Total Family Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra – A Book Review

Total Family Makeover – 8 Practical Steps to Making Disciples at Home

By: Melissa Spoelstra

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Basic Spiritual Practices for Nurturing Children and Transforming Families

“Total Family Makeover – 8 Practical Steps to Making Disciples at Home” provides a strong foundation for being intentionally authentic about transforming your life, your family, and your home.

The book is based on Scriptures Jesus modeled in the training of His disciples.

Each chapter features a section on modeling and another on training. Using this practical approach Melissa Spoelstra challenges the reader through:

  • Inspiring instructions on and suggestions for establishing principles of prayer in the lives of your children
  • Practical approaches to reading the Scriptures together and making application to daily family life
  • Comprehensive guidelines on the merits mentoring can have on your parenting skills
  • Building blocks instilling Christian character in your children through finding community in the church, by serving others, giving back to God, and sharing your faith

In addition to being active as a pastor’s wife and the mother of four, author Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, and Bible teacher. She speaks and writes from her heart and models the message she delivers.

“Total Family Makeover – 8 Practical Steps to Making Disciples at Home” is clearly must reading for parents from the crib through college. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Abingdon Press, P O Box 2809988, Nashville, TN 37228-0988, 9781501820656, $ 16.99, 2016, 256 pages


And It Was Beautiful – Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye by Kara Tippets – A Book Review

And It Was Beautiful – Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye

By: Kara Tippetts

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Gripping Message of God’s Grace in the Midst of the Uncertainties of Cancer

“And It Was Beautiful” is the third book in Kara Tippetts’ courageous story of living with the uncertainties faced while battling stage four cancer. Her first book, “The Hardest Peace” helps the reader understand the difficulties of dealing with motherhood in the midst of the expectations of being a pastor’s wife.

In Tippet’s second book, “Just Show Up” she collaborated with Jill Lynn Buteyn, a close friend. Together they inspire readers to be available to help with the everyday household tasks, and childcare, shopping and other simple errands. There are other times when friends are needed to provide quiet visits, comfort and understanding in a spirit of empathy.

In “And It Was Beautiful” Tippet tells of the heart-wrenching physical and emotional pain of losing her hair, recognizing the maintaining friendships, while facing surgery, radiation, and more uncertainty. She speaks of the “fragility of life” of adding another doctor to her team. She describes the “weariness of receiving,” when it is her desire to be there for her family, and to be the one caring for them.

Soon after  her diagnosis of cancer, Tippet started a blog Mundane Faithfulness. She wanted to share from insights she was learning with others who were also dealing with end of life issues.

“And It Was Beautiful” is made up a collection of these blogs formatted into short chapters, a beautiful story of a spiritual journey of a “Celebrating Grace in the Midst of a Long Good-bye.”  Kara Tippet’s writing is open, honest. She is willing be vulnerable exposing her struggles while find God faithful.

Throughout her writing she encourages her readers to recognize and reflect on God’s grace in every situation. Although written from a woman’s perspective, Kara’s example of faith in the midst of battling cancer will inspire anyone struggling with terminal illness: the victim, their families, and their caregivers.

David C. Cook. 4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918 978-0781413527, $ 14.99, 2016, 248 pages

Praying for your Children by Elmer L. Towns, and Dave Earley – A Book Review

Praying for your Children

By: Elmer Towns and Dave Earley

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768431650, $16.95, 2010, 202 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Parenting, Perilous Times, and the Importance, Responsibility, and Results of Intercessory Prayer for Our Children

Award winning author, Dr. Elmer Towns, Vice President and Dean of the School of Religion of Liberty University and Dr. Dave Earley prolific author, and chairman of  the Department of Pastoral Leadership at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Liberty University collaborate in the writing of the book “Praying for your Children,” an important addition to the “How to Pray Series.”

The book is made up of eleven chapters packed with Biblical principles, promises, and examples, providing important suggestions, advice, and practical tools to help us as parents to understand, implement, and demonstrate love for our children through interceding prayer in these perilous times. Important guidelines offer help in praying for prodigals, praying with children, and teaching them to pray.

Chapter end notes provide a wealth of suggestion for additional reading. Helpful suggestions using “Ten Top Prayers” are provided in the appendix.

To get the most out of this book, it is important that you read with an open heart; apply what you are learning, and determine to pray for your children, more consistently, more passionately, and more often.

“Praying for your Children” is an important book for every parent, church prayer group, and individual intercessor. Begin today to leave a legacy of prayer for the next generation, and those to follow.

A complimentary copy of this book was made available for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.




Double Trouble in the Everglades, by Mary Morgan – A Book Review

Double Trouble in the Everglades

By Mary Morgan

Buttonwood Press, LLC, P. O. Box 716, Haslett, MI 44840, 978-0996556200, $ 7.95, 2015, 144 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

The Cooper Twins Uncover Trouble in the Everglades – Secrets of the Slough

Fast moving dialog adds to intrigue and mystery of the suspense filled plot in “Double Trouble in the Everglades,” the fifth in the “National Park Mystery Series.” Mary Morgan blends her gift of storytelling with an incredible understanding of a young reader’s spirit of adventure.

The Cooper twins were selected by Twins for Life Magazine to participate with twenty-five sets of twins in the, spring break, Everglades National Park Triathlon.

Ben and Bekka’s curiosity, instinct for mystery, and tenacity for following up on clues, enable them to uncover vital information in solving an ingenious conspiracy of robbery and deception during the Twins Magazine Everglades Triathlon.

Clever extras in the book include Bekka’s F.Y.I. (For Your Information) Florida Facts, with trivia questions, facts about the Everglades’ National Park, photos of wildlife in the Everglades, and illustrations by Dawn McVay Baumer add to the enjoyment of the story.

Morgan’s wonderful alliteration, sense of humor, fascinating trivia and detailed data capture the young reader’s imagination with a balance of fiction and fact, entertainment and information.

“Double Trouble in the Everglades” is designed for readers, ages seven through eleven, and is ideal for home school assignments, public school libraries, and for fun filled family reading of all ages. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of the book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.


Life Lessons from Proverbs by Jack Nordgren – A Book Review

Life Lessons from Proverbs, By Jack Nordgren

Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 978-1500252434, $ 9.95, 2014, 108 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Thoughtful Wise Words to Live By

In his book “Life Lessons from Proverbs” Jack Nordgren draws practical applications for daily life from selected verses found in the book of Proverbs; through personal stories from Jack’s own life experiences.

A unique feature of Jack’s writing is his “down to earth” way of communicating truths, in practical terms that speak to the heart. He is open and honest in his writing.  He writes with an amazing insight into human nature and the resultant consequences of sin and selfish desires; the pain divorce, the chains of addictions, tragedy, hurt and suffering. He also offers encouragement with stories of the blessings of reconciliations and changed lives.

Each chapter is filled with hands-on guidelines for practical living and with suggestions for effective ministry, including: lessons on listening, lessons from the lottery, and the secret of facing the fear of sudden disaster.

Jack’s earlier books tell of his spiritual journey, from surfing in Lake Michigan to a call to Chaplaincy and a ministry to surfers on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. “Wave Chasers’ Volume I and II tell of searching for surf on Lake Michigan and on the Great Lakes.

Jack writes for surfers, men and women. Life Lessons from Proverbs is a book and  for all readers facing the struggles and challenged of life today.

A complimentary copy of this book was received for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.




The Ultimate Legacy by Jim Stovall – A Book Review

The Ultimate Legacy, By Jim Stovall

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

A Legacy of Significance – Embracing the Future

‘The Ultimate Legacy” is the final chapter in the “Ultimate Gift” and the “Ultimate Life” series. Miss Sally Anderson, wealthy owner and of the exclusive Anderson House is recognized as hostess to prominent world leaders and celebrated personalities. The Anderson House has a reputation as a house of healing, hope, and destiny. Meetings around the Anderson House dining had more influence and impact on “humanitarian work around the world than any board room in the world.”

Miss Sally Mae presents the conditions of her will to her trusted attorney, Theodore J. Hamilton, naming her grandson Joey Anderson, as heir to The Anderson House. It is her aspiration that through Joey, the only remaining link to the Anderson House Legacy, will create an indelible impact for generations to come

Jim Stovall is a gifted and natural story teller. The elements of good story telling are evident in his narrative, his character development, dialog, and with an under lying message or “take away.” His characters are multi-dimensional, are believable. They show personal values and unique personalities. They continue to develop depths in their insights and concern for other; as demonstrated by Joey’s transformation and vision for the Anderson money to continue as a source of healing, education and inspiration for now and future generations.

“The Ultimate Legacy” is entertaining, inspiring, and motivating. The novelization of the film gives the reader a photographic visualizing of each scene

Sound Wisdom, P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768410426, $ 9.25, 2016, 176 Pages

A complimentary of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.



What the Prayers of Jesus Tell Us About the Heart of God, by Shane Stanford – A Book Review

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Five Prayer Focuses from the Prayers of Jesus

Shane Stanford delivers a threefold message in his book “What the Prayers of Jesus Tell Us about the Heart of God.”  He guides the reader into a deeper understanding of the impact the prayers of Jesus have on our lives today.

First, he helps the reader view the daily routines in the life of Jesus as they relate to our life journey as it unfolds. He then goes on to recognize how through the five focuses of Jesus’ prayers become “critical links to how to…come to know Jesus better…and how to come to know one another better.” Thirdly, provides guidelines for getting to know Jesus better, as a person and as a friend.

Stanford is pastor, author, and gifted communicator. His stories and illustrations are relevant and inspirational, with life changing implications for taking positive action.

“What the Prayers of Jesus Tell Us about the Heart of God” raises the bar on challenging the reader of the bigger plan God has for our lives.

Abingdon, 2222 Rosa L. Parks Blvd, Nashville, TN 37228, 978-142674256, $ 15.99, 2015,  208pages







The Sun Still Rises, Surviving and Thriving After Grief and Loss by Shawn Doyle, CSP – A Book Review

The Sun Still Rises – Surviving and Thriving After Grief and Loss

By Shawn Doyle, CSP

Sound Wisdom, P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257,  978-0768405279, $ 14.99, 2014, 188 Pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

One Man’s Story of Dealing with Grief and Loss – Steps to Healing, Recovery, and Hope

Professional speaker, author, and advocate for life-long learning Shawn Doyle describes the emotions of his “soul crunching feelings” and the “painful agonizing soul searching” grief at the loss of his wife of 32 years in “The Sun Still Rises – Surviving and Thriving after Grief and Loss.”

Doyle helps the reader recognize and accept the fact that grieving is a personal process; there are no set formulas that work for everyone. He demystifies misinformation and the dangers of trying to fit into society’s rules. He shares his own experiences to help readers know what to expect and some pointers on evaluating their status and formulating plans while designing a new life.

Shawn writes with passion. Every page is infused with hope, empathy, and motivation. Chapters may begin and end with a motivating concept dealing with the specific theme of the material. I found these to be especially uplifting and reassuring. Doyle’s wring style is well organized and formatted filled with thoughtful descriptive phrases and a comfortable and a communication style that draws in the reader. I am looking forward to reading more of Shawn’s books.

Shawn’s goal in writing this book is to help others who are suffering through their loss. “The Sun Still Rises – Surviving and Thriving After Grief and Loss” is a personal story of love and hope including practical guidelines for coping with the process of grief and moving on to find a new life.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.




Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dyland and Billy Graham – A Book Review

Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Billy Graham

By: Jess Archer

WestBow Press, 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403978-1512721614, $ 11.95, 2015, 124 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

Struggles with Insecurity – On a Path Leading to Finding Home
In her book “Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Billy Graham” Jess Archer describes a transitory life style with inescapable adjustments; of creating new family routines in another rented house or apartment in a new neighborhood, with new schools, stores, and doctors, over a period of 15 years.

Jess opens her heart to the reader with candor and frankness in a way that help them identify with her anxiety struggles, fears and doubts as well as discovering new insights into finding answers to their own questions of faith, purpose, and spiritual meaning.

Archer’s sensitive poetic nature, beautiful descriptive phrases, and her gift of communication enhance her writing skills. Add her sense of humor and light hearted wit, and you know you are in for an exceptional read.

“Finding Home with the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Billy Graham” will resonate with three audiences: those touched by the Billy Graham Crusades going back to the well-publicized crusade in Los Angeles that launched the Crusades in the early fifties, the fans of the music of the Beatles and Bob Dylan who were searching for purpose and meaning to life, and the generation who responded the Youth Crusades of the Nineties.

Brilliant writing. Highly recommended.

Empowering Young Christians – Developing Bible Based Leadership and Soft Skills
By: Gary J. Green, PhD
Dog Ear Publishing
4011 Vincennes Rd
Indianapolis, IN 46268
978-1457540998, $19.99, 2015, 190 pages
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Biblical Principles for Christian Teens to Cultivate, Empower, and Embrace -Leadership Skills and Abilities for Success

“Empowering Young Christians – Developing Bible Based Leadership and Soft Skills” is a self-help book for Christian teens to develop a successful life and to fulfill the life that God has planned for them. Dr. Cary Green leads the reader into a self-awareness, communication, and values and priorities within a structure of: Readiness, Relationships, and Results.

Each chapter is filled with practical advice, hands on exercises to help the reader determine their goal, develop their skills, and discover God’s guidance for the future. Examples from the Scriptures reveal essential characteristics that will empower the reader in areas of integrity, professionalism, attitudes, balance, synergy, prioritizing, problem solving, and accountability.

The book is organized for ease in reading, in understanding adaptation, and application. The material is presented in ways that make it relevant and age appropriate for contemporary youth.

Dr. Green is an educator, author, speaker, and life skills coach, highly recognized for his teaching and mentoring. In the church setting, Dr. Green has taught and mentored youth in the Sunday School and youth programs.

“Empowering Young Christians” is unquestionably, stimulating, motivational, and inspiring. Highly recommended as “must reading” for teens, their parents, and mentors.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.