Staying Together – Marriage a Lifelong Affair By Steve and Mary Prokopchakm – A Book Review


 

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Equipping Couples for a Lifetime Marriage Commitment

In their book “Staying Together – Marriage a Lifelong Affair” family marriage counselors Steve and Mary Prokopchak equip their readers with workable solutions for dealing with issues of insecurity, healthy boundaries, finances, intimacy and other equally important concerns for enjoying a lifelong marriage together.

The book integrates creative practical principles tools and Biblical teaching with probing questions and assessments to help couples work together at building or rebuilding a successful marriage relationship.

A varied selection of thought-provoking quotations from recognized leaders and celebrities, in all walks of life, are uniquely used to provide “nuggets” of wisdom for introducing chapter contents.

Each chapter introduces an important focus using examples from their own marriage, of more than 40 years, or a true life story from other couples; whose marriages have endured after finding solutions and healing by putting into practice the application of these principles.

I found the chapter suggesting “The Twelve Values Found in Healthy Marriage Relationships” especially helpful. The chapter contains important values for every married couple wanting to create an environment for personal growth, individual maturity, and transparent relationships.

“Staying Together – Marriage a Lifelong Affair” is an excellent resource for use as a weekend mini-retreat for couples to be intentional in working through the many assessment exercises, evaluating together their individual discoveries.

Highly recommended.

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

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.  P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768414905, $16.99, 2017, 238 Pages

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Leadership from the Mission Control Room to the Boardroom – A Guide to Unleashing Team Performance, By Paul Sean Hill – A Book Review


Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Learning from the Legacy of Mission Control Management Team

In his book “Leadership from the Mission Control Room to the Boardroom – A Guide to Unleashing Team Performance,” executive consultant and former director of Missions Operations with NASA, introduces Missions Control Department (MOD) leadership values and roles that can be adapted to any setting.

The book is made up of four integral parts. Part one deals with the elements of trust, technical truth, integrity, and courage in all decision making. Part two looks at key points on how management can lose the core purpose and values of the key to performance success. Part three addresses the transformation and empowerment of the management team in all facets of management and critical decision-making. Part four sums up some of the tips and challenges to success as an individual and a team with some final thoughts from the author.

Hill’s writing is engaging, forthright, and intense; written with the candor and passion of an evangelist. I was inspired by the story of his personal journey to success, and the importance of understanding the specific challenge, common cause, and mission of team building while accepting a high level of individual responsibility for its success.

“Leadership from the Mission Control Room to the Boardroom – A Guide to Unleashing Team Performance” is essential reading for business executives, leaders and managers, and should be a readily accessible resource guide for ready reference.

Atlast Press, 978-0998634319, $16.99, 2017, 342 pages

 

Well – Healing Our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa, By Sarah Thebarge – A Book Review


Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Lessons You Can Learn when Love Looks Around

After reading the editorial reviews on Sarah Thebarge’s new book, “Well – Healing Our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa” I knew I had to read the book for myself. I thought I was ready to consider the hard questions we seldom want to face.

Author, Sarah Thebarge, a spokesperson for Compassion International, describes the seemingly hopeless conditions in Togo, West Africa, including the suffering, disease, the cultural conditions, and the discomfort of the climate extremities.

Chapter after chapter, Sarah kept me spellbound as she related her experiences. From baggage claim at the airport in Lomé the capital city of Togo, her first shift on the job at the Hospital of Hope in Togo, right on through her three months of Medical Ministry, I was drawn into the reality of a broken world and burdened by a deep concern to find my place in making a positive difference in the healing process.

Sarah writes with candor and an intense vulnerability that draws the reader into the conflicting reactions of the physically demanding, and emotionally challenging trauma of her experiences and in her search to find hope in an intolerable situation. Sarah’s writing grips your heart. Her sense of compassion becomes contagious.

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

Faith Words, Hattchet Book Group, Inc.1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N. Y., 10104, 978-1455553198, $20.00, 2017, 322 pages

 

 

 

A  Pair of Miracles – A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting By Karla Akins – A Book Review


A  Pair of Miracles – A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting

By Karla Akins

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

An Extraordinarily Touching Account of Facing the Challenge of Autism

“A Pair of Miracles” is an extraordinarily touching account of a family faced with the challenges of Autism. Karla Akins tackles questions of faith, of wrestling with God, misconceptions about people with autism, community awareness, advice for parenting, and tools for ministry volunteers working with students experiencing the challenges of developmental disability.

Karla Akins, an advocate for parents impacted by the anxiety, frustration and despair of raising children with autism. Statistics indicate that an estimated one in 68 children are afflicted with an autism spectrum disorder. Akins writes to encourage the increasing number of parents feeling without help and alone. Her writing is filled with the compassion and understanding of one who has traveled the journey.

Karla is mother of five, including twin boys Isaac and Isiah, (now twenty-one years old), diagnosed with autism. She is a pastor’s wife, sharing in the ministry of the church and has nearly 40 years of teaching experience, including a degree in special education and a doctorate in Christian Education.

Each chapter of “A Pair of Miracles – A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting” is filled with encouragement, valuable information on neurological or cognitive disabilities, functional skills, teaching strategies, important resources, and communication tips. An extraordinarily touching account of facing the challenges of Autism; highly recommended.

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

Kregel Publishing, 2450 Oak Industrial Drive N. E., Grand Rapids, MI 49505

 

 

 

 

Set Your Family Free – Breaking Satan’s Assignments Against your Household By: Dr. Bob and Laura Larson – A Book Review


 

 

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Identifying Potential Family Crisis – Moving from Recognition to Resolution and Release, and From Spiritual Bondage to Freedom

Bob and Laura Larson have collaborated in the writing of “Set Your Family Free.”  This guide book is designed to provide biblically based counseling, founded on scriptural principles, and sound psychological practice, combined with spiritual and emotional Inner Healing.

“Set Your Family Free” is uniquely different from Bob Larson’s other books. In this book the reader is provided with a proactive plan for using biblical knowledge to raise spiritually equipped children with an understanding that will enable them to avoid falling into demonic strongholds by using an offensive approach when facing spiritual warfare.

Using a case study as an example Laura describes a plan for purposeful parenting that resulted in repentance, restoration, and healing. An important step in this instance was the necessity to help these parents recognize the dangers of the previous generation’s predispositions, before they could resolve the negative spiritual impact these negative behaviors on their son.

Dozens of similar stories tell of ways that Satan attacks families, and tries to destroy marriages. Therapeutic interaction, and deliverance prayers may be needed to restore these families to a biblical model.

The logical progression and organization of the material in “Set Your Family Free” heightens reader understanding, assimilation of the principles, and for taking the action steps necessary to make application of these principles to real life issues. Hundreds of other keys and suggestions are presented with positive suggestions to produce spiritual growth, and victory over the powers of darkness.

“Set Your Family Free” is an important redemptive tool for families in crisis, for Christian deliverance, inner healing, marriage counselors, and pastors.

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

Destiny Image Publishers, P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-07684122746, $16.99, 186 pages

 

 

 

 

Questioning Evangelism – Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did – by Randy Newman – A Book Review


Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did – by Asking Questions

In the book “Questioning Evangelism – Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did” Randy Newman asks his readers to look at evangelism in a new way; following the example of Jesus by asking questions.

Using examples from personal experiences Newman introduces an approach for designing questions that are more engaging and less confrontational.  He combines a balance of biblical theology, infused with compassion, in a distinctive merger of apologetic information and relational evangelism.

Newman teaches evangelism and apologetics at the C. S. Lewis Institute in the Washington D.C. area. He is a for a former staff member of Campus Crusade, and originator of Connection Points, which specializes in helping people of different backgrounds dialog in questions of faith.

“Questioning Evangelism – Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did” can be used for individual study and challenge or in an interactive group setting. A study guide is included to generate stimulating discussion and personal application.

I was personally challenged as I pondered the concept that: evangelism “happens” in relationships, developed through challenging questions while allowing me to: Declare the gospel, defend the message, and dialog the truth to a new generation. “Questioning Evangelism” has given me a new awareness of how I can more effectively share my faith in todays’ culture and within my community.

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

Kregel Publications, 2450 Oak Industrial Dr NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505, 978-0825444289, $ 17.99, 2017, 268 pages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drive Yourself Successful – 11 Inner states to Personal Empowerment By: Rachel Lynn – A Book Review


Drive Yourself Successful – 11 Inner states to Personal Empowerment

By: Rachel Lynn

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake, richard330@yahoo.com

Embrace the Journey – Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat to Personal Empowerment

In her book “Drive Yourself Successful – 11 Inner states to Personal Empowerment” professional speaker and licensed professional counselor, Rachel Lynn, guides the reader through eleven steps to personal empowerment. Lynn uses an analogy of life’s journey with the process of preparing for and taking an automobile trip on the “inner state.”

In preparation for the trip, Lynn establishes why the trunk of the car must be cleaned out. Lynn strongly recommends that you must throw out negative words. These negative words and thoughts have hindered your self-perception and personal self-worth.  When we get trapped with negative attitudes that keep our gearshift stuck in “park” we need to recognize how these obstacles hold us back from experiencing our full potential. Lynn provides the reader with crucial tool to remove the adverse effect of negative thinking and to replace them with positive thoughts that will inspire, motivate, and reassure peace and strength.

When we find ourselves at a standstill point, living a life on hold: needing a tune up; Lynn challenges us to consciously consider our desires and goals by answering the question, “What do I expect from life?”

Lynn then goes on to provide the reader with practical guidelines for facilitating inner growth, reprogramming personal guidance programs (GPS), and transforming negative experiences of fear and self-doubt into fuel that accelerate vision and activate plans for the journey.

I personally appreciated the guidelines for setting goals and developing vision. The “Checkpoints” that accompany each chapter offer powerful pointers for preparing for the trip, choosing the right fuel, the importance of a tune up and regular maintenance, clear vision, recognizing detours as opportunities for other avenues of success, and adjusting your frequency to enable you, the reader, to “Take the Wheel and Make Yourself Successful.”

Reader’s in the genres of Personal Growth, Business and Economics, Self-Help, or Motivation will resonate with Rachel Lynn’s “11 Inner States to Personal Empowerment” found in “Drive Yourself Successful.

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

Sound Wisdom, P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257,978-1937879679, $ 15.99, 2017, 184 pages

 

Finding Success in Balance – My Journey to the Cheerful Mind By: Apryl Zarate Schluelter A Book Review


Finding Success in Balance – My Journey to the Cheerful Mind

By: Apryl Zarate Schluelter

 

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Finding Balance to Regain Control, Manage Stress, and Accomplish Your Goals

“Finding Success in Balance – My Journey to the Cheerful Mind” will resonate with anyone who finds themselves overcommitted, and overwhelmed with feelings of exhaustion and defeat. Apryl shares her own story of achieving goals, conquering challenges and appearing to be successful by other people’s standards.

Apryl is open and honest as she tell her story of the Job that Changed Everything for her, a change that centered on finding a Life Work Balance. She describes a life that is not only fulfilling at work, but fulfilling outside of work as well.”

Each fast moving chapter is filled with concrete workable pointers and tips that encourage the reader to:

  • Prioritize and accomplish your goals in light of the life work principles
  • Manage stress to avoid burnout
  • Succeed in your relationships
  • Create your own personal development journey
  • Think of fun as a value and “How to Infuse Fun into your Life”

Apryl Zarate Schluelter, CPC, Eli, MP, is CEO (Chief Energy Officer!) of The Cheerful Mind, Inc.

Apryl’s communication and organizational skills are reflected in her writing. She is articulate and well organized in the structure and presentation of the material. The book is highly informative, well formatted and reader friendly. A thoroughly enjoyable read and reread often.

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

The Cheerful Mind Inc., North Brook, Illinois 60062

09780998320304, $ 12.99, 2017, 164 pages

 

 

 

Lessons from Zachary – A Book Review


Lessons from Zachary – Turning Disability into Possibility

By Sandy Scott

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake, richard330@yahoo.com

Engaging and Releasing Hidden Powers Within – Standing Strong Through the Storm

Just twelve days after his birth Zachary Scott was diagnosed as severely physically and intellectually disabled. This news began a journey into the uncharted territory of the unknown for Sandy and Jonathan Scott; a heart-rending journey plagued by unexpected disappointments and uncertainties. The daily stresses of hectic schedules, social pressures, and the demands created by Zachary’s disabilities became overwhelming.

Sandy was devastated and frustrated by an unexpected and unusual combination of strained relationships and in desperation was forced to look within herself and to choose a new perspective – one that unleashed in her the power of love.

Sandy reached into the resources of unexplored potential to become a leader in coaching leaders in healthcare, to parents of children with disabilities, and to train professionals in the healthcare and educational fields.

Sandy’s writing is authentic, genuine, realistic and relevant. Her premises are well thought out, her choice of words stir the imagination of the reader and enable them to relate personally to her journey through a complex set of circumstances. As the reader becomes deeply involved in Sandy’s story; her insights and the lessons she learned become personal and identifiable and provide a new understanding into the complications, experiences and unknown potential of their own lives. Dozens of well-chosen pictures and good photography add a whole extra dimension to the heart felt emotions of love, pathos, and positive impact of Zachary’s life.

“Lessons from Zachary” will resonate with readers who have been touched by the challenge of disappointment in broken relationships and other personal tragedy; readers in need of a message of hope, and a strategy for tapping into their unknown potential.

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

International Publishing Works, P. O. Box 415, Bellevue, Colorado 50512-0415, 978-097759205, 1995, 2017, 264 Pages

 

 

 

 

 

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