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A review of Miracles From Heaven – Sony Pictures

Miracles from heaven now playing

I am the first person to admit to being a skeptic when it comes to movies and books about heavenly revelations.  I have been heard to say – “if God wanted us to know what heaven looked like, I’m pretty sure Jesus would have shared that when He was here.”

I have heard some press about this movie, with Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah – it definitely had my attention.  Based on a true story, the movie follows the sickness and investigative treatments of Anna Beam and her mother’s, Christy Beam, crisis of faith in the midst of it.  And now that my eyes have dried having watched it, and my suspicions quieted – I’m happy to share my impressions of it.

The movie begins with a of a very normal family living life.  They live on a farm in Texas, where Dad is expanding his vet practice.  The Beams and their 3 daughters love each other, pray in their home and attend a very refreshingly normal church.  Although, I’ve gotta say – it would be pretty fantastic having Mac Powell lead your Worship Team!

An evening bout of stomach sickness for Anna begins a long and exhausting journey of questions and desperation as she is misdiagnosed over and over again.  When a doctor finally realizes the true cause – an incurable disease of the intestines that prevent the digestive system from functioning at all – Christy takes measures to have her treated at all costs.

She and Anna head to Boston to insist and wait on an appointment with the country’s top specialist.  While waiting, Christy and Anna meet Angela, a caring and very friendly waitress who becomes their tour guide around Boston.  When the call for the appointment finally comes, Dr. Nurko believes he can treat Anna.  What seems quite insignificant, yet touching – is an interaction with Dr. Nurko’s Elmo tie.  He admits that his wife doesn’t like it, but that he’s promised to remove it when he has a patient get well.

During her stay in the hospital, we see Anna make an impact on a roommate, while not getting any better.  When she if finally stabilized, she and the family head home.  She heads out to play with her sisters, and becomes involved in a very serious accident on the farm.

It is after her recovery from this that Christy begins to learn just how present miracles and the God who still performs them are.  Anna tells her story and encounter in heaven- and this is where my skeptical expectations stopped.

So many heaven movies try to share all the details of what heaven looks like, who the person met, and the message for mankind that God had for them to take back.  I’ve never been convinced.  Yet, in this account, Anna says that she and God were able to talk without ever seeing each other, and that He promised her she’d be okay when she went back.  She doesn’t meet any people from her past or have details that no one can ever verify.  Just a little girl who was assured of her safety by the God she knows loves her.

I found the most touching moment was the last time we encounter Dr. Nurko.  Christy shares her story poignantly in church and the reminds us of all the places during the journey with Anna where they saw miracles happen.

I was impressed.  This is a high quality Christian movie – so refreshing in the Christian film movie world – and I am pleased to be able to fully recommend this as a family movie.

Movie link has been provided courtesy of Sony Pictures and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

 

 

 

 

Delilah – Treacherous Beauty by Angela Hunt

Delilah book cover

I had the privilege of an unexpected week off – and the joy to spend it at a friend’s cottage.  This was the perfect book to take with me.  I love when time affords me to be able to read a book completely interrupted.  I have yet to be disappointed with this series, “A Dangerous Beauty”.  The first two women we met were Bathsheba and Esther.

Angela’s newest book is perhaps my favourite in the series.  Biblical fiction that makes me have to pull out my Bible to rediscover pieces of the story is alway worth my time.  We don’t know many details of Delilah’s life, but this book paints a picture of a woman, desperate to save her family and her rightful place in a community that wouldn’t recognize her.

Angela weaves her vision of who this very maligned woman in Israel’s history with the Biblical account of her encounter and ultimate downfall of Samson and his enemies.  We see her move from a very broken young woman, to a caregiver and mother needing to take action to keep her family safe and fed.

I was completely captivated by this telling of the story.  I found the telling of the life circumstances a fascinating possible connection to the sate of mind she must have been in to trick Samson in to sharing his secret.  At the same time, to read of the development of her relationship with him breaks the typical view of Samson as a weak man who falls instantly to the temptation of a beautiful woman.

If you are looking for a book to bring Scripture to life with a fresh new breath – this should be at the top of your list.

This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

The Longing In Me

To say that I am fond of Shelia Walsh – her writing and her speaking and even her tweets, would be an understatement.

Shelia’s story of her life and her honesty about living with Depression and how her faith in Jesus sustains her through it all is incredibly inspirational.  She has honestly shared once again, this time about the longing that is in all of us and how God longs to meet that deepest need in each of us.

You can find more about the book here www.TheLongingInMe.com, and once I’m done the book this weekend – I’ll post a more complete review.

 

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2016 in book reviews

 

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Live Loved – Margaret Feinberg

Live Loved BookTo say that I am a fan of Margaret Feinberg and her Bible Studies would be a huge understatement.  I find that she writes about things in a way that comforts and challenges all at the same time.

I was delighted to see that she had designed an adult colouring book.  I recently discovered the calming effect that these books have, and was excited to be able to spend some time with this one.

Each page has a floral colouring design, as well as a Bible verse to focus on while adding your own flair to the creation.  I found it a form of lectio devina.  To be able to pray the words of the verse, to say them repeatedly while working with my colours – it was a very soothing time of refreshing.

To take the experience one step further, each page has a complimentary on that allows for you to write your conversation with God.  It’s a loosely guided reflection.  I have been quite skeptical of this approach, but gave it a couple of honest attempts.

After having coloured the page, praying about what God might be saying to me through the Scripture passage – I remained in a prayerful attitude and let the pen just be on the paper.  I was amazed at what flowed as I wrote.  A true conversation with God.  Truths about how much of God’s love I often miss appeared on the page.  Reminders about the promises that he makes to his children were a great reminder to carry with me through the day.

I found each coupling took about 1 hour to complete and reflect upon. A wonderful, guided way to spend some quiet time – just the individual, the pens and God.  Honest moments of “be still and know that I am God”.  I know I need more of that in my life – and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

While the Adult Colouring Books are quite trendy right now, I can see this book playing a part in the devotional life for people who are looking for a creative outlet at the same time.  I am grateful to Graf-Martin Communications and the Nuts About Book program for the opportunity to independently review this Bethany House publication.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Bathsheba by Angela Hunt – Book 2 in the Dangerous Beauty Series

bathsheba coverI love it when an author drives me to my Bible while reading a work of fiction.  This latest offering from Angela Hunt proved to be just that kind of enjoyable read.

I truly believe that God teaches us many things through story, and this wonderful glimpse into “the rest of the story” of Bathsheba’s life opens the reader to many facets of her life.

I have read the story of David and Bathsheba many times, know the Veggie Tales version, and loved the ending of Francine Rivers account of her life in her series “Lineage of Grace”.  Angela let us feel the anger and grief that Bathsheba must have felt after David’s horrible actions towards her and her household.  We follow along as she learns to forgive and even love this King she has been brought to.  We grieve with Bathsheba and David as they lose their first-born son, and we understand her fear as she watches and waits for a very real threat to Solomon’s life to pass.

The telling of the story is shared by Nathan and Bathsheba.  It provides us with a complete view of life in and around the castle of this Royal family.  I found it a fascinating theory that Nathan had long been in love with Bathsheba from a distance…not sure about that, but it certainly added some interesting sides.

I have always been taken by Bathsheba and her story.  How one so broken could find such favour from a king (a broken man himself).  How from such a sinful beginning, God would raise one of his most faithful rulers.  It is truly a story of redemption, God’s grace, and his love and favour for those who faithfully seek him.

Once again, Angela Hunt has reminded me why she is well nestled into my top 5 favourite authors.  She certainly does not disappoint in this novel – one I had to slowly read, so as to be able to savour the story so masterfully woven.  I am thankful to Graf Martin Communications, the Nuts About Books program and Baker Publishing for the opportunity to independently review this book.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

The Memory Weaver by Jane Kirkpatrick

Memory weaverThe settling of the Western United States is not a piece of the American story I am familiar with.  Through this latest offering from Jane Kirkpatrick – I want to know a little more.

We meet Eliza Spalding Warren after the death of her mother, and just as she is coming of age.  She struggles with past memories of a time when she was held hostage during an a Cayuse Indian uprising.  Without naming it, we are very accurately walked through moments of PTSD shown through flashbacks.

Eliza is largely responsible for the care and maintaining of the family home while her missionary father continues with his work- how ever joyless it is for him.  She falls in love and longing for a different life – she and Mr. Warren elope.  Life is hard for them, but they are a determined to succeed, despite a myriad of personal demons they both carry, as well as simply the challenge of life in a wilderness state.

Always trusting in a God who is very real to Eliza, her husband comes to know and follow God’s plans.  We learn from Eliza’s mother’s diary of events in the past, and the foundation of Eliza’s inheritance of faith.

We learn that although facing the past – even as our own recollections might not be the exact way things happen – is healing.  Eliza has occasion to revisit the site of her trauma, and by talking with people who were there with her, she sees that God was placing every detail of her protection all along.  The lesson for us all is that by facing our past hurts and wounds, with God’s help, we can see the truth of our triumph through and in spite of them.  We might even see that God uses these to make us stronger and healthier for it.

I enjoyed this read – it was great to learn an aspect of American history I had not known before.  It was also a great way to illustrate the brave steps we each must take, as we seek to recover from past traumas.

Thank you to Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications for providing this book for my independent review.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage – Shelia Wray Gregoire

9 thoughts book coverI wish I had been able to read this book about 23 years ago, this week.  You see, as this appears on my blog, my beloved and I are 1 day away from our 23rd wedding anniversary.  While we did pre-marital counselling (after a fashion really, it’s hard to have those conversations with your dad!), went through an Prepare (R)  Inventory (which was bang on about what our growth areas would be), it still was not always an easy and perfect path.  A grace-filled one, but certainly not perfect and not always bliss filled.

Shelia speaks and writes with an honesty and candor I love.  Her desire is that couples experience marriage in all it’s fullness, as God planned it –  and she pulls no punches when she tackles topics that might make most of us squirm.  Her latest offering is no exception.  Each of the 9 thoughts is a great challenge to every married couple, no matter how many years together they are preparing to celebrate.

Now, I am in no way saying that we are not happy.  Far from it, we have a wonderful marriage.  We make each other laugh every day, we know that we are each other’s priority, and there is no one I would rather spend time with.  He is my rock, cheerleader and main prayer warrior – and he knows the same truths for me.  But…I truly found myself challenged to find better ways to be a better wife.

Thought 1 – “My Husband is my Neighbour”, Thought 2 – “My Husband Can’t Make Me Mad” and Thought 7 – “Being One Is More Important Than Being Right” hit me right between the eyes.  I sometimes think that I forget that he isn’t the only one in the house responsible for the way we function as a couple.  Yet, on days when I’m easily irritated – I could convince anyone that he is.  And some days, those irritations come just a little to easily.  Just this week, I’ve tried to walk the talk of these 3 thoughts, and you know – it’s not the easiest change I’ve ever made, but I can see that it will be worth it.

If I stop and realize that the things that make me not happy, are not his way of making me crazy and really are more my issue that his, then I don’t snap and things don’t get tense…and then, well, then things are just much more pleasant in the house.  A prime exmple of this is how we both re-energize.  I married a man who is an “off the chart” introvert.  He married an extreme extrovert.  Now, an introverted preacher tends to come home from any service of worship as a small puddle.  I want to talk about all the conversations I had after the service, and he just wants to be quiet, and preferably alone.  I can take this need of his as a personal slight, or know that if I respect his need for peace and quiet – I will get all the time I need when he is ready, and when he can do that with the emotional availabilty and energy levels I need him to have.

We recently attended a wonderful wedding.  It was a meaningful celebration as 2 young people joined their lives and faith together.  My beloved and I were honoured to be a part of the day.  While the wedding is over, and they’ll be home from the honeymoon soon – there will be one more gift for them.  I believe that this book is the perfect first building block (after a good Study Bible) for a solid, God-honouring marriage.  I’ll definitely be recommending it for many weddings, and even suggest it as a part of any pre-marital counselling.

I am thankful to Shelia Wray Gregoire and Waterbrook Press for the opportunity to independently review this book.  I have received no compensation for this review.

marriage shadow picture

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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