Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Indescribable Coloring Book

Based on the hit song as recorded by Chris Tomlin
Written by Laura Story and Jesse Reeves

This is a really cool coloring book. I love how it takes a praise song and puts pictures to it. Each double page spread has a phrase from the song on it. It gives you time to meditate on the phrase and offer your own praise to God while you color the picture.

The phrase "All powerful, untameable" is repeated three times, I believe. One picture has lions running in it. Another one has wild horses, (At least I decided they were wild). And the final picture is water running over rocks on a downhill slope. I just think the pictures fit so well with the phrase. Not all of the pictures and phrases go that well, but I think that most of them fit very well.

I would love to just grab some pencil crayons and get started with this book, but beings I am just a bit of "do things in order" person, I will resist for now. I was thinking it would make a great gift for someone, but I'm not so sure anymore. I kind of want to save it for myself. However, if you have a coloring enthusiast for a friend or a family member and you need a gift for them, this is a great book to give. Especially if they are also love this song.

As you can tell, I think this is a great book and I look forward to coloring in it or giving it away. I love the idea of being able to color worship/praise songs. It seems if I could keep my mind focused, it would be a great way to worship while I am coloring or even just to have the song playing in the background while you color, which is what I did while I wrote this review.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friends, Partners & Lovers by Kevin A Thompson

Friends, Partners, and Lovers by Kevin A. Thompson

What it Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

I like to read a few marriage books a year. I think it's good to do that. Books can give me a fresh look at marriage and inspire me to try harder to be the wife that my husband needs. I often am revived and ready to go the second mile after reading a marriage book.

I often say this too, but this was one of the best books on marriage I've read. I thought Kevin had a different look at marriage than a lot of marriage books do. Maybe it's just the stage I'm in now, but I just really enjoyed the book and may have quoted from it to anyone who would listen.

There are three aspects to being married, according to Kevin. You should be best friends, not exclusive friends, but best friends. This is the foundation in my mind. You love to be together, to do things together, to have fun together. You are also partners: Partners in raising a family, maybe in running a business, financial partners. There has to be a level of trust here. And then you are lovers, referring to the sexual aspect of marriage. If you are good solid friends and partners with a deep level of trust, the lovers part will be fulfilling and lots of fun. Kevin gave a three hour talk once on marriage where he spent most of the time talking about the friendship aspect. Afterwards in the Q&A session, one person went off about how important sex was to marriage and they couldn't believe that Kevin would spend three hours talking about marriage and never give serious consideration to sex. After this introduction, the question was what the biggest misconception about sex is. Kevin's answer? "The biggest misconception about sex is that a three-hour talk about friendship in marriage is not a direct discussion about sex."

One of the first things that stood out to me in the book was this quote:"Knowing our spouse isn't our soul mate allows us to expect problems. We aren't surprised by frustrations. We understand differences. When we fight, it doesn't cause us to wonder if we married the wrong person. We know it is just part of marriage. The great challenge of relationships is not to find the one person created specifically for you. It is to pick someone and work at the relationship to such an extend that eventually you feel as though there could never be anyone else for you." I love that. It's all about choice. Marriage takes a lot of effort, but if we are aware of that and willing to do our part, it is a beautiful thing.

On June 6 of this year, it will be nine years since our first date. Has it all been easy? No, we have faced things as a couple in those nine years that I wouldn't wish on anyone, but would I change what we have? Absolutely not. When you get married, you chuckle to yourself when people say it gets better because you can't imagine it getting better. Now having been married 8 years, I look back and chuckle at the people who are starting to date because you know it does really get better. And while there's a twinge of jealousy because you know the fun times to be had in dating, there is a level of security and comfort that comes with time that you don't have when you are dating. And I can only imagine another 8 years will have me looking back and chuckling again.

So, if you are looking for a good book on marriage that is easy to read and enlightening and encouraging, pick up a copy or if you live close to me, I might let you borrow it. Or if you are getting married, I might even get you a copy.

Kevin blogs at www.kevinathompson.com 

I was given this book by Revell Publishing and was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Esther, a Drawn in Bible Study

Product Details

Finding Yourself in Times of Trouble
By Eugene Peterson

This is a Bible Study coloring book that goes through the book of Esther. The Bible passages are all there in the Message translation. There is a section of Scripture followed by a few questions and then another section of Scripture. There are only four sessions so each session is quite lengthy and would take a bit of time to do. At the end of each session, there is a section called, "Until we Meet Again" that is for reflection and/or consideration and a prayer.

There is also a section at the back for leaders that gives advice and ideas on how to lead the Bible Study and some notes for each session.

Throughout the book are various pictures to color. Some are full page with a quote or just picture. Other times, it's just a small leaf or flower in the corner. The pictures do look nice and a lot of fun to color.

I am looking forward to doing this Bible study and it will definitely go on my list of Bible Studies to do.

The one thing I don't like about this book is that it does not lay flat. Coloring and writing in it are going to be a bit difficult unless you are rather harsh with book in an attempt to get it to lay flat. A different kind of binding would be nicer for coloring purposes, but otherwise, it's a great little book.

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

and Still She Laughs by Kate Merrick

Product Details

Defiant Joy in the Depths of Suffering

Losing your 8-year-old daughter to cancer is not what any mom ever wants to do, Kate Merrick included. And yet that is what she had to do and this is her journey through that grief. It's not so much about the cancer journey, so if that is what you are expecting, you will be disappointed. But if you are looking for hope in the midst of grief, then this is the book for you.

She looks at Biblical women like Sarah, Bathsheba, and Mary and the journeys they walked through and provides insight for today. For example, we often look at the Proverbs 31 woman and grow discouraged and yet it is thought that Bathsheba wrote that. Look at Bathsheba's life, not very perfect, but she made the most of it and was most blessed.

One of the things Kate talked about that stomped on my toes was the thing of bitterness. "Just a teeny bit, just enough bitterness that I feel justified about it. Just enough bitterness that it colors my sense of humor and peppers my thoughts, but it doesn't show up on my face. Hidden so well I didn't even see it at first. I almost missed it. A slight hint of bitter, just a little on the side, for dipping in now and again. "  "Bitterness at the desolation of life. Bitterness at people who apparently have no pain. Bitterness at women who have kids to spare. Bitterness because I lost. I lost the contest, the race, the fight."

This struck me, because I have been guilty of this very thing. Bitter because other people have children with seemingly little to no effort and I am left thinking about my babies in heaven and struggling for every child on earth we are blessed with. But it is still bitterness and it still needs to be dealt with.

"Becoming aware of my hindering attitude of bitterness started a chain reaction that has since led to those bigger, better things - a deepening of faith, a realization that all things point to eternity; and this life, with all its trouble, is quickly coming to an end." I don't know if I'm there yet, but I want that deep faith, that ability to count on eternity and the capacity to laugh once again.

And then she ends the book with talking about treasuring the moments. The Proverbs 31 woman talks about laughing without fearing the future and Kate invites us to experience that deep laughter.

"Can we please laugh together? Can we please honor God, the Giver?....When he gives sweet memories, camp out there a little while, sweeping your soul with goodness. Let the food you eat not only nourish your cells, but let it be beautiful and delicious and flavorful and plentiful. Walk in the rain, splash in puddles, catch snowflakes on your tongue......If he has given you babies to love, pour it on thick. Rock and sing and kiss and bless, in the same way your Abba pours out to you. The home you have been given, have fun making it pretty....."

And in the midst of writing this book, Kate experienced a miscarriage bringing her number of children to three in heaven and two on earth. She knows the meaning of loss and yet she chooses to laugh and love in the midst of all of it.

This book was given to me by Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What Hope Remembers by Johnnie Alexander

Product Details

So in my last book review, I said I was on the lookout for some new to me authors that write books with depth. Well, Johnnie is on my list to read more of. This was the third book in a series and I'd like to read the first two sometime. For the most part, this was an easy-to-understand-on-its-own-kind-of-book, but there are some unanswered questions at the end about some of the other highly visible characters that make you want to know their stories.

Hope. Redemption. Second Chances. Forgiveness. I think those themes run solidly through this book. While there's not a lot of God in this word in terms of lots of Scripture or church attendance, to me He is there. He is what made it possible for Gabe to survive his years of an unfair prison sentence. God is who changed the lives of several key characters in the book.

I don't want to make this post be a spoiler for the story and so I will try to be purposefully vague. And yes, the hero got the heroine in the end and lived happily ever after, things did not go just perfect. There was some sad tough things that happened in this book. There was some carnality and meanness, but there was redemption. Amy, the main female character, was learning to look beyond her past, beyond her mistakes, beyond her eating problems to see what she could be, to see the person she could become if she was willing to make the efforts.

Anyway, I did enjoy this book and I will be on the lookout for any books by Johnnie Alexander because I felt like she can write a book with some depth and body to it. Now I would like to know what other people think of this book and this author.

This book was given to me by Revell Books. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bible sleuth: New Testament

Product Details

Illustrated by Jose Perez Montero

Who likes the "Where's Waldo" Books? Well, here's another option for you. Mike loves adventure and loves going back in time, especially to Bible times and looking at some of the most exciting events in history. On every open spread, there's a short Bible story and then eight objects/people to find on every page. And, of course, you also have to find Mike on every page.

The stories include Jesus' birth, His first miracle, the Beatitudes, feeding of the five thousand, Triumphal entry, Pentecost, stoning of Stephen, and others. While I didn't try to find all the objects, I'm not very good at stuff like that, I didn't think they were too terribly hard to find. The pages are definitely packed full of people and objects though, so it's not just super easy to spot stuff.

I think it looks like a fun book for a little bit older of a child. The genre is listed as juvenile nonfiction/religious/Christian/games and activities, so it doesn't list just a specific age. I do remember the secretary at one place I work enjoying the "Where's Waldo" book so this could go on up to adults as well. I would guess around five or six for a starting age of who could start finding the pictures.

I think it would make a great gift or a perfect thing to introduce when going on a long trip, (as long as the child doesn't get car sick). It is a bigger, hardcover book. I would estimate it to be about 8 x 13 or so, so they would need the ability to be able to hold it on their lap. It's not very thick though.

There is also a Bible sleuth: Old Testament book as well. That one I have not seen, but I would imagine is equally fun.

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Trusting Grace by Maggie Brendan

Product Details

Virtues and Vices of the Old West Book 3

I am on a lookout these days for good fiction authors that I haven't read yet, so I will be attempting to try a lot of books by new to me authors. And then, of course, will be writing reviews on them here on my blog. So Maggie Brendan is one of those new to me authors.

The basic characters are a widow and her father and a widower and his three stepchildren that he didn't know he had until his wife died. So there's some trust issues on his part regarding women. And understandably so. But as these books go, trust was gained between the widower and the widow and they were bound to live happily ever after.

The book was fine as far as fiction books go. The setting was Montana in 1866, so the genre is historical romance. And really that was all there was. There was a small amount of intrigue caused by some missing goods shipments and subsequent kidnapping, but it was all quickly resolved.

One of the more interesting things in the book was that the widow's father, Owen, had this odd muscle disease that they called muscle neuritis back then. Today it is called chronic inflammatory demyelinating neuropathy. The author's husband suffers from this condition and I found it interesting that she put it in the book. I liked that. It makes the story more real to life to me, I think.

Basically, I will say that it was a book of stuff and fluff and while I don't discount Maggie Brendan as an author, this book doesn't get to rank up in the category of "have to read". I think the older I get, the more I look for fiction books with body and depth. I don't want the book to be all preachy and do nothing but quote Scripture, but I like books that show a real depth of character development and a true dependence on God.

I received this book from Revell Books and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Silver and Gold Have I None

This morning I was again working my way through the Act Bible Study, "An Unexplainable Life" by Erica Wiggenhorn. I take several days to go through what is meant to be a one day study, so I've been working on the story of the lame man for a few days now. But this morning, it hit me in a different way, partly because of something she said and partly because of where I'm at right now in life.

Peter makes this famous saying that's a fun children's song as well,
"Silver and gold have I none,
But such as I have give I thee
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth
Rise up and walk."

Erica posed the question, why did he mention that he didn't have money. In my mind, and these are my own thoughts now, wouldn't that have been rather disheartening for the man. Why bother to stop, to look at me, if you aren't going to help. But Peter knew the bigger story at this point, he knew he had something better than money.

How often do I want the "money" without recognizing and waiting to see what better thing God has for me. Right now, I'm struggling a bit, I just want a normal pregnancy, a pregnancy where I can come and go as I please, where I can still take care of my family, go on walks, cook meals, etc. etc. That's my silver and gold. It's what I think I need to make me happy. Instead, God is calling me to a different path, a different way of life. I am realizing I will likely never know a "normal" pregnancy, whatever that is. But I can experience so many blessings without that. God has something bigger for me. He wants me to choose to be grateful despite.

Dave told me the other day, you've made it 23 weeks, there's only 13 more to go. That doesn't seem that bad anymore. Well, in my down moments, it still feels pretty bad, but he's right. It is only 13 more to go. It's truly becoming spring, so I can go outside and enjoy the sunshine. I have lots of little hobbies that can be done while I sit on the couch. I am truly blessed without having the silver and gold I think I want.

I think it can go beyond the here and now too. Things that come hard are generally taken care of better and treasured a little deeper. I am not saying moms with normal pregnancies don't love their children, please don't hear that from me. But, for me at least, having faced death in my babies, having given them back to God, you hold the living ones a little closer, you treasure them a little more and you also realize that they're being on this earth is not a guarantee, so I probably worry a little more too. Now, I'm normal and there are days when the treasuring and the holding close is replaced by just wanting a little peace and quiet and a little break away from the demands of a two-year-old. But there are days when I stop and I look at my little girl and I think, "Wow, we really have her. She's ours to raise and to train and to guide." And the tears can still come when I think of the gift we have been given.

Now, I don't know what silver or gold you're holding on to in your life. What you need to let go of to be able to claim the healing power of Jesus in your life, but for me, I need to let go of what I think would make me feel good and I need to realize that this is where I am in life, this is the life God has given me and I need to claim it. I don't need to worry that others are thinking me wimpy or inefficient or even lazy. I have to do what I need to do for the sake of my family and my baby and I need to let the rest in God's hands. I need to let go of my fear of what do people think and simply claim Jesus' power and let Him work through me.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Never Give Up by John Mason

Never Give Up--You're Stronger Than You Think by [Mason, John]

You're Stronger Than You Think

Well, in keeping with my post earlier today about lists, this was a book that had quite a few lists scattered throughout.

Divided into basically 52 bullet point chapter, John talks about looking inward, looking outward and looking upward and the keys found in these three places to not giving up.

Some of his bullet points include: 

* For every reason there is to lie, there's a better reason to tell the truth
* Fear isn't reality
* No gift from God is insignificant
* Our words create our worlds
* Never start your day in neutral
* Find yourself by giving yourself to others
*There are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going
*Rise by lifting others
*Stop every day and look at the size of God
*The Bible is a Book of directions, not suggestions
*God will use you right where you are today

There are 52 of these as titles for a two to four page chapter that delves into the idea a little more in depth. And yet, it's still kept short and sweet. I like the idea of this book because it does give so many good ideas, but to me, John doesn't overstate his points. However, to just sit down and read the book from cover to cover, it can feel like you are just barely scratching the surface of what you could learn. So I would recommend reading this book, more like one chapter at a time and letting it marinate in your heart and soul and mind before moving on.

I had never heard of John Mason before this book, but it appears that this was his 19th book and he has over two million books in print in 38 languages. I guess he knows the meaning of not giving up. 

I received this book from Revell Books and was not required to write a positive review. 

A List of Lists

The other night I was thinking how much I love lists. I like reading lists on blogs, I like making lists on paper, and I like having mental lists in my head. I also have a wish list on the sticky notes on my computer, you know, just in case.... the right person would see it or something. So I thought, for fun, I should do a posts about the lists I have or have made in the past and maybe a few random things I'll put in a list at the end.

So here goes: my list of lists
1. A to-do list in my daily planner
2. A list of things to do before summer Bible School this summer
3. A list of things I wanted to get done before 24 weeks
4. And a list of things to do after 24 weeks.
5. A list of all the freezer meals that are in the freezer along with breads, etc.
6. A running list in my head of things I want to accomplish
7. As mentioned, my wishlist on the computer
8. Many wish lists on Amazon
9. Goals
10. One time, a long time ago, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish in my life, both hobbies and otherwise. I wonder where that list is. If I remember right, it was quite lengthy
11. Menus, though those are generally listed out on the days I want to make them in my planner
12. Grocery lists
13. Gift ideas
14. Books I want to get from Moody Publishers for reviewing purposes.
15. This isn't a list, but there is a row of books in the cupboard that I want to read this year. It starts with the review books I get and then moves on to other books that are high on my list to read.

Okay, now just some random things put together in a list
1. I had no idea 2-year-olds were quite the sponges for learning that they are.
2. Dry cereal is quite a great thing when you are two
3. Laundry is a necessary evil.
4. 23 weeks is reason to celebrate
5. Only 13 weeks left to go until I can waddle wherever I please again.
6. I am very ready for spring and sunshine and warm weather.
7. My yellow daffodils and orange tulips really do look quite stunning together, though I was trying to figure out this spring why I bought orange tulips of all colors.
8. We are going away for a belated anniversary getaway this weekend and I am pleased as punch about the idea.
9. I want to drink lots of coffee, have quality conversation and otherwise engorge myself on yummy food while we are gone.
10. I'm becoming a fan of kombucha.

Okay, and now I need to go put the small child to bed. It seems almost sad because she is playing nicely, but I prefer to do it before we are both having meltdowns. It feels more peaceful that way.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

English Lessons by Andrea Lucado (My own thoughts mixed in)

English Lessons: The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith by [Lucado, Andrea]

The Crooked Path of Growing Toward Faith

Apparently, the subtitle has changed since the book I received. Mine was an uncorrected proof and the subtitle says "The Crooked Little Grace-Filled Path of Growing Up".  I think both apply.

This is Andrea's memoir from her year spent at Oxford getting her Master's degree and writing her thesis. There is basically nothing about her studies, but lots about her journey, in making friends, and finding her place in Oxford and also in life. England isn't necessarily known as a Christian country despite the old churches that still remain there. This caused Andrea to doubt what she grew up believing and wondering if it wasn't better to just go through life without faith as her non-Christian friends seemed so okay and content not believing in God. But in the end, she realizes that her faith is her foundation.

There are a few things I want to quote and comment on. When one of her friends asked her what her pillars were, she recited the creed. "I was shaky and not confident. I was unnerved by the smart, Oxford graduate across from me, but I said it, and sometimes saying it out loud is all we can do. Sometimes reciting the Creed we are uncertain about is what leads us to eventual certainty, or at least to a deeper assurance. This is why we write and sing hymns. This is why we read one book over and over and over again. Words, remembering them, saying them and writing them, are foundational for us. Our words make up who we are."  I like this thought. Sometimes going through the motions is all we feel capable of and I think that is okay. At one point in the book, Andrea also talks about letting other people's faith carry us for a bit when we struggle to find our way. Relying on that faith of our fathers in times of stress and turmoil.

Reading this book at this time of year and remembering the goodbyes of two years ago makes some of the things she says more real. When life is hard and you are struggling and groping, just continuing to do the foundational things more out of a sense of duty than any heartfelt reason is all that you can cling to carry you through. Eventually, you can come out into the light and you will again feel and believe the things you clung to so tenuously. I know there may be those that doubt that, but I think there is some truth in there.

Another thing Andrea talks about is good-byes. "Say the good-bye. Actually say the word, and then the words that need to be said before it and after it. Articulate it. Make it real, for yourself and if the good-bye is to someone else, for the other person too. If words need to be said, say them. If they need to be written, write them. Whatever you need to do." And I would add, do that on a regular basis, because you never know when the final good-bye will happen.

And then on saying good-bye to one's self. "Sooner or later we have to say good-bye to that someone we were before. To the parts of us that no longer fit. This is okay, I think. If we continued on in life with every version of us that we have ever been, we would all be very large and heavy people having difficulty walking down the street." It is about shedding the old skin and wearing a new skin that is "More humble and maybe less pretty and taut, but at least more honest." Life changes us and we need to accept that as well. While we may not notice the changes at the time, we can look back and see the changes.

And finally, if you made it this far, this is the last piece I want to quote and I think it is so fitting for this time of year for me, the second anniversary of some hard and sad good-byes. "We all have people over our mantels, don't we? The frames and the faces change as we go along, but we remember each of them. They have imprinted us in one way or another. All the people that make up so much of who we are and are becoming. No matter how far from them we go, no matter how disparate our twigs and sticks and leaves are in the end, the people over our mantels have played a part in creating us, and that keeps them with us in a way that no fire can burn up." I just love that thought of a picture over the mantel. Life is moving on and two years have passed since Dad and Cheryl and Bentley left this earth, but their picture lives on in my heart over my mantel. I will never forget them and I want to be a better person for having said good-bye to them. I would have rather not said good-bye, but this is life and so good-byes happen whether we are ready or not. And so to say good-bye in a real and authentic way without denying the fact that they are gone allows me to truly appreciate their lives and legacies.
I guess anyway, this was a new thought to me when I read this, but I like it. And I want to be changed and to be a better person because I have been willing to grieve and say good-bye.

Okay, this is a combination of a book review and my own thoughts on some of these subjects that Andrea addressed. If you made it this far, then good for you. I enjoyed the book. And for those of  you who don't know, Andrea would be a daughter to the all-popular Max Lucado, whose writings I very much enjoy, though, I think, he writes with a completely different, although very engaging, style as well.

This book was given me by Blogging for Books and I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Berenstain Bears Read-Along Classics

The Berenstain Bears 5-Minute Inspirational Stories: Read-Along Classics (Berenstain Bears/Living Lights) by [Berenstain w/ Mike Berenstain, Stan and Jan]

5-Minute Inspirational Stories by Stan and Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain

I may have mentioned my love of the Berenstain Bears a time or so on here when I've done reviews of their books. Their Living Lights Series is a Christian-based series that teaches godly principles. This book is a collection of 12 stories including:

The Berenstain Bears God Loves You! (in spite of who you are or what you do)
The Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers (God hears our prayers and answers but not always how we think.)
The Berenstain Bears Love Their Neighbors (A bear version of the Good Samaritan)

And so on.

I do love the good principles that are taught throughout the book through forgiveness, not gossiping, etc. My only complaint is one little filler/swear word. I consider it a swear word yet, but in our day, I think it is so common that people don't even think of it as a swear word. I'm not saying that it makes it right or wrong, it's just a word I don't want my daughter learning to say.

I read bits and pieces of the book to my two-year-old, but mostly just read it to myself. She does like Berenstain Bears, but we were outside so her attention span wasn't as long as normal.

The illustrations are as good as always. The stories are divided into paragraphs with the pictures scattered throughout.

It's a lovely padded book perfect for gift giving. I wasn't that keen on reading that many stories to my daughter anyway because this book is going to get tucked away in the drawer for a future gift. It's too pretty not to give as a gift. It's a bigger book, more like an 8.5 x 11 size and then is 3/4 to an inch thick.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

Product Details

Apart from the Crowd

This was a fluffy book, by this I mean that there wasn't a lot of depth or insight I gained from reading the book, but it was fun, fluffy read that required no thought.

It's the story of a wallflower in New York society. By wallflower I mean someone who wasn't really accepted into society and so spent their time at events, up against the wall or hiding in corners observing the goings on of the elite class.

Permilia was an outspoken girl with a heart for others, despite being raised in privilege. She tried to be frugal while still maintaining the fashion style her stepmother required of her. She did this by finding out of the way dressmakers who were working to put bread on their table, but who had very nice fashion sense. This is probably the takeaway from the book, to care about people less fortunate than we are and to not allow our wealth to make us look down on others less fortunate.

And of course, there is one of the wealthiest men in the city, who Permilia gets into debates with, haggles with over pricing, and generally messes with his view of women. They, of course, fall in love. He sets her up to be vice-president of his department store and she adds great value to his business and life.

I enjoyed the story, though I will admit that Permilia seemed a little dense about society standards even though she was "only a wallflower". It just seemed a little unreal, but then I don't really know what it was like back then either.

This book was given me by Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review.

Treasured Grace by Tracie Peterson

Product Details

Heart of the Frontier Book One

This was a Christian Historical fiction book where, of course, the main two characters fall in love with each other, so I'm not going to go into that too much. You know how it works, the feelings, the misunderstandings, the corrections, etc. But I do like Tracie's writing and I think she does a good job at what she does.

What I really liked about this book was the historical event that Tracie sought to portray as accurately as possible. That even was the Whitman Mission in Oregon Country and the Indian's attack and subsequent massacre of Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife Narcissa and the men that were staying there. And then how they held the woman and children hostage, raped the women, and how they were ransomed by Peter Ogden. Of course, Tracie took liberties with her characters, but she tried to stick with the main facts and the stories that surrounded it. I did a tiny bit of research on it as well and found it to be quite accurate and fascinating. I really did not know anything about the mission and even less about the attack.

While I don't think reading historical fiction is your best way to learn about history, it is a most interesting way and I like it when I can learn true facts from a fiction story.

Another good point of the story is the main character's sister Hope, was at the attack, was raped and became pregnant. While she was contemplating suicide, hope was offered to her and she chose to give her baby life and allow another couple to raise her as her own. Through this time, Hope was able to experience a bit of healing and hope in her own life as she realized her suffering was bringing someone else great joy.

This book was given me by Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review.

The Frightening Philippi Jail by Gary Bower

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Illustrated by Barbara Chotiner

A Faith that God Built book

This is the second Faith that God Built book that I have and I really, really like them. For any of you that know the book "The House that Jack Built" it is the same idea. There is an initial sentence and every line is added to it, so that by the end of the book, you have the whole story on the final pages, but it is fun to read it and to hear it build on each other. It does rhyme as well adding to the charm of reading it.

While there's not a specific age attached to the book, it's just called juvenile nonfiction, my two year old loves these books. Since I just got this one, I don't know how she will like this one, but the other book we have, (she calls it the "Ark book"), we read a couple times a week at least. So I'm thinking this one will also be well-liked.

This book is about Paul and Silas being in jail and singing praises to the prisoners who were "crusty and cold with nothing to nibble but crackers with mold". And then how God set them free and saved the jailer. It's a nice little story and I am happy to add it to my collection.

The pictures are well done as well. To me they very well portray the creepiness of what a jail cell would have looked like with the bugs and rats and slugs.

I was given this book by Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What Has Happened to the Early Church?

35 empty tomb clip art . Free cliparts that you can download to you ...

So this is not the post I mentioned yesterday, but it was that came to me while having my devotions this morning. I have been slowly working my way through a Bible Study called "An Unexplainable Life" taken from Acts 1-12. Slowly is a key word here. It's a ten week study that I started at the beginning of the year and I am now nearing the end of week two. There's been some lack of self-discipline involved as well, but let's not get into that now.

This morning I was reading about the early church again. Do you know what they did E.V.E.R.Y D.A.Y? They worshipped God together, they ate together, they praised God together, they enjoyed the favor of the people together. And they did this all with joy and gladness. What has happened? Or should I say, what would happen if today's church would try that? What if everything we did was done with joy and gladness? What if, when we got together with other Christians we spend our time praising God instead of gossiping and complaining about other Christians? 

What would change? How would you change? How would I change? How would relationships change? How would churches grow? At the end of all this, the Bible says, "And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." And why not? With that kind of attitude, wouldn't people come in droves? Why would they come to your church? Because you have a church full of praise and gratitude? Or would they come because they are attracted to fightings and bitterness and gossip? It's a huge challenge for me. I want to be the person that's annoyingly optimistic, that sees the good in every situation. I want to be part of a church like that too.

Another thing, do you know what Jesus prayed in his prayer in John 17:20-23? First of all, he prayed for us, even here today, "I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message." Then He prays that we may be one in Christ so that the world can see and believe that God sent Jesus. He wanted us to be "brought to complete unity". Why? "Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

So maybe we should quit fighting each other and start praising together. I think we all know churches who are struggling or who have struggled in the past. This is not God's way. Yes, I believe there are times when there are Biblical issues that need to be addressed and people may have to split ways, but are there times that we make Biblical issues out of personal preferences? Are there times we ignore Biblical concepts, like praising God continually and being unified, because we want to follow a man or a man-made concept and therefore we justify our attitudes? I I am not your judge, but I know I have been way too guilty of this. 

I want to be one of these people who is so busy praising God, I don't have time for bitterness, envy, debate, deceit, jealousy, gossip, etc. etc. to become a part of my life or of my family's life. 

Just my two cents on the verses I read today. I would love to hear others' thoughts on these verses as well. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Lucky Few by Heather Avis

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Finding God's Best in the Most Unlikely Places

God, Adoption, Down Syndrome, Love are a few of the themes that carry through in this book. Many things come to mind when you hear these words and rather than confuse a book review and a blog post, I may actually do a blog post in the next little while addressing some of those thoughts. So stay tuned for that.

This is the story of Josh and Heather Avis and their journey through adoption. Not just normal adoption, but the adoption of two special needs children with heart defects who needed open heart surgery. Their middle child, Truly, did not have special needs as far as Down Syndrome, but she was a wide open, energetic, wild and free child, so she kept them very busy as well.

It's the story of saying yes to God and having your lives forever changed. I really liked the emphasis on saying yes to God and being willing to do what He calls you to do.

Another thing I appreciated was the open honesty that Heather expressed in the book. One area where I think she was vulnerable was in her relationship with her middle child, Truly. She didn't have the warm, fuzzy feelings for Truly and it bothered her, but she chose to love in action and that love ran much deeper than any warm, fuzzy feelings ever could. She was open and honest with this and I believe she can be a big help to other mothers who can struggle with similar feelings.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking to know what God can do with a yes even if it seems wild and crazy and overwhelming.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Still Life by Dani Pettrey

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This is book two in the series Chesapeake Valor

I'm really not sure what to say about this book. Let me start with the good stuff. It is very well-written. This is the second book I've read and Dani is a very gift author in her writing style. The story captures a group of friends who often investigate crimes together and are very good at what they do. To fully understand this book, you do need to have read book one. For me, I struggled a bit because it has been awhile since I read book one.

There is an element of trust that happens in this book. Avery has a very bad past and is struggling to fully believe that God loves her in spite of it, that her giving her life over to Christ truly does make her a new person and her past doesn't need to drag her down. Parker, her boyfriend, does a very good job of assuring her of that as well as still loving her despite her past and allowing her to tell her story at her own pace.

All that being said, I found the storyline rather disturbing. I won't go into a lot of details on here both to protect the essence of the story and because I don't want it on my blog. I am not doubting that there are psychos out in the world like that with a sick enough mind to do what happened in the book, but to me it was all around gross and creepy. I would certainly not be wanting just anyone to pick up the book and read it. The element of suspense and unexpected endings was alive and well put in this book, but the main story just ruined so much of it for me.

It's also not a book I would recommend reading just before going to bed. Every time I woke up, the story was on my mind gnawing at me, wondering how it really was all going to end.

I received this book from Bethany House and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

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This is the second book that I have read by Eva Marie Everson. It was pretty good, but not as good as the first one I read, Five Brides. But that is just my opinion.

This is a very well-written story that took place during World War II. A very smitten 16-year-old Alice Ann sends off her "one true love", one of her brother's best friends,  to war after telling him she loves him, etc. etc. He wasn't necessarily of the same persuasion. As stories like these go, her brother's other best friend, comes back wounded from the war and she spends time reading to him. Anyway, I'm not going to spoil the story, but she discovers who her true love is.

In my mind, there was a lot of conflict between which man she really loved, when I thought it should be pretty obvious, but maybe I need to remember that she was only 19-years-old and I can only imagine how indecisive I would be at that time, especially when she thought the first man was dead, but then shows up alive later.

Despite Alice-Ann's conflicting romantic notions, she does display impressive character. She lives on a farm where help is hard to come by because of the war. They have some German prisoners helping them, which they treat with respect and kindness. Alice-Ann works hard, at the bank during the day and then helping on the farm at night and on Saturday, plus she does take the time to read to the wounded man as well. Her work ethic and care and compassion comes through very strongly, which is what we need so badly in this day and age, in my opinion.

When she was battling her romantic life, her sister-in-law and aunt both gave her a Bible verse to use as her guide. It was the most surprising verse, to me at least. "The troubles of my heart are enlarged, O bring thou me out of my distresses." Psalm 25:17 When I first read that verse, I was like whatever, but then the explanation given with it made perfect sense. When we are facing troubles, it is easy to look to ourselves to figure a way out, but this verse is asking God to lead us out of our distress. I need to remember that. I want to find my own way, do my own thing, rely on my own prowess, but in reality, it is God and God alone who can successfully navigate the murky waters and bring me out into the best place He alone orchestrates. I want to remember that.

This book was given me by Tyndale Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

You Know You're a Mom by Harry H. Harrison JR

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A book for Moms who Spend Saturdays at the Soccer Field instead of the Spa

This is a fun little gift book, coffee table book if you're looking for that gift for a mom you know, a good friend, a baby shower gift, etc. etc.

It's a fun easy read that I read all in one day. It was a little different than I expected and I wasn't sure what a male author would have to say that was pertinent to a Mom, but I thought Harry did a good job.

There are seven chapters covering pregnancy, baby, toddler, schoolkids, working mom, teens, and adult kids. There are just little phrases in the chapters, some of them feel very applicable now already, some are humorous, some are real life, some are goals I would like to attain to.

I'll give you a few examples:

"You Know You're a Pregnant Mom when.... You buy a book of one hundred thousand baby names--and then name your baby after your grandmother......You stare in the mirror and decide that the whole "pregnancy glow" thing must be a myth."

"You Know You're the Mom of a Baby when....You realize all the books were helpful, but you would have been better of spending that time sleeping.....You're worried your six-month-old doesn't have enough friends......You worry how to keep your baby safe in an unsafe world."

You Know You're the Mom of a Toddler when.....Everything you won is mysteriously sticky....You're happy when your child cries for Daddy instead of for you....You understand a child's moral development is dependent on his emotional well-being....You realize great teenagers are created in childhood.....You realize the whole family has clean laundry except for you."

This was a fun book to read. I haven't decided if I will keep it in hopes someday we will have a coffee table or if I will pass it along to a mom who may need a bit of humor in her life.

This book was given to me by Book Look Bloggers and I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, April 3, 2017

If I'm Found by Terri Blackstock

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This is the second book in the series "If I Run" and it ends just as cliff-hanging as book one did. I haven't read many books by Terri Blackstock, but I might need to change that. Mystery, intrigue isn't generally my style and actually, quite honestly varying first-person books are not my style at all either, but in this series Terri has done such a good job of weaving everything together that I had a hard time laying the book down. I will have to admit to postponing supper preparations last evening so that I could finish the book.

It's quite a bit thicker than the book "If I Run" was and continues directly from the end of that book into this one. It's been quite a while since I read the first book in the series, but I was able to grab a hold and keep up with the action. Casey Cox has been mislabeled the killer of her best friend, but she was framed to keep the true killers, the cops who were involved in money laundering, from being found out. Now, she is on the run from the bad cops and also the PI who found her in the last book and let her walk. The PI is on her side and they are collecting evidence to bring these cops to justice and team up together in this book to work on it. The PI must maintain that he is actively searching for her, even though he has found her and is actively communicating with her.

Okay, I don't know if any of that made sense. One thing that sticks out in this book is Casey's compassion and caring spirit. She sees injustice and she is out to try to right the wrong even at the risk of getting caught herself. If she is caught by the wrong guys, she knows it is likely she will be killed before she ever makes it to her jail cell, but she can't let suffering go without trying to help. In this book, it was a suicidal man and a sexually abused little girl. The man had been accused of sexually abusing her, when in reality her parents were selling her body in exchange for drugs. Just sickening and even though it is a fiction story, I'm gonna guess it's not unheard of. So in an attempt to rescue the little girl and bring the parents to justice both for their daughter and for murder of the man, she is nearly caught and escapes with a gunshot wound.

Okay, I have given you enough spoilers now, but Casey's commitment to justice in the face of her own quagmire of troubles is amazing to me. Throughout this book, she also seeks after God. She wasn't raised in a Christian home, but she is interested in this God. She attends church, she starts to pray and starts to feel God working in her life.

I really enjoyed this book and am a little bummed that it's gonna be a year before the final book in the series comes out.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers and was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Cries from the Cross by Erwin Lutzer

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This is a good book. It's small, it doesn't take long to read and it gave me a different perspective to the sayings of Jesus on the cross.

Erwin takes the seven sayings of Jesus and calls them:
A Cry for Pardon
A Cry of Assurance
A Cry of Compassion
A Cry of Anguish
A Cry of Suffering
A Cry of Victory
A Cry of Submission

In a sense, we were there at the cross, because it was for my sins and your sins that Jesus had to die, that He had to take on the anguish of suffering so we could live forever with Him, so we could be forgiven.

A lot of times when I read books like this, I have a few quotes that I give on my review. I don't have that today. Erwin's writing is simple and easy to understand, yet it holds some good truths that are meant to be held on to. He also quotes from songs that were familiar to me, which I really liked. One of them was the song, "And Can it Be?" Think about these words as it relates to Jesus' sayings on the cross, of his cry to the Father of why was He forsaken, His cry of anguish.

"And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?"

Amazing, God loved me so much He was willing to allow my sin to pursue Him to death and immeasurable pain so I could go free. What amazing love.

I enjoyed this book and am planning to read a few more of Erwin Lutzer's books. I was given this book by Moody Publishers and am not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Grace Behind Bars by Bo and Gari Mitchell

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An Unexpected Path to True Freedom

Starting a church, rapid-fire decisions, stretched too thin. This describes Bo Mitchell before 1992. A 10 minute discussion and decision with a "trusted banker" to do a loan for two friends who had helped out with the church plant landed Bo on the FBI list and earned him a prison sentence.The loan seemed innocent enough, he did it, paid it back and moved on. It took seven years for the law to catch up and when it did, Bo was honest and forthright. He made the initial contact with the FBI, he showed integrity in his dealings and he landed in prison. Bo took full responsibility for his actions, even though he had been entirely innocent in the whole scandal.

And, I believe, by taking responsibility for his actions and assuming the blame and bearing the guilt and the hurt to his family, is what changed Bo's life. He determined to use his prison experience to his benefit. He used that time to seek God, to pray, to change his life. Now his time spent with his family was intentional, there was nothing to distract them when they were together, no TV, no radio. They just talked.

When he got out, he was a changed man and he determined to stay that way. He had an accountability group to hold him responsible and he was open to their opinions.

It was a good book about taking the seemingly ridiculous and awful in life and using it for good, for allowing the bad to make a better person out of Bo.  While the writing isn't real suspenseful or grab-your-attention like some books, the content is solid and something that everyone could learn from. I really enjoyed reading it. I want to remember the lessons Bo learned and use the tough times in life to grow me as a daughter of God, to learn to say with Bo that I've never been better. That is his response when someone asks how he is, "Never better."

This book was given me by Tyndale House. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Stolen Heart by Amanda Cabot

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Cimarron Creek Trilogy

Aww!!  This was one of those novels, mostly romance with a bit of mystery tossed in to keep you wondering. Lydia shows up in Cimarron Creek only to find out her fiancee has disappeared and left behind a pregnant wife. Other mysterious things keep happening and she and her friend, the sheriff brainstorm about it. Eventually, of course, they fall in love and solve the mysteries. That's the short version

There were a couple of life lessons that I thought of when I finished the book. I'm not sure if I can remember both of them now, but the main was this thing of jealousy. As it turns out, the sheriff's first cousin and good friend was behind all the mysterious crimes that kept happening, the worst resulting in the death of their aunt. Why? Because he was jealous. All his life, his older brother was praised as the best around and he didn't feel he got his deserved credit. Then his cousin becomes sheriff when he wanted to be and so he goes out to prove how incompetent his cousin is. It culminates in him committing suicide rather than go to jail. How can someone allow jealousy to consume them like that? I'm gonna guess it starts small. It's a good reminder for me to not let things like that bug me and to truly rejoice with those who rejoice.

Along with that, a good reminder as parents not to show favoritism. Each child is unique and lovable in their own ways and it is our job to make sure they know they are loved and not praise one above the other.

Forgiveness was another good theme in here. Lydia had to forgive her fiancee for running off and marrying someone else. She was able to do this and to hire his wife as her assistant in the candy store of which I would have liked to work. The candy sounded very yummy

So it was a nicely written book that was a fun read and if you dig, you can uncover some truths to apply to your own life.

This book was given me by Revell Books and I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

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This has got to rank as one of the better fiction books I've read in awhile. I know I say that a lot, but this one was a bit different from the norm.

It was fiction, yes, but the theme of the story has some basis in truth, probably more truth than you or I want to even recognize. It's the fictional story behind how our clothes are made, the crowded conditions that can and do result in factories burning and people dying inside from fire or outside from jumping out of windows, the forced labor that some workers endure, and also the rape that can happen as well. While Presto, the main corporation in the story, is purely fictional, the question is raised, do you know where our clothes, our toys, our electronics, etc. come from? Are you okay with having your things made by people who are forced to work in crowded environments for little pay and who can suffer abuse at the hands of supervisors and managers?

This was a thought-provoking book that makes me stop and consider free trade items a little more carefully than I have in the past? What difference will it make for me? I'm not sure, but I would like to think I would try a little more to look for a better option. And better options can be hard to come by, because a lot of big corporations don't list where their things are made or where their supplies come from.

The book does jump back and forth a bit between two main characters, but I thought Corban did a good job of weaving everything together so it was easy to follow. It is not a Christian book. I thought I read somewhere on a Christian book website that was selling this book that they were aware that it was not a Christian book, but the overall theme of the book was good enough that they were choosing to list it.  There are just a couple words I would not want to use, but overall I can't complain about the quality of the book. But for any potential readers, I would want you to be aware of this. It is published by Thomas Nelson, which could raise some questions about other books that they publish, but so far I have never come across anything else. I make this disclaimer because I was reading some other reviews and saw that people had a problem with the language and the fact that it was a Christian publisher. Normally, I would be all over something like that too, but like I said, somewhere I thought I read that comment I shared above and therefore wasn't expecting a Christian book.

I very much enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a different kind of fiction. I think this might be his fourth book or so and I would like to read his other ones as well.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers and I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Redeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith

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Ruth's Story

I often shy away from Biblical fiction. I'm not sure why, except I think I often wonder if it really happened like that. To make a story, so much has to be added to the Biblical account and I think I can start questioning if there is any element of truth in it. I guess, like I said, I'm not sure why I steer away from it.

However, I read Jill's story of Ruth and I loved her writing. She is a very interesting author and has a very good way of bringing the story alive and, at the same time, making sure the parts that are in the Bible are true to account.

She brought out things about Ruth that I had never thought of. With Ruth being so willing and determined to go with Naomi back to Bethlehem, could there have been a piece of Ruth that was dissatisfied with the gods of Moab, with what would have waited for her back there? Was Orpah more willing to go embrace the culture and the gods and accept whatever awaited her.

Jill brings Boaz out as a recent widower, which was something I had never thought of, though it would make sense that Boaz would have been married before because of his age.

She also brings out some of Ruth's possible inner struggles with Naomi's bitterness with what life had dealt her and Naomi's refusal to acknowledge that Ruth was any good in her life, at the beginning of their return to Bethlehem. This was something I had wondered about, if Ruth didn't feel a little less than because of Naomi's comments.

And finally, the theme of redemption comes through, giving a chance for Mahlon's lineage to live on, giving Naomi a new lease on life, new birth through Obed, and ultimately our Saviour Jesus through the line of a Moabite woman. Isn't it amazing?

Anyway, I really enjoyed this story and wouldn't mind reading Jill's other Biblical fiction stories that she has written.

I received this book from Revell Books and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

When God Made you by Matthew Paul Turner

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Illustrated by David Catrow

This is a children's book, for ages 3 to 8. It's a nice hardcover medium-sized book I would say that talks about being special to God. How he planned your culture, your head shape, your toes and your nose. It talks about how you were made in God's image and God loves to see you being you. It talks about God dreaming about you, which I find a little unusual. I have never really thought of God dreaming, but the book is written in rhyme, so sometimes you have to ad lib a bit to make it work, I guess?

For the most part, I would say the writing is playful and charming as the book's description says. Like I said, I'm not sure about God dreaming part, which is mentioned a couple times, but overall I think the moral of the story is that God made you exactly as you are, so go out and live like that.

The illustrations are described as vivid and fantastical. I guess that is one way to put it. I try not to be critical of books, especially illustrations because I can't draw at all, but this book is, in my mind, just not pretty at all. There might be a scene with caricature like people, which is fine, but then there will be just some weird colors and shapes thrown in with it that don't seem to go with the story at all. When I opened the book, that was some of the first things that jumped out at me and I haven't really been able to move beyond that yet in my opinion of the illustrations.

So overall, the book is all right. I will probably keep it, but it's not what I would give as a gift. I like children's book that are a little less "fantastical" I guess.

This book was given me by Blogging For Books. I was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Rescue My by Susan May Warren

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I'm back again with another fiction book review. This one definitely rates higher on my radar than some of the last ones.  If you like grizzly bear attacks with good endings, an incredible car accident where everyone walks out alive, a bit of romance, and some good truths about God, and not necessarily in that order of importance, you might enjoy this book.

I like Susan's writings. She can mix intrigue and drama and still bring out God's work very nicely I think. This book had a lot to do with accepting God's grace and His rescuing power in our lives. Once we see that we need rescued, we need to step back and let Him work it out. We need to let go of anger and guilt and work to forgive ourselves and then those around us who we are sure have wronged us or betrayed us. That's putting it all in my words.

Another interesting thing from the book is on perspective: "See, when we're stuck in our everyday troubles, we can get focused on them, and that's all we see. We don't see God at work in our lives, just the darkness around us. But if you turn it around, look up, start finding a way to thank God, even praise him, you'll discover a different view." How true is that? Gratitude and praise will go a long way in changing a person's perspective. For that I am grateful.

And of course, there was the romance with the usual misunderstandings that always seem to get resolved, except the book did end with only one couple resolving their issues and the other one still in limbo. And in true fiction classic, everything turns out fine for everybody in the end, I guess. There were still a few missing pieces that I'm not sure if the next book will fill in, because it seems to turn the focus to a different main character for the next book.

I did enjoy this book and am thankful to Revell for giving me a copy. I was not required to write a positive review, but am always happy when I have good things to say about books.

And I want to remember to keep my focus on God and look to Him and keep short accounts with Him, with myself, and with the people around me.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Newcomer (Amish Beginnings Book #2) by [Fisher, Suzanne Woods]

So why did I pick an Amish novel? I have a pretty firm stance against reading them, or I thought I did, until in the weakness of the moment, I requested this one.

And how to describe the book? I guess I will give my viewpoint in two different ways. As far as writing, Suzanne did a fine job. The story was interesting and while it hopped around a lot from person to person, she was good at keeping things flowing, so you could always follow along. In some ways, I like when books do that so you can keep up with what is going on in everyone's life without the waiting and wondering.

The setting is the 1730's, Amish coming over from Germany to settle the New World. I don't know how pioneer people lived at all back then, so that part I'm not going to critique. I imagine life to be immeasurably hard and fraught with trials both with claiming land and taming land.

On the second side of it, it just didn't seem very accurate to the Amish lifestyle I am familiar with. For one, the cover, Amish as a whole do not like their picture taken. Now, I realize today, some of that may be changing with certain groups, but for sure the early Amish, would not have appreciated a book cover like that. The bishop was a strong, determined man--that part definitely had its accurate elements, I would say. But the newcomer coming in and taking over? I again would say that Amish would tend to be slow to accept new people, but then again in a frontier like they were living in, maybe someone with direction and guidance was what they needed.

I don't know, I know Amish fiction is extremely popular, I just find it to be a little unrealistic to the real Amish culture. That aside though, Suzanne does have an interesting style of writing and her story can keep you reading through to the very end.

I received this book from Revell Publishing and am not required to give a positive review.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Cherish by Gary Thomas

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The One Word that Changes Everything for Your Marriage

I have read a few marriage books in the last couple of years. My goal is to read 2-4 a year. They often challenge me and convict me to put more effort into my own marriage. I just wish I could somehow memorize the words and imprint them on my life permanently.

But this book has got to about top all the books I've read lately. And yes, I might say that about everyone, but this one is good and definitely worth reading. Cherish, one simple word, but it really can revolutionize a marriage.

Cherish, to put your spouse's needs and desires above your own, to make a conscious effort to seek out the best in your spouse, to affirm them, to be kind, to do things for them. It's showcasing your spouse's strengths while you're willing to step back in the background and let them succeed. Cherishing calls us to go to war against contempt, speaking spitefully to your spouse will kill a relationship. It's noticing and honoring your spouse, seeing them as a real person. One thing I really liked that he said is it's believing your spouse is Adam or Eve, as in, they are the only other person in the world. How easy it is sometimes to compare our spouses worst flaws with our friends' spouse best-in-public-performance. To see our spouse as Adam or Eve is to not even recognize that there are other options. I can't say it as good as he did.

Cherishing is studying your spouse, learning what makes them tick, what they like, and how to best serve them. It's looking at them and truly listening, not being distracted by technology. It's taking an interest in their dreams and asking questions.

It's a lot of things I have not been doing well, but it's a lot of things my husband has been doing extremely well for me. The temptation when reading this book was to think of the few ways my husband responded that didn't feel cherishing instead of analyzing the myriad of ways I responded that showed a lack of cherishing. If scores had been kept, I would have lost. He is good at this cherishing thing and I have a lot of room to improve.

Gary Thomas is a well-known author, having written 18 books, one of them being Sacred Marriage. That is another book I would like to read sometime

I was given this book by Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley

Product Details

I think I'm starting to realize that fiction doesn't have quite the hold for me that it used to. I know there are some out there going, Yay, she's finally getting it. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop reading fiction, it just means, well, I don't know for sure what it means. I think it means that my tastes are growing pickier and it's harder and harder to find a good fiction that I love, love, love.

I will say that I am becoming a bit more of crime, mystery reader and I'm not sure if I like that or not. I get tired of the stories that you can tell from the first chapter or two how the book is going to end. And often these mystery books don't have the surety. This one sure didn't.

I enjoyed the story line. A group of airline stewardesses are smuggling diamonds into the states. One doesn't like doing it and wants to stop, but her "boyfriend" slips them in her purse anyway. She hides them and then is killed.

The "killer" is put behind bars and 18 years later, when the main story opens, there's a letter found saying he is not the real killer. Anyway, through a series of events, the true story comes out and it is totally different than what you expected.

I know that was vague, but I don't plan to give away the story. I thought Patricia wrote a very good, solid piece of fiction. It was interesting, it kept my attention, and made my heart pound a little. But I also felt like it lacked a little something. When a book is called Christian, I expect that there's going to be a bit of God in the book. I expect that the hero/heroine will either be a solid Christian or will be strongly influenced to become a Christian by a good friend or something like that. I think there were a couple people in the book who were classified as Christians, there was a bit of God talk, but it wasn't an overarching theme. And considering how dangerous and life-threatening some of the situations were, it just seemed like a bit more emphasis might have been placed on God and prayer and things like that. That is just my take on it.

I received this book from Revell Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Patch on the Peak of Ararat

Product Details

Written by Gary Bower
Illustrated by Barbara Chotiner

Ah, do you remember the old children's book, "This is the House that Jack Built"? It built line upon line and repeated all the previous lines, like "This is the house that Jack built.... This is the cat that ate the rat that lived in the house that Jack built. This is the dog that worried that cat that ate the rat...." And so on. I haven't read that story in years and so I might have messed it up, but you get the idea.

Anyway, this book is built like that. It talks about the "ark that proceeded to park on a patch on the peak of Ararat." And then it talks about Noah's and Noah's sons and the door and the ramp and the animals and the rain and so on and so on. It's a fun little story to read.

The pictures are unique. I'm not quite sure what the word is to describe them. When I looked at them one description that came to mind was chainsaw carvings. Sort of a rough and square cut figures. But they are nice, not realistic, but still nice.

The book says it's juvenile nonfiction, so I'm not sure what age bracket they would put it in. It's a nice hardcover book, so obviously not too young because the pages could easily be torn. I struggle with giving an age to books like this. My almost two-year-old likes this book, but she is very easy on books and so I let her have all these kinds of books. But I know if we ever have other children, the story might change. I would say probably 3-8 year olds would enjoy this book.

I liked this book. There is another book by Gary called "The Beautiful Garden of Eden." It is also in the series "a Faith that God built" so I'm not sure if it would be the same rhyming structure or not.

I received this book from Tyndale House and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

In the Shadow of Denali by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

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I like Tracie's writing and I've read one other book written by her and Kimberely that I liked. This one was good, but not as good.

The main character is a 20 something girl who has only ever known the backwoods of Alaska. She has this persistent optimism that almost doesn't seem like it could be real. And there might be where I struggled a bit with the book. I don't consider myself a pessimist, but maybe I am more than I think because Cassidy was perpetually smiling, laughing and lost in her thoughts and it sort of bugged me. I just don't know too many people like that. So maybe instead of thinking that she was a little immature and underdeveloped, I should try to emulate her more and be more positive and cheerful regardless.

Anyway, she does have a trust and dependence on God that is definitely worth emulating and she does want to share her faith with those around her. She wanted to be a Daniel. Her father was the same way, a careful, plan ahead and take precaution trail guide who looked out for those under his leadership and depended heavily on God.

And of course, there was an eligible man who shows up on the scene, angry and bitter at God for the fact that his father died while climbing Mount Denali under the guidance of Cassidy's father. At the end of the book, it was fully revealed that he didn't die, he was killed by his business partner who was also making the climb and of course, the eligible young man gave up his anger, made things right with God and secured the hand of the young eligible woman.

My takeaway from the book is to depend on God, to trust Him, to cry out to Him and to work on being a bit more of a positive person. I did enjoy the book and will try to read the rest of the series when it comes out. This was the first book in the Heart of Alaska series.

Thanks to Bethany House for providing me with a complimentary copy. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen

Product Details

Why we can stop trying so hard.

This was a good book. I know that can be a bit of a cliche as I say that about a lot of books and I mean it about a lot of books. So what makes this book a good book? This simple takeaway. "I am not enough." That is a simple sentence, only four words, but terrifying in it's meaning. We live in a culture where you have to be enough. You need to be the best, you need to accomplish things. You need to be skinny and beautiful and rich and successful and on and on and on. And that's a hard load to carry. But if can believe and live out that sentence that "I am not enough" and if we can claim Jesus' blood and His help to be enough for us, our lives will be radically changed. We don't have to join the rat race of success-driven people who must, must, must perform. We can step back and "stop doing things for God, and start doing things with Him." God is enough and He can take the weight off your shoulders, the backpack as Jennie describes it and you can walk free with Him.

A few quotes from the book, "When you have nothing to protect and nothing to prove, God moves through you."

"When you have nothing to protect and nothing to prove, you know freedom."

"We are not defined by our worst or our best; we are defined by our God."

"Our confidence comes from believing God can do anything, then stepping back and letting Him."

Jennie offers seven streams of God's Enoughness: fulfillment, connection, rest, risk, hope, grace and calling. God is enough for whatever we have to face in life and we can rest in that.

My only mild complaint about the book is that I have an uncorrected proof, which isn't a problem, but there were some grammatical errors in the book. I am guessing these will be fixed before the final printing, but it did disturb the flow a little at times.

I received this book from Blogging for Books and was not required to write a positive review.

By the way, Jennie is the found of IF:Gathering "which exists to gather, equip, and unleash the next generation to live out their purpose." I saw there will be an IF: Gathering in the small town where we live on February 3 and 4. I think this might be a televised thing from the main gathering, but I don't know that for sure.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit: Part 1

So this year, on Tuesdays, I have been studying the Beatitudes. If any of you read my book reviews, you know I read this amazing book on the Beatitudes a couple months ago. It was called "Momentum" by Collin Smith. I highly recommend the book. I am now rereading it slowly on Tuesdays and trying to let it soak in. I want the concepts of the Beatitudes to sink deep into my heart and to change me.

"Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for they shall see God." This is the first step, the first thing that must happen before any of the other Beatitudes can be exercised in my life. Do you know that this is the only Beatitude with a promise in the present tense?

So what is poor in spirit? In a nutshell, it is humility. It is recognizing that apart from God, I have nothing, I am nothing, and I can do nothing. This is not a "I can't do anything, ask someone else" mentality. It is recognizing that God gives the abilities that I have and without His help, I am nothing.

It is hard. I like to do things and take the credit for it, thank you very much. I like to be independent and be responsible for doing my own thing. But that is not how this Beatitude works. I must fully depend on God for everything.

The next question is how can we see God in the present tense? How can heaven be found here on earth? Have you looked around lately? Doesn't seem so heavenly. There are constant murmurings of unrest. There are terrorist attacks. Young fathers die, leaving widows and tiny children. How can this Beatitude be true. The last part of Isaiah 57:15 says this. God speaking, "I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit." God will dwell with the humble. God with us, that is our taste of heaven on earth.

Thomas Watson says, ""If the hand is full of pebbles, it cannot receive gold." I must come to God empty-handed. "Empty-handedness will release you from the idea that God owes you." Collin Smith.

God owns us, He does not owe us. He has done so much for us, there is nothing we can do to fully repay that debt except to live in humility and complete dependence on God.

More points on this coming later.

His Last Words by Kim Erickson

Product Details

What Jesus Taught and Prayed in His Final Hours

A 7-week Bible Study of John 13-17

Another Bible study to do which makes me happy. I have been wanting purpose and focus in my Bible reading. I want to dig deeper and extract truths that I miss in just a casual reading of Scripture.

Kim has taken these five chapters in John and devoted a week to each chapter. She splits out the verses into four days and then the fifth day is for review and reflection. I have only glanced through the book yet, as I am in the middle of another Bible study right now, but one thing I noticed about this one right away is she has a chart for each daily reading that lists the verse and then beside it is a space to write down what the verse tells you about God. I like that. It makes you stop and consider what each verse is saying to you personally. She says there may not be things to write about each verse and that's okay, but not to rush through so fast that you miss what the Spirit may be speaking to you about the verses.

The sixth week is titled "His Final Words" and goes through John 18-21 and does not have the verse by verse journaling section, and the seventh week is a recap of the previous six weeks.

I am looking forward to doing this study and really delving into those good, good chapters of John that I often just read over so quickly and lightly.

I read through the intro and discovered that Kim lost her 3 year old son one night and she recounts her last words with him in the middle of the night and by morning he was gone. His death is what brought her to Jesus. She treasures those last words she had with him and so should we treasure even more highly the last words Jesus left with us.

I was given this study by Moody Publishers and was not required to give a positive review.

Baa! Oink! Moo! by Rhonda Gowler Greene, Illustrated by David Walker

Product Details

This is an adorable little board book. It would make a great gift for 1-6 year olds, would be the age bracket I would give it. the back of the book says juvenile fiction. It's a rhyming book that talks about the different animals you would find on the farm. Each page has two 4-line stanzas. The one stanza asks the question about who makes the animal do what it does and the second stanza answers the question. Here's an example. This one was my favorite the first time I read through the book.

Mama, look!
That chinny-chin-chin!
Who made that beard
and grinny-grin-grin?

A rascal in
a hairy coat...
Only God
can make a goat.


Each page talks about how God made the animal. I love the emphasis on God creating. Rhonda has also written a book called "Only God Can Make a Kitten". The premise for both books is the same, though the Kitten book would be geared for older children and, of course, features different things that God made.

The illustrations are very well-done. I'm not sure what the style would be called. I'm sure there's a professional name. I think of it as more of a smudge drawing, where the backdrop is a little fuzzy, but then the animals and people are more clear, but not quite real to life. Was that confusing to anyone? As you can tell, I have no idea on my art terms. Suffice it to say, I like the illustrations. I think David did a very good job.

I love this book and if you are looking for a gift for a little one or even a new baby gift, I would recommend this one. It is pretty good size,  8X8 would be my guess without using a ruler and according to Amazon, it is 8.2 x 8.2.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Marriage Challenge: Week 2 and 3

So I was going to post once a week on this, but I never got to it last week and that was probably all right. I pretty much bombed it all last week and not in a good way.

Last week's challenge was to Speak Kindly.

This week's challenge is to Touch Intentionally.

So when you first started dating, you would never have thought to yell at them or wait, I don't yell. I just say in a perturbed tone of voice, "You know you could help do this." Or "why are you home so late again?" Etc. etc. You know what it is for you. You would have never done that when you were dating. In fact, you were probably appalled if you saw another lady speaking that way to her husband or vice versa. And now, you are 5, 10, 15, 20 years into marriage, 1, 2, 3+ children later and kindness can sometimes be the farthest thing from your mind.

I believe it is Ravi Zacharias that says, "There is never a reason to be unkind." So I would like to make a thousand and one excuses for why I failed last week, but the fact is, there isn't a good reason, there isn't any reason to be unkind. So what if I was up a million times at night, all night long, every night of the week, (mild exaggeration inserted here for effect), and I was tired, and the baby was crabby, and the husband didn't come home, etc. etc. etc. I still had no excuse for being unkind. Because really, if you think about it, it could become a vicious cycle. I get frustrated and unkind when D doesn't come home early, but then really, with that kind of treatment, why would he want to? Think about that for a little.

Okay, so I'm working on it this week, to speak kindly IN. ALL. CIRCUMSTANCES. REGARDLESS.

And then this week's challenge to touch intentionally. I sort of get this, but not really. With only one child, I don't get to the end of the day very often and feel as though my private space was invaded the whole day by a clinging child or two or three. For the most part, Amber likes to be right beside me, but I don't necessarily have her clinging to me, unless of course, I'm making supper. Okay, not always there either. However, I do like my space at the end of the day or the middle of the day, etc. where I can just be by myself and chill out for a little.

Which brings me to a totally unrelated subject: how to handle bedtime. By the time bedtime rolls around, I just want her to go to bed already. I don't want to go through the whole process of getting her undressed, keeping her from destroying the cupboard contents, getting her teeth brushed, reading her her story, etc. etc. I find my patience wearing thin and everything is "No." "Don't do that." "Don't touch that." "Sit down." And well you get the idea. I think there has got to be a better way. And yes, praying for a last final round of patience would be a very good place to start. And I know some of you are saying, "Well keep the cupboard door shut." Yes, I know, but she goes in there to get her toothbrush and toothpaste and can't always resist touching or knocks something over while she's getting her stuff out. It's all a work in progress. But if anyone has a streamlined bedtime routine, I would love to hear it.

And to all of you: have a great week.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Is Time a Healer or a Revealer?

How can it be three years already? Happy third birthday in heaven, Nicole. We love you and miss you like crazy down here.

Three years. In so many ways, it feels like a lifetime ago and yet, when I stop and ponder and remember, the memories pour over me and the feelings, the thoughts, the tears wash over me and it feels like it was only yesterday.

I can remember that first phone call, the concern that there was a chromosome abnormality with Nicole. I was at work. I remember going to the bathroom and just sobbing. It felt so huge, so overwhelming. I remember going home, crying with Dave, researching, and then by the end of the week deciding that we would be given a huge responsibility and blessing to have a special needs child.

I remember so much of that fateful Sunday morning, the fears and the tears. Of going to the hospital and telling Dave, "They're just going to tell me I peed my pants." And then later wishing that that was exactly what they would've told me. Of again, wishing for it all to be over, but then, with God's help, determining that this was possible. I could survive a hospital stay of weeks and months. It would have been one week at home, followed by 10 weeks in the hospital.

Then Monday came, and some of it is blurred. But I remember feeling just awful. I couldn't have cared too much what happened. I remember hearing Nicole's heartbeat for the last time around 3 in the afternoon and realizing it was a bit fast. I remember the beauty of the pain meds as they let me be out of it in between the contractions. I remember my first words after Nicole was born. I remember holding her and crying and the staff being so kind and taking pictures and yet giving us our space.

And I remember the immediate difference I felt. I felt well again, ready to take on the world, in a very limited fashion of course. I remember that Henry's came, and Hannah, and Matt and Sylvia that night yet. How they held her and we planned her funeral service, but mostly I remember how they cared enough to leave their homes at 9:00 at night to come to the hospital to see us.

I remember the beauty of a shower that next morning. I remember all the visitors we got that day: Troy and Sharon, Kerra, Kelsie, Jason and Cheryl, Darrell and Christina, and Hannah again late at night.  I remember the horrible snow storm that was so fitting as well. I remember crying because I couldn't go home yet.

I remember going home and my family being there. Our entire sibling bunch rallied around us and showed up, from New York, from New Jersey, from PA, from Hayward, and from the area. They all came to the funeral of their niece. I still find that amazing and precious. Friends came to support us.

I don't know that anything was worse than that first clod of dirt hitting her little casket in the ground. Nothing compared to that grief. And yet, we lived through it.

I wish I couldn't remember the feelings of pity-me and no one understands that I felt in the ensuing months. I wish I didn't have those feelings to remember, but I did. I struggled with the why's of it. I struggled with feeling like people didn't care or understand.

Now is time a healer or a revealer? I believe it was Ravi Zacharias that said, "Time is a revealer of how God does the healing." And that is true. While these feelings are close to my heart and I can still relive so much of it in my mind and feel in a way what I felt then, God has been good. We have a beautiful, vibrant bundle of energy here with us on earth. God has revealed to me that my attitudes were not right, that I didn't have the right to self-pity, that I didn't have the right to curl up in a corner and want everyone else to make the first move, I didn't have the right to obsess over the ways people weren't there like I thought they should be or that they didn't want to talk about it all the time. God has revealed and is continuing to reveal these areas to me. He's continuing to refine me and it's a hard process. I'm stubborn. I like to pity myself even though it makes me miserable.

God has revealed to me how He cares, how He loves our little ones in heaven with Him. He has given me a compassion for those who lose little ones. I can understand in a way I never could before. He has shown me that His ways are not about my comfort, but about my refining.

Losing babies is not easy and while I'd like to say losing my first two babies taught me everything I needed to know about that, that hasn't been true, but I know God is faithful. It's a continual work of trust and hope and faith. And I'd like to think that if we were ever to lose another Nicole, that I would know more this time, that I would allow the things that God has taught me to refine me even more, that I wouldn't shut myself off and then blame everybody else. That's probably been the hardest realization of all, that self-pity deprived me of so much, even if it would have been painful.

And so, we will celebrate Nicole's life and the things she has taught me and I will strive to be a better person, a better mom because she was in my life, even if only for a short span.

So having a cupcake celebration with the book study ladies feels a bit big for me, yet it is my effort to get outside of myself and my feelings and to celebrate life because we don't know how long life will be given to us. So go eat a cupcake today and celebrate. We're celebrating life, not death. Nicole is way more alive now than she would be if she had lived.

And as you can see, our little miracle to the right there is very much alive and eager and loving life.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

God Made You Nose to Toes by Leslie Parrot and Illustrated by Estelle Corke

This is a fun little rhyming children's book that talks about the different parts of the body, hands, nose, knees, ears, etc. and something you can do with them. Like you can play with the sand on the beach with your hands, hear the various sounds around you with your ears, etc.

It's a beautiful padded board book with excellent illustrations. There's a toucan on every page and often a monkey pictured as well. The colors are vibrant and catching. My almost two-year-old really likes it. It would make an excellent gift for that 1-3 year old bracket. And maybe I will find as my daughter gets older that she will like board books longer than I think she will.

There's one thing I don't like and that is when Leslie talks about the hand, she says five fingers. It's a minor thing, but to me it's four fingers and a thumb, but I realize that wouldn't make a great rhyming story and maybe that's why she worded it that way.

I do like the emphasis put on God in the book. Leslie talks about God caring for us enough to know the number of hairs on our head. She also talks about the moon and stars being given by God, etc.

I just think this is a great book and am guessing I will get to read it many times unless I squirrel it away for a gift sometime. From what I can gather, the book was written back in 2002, but then newly illustrated in 2017, so if you go on Amazon the cover picture looks different.

This book was given to me by Book Look Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Indescribable Coloring Book

Based on the hit song as recorded by Chris Tomlin Written by Laura Story and Jesse Reeves This is a really cool coloring book. I love ...