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Friday’s Film

Pure Flix Entertainment, the company that produced God’s Not Dead along with many other Christian themed movies, has written and produced a new movie called, Do You Believe? The movie has a long list of stars, to include Mira Sorvino, Sean Astin, Alexa PenaVega, Ted McGinley, Cybill Shepherd and Lee Majors.

Do You Believe? focuses on the lives of 12 individuals.  How they become intertwined, only God could envision, from the drug dealer seeking refuge in the church to the young mother and daughter living on the street.

A street corner preacher waylays Matthew, a local church pastor, and asks him, “Do YOU Believe?” Matthew stirred and touched by the question, decides to challenge his church with the same question, Do YOU Believe? He realizes that all faith requires action and sets out to put words into action.

A powerful movie, Do You Believe? will challenge your faith and have you seeking to know more about what you believe, too.

Do You Believe? is rated PG-13 due to some violence, a series of accidents and thematic elements. You may want to use caution if taking children. You will definitely want to bring Kleenex.

wooden cross


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Tuesday’s Tale

A String of Murders,  (Christian Cozy Mystery) (A Dressed for Death Mystery Book 2) by Darlene Franklin picks up approximately six months after Gunfight at Grace Gulch (Christian Cozy Mystery) (A Dressed For Death Mystery Book 1).

Cici Wilde, owner of Cici’ s Vintage Clothing in Dry Gulch, Oklahoma, had just returned home from a long day at work when she received a disconcerting call. Audie Howe, her fiancé, had stopped by her store when he saw a light coming from the back of the store. Thinking there was something odd happening, he went inside, and found a body.

Cici is distraught-another murder in her little town. As days go by, it appears the victim was lured to her store.

A series of pithy e-mails seems to be targeting everyone in Grace Gulch. When they first started, the moniker chosen, Jerry Burton, was from an Agatha Christie novel; but then a second series, from Elsie Holland, appeared. Elsie Holland was from Agatha Christie novels, too. Determined to track down the murderer and the real owner sending the e-mails, Cici goes to work.

A String of Murders is another intriguing tale by Darlene Franklin. As an author, Darlene Franklin weaves a story so well into the lives of her characters that you can’t help but fall in love with them, quirks and all. She intertwines mystery and history together into a fascinating tale.

The sequel in A Dressed for Death Mystery Series is an equally hard book to put down.

I was given this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you, Darlene Franklin for a compelling story!)

WAC uniform and pearls


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Monday’s Mention

Together With You by Victoria Bylin begins with every parent’s nightmare; their child is missing.

Dr. Ryan Tremaine, an ophthalmologist and single father, has custody of all three of his children for the summer.  His oldest son, Kyle, needs equipment for baseball so he takes his children to the mall. After battling with his two younger children, Eric and Penny, and thinking checkout will be quick, he tells Eric to take Penny to the food court for ice cream and wait there for him. As it takes more and more time to finish what should have been a speedy transaction, Dr. Tremaine becomes increasingly worried. Penny suffers from fetal alcohol effects and is a handful for him to handle, not to mention Eric.

Eric becomes bored waiting for his dad so he takes Penny to the arcade. Unknown to him, Penny, overwhelmed by the sights and sounds, left.

Carly Jo Mason, an ex-social worker from Kentucky, now working at The Animal Factory in LA, hears the Code Adam alert for missing children. She quickly locks her register and begins a slow methodical search for the little girl. Relieved, she finds her in The Friendly Forest area playing with stuffed bunnies. Carly Jo realizes something is different about Penny, but doesn’t know what until she talks with Penny’s father.

After the family is reunited, Dr. Tremaine realizes Carly has a unique touch where Penny is concerned. She can quickly calm the little girl down. Carly’s not afraid to speak her mind, either, as she reads him the riot act for leaving Penny with her younger brother. Deciding to lay his cards on the table, he explains to Carly his need for a new nanny and invites her to apply for the job.

Together With You delves into human nature through both the Christian and secular viewpoints. Dr. Tremaine, raised by a humanistic father, has become an agnostic. Carly Jo, raised by a preacher, has become a Christian.

Dr. Tremaine is filled with guilt and remorse over the affair that ended his marriage and produced Penny. Carly Jo is guilt-ridden over “losing” a teenager under her care as a social worker.

Victoria Bylin does a wonderful job of portraying the dynamics of a broken family riddled with anger and guilt. She deftly illustrates the incompleteness inherent in broken families. In addition, she shows how hard it is to connect sometimes, regardless of how hard each member may try.

An insightful book with undertones of faith, Together With You is an interesting and compelling story.

***********There are scenes of violence that may be disturbing to some.**********

I received this book from the author and Bethany House. I was not required to review, however, I am happy to do so.

holding bunny


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Friday’s Fiction

When Grace Sings

When Grace Sings: A Novel (The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy Book 2) by Kim Vogel Sawyer begins with a discussion between reporter Briley Forrester and his boss, Len. After reading a local newspaper article about Amish-Mennonite living and the joy the inhabitants of the community expressed, Briley is challenged by his boss to go to the community and find some “dirt” on its residents. Briley, in a quest to prove his worth, to both new and old acquaintances, takes up the gauntlet and heads from Chicago to Arborville, Kansas.

Alexa Zimmerman recently returned to Arborville to aid her invalid grandmother. As part of her assistance, Alexa has started a Bed and Breakfast, Grace Notes B&B, hoping to add income to her and her grandmother’s meager funds. Alexa is not part of the Amish-Mennonite community, but dresses plain as a sign of respect to her family and community.

Anna-Grace Braun and her fiancé, Steven Brungardt, from near-by Sommerfield, Kansas, are engaged to be married. Steven’s family kindly gifted them an old family farmstead in Arborville, but there are an immense number of repairs to be completed before they can move in.  Ana-Grace receives permission to visit with Alexa and Alexa’s grandmother (who are distant relatives of hers) at the B&B in order to assist Steven in getting the home ready to move into after their marriage. However, as time goes on Anna-Grace gets the impression Steven doesn’t want the farm and Alexa isn’t happy that she is visiting.

All the undercurrents cause Briley’s reporter instincts to kick into high gear after he arrives in Arborville. He observes that things aren’t all they seem on the surface. Will he be able to get the “dirt” he seeks?

When Grace Sings is book two of the series, and in some minor details, you are left wondering. However, as you continue the book, Kim Sawyer does a great job of filling in the details.

I really enjoyed getting to know the characters. The author does an impressive job of describing each character’s thoughts and feelings, thus drawing you into the story and individual’s life. I am genuinely looking forward to the third in the series, When Love Returns(The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy Book 3). I am also going to read the first one, When Mercy Rains (The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy Book 1).

For more information on Kim Sawyer Vogel, visit here:  http://kimvogelsawyer.com/

For more information on her books, visit here:  http://kimvogelsawyer.com/books/

To purchase When Grace Sings, visit here: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?work=221710

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Grace Notes B and B

 


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Thursday’s Thoughts

I don’t usually weigh in on the political and/or politically correct (PC) debate, I feel it is better to leave it to those smarter and better informed than I. However, lately I have been watching the news and talking with some friends (a sure ticket to trouble!) and feel a need to address a few things.

I received the following recently from a friend:

The Bible teaches us that we (Christians) will come under attack in the final days. It appears with all of the increasing number of anti-Christian hate groups, and the number of large companies opposing our Religious Freedom that the final days are fast approaching. We are no longer able to live our lives the way the Bible teaches us, we are threatened with laws, lawsuits, and an increasing number of hate groups that are opposed to what the Bible teaches.

When the Governor of Indiana attempted to protect Christians and our views, he came under attack by hate groups that oppose anything taught in the Bible. In addition, several large companies opposing our religious freedom have spoken out against our beliefs and us.

This issue could have tremendous economic consequences in Indiana. Many of these companies have expressed displeasure with the law, including drug maker Eli Lilly, one of the state’s largest employers and a frequent donor to local political candidates. Angie’s List, also based in Indiana, has halted expansion plans over the act. Monday, Gap and Levi Strauss & Co. announced their opposition to Indiana’s law and similar proposals. 

It’s time for Christians to speak up for our Religious freedom and stop doing business with these companies.  

There are huge differences (and minor similarities, regardless of what others may say) between the civil rights movement for black Americans in the 1960s and the contemporary movement to legalize gay marriage and welcome it into America’s social mainstream.

In the 1960s public law protected discrimination against blacks in housing, employment and public accommodations.  It was illegal in many states to marry a black woman (if you were a white man), even as it is often still illegal to marry a black woman (if you are a white woman).  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 pitted two political values in sharp juxtaposition – the right of black Americans to be treated in public just like any Americans vs. the right of Americans to use their own private property without government interference.  Many Americans of good conscience, who bore blacks no ill will, sided nonetheless with private property rights.  However, private property lost, civil rights won and in retrospect most of us are justly proud that we live in a country where racial discrimination is illegal.

In contemporary America, the movement to legalize and normalize gay marriage sees itself, I am sure, as ideologically, even spiritually, akin to the civil rights movement of two generations past.  It seeks to have gay Americans treated by the laws of marriage just like any other Americans.  Opposed to the gay rights movement’s demands are the rights of citizens whose religion teaches that gay marriage is sinful and exhorts them not to cooperate with it.  The parallels are striking.

Opponents of gay marriage will attack the analogy, because they won’t want to be on the “wrong” side of the civil rights movement.  Being black is not a choice, but being gay is, they will contend.  Gays believe that they, like blacks, are born that way, but wonder why anyone would “choose” not to be black, or gay.

I believe the analogy breaks down over the issue of raw political power.  In 1964, segregationists had used the force of government to deny black Americans equal access to the ballot box, the schoolhouse, the city bus, the drinking fountains, and even the bathrooms for 100 years.  Segregated society was kept that way with attack dogs, fire hoses, police batons and lynch ropes. In 1964, black Americans needed the countervailing force of law to protect them from segregationist violence more than property owners needed the law to protect their ownership interests.

In twenty-first century America, it is the gay rights movement wielding the upper hand.  The anti-gay Federal Defense of Marriage Act was stamped “unconstitutional” by a conservative Republican United States Supreme Court.  In the past year one state constitutional bulwark against gay marriage after another has fallen under an onslaught of lawsuits in the Federal courts.  Gay activists sense that soon the U.S. Supreme Court will sweep away the last vestiges of state discrimination against gay marriage.  Moreover, these revolutionary legal decisions are following public opinion, not pushing it.  Political theorist George Will has observed that opposition to gay marriage is “literally dying.”  While majorities in older demographic groups oppose gay marriage, the younger the demographic cohort, the more overwhelming is approval, or at least tolerance, for gay marriage.

Now it is the beleaguered gay rights opponent who needs the countervailing force of some law to protect himself against the spate of civil lawsuits that are ruining businesses across America.  In Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and elsewhere, targeted  florists, bakers, caterers and other vendors have been bankrupted and closed by anti-discrimination lawsuits.  Gay marriage plaintiff attorneys are the new ambulance chasers.  Suing Christians has become a cottage industry.  Courts are forcing families to choose between their livelihood and their faith.

Perhaps such a harsh result would serve the ends of justice if the lawsuit victims were forcing romantic gay couples to stay single, to live apart, or to suffer unrequited longings.  However, gay couples aspiring to marriage are not suffering; they are celebrating!  In no large city in America, certainly in no seat of government with civil legal jurisdiction, is there a dearth of wedding florists, chapels and caterers eager to cash in on the gay matrimony market.  Anti-discrimination lawsuits are not being filed to secure the happiness of marital bliss for gay couples.  They are being filed to satiate an appetite for vindictive, retaliatory hatred.

The objects of all the hatred are people who believe in distancing themselves from practices their faith teaches to be morally wrong.   Who will be harmed if the state of Indiana wants to protect these families and their livelihoods with a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act?”

From what I have read and as far as I can tell, nothing in the language of the law is discriminatory. The law just gives the businesses the right to choose whether they will or will not serve someone. If there were no other businesses for people to go to, then I would see this as a problem. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case. For the majority of instances where businesses have been bullied, the business was deliberately targeted, even when there were plenty of other businesses’ willing to serve. This seems to point out a larger agenda. The agenda is one of forcing one’s beliefs down another’s throat at best, or bullying at its worst.

Rick Warren has said it well, I think:

Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense.

You don’t have to compromise conviction to be compassionate.

We need to be compassionate AND stand up for our beliefs.

Regardless of my beliefs, or yours, this country was founded on freedom. Those same freedoms are slowly being eroded.


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Monday’s Macarism

Macarism: noun, an ascription of blessedness; a blessing

I had the most unbelievable experience Sunday.

Due to a lot of reasons, we decided to visit a different church for Easter this year. Normally, I tend to prefer smaller churches that are either independent or Baptist or Independent Baptist. The church we visited was charismatic. (I have nothing against charismatic churches; I’m just not real familiar with them.)

As most everyone that knows me knows, I suffer from horrible bouts of depression. Sunday, for whatever reason, things seemed to have just worn me down. I was tired, tired of hurting all the time, tired of trying to fight my way through the daily grind, just tired, plain and simple. Of course, on the heels of that was depression.

I can always tell when I’m in the early stages of depression because everything, and I do mean E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.N.G, aggravates me to distraction and I start nit-picking at everything and everybody.

So, as we’re driving to church, I mention that I am feeling depressed, but I’m not sure why or what is going on, I just know the symptoms I was experiencing. I didn’t really feel like going and had to fight with myself just to get up, get ready and go. Plus, the pain was really wearing me down.

We get to the church and there are at least 500 people there. Mercy! In addition, today is communion Sunday. As I’m sitting in my chair contemplating my mood, confessing my sins and thinking, I am also telling God I just want to give up. I am tired and tired of being tired. I don’t want to be depressed. I don’t want to be driving myself and my family crazy.  Isn’t there any relief, anywhere?

This Sunday was also First Fruits Sunday. As everyone on our row of chairs gets up to give their offering, a gentleman sits down next to me. “Ma’am, do you need some money for your offering?” he asked. I explained that I hadn’t brought any cash but that was ok. He reaches in his wallet and pulls out some money and as he gives it to me he says, “This is for you a blessing today.” Well, I started bawling and handed it to my husband. The man then reaches into his wallet, hands me some more money, and says, “Ma’am, this is for YOUR offering, for YOUR blessing.”  Well, I started blubbering like a baby. I couldn’t even say thank you or fill out the envelope.

I walk up to place my envelope in the offering basket, and another gentleman gently touches my arm and asks if he can pray for me. When I nod yes, he wraps his arms around me and starts praying. FOR ME. He prays for my health, my life and my blessing. I totally lose it again!

I go back to my chair and sit down and the service continues to the end. I stand to shake hands with the kind man that gave me the money and to tell him thank you. He reaches over to shake my hand and as our hands touch, I feel more money. “I. . .I. ..Oh, sir, you don’t have to do this,” I stammer. “Ma’am,” he said, “this one is for you, YOUR BLESSING.” Then, before I could say or do anything, he left. I couldn’t quit crying.

As I write this tears are rolling down my cheeks. He didn’t know or hear my heart’s cry this morning, but GOD DID! God did, and He met me there, in the middle of an auditorium so full of people I felt like panicking. In an auditorium so full of people, you felt lost. In an auditorium so full of people, God showed Himself to one hungry, hurting soul, ME.

I can’t even begin to describe the feeling. It was one of quiet, slow, oozing peace and warmth, and love, and gratitude.

I’m going to start a Blessings Box, this is the first thing to go in it, too.

I think I have found a new church!

Oh, it was also Selfie Sunday. I decided no one needed to see my Rudolph red nose, thankfully, for everyone’s sake, I had left my phone at home!

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