Living Life in Real Time

The Final Hour Was A High Note July 6, 2011

Filed under: Book Reviews — Unraveled @ 11:41 am

The Final Hour, ISBN 978-1595547156, was intense, full of action and pulled you into the story with its well written story line that was shrouded in an air of mystery.  It’s a classic bad guys vs. good guys story that keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Charlie, the main character in the series, is a Christian but the Christian message isn’t flaunted in your face.  Instead it’s demonstrated in subtle decisions and actions you see played out in the plot.  The Final Hour and the series is intended to be for teens, however I’ve found it to be a great read for adults of all ages.  If you like suspense and adventure you’re going to love this series.  Look no further for a quick, entertaining summer read!
I review for BookSneeze®


Beyond All Measure Is Middle of the Road July 1, 2011

Filed under: Book Reviews — Unraveled @ 12:17 pm
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Beyond All Measure, ISBN 978-1595549006, is a good read, but found it to be quite so-so in terms of offering something new and characters that capture your attention.  The story is set in Tennessee in the 1870’s just after the Civil War.  Your main character is Ada, who is strong, independent and a Yankee the townspeople aren’t fast to accept. After the demise of her family in the North, she finds herself on a train to the South taking the position of caretaker to Lillian in Hickory Ridge, Tennessee.  Ada has dreams of her own business making hats, sees this position as a means to an end and is biding her time until she has enough saved to make her own way.  Wyatt, the handsome nephew of Lillian, while struggling with feelings left from his years fighting int he Civil War, finds himself drawn to Ada.  Like we didn’t see that coming.  There are other characters in the book that keep the story interesting, like Bea who is the back-stabbing do-gooder who wants the attention of the towns most eligible bachelor, you guessed it -Wyatt.  Then there’s the Klan activity and the segregation of blacks and whites in this small southern town.  Beyond all Measure is nice reading and teaches you a little about history at the same time.  A good middle of the road read.


Discovering the Secrets of the Vine

Filed under: Book Reviews — Unraveled @ 11:40 am
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The Secrets of the Vine for Women, ISBN 978-1601423979, is a great little book that would make the perfect group study or personal devotional. The story is set in Tuscany with a daughter and her father as they discuss the wonder and workings of their family vineyard. Each chapter begins with a look into the life of this family as the father gently instructs and illustrates the secrets to the vines, all the while preparing his daughter for a future full of promise. What a great metaphor for our relationship with Christ as the vineyard owner and we are the vines. I found the simple truths wrapped in a visual word picture engaging, transforming and relevant. This little book would make a perfect gift for every woman in your ministry.


Primal DVD Is a Great Resource May 25, 2011

Filed under: Book Reviews — Unraveled @ 2:12 pm
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Just finished watching the Primal DVD, ISBN 9781601423702, by Mark Batterson.  Loved it!  It’s contemporary, relevant and engaging.  It complements the chapters in the book in a way that doesn’t simply restate everything in the chapter, but adds to the discussion.  So many times when there is a DVD study for a book they are too long to really use in a 1 hour study period.  Primal is quite the opposite.  Each DVD session is no longer than 10 minutes and wonderfully filmed.  I could quite easily see how you could instruct your group to read the chapters that correspond to each session.

There are 5 segments and an amazing source for additional resources and PDF’s to download.

  1. Primal Christianity
  2. Heart
  3. Soul
  4. Mind
  5. Strength

At the end of each session there are simple questions to begin your group discussion.  Once you begin watching Session 1, you’ll be hooked and want to continue watching.  What a great way to get your group excited about coming back week after week.  As I was watching I was thinking what a wonderful resource this would be if you needed a 10 minute devotional thought were asked to share something for a staff retreat.  Any of these 5 DVD chapters would be a perfect way to inspire conversation.  Loved the DVD resource and can’t wait to see how I can fit it into my ministry.

I’m a book reviewer for Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group and did receive this DVD as a free resource to review.   Free or not…cost had no impact on my final review.  “Primal” is an amazing resource for the $24.99 retail price!


Max on Life Review May 3, 2011

Filed under: Book Reviews — Unraveled @ 10:51 am
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Max on Life, ISBN 9780849948121, was the best book of his I’ve read in a while.  It was a fun, engaging, topical-based discussion.  Here Max includes 172 answers to questions he’s received over the years.  It’s nicely divided into 7 categories:

  • Hope
  • Hurt
  • Help
  • Him/Her
  • Home
  • Have/Have-Nots
  • Hereafter.

Through these categories he shares his answers to questions he’s received over the years.  The questions were much of what I have at times asked myself, have had others ask to me…and often struggled with the answers.  In Max On Life, Lucado answers them in a straight forward, easy to understand, easy to apply way.  It felt like I might have been sitting in the chair across from him and he is talking directly to me.  I fully intended to only read a few sections before I made up my mind if I liked it or not.  Instead I found myself turning page after page to discover what the next question would be.  Each question is a “stand alone” thought and takes only one page.  Quick and simple.  No long, drawn out chapters.  No big words and high tech theology.  Just easy to understand answers to some of life’s biggest questions.  It’s an incredibly effective way to catch attention and provide a way for the reader to go get exactly what they need for the moment.

This resource is perfect for a new Christian just beginning their journey.  It’s a perfect resource for someone who has turned away from God.  Lucado answers so many questions from people that have been disillusioned by faith; have had situations arise where they have turned away from God.  It’s a valuable tool for pastors everywhere to share in their counseling sessions.

There is a genuine concern and a heart-felt honesty that comes in his answers.  I never felt like I was being lectured, I’d done something wrong, I shouldn’t be thinking that way, but rather encouraged and always pointed back to the One who loved us beyond measure.  Well done.

I review for BookSneeze®


My Thoughts for you on Easter Sunday April 24, 2011

Filed under: My Best This Week — Unraveled @ 1:02 pm
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Easter Sunday is the Feast of the Resurrection.  This is the feast that reminds us to move from one kind of existence to another that brings us back to our center in Christ.


On this Easter Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  Easter Sunday is the reason we have a Savior born in Bethlehem, it’s the whole meaning for the events of the cross and the moment the tomb reveals.  It’s on this Easter morning we find the tomb empty of death.  We know the whole truth now.  Death is not the end, and life as we know it is only the beginning of LIFE.  There is no suffering that we can not rise from if we live a life centered on Christ.


On this magnificent Easter morning we gather in this place to remember the day the world changed.  For the better.


The stone rolled away.  The tomb was empty.  Heaven sent its messengers to declare,


“He is not here; he has risen!”   Matthew 28:6


.And the world changed for the better.   On this day we celebrate what the rest of the world forgets:  the glory of a risen
Savior and the basic goodness of life itself.  Everything else is a pale shadow to the real thing.  Help me be ever mindful of seeking to live a life free from the shadows and in full view of Christ.


My Thoughts for you on Saturday of Holy Week April 23, 2011

Filed under: My Best This Week — Unraveled @ 9:59 am
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Holy Saturday is a day that really gets lost in all the other events surrounding Easter.  There are no public ceremonies, there are no particular liturgies to give cause to the sense of waiting.  The churches are dark, the pews are empty, the music ceases.  As I think to what it must have been like on that very first Saturday after Jesus’ crucifixion, there is a sense of silence.  There is a sense of loss.  There is a sense of emptiness.


Everyone one of us who have walked the earth has known the silence of Holy Saturday.  At some point in our lives we all become keenly aware of the power of overwhelming loss when life as we know it changes, when hope dies on a Good Friday.  It is only then that we can understand the purpose of Holy Saturday.


The power of Holy Saturday is to bring us to a “mature” faith that is not about counting our blessings; instead it’s about dealing with darkness and growing in our hope of better things to come.  Without Holy Saturdays in our lives none of us would really ever “grow up” spiritually.  Today we come face to face with the question we try so hard to avoid the rest of our lives.  “Have we been abandoned?”, “Are we left on our own in the world?”, “Why is this happening to me?”, “Is this all there is going to be?”


Hope is a slippery and often fleeting feeling.  However it is the spiritual discipline that makes us certain of only one thing…in the end, whatever happens will be resolved only by doing the will of God, now matter how much we try to bend it and hammer it make it happen on our own.  There is hope that on this Holy Saturday we can begin to see the world as God sees the world.  Then loss becomes gain and in the silence we hear a very clear message from God.

“I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

John 14:2-3


May the silence and solemnness of this day prepare us for the wonder and joy of the day that lies ahead.