New fam film (in theaters TODAY!) from The Skit Guys: “Family Camp” plus Amazon GC giveaway! (ends 5/21/22)

#sponsor #partner

Recently, Momentum Influencer Network provided another awesome family film for me to view and to tell you about (plus an Amazon GC giveaway!). It’s a brand-new film you can see in theaters opening weekend–which starts today, 5/13–from The Skit Guys. Called “Family Camp,” it’s something your entire family can (and WILL!) enjoy. (Opening weekend continues 5/13-15.)

About the film

Here’s a brief synopsis about what you can expect from Family Camp!

When their pastor encourages the congregation to sign-up for a week away at family camp, Grace (Leigh-Allyn Baker) believes she’s found the perfect cure for her imperfect clan—even if they’d all rather be anywhere but at rustic Camp Katokwah. The first feature film from The Skit Guys—Tommy Woodard and Eddie James—FAMILY CAMP is a laugh-out-loud comedy that is sure to touch the hearts and tickle the funny bones of every family member from eight to eighty.

My impressions of Family Camp

Well. First, I have to give a shout-out to the cast, all of whom are incredible!

  • First, The Skit Guys themselves, Tommy Woodard and Eddie James
  • Leigh-Allyn Baker, from “Good Luck Charlie”
  • Gigi Orsillo”
  • Robert Amaya (one of my faves from “Moms’ Night Out” and “Courageous”)
  • Cece Kelly
  • Mark Christopher Lawrence
  • Heather Land, who’s a social media star and comedian

You know that a film like this is going to be about transformation. But, there’s a story to tell first! “Family Camp” does a great job of introducing viewers to the two families, and the script gives each very identifiable characteristics (in a non-overdone way). Of course, in real life costars Tommy and Eddie are best friends. But in the film, they definitely do NOT get along. Their competitive natures, and Eddie’s desire to show himself and his family as the best and strongest (and most Christian) at camp, get in the way of the possibility of their becoming friends. Side stories about the kids’ inclinations and personalities make the kids’ characters very appealing (in fact, Jacob M. Wade’s portrayal of Tommy’s son Henry charmed me).

A dad hike causes the biggest conflict in the film, for unusual reasons. (And don’t miss the Bigfoot Hunters. Awesome!) It causes some rather stinging interactions between Tommy and Eddie and illuminates their differences even more dramatically. But there is still much more to come before the film’s conclusion!

I can definitely recommend “Family Camp” for your family! It is a clean family film, and something you can take your whole family to. (For smaller children, there might be some scary moments. But they’re definitely mild.) There is great humor, the characters are well-drawn and exceptionally-acted; and “Family Camp” reminds us of the meaning and immense value of marriage, family, relationships, fun–and family camp!

Meet the Skit Guys!

The marvelous Jean Thomason from Momentum Influencer Network got to interview The Skit Guys–and we’ve got it on film for you to see! The Skit Guys are longtime friends Tommy Woodard and Eddie James. Here, you’ll get to hear about how they met and what their ministry and creative process looks like. I love their stories and their long history of friendship. Very fun!

I *knew* that The Skit Guys’ name sounded a bit familiar when I first heard it. But it took my telling my husband and (now college-age) son about “Family Camp” to remember why. My son’s drama classes in high school and middle school often used scripts that were written by The Skit Guys! The pair is so gifted in telling a fun and funny story while naturally including spiritual truths and encouragement.

Get your tickets now for opening weekend!

“Family Camp” opens in theaters this weekend, May 13-15, 2022! Here’s more on how you can get tickets and go to the movies this weekend!

Purchase “Family Camp” movie tickets here

If you’d like to see “Family Camp” with your church group, purchase “Family Camp” group tickets here

Visit the “Family Camp” movie website here

Learn more about the Heart of “Family Camp” here

And, see the “Family Camp” movie trailer here!

Now, enter to win a $10 Amazon GC!

“Family Camp” and Momentum Influencer Network are giving away a $10 Amazon gift card here at the FINCHNWREN blog! To enter to win, just click on the pink “Enter here!” link below. That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes on 5/21/22. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: Many thanks to K-Love Films for providing a sample of this product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.

“Link2Us” Spring 2022 Magazine ~ and a FABULOUS Instagram Giveaway! (ends 5/14/22)

**this is a sponsored post**

Earlier in March, I had the privilege of reading the Link2Us magazine for the first time. It’s a lovely new lifestyle and faith magazine filled with interesting articles about inspiring people, food, creativity, and faith. FrontGate Media sent me the newest Spring 2022 issue, which I loved. And, I have exciting news to share with you! Link2Us is having an incredible giveaway with a prize pack to swoon over!

About this issue

This issue of Link2Us is fantastic. There are amazing recipes and wonderful fashion photos that take notice that, after a long winter, it is finally spring! (There is one gorgeous salad that I plan to make!)

There are interviews with singer/songwriters Dante Bowe and Brooke Ligertwood, who talk about the paths they’ve taken (and that God has taken them on) to becoming well-known artists. I also appreciated an inspiring article with advice from leaders and innovators (I’ve flagged that page so that I can return to it!).

Link2Us, as always, is very conscious that the people of faith who read the magazine are people of many colors. Their photos and interviews reflect that. For example, in this issue we get to know women who’d identify as different races, and how they made an impact in their own fields.

And! Now I can tell you about this incredible giveaway!

Enter to win the Link2Us Instagram Giveaway!

Two winners will receive this incredible prize pack of goodies!

*The Link2Us logo official Tote bag
*2 free Fandango Movie tickets
*A medley of Maddy & Maize fancy flavored gourmet popcorn
*5 Must reads from the Link2Us Book picks for Spring 22′ + a signed copy of INVISIBLE a new book by author by Grace ji-Sun Kim.
*6 A signed CD copy of “SEVEN.” Brooke Ligertwood’s latest album release.
*7 Four travel size Spring fragrances by Replica, Jo Malone, Marc Jacobs and Victor&Rolf.
*8 A digital download of Dante Bowe’s multi-platinum album “Circles.”
*9 A One year digital subscription to Link2Us Magazine.

How to enter to win

Here’s how you can enter to win this amazing prize pack! First, click on the link below:

Link2Us Magazine Instagram Giveaway

Once you’re on the Link2Us Magazine Instagram Giveaway page, you’ll need to do the following things:

  • Follow the Link2Us Instagram account
  • Tag a friend
  • Post the phrase “I love Spring”
  • Invite your friends to do the same in the comment section

Giveaway closes at 2:00PM EST on Saturday, May 14th, 2022. So get on over there and enter!

Where to find Link2Us

You can find Link2Us at Barnes & Noble and you can also visit the Link2Us website.

Best wishes! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this magazine from the publisher. All opinions are my own and honest.

ANM Storybook Bibles for Children ~ and you can make a difference!

**This is a sponsored post.**

Recently, FrontGate Media shared with me about an amazing organization that is getting storybook Bibles into the hands of those who’ve never seen them before in villages far from city centers, in China. The organization is Advancing Native Missions (ANM). ANM sends Christian workers to those who haven’t yet heard the gospel. The neat thing about these Christian workers is that they are FROM the same nation they’re sharing the gospel with!

About Advancing Native Missions (ANM)

Since 1992, ANM has sent Christian workers to those who haven’t learned about Jesus, God, or the Bible. The key difference about ANM is that they equip these workers to go to unreached areas of their own nations! So rather than a missionary from a foreign country (like America, for example) going to share the gospel, these individuals get to hear the gospel from their own people. You can find out more about ANM at the ANM/About page.

But there is a way that Americans can get involved! ANM matches donations from non-native (i.e., you and me) givers with their local ministry workers and areas. Today, I’m sharing with you about an exciting way that you can help get children’s Bibles to far-flung areas of Asia!

About these storybook Bibles

ANM is producing wonderful children’s storybook Bibles in Chinese! Working with Chinese pastors, ANM will be providing these storybook Bibles printed in the Chinese language, with illustrations that will appeal to every reader. They will be produced in an area from which they can be shipped to the pastors for little cost. The pastors will then take them to villages and remote areas of China. Children, their parents, and grandparents can then read a storybook version of God’s Word together–and, maybe for the first time, understand how much God loves them!

Specifically:

  • The stories are faithfully adapted and beautifully illustrated by Chinese Christians.
  • Chinese pastors and house church leaders will deliver the Bibles, giving them a great opportunity to share the Gospel in person and start relationships with families.
  • Chinese church leaders say that every Bible will reach at least seven people: the child who receives it, their parents, and their grandparents.

How you can help

For only $4, you can send a Bible to a Chinese family! That is a fantastic return for your missions/donations dollar. Imagine how many hands a book can pass through. As ANM shared above, each Bible is expected to reach at least 7 people. Who knows, beyond that? A book can travel through many, many hands before its life is over!

If you’d like to participate, simply click on the link below. That will take you to the donation page for ANM’s children’s Bibles for China. I encourage you to check out this lovely opportunity! $4 is less than you’d pay for a kid’s meal at most fast food restaurants. Yet here, $4 can make a lasting and eternal impact!

$4 for ANM Children’s Storybook Bibles to China

Learn more about ANM here

You can also visit the ANM home page link to discover more about this ministry and not-for-profit. (Do check out their ministry donations/financials info. It’s impressive!)

ANM home page

Thank you for reading! –Wren

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

“Turn My Mourning Into Dancing” ~ a JustRead Tours Blog Blitz and Giveaway (ends 5/3/22)

#sponsor #partner

Turn My Mourning into Dancing JustRead Blog Blitz Welcome to the Blog Blitz for Turn My Mourning Into Dancing by Henri Nouwen, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Turn My Mourning Into Dancing

Title: Turn My Mourning Into Dancing Author: Henri Nouwen Publisher: Thomas Nelson Release Date: March 8, 2022 Genre: Christian, Spiritual Growth, Grief How do you find hope in hard times? Why is it important to have hope during difficult times? Turn My Mourning into Dancing will help you survive the difficult seasons and learn how to live a full life in the midst of them and beyond. With practical advice, Henri Nouwen will gently point you towards a way of life that is grounded in God’s constancy and rooted within eternal hope. In this updated edition, Turn My Mourning into Dancing discusses five movements we experience during hard times: • From Our Little Selves to a Larger World • From Holding Tight to Letting Go • From Fatalism to Hope • From Manipulation to Love • From a Fearful Death to a Joyous Life Healing begins with taking our pain out of its diabolic isolation and seeing our sufferings in communion with all humanity, and all creation. Nouwen teaches us that our little lives participate in something much larger. Turn My Mourning into Dancing is a must read for: • men and women looking for growth and insight on life • anyone going through the grief process and searching for real solutions • anyone who has experienced a loss, betrayal, or hard times Everyone grieves differently. It is a process, not a science experiment. Mourning shouldn’t last forever. Do you want the kind of life that allows you to dance even in the middle of the darkest night? Get the answers and find hope within your hard times with Nouwen’s works on spiritual growth.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Christianbook | BookBub


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Henri Nouwen

Henri J. M. Nouwen (1932-1996) was the author of With Open Hands, Reaching Out, The Wounded Healer, Making All Things New, and many other bestsellers. He was the senior pastor of L’Arche Daybreak in Toronto, Canada, a community where men and women with mental disabilities and their assistants create a home for one another.


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive two print copies of Turn My Mourning into Dancing (one to keep, one to give!)!

Turn My Mourning into Dancing JustRead Blog Blitz Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight April 26, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on May 3, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE https://widget.gleamjs.io/e.js


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Excerpts from the book

If you’ve ever gone through a time of mourning or suffering, you know that one of the things you long for is for it to be over. Henri Nouwen speaks words that those facing challenging times can take and, I hope, be encouraged. Here are two excerpts so you can explore the riches in this book.

Excerpt 1
“Joining in the Larger Dance

Mourning makes us poor; it powerfully reminds us of our smallness. But it is precisely here, in that pain
or poverty or awkwardness, that the Dancer invites us to rise up and take the first steps. For in our
suffering, not apart from it, Jesus enters our sadness, takes us by the hand, pulls us gently up to stand,
and invites us to dance. We find the way to pray, as the psalmist did, “You have turned my mourning
into dancing” (Ps. 30:11), because at the center of our grief we find the grace of God.
And as we dance, we realize that we don’t have to stay on the little spot of our grief but can step beyond
it. We stop centering our lives on ourselves. We pull others along with us and invite them into the larger
dance. We learn to make room for others— and the Gracious Other in our midst. And when we become
present to God and God’s people, we find our lives richer. We come to know that all the world is our
dance floor. Our step grows lighter because God has called out others to dance as well.
A friend wrote me a letter to recount his discovery. He had decided to spend the week following
Christmas with his father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. One morning, when he met his father
at the day program in which he takes part, he found him very anxious and agitated. His father was
worrying that his own mother, who had died long before my friend was born, needed his help. The
worries were clearly an expression of a deep anguish that he could not express directly.
My friend took his father for a drive for more than an hour through the countryside. Very few words
were spoken between them, but my friend noticed how his father’s anxiety diminished, and he became
more relaxed. After not speaking for nearly an hour, the father turned, looked directly at his son, and
said, “Well, we haven’t had such a good visit in a long time.” The son laughed and realized that his father
was right. Anguish had become peace; loss had become gain. Even the silence between them held
healing. So much of our movement through suffering has to do with such unexpected moments.
Moments that come as gifts amid our waiting or struggling. Moments that often have much to do with
the people God puts in our path.
We do not, then, attempt our movement from our little lives into God’s larger grace by simple resolve or
lonely effort. When our needs lead us to grab desperately for a place, when our unhealed wounds
determine the atmosphere around us, we become anxious. But then we let our hurt remind us of our
need for healing. As we dance and walk forward, grace provides the ground on which our steps fall.
Prayer puts us in touch with the God of the Dance. We look beyond our experience of sadness or loss by
learning to receive an all-embracing love, a love that meets us in everyday moments.

Taken from “Turn My Mourning into Dancing: Finding Hope During Hard Times” by Henri Nouwen.
Copyright 2001 Estate of Henri Nouwen. Preface Copyright 2001 Timothy Jones. Used with permission
from Thomas Nelson Publishing. http://www.thomasnelson.com

Excerpt 2
From Holding Tight to Letting Go

For years I have loved watching trapeze artists. The love began when my then- eighty- nine- year- old
father came for a visit. Let’s go to the circus, we decided one day. That evening we watched five South
African trapeze artists—three fliers and two catchers. They danced in the air! The fliers soared and all
was dangerous until they found themselves caught by the strong hands of their partners. I told my
father that I had always wanted to fly like that, that perhaps I had missed my calling!
I am constantly moved by the courage of my circus friends. At each performance they trust that their
flight will end with their hands sliding into the secure grip of a partner. They also know that only the
release of the secure bar allows them to move on with arcing grace to the next. Before they can be
caught, they must let go. They must brave the emptiness of space.
Living with this kind of willingness to let go is one of the greatest challenges we face. Whether it
concerns a person, possession, or personal reputation, in so many areas we hold on at all costs. We
become heroic defenders of our dearly gained happiness. We treat our sometimes inevitable losses as
failures in the battle of survival.
The great paradox is that it is in letting go, we receive. We find safety in unexpected places of risk. And
those who try to avoid all risk, those who would try to guarantee that their hearts will not be broken,
end up in a self- created hell. C. S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves,
To love at all is to be vulnerable…If you want to make sure of keeping [your heart] intact, you must give
your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries;
avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket of your selfishness. But in that casket— safe, dark,
motionless, airless— it will change. It will not be broken—it will become unbreak-able, impenetrable,
irredeemable…The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from the danger of love

is Hell.

In so many ways, the more we insist on control and the more we resist the call to hold our lives lightly,
the more we have to deny the reality of our losses and the more artificial our existence becomes. Our
belief that we should grasp tightly what we need provides one of the great sources of our suffering. But
letting go of possessions and plans and people allows us to enter, for all its risks, a life of new,
unexpected freedom.
How can we live with greater willingness to let go? Another step in turning our mourning into dancing
has to do with not clutching what we have, not trying to reserve a safe place we can rest in, not trying to
choreograph our own or others’ lives, but to surrender to the God whom we love and want to follow.
God invites us to experience our not being in control as an invitation to faith.
Taken from “Turn My Mourning into Dancing: Finding Hope During Hard Times” by Henri Nouwen.
Copyright 2001 Estate of Henri Nouwen. Preface Copyright 2001 Timothy Jones. Used with permission
from Thomas Nelson Publishing. http://www.thomasnelson.com

Don’t miss the opportunity to win two copies of this book! Just scroll back up to the giveaway image and follow the directions below it. Giveaway closes May 3, 2022. Best wishes!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

“Really Woolly My First Easter” ~ a JustRead Bookstagram & Review Tour (and giveaway, ends 4/4/22)

#sponsor #partner

⇒ Book Name Really Woolly My First Easter

⇒ Author Dayspring, Bonnie Rickner Jensen & Julie Sawyer Phillips

⇒ Publisher Tommy Nelson

Purchase here at this link #ad

⇒ About the Book

Celebrate the hope of Jesus and the true meaning of Easter with this basket-shaped board book of poems and prayers from DaySpring’s Really Woolly series. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers will giggle along with this lovable sheep as they discover that the Easter story is full of joy, from baby ducklings and blooming flowers to knowing that Jesus is alive forever and ever!

Giveaway! How to enter to win this book

The JustRead giveaway of Really Woolly My First Easter is an Instagram giveaway. So, the rules are slightly different than most of the giveaways hosted here. Here’s what you’ll need to know, and do, to enter! (1) winner will receive a print copy of the book. (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics. Instagram is not affiliated with nor responsible for this giveaway. Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST on April 4, 2022.)

My thoughts

What a charming little Easter board book! Author Bonnie Rickner Jensen and illustrator Julie Sawyer Phillips have created a lovely, musically-rhymed book that uses Dayspring lamb (or sheep) Really Woolly and his friends as they celebrate Easter, Jesus, and the joys of spring and new beginnings. The board book is die-cut to resemble an Easter basket, with colorful drawings. Each pair of board-book pages contains a title, a Bible verse, a poem, and a prayer, with Really Woolly and his animal friends depicting each one.

What are the thoughts that this book communicates to its tiny readers (or families, as parents read this book to their children)? First, that these big thoughts about God, life, and the earth and its inhabitants are ideas that little ones can understand and take hold of. Communicated lovingly in the animals’ sweet expressions matched with the Bible verses and poems, the pages will delight little readers, even as they plant the Bible’s beauty and truth in their hearts. The book’s big idea, Easter, is communicated in part by the colorful Easter eggs tucked into hidden spots on each page, but also by the path the pages travel; through the joys of spring, rain, new beginnings, growing, Easter, and finally, Jesus, who brings us the joy in our hearts.

Some of my favorite parts

There are some precious parts of Really Woolly My First Easter that I loved, and wanted to share with you! So many things will make this board book the perfect addition to an Easter basket, or for a treat for families to read on Easter. Here are some that delighted me!

First, the shape of the book itself! The die-cut “handle” of the board book is the perfect size for children to tuck their fingers in and hold, just as if it were a real basket.

Second, I loved how the artist placed (so to speak) Easter eggs everywhere! Not just real eggs but items that show what this book is celebrating. I’ll bet you can pick out several on these pages, but I have to point out my favorite. The mice rolling the Easter egg in the lower right reminded me so much of what the verses above it say: that the angel came to roll away the stone from Jesus’ tomb. Wonderful words illustrated again in the art!

The last page in the book takes all the big ideas Really Woolly My First Easter shares with its readers and makes them personal; that little ones can experience daily joy in their hearts (as can everyone else) because Jesus has made us all new. Wonderful!

Don’t miss the chance to enter the Instagram giveaway linked above so that you can win a copy of Really Woolly My First Easter for your little ones. They will love it!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

Pure Flix Easter Films ~ and a Pure Flix giveaway! (ends 4/9/22)

#sponsoredpost #partner

Hello dear ones!

Momentum Influencer Network and Pure Flix want to help you and your family get ready for Easter; and to do so, they’re giving away a 3-month Pure Flix subscription plus sharing about their slate of Easter films that you can watch with your family!

About Pure Flix

Pure Flix is an online streaming service that is full of movies, tv shows, documentaries, classics, and kids’ entertainment shows (VeggieTales, anyone?) that you can enjoy with your family. Pure Flix’s shows can be viewed on TVs, tablets (Apple and Android), phones (also Apple and Android), and some gaming consoles. It is available as an app, and it is subscription-based, with monthly plans starting as low as $5.84 per month. Pure Flix enables your family to stream literally thousands of movies and shows with no commercials with that subscription. And, you can sign up for a free trial (more on that later!).

Pure Flix’s Easter films

Pure Flix has assembled a collection of films for Easter that families can watch as they prepare their hearts and minds for Resurrection Sunday. (Of course, you’ll want to assess your children’s ages as you choose to watch the various films.) These include:

  • The Passion of the Christ
  • Risen
  • The Penitent Thief
  • The Messiah: A BrickFilm
  • The Passion: A BrickFilm
  • AD: The Bible Continues

These are in addition to Pure Flix’s enormous film library of faith-based or family-friendly shows.

My experience with Risen

I was given the privilege of viewing one of Pure Flix’s Easter films. I selected Risen, a 2016 film written by Kevin Reynolds and Tom Aiello, starring:

  • Joseph Fiennes as Clavius, one of Pontius Pilate’s most-trusted tribunes
  • Tom Felton as Lucius, Clavius’s aide and fellow tribune
  • Peter Firth as Pontius Pilate
  • Cliff Curtis as Yeshua, the Messiah
  • and more

In addition to a spectacular cast, Risen is beautifully filmed, with an incredible storyline. Clavius is tasked, by Pilate, with ensuring that Yeshua is dead, since Pilate has been bothered by the Sanhedrin leaders, who’ve warned him that this Yeshua has said he would rise again if he were killed. The Sanhedrin is worried that the teacher’s followers plan to steal his body and deceive the masses by telling them that Yeshua has risen. So Clavius heads to Golgotha, where the crucifixion of Yeshua and two others is still going on. Three days later, Clavius is given another task; to find Yeshua’s body, since now his disciples are claiming that the teacher has in fact risen from the dead.

What a movie! Viewers get a window into Rome’s immense power and their ways of life; their worship of many gods, the austerity and toughness of their soldiers, and their power over their conquered lands. I appreciated the way the director and writers told the story of a Roman soldier who was an alien in Judea, only there to enforce the ways and laws of Rome. What if this soldier encountered not only the dying Jesus; but His followers, and his fellow soldiers “guarding” the grave? And what if this same man saw that there was more to the Jewish teacher than Rome had imagined?

This is a wonderful film. It is rated PG-13 (for images of war, the crucifixion, violence, and use of weapons), so it won’t probably be appropriate for younger children, but it is a fantastic approximation of “what if.” What if a faithful, world-wearied Roman soldier was forced to investigate the death and life of Yeshua? I found this to be the perfect lead-up to my own Easter. Because really, haven’t we all, as believers in Christ, had the moment where we didn’t know Him, but then we met Him for the first time, and had to take all the evidence about Jesus and decide to follow Him?

Sign up for a Pure Flix membership now!

You can sign up today for a Pure Flix subscription, and start viewing their Easter films! You can sign up for a free trial membership at the link below (where you can also sign up for a paid subscription):

Pure Flix subscription and free trial link

And, enter to win a Pure Flix subscription!

You can enter to win a 3-month subscription to Pure Flix streaming service, where you can see their lineup of Pure Flix Easter films! To enter, simply click on the pink “Enter here!” link below. That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes on 4/9/22. One entrant will be selected to win the Pure Flix 3-month subscription. Best wishes!

Enter here!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: Many thanks to Pure Flix for providing a sample of this product for review. Opinions are 100% my own.

“More Than A Mom” ~ a review of Kari Kampakis’s newest

#sponsor #partner

I have found my newest favorite mom book in Kari Kampakis’s More Than A Mom, which FrontGate Media provided to me. It has been SO encouraging and full of wisdom for me. Let me tell you more!

About More Than A Mom

Kari Kampakis, a mom of four girls, knows what being a mom asks of us. And not that we don’t delight in that privilege! But sometimes (oftentimes?) moms might neglect their own health while they care for their kids and families. We throw ourselves, body and soul, into: meal preparation; trying to figure out how to assist kids as they interact with the internet; getting up with our kids at night, when they’re nursing, or sick, or having nightmares; driving all around town; you know the drill! Moms so often treat motherhood if it were a sprint. When really, it’s a marathon.

What if moms could take care of themselves while they are doing all these mom activities in such a way that they remain healthy themselves AND model healthy living for their kids? Kari believes it’s possible! In More Than A Mom, she details 10 areas moms can incorporate to live more healthily in body, soul, and spirit: knowing their worth; resting & restoration; friendships; conquering stress & anxiety; choosing joy; rejecting negative self-talk; making peace with their bodies; feeling capable; embracing purpose; and living in hope. And, she doesn’t just give readers lofty ideals (that can make them feel even more guilty). Instead, she talks about the ways women can embrace these changes in ways that are positive, include Scriptures, and are action-oriented. Chapters also close with thoughtful questions that will enable moms to think about what they’d like to incorporate and include in their own lives; and what, if anything, needs to change for their own mental/emotional/spiritual/physical health.

How this book impacted me

When I was almost finished reading More Than A Mom, I told my husband, “Don’t let me put this book out of my sight!” That’s a convoluted way of saying that there was so much of value to me in this book. In fact, while I’ve read it, I am definitely not finished with it yet. I plan to work through it again, chapter by chapter, engaging with its ideas in my journal, taking notes but also using it to make changes in my life. It resounded with me, enormously; and there is more of it for me to unpack.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • “Like the shepherd in Matthew 18:12 who leaves ninety-nine sheep to search for the one sheep that is lost, God would travel to the ends of the earth for you. You’re not just another face in the crowd. To Him, you’re fully seen, desired, and known.”
  • “We want a positive life, and since we can’t create a positive life while consumed with negative thoughts, we’re often forced into a mind edit, a sifting through the mental clutter to clear out negativity. The expert of a mind edit is God, who created our minds in the first place. He knows our thoughts and offers healthy scripts to replace old ones.”
  • “Cultivate inner beauty..How you act (and make people feel) impacts the way people see you. Beauty is a running tally influenced by a woman’s choices…Your beauty quotient grows by simply being kind.”
  • “The reason why we accept God’s assignments is in response to His perfect love….At every age, you have a purpose, one that fulfills your heart’s desire to make a lasting and meaningful difference.”

As I read and interacted with More Than A Mom, I was so impacted by Kari’s loving thoughts and wisdom. She pointed out so many helpful actions and habits that I know I can put to work in my own life, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. This book has made a difference for me; and it will continue to, I know, as I put the ideas into practice that I’d like to embrace. I believe it can for you as well!

About Kari Kampakis, the author

Kari Kampakis is a mom of four girls, author, speaker, and podcaster from Birmingham, Alabama. Her new book for girl moms, LOVE HER WELL: 10 WAYS TO FIND JOY AND CONNECTION WITH YOUR TEENAGE DAUGHTER, can be found everywhere books are sold. Kari’s books for teen & tween girls – LIKED and 10 ULTIMATE TRUTHS GIRLS SHOULD KNOW – have been used widely across the country for small group studies. Join Kari on FacebookInstagram, and the Girl Mom podcast, or visit karikampakis.com.

Where you can find More Than A Mom

You can pre-order this book through the link below. Plus, when you do, you’ll receive free downloads from Kari, cell phone lock screens, devotionals, and other goodies.

More Than A Mom purchase link

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from FrontGate Media. All opinions are honest and my own.

New inspirational film “Tyson’s Run” plus a $20 Amazon GC giveaway! (ends 3/20/22)

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Momentum Influencer Network and Collide Distribution gave me the opportunity to watch “Tyson’s Run,” about football, running, and an autistic teen. I’m thrilled to share more with you about this film, plus let you know how you can see it in theaters. And you can enter a giveaway for an Amazon gift card, below!

About Tyson’s Run

From Collide Distribution: “When fifteen-year-old Tyson attends public school for the first time, his life is changed forever. While helping his father clean up after the football team, Tyson befriends champion marathon runner Aklilu. Never letting his autism hold him back, Tyson becomes determined to run his first marathon in hopes of winning his father’s approval. With the help of an unlikely friend and his parents, Tyson learns that with faith in yourself and the courage to take the first step, anything is possible.”

Tyson’s Run has a well-known and experienced cast. It stars Major Dodson as Tyson (“The Walking Dead,” “Left Behind,” “American Horror Story,” and “Revolution”), Amy Smart as his mom (“Stargirl,” “Justified,” The Single Moms Club,” “Starsky and Hutch,” and more), Rory Cochrane, as Tyson’s father (“Antlers,” “Reprisal,” “The Outsider,” “Argo,” “Hostiles”), and Layla Felder as Shannon (“Instant Family,” “The Sinner,” “Let Light Perpetual”). Aklilu, Tyson’s running coach, is played by Barkhand Abdi, who’s been seen in “Captain Phillips,” (for which he won a BAFTA and the London Critics’ Award), “Eye in the Sky,” “Blade Runner 2049,” “The Pirates of Somalia,” and more.

You can watch a short featurette film about the making of Tyson’s Run here, and get to know a bit about the film and Major Dodson (Tyson), who is on the autism spectrum himself, yet has acted in some major film and television franchises. Major’s mom also speaks and has some encouraging words for parents. They’re part of a family who definitely knows how to reach for dreams!

My thoughts & impressions about the film

A checked-out dad, who’d rather expend his energies on his championship high school football team than connect with his high-functioning autistic son, Tyson. A homeschool mom, who is her son’s champion but has gotten to where he understands more math than she does. A marriage in trouble, and a broken family. And Tyson, who’s entering public school for the first time. He’s bright. Intelligent. Able to communicate. But he stumbles a bit on understanding social interactions. What he would really like, though, is his dad’s approval.

We’ve all been there in some way. Perhaps we didn’t live up to our parents’ ideas of awesomeness, or maybe they favored one of our siblings. It might have been missing the approval of our peers, in school, work, or somewhere else. In some situation, in some way, we’ve probably had moments when we felt “less than” in our lives. So it’s easy to feel great compassion for Tyson, and to breathe a sigh of relief when he makes it, sort of, through his first day of public school. Day #2 isn’t so easy though. Bullies abound and the result of their abuse of Tyson ends up propelling him down a path that might eventually open a door for him. But there’s a lot of road to cover before that happens.

There was a lot that I found admirable about Tyson’s Run. We seem to be seeing more autism among children these days; but I can’t remember seeing much where they’re featured in films or television, as the subject of the shows. (Rain Man being the very obvious exception that comes to mind. But that was in 1988!) So we are really due for more films both starring and featuring kids, teens, or people with autism. (IMHO.)

The pace and storyline of the film was good. I’d have liked to see more of Tyson’s training, but the time allotted to his friendship with Aklilu made it both natural and interesting as they pursued running; as was the course of change in his family’s relationships with each other. Although much of Tyson’s hours at school were painful, we still got a great sense of his abilities there (as well as his challenges).

I don’t want to give too much away, because you have the opportunity, starting March 11, 2022, to see Tyson’s Run in theaters! (I’ve got links below, where you can purchase tickets!) This is a film that families can enjoy together. There’s nothing that’s inappropriate; there’s much that families can unpack and talk through after viewing; and, children and teens might even be able to grow in compassion as well as perseverance and dreams as a result. It might be an enormous encouragement as well for families who have a family member with autism.

…and the film’s trailer

How you can see Tyson’s Run in theaters

You can buy tickets today to see Tyson’s Run in your own local theaters! The film opens on March 11, 2021 and you can go on opening night, or soon after that! Just click on the film’s website below for more information, or on the Tickets link under that.

Tyson’s Run website

Tickets

How to enter to win an Amazon GC!

To enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card, just click on the link below. That will take you to the giveaway form. Just enter to win! Entrants must be 18 years of age or older. Giveaway closes on 3/20/22. Best wishes!

Click here to enter!

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure:

Many thanks to Collide Distribution for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own.

“I Love You, Mom!” ~ a book review & giveaway (ends 3/25/22)

#sponsor #partner

The BlogAbout Blogger Network sent me the most lovely and encouraging book for moms! I Love You, Mom! is a beautiful love note to mothers. I was so blessed and edified to read this book. And, I have a copy of the print book to give away to one FINCHNWREN reader. Keep reading for more, and for the opportunity to win!

About I Love You, Mom!

This precious book really is a love letter to moms. It includes beautiful artwork (in some of my favorite colors), Bible verses and devotional writings, prayers, and little notes on different subjects (these are written in a child’s voice, as if a mom’s child was writing notes of appreciation). It’s authored by daughter/mother writing team Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh. The book is subtitled “Cherished word gifts from my heart to yours,” and it really is just that!

Blythe and Helen have created a book that contains encouraging words that moms need to hear, along with Scriptures that will settle in mothers’ hearts and remind them both of God’s wonderful calling to them, along with His promises to always be with moms, working alongside them for His lifelong purposes. Devotional writings’ subjects include treasuring children; giving thanks; abundant love; confidence; regrets and affirmation; our time and attention; gifts and traditions; and much more. Each of these lovely chapters closes with wise and kind words of affirmation written in the child’s voice. How beautiful!

My thoughts about I Love You, Mom!

It touched my heart and my spirit so deeply! As I read this book, I felt many emotions. Although our son isn’t a little guy any more, I’m so grateful for the moments we’ve shared since his infancy, toddlerhood, and so on, all the way through his teen years. (Which are now officially concluded as he’s entered his twenties!) As I Love You, Mom! reminded me, God has held us all and loved us during every step of our lives.

And although this book paints a lovely picture of the mother & child life together, it’s also quite truthful. We do experience challenges in our family lives! We are not perfect people; we are loved humans who are endeavoring to create beautiful family experiences for our children. And sometimes we fail–in big ways or small ways. Yet our loving heavenly Father never gives up on us; never forgets us; never leaves us alone. And that’s a message that all moms need to hear.

I Love You, Mom! would be a fantastic gift for moms in any stage of the parenting life. It would be perfect for new moms, for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day mom gifts, or really for any moment you’d like to bring a special gift to a mother. With its Scriptures and focus on a loving God who’s alongside mothers in every step of their journey, it’s something that women of faith would appreciate. Above all, these chapters provide moments where moms can take a breath, receive encouragement, and catch a glimpse of the vision of their best for their children’s lives. That’s definitely a gift that not every book can provide!

About the authors

A magnificent mother-daughter duo, Helen McIntosh and Blythe Daniel released Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mother and Daughters in 2019 and have paired up again for I Love You, Mom!: Cherished Word Gifts from My Heart to Yours  releasing in February 2022.


Blythe is the president of The Blythe Daniel Agency, Inc., is a literary agent, marketer, and writer with 25 years in media and publishing. She has written for Focus on the Family, Proverbs 31 Ministries, Ann Voskamp, and Christian Retailing. 

Right away, Helen is someone you know as an encourager at heart. She has her Doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Sarasota, and is the author of Messages to Myself and Eric, Jose & The Peace Rug.

How you can enter to win your own copy of I Love You, Mom!

The BlogAbout Blogger Network has provided a copy of I Love You, Mom! for me to give away to one FINCHNWREN reader! (Although I’ve included pictures of the digital ebook on my Kindle, the winner will receive the print version.)

To enter, just click on the pink link below that says, “Enter here!” That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes on 3/25/22.

Enter here!

Thank you so much for reading; this book was just a joy to share with you. You can purchase your own copies from Amazon, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Target, or other booksellers.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author. All opinions are honest and my own.

“Say All the Unspoken Things” ~ a book review

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It has been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to read a book of actual letters. FrontGate Media provided one for me, with John Sowers’ new book, Say All the Unspoken Things: A Book of Letters. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Here are my thoughts on it!

About Say All the Unspoken Things

How often do we share the innermost parts of our hearts with those we love? Probably for most of us, not that often. John Sowers must have noticed the same thing, because one year after he lost his mom, the “Nana” of his three daughters, he began to write this book. As he says in the author’s note:

“Death has implications. There is urgency to it. When the end is near, either our own or that of a loved one, we may feel a rush of urgency. Have we done all we need to do? Have we forgiven? Have we thanked them? Have we told them we love them? Have we poured out our full, beating hearts to them?”

John Sowers, Say All the Unspoken Things, p. ix

Sowers hadn’t just lost his mom and his daughters’ Nana, though. He had lost his dearly loved grandmother, who helped raise him and his brother while his mom worked to support them, when he was in graduate school. These experiences helped him think about what he would want his girls to know; how he could give his heart to them, again, via letters he’d written to (and sometimes, about) them. The result of these thoughts is an outpouring of wisdom, faith, guidance, and life experience in a beautifully-readable form.

The author has written 33 “letters” categorized in 8 different divisions:

  • Part 1: You Are Created
  • Part 2: Identity and Purpose
  • Part 3: Growing Young
  • Part 4: Becoming
  • Part 5: Developing Character
  • Part 6: Friends and Relationships
  • Part 7: Finding and Being In Love
  • Part 8: Dreams and Legacy

Within each of these are 3-5 letters. They are gentle, beautiful letters that talk about everything from how his daughters were joyfully imagined in the mind of God and then created with love; to the practices that will build character in his girls as they grow; to the things that they should look for in the friends and future spouses who will seek to woo them. He talks to his girls about faith, community, being “famous,” and the different kinds of love. As well as boundaries; what they are and how to build them.

The book lovingly closes with the kinds of things a loving mentor would say to his protégé. How to have dreams and callings, and how to pursue them. And to understand what time is, and how it really does fly.

In addition, there are both personal letters to each of his three daughters, as well as instructions readers can follow to create their own letters.

What I enjoyed about the book

Really–I can’t think about anything I didn’t enjoy! John Sowers’ book is so clearly an exercise of love to his enormously-cherished daughters. His instruction is gentle and kind, yet also truthful and based on his own life of faith in Christ. It’s very interesting. And, I can say, it is something that most readers could benefit from. Who wouldn’t want to hear kind instruction on what is important in life; what you should watch out for; and what to do as you’re hearing God’s invitations and calls?

I loved it. And I think so many people would. There are SO MANY areas of life we experience as we grow up; as children, to teens, to young adults, and so on. Maybe all of us don’t have know-how or excellence in all of these. But we can truly benefit from Sowers’ own experiences, as well as everything he observed not only from his mom and grandmother, but also from the perfect Parent, God.

And I can’t complete my impressions on Say All the Unspoken Things without sharing with you a few of my favorite passages! Such as:

  • “We were not created to die. It was not this way in the beginning. This is why death feels so wrong and confusing. Death was not part of the original plan; it was not in the blueprint. We were created for life. Death is here now, but it won’t be forever. One day, there will be no more funerals or tears or goodbyes. This is all temporary.”
  • “If you live complaining and speaking of your losses, ruminating on bitterness, hurts, and negativity, you will become these things. But if you live grateful and speak life, if you meditate in your hearts on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy,” you become these things. Be mindful of the stories you tell yourselves and the stories you tell others about yourselves.”
  • “The worst part of that season was feeling abandoned by God….He is there. And he is inviting us to get honest, even if all we can do is show up. He whispers and reminds us that we are not alone….So open your ears. Open your hearts. Whispers are not usually audible, but they feel like peace.”
  • “Guard your hearts. Be careful what and who you allow into them. Be mindful of the conversations you have, the things you see with your eyes and listen to with your ears. Be careful of asking people for validation, giving them power over you. Your hearts are precious, and it is your life.”

If you could only see how many colored flags I placed on these pages! I only share a few of my favorites. But these are, I think, enough to give you a flavor of this wonderful book.

Where you can purchase Say All the Unspoken Things

You can purchase Say All the Unspoken Things via the link below, from a variety of booksellers (like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Target, Walmart, and others). In addition, after you purchase, this link has a form you can fill out to receive some freebies which include a 5-day devotional and a 30-day guided journaling experience, both based on the book.

Purchase here

About the author

John Sowers Headshot

John Sowers is an author and speaker. His work and writings have been featured by Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, Mariah Shriver, Oprah Radio, the Oregonian, the Oklahoman, and others. John received the President’s Champion of Change award at the White House from President Obama.

John led a homeless shelter and has worked with youth and in prisons. He co-founded The Mentoring Project with Donald Miller and was multi-language director for the Billy Graham Association–working with twenty-six language groups in Los Angeles and New York.

He received his master’s of divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and his doctorate from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story and Heroic Path: In Search of the Masculine Heart. John has written for the White House, Relevant magazine, Wilderness, and other publications. But his favorite accomplishment is being a dad to his three daughters, Rosie, Dass, and Eva. John lives in a cabin in the woods near Ozark, Missouri.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from FrontGate Media. All opinions are honest and my own.