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12.19.2012

Review: How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change a Person?

Have you ever thought about a friend wondering, "When will she ever learn?" How about yourself? Have you ever thought about how many times it takes for you to hear something before you apply it to your own life? Sometimes, we all need a lightbulb moment here and there.

I'd like to share a little about a book by Rhonda Rhea that I just finished reading. It's called How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change a Person? 

My Review

Scripture is full of references to light. But how often do we stop to think about what God means when he talks about light?  In How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change a Person?, author Rhonda Rhea shares lightbulb moments—those times when truth from scripture clicks with our reality and we "get it." Chock full of lighthearted stories alongside biblical wisdom, this book is the perfect combination for the soul seeking encouragement as well as enlightenment.

Rhea uses fun plays on words (such as the chapter title "Watt in the World?) that tie into the concept of light, making this a creative and fun book. Yet, it's a serious look at what the Bible says about light. God is called light, Jesus is called light, and we are called light too. So how can we live in the light? Rhea helps the reader plug into the power of God and live in such a way that we stand out from the darkness in the world around us.


If you are looking for a transformation in your life, this is the book for you. Perhaps it's the first time you're seeking God's light, or maybe you've been a Christian for a long time, but you're longing for a fresh awakening to God's light. The book takes a look at God's attributes and also our attitudes. I found myself both convicted and uplifted as I read through. 

As an author, Rhonda Rhea has personality. She has a way with stories and words that make the lesson come alive without it being dry an academic. I enjoyed the book and I recommend it to anyone needing a fresh perspective and spiritual encouragement. Her wit and humor had me engaged from page one.

Each chapter ends with what Rhea calls "A Little Extra Light for the Path," which is an excerpt from scripture. There is also a section at the back of the book for anyone using it for group discussion. The leader's guide gives suggestions for how to make it work with a group, and suggested weekly homework. The chapters are short, so it would work for a daily meditation if the reader also studied some of the scriptures mentioned in each chapter in more depth.

Also available in Kindle version.

About Rhonda


Rhonda Rhea (pronounced RAY) is a pastor’s wife and mother of five. She is a radio personality living in the St. Louis area. In addition to regular radio features, Rhonda also appears on radio and TV programs throughout the country, as well as enjoying many appearances on Focus on the Family’s “Weekend Magazine” radio program.
Rhonda is a humor columnist for publications in the US and Canada. She has written hundreds of columns and articles for great publications such as Today’s Christian Woman, Christian Parenting Today, Marriage Partnership, SBC LIFE, HomeLife, ParentLife and dozens more. She is the author of eight books:


Rhonda has a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Counseling and in addition to speaking at special events, teaches at various writers’ conferences across the country. She is affiliated with many great organizations, including Christian Humor Writers, and is the Conference Chairperson for the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and a board member of Right to the Heart ministries.

12.12.2012

Kindle Freebies That Are Almost Always Free

There are several books from Christian publishers that have been free for a very long time and will likely continue to be free for a while. For my newest blog readers who have new Kindles and are wanting to stock up on books, here are some to consider.

Invisible (Ivy Malone Mystery Series #1) by Lorena McCourtney (Revell-Aug 1, 2004)

Priced to Move (Shop-Til-U-Drop, Book 1) by Ginny Aiken (Revell-Oct 1, 2007)

Child of the Mist (These Highland Hills, Book 1) by Kathleen Morgan (Revell-Dec 31, 1992)


Fools Rush In (Weddings by Bella, Book 1) by Janice Thompson (Revell -Sep 1, 2009)


Jenna's Cowboy: A Novel (The Callahans of Texas) by Sharon Gillenwater (Kindle Edition -Jan 1, 2010)

Love Me If You Must (Patricia Amble Mystery Series #1) by Nicole Young (Revell -Apr 1, 2007)

 
To Love Anew (Sydney Cove Series #1) by Bonnie Leon (Revell/Bethany House -Aug 1, 2007)

Paper Roses (Texas Dreams, Book 1) (Texas Dreams Trilogy) by Amanda Cabot (Revell -Jan 1, 2009)

The 7-Day Doubt Diet by Renee Swope (Revell-Aug 1, 2011)

Design on a Crime (Deadly D├ęcor Mysteries, Book 1) by Ginny Aiken (Revell-Sep 1, 2005)

Daughter of Joy (Brides of Culdee Creek, Book 1) by Kathleen Morgan (Revell-Aug 1, 1999)

Stuck in the Middle (Sister-to-Sister, Book 1) by Virginia Smith (Revell-Feb 1, 2008)

Touching the Clouds: A Novel (Alaskan Skies) by Bonnie Leon (Revell-Jul 1, 2010) 


Talk of the Town (Welcome to Daily, Texas Book 1) by Lisa Wingate (Bethany House-Feb 1, 2008)


Widow of Larkspur Inn, The (The Gresham Chronicles Book #1) by Lawana Blackwell (Bethany House -Jun 1, 2007)

Light Of Eidon (Legends of the Guardian-King) by Karen Hancock (Bethany House -Jul 1, 2003)

When Calls the Heart (Canadian West Book #1) by Janette Oke (Bethany House -Feb 1, 2005)

Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood Book #1) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (Bethany House -Jul 1, 2010)

Relentless (Dominion Trilogy Book #1) by Robin Parrish (Bethany House -May 1, 2007)

Secrets (The Michelli Family Series Book #1) by Kristen Heitzmann (Bethany House -Sep 1, 2004)

Deadly Aim (Angel Delaney Mysteries Book #1) by Patricia H. Rushford (Bethany House -Feb 1, 2004)
Covenant, The (Abram's Daughters Book #1) by Beverly Lewis (Bethany House -Sep 1, 2002)

Gentleman of Her Dreams (A Ladies of Distinction novella) by Jen Turano (Bethany House -Sep 1, 2012)

A Hearth in Candlewood (The Candlewood Trilogy, Book 1) by Delia Parr (Bethany House -Aug 1, 2006)

A Halflings Rescue (A Halflings Novel) by Heather Burch (Bethany House -Jul 10, 2012)

Gods and Kings: Chronicles of the Kings #1 by Lynn Austin (Bethany House -Feb 1, 2005)


11.26.2012

Free Kindle Books - November 26

Free books for Kindle from Christian publishers:

A Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry and Gary Chapman (River North, 2011)
Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas by John Blase (David C. Cook, 2012)



Books are free for only a few days, so check the price at checkout to be sure it's still free.

11.16.2012

11.15.2012

Free Kindle Books - November 15

The following Kindle books are free from Christian publishers today. Books that are free return to regular price after a few days. Please check the price before committing to "purchase" to avoid unexpected charges.

Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts with Bonus Content by Jerry Bridges (
The Dog that Talked to God by Jim Kraus (March 2012, Abingdon Press)
Seal of God by Chad Williams, Greg Laurie, and David Thomas (2012, Tyndale House)

Young Adult Fiction
Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood, Book 1) byAnne Elisabeth Stengl (Bethany House)
Castaway Kid (Focus on the Family Books) by R. B. Mitchell (Tyndale House)

 

Ones I have mentioned when they were temporarily free in the past:
Charlotte Fig Takes Over Paradise by Joyce Magnin (Abingdon Press)
The Pastor's Wife by Jennifer AlLee (Abingdon Press)
Goodness Gracious Green by Judy Christie (Abingdon Press)
Saving Hope by Margaret Daley (Abingdon Press)
Widow of Larkspur Inn by Lawana Blackwell (2007, Bethany House)

Why I'm Boycotting Black Friday This Year

I'm so disappointed with the Black Friday promotion from stores that plan to have Black Friday begin on Thursday. I saw several commentaries that referred to it as Grey Thursday. Aptly named, because it's evidence of where our values have gone. We've greyed out gratitude and replaced it with greed. Cold, clutching greed as grey and chilling as a December sky that reaches down with sleet-filled arms and makes us want to stay inside and close the doors. 

Photo Copyright Michelle Rayburn
That's exactly what I'm going to do this Black Friday. I'm going to stay inside and close the doors against this greed played out in marketing that encroaches on the good within our generous souls. I'm closing my wallet and keeping it warm within my pocketbook...no cold plastic from my wallet will benefit any retailer who chooses to promote the Grey Thursday greed.

Thanksgiving has been a day for family. A day when we can share a meal, watch football, play games, take a walk, or sit by the fire and reminisce. I pledge to keep it that way.

Perhaps it's easy to replace "Turkey Day" with "Gimme-Grab Day," but I cannot rationalize it when I look at the real meaning of Thanksgiving Day.

Many other bloggers are boycotting Black Friday this year. Will you join in the quest to preserve the sacredness of a holiday that represents heartfelt gratitude for what we have? Consider how marketing has crowded into our attitudes to the point where we will push and reach to grab a trinket before someone else gets to it. Will you stop the insanity and join my boycott?


11.14.2012

Why Don't You Lighten Up a Little?

November 14 is Lighten Up Day. What could be better than a guest post from humorist Rhonda Rhea to help us lighten up? The following is used with permission from the author, so please do not re-post it without permission. I can't wait to review the book and tell you more about it.

Living in the Light/Dwelling in His Presence
by Rhonda Rhea
excerpt from Chapter 14 of:
 
 I admit it, I’m a cruise fan. I love everything about it. Especially the food. A cruise and overeating go together like a hand in glove. Well more accurately, they go together like a size ten hand in a size two glove. All the gourmet food you can eat, for crying out loud! I guess I was just asking for a trip back to maternity pants. I now refer to myself as “17 years post-partum.” The staff on the ship said the average person gains seven to ten pounds on a seven-day cruise. But then, I’ve always considered myself an overachiever.
 
On prime rib night, my husband and I were walking out of the dining room and, even though he was about to let his belt out a notch, Richie said he was thinking of ordering yet another prime rib. Another one! I figured that could cost him at least another two belt notches. I told him I thought that would be a mistake.
 
Get it? Prime rib? “Mis-steak”?
 
Anytime we’re going to overdo, though, it’s good to make sure we’re “overdoing” in all the right areas. First Thessalonians 4:1 talks about living right to please God and then it says, “Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.” To do and to overdo. It’s an encouragement to keep growing. Not so much growing in the “bring on the elastic waistbands” kind of growth. But growing in maturity.
 
We grow as we seek to stay in the light, dwelling in the presence of the Lord, making sure our lives are for Him and all about Him. Our growth is not an option. It’s a command. Verse 7 in that same passage in 1 Thessalonians says, “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.”
 
Rejecting His instruction? Rejecting the Father Himself? Mistake of the highest order.
 
Growing in Him and dwelling in His presence results in a life in which growing “a notch or two” spiritually is a regular happening. The good kind of growth. And seeking that consistency in growth diligently.
 
There’s a lot at stake. Sometimes also a lot at steak.
 

 
Rhonda Rhea is a radio personality, humor columnist, conference/event speaker and author of eight books, including I’m Dreaming of Some White Chocolate, High Heels in High Places, and her newest, How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person? She is presently working on her ninth nonfiction book, scheduled to release in early 2013, and just this week got a yes from a publishing board on a two-book fiction deal co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Faith Rhea. Rhonda is a pastor’s wife and mother of five mostly grown children. She chuckles through the hubbub with pastor/hubby, Richie Rhea, near St. Louis in Troy, Missouri.
Website: rhondarhea.com
 

About Rhonda's Latest Book:
 
Book Cover PhotoHow Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person?—Bright Ideas for Delightful Transformation (New Hope Publishers, 2012). Author and speaker, Patsy Clairmont, calls the book “high voltage humor along with a biblical charge.”
 
In Ephesians 1:18, Paul prays, “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” One version calls it “light” that will “flood your hearts.” God shines so much of His light through Scripture so that we can see—we can have understanding.
 
For every person longing for a change, for everyone who is getting weary in a grisly struggle to make a particular change, God-given enlightenment makes possible real change in every way. Lasting change.
 
The God who is powerful enough to create light, then create the sun—the God who keeps the sun blazing and the stars and moon reflecting—that same God is powerful enough, caring enough, and detail-minded enough to light our way. He wants to show us the path of change, and He longs to light the way for us in His magnificent plan for our lives.
 
How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person is a laugh-along-the-way journey into that light through God’s Word. His Word? Now there’s some enlightening! And I hear enlightening has even been known to strike twice in the same place.

11.10.2012

Spark: A Book Reivew


Have you ever participated in a 12-week group with the intent to change in some way? Perhaps it was a Bible study, or a new program. Have you ever noticed how few people really change by the end of such a program? The intent is there, but the change never happens.


In his book titled Spark, Jason Jaggard proposes that the reason the standard way we learn things leaves us unchanged is because we are not challenged to step out of our comfort zone and take risks. He says a spark is a choice, a small risk. Jaggard created what he calls "spark groups" that are risk-oriented rather than focused on information and teaching. Participants build a sense of community that creates accountability. Spark groups are made up of 10-15 people who meet once a week for five weeks. During their time together, each person chooses one risk that improves their life, or improves the world.It isn't program based, or heavy on how-to content. Instead, it's oriented around the group spurring and motivating one another.

Jaggard says, some people ask, "Why so light on content?" He answers, "you are the content." The content isn't in study resources but in the people who participate. It's their dreams, fears, problems, hopes, risks, lives (p. 68). On one hand it seems oversimplified, but on the other, it makes sense. The risk is an action. It's asking the participant to do something rather than think about doing something.

This book explains how to use the spark concept to motivate transformation. The book is a tool. Jaggard also has a website where individuals can register a Spark Group, and find resources and coaching.

Overall, the book is thought-inspiring. At times, it was a little repetitive, and I lost my momentum halfway through. However, the concept of a risk sparking change makes sense. I have an advance reader copy of the book, so it's difficult to tell if it looks like the final product, but the layout is different from standard. Instead of indented paragraphs, it's formatted in business style, left justified with spaces between paragraphs. It's a little different, but maybe trendy?

Although this is a book from Waterbrook Press, a Christian publisher, readers shouldn't expect this to be a deeply spiritual book. It contains illustrations from Scripture, and references to Bible passages, but it also contains expressions such as "hot dang" and I know some readers would be put off by something a little to "hip" for the conservative Christian crowd.

This book will give group leaders something to consider when leading a Bible study, starting an accountability group, or motivating a team. Those who add in the action step of taking a risk might be among the few who actually see change happen.

I received an advance reader copy of this book for review purposes from Waterbrook Press and the Blogging for Books program.

10.01.2012

Book Review - 'The Choice' by Robert Whitlow

A teen in the 1970s, Sandy finds herself pregnant and unsure what to do. Her choice leads to a lifetime of wondering about the circumstances surrounding her decision. 30 years later, an encounter with one of her high school students, who is pregnant and alone, brings Sandy full circle. The Choice by Robert Whitlow takes the reader through Sandy's journey. I won't get into any more detail, only because I really don't want to bias a reader or give away the story. I'll focus the rest of this review on the writing and execution of the plot.

What I liked:
I liked that the author, Robert Whitlow, chose to tackle a tough subject. The concept of pro-choice and pro-life is a hot button issue and it's a brave author that goes there. I also greatly appreciate that the author is a lawyer. I've read many of his book and enjoyed the legal aspect knowing that he's an expert. The story had me engaged and staying up at night to finish so I could see how it ended. It won't be a spoiler for me to say that the character Sandy didn't marry or have children after her decision as a teen and I liked that this added an element to the story. Young people don't always think about how their decisions as teens could alter the course of life. I liked that there was some mystery, danger, and adventure incorporated into the book. That kept me very engaged and I think that's one of Whitlow's strong points when it comes to plot. Speculative fiction fans will enjoy a supernatural element in several incidents with an old woman, who leads the reader to have to decide if she's real or imagined.

What I didn't like:
I had more trouble getting into the dialogue on this one than I ever have had in Whitlow's other books. I think it's because he tackled a female's story and then tried to "talk" like a woman. I felt the dialogue was much more stilted and the description flat compared to his other writing that I loved. There was also one sort of coincidental thing that really affected the plot of the book. I know, God does big things. But once in a while a plot goes a little too far with those incidents and it's almost not believable. One over the top coincidence is believable. Two, maybe. But several more than that with details that have to fall into place? Well, you'll have a difficult time reaching the reader who is a skeptic.

Conclusions

All in all, I liked the book. However, I didn't find it outstanding like I did Whitlow's other books. I felt like the characters fell into stereotypes and that made some things predictable. I think that left the story a little lacking in dimension too. The author isn't subtle about the pro-choice pro-life issue and some readers may see the book as having an agenda. Others will love it. At least it makes people think more than the average fiction book. There is a short section of group discussion questions at the end that gives readers a chance to think about the content.

I received a free Kindle copy of this book for review purposes from the Thomas Nelson Book Sneeze review program. I was not compensated for my objective review.

9.27.2012

Free Kindle Books - September 27

Free Kindle books (free at the time of posting, but not free for long):

Not a Fan: Teen Edition: What does it really mean to follow Jesus? by Kyle Idleman (Zondervan, 2012)

The Covenant (Abram's Daughters #1) by Beverly Lewis (Bethany House, 2002)
NIV Once-A-Day 31 Days of Wisdom (Zondervan)
Legacy Road by Graham Garrison (Kregel, 2012)
Touching the Clouds: A Novel (Alaskan Skies Series) by Bonnie Leon (Revell, 2010) 
The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg (Zondervan, 2009)
Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson ( Zondervan, 2012)


Back again at the free price temporarily: 
Diagnosis Death by Richard Mabry (Abingdon, 2011)
The Narrow Path by Gail Sattler (Abingdon, 2009)


9.15.2012

Free Kindle Books - September 15


Free Kindle Books (Free at the time of posting):
Gentleman of Her Dreams by Jen Turano (Bethany House, Sept. 2012)
While the World Watched by Carolyn Maull McKinstry and Denise George (Tyndale House, 2011) 
  

Free Once Again
Stars Collide: A Novel by Janice Thompson (Revell)
Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry (Tyndale House, 2010)

9.09.2012

Free Kindle Books - September 9

Free Kindle books from Christian publishers (Free at the time of posting):

A Heartbeat Away by Harry Kraus (David C. Cook, 2012)
From a Distance by Tamara Alexander (Bethany House, 2008)
Widow of Larkspur Inn by Lawana Blackwell (Bethany House, 2007)
Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (Bethany House, 2012)

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