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CD Review: Big Green Alligator by La-La Lisa

Big Green Alligator

Who would have thought that a silly song made up on a long road trip over fifteen years ago would become the theme song for a children's CD in 2010?

Targeting kids from pre-school through Kindergarten, all 18 songs on the new CD were written by Lisa although she boats her oldest son was the originator of the tune "My Little Brother".

Lisa started singing at youth camps when she was 16. To this day she is still know by many as La-La Lisa.

What fun catchy tunes!
This is a new favorite at our house. The upbeat and silly songs are fun to dance to!

It will keep us plenty entertained on a long trip planned for later this year!

Though it is geared toward pre-school to Kindergarten age, even my 2nd and 3rd graders had great fun and enjoyed the tunes!

WARNING TO PARENTS: These tunes WILL get stuck in your head!

Take a listen here!

 The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by Gina Adams @ Adams Group PR.

How Do You Tuck in a Superhero? by Rachel Balducci

How Do You Tuck In a Superhero?: And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys

In How Do You Tuck In A Superhero, author and mother Rachel Balducci explores the sweet and wild side of boyhood as experienced through overheard conversations and wide-eyed bewilderment as her boys climb through windows, hang on roofs, and camp out at the refrigerator door. This laugh-out-loud peek into the wonders of motherhood and the life of boys is a celebration you don't want to miss. 

When Rachel Balducci looks for material for her writing, she doesn't have to look far. Her subject matter can be found climbing through the window, hanging on to the edge of the roof, and rummaging through the refrigerator. Here she chronicles the exuberant, awesome life of boys through bizarre conversations overheard, unbelievable rules she's been forced to make, and the many episodes of boy behavior that continue to mystify mothers worldwide. From the care and feeding of her team, to travels out in public, to their wide-eyed adoration of Chuck Norris, this laugh-out-loud celebration joyfully explores the sweetly wild side of boyhood.

Ms Testosterhome

Rachel Balducci is a writer and the mother of five lively boys. Her website, www.testosterhome.net, has been nominated for several awards. Rachel is a former staff writer for the Augusta Chronicle and has been published in numerous magazines, including Good Housekeeping, Faith and Family, and The Word Among Us.

You can read more about Rachel, her hubby, five boys and their newest addition~ a little girl, at her blog

(Above: Rachel's son, Charlie, enjoys reading what his mom had to say!
Read Rachel's blog post with the full story here.)

My dream family (from when I was about 10 or 12 yrs old)  was 7 kids...
I didn't care whether boy or girl, I just wanted a big family.

Then, I had my first two children ~DAUGHTERS. It was at that point that my hubby and I both decided that our 'ideal family' was four daughters. NO SONS! (You read that right, my hubby didn't even really want sons, he wanted all daughters!)

Pregnancy #3....
It's a Boy!!!
Pregnancy #4...
It's TWO Boys!!
And then we were done!

So, for a couple that didn't want any boys, we ended up with three of them!
Would I change it? NO! Not for a million daughters (or dollars!)

My girls are definitely different from my sons! Not that anyone taught my boys to be 'boys', it is just in their nature. It is an amazing (and different) journey raising boys then girls... but both equally fulfilling!

I loved reading Rachel's hilarious stories, fun lists, and her tales as she lets us in her home and life.

Though this book was not what I originally expected, I thoroughly enjoyed every page!

I expected this to be about lessons learned through God's word and experiences in God's presence and lessons she learned from her sons.

“Available April 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”


The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by Baker Publishing.

Just Like You by Marla Stewart Konrad

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Zonderkidz (March 9, 2010)
***Special thanks to Pam Mettler, Associate Director of Public Relations, ZonderKidz for sending me a review copy.***


Marla Stewart Konrad is keenly interested in global issues and has a special concern for the well-being of children. Her career as a speechwriter and communications professional has taken her to numerous countries in Asia and Africa. She lives near Toronto, Canada, with her family, and is the author of several books for children.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (March 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714788
ISBN-13: 978-0310714781


Please Click the Button to Browse Inside the Book:

Flaherty's Crossing by Kaylin McFarren

Successful yet emotionally stifled artist Kate Flaherty stands at the deathbed of her estranged father, conflicted by his morphine-induced confession exposing his part in her mother's death. While racing home, Kate's car mishap leads her to a soul-searching discussion with a lone diner employee, prompting Kate to confront the true reasons her marriage hangs in the balance. When her night takes an unexpected turn, however, she flees for her life, a life desperate for faith that can only be found through her ability to forgive. 

Linda Yoshida, aka Kaylin McFarren, is a rare bird indeed. Not a migratory sort, she prefers to hug the West Coast and keep family within visiting range. Although she has virtually been around the world, she was born in California, relocated with her family to Washington, and nested with her husband in Oregon. In addition to playing an active role in his business endeavors, she has been involved in all aspects of their three daughters' lives - taxi duties, cheerleading coaching, script rehearsals, and relationship counseling, to name but a few. Now she enjoys spending undisciplined time with her two young grandsons and hopes to have many more.

Although Kaylin wasn't born with a pen in hand like so many of her talented fellow authors, she has been actively involved in both business and personal writing projects for many years. As the director of a fine art gallery, she assisted in furthering the careers of numerous visual artists who under her guidance gained recognition through promotional opportunities and in national publications. Eager to spread her own creative wings, she has since steered her energy toward writing novels. As a result, she has earned more than a dozen literary awards and was a 2008 finalist in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart contest.

Kaylin is a member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers. She received her AA in Literature at Highline Community College, which originally sparked her passion for writing. In her free time, she also enjoys giving back to the community through participation and support of various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest. 

Flaherty's banner


First, I just love the cover of this book! It is so pretty, eye catching and sets the stage so well!

Jump into this novel for a roller-coaster of a a ride! From the gossipy neighbor to to the diner seen, from the confession to the car crash... Kaylin has crafted a page turner of a novel with her deep characters and mind boggling narratives.

A secret revealed, a hurting marriage and issues of trust... FInd out for yourself if Kate can trust....

fractal_background_red-2-1.jpg picture by raaez

$100 American Express Gift Card Giveaway!

Until June 30th, leave a review for Flaherty's Crossing at Amazon.com 
and you'll be automatically entered to win a $100 American Express gift card. 

Also, if you're a subscriber to Kaylin's e-Newsletter, 
opportunities to win prizes are now featured on a monthly basis. 
So what are you waiting for? Sign up here today! 

I posted my review!
Read a copy for yourself and post your review!

 The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by the author for Pump Up Your Book blog tour.

In Plain Sight by Charles R. Gordon, M.D.

In Plain Sight: Seeing God's Signature throughout Creation

Can you see what's hidden in plain sight? The similarities in the design of the universe are amazing. An oak tree looks like a brain cell. A hurricane shaped like a galaxy. A rose curled like a seashell. Is the connection just coincidence? Or is it something more? Like an artist whose work is immediately recognizable, a Supreme Being has left his signature on all of creation for us to find. If you look closely, from microscopic algae to the largest nebula looming light years across in space, he has signed his name in repeated patterns and recognizable styles. But you have to look. So, open your eyes. Reawaken to wonder. And find yourself in awe of the mystery and greatness of God. This book features 40 devotions each including a pairing of stunning photos displaying striking similarities of design in God's creation.
Charles R. Gordon MD

Dr. Charley Gordon is committed to seeing God's handiwork in daily life. As a neurosurgeon and scientist, he brings a unique perspective to his pursuit of cataloging evidence of God's signature throughout creation. He and his family live in Tyler, Texas where he practices medicine at Gordon Spine Associates.

What a wonderful devotional walk through various things we see everyday, as well as the amazing microscopic things that make up our body. What a great reminder of God's hand in everything in our universe!

The photos in Dr. Gordon's book are beautiful and really capture the awesomeness of our God!

My favorite devotion was Day 24: Colorblind.
Key Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:12
We cannot fully see all the things that surround us in all God's true wonder, until the day we see them in Heaven! Just as the color blind person on earth cannot fully experience and take in the beauty of the things around him/her, we cannot see God's creation in all its wonderful glory until we see them through perfect eyes.

This books makes a great gift for that person who 'has it all'. Each of the forty days has a thought-provoking devotion as well as beautiful pictures to get your mind realizing the true handiwork of our God!

The God who not only spoke the world into existence, but who counts the hairs on head, made each of our body parts to work in sync with each other. The God who hung the stars in the sky and placed the Earth exactly 93 million miles from the blistering surface of the sun.

The God who thought of it all!


The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by the author.

Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers


From the beloved, best-selling author of Redeeming Love comes a powerful epic that spans continents and generations in an unforgettable story about family and faith, dreams and disappointments, and ultimately the resilience and tenacity of love.

Best-selling author Francine Rivers pens a sweeping and lyrical two-book saga that explores the depths of grace and forgiveness in one of life’s fiercest bonds—the love between mother and daughter.

Near the turn of the twentieth century, fiery Marta Schneider is torn between her father’s declaration that she’ll never be more than a servant and her mother’s encouragement to chase her dreams. Determined to fulfill her mother’s hope, Marta leaves home for a better life. Young and alone, she earns her way with a series of housekeeping and cooking jobs that bring her ever closer to her dream of owning an inn.

Heartbreaking news from home strengthens Marta’s resolve as she moves to England and eventually to Canada. There, she meets handsome Niclas Waltert, a man just as committed as she to forging a better life in a new place. But nothing has prepared her for the sacrifices she must make for marriage and motherhood as she travels first to the Canadian wilderness and finally to the dusty Central Valley of California to raise her family.

Marta’s hope is to give her children a better life, but experience has taught her that only the strong survive. Her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, who craves her mother’s acceptance. Amid the drama of World War II, Hildie falls in love and begins a family of her own. But unexpected and tragic events force mother and daughter to face their own shortcomings and the ever-widening chasm that threatens to separate them forever.

Francine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in English and journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market, and her books were highly acclaimed by readers and reviewers. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, a mother of three, and an established romance novelist.

Shortly after be
coming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. First published by Bantam Books and then rereleased by Multnomah Publishers in the mid-1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea, set during the time of the California Gold Rush, is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction. Redeeming Love continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association's top-selling titles, and it has held a spot on the Christian best-seller list for nearly a decade.

Francine and her husband, Rick, live in northern California and enjoy time spent with their three grown children and taking every opportunity to spoil their grandchildren. Francine uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and she desires that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous novels with Christian themes—all best sellers—and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous honors, including the RITA Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, and the Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In 1997, after winning her third RITA Award for inspirational fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers of America's Hall of Fame. Francine's novels have been translated into over 20 different languages, and she enjoys best-seller status in many foreign countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, and South Africa.


How did you get started as a writer?
From the time I was a child, I knew I would be a writer.  Because I didn’t know what I would write, I majored in English (emphasis in literary writing) and minored in journalism (emphasis on who-what-when-where-why).  My parents had always been non-fiction readers.  Rick’s family loved all kinds of books – and lots of fiction.  Mom Edith loaned me novels and I loved them.  On a dare (from Rick) I decided to write a combination of my favorite genres and wrote a “western-gothic-romance”.  Romance novels were booming in the general market, publishers were on the look-out for new writers.  My first manuscript sold and was published.  I was hooked!  I followed with eight or nine more (of what I call my B.C. (before Christ) books).  They are all now out of print, are never to be reprinted, and are not recommended. 
When I turned my life over to Jesus, I couldn’t write for three years.  I tried, but nothing worked.  I struggled against God over that because writing was my “identity.”  It took that period of suffering “writer’s block” to bring me to my senses.  God was trying to open my eyes to how writing had become an idol in my life.  It was the place I ran to escape, the one area of my life where I thought I was in complete control.  (Hardly!)  My priorities were all wrong and needed to be put right.  God first, husband and children second (we had three children by then) and third-- work.  I prayed God would change my heart.  My love for writing and reading novels waned and my passion for reading and studying God’s Word grew. 
Rick and I began hosting a home Bible study.  I began working with Rick in his business.  The children came along and played in the office, hiding in the shipping popcorn.   Writing ceased to matter.  I was in love with Jesus and my husband and children.    God never stops with the transformation process.  We began studying the book of Hosea, and I sensed God calling me to write again – this time a romance about Jesus’ love for each of us.  Redeeming Love was the result.  It is the retelling of the Hosea story, set in Gold Rush-era California. After I turned it in, I wasn’t sure whether I would write anything more.  I had so many questions about what it means to be a Christian, how to live for God, different issues that still haunted me.  I felt God nudging me toward using my writing as a tool to draw closer to Him.  I would ask my question, create characters that would play out the different viewpoints and seek God’s perspective.   I began work on A Voice in the Wind.  Writing has become a way to worship the Lord through story – to show how intimately He wants to be involved in our lives.

Christian fiction continues to boom.  What would you like to see happen in the field?
I want to see Christian fiction speak to the hard and real issues that tear people’s lives apart.  We need writers who are willing to ask the hard questions and go through the soul-searching and agonizing to find answers – and present these stories with skill that surpasses the general market.  Some of the greatest works or art and literature were rendered by Christians.  I believe God is at work in these areas now.   I would also love to see more Christian stories make it to the big screen and into the world of television, and to have the Christian worldview presented fairly.  Much of what comes out of “Hollywood” appeals to the basest side of mankind and crushes the spirit.   Right now, with war and a failing economy, people are hungry for stories that inspire them, lift them and give them hope.  People need to know there are solutions and we can have peace and an abundant life -- even in the midst of trials.

What is your goal or mission as a Christian writer?
I want to whet the appetite for the real thing:  the Bible and a personal relationship with Jesus.  I try to weave Scripture throughout the story so people receive the Word and see what it might mean in their lives – how the Lord is present and real and passionately interested in each of us.  He is not an idea.  He is real, all-powerful, all-knowing, the embodiment of love, deeply involved in our existence, and He created each of us for a purpose

Tell us about your current work. 

I have just completed the second in a set of two books about mother-daughter relationship over four generations.  This was intended to be one long novel dealing with the different ways generations have lived out their faith – but became so long it needed to be divided.  Her Mother’s Hope  was released on March 16, 2010.  Her Daughter’s Dream will follow in September.  There are numerous family and personal details woven into both books and I plan to share those things on my blog. You may find out more about my new book and more by visiting my web site at www.FrancineRivers.com.

Thanks Francine for taking time to let us know a little more about you.

Blessings to you and in your new project!


PLEASE NOTE: A complimentary copy of this book was provided to the me as a blog tour host by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.

Real World Parents by Mark Matlock

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Zondervan/Youth Specialties (February 23, 2010)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Mark Matlock has been working with youth pastors, students, and parents for two decades. He speaks to hundreds of thousands of students around the world each year, and presents biblical truths in ways that motivate people to change. Mark is the vice president of event content at Youth Specialties and the founder of WisdomWorks Ministries and PlanetWisdom. He’s the author of several books including The Wisdom On - series, Living a Life That Matters, Don’t Buy The Lie, Freshman, and Smart Faith. Mark lives in Texas with his wife Jade and their two children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Zondervan/Youth Specialties (February 23, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310669367
ISBN-13: 978-0310669364


What Are Real World Parents?

I have a vivid memory of being a teenager and sitting at the dinner table with my family, rolling my eyes and pretending to gag behind my dad's back.


He was trying to do family devotions with us. But my three younger brothers and I just weren't buying it.

Every four or five months my dad would hear some program on Christian radio about family devotions, and he'd come home with another new idea for making it work with our family. After all, that's what Christian families are supposed to do, right? But it just never worked in our house. It felt completely forced and unnatural.

Still, somehow all four of us Matlock boys ended up in ministry. My youngest brother, Jonathan, helped me start WisdomWorks Ministries, and now we both do pretty much the same kind of youth ministry and youth minister support through Youth Specialties. Our brother Josh is a senior pastor in Southern California, and our brother Jeremy is a missionary in Russia. And still to this day, whenever Dad tries to bring us together for Òfamily devotionsÓ during the holidays, we mock him a little. It's become a kind of tradition because it isn't genuine for who we are as a family.

Now, I'm not saying that having kids who serve in some area of ministry means you're a successful parent. The point I'm making is that all four of my dad's sons grew into men with a real passion and appreciation for God's Word--even though he couldn't get us to sit still and take the reading of the Word seriously during repeated failed attempts at family devotions.

Why? Because we knew he had a real passion and appreciation for God's Word. We saw Dad reading the Bible. We saw him struggle to apply it to his life. We saw both of our parents base their decisions on their understanding of what the Bible teaches.

Ultimately we were convinced of the worldview contained in the pages of Scripture because we saw our parents openly endorsing it, talking about it, learning from it, and living it out day after day, year after year. That was enough for us--despite the failed attempts at family devotions.

That's what this book is about. We're not interested in presenting more artificial techniques and methodology to ÒfixÓ our kids or do what Christian families are Òsupposed to do.Ó Rather we want to help you discover how to live for God in a real way, right in front of your kids, so they can't help but catch the big picture that God and his Word mean the world to us and that living for Jesus really works in the Real World.

Don't get me wrong. Not all families are built to the same specifications. We each have our own family DNA. So if family devotions fit who you are, more power to you! Organized, structured, traditional family devotions are a great tool for some families. Now that my wife, Jade, and I have two kids of our own--our son Dax is in middle school, and our daughter Skye is 10--we've tried to have a family Bible hour around the table. It kind of worked off and on when the kids were younger, but we eventually realized it wasn't a good fit for the natural rhythm of our lives. It's not who we are right now. So instead we've found ways to talk about God's Word that are a better fit for us.

As we work together through the concepts in this book, one thing we'll discover is that Real World Parents are real in the sense that they do what best fits their families, and they genuinely adjust their own lives to fit into God's story.

Is God Happy with My Family?

In the church today, there's some really good teaching on parenting. My wife and I have benefited from writers, conference speakers, and pastors who've opened God's Word and helped us connect with what it means to raise up our children in the way they should go, how to provide godly discipline, and ideas for reinforcing good behavior. But again, that's not what this book is about.

And, honestly, over the years I've been frustrated with some teaching on parenting that's built around making parents feel guilty. These teachers, authors, books, and programs build parenting models based on our common fear that we're going to mess up our kids--or that we've already messed up our kids. That's an easy road that plays on our fears and our guilt over the areas in which we struggle as parents. Then they suggest that their programs or perspectives are our final hope to Òget it rightÓ or, worse, to do it the only way God wants it done.

That's not what this book is about, either. I promise not to use your parenting fears and anxieties against you. And we all have those feelings. I know I have them. If you could spend a little time with my family, you'd quickly see that we have issues, too. Those prone to critiquing parents would have no trouble criticizing my wife and me. So, no, I'm not interested in beating up other parents in order to somehow make them feel better or more motivated in their parenting.

In fact, I'd like to communicate exactly the opposite.

In our Real World Parent seminars, held around the United States, our teachers use a self-diagnostic tool to help attendees identify what they believe God thinks of their families.

It goes something like this:

What do you think God sees when he looks at your family? Do you think God grins or grimaces? (Place an X on the line.)

God Grins God Grimaces

This can be a challenging question if you take it seriously. On one hand, those of us who've grown up in Christian churches understand the idea of God's grace. We understand that our relationship with God isn't based on our performance. God sacrificed his only Son--the Son whom God loves so deeply--to pay for our sins on a cross. And God did this long before we even knew we wanted that gift from God. Thus, we'd always check the box that says God's love is unconditional for those of us in Christ.

Still, we have trouble carrying the idea of God's grace into our parenting. We can talk ourselves into believing that failing our kids is an unforgivable sin, that God could never be pleased with us if we've been guilty of sloppy or harsh or inconsistent or selfish or fearful or overprotective or neglectful parenting.

We may wonder how God could ever look at our families and grin. And the problem is that, as parents, we sometimes forget that we're also children--that our God is our Father, and that God is more lovingly inclined to smile at us than we are to smile at our own kids. Our Father loves us, and he forgives our parenting shortcomings and our family failings.

I will say this more than once: Nothing you read in this book will make God the Father love you and your family any more than he does right now, no matter what's going on with your family today.

I made this statement at one of our Real World Parent seminars, and I noticed that one of the women began to cry. She came up to me later and explained how inferior she's felt as a mother in her local church. Her husband isn't a believer, her kids get into trouble, and she just felt like such a failure--like a second-class parent in a church where most of the other parents were both Christians, still married, and raising such ÒniceÓ children.

I tried to assure her that God's grace applies to us as parents, and that in Christ she is forgiven and fully accepted as a beloved daughter (and mom!). The idea that God loved her family right now--in its present condition--was a reality she wasn't living in. She felt she was ÒunderperformingÓ as a parent and couldn't keep up. So she said the idea that she's forgiven, accepted, and loved as a parent gave her immense comfort.

Ernest Hemingway's short story called ÒThe Capital of the WorldÓ begins with an anecdote about a man in Madrid who put an ad in the newspaper to contact his estranged son. The ad read, PACO, MEET ME AT HOTEL MONTANA NOON TUESDAY. ALL IS FORGIVEN. PAPA. The story then describes how at noon on Tuesday, 800 young men arrived at the hotel to make peace with their fathers.

The joke was that there are lots of guys in Spain named Paco. But the other message is that wanting our dads' approval, specifically, is a universal human experience. Taking nothing away from the indispensable role of our mothers, we all long to have our fathers sign off on who we are and what we're doing.

It's what psychologists call Òfather hunger.Ó

As Christians, followers of Jesus, we have that hunger even in our roles as parents, even if we've made mistakes along the way. Our Father has forgiven us. We live in God's grace. God approves of us in Christ. And, yes, God loves us.

I want to make it perfectly clear--again--that you'll find no directives in this book that will make God love you or your family even a little bit more than he already does. God's unconditional love for your family was established long ago. It is full. It cannot grow. Romans 8:1 declares, ÒTherefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.Ó And that includes Christian parents.

I hope you've heard that. But I also hope you aren't satisfied to leave your family where it is today. Because while I'm convinced that God will never love or accept you any more than he does right now, I'm also convinced that God loves you so much that he won't leave you where you are right now, either.

No matter how good or bad you believe your family is, God has plans for you that will unfold in the Real World. God will continue to move your family along in the journey he has in store for you. Which is why this book is designed to help Real World Parents understand that journey--or story--and communicate it to our kids.

ÒHow Will This Book Fix My Kids?Ó 

As long as we're talking about things this book isn't, I should mention again that in the following pages you won't find any tips or tricks or techniques to fix your children's bad behavior. (We'd probably sell more copies if that's what we were promising, but we're not.)

In my experience, books full of tips, techniques, and tricks succeed at making readers feel good for a while. They make us feel hopeful. They make us feel as though we're doing something about the problem. But they often fail in the long run because we just can't keep it up. We can't change the personalities of our families to fit the models of the new programs on an ongoing basis.

When my kids came along, though, and I started making my way through all the different kinds of Christian parenting books, I noticed that a lot of them focused on helping me raise well-behaved, well-mannered kids. And while that's an important element, there wasn't much focus on raising kids to have hearts that seek after Christ. Of course we can't force that kind of spiritual openness and connectedness with God onto our kids--but in our Real World homes, we can create environments that promote such growth.

In a sense we become gardeners tending the spiritual development of our kids. God places the spark of life in the seed. We can't control that or how the plant eventually matures. But we can make sure the soil is rich, the ground is generously watered, the weeds are kept at bay, and the opportunity for sunlight is freely available. We can raise our children in environments where having a heart for God is the norm and not the exception.

What we don't want to generate are well-behaved kids who mindlessly follow our directions without ever willfully owning the faith in Jesus that they see in us. In the long run, the goal of parenting isn't for our kids to be known for how well-behaved they are, but for how well they know and respond to God.

Part of our challenge is to communicate to our kids a worldview that supports right actions. It's true that we (and they) will be held accountable for our behavior based on God's instructions to us. But whether or not we obey those instructions has a lot to do with whether or not we really believe God's story--a biblical worldview--and whether or not we walk in God's power.

In that way, our children's behavior is kind of like the tip of an iceberg. From countless illustrations we all know that the part of the iceberg that rises above the waterline is just a fraction of its total size. As such, you could conceivably make all kinds of alterations to the exposed part of the iceberg--in other words, the outward stuff (behaviors)--without significantly altering the iceberg itself.

What we've got to get at--in our own lives and in the lives of our kids--is the 80 percent of the berg that's under the waterline. In our illustration that represents one's worldview. We believe our behavior is ultimately driven by our understanding of the way the world works, of what we believe to be true and false about the universe, of our perception of reality.

And that's what we want to focus on as Real World Parents. How can we communicate God's worldview to our kids? What story are we telling them about the universe, both intentionally and--more importantly--in the way we live with and for God over time?

Before you move on to the next chapter, ask yourself these questions: 

1. When you imagine God looking at your family, what do you think God sees? What do you believe God's desire for your family is?

2. When you look at the world your children are living in, do you believe it's better or worse compared to when you were growing up? Why?

3. Which matters more to you--that your children demonstrate good behavior, or that your children understand and believe in a biblical worldview? Why?

4. In your own life, what has mattered more in the long run--your behavior on any given day or your foundational beliefs about God and the world?

The Twilight Gospel by Dave Roberts

The Twilight Gospel by Dave Roberts: Book Cover


The blockbuster Twilight Saga is being read by teenager and adult alike. These powerful novels are getting even more popular as the movies hit the theaters. But what should a Christian response be? And is there a helpful way to approach a teenager or young adult captivated with the books without alienating her?

Dave Roberts read The Twilight Saga and while he appreciated the literary qualities, there werealso parts that troubled him. As he considered the books as a whole and spoke to teenagers who read them, he saw the need for a resource. In The Twilight Gospel Dave brings to bear a Biblical lens showing that while there are important moral and spiritual lessons to be learned, there is also a promotion of a non-Christian worldview. He addresses such topics as the cult of beauty, the appeal of the self-disciplined vampire Edward, life after death, the use of myths and legends, sexuality, personal spiritual power, and the lure of materialism.

Read the first chapter:

In an age when the art of reading is thought to be in decline, the success of a book series with over 2,450 pages and a character count exceeding 3.5 million may be a surprise to some.

The appetite of readers old and young for romance, drama and the thrill of the long-running saga remains undimmed, however. The success of the Harry Potter series was just one indicator. The advent of the Internet has also made it possible to build strong fan cultures around niche television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer or The West Wing. At the heart of this fan culture activity is an identification with the characters in a storyline, and a desire to explore both the story and the point of view that lies behind it.

A young boy, Harry Potter, captured the imagination of many as he grew up with his audience. It seems fitting that the next mass-market mystical morality tale capturing the imaginations of children and young adults should feature a slightly awkward, self-conscious girl, teetering on the brink of womanhood.

While some may be tempted to dismiss these stories as Mills & Boon style romances for the young teen reader, at their heart they explore issues of identity, sexuality and spirituality. They reflect on material aspiration, prejudice and stereotyping, family breakdown, self-control and human dignity. They invoke the Bible and one of the characters speaks of the perspective of the Creator. They explore ancient myths and mystical practices that are entering the mainstream culture of the West.

Regardless of literary merit, the saga’s cold, hard sales facts are staggering. The series is made up of five books. Four have been published, but an unpublished fragment – Midnight Sun – tells the story found in the original Twilight series from the perspective of Edward, the main male character in the books. The fragment is over 260 pages long and further fills in both the romantic and the spiritual roots of the story.

The series, which launched in 2005, has become a publishing phenomenon. With sales in excess of 70 million by 2009 and translations into 38 languages, the Twilight Saga has emerged as a strong competitor for hearts and minds alongside the Harry Potter series and the controversial Da Vinci Code. While originally published for ‘young readers’, the saga has attracted a much wider audience, including women looking for a different take on romantic fiction.

Many will perhaps read these books and barely remember them. They will be the books of the month, literally and emotionally. But some will look upon them as a window on the world. Bella’s emotions regarding her awkwardness will ring true for them. The astonishing intensity of first sexual experiences and the tentative discovery of trust at a profound level will seep out of the pages and into the thought patterns of many readers.

Learning from stories is an ancient aspect of our culture. Two thousand years ago Jesus held large crowds spellbound as he painted rich word-pictures with his parables and proverbs. As we encounter the stories that make up the Twilight Saga we will want to be aware, as Jesus was, that some will hear the story and hardly understand it, but others will deeply internalize the things that they hear.

Think for a moment of Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son, which Edward ruefully mentions upon his return from exile. (He had sought to protect Bella from vampire attack by being away from her.) Jesus draws the crowd into the emotional drama of the story as he recounts the ungrateful demands of the errant son. The extent of his downfall is made clear when we discover that he is feeding pigs. The depth of the father’s mercy is planted as an idea in the imagination of the hearer as he or she pictures the father running to extend mercy, and to signal to the local population his protection of the son they had every reason to despise. The willingness of the father to forgive is clear, but the idea arises from the story rather than any explicit mention of the word. It is an example of skilful storytelling.

The skilful storyteller evokes emotion and encourages empathy with the characters. Many readers will feel as if they are spectators, hovering in the background of the dialogue that they read or the story they hear. They will picture the scenes as they play out on a backdrop in their imagination. This powerful connection with the emotions of a story will often connect people with a religion, a philosophy or a point of view.

Fiction, obviously, has power. But how much? Those who say that stories such as the Twilight Saga ‘make’ people undertake explorations of sexuality or the occult are overstating the case. Stories do not ‘make’ anybody do anything. They introduce the possibility and excite the imagination: that is all. By the same token, those who would say that these are merely stories and that people will not internalize the value systems they find in the saga may also be suffering from a form of cultural myopia. Some people will take up the possibilities that they find in the story and act them out in their own lives. Stories bring ideas to life.

As we journey into the Twilight lands around Seattle, where our story is set, let us bear in mind that there will be many other explorers. Some will be walking in Bella’s shoes, deeply identified with her emotional vulnerability and her questions over her own character and motivations. Others will be fascinated by the vampire mythology, with its rebellion against the moral norms of society. They will be drawn into the struggles of those vampires who are reluctant to embrace their killing machine destiny and hang on to shreds of humanity in the hope of redemption or as an antidote to guilt.

Some will simply be quietly thrilled with the erotic subtext that runs through all four books. Many are not the least bit interested in direct depictions of the sexual act but are happy to get lost in the erotic world of discovery that the young virgin and the 104-year-oldman (who doesn’t seem to have had a girlfriend since he was 18, if at all) embark upon.

Just as there is no typical Twilight reader, so there is no one message. The story has many layers, some of which we are going to explore. It weaves together ideas about material consumption, sexuality, spirituality, personal psychic power, self-image, friendship and social networks, the glamour of rebellion, folklore and even tribal conflict. No wonder it is potent stuff.

But in what sense, if any, is it true? I live my life according to a magnificent narrative handed down through the millennia by the apostles and prophets of the religion that honors God, his Son Jesus and his emissary to us today, the Holy Spirit. The Twilight Saga does not purport to be ‘truth’ but many will feel that it contains truth about their life. To determine what is true and praiseworthy, I will be examining the ideas at the heart of the Twilight Saga in the light of the ideas at the heart of the Christian faith.

Examining popular culture through the eyes of Christian thought can sometimes be a painful process, which is why many Christians choose to turn their backs on that culture. It’s painful when the foundation we stand on is fear. Fear of what that culture might do to us. Fear of those who create that culture. Fear of what stain it might leave on our hearts or our minds. But I am not writing from a place of fear. I have no desire to plant seeds of fear in the lives of anyone who reads this book.

I want to write from a place of wisdom – not my own, but rather the wisdom I find throughout the pages of the Hebrew/Christian scriptures. In critiquing other worldviews, I desire to help people understand and respond and make good choices. I don’t want to tell them what to believe about contemporary vampire culture! I do want to hold up the ideas in the Twilight Saga to scrutiny, and help the reader to ask good, penetrating questions about those ideas.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus addresses the seven churches of Asia Minor, calling them to account for their behavior. He speaks very well of two of them and affirms something positive about every one of the other five. But he also says, ‘this I have against you’. As you read on you’ll discover that I affirm some of the story threads in the Twilight Saga. You’ll also discover very searching questions. They are offered in the spirit of the approach that Jesus took with the errant churches.

You and I are not Jesus and the Twilight Saga is not a church (although the www.twilightsaga.com website does have 183,000 members at the time of writing). The Twilight Saga does not affirm mainstream orthodox Christianity in its storylines or dialogue. But it does contain elements of what is good and wholesome. For instance, in Carlisle Cullen we find a man of peace. Bella is almost painfully humble, as well as being willing to sacrifice her life for others. Charlie Swan loves his daughter. Angela Weber personifies a quiet goodness. Esme Carlisle has the instinctive protective love of a mother, but towards children who are not her own. As you wander the Twilight lands, you’ll find grace, beauty and truth in the midst of moral complexity and spiritual promiscuity.

I want to acknowledge wisdom where we find it in the story, and to respect the fine storyteller who brings us the tale. We should be willing to stand in the shoes of other readers who come to this story with different expectations, backgrounds and experiences. But as we seek to understand why the story touches them, I hope we will also be willing to question and refute, and perhaps, when necessary, say ‘this I have against you’.

But first we need to go to Transylvania.

Dave Roberts is the author of the best-selling The Toronto Blessing and Red Moon Rising with joint sales in excess of 100,000. He is a former editor of Christianity and won awards for his work on Renewal magazine. He is a local church pastor and conference director for three major annual conferences on worship, children’s ministry, and women’s ministry.


To be honest. I go crazy when people try to pick apart a good book to try to find 'deeper' meaning.
Just read the book, enjoy the story, character and everything that goes with it.

I fought myself at first about reading Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Series. 'It's about vampires and I don't believe in vampire.' But I finally let myself read the book. I'm glad I did because it was exceptionally written and just a great story!

Now, am I off to find a vampire or a werewolf in my local forest? NO!  Come on people, it was a asotry. Just enjoy it and leave it at that.

I was able to relax and allow myself to enjoy Stephanie's series because I am secure with who I am in Christ. I know that the story was completely make believe. I know that I personally do not believe that those creatures really exsist. I don't have to read into anything more than the words on pages that Stephanie wrote. I got out of the book a great story and an incredible journey. Nothing more. Nothing less.

If you are one who like to find the hidden messages or deeper meaning in things, than this book is great to help you do that with the Twilight series. If you just like to enjoy a great story and are secure about who and what you believe in, then this book is not for you. It's not for me!

 The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by LitFuse Group.

No Greater Love (Extreme Devotions Series Book #1) by Kathi Macias

No Greater Love (Extreme Devotion)


Forbidden romance, an unlikely martyr and an even more unlikely hero. Orphaned four years earlier when their parents, active in the African National Congress (ANC) movement against apartheid, were murdered—16-year-old Chioma and her 15-year-old brother Masozi now live and work on an Afrikaner family’s farm.
When Chioma and Andrew, the farm owner’s son, find themselves attracted to one another, tragedy revisits their lives. Chioma escapes to join an ANC rebel band in her effort to survive and gain revenge for her family and culture. When cultures clash in life-or-death struggles, Chioma must choose between violence and revenge—or forgiveness and selfless love.
Loosely based on historical events and set near Pretoria, South Africa, in the violent upheaval prior to ANC leader Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and his ascendance to the presidency of South Africa, this story of forbidden romance produces an unlikely martyr who is replaced by one even more unlikely.

Kathi Macias

ward-winning author Kathi Macias has written more than 17 books, including the award-winning devotional A Moment a Day, and the popular “Matthews” mystery novels. One of her recent novels, Emma Jean Reborn, is being put into script form by playwright Barry Scott. Kathi has won many awards, including the Angel Award from Excellence in Media, fiction awards from the San Diego Christian Writers Guild, and the grand prize in an international writing contest. With women’s ministry as her primary interest, Kathi is a popular speaker for women’s retreats, conferences, and churches. A mother and grandmother, Kathi and her husband, Al, call California home.

No Greater Love

This was the first novel I've read by Kathi.

I've had the opportunity to read her non-fiction work. Now to see the Easy Writer in fiction action was worth it.

In my opinion a great author is someone who can make me loose sleep in order to continue reading their book. They make me best friends (or worse) enemies with the characters and make me leave the shade under the tree or the soft comfy couch I sit on as I read the story, and I'm mixed in the action of the characters.

Kathi has done all of these!

I struggles along side Chioma. I fought with feelings of revenge, unforgiveness and fear.  I cried tears and fell in love, right along side with Chioma.

I love reading stories that speak of God's faithfulness and power. It's nice to have a good read where the characters are Christian and its not a throw the message of Christ or Christianity down your throat, but it is also so nice to have books that are all about God, the struggles of His people, the faithfulness of His life, love and sacrifice and have the Gospel message ALL over the story.

I look forward to the remainder of the Extreme Devotions Series... look for my review of More Than Conquerors next month!

More than Conquerors


The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by the author and Pump Up Your Book.

Too Close To Home by Lynette Eason

Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason: Book Cover

Samantha Cash is the FBI's secret weapon. Her methods are invisible, and she never stops until the case is closed. When missing teens begin turning up dead in a small Southern town, Samantha is assigned to help local chief Connor Wolfe find the killer. And he has two problems with that. There's her faith--in God and herself. And then there's the fact that she looks exactly like his late wife. As they get close to an answer, the case becomes personal. The killer seems to be taking an interest in Connor's 16-year-old daughter, who thinks her dad is getting way too protective. Can't a girl just have some fun? Too Close to Home ratchets up the suspense with each page, and will have readers cheering for the characters they love as justice is served and love grows even in the face of danger. Read this one with the lights on!


The FBI has a secret weapon. But now the secret's out.

When missing teens begin turning up dead in a small Southern town, the FBI sends in Special Agent Samantha Cash to help crack the case. Her methods are invisible, and she never quits until the case is closed.

Homicide detective Connor Wolfe has his hands full. His relationship with his headstrong daughter is in a tailspin, and the string of unsolved murders has the town demanding answers. Connor is running out of ideas--and time.

Samantha joins Connor in a race against the clock to save the next victim. And the killer starts to get personal.

Too Close to Home ratchets up the suspense with each page even as love blossoms in the face of danger. Read this one with the lights on!

"My friend Lynette has a hit on her hands with this romantic suspense. I enjoyed every minute. The plot managed to surprise and captivate me, and the romance was priceless."
--Dee Henderson, bestselling author, the O'Malley series

"A fast-moving tale filled with nonstop action. No chance to catch your breath with this one!"
--Irene Hannon, bestselling author, the Heroes of Quantico series

"Eason gives the reader an exciting ride with characters you will care about."
--Margaret Daley, award-winning Steeple Hill romantic suspense author

Lynette Eason is the author of eight novels and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Lynette and her husband and their two children make their home in South Carolina.
This SAHM loves writing, talking about writing, and teaching/mentoring new and promising writers. Her goal in writing is the bring glory to God and her readers to the edge of their seats.

Visit her blog at Suspense with a Twist.

I choice to read and review this title because of the amazing authors who endorsed this book. Dee Henderson is one of my favorite authors, so if she loved it, I knew I need to give it a try... and I am so glad I did!

Lynette's writing is so easy to read and follow. Her characters were so real and alive.

If you are not careful, you will find yourself up all night reading and missing out on sleep! I rarely find a book worthy of my 'beauty rest time' and Lynette's new book, Too CLose to Home, was worth giving it up!

What a suspenseful journey! My favorite genre of all times is Christian Suspense and this one sits high on my list of great books! I will reread this book again, maybe over a few weeks instead of just a few days!

Download an excerpt here!

Available April 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, 
a division of Baker Publishing Group.


The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by Revel.

Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today by Kathi Macias

Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today


Challenges that mothers face day in and day out are not unique to this time, and modern-day moms have much wisdom to gain from true examples recorded in Scripture. In Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today, readers meet ordinary women of their day who, by God’s incomparable grace, were used for extraordinary purposes. Readers will journey through the lives of such mothers— like Eve, Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth, Salome, Mary, and others. Exploring heart issues like fear, discontentment, grief, and gratitude, readers will discover solutions through biblical models of prayer, sacrifice, and faithfulness. Each chapter ends with personal application and prayer. Beautifully designed, this book makes the perfect gift for a mother on any occasion.


Award-winning author Kathi Macias has written more than 17 books, including
Beyond Me, How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I’m Surrounded by Loose Cannons?, the best-selling devotional A Moment a Day, and the popular “Matthews” mystery novels. She has written commentary for Thomas Nelson’s Spirit-Filled Life Bible (Student Edition) and was part of the devotional writing team for Zondervan’s New Women’s Devotional Bible. She has ghostwritten for several prominent individuals including Josh McDowell. Kathi has won many awards, including the Angel Award from Excellence in Media, fiction awards from the San Diego Christian Writers Guild, and the grand prize in an international writing contest.
A mother and grandmother, Kathi and her husband, Al, call California home.

I love to study the women of the Bible, because as women, we relate to women a little easier than we do men.

One of my favorite studies from Kathi's book was about Sarah: Mother of Nations.

Because of Sarah's impatience, she took matters into her own hands, therefore causing a chain reaction that would ripple in the ocean of time for all eternity.

WOW! That's a big chunk to chew on!

Through this study, God reminded me:

  • It is HIS promise, so HE will bring it to fulfillment in HIS timing! (A hard one for me- I am NOT a patient person!)
  • My decisions will effect the generation to come. My kids and grandkids and so on and so on!
  • Allowing my own plan to get in the way of HIS will can cause sin and trouble!

This study would make an awesome MOPS bible study!

I will share this with other moms in my life. Not only great for moms though, any woman can relate to these woman!


The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by Veritas Inc and author.
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