Plumb’s new album: Exhale

plumbI had the privilege of interviewing Plumb a few years ago when I was working with Jill Hart on Christian Work at Home Ministries radio. During that interview, the two of us experienced a blessed connection and I’ve been honored to call her friend since then. I’m excited to share that she has a new album out and of course, it’s fabulous. Once I heard it, I knew that there was no way I could not share this with you!

Here’s what she had to say on her Facebook page about it:

Hey guys, just wanted to share a personal note about my new album,EXHALE. The title comes from something my pastor said recently: “We do not exist for us….we exist to share the grace and love so freely given to us all….we breathe it in, it change us, it makes us new and then we share it – we EXHALE.” I breathed in a life-changing grace when God met me in my darkest place of brokenness after my husband left me, and He change me and gave me hope. Then, He redeemed a dead marriage in a way only He could…through a miracle…and we remarried. I am SO THANKFUL for the redemption. SO THANKFUL for that change. SO THANKFUL for that grace. So I made this new record as one huge, gigantic love letter to the One who carried me during all of that. EXHALE represents the hope of the entire record…that we will each breathe in that grace and then exhale it. That is why we exist!

You can see why I’m so excited to share this album with you, but just in case you’re not totally convinced yet, here’s her brand new video from the album.

You can buy Plumb’s album, Exhale, on iTunes or at Amazon now.

Confessions of a Non-Comic Book Marvel Geek

Confession: I’m not a comic book fan. I’ll start this whole article by stating that point blank. I’m very up front and honest about that no matter what sort of geekery I am spewing at the moment. I need to underscore that right now though because the geekery I’m planning to discuss is Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) related.

See, about five years ago, I never ever would have imagined even going to a comic book themed film in the theaters. I grew up with DC heroes front and center for me. Superman and Batman were all over my television and in movie theaters and when I became a teenager/young adult, Lois and Clark captured my attention. So right there it sounds like I should be a comic book geek but I wasn’t. My enjoyment went no further than what happened to be on the screen in front of me. I never wanted to dive further.

So when I grew up and had a family, this wasn’t some deep love or affection that I carried with me and planned to transfer to my kids. (Like Star Wars for example. I devoured Star Wars completely and subsequently, so do my children.) The new films of Superman and Batman didn’t appeal to me. They were all darker than what I’d consider entertainment and really, I wasn’t engaged in any of the stories. Until this one comic book film that sucked me completely in. more »

Book Review: Unselfish – Love Thy Neighbor as Thy Selfie

20150131222140-Unselfish_Final_CoverUnselfish: Love thy Neighbor as thy Selfie by Paul Parkinson
Genre: Non-fiction
Publisher: Unselfish Stories
Date: May 5, 2015

The world is wrapped around itself. If you don’t believe that, all you have to do is watch the news or look at pretty much any social media outlet. Populated with stories about “my rights” and “I need” that are punctuated with a constant flow of people holding a camera up to snap pictures of themselves, it’s really not hard to see the trend.  So it’s a like a refreshing breath of clean air when a book comes out that highlights what people are doing for others.

A big, beautiful book that screams to be put on coffee table display for all to see, Unselfish delivers heart-warming tales of the kind of selfless acts that don’t make the headlines. Even with viral videos and people trying to highlight the good in the world, more often than not these stories are overlooked. By reaching out to get the stories from people directly involved, Paul Parkinson has given voice to these beautiful acts. From actors taking time from their busy schedules to help those less fortunate to teachers who give far more of themselves than just education in the classroom, Parkinson’s book literally overflows with beautiful stories that will touch your soul.

Not only are these stories full of people who are making their world (and subsequently our own world) a better place, but each one is partnered with a rich, vivid picture that brings their memories, thoughts, or beliefs into more than just a story. We get to experience the reality with them.  And let me say it again in case you missed it – this is a gorgeous book too. The stories are amazing but the layout and photos really drive it home that it’s not just a book to read. It’s something to share.

I loved this book. Every day I work with my kids and try to do something to show them that the world isn’t all doom and gloom. I mean that’s what the news would have us believe wouldn’t it? It’s easy to see how people can lose hope and not be able to find their place in life when all of that ‘bad’ is happening around us. But Unselfish shows us the flip side of the coin. Natural disaster? Let’s highlight the volunteers who risk all to save others. Illness or injury? Instead of showing the impossibility of recovery, why don’t we look at the people who believe the impossible?

I’ve often referred to myself as an obnoxious optimist. I always try to see the bright side of things (yes, even in the midst of my cancer journey – though it took a little more work!). This book is a perfect gift for someone like me who always wants to see the good in things or people. But it’s also just as perfect for that someone out there who needs to be reminded that the world isn’t always such a horrible, lonely, dark place. After all, we’re all together in it.

Movie Review: JOSEPH- Beloved Son, Rejected Slave, Exalted Ruler

Joseph DVD coverThe story of Joseph has been a big theme in our house this year. We recently went through the story pretty thoroughly for school and then our pastor started preaching a series on it as well. So when I received a request to review this fantastic new DVD,  I told God that I got the message and accepted the offer.

Many people know this story whether through Sunday School, church, or even from films. It’s a powerful tale of redemption and it shows how God can take a life that seems to be completely shattered and build it back into something beautiful. I think we all need to hear that on a pretty regular basis – at least I do!

This movie was beautiful. From the first moment we opened the package, my kids were all over me to hurry up and watch it. All of them, from the sixteen year old to the ten year old remained interested in the story throughout the viewing as well. They were intrigued and excited to see that many of the things we had just read about in the Bible were featured in the story. As we all know, previous Hollywood adaptations may have skipped over or changed some things for dramatic license. This film did not do that.

What I loved the most was that as we were watching it, my kids were not only comparing it to the Bible, but it also made them think even deeper about the story. I heard them asking questions like “Can you imagine what the brothers are thinking at this moment?” or “What do you think Joseph imagined would happen when…” That, to me, makes for excellent entertainment. Especially when there is a Biblical connection and a chance for the kids to learn more about how God works.

This film was well done, highly entertaining, and engaging on a level I hadn’t expected. Every family should want to keep a copy of this in their library to supplement their own Sunday School, church, or school lessons. It’s definitely a valuable resource and more than that, the kids love it!

That Grey’s Anatomy Shocker….

You know what happened. Even if you don’t watch the show, you know. If you don’t know, LEAVE NOW. This is a spoiler laden response to Thursday’s Grey’s Anatomy.

Twitter was overwhelmed with screaming, crying fans. Facebook had Grey’s Anatomy trending. And the fans of Grey’s Anatomy limped through Friday broken, mourning, confused and the biggest one: Angry. Derek is dead.

Meredith-Derek-8x10-Suddenly-meredith-and-derek-28323816-1280-720

Let me start things out by saying I’m actually not angry that Derek died. Really, I’m not. Life rarely gets happy endings so yes, it’s nice when it does happen, but the reality is that it often doesn’t. And in a show that has never shied away from death, this is a powerful way to have a beloved character exit the scene.

My issue, as that of many fans, is how it went down. It was messy. It was sloppy. And it was unprofessional. Not the fact that he died because of a series of odd quirky circumstances. Unfortunately, that happens in real life every day. I’m talking about the writing.

As someone who has spent 20+ years writing professionally, I know a little about it. I have worked on several shows that you’ve seen on television and a boat load of films. Most of these were marketing and publicity, but many of them have had writing attached in some way or another. So when I watched this show, I did it through that lens. It was fascinating and maddening all at once.

See, I’ve been in writing meetings where an actor wants to leave a program but there’s a strong, faithful audience that loves that character. Do you re-cast? You used to. That doesn’t happen often anymore. Do you have them leave? Get angry? Get sick? Die? Everything’s an option, but very few will usually fit into your moment. Derek dying wasn’t a bad option from a plot perspective. It was realistic. It’s the way it was handled that was poorly done.

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Killing Jesus by National Geographic Channel

MV5BMTQ3MDc4ODg4NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk5NjM5NDE@._V1_SX214_AL_Killing Jesus. That’s a pretty heavy sentence in and of itself. And when it describes a television event, it holds a lot of description. No soft, fuzzy bunnies or bright, colorful eggs here. This is the reality of why we celebrate Easter and when you sit down to watch, you might do so with a little trepidation. How graphic will it be? What will they include? More importantly, will they recognize Christ as our Lord and Savior? At least these are the questions that rattled through  my mind before I sat down to watch.

The first thing that caught me about this show was the historical context. I shouldn’t really be surprised at this, but it was pleasant to see them covering the details of Rome and its relationship with Jerusalem. Also seen in detail was Herod. His dreams played a major role in the opening and it was really nice to see some of this covered. I personally enjoyed that there was no traditional baby in a manger right after being born scene. By the time the wise men show up in this one, Jesus is crawling and grabbing for things. From what I’ve heard (I’m no scholar in this area by the way) this is probably a more likely scenario than what we see at Christmas time.

 

All in all, this was an interesting journey through an oft-told tale. I was impressed with how they shared various viewpoints in the story and it was interesting to see some of Jesus with his family. This is usually ignored for the ‘greater’ stories in the Bible, so it was nice to see some of the new perspectives of this man and his ministry.
Now though, I missed quite a few things. Not like I got up and went to the kitchen and missed it. I mean at the end of the tale, I personally felt that several chances for fascinating tales from the Bible were missed. It wasn’t until my husband pointed out one thing that was key to Killing Jesus and this telling of Christ’s sacrifice. They left out the supernatural. Throughout the story, Jesus was approached mainly as a historical figure without any of the miracles he performed. Now I understand why they’d take this approach and I’m certain that it appealed to a major portion of the non-Christian audience out there. As a whole, Christ’s life was well handled and it was treated with great respect. As I mentioned, you can get some perspectives you don’t normally see. But if you’re looking for the miracles and, well, the GOD portion of the story to shine through, you won’t find a lot of it here.

The ending was profound for me. As a believer, I know that Christ’s body was not in the grave and never found because he rose from that grave. He conquered death and he IS alive now. But the makers of Killing Jesus didn’t go there. Instead, Kelsey Grammar’s fabulous voice explains that for unknown reasons, the grave was empty and his body never found. He also goes on to give the numbers of people who still follow Christ even today. I was not in the least offended by this. In fact, I had a little thrill of delight. It felt like I know a secret and I wanted to shout it to the world. My God is alive!

So in the end, I enjoyed this program. It opened some big discussions in my house and some thought provoking debate occurred as a result. It won’t be THE big Easter event in our house every holiday season, however I wouldn’t turn down watching it again.

I was given an advanced copy of this program to review. Thank you Lori!!!

New movie: Hillsong – Let Hope Rise Trailer exclusive

I love Hillsong. If you know praise and worship music at all, you probably recognize the name and have sung their songs countless times.

I’m excited to let  people know about a new film that Hillsong has coming out. It looks really fabulous! If you have any heart for music whatsoever, I guarantee that this will touch your heart.  Check it out:

You can like the film on Facebook as well: http://bit.ly/HLHR_FB

Here’s the official synopsis for the film:
“Hillsong–LET HOPE RISE” chronicles the spectacular and unlikely rise to prominence of the Australia-based Christian band, Hillsong UNITED. Directed by Michael John Warren, the film follows the band they labor to record their next album and explores the history of Hillsong, a 30-year journey from a tiny church in the Sydney suburbs to a vibrant international ministry. The movie culminates in a transformational concert experience spotlighting the humble hearts behind this worldwide sensation.

Doesn’t it look fabulous?

Book Review: Reservations for Two

Reservations-for-Two - croppedReservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge
Genre : Romance
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Date April 21, 2015

In this second installment of the Two Blue Doors series, Juliette D’Alisa visits her family in France and Italy. With her new boyfriend, Neil McLaren and the mystery of her grandmother’s mysterious stranger unfolding before her, things are as unsettled and crazy as ever for Juliette. This roller coaster doesn’t look like it will be slowing down anytime soon either. Her mother’s illness is a terrible stress on the whole family and Juliette’s travels right before opening a brand new restaurant may not be the best timing. And this new boyfriend? It’s a long distance relationship that isn’t necessarily easy to juggle.

One thing is becoming clear though: Juliette is much closer to figuring out who the mysterious man in her grandmother’s picture is. With the possibility of interviewing her grandmother’s sister and also tracking down some of the places she lived, Juliette is much closer to solving that mystery.

With the same wonderful devotion to food and recipes, Lodge has once again created a beautiful story where food (good food!) becomes one of the main characters. When Juliette is having a difficult day, she might retreat into a special dessert or a main course that takes all day to prepare. And once again as she ponders the current situations she’s dealing with in her life, she retreats into her recipes and her love of cooking and food. And thankfully, Lodge allows us to do the same. I was delighted while reading the first book to discover that the very recipes our main character is enjoying were also part of the story for us. Each chapter ends with a recipe that came from somewhere within the story. This allows the reader to make an even deeper connection with the characters and the story as they share the experience of making the same recipes. I love that!

Juliette’s struggle with her mother’s disease, her grandmother’s heart wrenching story and juggling her own romantic adventures are poignant and heart wrenching at times for the reader. There were moments that I was reading and wanted to yell at Juliette and I did find myself close to tears a time or two. One of the magical moments of reading this book for me came when I found myself so intensely involved in the story that I had to stop and think about Lodge crafting not only Juliette’s adventure, but her grandmother’s. I had been so involved with it, that it felt like I, too, had discovered a batch of letters and I couldn’t wait to read and see what the next one had to say.

I loved this book as much (if not more) than the first one. (And a shoutout for the Doctor Who references again – yay!) If you love food, romance, travel, or adventure, you’re going to absolutely want to own this series so you can read it more than once and make the recipes too!

 

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Book Review: A Table by the Window

51RxRvTROPL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge
Genre: Romance
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Date March 2014

Juliette D’Alisa has spent her life around food and family. As the youngest of a family of restauranteurs and professional chefs, she knows food. She also understands the dynamics of having a very boisterous and involved family. French and Italian roots run deeply through her blood and everyone knows everything about everyone else’s life. So when Juliette finds a mysterious photo of her grandmother and a handsome young man, she’s intrigued. The man looks exactly like her older brother, but he’s a stranger. So who is this handsome man with her grandmother?

On top of that, her brother Nico has decided that he wants to open a restaurant, but the last time he had one, Juliette got personally involved and it led to disaster. When Nico asks her to be his partner, she’s just not sure of what she should do.

And when Juliette, the only unmarried person in her family, begins to think about dating, it nearly sends her off the rails to imagine juggling all of it.
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Book Review: The Pharaoh’s Daughter

41smGE6SgcL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Pharaoh’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews
Genre: Historical
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Date: March 17, 2015

So a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…no wait. Wrong story. There once was a baby that was sent down the river in a basket. There we go. Right story! Everyone knows that one don’t they? Basket is found by Pharaoh’s daughter and very long story short – everyone lives mostly happily ever after. But this, Pharaoh’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews, is a completely new glimpse of this tale. The title give you the clue that it’s obviously told from one of the key players we don’t often hear about: Pharaoh’s Daughter. I still figured I knew everything that was coming. I figured wrong.

From the moment I picked this book up, it was different, unique, and fascinating. Anippe was raised with the understanding that Anubis hovered around every corner. At any time, he could show up and steal you to the afterlife. For a child, this was not a pleasant thought. And knowing that you are someone else’s namesake in order to fool Anubis into taking you first? That adds an all new level of stress and terror.

Mesu Andrews took a story that we all know and she didn’t just breathe new life into it – she recreated it completely. When I picked this book up, I figured it was another historical novel retelling a Bible story. They’re okay. I like them. I enjoy the insight into my favorite people from the Bible. But those books don’t always get me excited about reading. This book absolutely shocked me with how good it was. This was so much more than anything I’d imagined!  I mean really – I know the Moses story. I just read through it for my own personal devotions a few weeks ago. But this book had me so on edge, I had no idea what was coming next! I loved it!

If you want rich historical detail, beautiful characters and intricately woven storytelling, this is most definitely the book for you. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Don’t miss this one!

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