Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Take Time to Be Holy Book Review

Take Time to Be Holy by Samuel Logan Brengle, edited by Bob Hostetler
Take Time to Be Holy: 365 Daily Inspirations to Bring You Closer to God  -     By: Bob Hostetler, Samuel Logan Brengle

You may know "Take time to be holy" as the first line of a familiar hymn.  This was my thought when I first saw the title of this devotional book.  As we seek a life of holiness, we are seeking to be ever closer to God. This book contains devotionals for each day of the year.  Each day begins with a scripture and then has a short writing by Brengle.

Samuel Logan Brengle was born in 1860 and received Christ as a teenager.  He was a preacher and an officer in the Salvation Army.  His preaching and writing built upon teachings of holiness by John Wesley and others.  "Take Time To Be Holy" is a compilation of works from Brengle's writings, which have been edited for length and compiled into this devotional book.

This compact book with a padded cover is convenient to take with you or to remain in your study area.  It would make a great gift for someone or for yourself if you are looking for something to study in the new year.  I enjoyed reading the devotionals.  In the front of the book, Hostetler wrote about the life of Brengle and I found this most interesting.

I receive this book from Tyndale in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sweet & Simple Moments With God Book Review

Sweet & Simple Moments with God Devotional is exactly what the title indicates.  There are devotions for each day of the year that are simple, yet give me a thought to mull over throughout my day.  I am excited to read each morning what Kim Newlen has written for that day.  The last several days have had a continuous theme of having a makeover.  Beginning with Cleansing and Hydrating and moving to Foundation, Concealers, Eyes, Cheeks, Lips, and Perfume, each thought is loosely based on those themes, but with deeper spiritual and biblical ideas. 

This is the perfect book for busy women who want something quick to pick up in the morning and carry the ideas with them throughout the day.  It isn't a substitute for deep Bible study, of course, but it gives me just enough in the morning until I have time later in the day to sit down and really dig in.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I am not obligated to give it a positive review.  However, I think this book is a good one for a sweet and simple devotional.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Third Grade Blues

I hear so many parents that say they can't wait for school to start.  While I crave the routine, I enjoy the more relaxed schedule that summer provides.  I love spending quality time with my kiddos and I hate to see summer come to an end.  Several weeks before school starts we get all of their supplies together, try on uniforms, and talk about what to expect in the new year.  I think the best part of school starting back is school supply shopping.  I have always loved the smell of a new box of crayons.  Bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils, post-it notes, markers, spiral bound notebooks...Love, love, love school supply shopping!  However, loving school supplies doesn't cure the "My kids are going back to school blues."

Yesterday was the first day of school.  It was a total success!  Everyone woke up on time and we were feeling pretty great about things.  Supplies had been labeled and backpacks sat ready to go for the last two weeks.  Princess didn't even fight me as she drank down her instant breakfast.  (She isn't a breakfast person at all.)  We took the obligatory first day of school pictures until my sweet Princess and Prince were begging for no more pics.  "Let's just get on with it!"  "Can we please go to school now?!" 
As we left the neighborhood Princess asked if she could pray for all of us.  As we drove to school, we all took turns praying for the first day of school and for the days that follow.  When we were almost there, Prince, who normally doesn't get nervous, said, "Mommy, my tummy feels funny."  Oh my sweet Prince, all will be OK when you get into your classroom and put your things away.  By the time school gets started you will feel more relaxed and things are gonna be great. 

This year, the twins are in third grade and their classroom is upstairs.  As we climbed the stairs and began walking down the hall, Princess started saying, "Mommy, I don't want you to leave me.  Please don't leave me."  Everything is going to be great.  You're going to have a great day and I can't wait to hear all about it when you get home.  Here, let me take your picture in front of this third grade bulletin board. 

We walk into their classroom and are greeted by their teacher.  I'm really excited about their teacher this year.  I have gotten to know her a little the last few years of being at the school and I like her a lot.  Prince and Princess find their desks and begin putting their things away as I am the dorky mom taking pictures the whole time.

Then it happened.  I heard a child ask the teacher if he can go to the restroom.  She asks if he knows where it is, down the hall and across from the elevator.  It suddenly hits me how fast my kids are growing up.  This is big stuff.  They are in third grade and I can still remember when they were down at the preschool with me.  My eyes begin to puddle and my voice gets shaky.  I start to tell Prince and Princess bye and Prince says, "Mom, are you crying?"  Nope.  Not me, I say with a smile plastered on my face.  Hold it together Rach.  You can do this.  Just give them kisses and be on your way.  I go to give kisses and I lose it.  Total fail.  I'm the mom, the only mom, crying as she leaves her third graders in their classroom.  I cried the whole way to work, talking to Hubby on the phone as he was trying to reassure me that I didn't totally embarrass myself or our kids.  If it's this hard to let them go to third grade, I don't even want to think about college!

Everyone had a great first day.  They were excited to tell Hubby and I all about their friends and all of the new and wonderful things about third grade.  It's gonna be a great year and I took everyone to school this morning without incident.  We're settling in to a new routine and looking for to all the wonderful adventures that are ahead this year.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Confessions of a People Pleaser

This week is our church's Vacation Bible School.  I have been working and preparing for months for this very special week.  It's always an exciting time.  It's also a lot of pressure.  I want so badly for things to work as planned.  I want for the children and the volunteers to have a fun and meaningful experience.  Oh, and by the way, I want for people to think that I have done a good job with the planning and execution of it. 

Yesterday morning I was wide awake a little before 4:00.  No matter what I tried, I couldn't get back to sleep.  So I got up and headed down the hall with my kindle.  As I began to quiet my mind and my heart I read the daily word from Jesus Calling.  The first sentence hit me right in the face and penetrated my heart:  Find freedom through seeking to please Me above all else.  It went on to say that when we allow the expectations of others to drive our efforts our energy is "scattered to the winds." 

I am a people pleaser.  I want for everyone to be happy and when people aren't happy, my nature is to lose sleep worrying over how I can fix it.  I have learned though, that I cannot and will not make everyone happy all of the time.  All I can do is the very best I can do, but the most important thing I can do is to honor and please God.  Yesterday morning after my quiet time I got to work making those last minute lists and busying myself to try to cover all of the bases.  When I would feel the "what-ifs" clouding my thoughts and my mood I heard God say to me "Abide in Me."  Could it really be that simple?  Abide in Me.  If I abide in Him, in His love, in His promises, in His truth I have His peace.  Simple?  Yes!  Easy?  No!  But it gave me some perspective and reminded me why I do what I do.  Staying connected to Christ is critical.  It also reminded me of the source of my strength and of my very being. 

I hope that children, volunteers, parents, everyone has a great time this week and that they come away from VBS having had a wonderful experience.  However, the true measure of the success of the week is whether or not God was glorified through our time together and if His kingdom was furthered because of it. 

The first two days of VBS this week have been fun and fruitful.  There were things that happened out of my control that weren't perfect, but they were handled.  At the end of the day, I think the bigger success was that in the midst of the imperfections I found peace and was able to calmly solve the problems. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Thing About Sisters

This morning I am thinking about how thankful I am that God gave me a sister.  My sister and I are 20 months apart and although we are very different people, we are extremely close.  The thing about having a sister is that you always have someone there to cheer you on, to root for you. 

Growing up we would fight like crazy, but God help anyone who would mess with one of us because we'd immediately team up against them.  I may or may not have vacuumed over her hair.  In my defense, she was laying on the floor trying to get me in trouble when my dad told me to vacuum our room. 

As teenagers I woke up excited for the day and talking about what would happen at school that day and she would grump that I talked too much.  She isn't exactly an early morning person.  However, get her giggling late at night and she can't stop. 

To this day, she is the one person I like to scheme with.  She's been my Black Friday stay up all night and shop buddy since we were old enough to make our own money and drive and even now she goes with Hubby and I to search out the good deals.  It's much more about the bonding and the experience than it is about the shopping.  She may or may not have accidentally cut a chunk out of my hair recently (paybacks?).  We laughed till we cried and our kids wondered what in the world was wrong with us.  This is nothing new though.  Did I mention that she is the aunt who swoops in to save my kids when they are in trouble with me?  She treats my kids like they were her own and I am so glad they have her for an aunt. 

For the past several months my sister has suffered from debilitating back pain.  She is undergoing surgery this afternoon and I am praying that this will fix the problem.  It has been difficult for her to not be her usual active self with her love of exercise and chasing her 3 boys around.  Today I am praying for steady hands for her doctor and complete healing of her body.  I know that she is going to feel so much better coming out of this and I am looking forward to many more adventures to come.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Long Time No Blog

It's been so long since I have written and posted.  I have started many entries, mostly to sort through my thoughts and feelings.  However, it has been way too long since I have written anything that is worth publishing.  Where does the time go?

We just finished celebrating the twins' 9th birthday.  I can't believe my sweet Prince and Princess are 9 years old!!  If you have read my blog much, you know this is a difficult time for me. I want to celebrate the blessings God has given with two healthy children, but I also struggle with remembering the circumstances of their birth and all we went through to get to this point.  This year was no different.  Hubby and I both struggled as we thought about the life and death stuff we have come through. 

You can read about their birth story Here and the follow up Here. 

We've come a long way, Baby!
Earlier this week I was talking to a friend who has had a difficult time lately with some health issues he has been facing.  He said that he has been struggling and asking God why and then he feels guilty because of the long life and the blessings God has already given Him.  This resonated with me because I have felt the same way.  I know I should be thankful for what I have.  I know that God has worked things out for His good and His greater purpose.  I know that I must sound like the spoiled little kid who wants things her way and wants them to come without a price.  I still struggle, but I would like to think that as I wrestle with the questions, I am growing through it.  God is big enough to handle my questions and I may never understand why, but when I ask those questions I like to think that God is drawing me closer to Him and asking me to just trust Him.   

I look forward to the day that July 14th comes and I am fully in the present and the promise that the future holds, not dwelling on hurts from the past.  However, it is from the past that I have learned what it truly means to trust in God's perfect plan. 

These miracles are truly a gift from God and they teach me so much about my relationship with God and who I want to be when I grow up

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Prayer Warrior Mom Book Review


I am so glad I requested a review copy of Prayer Warrior Mom.  God has entrusted parents with a huge responsibility and He has also given us an amazing gift.  We want to be the parents God has called us to be, but we don't always know how to intercede for our precious children. In her book, Marla Alupoaicei gives wonderful insight into exactly how we should pray.  It includes scriptural references that tell the how and why. 
This book includes fifteen chapters with titles such as:
Pray Scripture, Stand in the Gap, Pray with Power and Authority, Fast for Spiritual Breakthrough, Hold Your Children Loosely...

At the conclusion of each chapter is Today's Prayer followed by a page called Sword of the Spirit with more scripture relating to the chapter.  Also, there are small group discussion questions to follow each chapter.  This book could be done in a group of moms who come together to support and discuss or it could be done alone as you prayer and seek discernment in your own prayer life for your kids.  I think it would be neat to go through this book and keep a journal of ways the Holy Spirit touches your heart through this book and then to journal the prayers you pray for your children after having read it. 

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I am not obligated to give it a positive review.  However, I think this book is a fabulous resource and plan to keep it at arm's reach so I can refer back to it.

In Broken Places Book Review

In Broken Places

Shelby’s life isn’t glamorous, but it is predictable—and that’s the way she likes it. A survivor of her father’s violence, she has spent a lifetime creating a safe existence devoid of dependence. But her carefully managed world begins to break when, under staggering circumstances, she becomes a single mother to four-year-old Shayla. In a drastic attempt to escape her childhood’s influence, Shelby moves to Germany, but she quickly discovers how intimately linked memory and healing are—and how honestly she must scrutinize her past in order to aspire to a richer future. As she juggles a new job, a new culture, a new daughter, and the attention of an enterprising man, Shelby’s fresh start becomes a quest for the courage to be not only a survivor, but someone who prevails.

I really wanted to like this book.  I enjoyed the character development and thought the plot was a good one.  I found it difficult to read because the story kept jumping in time from present day to a few months earlier to flashbacks from Shelby's own childhood.  I just found it disjointed and a bit difficult to stay with. 

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Days Like These ~ Book Review

Kristian Anderson fought a brave battle with bowel cancer.  He began a blog to keep family and friends updated on his condition.  Days Like These includes the blog of his journey along with passages written by his wife, Rachel.  Kristian had a strong faith and believed in his heart he was going to beat cancer.  At times I became extremely emotional as I already knew that he died from cancer.  However, this book is also inspiring.  It encouraged me in my faith journey as Kristian shares his heart with complete honesty. 
He says:
"And always in the back of my mind is the thought, 'What if?...'  What if I don't make it?  What if I croak and let everybody down?  Some might say that's not having faith, that I shouldn't think that kind of thing.  I don't know.  I'm a human being, and my mortality is something that I have become acutely aware of.  Ignoring the medical point of view as presented by my oncologist is not exercising faith;  it's being irresponsible.  Exercising faith would be trusting God's promises even when the statistics lean in cancer's favor.  I tend to believe that faith is not psyching yourself up or the power of positive suggestion.  I tend to see it as something far deeper and far less tangible, something not of the mind but of the soul  That place inside you that you know exists but you can't quite put your finger on.  I feel like faith comes from my belly, not my head.  It's something planted deep within me, and it has deep roots.  So when my humanity kicks in and I worry that maybe I won't be able to go the distance, my faith is there to reassure me that not only will I go the distance but  Iwill do it well.  I won't limp over the finish line.  I will finish strong."

There are many other passages that struck me but as I read, I just thought, this is true faith.  It is believing that God will keep His promises in spite of your circumstances.  It is facing that uncertainty knowing who holds your future in the palm of His hands.  Even when the miracle doesn't come, or when God doesn't answer our prayers in the way we hope, we have hope in Him. 

This is an amazing story of an amazing, godly man.  Kristian Anderson became famous when a youtube video he posted for wife's birthday went viral.  He and his wife appeared on Oprah after she became aware of the video and his story. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Book Sneeze in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I am not obligated to give this book a positive review. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Freefall to Fly ~ A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning

Freefall to Fly: The Breathtaking Journey to a Life of Meaning  -     
        By: Rebekah Lyons
I was excited to receive "Freefall to Fly" because it sounded like a book I could relate to.  Rebekah Lyons did not disappiont.  Lyons describes her journey as a woman, a wife and a mother and the struggles and triumphs that go along with it.  I appreciate her transparency and honesty as life didn't turn out the way she thought it would.  Isn't that true of so many of us?  We have big fairy tale dreams as young women, we want to have it all, we think we can have it all and yet the very things we thought we wanted, don't make us happy.  Why is that?

Lyons suffered with debilitating panic attacks and depression and couldn't figure out why or how to make it all stop.  She would think she had it under control for a while, but when she least expected it, she would have another panic attack.  Many of the points she brought up, I find interesting:

"Women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression.  One in four women will suffer some form of depression in her lifetime...We aren't depressed because we are getting old; we are depressed in the prime of our lives.  During the years when we ought to be making some of our greatest contributions to others and to the world, we are stuck.  Caught in the quagmire of confusion, hardly able to put one foot in front of the other.."

"I'm no medical doctor, and I have no degrees in psychology, but I do love to listen to the stories of women.  Women who are in the sweet spot of this demographic who are fighting to make sense of their lives.  I hear the stories, unpack their pain, and consistently flind a common perpetrator.  We don't know who we are.  We all feel this self-doubt.  The nagging sense that we don't quite have what it takes.  The loss of clarity over why on earth we exist.  The demands of life are piled on us from every direction - from ambitious husbands with amped-up libidos to screaming kids wanting the crusts cut off their PB and J sandwiches to in-laws demanding their fair share of holiday celebrations. Each of these things in isolation, no big deal.  All combined, the weight is too much to bear. 

This is the story many of us live with.  But it's not the life we want to live or the legacy we want to follow us for generations.  In the still moments we cling to the hope that there must be a better way.  A way to live out the purposes God has for each of us.  Yet that way is lost on us."

While I haven't been clinically depressed, I do struggle with knowing who I am and what God is calling me to do. I do struggle with those outside pressures and with wanting things to be just so.  I want to make everyone happy and at times make myself miserable in the process.  This book was validation for me that we are all in the same boat.  Even though women put on a happy face and may look like they have it all together, we share in the same struggles. 

I found Lyons' honesty refreshing and enjoyed this book so incredibly much.  I highly recommend this to any woman who needs to stop trying to control all of the details in her life and give up that control to the God who loves us and has plans of each of us. 

I received this book free from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  I don't have to give it a favorable review, but I am because I really liked it!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bread and Wine ~ finding community and life around the table

Bread and Wine: Finding Community and Life Around the Table  -     
        By: Shauna Niequist

I enjoy reading cookbooks and imagining all of the possibilities new recipes bring.  Like everyone, I sometimes get in a food rut and need inspiration.  Bread and Wine ~ finding community and life around the table, is no ordinary cookbook.  In fact, while it has recipes in it, Shauna Niequist says it isn't really a cookbook at all.  She shares some of her favorite recipes and the stories and people behind those recipes.  In fact, she admits that many of these recipes came from other sources but I enjoyed the stories and memories stirred by the food she cooks. 

In her introduction, Niequist says,
        "It's not, actually, strictly, about food for me.  It's about what happens when we come together, slow down, open our homes, look into one another's faces, listen to one another's stories.  It happens when we leave the office and get a sitter and skip our workouts every so often to celebrate a birthday or an accomplishment or a wedding or a birth, when we break out of the normal clockwork of daily life and pop the champagne on a cold, gray Wednesday fore no other reason than the fact that the faces we love are gathered around our table.  It happens when we enter the joy and the sorrow of the people we love, and we join together at the table to feed one another and be fed, and while it's not strictly about food, it doesn't happen without it.  Food is the starting point, the common ground, the thing to hold and handle, the currency we offer to one another."

Because I come from a southern family, food is a large part of our family traditions. The food we share around our table feeds not only our bodies, but our souls too.  Whether it is the four of us sitting at the dining room table at night or Sunday dinner with extended family, our mealtime is a sacred space for sharing life together.  I identify with Niequist when she says,

        "What happens around the table doesn't matter to a lot of people.  But it matters more and more to me.  Life at the table is life at its best to me, and the spiritual significance of what and how we eat, and with whom and where, is new and profound to me every day.  I believe God is here among us, present and working.  I believe all of life is shot through with God's presence, and that part of the gift of walking with him is seeing his fingerprints in all sorts of unexpected ways...When you
eat, I want you to think of God, of the holiness of hands that feed us, of the provision we are given every time we eat.  When you eat bread and you drink wine, I want you to think about the body and the blood every time, not just when the bread an dwine show up in church, but when they show up anywhere - on a picnic table or a hardwood floor or a beach."

Niequist has inspired me to cook, to invite friends and family in and to make it about more than whether my house is perfect, but about the intimacy and love that is shared around the table. 
"This is what I want you to do: I want you to tell someone you love them, and dinner's at six.  I want you to throw open your front door and welcome the people you love into the inevitable mess with hugs and laughter.  I want you to light a burner on the stove, to chop and stir and season with love and abandon.  Begin with an onion and a drizzle of olive oil, and go from therrem, any one of a million different meals.  Gather the people you love around your table and feed them with love and honestly and creativity.  Fed them with your hands and the flavors and smells that remind you of home and beauty and the best stories you've ever heard, the best stories you've ever lived."

If you love food and you love spending time with your family and friends, I recommend this book.  If you are in a food rut and need some inspiration, I recommend this book.  After reading this book, I felt good about the times we are already spending around our table and feel inspired to create more experiences with family,old friends, and friends we've yet to make.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

One Perfect Life - The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus

 One Perfect Life is more than just a harmony of the New Testament Gospels.  It tells the complete story of Christ, weaving together prophesies from the Old Testament as well as the New Testament Gospels.  Dr. John MacArthur was able to put together something I have never seen before and I am so excited that this book is now a part of my resource library.  Not only does it read as a narrative, combining pieces of scripture from different books of the Bible, it allows the reader to more fully understand the life of Christ in a more linear fashion.  I especially enjoyed reading the footnotes provided, as they provided explanation and details that I hadn't thought about before. 

As a life-long Christian and someone who has studied the Bible for many years, I appreciate the easy format of this book.  Unlike Parallel Bibles, which present different accounts in a column format, this book weaves the accounts together into a complete story.  It shows how the different accounts fit together. 

MacArthur begins with the Creation of the World with Jesus Christ - the Preexistent Creator and Savior.  He continues with the Fall of the Human Race Into Sin and through Old Testament prophesies which fortell of the Messiah's birth.  It demonstrates how everything in the Bible was put together to tell the story of Christ, from the beginning of Creation and through the Gospels. 

When I first received this book I was excited to dig right in and wanted to read it cover to cover.  What I found was that I really want to take some time and read the footnotes and really ponder and understand what was happening and how the accounts came together.  I learned so much while reading and I know I will refer to this valuable reference tool again and again. 

This book would be beneficial to those wanting to read straight through the narrative, as well as others who want to take time to read and understand footnotes, savoring each piece of the story.  I highly recommend this addition to your reference library. 

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Jesus Wants Us To Share the Gossip?

Yesterday morning as we were riding in the car, Prince asked, "Mom, do Christians gossip?"
Not really sure where he was going with this, I responded: Yes, Christians gossip and so do people who aren't Christian.  Gossip is a sin, and God doesn't want us to gossip about people, but we all sin and make mistakes.  The important thing is to try to remember not to do it, and to only say nice things about people.
Prince said, "Oh."  and with that, I thought I was off the hook.
Then Princess said, "But some gossip is good.  It depends on the context.  Jesus wants us to talk about him and so we should spread the Gossipel.  So that would be good gossip, right?"

So then we had a conversation about the difference between the words gospel and gossip but this got me to thinking.  The Bible says in Mark 16:15 "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." What if we were as excited to share the good news of the gospel as we are to share a juicy piece of gossip?  We talk about all of the things going on in our lives, the people we love and the people we find it difficult to love.  If we talked about people in proportion to how much we love them, it seems to me we would talk about Jesus a lot more and not so much about the lady who aggravated us when she did this, that or the other.  My kids teach me so much about who I want to be, about who God wants me to be. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Whit's End Mealtime Devotions Review

Whit's End Mealtime Devotions: 90 Faith-Building Ideas Your Kids Will Eat Up!  -     
        By: Crystal Bowman, Tricia Goyer

Whit's End Mealtime Devotions is a wonderful way to facilitate family devotions at the dinner time.  John Avery Whittaker, with help from Crystal Bowman & Tricia Goyer  provides 90 devotional menus in this book.  Each devotional menu includes five courses:

Mealtime Prayers - a fresh way to bless your food, scriptures and ideas on what to pray
Appetizer - a fun question or activity
Main Course - an objct lesson or thought to chew on
Table Talk - questions to spark interesting discussions
Vitamins and Minerals - a creative way to thank God for your time together or a reminder that God provides all we need

I love the format of this book!  The devotionals provide scripture references and questions to promote discussion at the dinner table.  Each topic is relevant for children and adults.  There are three sections in this book: Any Day Mealtime Devotions, Holiday Devotions, and Theme Devotions. 

I am especially excited about trying some of the Theme Devotions.  Each theme gives directions on how to set up a fun theme for your family that night.  One theme that I want to try is Search for Treasure.  Based on Matthew 6:21, prepare a treasure hunt, and hide family "treasures" in your house.  Make a map that will lead to the treasures.  Dress up like pirates, go on a treasure hunt and then eat pirate food.

I highly recommend this book for families who wish to connect with meaningful mealtime discussions.  Busy families who make eating together a priority can come together and grow together in God's Word.  This devotional book is easy to use and takes very little preparation.  Just keep the book and a Bible in the dining room and enjoy! 

I received this book from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  I am not obligated to give this book a positive review.  That being said, get one for your family today!  You will love it!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tough Guys and Drama Queens Book Review

Tough Guys and Drama Queens: How Not to Get Blindsided by Your Child's Teen Years
By: Mark Gregston
     Parents of preteens and teens can move from scared to prepared with a new approach to parenting their adolescents.

     Parents of preteens intuitively know that no matter how good their kids are, there is turbulence ahead. Many feel lost and unprepared as they watch the damaging effects of culture collide with their child's growing pains and raging hormones.
     For the past 35 years Mark Gregston has lived and worked with struggling teens and knows what it takes to reach them. He says, "A parent's success has little to do with either the validity of their words or their intent as messengers, it's more about how they approach their child and engage with them."
The book is divided into three sections:
     *What's so different about today's culture *Why traditional parenting no longer works *A new model for parenting teens
     Foundational and practical, and written from the crucible of experience, Tough Guys and Drama Queens answers the questions that parents are asking, helping them become the parents their children need them to be.

     As the mother of 8 year-old twins, I was intrigued by the thought of what it will be like to raise teenagers in today's world and I hoped to gain some insight as to things I could do now, to help prepare us for the years ahead.  It is hard to think that in just a few short years, my children will be teenagers.  In the book, Gregston describes the cultural shifts that have taken place and how the world is much different than the world in which we grew up.  The issues facing our children are serious. 
     One of the things that really struck me was in Chapter 3, Overresponsible Parents, Irresponsible Kids.  "Parents who are quick to accept the responsibility of making sure their teen is happy, provided for, and protected from all potential harm, many times don't realize how their "overresponsibility" keeps the concept of responsibility from transferring to their child.  This transfer of responsibility is so important because if a teen isn't held accountable to take control of their life then they remain overly dependent on parents...The longer a parent holds onto repsonsibilities that should be gradually transferred to a child to help him or her grow up, the longer it will take for that child to mature."  This is something I struggle with even now, knowing how much responsibility to transfer to my children so that I am not one of those "helicopter parents" that hovers over their children and don't allow them the opportunity to grow and mature as they should.   
   I enjoyed Part 3 of the book, Parenting Practices That Really Work.  In this section, he gives practical tips that encourage spending time with your child and ways to interact to build even stronger relationships with your children. He says, "It's all about relationships.  If they don't have a relationship with you, they'll have one with someone else...If they don't spend time with you, they;ll spend it with someone else."  I want to be that person that my children are in relationship with.  I want to be that person they spend time with.  
     I will keep this book near-by on a shelf and refer to it again, I am sure.  I would recommend this book to any parent that is concerned for the welfare of their teen or so to be teen. 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and I am not obligated to give it a positive review.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mind of Her Own ~ Book Review


Mind of Her Own is a story of Louisa Copeland, a stay at home mom, who feels the pressures of trying to be the perfect wife and mother exhausting.  When she receives a nasty bump on the head, Louisa wakes up thinking she is Jazz Sweet and remembers nothing of her former life.  As Jazz relearns what her former life was like, she is also searching for the key to unlock her past so she can remember who she really is.  As her husband Collin tries to help her remember, they realize that their relationship had grown stale and their love is rekindled. 

Diana Brandmeyer is funny and creates a story that many women can relate to.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down once I started it.  I love the thought that we all have this person inside of us that is waiting to come out if we will cast away some of the everyday-ness of our lives and allow ourselves to dream and rediscover who we are.  The dramatic ending of this story created a more serious tone, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read.

I received this book from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Goodbye to Yesterday Review

I enjoy reading Amish fiction, but haven't read one in quite a while.  Goodbye to Yesterday was a good way back in.  It is the first of a new six part series by Wanda E Brunstetter.

Meredith and Luke Stoltzfus are an Amish couple who are faced with the greatest challenge of their young lives. Financial struggles. Arguments. A suspected pregnancy. A last-minute trip to Middlebury, Indiana. A drug addict on the run. A deadly encounter at a Philadelphia bus station. Will their love and faith be enough to bring them back together again, against all odds?

Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down.  It left a real cliff hanger and I can't wait until the other parts of the series come out.  I must say that I would have much preferred for Brunstetter to publish the entire story in one book and I found it a bit jarring to stop mid-way through the story with no closure.  I also think that while $4.97 seems to be a reasonable price for a book, when you figure there are six parts to the story, you are actually paying almost $30 for what might ordinarily be in one book.  That seems a bit on the pricey side to me.  However, it is still a good read if you are into Amish fiction.

I received this book from Handlebar Publishing for a fair and honest review.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Isaiah 26:3

A few weeks ago I met the most amazing Christian woman.  I attended a conference in Nashville and she was my roommate.  The more we talked and got to know each other, the more we seemed to click.  Before we parted ways she told me that she was committing to fast and pray for me for 3 days each month.  This touched me so deeply.  I had never had anyone to pledge to do that for me and this act of sacrifice and love was so heartfelt.  We had just met after all. 

Earlier this week I received an email from this special friend that she was beginning her time of fasting and prayer and wanted to know if I had any specific needs or prayer requests.  I replied that I would appreciate prayers for my upcoming surgery.  She replied back that she would be in prayer for me and that she had neglected to tell me earlier, but that God had given her a promise for me earlier that morning.  The verse was Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."

I was so touched that she sent this to me.  I knew that this was truly from God, given what I have been dealing with. 

Later that evening I was reading a book for a blog review and it was about an Amish couple that were newlyweds.  I got to the very end of the book and about 3 pages from the end, there it was again.  Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."  Hmmm...strange.  I guess God wanted me to be sure to pay attention so he gave me the verse twice.  I had been doing pretty well with feeling peaceful about this upcoming surgery, knowing that He is in control and giving it back to Him again and again, when I do start to feel anxious. 

Yesterday morning as I was reading my daily devotion in Jesus Calling, there is was again! Isaiah 26:3.  It was at this point that I KNEW this was a promise from God if only I will trust in Him.  God wants me to meditate on this verse and feel His peace.

I have begun to get a little nervous and worried again.  As it gets closer, I just want it to be over.  This must be the reason God gave this verse to me 3 times.  He knew that I would need to have it ingrained in my mind and embossed on my heart so that when the nerves do kick in, I will remember that God promises His peace, perfect peace.

I thank God for my new friend and her heart for Him.  I thank Him for using her to shine down His love and peace upon me and I know that He has promised to keep me in perfect peace because I trust in Him.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

When God Whispers

There are times when God speaks so clearly into my life that I stop and am truly amazed.  The God of the universe loves me enough to speak personally to me.  He pursues me and whispers encouragement through friends, books, His Word and sometimes it happens when I least expect it.  Perhaps that's when my defenses are down and I am more open to hearing. 

Last week I learned that I needed to have some surgery, which is to be done next Monday.  I had several tests and doctor appointments and was nervous about the outcome, and when I learned that surgery was required, I was less than thrilled.  I don't know anyone who wants to have surgery, but this was kind of a blow to what I thought was really nothing to worry about. 

One morning I awoke early and knew I needed to just get up and have quiet communion with God.  As I prayed, I poured my heart out to God.  God, why?!  God, is it all going to be OK?  God I need you!  In the stillness of the morning, He said to me, "Do you trust me?"  My immediate response was, "Yes, Lord I trust you but..." He said, "You either trust me or you don't.  There is no but.  Do you trust me?  I have brought you through much more than this.  I am in charge and I have a plan." 

In that moment I knew that God already had this all figured out.  I knew that trust was a choice and I can choose to trust Him or not.  I knew that I could sit and worry and wallow, or give it over to Him.  I chose trust.  I still choose trust.  It is a decision every moment of every day to trust that He has a plan and His plan is perfect.  That His purpose for me isn't always what I would choose, but that He will use everything that happens in my life for His glory.  When I begin to worry again, I have to make the conscious effort to choose trust.  It isn't easy by any stretch of the imagination, but nothing about this is easy.  So I can choose to "go it alone," which I'm not alone anyway, or I can choose to trust that God will take care of me.  John Wesley said, "The best of all is, God is with us."  Indeed, that is the very best.  It means that I don't walk alone, but that when I go into the operating room on Monday morning, The Great Physician will be there with my doctors to guide and bring healing.  Thanks be to God.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Beyond Ordinary ~ Book Review

Beyond Ordinary ~ when a good marriage just isn't good enough by Justin and Trisha Davis


Justin and Trisha Davis know all too well the dangers of settling for an ordinary marriage.  Their own failure to recognize the warning signs almost resulted in the end of their marriage, their family, and their ministry.  Now, with disarming transparency, they give readers a rare glimpse into the slow fade that eventually led to the near destruction of everythingt they held dear.  Using a compelling "he said, she said" approach, Justin and Trisha share two sides of the same story, exposing the seemingly insignificant comments nad decisions couples make every day that can dramatically alter the course of a marriage.  They also share the invaluable lessons they learned that helped them restore their relationship and transform their ordinary marriage into and extraordinary one!


Justin and Trisha Davis had a seemingly fine marriage from the outside.  They were building a ministry and a family together and from a distance they were living the fairy tale marriage.  For a long time, they didn't even realize themselves that something was wrong.  The mistake they made, the mistake so many of us made was that they settled for ordinary. 

As I read their narratives there were times I could see my hubby and I in similar situations.  There were times that as a woman I would read Justin's thoughts and shake my head, knowing just how much trouble he was digging himself into.  I became involved in their story because I think we can all identify with rocky times in our relationships. 

I like the way they incorporate Scriptural principals into the book so that the reader can see from the outer perspective how God made us and what our natual tendencies are as couples.  Illustrations from the Bible help put it in context and also help the reader to learn who God wants us to be in our relationships with Him. 

There are questions at the end of each chapter that can help couples as they think about their own marriages seek the extraordinary.  I enjoyed reading this book and reflecting on my marriage and how I can go the extra mile to make it extraordinary.  God wants His very best for each and every one of us and until we seek Him first and obey His calling on our lives, we can't have that.  God has to be at the center of it all.

 I highly recommend this book!  It was a great read ~ so go get your copy today!

Check out the rest of the Blog Tour of Beyond Ordinary here (PDF File) and visit some amazing blogs!

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of Tyndale Blogger Network, for the purpose of review