed copies of each of Cynthia’s books, fiction and non-fiction

As Waters Gone By pK

{MORE ABOUT AS WATERS GONE BY}


(Abingdon, May 2015)
How can a marriage survive when separated by hundreds of miles and impenetrable prison walls?
Emmalyn and Max Ross may have to endure the fight of their lives to mend the tattered fabric of their marriage. His actions ensured she could never be a mother and put him in prison, giving their relationship a court-mandated five-year time-out. On a self-imposed exile to beautiful but remote Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior, Emmalyn has just a few months left to figure out if and how they can ever be a couple again.
Nudged along by the exuberant owner of the Wild Iris Inn and Café, a circle of misfit people in their small town, and a young girl who desperately needs someone to love her, Emmalyn restores an island cottage that could become a home and begins to restore her heart by learning what it means to love unconditionally. Yet even as hope begins to find a place within the cottage walls, Emmalyn still wonders if she’s ready for Max’s release. She may be able to rebuild a cottage, but can she rebuild a marriage?

Cynthia Ruchti

{MORE ABOUT CYNTHIA RUCHTI}


Cynthia Ruchti has more than three decades of radio broadcast experience with “Heartbeat of the Home” radio and currently serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers. 
Find out more about Cynthia at http://www.cynthiaruchti.com.

For more on As Waters Gone By, click here!