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Book Review: The Unexplainable Church by Erica Wiggenhorn

Posted by Julie on July 23, 2017 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Finally, a Bible study that goes deep…

The Unexplainable Church by Erica Wiggenhorn

Frustrated with the watered-down, “light” Bible studies that are all too common, Erica Wiggenhorn wanted to write a study that went deep. She wanted to take readers verse-by-verse through a whole book of the Bible, offering theological and historical comments in each lesson while remaining practical and relational.

The Unexplainable Church is the result, and it offers readers two great takeaways. It will teach them by example how to study the Bible deeply, and it will challenge them toward critical life-change: submitting their will to the mission of Jesus, who gives life its fullest meaning.

The message of The Unexplainable Church is that the early church didn’t grow because Peter and Paul were so amazing, but because average people were transformed by God and brought together in His work. This 10-week inductive study of Acts 13–28 will sweep readers into the great drama of the Kingdom, inspiring them to live together in the power of the Spirit and accomplish what could never be done alone.

I’ve been looking for a Bible study that takes Scripture I’m familiar with but challenges me to dig deeper and learn more. Something that gives me a glimpse of history but also forces me to take those amazing experiences and apply it to my life.

 

That Bible study is The Unexplainable Church by Erica Wiggenhorn. This is a 10 week study of Acts 13-28 and focuses on “Reigniting the mission of the early believers.” This is a meaty study that has 50 lessons over 10 weeks, going through the Acts chapters verse-by-verse. There are a lot of questions to answer and invitations to learn even more at the author’s website.

 

It’s obvious Erica Wiggenhorn knows the Bible, and she’s very good at engaging readers and making sure they don’t just grow in the Lord, but that they know His-Story. Although I am not finished with the study, I find it deep, intensive, and thought-provoking. No one can read Acts without being captivated, even if someone has no desire to know Christ, the mere history of it is amazing. I believe all participants are going to finish this study with a deeper perspective and appreciation of the early church.

I received this study from the publisher in exchange for a review. The thoughts expressed are my own.

PURCHASE THE UNEXPLAINABLE CHURCH HERE

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Book Review: Included in Christ by Heather Holleman

Posted by Julie on July 21, 2017 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

A new kind of Bible study…

After the success of her first two booksHeather Holleman received many requests to write a Bible study. And as a college English instructor, she wanted to make sure it really taught and didn’t simply inform. So she surveyed several women about what their dream study would look like, then got to work.

The result is Included with Christ, a narrative-driven study where you can bring your life before Scripture in the context of community. Together women will discern their personal shadow narratives—ways they are living outside of their identity in Christ—and then rewrite those narratives according to biblical truth.

This in-depth, 8-week study in Ephesians will equip women with six “signature stories” of God’s work in their lives—helping them combat exclusion, loneliness, weakness, decay, emptiness, and silence.

Designed to facilitate honest sharing and help you internalize biblical truth, Included in Christ will provide community and connectedness as well as spiritual nourishment. It will also guide you in how to share your story and the hope of Christ with someone who doesn’t yet know Him.

Included in Christ by Heather Holleman

Heather Holleman is a new author to me, and I didn’t know she wrote books before being asked to create a Bible study. Included in Christ is an 8 week Bible study that explores the truths from Ephesians without being overwhelming. It is written as if the author were sitting down with us. She includes her own story that makes her very relatable. Yet, Scripture is explained and explored as she takes us through Ephesians. Ephesians isn’t new to me, yet Heather pointed out things I never thought about or saw the way she explained. I truly have learned a lot, and for review purposes, I am not all the way done, but I wanted to be timely in getting this out. I am really impressed in what I’ve read so far.

The topic is one all women can relate to. We all want to belong and be included. There are lies we have believed, and this study takes those lies and exposes them, giving us the truth in Scripture that has been there for us all along.

I highly recommend this study to any woman who struggles to belong, no matter what their level with the Bible is. It’s a down-to-Earth study that includes places to journal thoughts and answer questions.

Honestly, it’s everything I’m looking for in a Bible study. I really think you will learn and be inspired just as I am.

I received INCLUDED IN CHRIST from the publisher for review purposes, and all thoughts expressed here are my own.

Purchase Included in Christ HERE

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Part 2: God Bless the Broken Road by Jennifer Dornbush

Posted by Julie on July 19, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Earlier this month Jennifer Dornbush shared the surrender story behind her screenplay and novel, God Bless the Broken Road. Her story was so interesting I decided to take a little more time to get to know her and the behind the scenes history with God Bless the Broken Road (GBBR.)

Jennifer was gracious enough to share more below.

What inspired you to write this series, or this novel in particular?

 

God Bless the Broken Road (GBBR) actually began as a feature film script three years ago. My friend and director, Harold Cronk, who is best known for the God’s Not Dead movies, called me one fine summer evening. He pitched me the seed of the idea and asked what I thought? I said I thought it sounded like a solid story. And then he asked if I wanted to write it with him. Of course, I said yes.

 

We finished the first draft of the script on Christmas Eve, 2014. Over the course of the next year we refined it while the producers rallied the funds. In the spring of 2016 Harold shot God Bless the Broken Road.

 

A few months earlier, as we finished the script version, I talked with the producers about penning a novel version. They thought it would be a great idea. So my agent, Julie Gwinn, put a pitch together and while we were filming I quickly wrote the first three chapters. Within two weeks Julie had procured a couple contracts. We happily chose Simon & Schuster. I spent last summer scribing the novel and here it is a year later.  The film version is also “in the can” as we say and will be releasing in 2018.

 

 

GBBR Novel Synopsis:

God Bless the Broken Road is a heartwarming story about a grieving army widow who finds her way back to her daughter, her faith, and a new love. Amber Hill never imagined she would find herself a war widow and single mom. She feels robbed and is angry at God, and she doesn’t know how to help her nine-year-old daughter Bree through her grief. Where, Amber wonders, are the Sunday dinners, the picnics, the bike rides, the time together they should be enjoying as a family? Instead, Amber is left with a folded flag and an empty heart.

 

Cody Jackson has a death wish. Or at least that is what his manager thinks, as Cody pushes his race car and his luck in every race. Is he hiding something, or just daring God and other racers to end the path of destruction he finds himself on as he rounds the last turn? When Cody encourages Bree to join in a Derby car race for local youth, she finds a way to channel her grief into something good—and she likes that her mom and Cody are starting to become friends—or maybe something more.

 

Cody invites Amber and Bree to see him race, but as they watch Cody narrowly escape a devastating crash, she realizes she can’t lose another person in her life. It’s better to be alone than feel that type of grief again. But when Amber hits rock-bottom, she cries out to God and asks for help. With her faith, her life, her family, and her heart hanging in the balance, Amber is forced to decide between the broken road she knows so well and trusting that God will provide a new path.  Based on the Rascal Flatts song, God Bless the Broken Road is a moving, heart-stirring story about the power of faith to change a life. The movie version is coming 2018.

 

PURCHASE GOD BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD HERE

 

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Don’t Miss This: Season of Hope by Sara Jane Jacobs

Posted by Julie on July 14, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

 
ABOUT
THE AUTHOR:
I began writing as a hobby while raising my two children. In 2015, I dusted off my stories and my dreams to see if I could turn my hobby into a career. My first story, Season of Hope, was inspired by summer vacations which always included a trip to Franklin, North Carolina, to visit family and explore The Smoky Mountains. When I'm not writing, I enjoy spending time with family. I love most any activity that involves being outdoors, especially camping, hiking and spontaneous excursions to splash in the ocean. I currently live along the Emerald Coast of Florida with my cat Selah and her delightful offspring, Colby, Jack and Tuesday.
AUTHOR CONTACT LINKS:
ABOUT THE BOOK:
 
When Amanda Jarvis prays that a special friend will move into the vacant house near her isolated mountain home, she isn't upset when God sends a boy instead of a girl. But Amanda's not the only one receiving unexpected answers to her prayers. After fleeing with his mother from an abusive father, Tyler Armstrong finds much-needed love and acceptance with Amanda's family over the next ten years. As high school graduation nears, Tyler is shocked when one carefree afternoon with Amanda churns up an inner turmoil he would have never imagined; he's crushing on his best friend. And for the firs time in his life he's hiding a secret from Amanda. Convinced the timing is all wrong, Tyler pushes his feelings aside as he and Amanda prepare for the future. He will soon begin training to pursue his dream of becoming a Navy SEAL, while Amanda makes plans to spend the summer in Manhattan with her aunt and then return home to the community college. When Amanda's summer job catapults her into a modeling career, she readily accepts the much-needed distraction. Tyler's impending deployment is turning her world upside down. Along with the fact that she's falling for her best friend. And, for the first time in her relationship with Tyler, she's hiding a secret, too. Phoebe Garrison, Amanda's controlling aunt, is thrilled when she is given the power to act on behalf of her underage niece. Bored with her Fortune 500 advertising agency, becoming Amanda's manager is just what she's been looking for to rekindle her aspirations. But as Tyler becomes aware of Phoebe's obsession to push Amanda into supermodel status, tensions rise. As the three of them become entangled in a mass of concealed ambition and desire, each will make decisions that will send ripples of turbulence across their futures.
BOOK LINKS:
 
GIVEAWAY:
 
                                           
Enter to win the SEASON OF HOPE giveaway! One person will win the following items…
        Enter below!       
 
 

 

There’s so much going on with characters that we
don’t always get to read about in the book.  Here’s a short excerpt from
Amanda’s journal the night before she left for her summer in New York.
June 1
Tonight, Tyler and I took his truck out into the
pasture for our “anti-prom” and watched the meteor shower. I tried not to think
how the life we have shared here on Nathan’s Mountain for the past ten years is
over. Tomorrow I leave for Knoxville with Mom and Dad so I can catch a flight
to New York.
Our friends crashed our little party. I loved seeing them but I
wanted so much to be alone with Tyler on our last night here. It made for a
bittersweet evening. Shouldn’t I be excited? I mean, isn’t everyone excited
when high school is finally over? I am looking forward to New
York. Phoebe intrigues me, and I want to see what life might be like if I
eventually get accepted at Barnard. This will give me a chance to see what it
would be like living in the city.
But the reality is that at the end of the summer I’ll be coming back here and Tyler will be gone. He’s been my best friend for ten years. I’ve never even let myself imagine what life on this mountain would be like without him here. My heart sinks at the thought of
sitting on the porch at night knowing that he isn’t at the bottom of the
mountain, somewhere behind the soft glow of his porch light. No longer will he
leave here from one of our long talks and signal me with the two flashes of
that light to let me know he’s home and wish me, “sweet dreams.” There will be
no reason to rush inside to send two flashes back to him. Our sweet little
tradition is over forever. How did I not see this coming? Why have I been so
absorbed with the busyness of life that I failed to notice I was about to
experience some of the most routine things for the last time.
I’m exhausted and I need to get some sleep. I’msure the morning light will bring with it a more optimistic perspective.

                                                                                                Amanda






BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:
June 26 – Truth
to Shine
June 27
ASC Book Reviews
June 28
Meagan Davenport
June 30
Barbara
Brutt
July 7
Bookworm
Mama
July 10
Tell the World
July 11
2014
and Beyond
July 12
Tammy
Karasek
July 13
Rebecca DeMarino
July 14 –  Julie Arduini
July 17
Laura
Bennet
July 18
All Betts Are Off
July 21
Leslie L. Mckee
This blog tour was coordinated by A Latte of Literature Blog
Tour Services. Find out more:
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From the Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose

Posted by Julie on July 13, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose by Debra Gray Elliott

Forty years ago, at the age of sixteen my life changed and I found myself in the ashes of pity. My life took a dark turn when my father passed away several months before I turned sixteen. My mother decided she did not want to live in our home state any longer and moved me across the country. This is where my life took a wrong turn.

 

Except from the book:

From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose by Debra Gray Elliott

 

The year was 1977, the month and date: November 4th, I was sixteen; technically a teenager, but still a child.   I was taken for my abortion.  I have tried to block out the memories, but I cannot forget the cold metal table where I had lain or the baby being sucked from my womb through a vacuum tube. My eyes fixated on the fluid and blood sucked into the glass canister. All I could see were the demons that had taken over my life instead of the love I deserved. The painful, horrific memories are forever seared in my mind, thoughts, and soul.

 It was in my pain and grief through post-abortion recovery, I started writing about my journeys and how God led me through the ashes into beauty. The end result of my grief was hope and healing. It is hope and healing that I want to give to other women who are experiencing pain and grief.

From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose brings emotionally charred women out of the pits of fire, through the ashes into the beauty of purpose. With the direction of God, hurting women weather through the painful journeys, become women of spiritual beauty, find God’s purpose, and learn to live again.

 

You are altogether beautiful, my darling there is no flaw in you. Song of Solomon 4:7 NIV

 

Bio:

Christian author and speaker Debra Gray Elliott began writing at the age of fifteen after the death of her father. She began writing poetry as a way to cope with her grief. At the age of sixteen, Debra once again experienced grief when she was forced to have an abortion. It was in this grief that she found herself in the ashes of pity. Forty years later, Debra found her beauty of purpose.

 

From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose is Debra’s first non-fiction Christian self-help, inspirational book to help women through the ashes of pity into the beauty of purpose after having an abortion.

 

Debra is currently working on a devotional for grieving parents. The loss of her daughter four years ago, has led Debra to want to help other grieving parents through their grief into hope.

 

She resides in Alabama with her husband and family.

 

Website: http://anngrayelliott1960.wixsite.com/authordebraelliott

 

Purchase From Ashes of Pity into Beauty of Purpose

 

 

 

 

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Fiction Finder: July New Releases

Posted by Julie on July 10, 2017 in ACFW, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

July 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

On Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson — When Natalie O’Ryan’s fiancé books their wedding in her hometown, Natalie didn’t know the only reception venue available would be an old barn belonging to Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them. (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Their Ranch Reunion by Mindy Obenhaus — Single mom Carly Wagner is surprised to learn she’ll have to share ownership of the home she’s inherited with her first love—and first heartbreak—Andrew Stephens. The man who fled their tiny Western town is back and standing in the way of her dreams to expand her B and B. Now a successful businessman, Andrew has eight weeks to buy Carly out. But Carly’s too stubborn to persuade—and too beautiful to ignore. When fire ravages her inn and she and her daughter move in to their shared property, Andrew’s in over his head. Time is running out and Andrew must decide: leave and chase another deal…or stay and chase Carly’s heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Time and Tide by Kristen Terrette — Recovering from addiction and a near death experience, Chad moves to Moanna Island, a small island close to Savannah off the Atlantic coast, to begin a job with his family’s real estate empire, a job he was supposed to have taken years ago. Free-spirited Ryan Mason is a Moanna local girl from a blue-collar family. She’s dropped her own dreams to help her father care for her schizophrenic brother. When Chad and Ryan meet at the rehabilitation center where her brother lives, feelings develop between them. Can their crazy worlds ever fit together once he learns her secret and she finds out he is the sole heir to the Cusher Empire? (Contemporary from Hartwood Publishing Group)


Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh — When a workaholic interior designer returns to her hometown to check on her brother’s welfare, she reconnects with a soldier, secretly in love with her, over a renovation project that will help the struggling town. (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)


Cozy Mystery:

A Tempting Taste of Mystery by Elizabeth Ludwig — Judging a pie contest leads Cheryl Cooper and friends into mayhem and mystery after someone begins methodically sabotaging the entries. (Cozy Mystery from Guideposts Publications)

Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard — FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha’s Vineyard with her family, ready for a little bit of R&R and a whole lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But crime doesn’t take a vacation, and she’s soon entangled in an investigation of a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring.When her investigation propels her into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them plenty of romantic complications–and even a secret or two? (Cozy Mystery from Revell [Baker])

Historical Romance:

 

The American Conquest (Window to the Heart Sage, Book 3) by Jenna Brandt — Margaret must leave behind her title and wealth in Europe in order to escape and start a new life in the Colorado Territory. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection by Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch, Jaime Jo Wright, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Rebel in My House by Sandra Merville Hart — Promises can be impossible to keep–especially when a Confederate soldier trapped behind enemy lines looks to a Gettysburg seamstress for help. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Match for Melissa by Susan Karsten — Wanting a godly husband, Melissa’s only choice is to follow her father’s wishes, even when doing so may not achieve the desires of her heart. (Historical Romance from Prism Book Group [Pelican]).

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels — Moor your heart on Mackinac Island along with resident sweetheart Maude Welling, an heiress trying to prove her worth by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. Meet Ben Steffans, a journalist posing as a wealthy industrialist who has come to the island to uncover a story about impoverished men pursuing heiresses at the famed hotel. Will a growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed in this Gilded Age romance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Salvation by the Sea by Kristen Reed — Life has been anything but easy for Muirigan thanks to a series of life-altering calamities, but she’s found peace with her new, understated life by the sea. However, the maid’s past comes back to haunt her when she saves the shipwrecked Prince Halvard one morning. Failing to recognize one of his dearest childhood friends, the prince invites Muirigan to live at court as a reward for her valiant heroism. As the two reconnect, something deeper than friendship blossoms, but will their newfound affection survive when Muirigan’s lies are revealed and Halvard learns the truth about what has befallen since their tragic separation? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Romantic Suspense:

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble — As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful. But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])


Speculative:

The Genesis Tree by Heather L.L. FitzGerald — Deception is rampant, the enemy is subtle, and love dares to tug at Sadie’s heart amid the turmoil that forces her and her family back to the Tethered World below. (Speculative/Contemporary Fantasy from Mountain Brook Ink)



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