Category Archives: Book Reviews

Rossman: To the children’s literary world I go

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By David B. Rossman
Special to ASSIST News Service

Roy, WAI was born with cerebral palsy, and I often heard from the doctors that my legs would eventually give out on me so I should learn to use my mind. So, as aDavid Rossman child I took to writing poetry.

My motto became: “I have cerebral palsy, but it doesn’t have me, it just slows me down a bit.”

For years people told me that I would be good at writing books for kids. At first I didn’t believe them. I was into writing poetry and every time I thought of a storyline for any other type of writing, it would come out as poetry. So, I didn’t even try to write a kid’s book.

Then when my sons from my first marriage were born, life got in the way and I didn’t get to see them grow up. (That is another story.) Writing of any kind took a backseat for a bit.

When Anita, my daughter from my second marriage was born, my focus changed and I took notes on everything I could when it came to her. I did a rough draft called DADDY AND ME TIME. When my daughter and I went to the movies, rode in the car, tried to ride bikes, went for walks in the park, prayed…anything we did together became something to write about. (I really missed out on getting to do these things with my sons.)

Since I was born with cerebral palsy (which makes me walk like a penguin), in the draft of DADDY AND ME TIME, the characters are a daddy penguin and his little girl penguin. After a while, I was able to write with ease. The problem was getting someone to draw the illustrations for the book. I put the idea of publishing a children’s book back on the back burner. Though several friends kept reminding me that I should give it a shot.

Just before my daughter finished school and moved out, I started looking at the pets I live with. They were all adopted. First came Honey-Pup, a Cocker Spaniel; then came Blackie, a black cat and then Axel, the kitten, came to join our family. I began taking pictures of all three of my pets and the things they do.

I then began writing lines to go along with the pictures. I decided to make all the books interactive for the kids reading them. I left blank spaces in the sentences so the kids can fill in the blanks or as a question about the picture, like…can you find the ball for Honey-Pup?

I soon started looking into ways to self-publish and how to cut cost of overhead. I found www.lulu.com, a do-it-yourself website. Through this site I was able to print by order only. At first I thought the prices were a bit high, but when I thought about it and began to see what my work looked like when it was finished, I decided to give it a try.

So here are details of a few of them:

HI, MY NAME IS AXEL

In this book, I didn’t have a whole lot of pics to start with so I used free clip art along with the pictures of this 4-week-old kitten to tell her story.Axel  The Cat

HI, MY NAME IS HONEY-PUP

In this book, I focus on the Cocker Spaniel’s need to play ball all the time and the way she reacts to the two cats that live with her.

HI AGAIN, I’M AXEL AND THIS IS MEOW

Now as Axel the kitten has gotten older, her favorite playground (a fallen tree in the neighbor’s yard) has to be cut up so we can find Honey-Pup’s ball, which is lost in the neighbor’s yard.

HI, MY NAME IS BLACKIE

Blackie, though a lazy cat, deserved his own book so I took what pictures I could and used pictures that I took for the other books and put his book together.

THAT’S MY LIBRARY

In this book, which is a short book about the library I volunteer at, I took a chance on looking at the library through the eyes of a young patron as she visits theHoney Pup library with her mom twice a week. With the permission of her mom and herself, I wrote about the things she liked about the library and what keeps her and her family coming back to this small but mighty library in Roy, Washington.

For more information on David’s books, email him at davidbrian68@yahoo.com or write David B. Rossman, P.O. Box 401, Roy, WA 98580-0401.

 

 

 

Excerpt from ‘Doubting Thomas?: The Religious Life and Legacy of Thomas Jefferson’

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Editor’s note: This book excerpt is the first in a series that will focus on the religious legacy of the United States’ third president, Thomas Jefferson. “Doubting Thomas?: The Religious Life and Legacy of Thomas Jefferson” (Morgan James Publishing, Nov. 4, 2014) is co-authored by Mark A. Beliles, Ph.D. and Jerry Newcombe, D.Min.

Thomas Jefferson was a complicated man, especially when it comes to religion.

TRINITARIAN CHURCH MEMBERSHIP AND WORSHIP ALL HIS LIFE

Despite Jefferson’s late unorthodoxy, he maintained his support and attendance with orthodox Trinitarian churches (when available) his entire life. (He once describedThomas Small himself as a lifelong Episcopalian; but for two periods that type of church was unavailable to him—when he was in France (1784-1789) and after he retired back to Charlottesville (1809-1819).

The evidence in this book from his own writings and actions shows Thomas Jefferson to be much more involved in Christian activity than most people realize. Documents prove about 70 times that Jefferson worshiped or attended services, and over 400 incidents of him supporting religion or religious persons in one way or another. And it was proven that Jefferson worshiped other times, which he mentions in letters, but which simply do not show up in any documents.

Some may argue that just showing Jefferson financially supporting his local church does not mean he attended its services, but the overwhelming testimony of so many diverse observers clearly testify that he did so. For instance, Margaret B. Smith describes his eight years in Washington by saying: “Jefferson during his whole administration was a most regular attendant [at church in the Capitol].”[1] His political opponent Manasseh Cutler confirmed the same during those years—and even use the phrase “ardent zeal” in reference to Jefferson attending Christian services there. And Jefferson’s overseer at Monticello said of Jefferson’s retirement years that he never missed a chance to hear any preacher that came along. (This was even during the period before the Episcopal Church started back up in Charlottesville.) His family members and neighbors confirmed the same for his retirement years. And never once did any of his local pastors nor any other person in Williamsburg, Richmond, Philadelphia or Washington mention that Jefferson refrained from attending church or taking communion and participating in the weekly recitation of the Apostles’ Creed. On the positive side are many comments from the same, noting his attendance. In short, Thomas Jefferson was a committed, life long churchman.

Let’s review some of the other highlights of his personal pro-faith religious life:

  • He received his education at the hands of Christians, and he paid for his children and grandchildren to receive such an education. He also was a financial supporter of many Christian schools and colleges.
  • He was a member in good standing at Episcopalian Trinitarian congregations and a frequent worshiper at services organized by many other denominations that were predominantly orthodox.
  • On occasion, he even recommended a preacher to the Congressional chaplains, whose responsibility it was to fill that pulpit.
  • He was a very active giver to Christian causes. This was a pattern throughout his life, even in the last phase, which was the least orthodox of his earthly sojourn. Per capita, Jefferson probably gave more than today’s average Christian. He kept meticulous record of his expenditures, and it shows repeated donations to Christian churches and causes.
  • As a young man, Jefferson served as a vestryman (like an elder and a deacon rolled into one) for the Anglican Church. Also, around this same time, in 1777, he wrote up the charter for the Calvinistical Reformed Church in his town with an evangelical preacher, the Rev. Charles Clay—with whom he had a lifelong friendship. Jefferson was the biggest single contributor to this fledgling congregation.
  • Between 1821 and 1826 dozens of letters between Jefferson and Rev. Hatch, along with donations, show a renewed orthopraxic faith. At that last stage he was publicly a Christian member of a Trinitarian Episcopal church and he was accepted as a member by his pastor, while privately holding to Unitarian views.

Yet there was also evidence of doubts beginning with the 1788 letter, where he declined being a godparent because he did not understand the Trinity. But there was no subsequent evidence of a separation or withdrawal from Trinitarian churches. Despite the influence of Rev. Joseph Priestley and Unitarian friends, Jefferson claimed he did not turn away from the Christian faith. On April 21, 1803, to Rush he said unapologetically: “…I am a Christian…”

But after ten years more, in private—never public—he began to clearly express more unorthodoxy in his views. From about 1813 onward, Jefferson’s own words show a desire to promote a “restored” Christianity (that jettisoned the doctrine of the Trinity). In these later years there are several letters clearly identifying himself as an Episcopalian and a Christian (but in a non-creedal way). He said he could never be an atheist, and never once called himself a Deist. In his last year he called himself a Unitarian for the first time. Like many of the Restorationist believers in his area and like Unitarian Rev. Joseph Priestley, he believed the Scriptures had been corrupted over time, but his long-time pastors thought it was intellectual playfulness in the closet. Their perspective hopefully has been introduced through this book as a legitimate way of interpreting Jefferson’s personal faith.

[1] Margaret Bayard Smith, First Forty Years of Washington Society (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1906), 13.

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Shine, Jesus, Shine: Allow children to celebrate Easter’s significance

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The Sparkle Egg by Jill Hardie

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

The death, burial, and resurrection Jesus Christ can be a difficult concept to explain to children – especially when the world has The Sparkle Egg by Jill Hardiemade Easter into a holiday about bunnies.

Within “The Sparkle Egg” (Ideals Children’s Books, $16.99) by Jill Hardie is the beautiful story of God’s grace when we make missteps. Young Sam tells his parents a lie and his parents forgiven for his misdeed. To help the young boy understand the true meaning of forgiveness, his parents suggest he create a Sparkle Egg, write what brings him shame on slips of paper, and place the slips into this ornate egg.

On Easter morning, Sam awakes to find the slips of paper he had placed in the egg have disappeared. The moral of this story: once you ask God for forgiveness, you should not hold on to bad feelings. Allow yourself to live your life’s full potential. 1 John 1:9 reads, “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sings and purify your from all unrighteousness” (NIV).

Equally important is the egg is a symbol of the empty tomb found on the first Easter. Hardie shows that believers can still teacher our children the meaning of Easter, despite the incomplete truth floating around this time of the year. Children can still dye eggs, but it up to parents to add present accurate lessons for children to grasp. At the end of the book, Hardie gives children the opportunity to create their own Sparkle Egg.

Lydia, second grader from Dallas, said she “likes how Jesus tells him not to tell a lie. Sometimes you make mistakes and you can fix them. I like the story and the pictures.

She can thank illustrator Christine Kornacki for the intricate and captivating artistry.

“The Sparkle Egg” is written for children’s reading pleasure; but, the story reminds adults too of God’s perfect grace.

Aglow with love for Christ

Egglo Entertainment, based in Simi Valley, Calif., has found a way for egg hunt organizers to brighten up things, literally.Egglo Eggs

The company recently launched a product line of glow-in-the-dark Easter eggs known as Egglo Eggs. Founder Darcie Cobos said she strives to incorporate the Christian message of Easter into a family friendly glow-in-the-dark egg hunt. She also wants children of all ages to fully understand the sacrifice of Jesus and the hope of His rebirth in a fun and exciting way.

“A few years ago, I worked with my church’s children’s director on a Glow In The Dark Easter Egg Hunt. We managed to pack the house like never before, and the children were beside themselves with anticipation and excitement!” Cobos said. “I knew that I had to share this success with parents and religious educators to change the way children learn the message of Jesus through the Easter story.”

Cobos said Egglo Eggs are made of safe phosphorescent material that can be used over and over again simply by charging them in either sun or artificial light. A curriculum, known as The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure, accompanies the product too. This material consists of a beautifully illustrated book explaining the meaning behind the eggs, a DVD, and a professional audio version of the book.

“I set out to share this idea with parents and teachers after discovering that there were no other glow-in-the-dark Easter eggs available,” said Cobos. “The Egglo Eggs Egg-cellent Easter Adventure is such a tremendous program that truly comes from the Lord.”

Find out more information about Egglo Entertainment at http://EggloEggs.com/

 

Review: Bradshaw recounts the ‘Front Nine’ of her spiritual journey

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Sherry Bradshaw

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

I have to be honest: I am not a fan of golf. However, for some odd reason, I felt the need last weekend to catch a glimpse of The "The Front Nine: Making Your Shots Count In Life" by Sherry Thrift BradshawMasters Tournament. I didn’t witness Bubba Watson win his second green jacket in three years on April 13, but I did use the brief experience to help me relate to the metaphorical backdrop of Sherry Thrift Bradshaw’s release, “The Front Nine: Making Your Shots Count In Life” (LifeBridge Books, $19.95).

I enjoy reading faith-centered literature that places the Christian walk into terms that most people don’t think about; Bradshaw’s book follows this model. Bradshaw’s background in golf was fulfilled through her children. Actually, she is a former World Champion Clogger, Miss South Carolina, and 1st runner-up in the 1985 Miss America pageant.

Bradshaw and her husband, Bill, are parents of three Division 1 golfers – sons Brewer and Thomas (at mom’s alma mater, Clemson), and daughter, Collins, at Georgia. You can safely call Bradshaw a golf mom, as she has spent countless hours on the links with her children as they perfected their golf game.

“The Front Nine” has practical advice on topics ranging from building self-confidence to learning from the “double bogeys” and mistakes of life.

“Through my kids’ participation in golf, I have learned so much about life – patience, kindness, and self-control; God is my caddy,” said the Columbia, S.C., native. “My spiritual gift is to help and encourage people.”

Although the book equates golf to one’s Christian walk, you don’t have to be a golfer to understand its meaning. “The Front Nine” is Bradshaw’s story are the lessons, experiences, and adventures she has encountered. At the end of each “tee,” (better known as chapter) Bradshaw provides notes for readers’ scorecard. Tee #2 on “Your DNA” was interesting. As a child of the Almighty, we are created in His image. Sadly, there are many people walking around today thinking they are worthless. God loves you because He made you! Bradshaw wrote, “Don’t ever let Satan convince you that you aren’t worthy; you are a child of God (John 1:12).”

“The Front Nine” is a message of hope for us. Regardless of past mistakes, the future is always brighter if we cling to Him; don’t allow the “double-bogeys” to deter your path to righteousness. The high point of the book is its brevity; I was able to complete reading it within two hours.

Through her nonprofit organization, fittingly called Back 9 Ministries, Bradshaw is now living her divine purpose by encourages others to be all He created them and to live a life of significance. She has inspired hundreds of audiences at corporate events, schools, churches, and community organizations.

Learn more about Bradshaw and Back 9 Ministries by visiting www.Back9Ministries.org.

Note: In closing, I ask everyone to keep Sherry and her family in your prayers; her mother has recently gone home.

Review: Spiritual love tested, unfolds in ‘Under A Withering Sun’

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

We’ve all been taught not to read another person’s diary.

In the case of author Chaka Heinze, reading someone else’s diary is the premise for an inspirational romance novel about two youngChaka Heinze college students. The pair’s quest for earthly love and spiritual love unfolds through Heinze’s epistolary writing.

Published through Christian book publisher Athanatos Publishing Group, Under A Withering Sun ($14.95 USD, Athanatos Publishing Group) introduces readers to Regina Leeman, who struggles emotionally after the sudden death of her parents and twin sister.

To mask her pain, Regina volunteers to teach a creative writing class to young teens at the “Wreck” for the summer. Her good intentions are tossed in a tailspin when she develops feelings for a handsome, yet persistent, basketball player, Damion Martin. Among her struggles, she feels guilty for falling in love while on the four-week volunteer project. The challenge Regina consistently encounters is her inability to appear complete to others. She feels she needs to be complete for God to love her. She believes Damion shouldn’t have feelings for a young woman like her because she has “issues.”

Heinze daringly challenges readers to see the quest for God through the eyes of a backslider and a doubter of Jesus Christ. In fact, theUnder A Withering Sun best part of Heinze’s spiritual novel is that it is not sugar coated. As the novel progresses, the reader sees the bumpy progression of the characters’ quest for Him. At one moment, Regina discloses, “At one time I’d lived among the faithful, but life had conspired to carry me far off the path. Now I existed in a kind of spiritual limbo.”

Heinze’s presentation of Regina’s story fits well with the mystery and congruency of the novel. Furthermore, Regina’s triumphs and struggles become realistic in the mind of the reader and the journal entries lend credibility to the narrator. This writing style is featured in many novels, including The Color Purple by Alice Walker and Bridget Jones’ Dairy by Helen Fielding. The author’s talent for writing shines in her use of a lesser-known narrative choice.

Under A Withering Sun is Heinze’s first full-length novel.  As a side note, the novel is also available on eBook (Nook and Kindle) for $4.95.

Always a writer at heart, Heinze dabbled in poetry and storytelling from an early age. While attending the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, she penned a column for the college newspaper and was recognized for abilities to write short stories in a contest sponsored by the university. She also received a JD from the University Of Nebraska College Of Law.

Learn more about Heinze and her novel at http://awitheringsun.com/

Tonya Andris is features editor and book reviewer for Inside The Pew. Contact her at pewnews@aol.com.

Titles provide children a view of rescued Gulf Oil Spill pelicans

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By Lynda Deniger
Special to Inside The Pew

Lynda Deniger is president of HIS Publishing Company, a publisher of children’s books. The Abita Springs, La., resident will soon offer ebooks and Christian testimonials.Lynda_@_B&N-1 Deniger is the author of “Salty Seas and His Heroic Friends” and “Patti Pelican and the Gulf Oil Spill.”

Why did you create your business?

“I had written a children’s book manuscript in 1988 but kept telling myself I wasn’t a children’s author. I wouldn’t pursue publication until 2008 when I felt God impress me to self-publish. Once the process started I knew I wanted to perform the book for children. I got a mentor who taught me the art of storytelling and thousands of school children later, I found I really could entertain them and entice them to enjoy books and their stories.

When the Gulf Oil Spill happened, my characters ended up in the middle of it. Patti Pelican and the Gulf Oil Spill gives children a bird’s eye view of the event and how more than 2,000 pelicans were rescued, rehabilitated and released. It’s a realistic redemption story that provides valuable insight into the need for environmental stewardship.”

What is the one scripture (or two) that you draw strength from?

“Judges 18:9: ‘Arise… For we have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good. Do not be too lazy to go; enter to possess the land.’ Jeremiah 29:11, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord; plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

Share the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“Walk in integrity in all you do. Seek God’s guidance for your business decisions and trust Him to direct your path. When you face obstacles, ask God for wisdom to handle it. Just believe that if He called you to step out in faith, He desires to bless you and the work of your hands.”

Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?

“I didn’t do kids. Didn’t have any; didn’t hang around them. Actually, I was afraid of them and didn’t know how to relate. I find it amazing that given my history with children that God would call me to write children’s books and bring them to life through my performances. But then again, I’ve been performing since I was three. God just changed the age of my audience. I find great delight in their awe and wonder about my books, especially when they ask for my autograph. Oh, to be a celebrity for God!”

Both books by Deniger are available at www.saltyseasandfriends.com. Want to have your business featured on our Pew Business spotlight? Send us an email expressing interest to pewnews@aol.com.

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Review: Petra Vela Kenedy’s faith in God births a ‘legacy’ in South Texas

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Petra’s Legacy: The South Texas Ranching Empire of Petra Vela and Mifflin Kenedy

By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Nearly 140 years after the death of Petra Vela Kenedy, residents inPetrasLegacy Brownsville, Texas, and Corpus Christi, Texas, are benefiting from her legacy.

It takes one person’s sacrifice and will to help make a difference in the lives of others. Keep in mind Petra died in 1875, but she taught her children at an early age the importance of helping others. This mindset was passed down through numerous generations. The biography of Petra is chronicled in the book, Petra’s Legacy: The South Texas Ranching Empire of Petra Vela and Mifflin Kenedy (Texas A&M University Press, $35). Written by Jane Clements Monday and Frances Vick, the authors surround their story around the creation of South Texas thanks in part to the efforts of Petra, her husband, Mifflin Kenedy, and his business partner, Richard King. All contributed to created King Ranch. Located between Corpus Christi and Brownsville, King Ranch is one of the largest ranches in the world.

Petra’s story is not exactly ordinary. In 1854, she married Mifflin Kenedy, who was raised a Quaker, and they had six children together. Petra was previously married to Luis Vidal – a Mexican general – who died in 1849. Petra’s and Luis’ union resulted in eight children. Although Mifflin wasn’t a Catholic (sources show Mifflin’s ancestors were Irish Catholics), Mifflin respected Petra’s Catholic beliefs, and he gave generously to the Catholic Church in honor of “Petrita.” While others might see this pairing as being unequally yoked, Petra and Mifflin placed their religion backgrounds aside and gave their money and time to establishing the foundation for two Catholic Churches in South Texas, Church of the Immaculate Conception in Brownsville and St. Patrick’s Church in Corpus Christi.

Whenever I read a book, I like to take into consideration the points the author is trying to convey. With Petra’s Legacy, there are more than a couple. According to a review in Catholic Southwest, Petra’s Legacy has provided “a valuable addition to the history of South Texas.” The book also highlights a faith journey. An aspect overlooked the most is Petra’s unwavering reliance on God, through the good and bad times. She experienced the death of two sons, Adrian Vidal and John William Kenedy, and one infant daughter, Phebe Kenedy. Although her heart was heavy, she prayed to God for strength (John 14:1-4) and understood Phebe’s death was God’s design (Matthew 5:8). When Brownsville was ravaged by a fire, she prayed for the safety of her home and children. Petra understood that blessings – the birth of a healthy child or a successful business venture – were the workings of God. And she read her Bible frequently. I don’t want to go too far into the prosperity gospel, but Petra’s Christ-like habits benefited her and her family (Matthew 21:12).

Since the Monday and Vick relied heavily on second-hand accounts of Petra’s life, the reader can only see a glimpse of Petra’s relationship with the Father. However, there is no assumption that Petra taught her children the important of helping others. If this wasn’t the case, the fortune and the desire to give back to the less fortunate would have fallen by the waist side. Two foundations exist in 2013 because a Petra knew it was her “Christian duty” to help the less fortunate. The John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation (established by Sarita Kenedy East, granddaughter of Petra Vela and Mifflin Kenedy) and The John G. Kenedy Jr. Charitable Trust are Petra’s legacy that honors her devotion to her family and her church. The quote from Sarita shows the legacy Petra passed on her children and on to her grandchildren – “Sarita Kenedy East never wanted her name on anything… she just wanted to help.”

I’m sure Petra would approve.

 

VeggieTales Prize Package giveaway begins today

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Inside The Pew

Big Idea Entertainment, creators of the popular VeggieTales ChristianVeggieTalesCover entertainment products for children, have teamed up with us to give one lucky reader of Inside The Pew a Veggie Tales Prize Package. The package features five DVD’s: “The Little House That Stood,” released in March, “The Ultimate Silly Song Countdown,” “Sing Alongs “I Can Be Your Friend,” “A Very Veggie Easter Collection” (two discs) and “The Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too.” Also included is “150 All-Time Favorite Songs,” a 3-disc compilation of Sunday school songs, Veggie Tale favorites, and lullabies. The retail value of the package is $100.

To enter the contest, contestants must become an email or comments follower of Inside The Pew between June 3 and June 21. Entrants who follow us on Pinterest and repins “The Little House That Stood” pin in children’s Christian literature board, are given a double entry into the contest. Therefore, each entrant can enter his or her email address into the contest no more than three times. Current email subscribers of Inside The Pew begin with two entries. If the entrant is already an email subscriber, the entrant is welcome to follow us on Pinterest for an additional single entry. The winner will be chosen on June 24 at 5 p.m. CST. On Friday, June 28, the winner of the contest will be emailed and the winner’s name will be announced on our Twitter page. The winner will have 36 hours to respond to our email from pewnews@aol.com. In the event the winner doesn’t respond in a timely manner, the winner will forfeit the prize and a new winner will be chosen. The prize will be mailed to the winner, and upon entry the winner must provide a mailing address.

The contest is open to residents in the United States. Contest is not open to employees, guest columnists, nor the immediate family members employees of Inside The Pew, Pew Talk Radio, EMM Network or Emmanuel and The Mainline Ministries.

Good luck!

Book review: Former NFL quarterback encourages others to be their best

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

For 14 seasons, Randall Cunningham was the versatile NFL quarterbackLay_It_Down_Randall_Cunningham whom teams depended on to make miracles happen on the gridiron.

Now, Cunningham, 50, is a pastor, a mentor, and an author. His second book, “Lay It Down: How Letting Go Brings Out Your Best,” (Worthy Publishing, $19.99) was recently released. The book takes readers through several episodes in his professional and private life that brought him to rely on God for support and clarification. The most pressing situation – the accidental drowning death of his 2-year-old son, Christian, in 2010. Cunningham fittingly alludes to the death of his son in the title of chapter 2, “The Biggest Hit I Ever Took.”

Instead of showing frustration for his son’s death, Cunningham immediately praised Him. “I got in my car, backed out of the driveway, and began to scream, ‘Hallelujah! Praise God! Thank you! I love you, God.”

“The goal of the book is to allow people to think about life solutions,” said Cunningham, who spent his career playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Baltimore Ravens. “There is no way we could have got through this (the death of Christian) on our own.”

Fittingly, Cunningham uses football-related phrases to frame his story. Nice touch. For further study of the chapter, the book includes reflection questions and epigraphs from the Bible, C.S. Lewis, Tim Tebow, Tony Dungy, Tony Dorsett, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela.

Mentorship takes on a circular meaning in “Lay It Down.” Cunningham said mentors have been “divinely planted” in his life.

“I’ve always had mentors, I just didn’t realize it,” he told Inside The Pew. “When I was in Pop Warner as a boy, there were men who volunteered their time to coach me. When I attended church, I had pastors who would pray for me. There were teachers who took a vested interest in me because if they didn’t I would not have become the man I am today.”

Cunningham credits Troy Johnson and Robert Johnson for introducing him and his wife, Felicity, into discipleship.

In the book, he also mentions how he is mentored by the nearly 12,000 members of his Las Vegas, Nev., church – Remnant Ministries.

As an NFL player, Cunningham considered the late Reggie White as his mentor, among others. Near the end of chapter 4, he speaks highly of hall of fame defensive end. But, before the “minister” began to connect with him, Tom Cameron introduced him how to stand with God and become a born-again believer. The prose here was engaging.

“It was Reggie White who got in my face and told me you better straighten your life up,” he said.

Just as some of the same ways teachers and pastors mentored to him, Cunningham serves the same role to teens who participate in the high school track and field and club track and field teams he coaches. As a coach, he said is able to mentor to athletes, especially those who are fatherless.

Cunningham wrote, “The building block of our culture begins with strong families, and the father is vital to that equation. Children need a father who is there. … Mentoring begins as a father.”

The book can fit into the classifications of a biography and inspirational non-fiction (well-organized story telling in several chapters). Cunningham’s message is clear as the reader closes its covers: set goals, stay focused, and never hesitate to rest on others for support. These attributes have taken Cunningham pretty far.

“Lay It Down: How Letting Go Brings Out Your Best” is available at Amazon and Borders. To learn more about Remnant Ministries, visit http://www.remnantministries.net/.