Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

DEXSA Product Packaging is Dismal

Part of the carnage

The picture above illustrates what greeted us yesterday when we opened our latest Word Alive shipment. We’ve had one or two broken reactive mugs before, but we were trying some new products from DEXSA including the currently popular ‘camping’ style mugs and another design which comes with a spoon.

The problem is the packaging.

Not even a skinny sheet of styrofoam, let alone a molded styro top and bottom. The cardboard boxes are paper-thin.

I don’t believe I would have been the first person this week to call Word Alive complaining, but it’s up to them to tell their supplier to shape up or get cut from their product database.

I’m guessing they don’t do it.

As to who is responsible, my UPS driver could tell something was wrong so we opened one of the boxes. As it turned out, there were mugs in both boxes and both of them were broken.

He pointed out that all the bubble-wrap packaging was at the top of the box — basically accomplishing nothing — when some of it could have been placed at the bottom. But more to the point, he said the boxes themselves could have been wrapped to make up for their inferiority.

The problem here is that with a promise that orders placed by 12:00 noon will ship the same day, their warehouse staff must be doing cartwheels to get the products out the door by late afternoon.

Furthermore the top of the carton isn’t always the top. Things have to packed with the assumption that on the various trucks the boxes will be at some point on their sides or even on their ends.

So I think Word Alive could have done better. But look at what they were given to work with.

Final responsibility score:
UPS – 0%
Word Alive – 30%
DEXSA – 70%

I wrote DEXSA and told them, and true to form, THEY DON’T ANSWER E-MAIL.

I’m cancelling our backordered product, including their wood-based products.

I want to work with manufacturers who actually care.

Categories: Uncategorized

Christian Book Distributors Forced Into a Branding Change

What’s the first thing you think about when you see the acronym, CBD? Even for readers here, that might be shifting, and it’s affecting Christian Book Distributors who’ve lost their edge on search engines, as they point out:

Over the last 12 months, there has been a rise in popularity of a medicinally used product derived from the cannabis plant—cannabidiol, commonly referred to as ‘CBD.’ Across the country, people see signs for ‘CBD sold here,’ which creates brand confusion. In the past, a Google search for ‘CBD’ would place our company at the top of the results page. Now “our CBD” is nowhere to be found in the search results, only sites for the cannabis product are listed, and paid ads are no longer allowed. As this wave of popularity over the “other CBD” is not likely to subside, we will stop referring to ourselves as ‘CBD’ and will also drop the word “Distributors” from our company name. Going forward, we will operate under the name of ‘Christianbook.’

Other news of interest; click the links to see the full stories:

■ After 16 years, Drew Marshall, the host of ‘Canada’s most-listened-to spiritual talk show’ is calling it quits. The last decade of the show has not been without controversy. “He kept his struggles with faith to himself until 2010, when he “came out” on air about not being sure if there was a God…” At the end of the radio journey he says, “‘I’m a hoper, not a believer,’ he said, explaining that he ‘hopes there is a Creator.’” (Full disclosure, I was once a guest on the show, and my wife was on the show on two different occasions.)

■ Philanthropy: “Giving to religion — perennially the biggest sector — is estimated to have declined by 1.5% in 2018 (a decrease of 3.9% adjusted for inflation), with a total of $124.52 billion in contributions… Una Osili, an associate dean at the Lilly philanthropy school, said giving to religious institutions has been lagging behind other sectors for several years. Reasons including declining attendance at church services and a rising number of Americans not affiliated with any particular religion.” The RNS headline states that a $3 Billion drop

■ The article calls it “Quebec’s strict secularism bill,” noting, “A new law in Quebec prohibits the wearing of religious symbols or clothing by some government employees, including public school teachers, state lawyers, judges and police officers…Quebec’s majority government passed the bill, 75-35, using closure June 16 after long hours of deliberation. Some last-minute amendments concerning surveillance provisions made the law more stringent than anticipated…Bill 21 includes a notwithstanding clause overriding some parts of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

■ Behind the LifeWay closure decision: Brad Waggoner, acting CEO, explains “the toughest decision in our 128 year history.” Retail losses in the last 5 years have been 50 million dollars. (5½ minute video.)

■ Liberty University has made some big cuts to its Faculty of Divinity.

Some of those let go were well-loved professors who’d been at Liberty for over a decade. The terms of their departures include offers of severance and also nondisclosure agreements. Some changes were likely overdue, Falwell said in an interview Friday. He believes the divinity school needed to adapt to a changing culture where students are less likely to work full-time for churches… Unlike most universities, where faculty members can earn tenure and the job security that comes with it, almost all Liberty faculty members teach under one-year contracts that are renewed annually… Some pointed out the timing of the non-renewals came long after the academic hiring cycle’s peak, potentially making it difficult for affected professors to find full-time employment…”

With faith teaching such a big part of its heritage, it looks like “the largest Christian university in the world” is today a little less Christian.

Categories: Uncategorized

Thomas Nelson Offers 30 Editions of the NET Bible Translation

All of the editions of the NET Bible are plain covers with only the small logo in the upper left corner. Release date for all 30 editions is October 1, 2019.

For its 3rd Cycle in 2019, Thomas Nelson has picked up the NET Bible which it will offer in various Thinline, Thinline Large Print, Journal and ‘Full Notes’ editions with all using the new Comfort Print font. Wikipedia provides some history:

The [New English Translation] and extensive notes were undertaken by more than twenty biblical scholars who worked directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The NET Bible was initially conceived at an annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in November 1995 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The translation project originally started as an attempt to provide a digital version of a modern English translation over the Internet and on CD-ROM without cost for the user: “The NET Bible project was commissioned to create a faithful Bible translation that could be placed on the Internet, downloaded for free, and used around the world for ministry.” Many of those involved in the project’s initial discussions eventually became part of the translation team. The translation itself claims to be non-sectarian, “inter-denominational” and evangelical.

The NET Bible’s approach to copyright is self-summarized as:

The Bible is God’s gift to humanity – it should be free.

If you’re wondering about the ‘Full Notes’ edition, this article offers five features, the first of which is that the

NET Bible includes extensive notes with the translation, notes created by the original translators as they worked through the issues and options concerning the translation of the original language texts of the Bible. These notes operate on more than one level – a technical level for pastors, teachers, and students of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek who are interested in the grammatical, syntactical, and text-critical details of the translation, and a more popular level comparable to current study Bibles offering explanatory details of interest to lay Bible students.

You can read the text online at this link.

Thomas Nelson has a history of snapping up distribution of new, innovative translations. Looking back over the years, one remembers,

  • The Everyday Bible (New Century Translation)
  • The Voice Bible (a translation using dramatic script)
  • The Expanded Bible (an alternative to the Amplified Bible)

but sadly, within 2-3 years the company loses interest and suspends marketing and the printing of new editions; often flooding the remainder/overstock market with more varieties than it lists in its own catalogues.

But there is a market for new Bible editions, if the consumer can be convinced that there’s something to be gained in owning a copy. Prices listed below are in Canadian currency:

9780785224648 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, COB Gray 61.99
9780785225096 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, Leathersoft, Teal 86.99
9780785225102 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, Leathersoft, Teal IDX 98.99
9780785225164 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, Leathersoft, Black 86.99
9780785225089 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, Leathersoft, Black, IDX 98.99
9780785225119 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, Genuine Leather, Brown 135.99
9780785225126 NET Bible, Full-notes Edition, Genuine Leather, Brown IDX 148.99
9780785224716 NET Bible, Thinline, COB, Gray 36.99
9780785224921 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Stone 36.99
9780785224969 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Stone IDX 49.99
9780785224976 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Teal 36.99
9780785224983 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Teal IDX 49.99
9780785224907 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Brown 36.99
9780785224914 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Brown IDX 49.99
9780785224884 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Black 36.99
9780785224891 NET Bible, Thinline, Leathersoft, Black IDX 49.99
9780785224730 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, COB, Gray 49.99
9780785225010 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Brown 49.99
9780785225027 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Brown IDX 61.99
9780785225034 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Stone 49.99
9780785225041 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Stone IDX 61.99
9780785225058 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Teal 49.99
9780785225065 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Teal IDX 61.99
9780785224990 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Black 49.99
9780785225003 NET Bible, Thinline Large Print, Leathersoft, Black, IDX 61.99
9780785224655 NET Bible, Journal Edition, COB Gray 55.99
9780785224808 NET Bible, Journal Edition, COB Coral 55.99
9780785224877 NET Bible, Journal Edition, Leathersoft, Teal 55.99
9780785224860 NET Bible, Journal Edition, Leathersoft, Brown 55.99
9780785224693 NET Bible, Pew and Worship, Hardcover, Black 21.00


People Don’t Need Mugs, So Why Do They Buy Them?

Mugs can be expressive. Mugs can convey a message of love and friendship for more — but not a whole lot more — than the price of a really nice card.

But people don’t need them. People have boxes full of old mugs. As retailers we have mugs coming out of our ears. So why do they buy more and why do we stock more?

I’m convinced it’s because people are looking for a gift in that sweet-spot that lies between $9.99 retail and $15.99 retail. Yes, there’s other merchandise, but that involves picking up each piece and turning it over (or around) to see the price sticker. The price of mugs is somewhat given.

If someone does want to spend a little more, there’s travel mugs and water bottles. The entire category is referred to as hydration. People do need six glasses of water a day, I suppose.

I think we need to look for more items in that $10 to $16 price range, and feature the price in the display.

The mugs in the picture were in my image file, and are the reactive mugs from Dexsa, which Word Alive is still selling, even though they don’t actually change colour much when lot liquid is added. As I wrote before, Dexsa refuses to offer POS materials to this end, which means that when asked, they can say, ‘We never said they changed colour.’ The shelf-talker in the picture is one we created ourselves and, given customers’ experiences, have now removed. We’re now selling them as regular mugs.

Categories: Uncategorized

What Are Your Bestselling Categories

Appropriately relevant t-shirt at Click image to buy!

Regular readers here will know that twice a year my store posts a chart of our Top 40 titles, but for the past few weeks I’ve been thinking more in terms of our Top 10 product categories. There’s an adage, “Play to your strengths;” but before you can do that you need to assess what those strengths are. For our store it’s these:

  1. Devotions – General
  2. Classic Writing1
  3. Children’s Picture Books
  4. Devotions – Teen
  5. Children’s Board Books
  6. Mideast/Islam related2
  7. DVD – Dramatic
  8. Boxed Cards
  9. Devotions – Children
  10. Evangelism Booklets3

1 In our store this means Tozer, Lewis, Nouwen, Murray (some would call this section Classic Spirituality.)
2 This includes biographical works, comparative religion titles and apologetics titles; lots of local interest right now
3 Not tracts, but booklets like Steps to Peace with God and Four Spiritual Laws.

I also wanted to track some of our poorest section.

For those who wondered, our “Paragraphs” section — books from the wider publishing marketplace — crashed and burned. We carried some of the ‘crossover’ titles into other departments. Fortunately, we hadn’t spent a lot of money.

Another experiment we’re still carrying on with is our Next Generation Authors section. I’m closer to giving up and integrating some of the authors into our Christian Living section, but there are shelf space issues there. Parenting is always slow; I would say that titles in the Marriage section outsell by at least a 2:1 ratio. Biography/Missions is always slow. Our Charismatic/Pentecostal section is also poor when one thinks of how things were ten years ago, but a subsection, Spiritual Warfare often generates reorders. And when it comes to Prophecy, we hardly try anymore.

If you visit my chart, the answer is, ‘No, the David Jeremiah title, although #1, was insufficient to carry the Prophecy section into the Top 10, even with Jonathan Cahn’s help.’ There are also no single Fiction categories performing strongly, though I suspect Suspense and Mystery will with three strong Bethany House titles in July, though we’re buying conservatively this year.

Our “steaming fajitas” are the Apologetics section, probably the largest in Ontario. And that’s been slow lately, too; with the Mideast Interest section carrying the bulk of the sales. The subsection Bible-and-Science (or perhaps it’s Creation Science in your store) has also been slow. But then, everything is slow currently, right?

So, play to your strengths!

Categories: Uncategorized

Making Graphics for Facebook and Newsletters

I wanted to put this older, backlist title on sale for the rest of this week, but needed a graphic to highlight it.

For this image we needed to find something that was wider than it was long to accommodate Facebook in particular. Usually there are Twitter image lying around from closer to the date of publication, but those weren’t appearing in three different searches.

We started with the movie poster, but needed to wipe out all the printed information on it, first by cropping it shorter (the copy went wider at the bottom) and then ensuring that the book image would cover the rest.

Then, to create a contrast I adjusted the image saturation to something closer to (but not) black and white, so that the book cover would stand out.

Then, I found an image of the book and added a 3px black border so it would stand out more.

Then I pasted the book image into place so that it would cover all the copy from the movie poster.

Total time, including redoing the background one extra time and posting on Facebook: Six minutes.

Total time preparing this article to share with you: Five minutes.


Categories: Uncategorized

And Then There Were Seven: Canada’s Largest Bookstore Chain Downsizes

The Hamilton Gospel Lighthouse store was tucked into this corner of a very busy shopping centre.

When you think of The Gospel Lighthouse, you don’t really think of it as a chain of Christian bookstores. Each one has its own look, its own feel, and its unique connection to its local community. But even as the website still boasts, “11 locations across Southern Ontario,” we learned last week about the closing of the store in Dunnville on May 18th, and then yesterday manager Lynda Schoffro announced on the Facebook group Canadian Christian Retail Insights that the store on the mountain in Hamilton would be closing in July.

Lynda Schoffro

The Dunnville announcement was made at the end of April:

It seems that the retail world is really changing and we are making the changes necessary to be able to serve in as many communities as we can, for as long as we are able.

The Facebook trade announcement reads,

It is never an easy decision to close one of our locations. Since January 2018, we will have closed 4 locations leaving us with stores in 7 communities in Southern Ontario. (Closing St.Thomas Jan.2018, Simcoe Jun. 2018, Dunnville May 2019 and soon Hamilton July 2019).

With the rising costs of expenses and the diminishing amount of sales, we are doing what we find is necessary to be able to continue where it makes sense.

We are thankful for the many years we have been able to serve in these communities and our faithful customers for their support but we realize that times are changing and we need to adjust our business structure to reflect that.

The closing leaves the Redeemer College Bookstore in nearby Ancaster as the remaining source for Christian products on the mountain in Hamilton. Redeemer’s store is primarily a textbook store for Redeemer University College along with related school apparel, and a very light mixture of items from other Christian product categories.

The nearest Gospel Lighthouse store is in Brantford.

Hamilton’s official population is just under 750,000; with a massive residential construction boom over the past decade, the current population of nearby Ancaster is estimated at well over 40,000.

Combined with recent Ontario Christian bookstore closings in Ottawa and Kingston, the trend appears to continue wherein the largest urban centres are taking the greatest hit while small(er) town stores continue to keep the doors open.

No exact date was given for the Hamilton closure.

Categories: Uncategorized

Autobiography: Ray Barnett, Founder of the African Children’s Choir

Publisher supplied feature

About the book:

As a young boy struggling to find his way through the immense poverty, secrecy and war-time suffering that gripped his life in Northern Ireland, Ray Barnett dreamed of a life of adventure and travel like that of his hero: famed missionary-explorer David Livingstone.

As an adult, he has lived that life—leading a human-rights based ministry that has brought hope, healing and humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.

In his riveting autobiography, Don’t Tell Me It Can’t Be Done, Barnett takes readers on a roller-coaster journey through his childhood in the rough, working-class neighborhood of Killowen—a childhood marked by loss, abuse, learning disabilities, rejection, and the crushing discovery that the family who raised him was not his own.

The turning point happens for Barnett when he devotes his life to God as a teen. Driven by his faith, Barnett pursues a career as a human rights minister and sets out to accomplish what seems like the impossible—from securing the release of Hezbollah-held hostages and imprisoned Christians in the former Soviet Union and Africa, to launching the world-renowned African Children’s Choir. Along the way, he also manages to unravel the life-long mystery surrounding his identity.

Barnett, who has committed his life to fostering hope and healing for those in need—regardless of faith, skin color, lifestyle choices or political views—hopes his story will inspire others to do the same.

“My story is a testament of the miracles that can transpire when we put our faith in God and take action—believing if we do everything that’s in our power to do, God will take care of the rest,” notes Barnett.

“There’s so much suffering and need in the world today, and it’s up to each of us to make it happen—one step, one shovelful, one person at a time.”

About the Author

Ray Barnett, a Northern Ireland-born minister who immigrated to Canada in the late 1950s, has devoted his life to helping suffering and persecuted people around the world.

He is the founder of Friends in the West, a Christian based human rights organization that has helped secure the release of numerous Christians imprisoned for their faith, and has spearheaded humanitarian aid missions in volatile regions across the globe.

He is also the founder of the African Children’s Choir, a world-renowned organization that has provided an education, healing and hope to thousands of African children, including nearly 1,200 who have gone through the African Children’s Choir program. With “Daddy Ray” as their advocate, these children have been cared for as one of his own, receiving the love, support and education they need to succeed and give back to Africa and the world.

Ray has received numerous honors and recognitions for his work including the prestigious “Cross of Nails” award issued by the Coventry Cathedral in England as well as the “Heart of Gold” award bestowed by Esther Ranson at BBC. In early 2019, he was crowned Maasai Elder in Kenya in honor of his contributions to Maasai children. His lifelong work has also been spotlighted in Daddy Ray, a documentary produced by acclaimed BBC producer Desmond Wilcox.

Don’t Tell Me It Can’t Be Done will be released November 1, 2019 in both hardcover and paperback. Dealers can pre-order through Ingram. (Consumers reading this may also pre-order at )
9781999489014 • 300 pages Hardcover • 26.95 US
9781999489007 • 300 pages Paperback • 15.95 US

To see more of Ray Barnett’s story, watch this 22-minute video.


Foundation Distributing Operating Sales Channel on Amazon as ‘Veritas Gifts’

If you saw yesterday’s article about Parasource Marketing operating on Amazon as ‘Christian Resources Canada,’ then today’s piece should come as no surprise.

Without reiterating the whole process which was used yesterday, basically the situation is the same: The in-stock quantities at Foundation line up in a perfect 1:1 correspondence with the available quantities on the Amazon site. There’s little room for doubt.

The product lines are also a giveaway:

The review numbers — which presumably co-relate to the number of transactions — are smaller than for Parasource but also indicate this has been going on for a long time.

Unlike our example yesterday, there is no matching Twitter account, as a business in the UK is already using that name, so it’s less clear when ‘Veritas’ was established.

In the example below, Veritas was actually cheaper than Amazon’s own price for this children’s Bible story book:

but there is no match for Amazon’s free shipping indicated. (The customer would need to purchase another $10.17 to reach the $35 minimum.) The Veritas price is before $6.49 for shipping, which cuts into the perceived $10 discount.

Also in both the Parasource examples yesterday and the Veritas example today, there is no promise of shipping which comes close to the speed of Amazon. Promised delivery when this was accessed at 4:16 PM on June 4th was between June 12 and 20.

As we said yesterday, distributors selling direct to consumers is a touchy subject affecting the relationship between those distributors and their trade (bookstore) customers. With both companies feeling the need to create an alias to market on Amazon, it`s easy to see that neither Parasource nor Foundation wanted their connection with Christian Resources and Veritas Gifts respectively to be made aware to retail store owners and managers.

How do independent retailers respond to this and yesterday’s story? If you’re discovering this for the first time as did we, can you still muster the same enthusiasm for composing purchase orders to these key suppliers? Do Parasource and Foundation secretly want the bookstore network to fail?



Categories: Uncategorized

Parasource Operating Sales Channel on Amazon as ‘Christian Resources Canada’

An alert reader sent this to us this morning. The Christian Resources Canada storefront at is a 100% match-up to the product lines carried by Parasource, along with the HarperCollins product that was part of the original deal established back in the day when was created.

A copy of The Five Love Languages sells for $13.97. On Parasource’s own consumer website the price is $19.05. Not surprising since they endured so much criticism for selling direct to consumers. But then, an astute consumer would simply track down the Amazon storefront. For independent Christian retailers, the MSRP is $22.99.

How long has this been going on? Long enough to earn nearly 1,500 reviews. (Someone can update me if every transaction is rated, or just a small percentage.) This has been secretly going on a for awhile.

Selling direct to consumers has long been a sore point in the relationship between Parasource and retail stores. Was Parasource’s own website just a decoy, hiding the fact that the real action was taking place on Amazon?

How can we be sure that Christian Resources Canada and Parasource are one and the same? This was the question I needed to have answered before I committed to print here. Again, my alert reader stepped in:

I took a look at two books, Making Sense of God and Prodigal Prophet by Timothy Keller and see that the number available from CRC on Amazon is the same as the number shown that they have in stock in Bookmanager.

For us, two more examples:

Note that the drop-down menu only goes as far as the available-to-ship copies. This is clearer in the example below, where instead of 15 copies, the number is 4.

The discounting in these two examples isn’t as severe, but consider that with an A-list title like The Five Love Languages, independent storefronts would need to be competitive with Amazon’s own pricing, and we know — much to the demise of stores belonging to our former colleagues — that Amazon is ruthless when pricing A-list titles. 

Is there a third-party involved? In the Publisher-to-distributor-to-consumer chain, adding Amazon itself means there is already an additional party splitting revenue.

But it’s possible: The related Christian Resources Twitter account was registered back in August, 2015.* It promoted the same product mix of books and music (and communion cups!) Was this Parasource all along? The company had given up on at that point. But it could have also been a venture from which they simply assumed full control at some point and then integrated into the Amazon platform more recently.

Whatever the politics or ownership of the channel, Parasource is hungry for sales, as are all of us, and has a history of disregard for protecting the interests of its trade (bookstore) accounts.

How many copies of The Five Love Languages would be sold today when Amazon’s own price is $1.08 cheaper? Probably there are enough people who would see “Canada” in the vendor name and decide they wantd to support a Canadian seller. 

Of course, if they really wanted to support Canadian sellers, they could visit your store or mine, and have ‘instant delivery’ so to speak; and be supporting local ministry as well.

*Its last activity on Twitter was September, 2017. It still shows 120 followers most of whom are authors, musicians or are associated with the various publishers.

Categories: Uncategorized

From the Archives: A Different Perspective

This article first appeared in May, 2014

Earlier this week, I got to have a 30 minute phone conversation with someone whose analytical skills and business experience was evident right away. As we talked three things came up which I wanted to share here:

First, it was suggested that it’s tough being on the downside of a shifting paradigm. While you might say that’s nothing new, it really forms the basis for a lot of the discussion that followed. Rather than try to deny the realities of the marketplace, it’s a question of (a) learning to live with those realities, (b) react to them, or (c) decide not to endure them long-term.

Second, the discussion shifted to horizontal marketing. This means finding parallel products that are still family-friendly. Books that aren’t Christian books, but would be of interest to the people who shop in Christian bookstores. Mainstream music that is still family-friendly and wholesome. Giftware that is appealing even if not overtly Evangelistic. (In my own store, the challenge here is limited shelf and floor space, and a history where ‘outside the box’ buying didn’t resonate with conservative customers.)

Third, it was suggested that I advertise and promote the greeting card section. This was surprising to me at first. You never see the individual cards referred to in store catalogs and flyers. I said, “They’re kind of the bottom-feeders of our merchandise mix.” But I still intend to implement the suggestion at some level, and remind our customer base that we are their best go-to destination for a sympathy, get well or religious birthday card, not to mention those ministry occasions Carlton and Hallmark doesn’t cover.

Overall, I got the feeling that I’d like to spend another half hour having this person share their thoughts with me. The outsider perspective was nonetheless informed, was encouraging and was appreciated.

Categories: Uncategorized

Ontario Author’s Extensive Work is a Manual for People Dealing with Trauma

In a single moment, my entire life shattered before my eyes. Everything inside of me desperately wanted to scream out in order to give release to the excruciating pain. My mind was frantically scrambling, trying to make sense of what had just happened. Staring wide-eyed at my mom and with all sincerity, I concluded with, “Everything you’ve told me about God and Heaven had better be true!”

Last week I had the privilege of meeting Linda Joy.

Although she was in the store as a customer, toward the end of our time I learned about a book she had recently completed with Essence Publishing, and then we had a whole other conversation!

Journey from Redemption to Restoration: A Firsthand Account – Detailing the Faithfulness of God is probably one of the most unusual books I have ever held in my hands.  It transcends many different writing genres, making a description here challenging. It is a faith-inspiring series of personal stories of experiences that can only be described as miraculous. Miraculous in the sense of things like healing, but also in the sense of God moving in the everyday, such as repeatedly providing much needed housing just when it was needed.

In spelling out these stories however, the book serves a definite teaching function. There are times that Linda “breaks the fourth wall” and addresses readers directly, even to the point of having places in the book where readers can write their own name and the date, making their own declaration of casting their worries and anxieties on God.

This is the end product of reading these anecdotes. Linda tells of a situation where before prayer for healing, six people first gave their testimonies to help increase her faith. In a way, that’s a meta-reference to the book itself; she now does that for her readers believing her story can raise their trust and reliance on God.

In Linda Joy’s mind, the book is an anthology; she sees its writing style as similar to the Chicken Soup for the … Soul series of titles. In so doing, the personal vignettes from her life are arranged in twelve different categories. While the individual stories are concisely presented, as I skimmed the book’s 362 pages, it was impossible to read a single narrative in isolation without having to continue to the next.

She also sees the book as “a manual for trauma.” It’s the type of book that you could read sequentially, but also find yourself referring back to individual sections. I can also see this as a helpful resource for those who provide counseling to others. 

Linda Joy has chosen to live out the rest of her life in total thanksgiving to her Heavenly Father for all He has done, carefully unwrapping, thoroughly enjoying, and readily acknowledging each new day as His gift to her. She is a personal friend and intentional follower of Jesus Christ.
– from the Publisher website for Journey From Redemption.

Journey from Redemption to Restoration is published by Essence Publishing of Belleville; 362 pages; 35.00 CDN. ISBN: 978-1-4600-0869-0

Book trailer: