Monday, March 20, 2017

People of the Second Chance Review (Blogging for Books)

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.

I read People of the Second Chance, in exchange for honest review from Blogging for Books. The book was written by Mike Foster. The book is Christian-based. The book is about the hurt and broken. We all have been given a second chance through God to live a more purposeful life.

One of the first things, which stood out was how God still loves us, despite our flaws, mistakes, hisotry, and past. On the same page, the author said we are not our failures: just because we have made mistakes, doesn't mean we are mistakes (p. 9). When our identity is defined wrong, we will "carry the wrong definition into your story. (p.9). God celebrates the broken. Page 13 said that we see the pain but miss the miracle of healing of ourselves and others around us. To be a second chancer, we must find the celebration. We should be like the prodigal son, who realized he was wrong. He came home to a celebration. His father (God) was happy his child returned.

The next chapter discusses how we need to embrace our messes and find peace within our lives. The author says we need to embrace our brokenness versus hiding it behind shame. God can turn our messes into something beautiful.

I liked the book because I am broken. I have defined my life, at times, by my mistakes. I have defined my identity by my mistakes. You can't grow spiritually if you focus on your mistakes and flaws. To sum it up, page 20 (paperback) says God "says whoever you are, whatever you look like, whatever mess you been in, don't worry about that anymore. You're mine and you're in good hands now.".

We are God's.

You can purchase the book in hardback, paperback, audible, and audio cd format. The book is prime-eligible.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Laura Story Open Hands CD Review (Flyby Blog Promotions)

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.

I received Laura Story's Open Hands CD in exchange for honest review from Flyby Blog Promotions. Listening to the CD was a challenge at first (had to send my Dell to the shop) but a friend sent me a new used pc, in exchange for social media cooperation. The CD and the PC arrived within a few days of each other. Note to self: develop great friendships and business relationships. You never know how God will bless you.

I haven't heard of Laura Story before, but I love Christian song. The first song, Death was arrested, was powerful. "When death was arrested and my life began". I also liked Open Hands, featuring Mac Powell from Third Day.

The CD was a beautiful worship cd.

About Laura Story and Open Hands

What the Lord is asking them is not, ‘You need to hold on tighter. You need to manage this better.’ What the Lord asks us is to surrender,” she offers, “It’s about learning to live with open hands, learning to live life in this constant state of saying, ‘Lord, my life is Yours. My time is Yours. My resources are Yours. All of this is Yours. Do what You will.’”

Story has built a life—and a career—around submission to her calling. She’s led worship at Atlanta’s
Perimeter Church for the past 12 years. In addition to penning songs recorded by artists like Chris
Tomlin, Story has found success as a recording artist in her own right. Since the release of her solo
debut in 2008, Story has amassed a GRAMMY® Award, a Billboard Music Award, multiple GMA Dove Awards and an RIAA Gold certification for her massive No. 1 hit “Blessings.”

In addition, she’s also the author of two books, including the latest: When God Doesnt Fix It - Lessons You Never Wanted to Learn, Truths You Cant Live Without . 

Open Hands is the follow-up to 2013’s critically-acclaimed God of Every Story, and in the years that
have passed since her last release, Story has given birth to twins, making their brood a family of five.
Now, as a mom to three kids—Josie, Benjamin and Griffin—the posture of “open hands” feels more
necessary than ever before as she juggles ministry and motherhood.

"We never get to a point where we can do life apart from complete and total daily dependence on
Jesus,” Story admits. “The irony is the less control we have, the more peace we have and the more, I
would even say, success and joy we find. It’s a contrary picture to what the world tells us, but it’s
gaining through letting go.”

Open Hands’ fresh collection of originals blends Story’s signature congregational worship with intimate moments. “I wanted to make an album so that each song I write would be just that seed of hope or that lifeline that someone listens to during that tough moment and thinks, ‘I’m going to choose to trust God,even during this,’” Story shares. “I pray that God would speak through me in the midst of the music.”

A parade of A-list songwriters, including Matt Redman, Matt Maher, Mia Fieldes, Hank Bentley, Sarah Hart and Seth Mosley, among others, pepper the album’s 11 tracks. Through writing sessions both alone and with others, Story began to gradually see this common thread of surrender emerge.

“Rather than picking a theme and writing around it, a lot of times, it takes me writing to be able to step back and see what the themes are, not just of the record but of my life,” she says of her creative
process. “It was neat to step back and see that ‘open hands’ is a theme that ended up presenting itself rather than me choosing it.”

The title track—already a chart-topper prior to the album’s release—features guest vocals from Third
Day’s Mac Powell, a fellow Atlanta-native and Story’s longtime friend. “You Came Running” borrows imagery from the biblical narrative of the Prodigal Son. In true Story fashion, several selections (“Awake My Soul (1000 Tongues),” “For The Love of My King”) reimagine timeless hymns, which she refreshes with an original chorus.

“I’m pretty sure that the theology that I learned as a kid was from old hymns. It’s amazing, even now as an adult, how those hymns come back and really provide that sturdy foundation for life. It reminds me of how important it is for me to teach my kids those old hymns,” Story reflects, adding, “As long as I am singing, I will be singing hymns.”

Poignant piano ballad “Give You Faith” finds the singer pondering the legacy she wants to leave her
children. “The song is about releasing your kids into the hands of God,” she explains. “The most important thing that we could possibly give our children is to not just tell them about the faith that we
have but to live out that faith as a family. Sometimes that means not giving them everything they but showing them that the most important thing in my life isn’t even them—it’s actually my faith in Jesus
Christ—and just point them to Jesus.”

To that end, Story readily admits motherhood has impacted her songwriting on all levels. Thinking
specifically about her daughter, she says, “I’ve realized that these songs form people’s theology, and
they affect how this little girl is going to think about herself in the future. They might affect decisions that she makes in the future because of what she believes about God and what she believes about His
Word. I’ve changed as a songwriter with kids.”

Reflecting on the world her kids are growing up in, Story wrote the album’s sparse closer, “Grace
Abounds,” after weeks of turning on the television only to continue to watch stories of terror attacks,
extreme injustice and racial tension make headlines day after day. “It’s easy to lose heart, and the song is about just acknowledging the brokenness. First of all, we can’t just pretend like it doesn’t exist,” she advises. “When it seemingly doesn’t make sense, I’m choosing to believe that God’s grace is enough.

God’s grace is enough for any social injustice. God’s grace is enough for any loss that we go through.
God’s grace is enough for any loneliness that we experience, for any relational strain and for any
relational rejection.

“When it feels like hope can’t be found, when we don’t even know how we’re going to put one foot in front of the other,” she continues, “Scripture teaches us that’s when grace abounds.”

Story isn’t afraid to write about grace at work in the middle of unexpected, unexplainable situations. She can only write from experience and how she’s seen God redeem the darkest chapters of her own life.

“My greatest goal is always for my story to encourage listeners to believe that they, too, can live out
their faith in the midst of hard circumstances,” she says. “I truly believe that the songs we sing and thesongs we write act as the soundtrack for people’s faith. So I want to give people the most substantialtools that give them the clearest picture of who God is and who they are in Christ.”

The life of a songwriter is a sacred calling and one Story doesn’t take lightly whether she’s writing
songs for her church, for a new record or simply for herself as a cathartic release. “It’s not about my
songs or my story or even my artistry,” she asserts. “It really is about Him getting the glory for the work that I believe He has chosen to do through songwriters and through songs. It’s a unique work that He’s chosen to do there.”

She may lead others in worship through song on stages both big and small, but on a daily basis, Story
is intent on loosening her grip and choosing to live with open hands as an ultimate act of praise.

“Worship at the very core of what it is is ‘worth-ship.’ It’s the easiest definition I’ve ever heard of
worship. It’s giving God worth, and sometimes that means verbal adoration and praise. Sometimes
that’s showing Him worth with our calendars and our checking accounts. 

No matter what it is, it always begins with open hands. It always begins with a willingness to say, ‘You are worth whatever cost you call me to give,’” she maintains. “Worship in its very core begins with surrender. That’s how we really show God that He’s worth it all.”

Social Media





Video links:

Open Hands (Official Lyric Video) - YR1No

Open Hands (Song Devotional) -

You can purchase the CD using the link above. The CD is prime-eligible. Open hands is available in MP3, Audio CD, and through Music Unlimited. Open Hands is also on Google Play Music. 

Unchained Book Review (Litfuse)

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.

I read Unchained by Noel Jesse Heikkinen in exchange for honest review from Litfuse. The book is Christian-based. The book's subtitle if If Jesus has set us free, why don't we feel free?. Guilt. I am a Christian and I have felt guilt over many things, even years after I asked for forgiveness over and over again.

The author discussed how Christians walk around with heavy chains on, worrying about how many mistakes God is adding up. For me, one of my heavy chains is my sexual past. The author said "there is no joy in sin and I felt trapped." I have felt that way many times after having one sexual encounter after another. I was sexually free, but not truly free with God. Freedom should tell the world you are Christian was one of the most powerful lines in the book.

Another topic, which hit me hard was about prayer schedules and reading the bible. The author discussed how people have good intentions to read the bible and pray every day, but then things get in the way. The idea of reading and praying becomes more important than following Jesus. It is like when I took a bible course on purity years ago. Some days, I forgot to log in, so I tried to double up and triple up the next day. Completing the course became more important than trying to improve my spiritual life. When I did complete the course, I was more happy I finally finished though I barely learned anything.

The author said the problem with man-made rules is the rules place yokes, which require more than the bible commands. The man-made rules changes how we think God feels about us and when we fail, "we don't feel free."

I also liked the section on the law (biblical law, aka the old testament). The author discusses how people place different levels of importance on different laws. Is it a better sin if we steal some paper from work versus robbing a  bank? How important is keeping the Sabbath? When was the last time we truly kept the Sabbath?

The section on the law was my favorite section in the book.

The book has discussion questions at the end of each chapter. The book was an amazing read.

You can purchase the book using the link above. The book comes in Kindle and Hardcover format. The book is prime-eligible.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Jadiance Total Body Detox Soak Review (Tomoson)

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.

I received Jadiance Total Body Detox Soak, in exchange for honest review from Tomoson. Each 8oz bottle contains two uses. The soak helps reduce stress and anxiety,which I have a lot of. The soak also has a wonderful smell. The soak also comes in 16 oz and 128 oz sizes.

I received the 8 oz bottle and poured half in the tub. My tub fills up slowly so I have some time to do a quick clean of the bathroom and turn on the diffuser. You soak for 20-30 minutes.

Some of the other benefits of the soak includes:

  1. Helping with bowel movements
  2. Helps with gas and bloating
  3. Helps clean the liver

For me, I noticed some improvement on bowels and gas. I also was more relaxed before bed. Normally, I am a wreck before bed. I have to lay out kids clothes for school; hide house keys somewhere close by; pack backpacks for the kids; and do some cleaning before bed (so I can work in peace).

You can purchase the Soak, using the link above. The soak is prime-eligible.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Circo GPS Tracker and App Review (Tomoson)

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.

I received the Circo GPS Tracker in exchange for honest review. I wanted to review the tracker for multiple reasons: a) to track Kalen. I also can use it to track him coming home from school since his bus time varies. B) to track Brad because he is a runner. C) to track my keys because I keep hiding them from my kids and then forget where I put them up at.

The tracker was easy to use. The app uses a micro usb cord to charge the device. You will also need a sim with data and a phone number attached.  A regular micro sim card will not work. I tried to use a micro sim at first, but it would not connect to the app.

I am waiting for the company to send a data enabled, sim card in the mail, but here is what I have learned so far. The app requires a huge chunk of space on your phone at first. I had to remove two apps to install Circo. Google play has many apps named Circo. Look for the one owned by Athentek. The app requires you to sign up for an account, using your phone number and a password. You will also need to verify your account with a code sent via text message.

Then, you need to connect your Circo tracker to the app. The app provides instructions. A pin comes with the package to reset the tracker. Do not throw the pin away. The instructions was clear. Just follow along. If you have the wrong sd card, the tracker will not pair with your phone. You will need a data enabled sd card for the tracker to work.

You can purchase the tracker using the link above. The tracker is prime-eligible