Thursday, December 23, 2010

Have A New You By Friday - by Dr. Kevin Leman

My Thoughts:

As far as self help books go, this one was pretty good. It helps you see the problem areas and gives you practical steps to changing them.
Never having read any of Dr. Leman's books before I was properly impressed with this one. The author is a great storyteller and the book overall is very engaging and interesting. I would recommend this book to those looking to make a change in their life.

Have a New You by Friday, Dr. Kevin Leman, 978-0-8007-1933-3
You can change your life--in just 5 days!
How many times have you tried to change your own habits, only to find that changing yourself is even harder than trying to change someone else?
Now, what the bestselling Have a New Kid by Friday has done for families and Have a New Husband by Friday has done for couples,Have a New You by Friday will do for you. With his signature wit and commonsense psychology, Dr. Kevin Leman walks you through your own personal five-day action plan. You will come to

  • Accept the truth about yourself
  • Boost your confidence by identifying the lies you're telling yourself . . . and putting them to rest for good
  • Change your life by concentrating on becoming who you really want to be

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known psychologist, radio and television personality, and speaker who has taught and entertained audiences worldwide with his wit and commonsense psychology. He has made house calls for hundreds of radio and television programs, including The View,TodayOprah, CBS's The Early Show, CNN'sAmerican Morning, and LIFE Today with James Robison. He has also served as a contributing family psychologist to Good Morning America.
A bestselling and award-winning author, Dr. Leman has written more than 30 books about marriage and family issues, including The Birth Order BookSheet MusicMaking Children Mind without Losing Yours, and Have a New Kid by Friday. He is coauthor, with his son Kevin Leman II, of a series of illustrated children's books for each child in the family. He is also featured on 6 video series on marriage, parenting, blended families, and single parenting.
Dr. Leman and his wife, Sande, live in Tucson, Arizona. They have 5 children and 2 grandchildren.

Monday, December 13, 2010

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

My Thoughts:
This was a fantastic book! I admit that right now in my life, as I look to the future and moving into a new position at work of leading teams of people to China for short term mission trips, I may be a little biased toward all things having to do with China. That possibility aside, the book was well written and it was a wonderful story that chronicled the lives of some extraordinary people and the sacrifices they made in order to do what God had called them to do! Inspiring! I must admit that I am glad that I did not live back in those times and had to go through the hardships that they endured. But I can say that I hope that I will have the courage to live my life as faithfully as these people did.
Thanks to Bo Caldwell for sharing such a tremendously wonderful story!

City of Tranquil Light
Author Bo Caldwell shares an inspired story of a young couple
whose marriage and faith are put to the test in Revolutionary China

City of Tranquil Light: A NovelBo Caldwell’s 2001 debut novel, The Distant Land of My Father, set in historic China and based on the story of her uncle, was a critical and commercial success—a national bestseller that was loved by critics, booksellers, and readers in equal measure. In 2002 Caldwell turned to the story of her maternal grandparents who were missionaries in China in the early 1900s. For years her mother had urged her to write about them and when she dove into the research she found their lives full of conflict, danger, and heartbreak, as well as joy and fulfillment. But life, in the form of a cancer diagnosis, kept her from her writing desk until 2006. When she returned, she completed City of Tranquil Light (Henry Holt and Company), a searing love story of a man and a woman, their God, and the country they jointly loved and a deeply researched and page-turning portrait of a country in utter turmoil.

At the center of the novel are Will and Katherine, two Mennonite missionaries from the heartland who have come to China because they feel called by God to serve the poor and spread the Good News. But this is more than a missionary story; it is really the portrait of a marriage set against the backdrop of a radically shifting nation that is plunging into revolution.

A novel based on her grandparents wasn’t Caldwell’s idea. “I’m embarrassed to say that before I had dismissed my grandparents’ lives as too dull and simplistic. But as I reread my grandfather’s memoir and began to ask my mom about my grandparents, I learned how wrong I’d been.” As she began to see her grandparents as her mother had seen them, and to read the biographies and autobiographies of other American missionaries in China, Caldwell found similar stories. “I saw a pattern emerge in the later lives of many of these men and women. Most eventually returned to the United States, usually to be near their children (now grown) and grandchildren, but also because of illness or frailty. I was moved by the contrast between their lives in China and their later lives in the U.S. After enduring decades of war, famine, illness, personal danger, and great hostility toward their work, these people settled safely in the suburbs where they walked in rose gardens and played with their grandchildren and lived out their days. I was struck by the sacrifice that must have been involved in leaving the people and work that had been at the center of their lives, even with the reward of the comforts of modern life. I also began to feel that missionaries often get a bad rap in fiction. While there were certainly those who exploited the people they had come to serve, there were also many who poured out their lives for strangers and for their faith. And I wanted to tell their story.”

That story is one of marriage, of leaving one home and finding another, and of faith. “When I began the novel, I tried to understand my grandfather’s faith and to present it accurately,” says Caldwell. “I tried to see the world through his eyes.” Then life intervened, including a battle to quit drinking followed shortly after with a diagnosis of breast cancer. Once Caldwell returned to writing two years later, she returned as a different person. The combination of sobriety and a serious illness had affected her faith deeply, and she was no longer writing about her grandparents’ faith. She was writing about her own.

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell
Henry Holt and Company - September 28, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9228-8 – hardcover - $25.00

Choosing To See - by Mary Beth Chapman and Ellen Vaughn

My Thoughts: 
I was so incredibly moved by this book. Likely it's impact was heightened by the fact that I had just gotten back from leading a missions trip working with disabled and abandoned children in Changsha, the same town that the Chapmans adopted their children from, but it went deeper. This book is inspiring, touching, heartbreaking, raw, completely honest and so much more. The content of this book made me laugh and cry but more than that it carried some heavy life lessons, ones that I would not wish on any family and I applaud Mary Beth for putting it out there for all to see, so that others may know what God is doing in their lives. It's a bold move. I would like to thank her for all of it and let her know that it has changed my heart. 

Choosing to SEE, Mary Beth Chapman and Ellen Vaughn, 978-0-8007-1991-3

"Every now and then a book comes along that is not only great--it's a gift. An extravagant gift. This is one of those books."--Beth Moore
From the beginning, Mary Beth Chapman's life was not how she planned. All she wanted was a calm, peaceful life of stability and control. Instead, God gave her an award-winning singer/songwriter husband, crazy schedules, and a houseful of creatively rambunctious children. Most difficult of all, God's plans for her also included tragedy.
In Choosing to SEE, Mary Beth unveils her struggle to allow God to write the story of her life, both the happy chapters and the tragic ones. And as the story unfolds, she's been forced to wrestle with some of life's biggest questions: Where is God when things fall apart? Why does God allow terrible things to happen? How can I survive hard times?
No matter where you find yourself in your own life story, you will treasure the way Mary Beth shows that even in the hard times, there is hope if you choose to SEE.
"Mary Beth makes the deepest places of our being easier to embrace and grasp. I felt like I was looking at my own heart exposed on the pages of this book."--Denise Jonas, mother of the Jonas Brothers
"Mary Beth has an important story to tell that starts long before the accident. It's a story of heartache, betrayal, depression, and loss. Yet her encouragement to us is that there is hope--spring is coming."--Mark (of Casting Crowns) and Melanie Hall
"Mary Beth has opened the doors of her stories to us so that our deepest fears may be overcome with hope. And so that we can all walk in a deeper trust that God is good . . . all the time."--Toby (TobyMac) and Amanda McKeehan
"When the world is telling us to suffer alone in despair and hopelessness, the Chapmans are fixing their eyes on Christ and faithfully walking each step clinging to the Lord and the hope we have in the promises in His Word."--Bart (of Mercy Me) and Shannon Millard
"This tender story will capture your heart and point you back to the One who restores, replenishes, and renews . . . even when He asks us to do hard, seemingly impossible things."--Wess Stafford, president and CEO of Compassion International
"With a balanced combination of heart-wrenching honesty and absolute grace, Mary Beth shares her 'severe mercy.' I couldn't help but sense God's presence in every sentence."--Mary Graham, president of Women of Faith
"Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman are living their story in a way that brings glory to God and real, practical help to the body of Christ. You won't be able to put this book down until you've wept, laughed, and relished every page."--Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview

Mary Beth Chapman is the wife of Grammy and Dove Award winning recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman. Together they began Show Hope, a nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for the world's most vulnerable children by providing financial assistance to families wishing to adopt, as well as increasing awareness of the orphan crisis and funneling resources to orphans domestically and internationally. Mary Beth serves as president of Show Hope and is a speaker for Women of Faith 2010 with her husband. She is also coauthor with Steven of the Shaoey and Dot series of children's picture books. Mary Beth and Steven have six children: Emily, Caleb, Will Franklin, and adopted daughters Shaohannah Hope, Stevey Joy, and Maria Sue, who is now with Jesus. The Chapmans live in Tennessee.
Ellen Vaughn is a bestselling author and inspirational speaker. Her recent books include It's All About Him with Denise Jackson (wife of Alan Jackson), which debuted at #1 on the New York Timesnonfiction list. She is also coauthor with Chuck Colson of Being the Body. In addition to her nonfiction work, Vaughn is an award-winning novelist. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband, Lee.