Living Life in Real Time

Loving the Love and Respect Experience November 7, 2011

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Marriage is hard…what did you expect?  I’ve read, sat in and even led the Love and Respect workshops by the Eggerichs’, so when I heard they had come out with a new devotional I had to have a copy.  The Love and Respect Experience devotional for couples is beautifully done.  It’s a big 6×9 devotional that has a leather-like cover and interior pages that are on a paper stock that’s a cut above the ordinary stocks typically used giving it a nice heavy feel.  They have built this new devotional around the topics in their successful “Love and Respect” book and workshop.  Inside you’ll find 52 daily topics that walk you through some of the major concepts found in the book.  The Eggerichs’ easy, personal style makes this devotional engaging and straight to the point.  They’ve include a prayer and an action step at the end of each day to take you that one step further.  No matter if you find yourself in a fabulous marriage, or a marriage that needs a little help, this devotional that is filled with practical steps based on personal experiences will walk you through solid concepts that really do make a difference in your marriage.  If you’re a fan of the Love and Respect material, or if this is the first time you’ve even heard the name, you’ll love this devotional.

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Smack Dab In the Middle of Mediocre August 19, 2011

Last night I read “Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love” by Brennan Manning to my 8-year old son.  I’m a Brennan Manning fan and have read many of his books, heard him speak, shared hamburgers when he came to speak at our church and know many of his personal stories.  So I was very excited to see that he had written a children’s book and hoped it would contain his unique, quirky personal style.  I hate to say it left me smack dab in the middle of a mediocre read.  The story is about Willie Juan (ok…a little odd to say with two “w” sounding names and it’s repeated over and over throughout the book) and his wife Ana.  They never had children, but found themselves always surrounded by the neighborhood kids and loved them like they were their own. They taught them about the sweetness of sopapillas as they thought this surely was what happy would taste like.  They talked about an abuela’s (grandmother’s) love.  They taught them about friends and the love of acceptance for being who you are and then the ultimate of being smack dab in the middle of God’s love for us.  It’s a great lesson in God’s love.  It’s filled with Spanish words and opens that door of understanding other cultures.  It’s beautifully illustrated.  It’s good…I was just expecting great! Hmmmm…

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I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publisher’s Booksneeze program in exchange for an honest review.


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

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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.


Primal DVD Is a Great Resource May 25, 2011

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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.

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A Year With God Review December 2, 2010

Filed under: Book Reviews — Unraveled @ 2:25 pm
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As I am writing this review I have 3 daily devotionals and a big, thumping NLT Study Bible sitting on my desk.  So the question that I think of right off the bat is what in the world do I need with another daily study.  Simple…  too many times the impact and the power of the actual words God spoke…like they are recorded in the Bible…are lost in a well meaning “telling” of the story.  That’s what this study has in its favor.  “A Year With God” ISBN 9780849976981 is a great combination of Biblical text, reflections and insights into that text that leads me into a wonderfully rounded morning.

Here are my favorite parts… The Biblical text is actually written at the top of each page.  So you don’t need to have a separate Bible to look up the verses…let’s just say it like it is…when I’m in a hurry that’s the part that gets left behind.  Love the way it’s dated “Day 7” instead of January 7.  That means I can pick up the study at any point in the year and not feel guilty about skipping 4 months of content to get to the right day.  Or in more likelihood I can miss a day or two and not feel guilty about being behind!  Just pick it up where you left off.  Another great selling point is that it’s broken up into topics…that way if I’m wanting to read a devotion about Mercy…I can flip to that section and find something that will fill me up for the day.  That’s a handy tool that many devotionals leave lacking.  What can I say…I liked it.  I’ll still keep my others on my desk, but definitely I’ll add this one to the stack!

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What an Amazing Children’s Book September 8, 2010

Filed under: Book Reviews — Unraveled @ 12:55 pm
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The Boy Who Changed the World, by Andy Andrews is a wonderful children’s book about the power we have to change lives.  It’s a bedtime tradition to read our kids books before bed each night.  Sometimes reading the same old books gets a little boring, so I was very excited to get to read something new.  It’s a big 8.5 x 11 hardcover book with full page color pictures that are beautifully illustrated to draw your child into the story.

As we began reading the story of Norma Borlaug, which neither of us knew who he was, we were enamored by Andy Andrews storytelling that had us walking through corn fields playing games of hide and seek.  Then as the story progressed we were seamlessly woven into the stories of Henry Wallace and taken on an adventure by the river bank. Then to a little boy named George who knew a great deal about peanuts.  At this point in the story my son says “Hey…I know about him.  We talked about him in school.”  Then with a heightened curiosity we were taken into the story of George Washington Carver’s parents and into another adventure about a burning barn and a little baby boy that had my 7 year old’s eyes glued to the page with full attention to what would happen next.  Just amazing storytelling!

This children’s book did a great job of explaining how each of us…even at a young age…can make a difference in this world.  It’s simple enough for young readers to really get into the story and thought provoking and filled with historical events for older kids to enjoy.  I’m glad I can add this to our bedtime story stack.


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