Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The Beams are Creaking at Taproot Theatre

March 27, 2011

Matt Shimkus as Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

 

This weekend I got the chance to take my 15 year old to see Taproot Theatre’s latest play. It was amazing. Both she and I were blown away.

Sometimes a play is about innovative stage work. Sometimes it is about outstanding acting. But sometimes a play is phenomenal because of the story.

The Beams are Creaking is a new play at Taproot this season that is beyond amazing. I was moved, I cried, and then – for the first time in a long time, there was a standing ovation. Why?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a teacher, a statesman, and a theologian who lived in pre-Hitler Germany. As Hitler came into power, Christians throughout Germany had three options – comply with the state, rebel overtly, or rebel passively. Bonhoeffer chose active resistance under the guise of servitude. While outwardly he complied with the Fuhrer’s demands of allegiance, privately he was part of a network that planned the assassination of the Nazi leader.

In this play, we learn not just about the theologian, Bonhoeffer, but about  the man.

Gerald B. Browning, Don Brady, and Matt Shimkus. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

I felt this play was absolutely appropriate for our day and time. So many people feel that they are displaced, not in their usual roles – and this play depicts beautifully how to be the person God created you to be, despite your circumstances.

I learned so much, but felt like I needed to hear it again. If you want to be encouraged and delighted, you should check out The Beams are Creaking at Taproot.

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A billion reasons why by Kristin Billerbeck

March 8, 2011

This weekend I played hooky.  Two fiction books in two days.

Do you like to occasionally retreat from reality and curl up with a good book?  Do you like romances?  If you said ‘yes’ to both of those questions, then you will enjoy A Billion Reasons Why.

Usually, I run from romances.  However, Kristin has managed to write a story that has depth.  Here are a couple quotes:

“You know, Katie, you can plan so that nothing goes wrong in life.  But something will, and it won’t be what you expected to go wrong.  So make sure you’re with someone who will help you bail the water out of the boat, not someone who will blame you for the hole.”

“When the storms of life push against you, our real temperaments come out to dance.”

Katie found her love early on, but life, lack of communication, and distrust threw them apart.  So, instead of living for adventure, Katie ran the opposite direction.  Eight years later, she is on the verge of entering into a nice, safe, loveless marriage, when her prince charming, still single, comes back into her life.

Katie discovers herself, the reality of her new life, and has choices to make.  Katie first learns to define love, then faces her own reality.

So, security and safety, or fire and love  which would you choose?

I really enjoyed the fact that the story was placed in New Orleans.  I know nothing about that part of the country, and I enjoyed the opportunity to learn.

I think you will have fun at the author’s website – faith, froth and a designer handbag.

If you want to enjoy the story, you can buy it at Amazon.com.

Are you living in your sweet spot? Chazown by Craig Groeschel

March 1, 2011

Chazown (pronounced Khaw-ZONE) is the Hebrew word for vision.

Are you living your dream?  Does your life line up with the vision God has given you?

A small percentage of people can say ‘yes’ to that question.  The rest, if honest, will say,

“well, I’m not quite on center” or

“Hah!  No” or

“How can anyone know what God wants?”

Whether you are sort of living your dream, find yourself completely in left field (assuming God hasn’t called you to left field), or can’t figure out what God wants you to do with your life, I think you will get a lot out of Craig Groeschel’s new book.

Craig says “God placed you on earth for a purpose that’s solely yours to fulfill. Dig under the surface of your life to discover and pursue your Chazown.”

When you read this book, be prepared to become uncomfortable!  Craig hits on every aspect of life, and shows you how to help fix things so that you can become what God intended you to be.  You will learn to use spiritual disciplines to stop wasting your life, and instead, flow into the person God created you to be.

One thought that I walked away with is “my body is on loan from God.”  No kidding – those were the words in my head as I tried to ignore the need to get out of bed and exercise this morning.  Every area that Craig touches is right on, and needed for each of our lives.

This book is an easy read – broken up into mini chapters that are just right for a busy life.    The first part of the book just talks about your personal vision, and how to figure out what God wants you to be.  The last half goes into five areas of your life that need to be right.  Even if you are moving along quite well, you could probably use the tune up.

I want to also recommend that you watch the online sermons at www.lifechuch.tv the ‘who do you think you are’ series seems to be a good companion for this book.

Then, check out the Chazown web site for fantastic helps and a boost in the right direction.

Today is your day.  God does have a plan for your life. You can be all that God has called you to be. Chazown is a great start.

You can buy it at Amazon.com.

Three Super-Simple Kick Start Living Your Dreams – in the next 15 minutes

February 24, 2011

Welcome to guest writer Kathi Lipp.  I’ve been reading her book, The ME Project, this week – pretty inspiring!  Enjoy her post, and read all the way to the bottom for a special giveaway:

Is there a dream that God has given you, but you are waiting until the kids are grown and you have money in the bank before you get started?

You may not be able to enroll in a month long pastry making class or take a week off of work to get started on your novel, but today you can take three little baby steps to making your dream a day-to-day reality.

1. Go Public with It

It’s a little scary to tell the world what you want to do when you grow up—but this is one little step could get you closer to living your dream than almost any other. Plus—it takes very little time and you don’t have to raid your kid’s college fund to make it happen.

When you gather up all your courage and tell your best friend, “I want to learn how to paint,” suddenly she remembers an old art book she has laying around she would love to give you, or her friend from church who teaches art classes. The people you know and love want to be a resource. Give them the privilege of being a part of making your dream happen.

2. Join an Online Group

This is one of the simplest—and cheapest—ways to start exploring your passion. Find out who else is talking about restoring antiques and listen to their conversation. Start by Googling your interest along with the term “online groups.” You will be amazed with the number of people who want to talk about the proper way to care for 1950’s lunchboxes as much as you do.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Pray

I remember the first time I put an offer in on a house—I wanted it more than I had wanted almost anything else in my life. While I knew that I had dozens of other people praying on my behalf, I was too scared to pray.

I didn’t want God to tell me no. I was afraid to pray until my co-worker Kim asked me (in a loving, kind way), why I didn’t believe that God wanted His best for me. Don’t be afraid to pray—as with anything amazing in my life, the path is never what I expected, but it has always been obvious that God’s hand has been on it the whole way.

Author Bio
Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker, currently speaking each year to thousands of women throughout the United States. She is the author of The Husband Project and The Marriage Project, serves as food writer for Nickelodeon, and has had articles published in several magazines, including Todays Christian Woman and Discipleship Journal. Kathi and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four teenagers and young adults. For more information visit her website: www.kathilipp.com

Special Giveaway:

By March 4, 2011 send KCWC the name of someone who commented on the blog tour. That person will be entered into a grand prize giveaway.

On March 7, 2011 KCWC will draw and announce a winner of the grand prize.

Kathi Lipp Grand Prize Giveaway:

  • Deluxe Starbucks Coffee Gift Basket
  • Three 2.5-oz. bags of Starbucks coffee
  • (Sumatra, House Blend, and French Roast)
  • Tazo black tea
  • Starbucks marshmallow cocoa
  • Almond roca
  • Almond roca buttercrunch toffee cookies
  • White chocolate and raspberry cookies
  • 2 Starbucks mugs
  • Keepsake black bamboo basket

($62 value)

So, comment away!


This is Your Brain in Love by Dr. Earl Henslin

February 11, 2011

Remember when you met your spouse?  For the first 6 months or so, you lived in euphoria.  Then, you either lose the high and settle for ‘normal’, walk away, or find that you have so much more to learn.  You become what Dr. Henslin calls Master Level Lovers.

God gives us the desires of our heart.  Do you desire a better relationship with your spouse?   This book will help you look at the common ways that we drive each other crazy, see the root problems, and learn ways to walk through the issues.

Dr. Henslin looks at five areas:

The Scattered Lover

The Overfocused Lover

The Blue Mood Lover

The Agitated Lover

The Anxious Lover

This is Dr. Henslin’s second book on the brain.  His first was “This is your brain on joy.”

You know how sometimes life is just off?  Every relationship you have starts to go haywire, and your spouse thinks you’ve been body snatched.  You go through the steps – “if it’s everybody else, it’s probably me”, and then…you curl up in a ball – because for all the counseling in the world, sometimes you just want to be in a ball.

Dr. Henslin will show you why these complications happen and how to fix them.  You are not abnormal – you have a part of your brain that is either over or under active.  Each chapter has a quiz at the front to help you identify the issue.  Then, there is a description of the issue, implications in life, and coping strategies.  Then, you will find supplements that help (and ones that don’t), and a list of the medications that doctors often prescribe if supplements and coping strategies aren’t working.  A healthy brain means a healthy life.  A healthy life means you are free to be the person you were created to be.

If you suffer from mood disorders, or know someone who does, I think you will find relief and hope in this book.  You are worth it.  Give yourself a chance at healing, and become the Master Level Lover you and your mate deserve.

Hoping for more information?  Try Dr. Henslin’s web site.

You can find this book at Amazon.com.

Follow by Floyd McClung

February 10, 2011

I want to introduce you to some fantastic people and show you a book that you MUST read.

Is your Christian life normal?  Does it seem like every day is pretty much the same?  Your life can be different!  You can live an exciting adventure for Jesus.

Floyd McClung has written a book that I think every Christian must read.  A few years ago, Todd Hunter wrote a program called Three is Enough.  I loved this program.  I felt Todd was really onto something, but I didn’t see the program take off.

Then I read Follow.  Follow is going in the same direction.  This book will help you become the dynamic, world changing Christian you were called to be.

When you want to lead someone to water, first you need to identify their need/desire, define water, and wait until they really want it – then you can lead them to the water and show them how to drink.  If you shorten the process, you will often have them running for a diet coke. <grin>  Floyd follows the path until you are desperate for the fulfilling life that will only occur for those living radically for Jesus.  Then, he shows you how to do it in a simple, step by step process.

If you are intuitive, you really don’t have to read most books beyond the first three chapters.  You already have the entire concept, and there is no use reading further.  Follow is different.  The book is divided into three parts:  Loving Jesus, Loving those who don’t know Jesus, and Loving One Another.  Then, the last chapter of the book shows you how to put it all together.  You will want to read the whole book.

Are you looking for a *real* life?  Are you sure that there should be more to your existence than what you have experienced so far?  I encourage you to read this book.  I think you will find what you are missing.

Want a taste of this awesome experience?  Here is a sample chapter.

Want to buy the book?  You can find both the print and digital versions at Amazon.com.

 

Taproot – Enchantment out of 4 stools, some sticks and cloth

February 8, 2011

Mark Chamberlin as Odysseus. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

What could you do with four stools, some sticks, a few pelts, and a couple pieces of cloth?

Taproot, the Seattle theatre that continues to delight, has taken these few props and created a transforming evening that carries us away to the lands of Homer’s Odysseus.  Can you imagine an evening of enchantment where 13 people play 84 parts?  This is just the type of play that Taproot excels at.

Prior to this, I had read a bit of Homer, but reading and understanding are not the same thing.  Taproot took a difficult work, and not only made it understandable, but helped Odysseus, Telemachus, and Penelope come to life.

For me, the evening was an interesting flow of sound and color.

The costumes, bold in teals and purples, identify people from different lands, gold helps identify those who are from among the Greek mythology gods and goddesses.

My favorite delight of the evening was Nicholas Beach. He played four parts, the best of which were a traveling mandrel (with a great voice), and Hermes.  Odysseus is not a musical, but Nicholas has several solos in which his voice quiets the house with its clarity. Nicholas is a young actor to watch.  His ability to handle diversity in roles will take him far.

The hero of the evening, Mark Chamberlin, Odysseus, was impressive.  His voice is awesome – deep and commanding, he can speak from anywhere in the theatre (including the aisles up in the audience), and own the room.

Instead of singing, the women chant at different points.  Pam Nolte, Jesse Notehelfer, and  Sarah Roquemore delighted with a fun dance and chant.  One of the highlights of the evening was the terrific dialogue of the Sirens – again done in chant – played by Pam Nolte, Jesse Notehelfer, April Wolfe and  Sarah Roquemore.

Nikki Visel is an incredible actress.  It is a delight to watch her grow in her ability to command the stage.  In this play, she is Athena – the one constant throughout the play, who keeps watch over Odysseus.

Nolan Palmer as Eumaeus, Nikki Visel as Athena, and Mark Chamberlin as Odysseus. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

There were no weak actors.  Randy Scholz pulled of a great bit of acting. Nolan Palmer, a favorite of mine did not fail to deliver, and Stephen Grenley gave a great performance – taking on the brusquer character, much like he has played in the past.

Last, I want to bring attention to Taproot’s use of puppets again – it was just a small scene, but there was a six-handed (at least 4 headed) monster that was terrific.

I leave you with a quote – I am curious to your response to it:  “Even when we get what we want most, our better sense denies reality.”

Want to enjoy the enchantment yourself?  Check out Taproot’s website.

 

 

Be Available by Dr. Wiersbe

January 31, 2011

Are you looking for a new bible study?  I was on the hunt for a new study, when I received the invite to review one of the “Be” series by Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe.

Dr, Wiersbe’s name wasn’t familiar to me – so I looked him up.  Dr. Wiersbe was pastor of Moody Church.  He has had a very long and distinguished career.

This book came at a time when I really wanted to learn and dig again into an Old Testament book.  Be Available hit the spot.  A refresher and review over the book of Judges, I also found tidbits of information that were new to me.

The one drawback of this book is that I could tell it was written by someone at least a generation older than myself, male, and probably in the midwest (no lie, that was my guess).  Tonight, when I reviewed Dr. Wiersbe’s bio, I was only surprised that he is over 80 and he has written about 150 books.  The rest, I was spot on.  He does write with a slant for his generation and place in life, but then, we all see through a lens, so our writing is bound to detect it.

Over all, I gave the first 2-3 chapters a 4, and the rest of the book a 3.  Good read, lots of great information, and really good questions for conversation.

Looking for a deeper look at the Judges who followed God when it was impossible?  You can pick up Be Available at Amazon.com. You can also read a more detailed review that I wrote there.

The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybels

January 18, 2011

Bill Hybels is definitely improving with age.  Not only is this book deep and encouraging, but it is one of the most open books Hybels has written.

Years ago, in order to get the whole story, I would read one book by Hybels and another by both Lynne and Bill simultaneously.   Fast forward to 2010-11 – The Power of a Whisper is really good.  Hybels is transparent.

I felt like I was sitting in the office of a mentor, listening to him tell me about how God speaks – in his and others’ lives.

Better than that, as I made my way through the book, God had me on a mini-journey – speaking to me in small ways, reminding me of His workings in my life, and teaching me again to heed His voice.

Not only do I recommend this book, but I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to read it.  This was so fun, I have a hard copy, and put a copy on my kindle for android.  I read it everywhere – home, bus… and all the while, God was whispering.

You can enjoy the mentoring and renewal if you get the book.  Here’s the link.

True Religion by Palmer Chinchen

January 4, 2011

Are you tired?  Tired of every day looking the same? Tired of not making a difference?

This is the time of year that we all look for a way to change our lives – actually people under the age of 25 seem to look for a way to change their lives between September and October.  The rest of us have decided that January 1 is the change date.  Everything can change – we can weigh less, act better, be more of what we were meant to be.

Interestingly, I usually find my ‘book of the year’ between December 15 and January 30.  This year, I might have two, but I have found the first:  True Religion. I picked up this book because I saw that Palmer Chinchen was looking to add staff to his church.  I wanted to know what he was about.

This I can tell you:  You can’t be part of Palmer’s church and not find a way to impact the world. 250 people went forward on one Sunday to commit themselves to leaving the US to make a difference overseas.  Palmer was raised a Missionary Kid, and he flows with passion for the lost and hurting.  He appears to really believe that we are Christ’s representatives and our lives should impact this world and make it better – Christ living in and through us to impact the world.

Consider this quote:

“I’ve boiled life down to two ways you can live.  One, you can live optimistically and full of passion; or, two, you can live pessimistically and full of apathy.  I’m convinced that if God has your heart, you will live with a passionate desire to give Him, this world, this life everything you’ve got.”

How can you not be inspired?

“Realize this:  God created you with a beautiful, perfect purpose in mind.  He intends for you to live a life of significance, a life that impacts people and changes lives, cities, and nations.”

These last three years have been significant in our family – but they have been hard.  I have discovered that stress, sorrow, more stress, and uncertainty can cause us to pull into ourselves.  We become what we never wanted to be – a person who is existing.

I know that these have not been easy times for many of you.  With recession comes job loss, job changes, and people seem to be devalued.  Life is no longer about thriving, it is about surviving.  Yet, Stephen (the follower of Jesus in Acts that was stoned for his faith) is a good model for us – even under intense pressure and rocky times (pun intended), he managed to impact people for Jesus.

If you want your life to count, I strongly recommend that you start with “True Religion”.  Palmer doesn’t just write this, he lives it.  The book is full of inspiring stories, and glimpses into a world where You are  needed to make a difference.  I don’t know what God has called you to, but I know that He has called you to make a difference.

If you feel pretty hopeless at that thought (and I know that when you are caught on the hamster wheel, words of inspiration feel like electric shock therapy), you need to develop new brain pathways toward a life that makes a difference.  Along with your daily devotions, read Palmer’s book and see what God does in your heart and mind.

You can buy True Religion on Amazon.com.