Showing posts from September, 2017

Church of the Small Things by Melanie Shankle

Church of the Small Things by Melanie Shankle from The Big Mama Blog tackles the question we women all ask, "Is my ordinary, everyday life actually significant?" I know right now it is hard to imagine my less than glamorous life as having any significance, but Shankle shares how God actually does care and He uses the ordinary in my life for good things.

In Church of the Small Things, Shankle shares her life stories with a sense of humor to remind us all that we can find meaning in the mundane and ordinary moments may truly be the most special moments when all is said and done. At the end of several chapters, Shankle has fun lists that are darn near worth the price of the book alone: Things I Wish I'd Known about God When I Was Younger,  Things That Keep Me Up at Night, and Things I Wish I'd Known When I Became a Mom, and more.

I'll be honest, Shankle is close to my age. I totally get her humor and her stories that include some childhood reminiscing that I can so r…

Awaken by Priscilla Shirer

I especially love the title of this book, Awaken, by Priscilla Shirer. Every morning this week, I get up and read this devotional spending time with God as I "awaken." Shirer says on the cover she hopes that you will spend time each day with "the One who wants to Awaken you each day to the sound of His voice."

These 90 devotionals are bound in a quality hardcover book with a ribbon marker. Each devotion in Awaken starts with a Bible verse, then a reading, and ends with a Bible verse. Following each devotional are two lined pages entitled He Speaks to Me. At the top of the first lined journaling page, Shirer asks questions or gives the reader something to think about and reflect on through journaling. I especially liked that in the introduction Shirer says that she is praying for her readers. She writes that "Whether young or old, may you be encouraged and realigned toward the simple beauty of sitting with Him, hearing Him, speaking to Him and being enlightene…

How to Set A Table from Clarkson Potter Publishers

How to Set a Table is a little helpful book to pack away with the linens and keep on hand to set tables and trays up with nearly any kind of entertaining.

How to Set a Table is divided into 9 chapters. This little book offers guidance on how to select dishes for entertaining, how to set the table, and how to set up specific kinds of table tops for events like potlucks, a breakfast bar, a picnic, and breakfast in bed. Each section has all sorts of little tips to add some warm touches to the full color pictures too.

I particularly wanted How to Set a Table to use to teach my 15-year-old son as we homeschool through a foods class. I think it is especially helpful for teaching the younger generation about types of dishes and the proper way to set the table. While I knew most of that information, I did find the information on linens and ideas for table settings that I hadn't thought of before. I think this could be a handy little book to keep around for most people who only entertain no…

The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional by Julie Fisk, Kendra Roehl, and Kristin Demery

Every day that I watch the news on television or read through my social media newsfeed, I think how much we need more kindness in our world. The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional is a 365 day devotional with ideas to make the world a kinder place.

The Three authors of this devotional, Julie Fisk, Kendra Roehl, and Kristin Demery, came up with an idea to do an act of kindness during the Christmas season when they felt their children needed to be less self-centered and more other-centered. After their short December experiment, the ladies decided to expand their idea to a whole year. After a year, "we found that our own lives and our thoughts toward others had changed" as a result of their daily acts of kindness.

Each of the readings in The One Year Acts of Kindness Devotional starts with a Bible verse, then a short reading about  an act of kindness from one of the three authors, and then ends with an idea of how you or your family could apply the devotion to do a lo…

I'm Not a Scaredy Cat by Max Lucado Illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez

Children often find themselves feeling afraid. Max Lucado's new book, I'm Not a Scaredy Cat, would be a great tool to read with children to remind them that they can face those fears with God.

This large-sized full-color adorably illustrated children's book is a fun book to read with little ones. The rhyming is so cute and the illustrations are vibrant and eye catching with the kitty's actions. I'm Not a Scaredy Cat follows a scaredy-cat as he faces all of his worst fears in some silly misadventures. As he faces each of those fears, Lucado shares a child's prayer version of Philippians 4:6-9.

I'm Not a Scaredy Cat is such a fun book to read with little ones. It is a good reminder that God helps us face our fears and have courage. The roughly square 10 by 10 inch book is a good size for family reading time. This book could also make for some good discussions on fear and how God helps us through our fear in a way little ones can relate and talk about it. I wo…

Shine by Allison Allen

William Shakespeare once said, All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players." Along that line, Allison Allen uses her experience as an actor to relate acting to our role as Christians in the world through her new book, Shine. Allen relates how actors play roles on a stage to how many of us play roles in real life without becoming our true selves.

Allen shares personal stories and Biblical stories to encourage readers of Shine to becomes their real selves in Christ. Allen also uses a lot of stage terms and definitions and relates those to her life. She mixes her thoughts on living for Christ in with the information quite well leaving the reader with having learned a lot about both areas. Then, at the end of each chapter, she offers a Sparkler question or something to think about to apply that chapter to your life.

I enjoyed Shine from cover to cover. I have never done any acting but I found Allen's descriptions of what actors use for props, stage info…

Rhinestones on my flip flops by Jane Jenkins Herlong

We all go through times of change. Everything is going along great and then all of a sudden, it isn't so great. In Rhinestones on my flip-flops, Jane Jenkins Herlong writes to encourage us to make the most of the flops and choose joy in the midst of them.

Throughout Rhinestones on my flip-flops, Herlong mixes stories of Biblical women with stories from her life to help women see how to apply the Bible to today's life. She reminds women of the Bible stories of Eve, Martha and Mary, Esther, Sarah, Mrs. Lot, Naomi and Ruth, Mary the mother of Jesus and more. Each chapter is a mix of humor, wisdom, and encouragement to live a better life each day then you did before. According to Herlong, "Rhinestones on my flip-flops shows women how to thrive in the midst of life's changes and challenges." She reminds us that change is always happening in our lives and we should add some sparkle and shine to our"flip-flops" and make the best of them.

I enjoyed Herlong'…

How to Listen so People Will Talk by Becky Harling

What is the secret to an especially good relationship with anyone? According to Becky Harling in her recently released book, How to Listen so People Will Talk, it is to listen well. She says it really is just that simple.

How to Listen so People Will Talk is a short book with a lot of good information in it. Harling shares stories from her life and from the Bible to help Christians better understand how to listen and communicate with friends and family--and anyone else they come in contact with. Each chapter shares good solid information on building your listening skills. Then at the end of each chapter is a set of exercises to help you apply that information to your own life called Exercises to Strengthen Your Listening Ear. The exercises are broken down into smaller bite-sized chunks called Listening to God, Listening to Your Heart and Listening to Others.

I found How to Listen so People Will Talk to be quite helpful in building relationship communication skills. I would encourage e…

100 Days With Jesus by Diann Cotton

100 Days with Jesus: A Daily Glimpse into the person of Christ by Diann Cotton is a lovely old-fashioned looking book full of fantastic nature photographs and insights into who Jesus Christ is.

100 Days with Jesus contains 100 short but informative readings with each one centered on one of the names of Jesus from the Bible. Cotton said in the introduction that she originally found a page in her Bible with over 250 names for Jesus listed. She was so in awe that there were so many names that she and her daughter wrote the names on bells and then put them on their Christmas tree. While putting away the bells after Christmas, she decided she wanted to know Jesus better and to study each of the names. Cotton said that journey changed her life. She hopes that this book will bring the reality of who Jesus is to each reader and change even more lives.

I especially liked these short readings and the nature photographs. I enjoy taking nature pictures myself and spending time in nature so those p…

Jesus Always by Sarah Young

Jesus Always by Sarah Young in the Deluxe edition is absolutely gorgeous, with a rich burgandy cover etched with gold printing for the title. It is a lovely book to look at with it's beautifully sewn binding, complete with a ribbon marker.

Jesus Always, which covers a full year's worth of readings, is Sarah Young's writing as if Jesus himself were speaking to you, the reader. Young's story is included in the front of the book and is inspirational in itself. She has faced many challenges and continues to face challenges and yet keeps her eyes on Jesus daily. She said she hopes through the devotional to encourage her readers to do the same. She adds that she prays for her readers daily. Jesus Always is especially written to help readers embrace a life of joy through living the Christian life with eyes continually on Jesus. Each reading is meant to turn the reader's thoughts towards God daily. Young includes Scripture references for each  daily reading for further refe…

Pray for Me by Rick Hamlin

Pray for Me: Finding Faith in a Crisis by Rick Hamlin is Hamlin's autobiographical story of a health crisis that he went through. During this particular crisis he was too ill to pray for himself, as often happens during a tough health crisis. He said, "I've always believed that when you can't pray for yourself, it's other people's prayers that sustain you. They do what you can't do."

In Pray for Me, Hamlin shares many details of his health crisis, mostly chapter by chapter, during the nearly two weeks he was in the hospital. Mixed in to each chapter, Hamlin also shares other parts of his life and the key people in his life as he reflects on them through the crisis. Throughout the book, Hamlin's faith and reflections on God come through. Perhaps most importantly, Pray For Me stresses how much God loves us and cares for us as Hamlin shares his faith and the importance of praying for each other.

Hamlin is the executive editor of Guideposts magazine…

13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't do by Amy Morin

Amy Morin's latest book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do is a mixture of parental coaching, parental strategy reference book, parenting exercises and ideas to improve your parenting skills. In other words, it is a great book to read and to keep for further reference.

Each chapter of 13 Things takes one tenant of Morin's advice to help readers become better parents. Chapters include: They don't parent out of guilt, They don't expect perfection, They don't confuse discipline with punishment and they don't take shortcuts to avoid discomfort. Every time I would read a chapter, I thought, "Wow, this is the best chapter." Then I would go on and think that about the next chapter. Each chapter is truly loaded with solid stories from other parents or Morin's experiences working with children, along with advice and ideas on how to help the chapter work for your parenting, whether you have a pre-schooler or a teenager. Morin's book also c…

Jesus Loves You by Christine Topjian

Jesus Loves You is a vibrantly illustrated book sharing how a young one's life with Christ could be if they receive His Love. On each page, author Christine Ropjian writes about how Jesus loves us from the time before we were born, to the first day of school, to attending college, to getting married, and more for a lifetime of living and serving Jesus in His Love every day.

Jesus Loves You is a nicely illustrated children's book. It is easy to understand although I found the vocabulary to be a little large for young children. Jesus Loves You could also be a way to share Christ with someone much older. Always, it would be a good reminder for any age, that Jesus loves us through all our lives.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no charge. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Love Heals by Becca Stevens

Love Heals is a beautiful book full of encouragement and inspiration. Love Heals is the tagline at Thistle Farms, a sanctuary community for women who survived trafficking, addiction and prostitution. Each woman had a story and each of us has a story. While all our stories are different, Becca Stevens shares what she has learned and stories from other women journeying with God have learned to heal us.

The beautiful photographs, poetry, prayers, uplifting stories of overcoming and hope, and practical advice make this book a wonderful addition to anyone's library. This book would also be a great gift for someone needing encouragement while going through hardship or recovering from difficulties. There are 14 chapters sharing different ways love can heal us in our different stories. As someone who has been going through some big personal challenges, I personally found it to be uplifting, encouraging, and full of hopeful stories. I highly recommend it.

I received Love Heals from Thomas…

Here's Some Happy: A Coloring Journal to Lift the Soul by Gina Graham

Here's Some Happy: A Coloring Journal to Lift the Soul by Gina Graham is a large formatted beautiful coloring journal.

Gina Graham has designed beautiful and whimsical pictures, some with Scripture verses and some without, in this journal that measure 10.1 inches square. There are plenty of lines amidst the pictures of birds, animals, flowers, adorable people, and other whimsical designs. They are indeed happy pictures to color and they are all on thick paper to minimize bleed-through.

I have read that coloring reduces stress and these designs feel especially stress-reducing to me. Journaling also is said to reduce stress. Putting the two together in this gorgeous book should make for some "happy" to think about. People of all ages could enjoy this book too. The designs aren't too tiny for those of us who like larger designs like I do. This is a real feel-good coloring journal that would be fun for anyone who enjoys both coloring and journaling. I highly recommend i…

The Happiness Prayer by Evan Moffic

The Happiness Prayer isn't just quick fix "make me happy" prayer. It is also a Jewish prayer and I am not Jewish. Yet, I found this book to teach me truths and Scriptures in ways that I hadn't thought about them before. I truly found this book to be on insightful guide to living a better life.

The Happiness Prayer is called Eilu Devarim and is from a Jewish text called the Talmud. Evan Moffic made this prayer a way of living when he went through a time of personal challenge. The prayer begins with a statement of its purpose. The prayer is initially related to financial interest--an investment in the prayer of our time if we follow these lessons means that, like financial interest, our happiness will compound. He shares the prayer and his experiences, along with real experiences of other people, to teach readers how to use this prayer to live more joyously. In The Happiness Prayer, Moffic breaks the prayer down into chapters and looks at each part of the prayer in dept…

GodSpace by Keri Wyatt Kent

In her book, GodSpace, Keri Wyatt Kent shares seven practices that will help busy Christians draw closer to God. The seven practices are: Sabbath, Hospitality, Worship, Simplicity, Gratitude, Generosity, and Critical Thinking. In each chapter of this book, Kent takes one of these practices and offers her advice on how to draw closer to God through that practice. There is a lot of solid advice and helpful ideas for drawing closer to God.

I did find some useful information in GodSpace to help me grow closer to God. I could relate to some of Kent's personal stories and  the Bible information that she shared. However, I did think GodSpace was a little dryer than I expected. The cover says that Kent shares "with abundant wit and humorous anecdotes," so I expected to find some humorous anecdotes amidst the copy, but I didn't find myself chuckling at anything humorous. That being said, it was still a good book for learning to draw closer to God and grow in intimacy with Hi…