Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cover Girl BLASTFLIPSTICK Review & Giveaway

UPDATE: Congratulations to Elizabeth T. for winning this giveaway!! You'll be receiving an email from me today!
Thanks to all of you who entered. Check back for the other stick to be up for grabs on Friday!

I received a box of new lip shades from BzzAgent this week. Covergirl has a new product out called blastflapstick. It's two lipsticks in one, a double-ended stick. One one side is a creamy shade, and on the other is a glittery shade. I received three tubes: stunner, minx, and vixen. Two of the tubes I knew right off the bat wouldn't look too great on me, so I chose one to review and decided to give the other two away!

I tried out the "vixen" shades. It was a wee bit too bright yet for my coloring (I'm fair skinned with freckles, so I generally tend to gravitate toward lighter, less bold colors for my lips), but I knew I had to choose one to review. :) Knowing that I could blend these shades without one of them totally "eating up" the other color, I gave it a whirl. I LOVE that you can mix these shades and actually see how they blend. The color was very long-lasting, which thrilled me!

These lip shades are matte in texture. They won't leave a glossy shine, but instead have a shimmery look or what I'd call slightly frosty. I'm not a frosty fan myself, and this lipstick wasn't over the top with that. It also has a pleasant scent to it (not overly waxy smelling) and isn't unpleasant to taste.

Now let's cover the giveaway portion of this blog post!! I'm giving away ONE stick of COVERGIRL blastflipstick and some coupons for you and your friends for $2 off one COVERGIRL Blast Flipstick Lipcolor.
The color is called stunner (#840). You can see it on this link and by looking at the image on the left. If you like a red lipstick, you will love this one!

Scroll down to enter to win this. You can enter once a day. Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
This is a BzzAgent campaign. I received this product for free in exchange for my honest opinion. My opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


UPDATE!! Congratulations to Joy H. in winning the giveaway!! You'll be receiving an email from me shortly about getting your copy of The Blessed Church. Congratulations!!

I'm giving away a free, hardcover copy of The Blessed Church by Robert Morris. If you're interested in winning a copy of this book, you can enter below on a daily basis. This giveaway will end on 11/27, so enter quickly!

Whether you are a pastor, a volunteer, or a church member, you want your church to grow well. After all, there’s no better place to experience God than in the loving, healthy community of a church. But what does an effective church look like? Is it possible to grow and be healthy at the same time? 

Pastor Robert Morris has experienced firsthand the spiritual and relational excitement of a growing, dynamic church. In The Blessed Church, Pastor Morris brings you practical wisdom for cultivating real growth by nurturing true and Biblical health in your spiritual community. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Blessed Church - a Waterbrook Multnomah Review

Everyone is curious to know the secrets for church growth. All churches go through valleys and peaks, and Robert Morris' book The Blessed Church: The Simple Secret to Growing the Church You Love gives some tips for church growth--not just in the numbers sense but in the wisdom, knowledge, and experience sense.

As I read the book, I felt like it could greatly benefit those who are newly called to preach and for those who are newly pastoring. It also would be beneficial for pastors who have found themselves in a funk or who are discouraged by a stagnated fellowship or a drop in membership and/or attendance.

At first I felt a little skepticism, because Morris' own church is a large church. We're talking thousands of attendees and members, multiple church services, and church BRANCHES. Yes, I said BRANCHES. That, to me, is remarkable. In a day where we find that some large churches tote the prosperity gospel line, I found myself starting out this book a little biased and definitely looking for signs that this church might be one of them. I'm ashamed to say that, but I also believe that we also have to be cautious in what we read.

Upon further reading of this book, I found several nuggets of great advice and truth. I'm a big staunch supporter of those in leadership positions being leaders. Notice I said leaders--not kowtowing slaves or hard-nosed dictators. There's a middle ground there that is hard to stand on, yet a pastor (or Sunday school teacher, or prayer warrior, or choir leader, etc.) should try to maintain that. Anyone in church leadership should be willing to listen, to delegate authority when needed, and jump in there when work needs to be done.

Some things that I wrote down that I found relevant to me and to those I know were these:

  • What frustrates you is probably what God has ordained your ministry to be. Aha!! Brilliant! I definitely could see that possibility. (this from Chapter 6)
  • Write a vision for your church so that the body knows what the goals of the church are. (chapter 10) I think a lot of times, we just are focused on having church: worshiping, listening to the preaching, going to Bible study, that we fail to think about a vision of where we're hoping to head in the future.
  • Pastors need to delegate. Exodus 18:13-23 was shared, in which Jethro gave Moses advice on delegating authority to other men so that Moses was not spending from daylight till dark in hearing the needs of the people. "Otherwise, you and your associates will all fall prey to burnout, which, in turn, eventually leads to what I call the prayer of the burned-out pastor." WOW!! How many times have you seen the same people doing everything? Often, this is a situation where there's not enough delegation happening. (Though sometimes it's as a result of there not being enough willing to do the work!) Too often there's an individual who doesn't trust someone (or "someones") to help do the job because they think it won't get done properly. This, like Morris iterated, causes burnout and oftentimes bitterness on the part of the person doing it all, and sometimes on those who would like to help but who are turned down.
I really enjoyed this book, and I found a lot of good suggestions for growing the church. I think that God doesn't necessarily want every church to be a thousand-plus church membership, but He wants us to remain busy and excited and goal-oriented.

I received The Blessed Church as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers. My comments and opinions are my own.

Israel at War - a Tyndale review

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a history fan. I also have, in the last few years, developed an interest in world events centered around the Middle East and how it relates to Biblical history. So when I had the opportunity to read and review Joel C. Rosenberg's Israel at War: Inside the Nuclear Showdown with Iran, I snagged the opportunity. This book was a play-by-play account of what is now happening.

Benjamin Netanyahu the current Prime Minister of Israel as reported in Joel's book, has increasingly felt the burden to protect his people from threats from those who see Israel as a threat. Joel has had opportunity to work with and interview Netanyahu, and he reports the state of the issue with Israel and its future. Joel also reminds his readers of previous history and how that history affects the current day and the future.

I really enjoyed reading this account. I also appreciated Joel's reflection on a portion of the Netanyahu family that I did not know--the fact that they have personal Bible studies on the Sabbath.

About Joel

Joel C. Rosenberg is the New York Times best-selling author of six novels – The Last Jihad, The Last Days, The Ezekiel Option, The Copper Scroll, Dead Heat, The Twelfth Imam, The Tehran Initiative – and three non-fiction books, Epicenter ,Inside the Revolution, and Implosion with more than two million total copies in print. The Ezekiel Option was named by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association as the Gold Medallion winner of the "Best Novel of 2006." Joel is the producer of two documentary films based on his non-fiction books. He is also the founder of The Joshua Fund, a non-profit educational and charitable organization to mobilize Christians to "bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus" with food, clothing, medical supplies and other humanitarian relief.
I am a member of Tyndale Blog Network, a fabulous website that sends free books to read and keep if you write a review for your blog and for a major retailer (such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble). Tyndale Blog Network is through Tyndale House Publishers.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

When to Speak Up & When to Shut Up - a Baker Publishing Group Review

How often have we had something to say and realllllly wanted to say it but worried that it might not be the right thing to say? In When To Speak Up and When to Shut Up, author Dr. Michael D. Sedler addresses this type of problem and others.

The Bible says in Proverbs 21:23, "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles." It's easy to say that until we get into a situation at work, among difficult family members, when someone cuts you off in traffic. It's easy to spout something off when we're in that emotional moment. 

More appropriate verses from the Bible (just a few of my favorites):
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 34:13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
Titus 3:2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. 
Matthew 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
James 1:19-20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

In his book, Dr. Sedler covers the cost and purpose of silence, asking good questions (because we can all do this in a bad way at times), dealing with anger and resentment, and taking a stand when it's appropriate. He weaves in Bible examples and personal examples of situations to illustrate his points.

I found this book helpful in many ways. For myself, I have a problem with wanting to rise to defense when my silence would be the best way to go. Facebook is one place where I often want to speak up, and I have learned that many times, it's best to shut up and pray.

Some of my favorite quotes from Dr. Sedler's book:
  •  "Silence may allow the truth to come forth on its own. . . . When you are in a situation . . . take a deep breath, pray an extra prayer and make sure you are not 'bullied' to speak out. Your silence will probably be of greater impact that an emotional outburst."
  • When coming into contact with someone who is angry at us: "1) Listen. Be sure to hear what your antagonist is saying. 2) Clarify. Ask the person to clarify any areas that are unclear. 3)Exhaust the list of complaints or concerns. . . . ask if there are other issues. Do not begin to defend yourself at this point. 4) Ask for suggestions. Allow the person to give as much input as possible about solutions to the problem presented. DON'T: 1) Don't become self-protective. 2) Don't own problems that belong to others. 3) Don't argue."
  • "Instead of attacking one another, we need to attack the problem."
  • "Silence. Speaking up. Both change destinies. When we use these tools inappropriately, we can do great harm. And when we use them as God intended, we can change our world for the better."
I think anyone who is alive should read this book! It has some great suggestions for speaking up and remaining silent at the appropriate times. 

I received When to Speak Up & When to Shut Up, a book published by Chosen Books, from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid for my review.

Tangled Ashes - a Handlebar Review

Tangled Ashes, a new novel by Michele Phoenix, is a Christian fiction novel published by Tyndale. This novel tells the story of a castle in Lamorlaye, France. The castle has its roots that date back to several hundred years, and this particular story touches on the history of the castle during World War II and the German occupation of France.

Marshall Becker, an American architect, has been put on a project of renovating the Lamorlaye castle. An alcoholic struggling with wanting to quit, Marshall finds himself drawn to Jade, nanny of the castle owner's children. Jade has her own demons that you don't find out about until much later in the story. Therese, an interior designer working on the castle project, also has her own little part in the story, as well as an old squatter named Jojo.

During the story, the castle has some suspicious happenings. Parts of the renovation destroyed, a fire, etc. Becker finds himself battling an impossible deadline for completing the work. While working on a portion of the stairs that needs redone, he finds himself having alcohol withdrawal shakes. He has to deal with the children annoying him, the nanny who scolds him for yelling at his workers (and the children when they interrupt his work), and his desire for alcohol.

All throughout the story, little by little, the WWII story is told until it all unfolds at the end of the novel.

My thoughts? The story is very well-written as far as grammar and syntax are concerned. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the historical part of the story and discovering how it related to the book's 21st century happenings. The plot for the historical account was much stronger than the plot for the modern story.

The historical part of the novel was in-depth and drew me in. I found myself wanting to skip the REAL story and just read the chapters devoted to the WWII parts of the story. It would've been a great historical novel in my opinion.

The 21st century part of story was very choppy, I felt. I couldn't get a good idea on what exactly the plot of the story was until I was in the last chapters of the book.

The characters weren't developed enough. They seemed very split-personality-like. One moment, I would like Becker and Jade, then the next minute I really didn't like their characters at all. Jade was a very stand-offish type of character--she wanted Becker to be a man and give up the alcohol, yet she didn't want to be his friend and try to listen to him when he needed to talk. The story gave special notice to why Becker drinks. At times, I thought maybe he would get to talk to Jade about it, that maybe she would lend an ear, but nothing was ever developed from his story of alcohol abuse. I'm not sure why the author even created a story for the excuse for his drinking, because nothing ever was mentioned again.

I didn't like the three main characters surrounded in the plot in the story. They all seemed very selfish and, frankly, emotionally volatile. The story has no good ending, which isn't a problem to me, but the ending seemed just thrown together. It just felt like the characters didn't learn anything. They started out the story with problems (bad attitudes, selfishness, hermit-like tendencies) and finished with those same problems.

**SPOILER** Becker goes back to the US, Jade seems to want to continue in her pessimist attitude toward her life, and Therese seems to want nothing to do with her newly-found father.

I was very aggravated with this story. I felt like I'd wasted my time. However, if you enjoy a book that tells a story but there's no growth for the characters and no specific plot (instead, what seems like several little ones that could be developed and, I feel, exude promise), then you will enjoy this novel. It's definitely a different writing style than I typically enjoy.

I was given Tangled Ashes in exchange for an honest opinion. Handlebar Publishing provided the copy.