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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy, a Journey of Redemption

Claire Diaz-Oriz is an author, speaker, and technology innovator who has been named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company.  Claire was an early employee at Twitter, where she still works.
She is the author of several books, including Twitter for Good:  Change the World One Tweet at a Time.  She is a frequent international speaker and writes a popular business blog at
Claire holds an MBA from Oxford University and a BA and an MA from Stanford University.  She is the cofounder of Hope Runs, a nonprofit organization operating in AIDS orphanages in Kenya.  She has appeared widely in major television and print news sources such as CNN, BBC, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Wired and many others.
You can find her on Twitter @claire.
Samuel Ikua Gachagua was born in rural Kenya in 1992.  After losing his parents at a young age, he struggled to survive until he was placed in an orphanage in Nyeri, Kenya.  In 209, he reeived a full-ride scholarship to Maine Central Institute, granting him a rare US visa and the chance to begin his sophomore year of high school under the guardianship of Claire Diaz-Ortiz.
After graduating from high school, he spent a year serving in Ecuador as a fellow for Global Citizen Year.  He is an up and coming motivational speaker and can be found on Twitter @sammyikua.

Hope Runs is the emotional story of one American tourist, one Kenyan orphan, and how one day became one year that would change the course of both of their lives forever.  It's about opening your heart to outrageous possibilities.  It's about what it means to hope for the things you cannot see.

It's about how God can change your life in the blink of an eye.

My Thoughts:
Hope Runs is a book not about a chance encounter, but a book about the beauty of God's sovereignty over two lives and the impact those lives now have on our world; an impact only possible because of God's transformation in both Claire and Sammy's life. This story will have you laughing out loud one moment, shedding tears the next and in between simply smiling in amazement at the sweet providence over every detail of a life that would have been otherwise discarded.
Claire's approach to her work is beautifully stated early in the book:
"The way to enact true social change in the world is to acknowledge that the biggest impact at work is often not in the conversational English skills or hygiene needs of the local populations but rather in the volunteer's own transformation.  If it was really all about the locals, after all, many times we'd be much better off sending our money to organizations that employ locals on the ground to do the English teaching and the health work.  However, by having one cross-cultural experience, then another and another, these volunteers - if given the right tools to recognize the importance of what they themselves are actually learning - have a good chance of one day doing something that can hopefully make things a little better.  The volunteer's value to the local is not in that single three-month stint building a church or two but in the possibility that those three months can transform the volunteer into someone who gives for life."  (pg. 29)
The story is told from both Claire's and Sammy's points of view; the sincerity with which they both tell their stories will change you.  Read Hope Runs and be changed for life.

Order this week and you'll get $150 in freebies *and* be entered to win over $1,000 in prizes! See details here.
  • A 50% discount to my upcoming course, Blog to Business.
  • A 50% off discount to my course, Share to Sell.
  • A bunch of free ebooks by me and others (see the full list below).
FREE ebooks
  • The Present Principle: Seven Steps to Life in the Now
  • Lead by Morning: 365 Days of the Present Principle
  • How to Be Social: A Social Media Manifesto
  • How to Be a Morning Person
  • Simple Email Success: A Short Happy Guide to Email Mastery
  • How to Fundraise on Social Media
  • How to Set Up a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog: A Guide to Starting Your Own Blog in 9 Minutes or Less
  • How to Travel the World for Less than it Costs to Stay Home: Taking Your Life on the Road at a Price You Can Afford
  • How to Work Smarter, Not Harder: On Getting Out of the Grind and Getting More Done
  • Make Better Decisions: How to Think Less and Decide More
By purchasing you'll be entering to win one of the following prizes:
  • Four $100 Amazon gift cards
  • Ten $10 Starbucks gift cards
  • 1 $100 donation in your name to Hope Runs
  • Four free passes to the Twitter for Good online class
How can you get your bonuses and freebies?
  1. Order Hope Runs at one of your favorite retailers. (See a full list of retailers here.)
  2. Send the receipt to hoperunsbookreceipt (at) and we'll respond with the information of how to get access to your bonuses. We'll also email you if you've won a prize on Tuesday, April 21.

*I was given a complimentary copy of the book and asked to post an honest review.


Monday, April 14, 2014

The Queen's Handmaid/Kindle HDX Giveaway

About the Author: Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at age eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored many novels, includingGarden of Madness and So Shines the Night. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. 

See Tracy's travel journals and more at:

About the book: From the servant halls of Cleopatra's Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled.
Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC
Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra's palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm's length. She's been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.
But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she's had to a family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.
Trapped among the scheming women of Herod's political family---his sister, his wife, and their mothers---and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.

My Thoughts:
In The Queen's Handmaid, Higley masterfully blends rich history, faith and fiction.  Her descriptive detail places you right in the middle of the story as if you were an observer there in person.  And while the descriptive detail slowed the story down a bit in places, I appreciated being able to have the picture Higley painted with her words in my mind as I read Lydia's story.
This book is as much a history book as it is a novel.  I loved how Lydia "told" the story, but you also get to hear snippets of what the other characters are thinking and feeling throughout the story.  Through Lydia's journey, Higley does an exceptional job of showing readers a genuine struggle with feelings of unworthiness and loneliness and how the One True God - Yahweh fills all the empty spots in our hearts and meets all our longings with Himself.
You will not be disappointed with the time it takes you to read this book.  And with the way Higley strategically places little twists and turns within the fictional portion of the story, it won't take you very long at all to finish!

Win a Kindle HDX!
The Queen's Handmaid

Thank you LitFuse Publicity for sending the complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.

Happy  Reading,

Monday, April 7, 2014

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full

Gloria Furman  is a wife, mother of four young children, doula, and blogger.  In 2008 her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor.  She is the author of Glimpses of Grace:  Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home and blogs regularly at the Gospel Coalition, Desiring God and

Motherhood is tough and often it feels like the to-do list just keeps getting longer and longer every day no matter how hard we work to get ahead.  From grocery shopping to soccer practice, running a household is exhausting, making it hard for us to experience true joy in the midst of the craziness of life.
In this encouraging book for frazzled moms, Gloria Furman, a pastor's wife and mother of four, encourages us to refocus and reorient our vision of motherhood around what the Bible teaches.  Showing us how to pursue a vibrant and ever-growing relationship with Christ - even when discouragement sets in and the dirty laundry is still waiting ot be washed - this book will help you treasure Christ more deeply no matter how busy you are.

My Thoughts:
Gloria Furman has packed a lot into this short 153 page book!  Gloria's focus in Treasuring Christ is to help mothers understand the important truth that as mothers we can appreciate a greater reality - that we can find our rest in the work that Jesus has done on the cross on our behalf.  Furman spends the book helping mothers realize that our hands are full - full with every spiritual blessing in Christ...that "a mother who has been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Christ has an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading kept in heaven for her" (introduction, pg. 17).
Gloria fleshes out how the good news (the gospel) is for every day living through showing us that God made motherhood for Himself and helping us see motherhood as worship.  And she starts off the book with the exhortation to "stamp eternity on my eyeballs".
"When your eyes are fixed on the horizon of eternity, it affects your vision for motherhood.  We need to have eyes to see a view of God that is so big and so glorious that it transforms our perspective of motherhood.  In the context of eternity, where Christ is doing His work of reigning over the cosmos, we need to see our mundane moments for what they really are - worship.  In the daily and nightly work of mothering, we're given dozens of invitations to worship God as He reminds us of the hope we have because of His gospel.  My prayer is that you would see that the gospel is good news for mothers, not just our 'born again birthday' but every single day."
Gloria Furman shares the bold truths of Scripture and rich theology housed in the gentleness and love of a close friend.  You will be blessed by this little book that packs a powerful punch of encouragement and biblical exhortation available now at Crossway.  You can go HERE to view the product page and to place your order! There is a study guide accompanying the book making it a perfect resource to use with a group like MOPS or small group of mothers with young children (or older) at your church.  Get your copy today; you will not be disappointed.

Thank you Gloria and Crossway for gifting me the Advanced Reader Copy of the book for the purpose of this review!


Friday, April 4, 2014

Know Orphans: Mobalizing the Church for Global Orphanology

About the Author: Rick Morton is the father of three transnational adopted children and coauthor of the popular bookOrphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care. His dedication to the plight of orphans extends beyond his own family. The Mortons were cofounders of Promise 139, an international orphan-hosting ministry based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. An inspiring speaker for the gospel to be expressed by the church living out God's heart for the fatherless, Rick presents at adoption and orphan-care conferences and pastor's conferences. Rick and his family live in the Greater Memphis area.

Learn more about Rick at:

About the book: The global orphan crisis is complex. The church's response should be comprehensive, but is it? In this provocative follow-up to Orphanology, author Rick Morton provides the framework for families and churches to have a gospel-centered response to the growing global issue of orphan care.
Know Orphans addresses three distinct areas associated with global orphanology. Delving deeper into the criticisms of the movement, the need for reform, and what families can expect, author Rick Morton helps shape realistic perceptions of the challenges and rewards adoptive parents face in transnational adoptions. Through illuminating the work internationally adoptive families can expect, Know Orphans offers solutions for the church in remedying the ills and deficiencies surrounding the church's role in equipping and supporting families before, during, and after the adoption process. Knowing that the church's response and attitude should be one that goes beyond adoption, Know Orphans also addresses the complexities of how Christians are to respond ethically, compassionately, and comprehensively to the biblical call to care for orphans.
Know Orphans is the next step in conversation as this evangelically based movement of orphan care matures and begins to live out James 1:27 globally.

You can go HERE to see what others are saying about the book.

My Thoughts:
Morton's book Know Orphans is a follow-up of sorts to his previous book Orphanology:  Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care.  Morton says in his introduction:
"A lot of this book is about knowing orphans, not because they are unknowable but because they are unknown.  They are voiceless.  They are out of sight and out of mind.  At worst, orphans are treated a a social blight or, at best, they are ignored by the mainstream of society.  Yet God says He is their defender, and He is awakening His church to join Him in that work.  In caring for orphans, He is teaching us something about Himself as a redeemer, His gospel as restoring grace, and His Son as the coming and re-creating King."
Morton goes on in his book to answer the question:  How does orphan care and the gospel fit together?  He spends the course of the book fleshing out the answer through sharing his family's story coupled with wise counsel from God's Word along with practical "how-to" information.  Morton very convincingly shows the reader how the church can be mobalized to engage orphans worldwide to the honor and glory of God.

Morton's heart shines brightly in his writing, not only for orphans, but also for the church to be the hands and feet of Jesus to some of the "least of these".  Read and be changed and challenged.

Thank you Litfuse Publicity for sending a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fulfilled: The NIV Devotional Bible for the Single Woman

Being single in America no longer is atypical.  The latest U.S. census reveals more single/divorced/widowed women than married ones.

Fulfilled provides what no other devotional Bible product can deliver:
1)  The full text of the 2011 NIV Bible
2)  Over 100 devotions written by single women specifically for single
3)  Profiles of 19 single women in the Bible
4)  A topical index of subjects important to single women
5)  200 highlighted scriptures that have special meaning to single women
6)  Poignant quotations applicable to single women

Especially in Christian circles, singleness often seems an anomaly. Myths, misunderstandings and faulty theology can contribute to making the single woman feel like a misfit.  This Bible will speak to the heart of single women and help them see their singleness from God's perspective.

The extras (devotionals, profiles and quotes) in Fulfilled are easy to locate.  The Bible is attractive and utilizes a calming blue-green color scheme.  Especially helpful are the highlighted passages within the text of the Bible; this highlighting makes certain applicable portions of God's word easy to locate.  The indexes in the back are especially great resources as well.  You will find a topical index as well as one for the devotionals utilized throughout the devotional Bible.  These make it easy for the user to find a particular subject matter addressed with little effort.

I particularly appreciated how the devotionals were not strictly constructed to make the reader feel better about themselves, but that they were gospel-centered in that they help the reader to focus on who they are in Christ and how that is what makes all the difference in how they can see and deal with their particular situations.

Each devotional also provides a prayer prompt directing the reader's heart to the source of all true comfort.

Thank you B&B Media for sending the complimentary copy of this Bible for the purpose of this review.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Maybelle In Stitches

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Maybelle In Stitches
Abingdon Press (March 18, 2014)
Joyce Magnin


A word from the Author:

I am the author of seven novels. Five adult novels and two middle grade readers. I never wanted to do anything else but write and every day I wake up astonished that I get to do what I always dreamed about. My days are filled with words and images along with the usual family stuff. I have three children, Rebekah who is married to Joshua. They have three of the most adorable boys on the planet, Lemuel, Cedar and Soren. My daughter Emily Kate is a lovely young woman anthropologist and my son Adam is fourteen and a student--he's a genius who loves frogs and lizards and fish and plants. He amazes me.

I have never eaten a scallop. I love cream soda. Drink way too much coffee. I do not like elevators but I do enjoy needle arts and of course books. I prefer jazz over country (no offense), milk chocolate over dark, but not roller coasters although my life has often resembled a roller coaster ride.

One of my life's desires is to meet Amy Grant so I can tell her she saved my life.


Maybelle can’t sew. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house, she gets the crazy idea to complete it. At first, it’s just a way to fill the lonely nights while her husband, staff sergeant Holden Kanzinzki, is away fighting in World War II.

Yet when Maybelle discovers that the quilt is made from scraps of material that can be traced back through her family heritage, the project is suddenly much more important. Then word comes that Holden is missing in action, and with little else to do, Maybelle clings to the quilt as much as to the hope that her husband is still alive. As neighborhood friends gather around Maybelle to help her through the unknown days and nights ahead, it is the quilt that becomes a symbol of her unflagging belief that Holden will return—to her, to their home, and to their quilt-covered bed.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Maybelle In Stitches, go HERE.

My Thoughts:
The Quilts of Love keeps getting better and better with each installment.  I've loved these stories that surround the quilts.  Maybelle's story did not disappoint!  Magnin has included a bit of everything in the book...a tender love story, a clear picture of the strength that if found in community and a bit of mystery/suspense.  If you've been keeping up with this series, don't miss this one!

Happy Reading,

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Road We Must Travel

"You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest."
Psalm 139:3  TLB

Navigating Uncharted Territory?

Do you ever wish your life had a map that included a highlighted route showing you the way to go?  Do you wish you could ask a mentor for advice about how to maneuver around roadblocks?

From the introduction:
"We can ask all the specifics we like, but it really won't help.  No one knows the precise route each of us will take to the other side.  There may be a clear destination - and thank God for that - but there is no blue highlight marking the course from here to there...We can, however, do this much:  We can make sure we are prepared for the journey, no matter what the route might be.  This book is all about that.  It's not a road atlas, it's more like a travelogue, with strong ideas and helps for navigating life."

The contributors in the book are:

  • Gordon MacDonald
  • Bill Hybels
  • Mark Buchanan
  • Nathan Conrad
  • Francis Chan
  • Eugene Peterson
  • Steve May
  • Tullian Tchividjian
  • Ruth Haley Barton
  • Skye Jehtani
  • Donald Sunukjian
  • Mark Labberton
Some of the topics covered:

  1. The Need for Honest Self-Assessment:  Each Week, Debrief With Yourself and God
  2. Avoiding Cultural Contamination:  The Necessity of Purity In A Contaminated World
  3. Reading the Bible Spiritually:  Ancient Practices Help Us Listen To The Bible, Not Just Study It
  4. Bad Situations Are Great Opportunities:  Your Worst Nightmare May Cause Someone Else's Sun To Rise
  5. The Crucial Need for Regular Rest:  One Of God's Underused Gifts Is Time To Be Sharpened
  6. Yield the Right-of-Way:  Seeing The World As Jesus Sees It
  7. See With The Eyes of a Doctor:  Why You Should Move Into Your Neighbor's World
The book is organized into five parts:

  • Roadworthy - thinking through core issues that will get you ready for the journey ahead
  • Necessary Repairs - pointing ourselves toward truth that will alert us to danger and equip us for the long haul
  • Washouts and Detours - dealing with unexpected troubles and unlooked-for hardships that delay our plans or send us off on a bumpy detour through an unfamiliar landscape
  • Traveling Light - slowing down and lightening up
  • Peripheral Vision - balancing life's most pressing demands with an eye for those along our path who might need a word, a touch, a helping hand, or even just a genuine, from-the-heart smile
Published by Worthy Publishing, The Road We Must Travel is a timely and much needed gospel-centered guide.  My copy of the book has found a permanent place along with my copy of God's word, devotional resources and journal.  And I have a feeling that as time goes on it will look quite weathered and tattered because it will be worth re-visiting over and over again through the coming years.

The conversational tone of each contributor truly gives this book the feel of an encouraging gospel infused talk with a friend along the way of life's journey.  This will be one I visit often and I think you would be blessed to get yourself a copy!

*I received a complimentary copy of the book from Leeanna Case for the purpose of this review in conjunction with the First Look Blog Tour.

Blessings fellow traveler,