Thursday, December 8, 2016

Jenn’s Holiday Gift Guide 2016

It’s December! Eighth to be exact. My nephew’s birthday. The fam got him a nice cordless drill since he’s a grownup now. But I digress.

I am spiritually gifted in the area of shopping. Seriously, ask my church. I handed over the reins a couple years ago, but as an angel tree veteran I am qualified to advise you on Christmas gift buying.

Over the last year or so I have collected quite a few authors, musicians, moviemakers, and others in my circle to whom I really ought to throw some internet love. (Amazon reviews are forthcoming, I promise!) Rather than lots of individual social media posts that get lost in the shuffle, I’m collecting my gift giving recommendations here in one place.

And if you happen to receive cash or gift cards, come back here after Christmas for ideas on how to spend your moolah.


Ragamuffin. Based on the life of Christian musician Rich Mullins. The film is no longer on Netflix, so head to your favorite online retailer for a DVD/Blu-Ray. Rich fans, music fans, and people of faith – or maybe especially people whose faith might be a little shaky – all need a copy of this movie.

Brennan. The follow-up to Ragamuffin. Based on the life of author and vagabond evangelist Brennan Manning. It’s totally not necessary to have a clue who Brennan Manning was in order to appreciate the film. The message is that, “God loves you as you are, not as you should be, because none of us are as we should be.”

Brennan is available only direct from Color Green Films. And it’s true, I am an extra in a scene in the trailer that loops on the main menu screen. My mom appreciates that she can see me scroll by over and over and over. Maybe you will, too.

Live in Morton. Not strictly a movie, I guess, but this is a Mitch McVicker concert recorded live in … surprise … Morton, Illinois. A lot of people don’t quite understand the uniqueness of what Mitch does in concert, with the laying and looping of multiple percussion and background tracks on the spot. Now you can see it with your own two eyes. Available direct from Mitch.


Sinners, Saints, and the Furious Love of God. Wanna read a wild tale of faith, from what many would consider unlikely circumstances, a rough childhood, and, well, get the book and read the rest. This is from David Leo Schultz, my adopted brother and partner in crime, I mean ministry. It will explain a lot. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll praise Jesus. Read this book.

Beneath Broken Machines: Reviving Trust in the Heart of the Gospel. From PC Walker, another adopted brother. Funny story: PC and I followed each other on Twitter for we’re not really sure how long. But a while. Probably one of us tweeted #ragamuffin or something and “oh yeah, they seem cool, I’ll follow them.” Whilst in New Orleans, my fellow PA (PA, PC, it’s alphabet soup around here) Shelley read off the name of who we were picking up from the airport. “That name sounds familiar. Wait, I think we follow each other on Twitter. Oh here look, he Instagrammed his shoes in the airport. Definitely the same guy.”

I finished this book earlier today. It has been a blessing to sit in a coffee shop and read a chapter here and there over the last month. And there was that one chapter that was pretty much meant just for me that one day. There are gems throughout. If your faith is a little weary from the often well-oiled machine we call the modern day church or even just modern day life, let this book refresh you. Buy a copy at Amazon or B&N, or buy several for a small group study.

The Reckless Love of God and The New Believer’s Guide to the Christian Life. Both by Alex Early. When telling people who Alex is I often use the phrase “hipster theologian”. He is well-studied, but what strikes me most is his gentle spirit. This is a man who loves Jesus and knows Jesus loves him. Pick up his books at Amazon or B&N. Side note: Someday I hope to be on an episode of Cooking with Alex after he launches the YouTube channel. Maybe we’ll make a roux.

Power Beyond the Pulpit. By another partner in ministry, J.B. Waggoner. J.B. is a video editor extraordinaire, but he has many technical skills that are summed up and explained for the non- or semi-techies among us in this book. The subtitle is “A Guide to Using Social Media, Self-Publishing, Podcasts, Video, Email, and Blogs in Ministry”. J.B. does a good job of describing how to use the various tools and why you might want to use them … and then points you to online resources for when you want to implement and need the latest details. You’ll get a little backstory on Ragamuffin and Brennan along the way as well. Available at Amazon.


I know I’m going to leave someone out, oh my many musician friends. So leave me a comment or message me with an edit if I’ve forgotten you.

Mitch McVicker. Anything by Mitch. Live in Morton is the latest and is a good overview of the entire catalog. The Grey is my personal favorite. Find him on iTunes and for hard copies order direct from Mitch. A few are available at Amazon / B&N, but just go to Mitch's site for the whole shebang.

Rick Lee James. Hymns, Prayers, and Invitations. Worship music you can sing in church. This album includes a couple hymn covers but is otherwise original. Rick’s web site has links to all the online places to buy. Check out the video for Advent Hymn here.

Nick O’Connor. A recent discovery. Nick brought his guitar to Ragamuffin Camp, and I’m oh so glad he did. Find him on iTunes.

Matt Liechty. The Hymn Project. A vibey treatment of some favorite hymns. Matt leads worship for the Ragamuffin retreats/camps. Find the album at iTunes or Amazon.

Jake Becker. I have it on good authority that new music is in progress and coming soon. Just not by Christmas. Stay tuned.


Shameless plug for yours truly. Healthy shakes, cereal, snacks, energy / antioxidant drinks, vitamins. I don’t recommend gifting items often used for weight loss to someone without it being on their wishlist, but you might want to add it to yours. Go here and then connect with me for recommendations.

The Gluten and Grain Free Gourmet. Especially for the gluten-free, paleo peeps, and those with food allergies,. The GGF makes unique yummy treats suitable for lots of special diets plus offers coaching. Check out the options here. I recommend the chocolate chip cookies + check out the gift packages.

Dizurts Custom Cakes and More. This one is local to me. When I’m having the occasional Jenn-needs-a-cupcake day, this is where I go. The raspberry almond bars are to die for as well. Find details at their Facebook page.


Concealed Carry Class. No seriously. Central Ohioans, sign up for the January class with Affordable CCW here. Take the class together with your significant other or entire family. Yes, my actual brother is the lead instructor. He taught me to shoot recently, and I think I did pretty well ...

Ragamuffin Camp 2017. Registration is open and spaces are limited. October 18-22 at YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. Registration is $250, plus take travel costs into consideration when gifting this one. Check out the details and sign up here.

Charitable Gifts

Color Green Films. CGF is a 501c3 nonprofit ministry, so your donations are tax deductible. This Christmas we are helping a family pay off a few bills and have some gifts under the tree. Donate here and choose “Giving a Family a Christmas” from the drop-down menu. You can make a one-time or recurring donation to any of our ministry efforts from the same page.

Shop-with-a-Cop. Local to me, students in need identified by Heath City Schools will be matched with officers from the Heath Police Department for an evening of shopping followed by dinner catered by Massey’s Pizza. Other cities have held this program, but this is the first time in Heath. Donate up to December 16 at any Park National Bank branch or at the police station. Also go patronize Massey’s.

And with that we conclude Jenn's Holiday Gift Guide 2016. Perhaps we will make it an annual tradition. What's on your wish list?

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