Showing posts from November, 2017

A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living by Emily Ley

A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living by Emily Ley is as beautiful as it is practical. It is a feast for the eyes and following Ley's guidelines would surely give peace to your home.

A Simplified Life walks readers through the process of simplifying ten key areas of life: Space at home, personal style, meal planning, schedule, finances, hospitality, technology, self-care, motherhood, and faith in God. Through each area, Ley will help readers declutter distractions, put the tools in place to keep things running more smoothly, and help readers establish routines that work for their life.

I wish I had had A Simplified Life when I was a young mother. Now my son is 16 and I have figured a lot of these things out on my own by now. However, I think this would be a great book for a woman in her 20s and 30s who is just starting her family and trying to keep everything running smoothly. Ley offers a lot of practical helpful tips. There are also a lot of lovely pictures tha…

31 Proverbs to Light Your Path by Liz Curtis Higgs

I think Proverbs are some of the most practical verses from the Bible to apply to every day life. I try to read some every day. 3 Proverbs to Light Your Path by Liz Curtis Higgs takes thirty-one verses from Proverbs, studies them, and then relates them all to modern life today.

In 31 Proverbs to light Your Path, Higgs has a reading for each of the 31 highlighted Proverbs. She shares the verse and then relates a story that helps the reader relate that verse to real-life today. At the end of the reading for the day, she offers a prayer. There is also a One Minute, One Step activity challenge to act out what you have learned for the day. Higgs encourages you to really take the short amount of time to do these activities. "By moving straight from words to actions, we can immediately apply what we've learned and discover how God uses even the smallest steps to lead us in the right direction," she says. One of the last, and best, features of this book is a Study Guide. Higgs …

The Marvelous Mud House by April Graney

The Marvelous Mud House is a beautifully illustrated and well told story of children in two cultures and how they came together to create a lesson in joy and contentment.

Ben and his family live in America. Like many American children, Ben is always wanting more and better things. Then Ben and his family visit George and his Mama in Kenya. Mama George is often telling her son that God will provide and He cares for them in their small grass hut limited mainly to essentials. The Marvelous Mud House is a story of two different cultures and how change can happen with those cultures collide.

The Marvelous Mud House has fun, bright illustrations. The writing is well done and the story is one that should be easy for children to relate to. It is recommended for ages 4 to 8 years, but it would make for rich discussions in families with a variety of ages. I like how there is a Parent Connection page in the back with Bible verses to read and questions to ask. This is a good book to help kids thin…

Stones of Remembrance by Daniel G. Amen, MD

Increasingly people in our society are diagnosed with some form of dementia. Daniel Amen has two new books designed to help people at risk for memory problems to makes changes to improve their odds of not getting memory-related disease. Memory Rescue is Amen's main new book with detailed steps to improve brain health. Stones of Remembrance is designed as a companion book to help Christians, in particular, contribute to a healthier mind through Scripture memorization.

Stones of Remembrance is a small book that would be easy to carry along for memorization and mediation on Scripture to inspire, comfort and challenge believers in all walks of life. This little book starts out with an inspiring introduction from Stephen Arterburn on how Dr. Amen helped him with his brain issues. There are three sections to this book: The Twelve Spiritual Disciplines for improving your memory, The Twelve verses to remember when. . . , and The Twelve Verses every Christian Should Know.

I am so glad that…

Memory Rescue by Daniel G. Amen

It seems like most of us know someone, perhaps a family member, who has dementia or Alzheimer's Disease. I know my Grandfather passed away after living in a nursing home with dementia so I have seen and felt how difficult that is on families. Dr. Daniel Amen wrote Memory Rescue to help people change their brain to improve their memory and decrease their chances for memory-related issues down the road.

Memory Rescue is a large and long book full of information. Dr. Amen divides Memory Rescue into three parts: Memory is Life which talks about how the brain works and what it looks like to have problems; Bright Minds: The ultimate memory formula in which Dr. Amen shares the bright minds approach to rescuing your memory and preventing memory-related brain disease; and Daily food, habits and more to boost your memory. Throughout the book, Dr. Amen shares ways to be proactive in helping your brain and your body to avoid memory issues. He insists that we can start early so that we increa…

The Spurgeon Study Bible from Holman Bible Publishing

Charles Spurgeon has been impacting people through his sermons since the late 1800s. He has been called the "Prince of Preachers." Holman has recently released a Spurgeon Study Bible to feature Charles Spurgeon's excerpts chosen and edited by Alistair Begg.

The CSB Spurgeon Study Bible features the text of the Christian Standard Bible "which stays as literal as possible to the Bible's original meaning without sacrificing clarity." Along with the Bible text, this Bible features an introductory biography of Charles Spurgeon, study notes taken from Spurgeon's sermons, extracted sermon illustrations on the same page as the Bible text it was taken from, Sermon notes and outlines written in Spurgeon's own handwriting, Spurgeon's quotes inserted throughout the Bible and book introductions with Spurgeon's insights.

I like this new Spurgeon Study Bible so much! Besides all of the Spurgeon information, which I find interesting and want to learn from,…

The Daily Question: My 5-Year Spiritual Journal from Waterbrook Press

Journaling is one of my passions. The Daily Question: My 5-Year Spiritual Journal is a step up from my usual journals in that it is a journal meant to go for 5 years. I've never done that but it sounds like an interesting challenge.

The Daily Question contains 365 questions, one for every day of the year. Then there is space on each page to write for 5 years. Examples of some of the questions are: If you could change one relationship, which one would it be? In what way has God shown himself faithful recently? What wisdom would you share with someone who is about to graduate? Who in the Bible do you relate to? What is the best part of your life right now?

I love the idea of The Daily Question journal. However, it is quite small. Each day for each question, you get four small lines to write the answer on. One the back of the book it says that "Short questions at the top of each page prompt quick answers--but their impact could be life changing." The publisher suggests that…

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner is quite obviously the story of Sarah Hollenbeck. As the book starts out, Sarah isn't a Christian. Instead, she is living a rather interesting and comfortable life after having become the bestselling author of well-known steamy romances. As the story unfolds, Sarah accepts Christ and then must figure out how to live life after becoming a Christian and figuring out how to live for God after writing a "scandalous" book. It also doesn't help that Sarah has started attending a new church and a whole new set of struggles.

I laughed out loud more than a few times while reading The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck. I don't think humor is easy to write and can sometimes come off sort of canned in fiction books--but not in this book. I am not sure I found Sarah Hollenbeck's life to be quite believable in a couple of places, but I did enjoy the story all the way through the book. It was a different sort of romance an…

In the Middle of the Mess by Sheila Walsh

It isn't a subject we talk about much. Sharing painful experiences is never easy for anyone. Yet many of us know someone who has attempted or committed suicide. Or maybe we are the ones who have attempted suicide or thought about it a time or two. Sheila Walsh shares her personal story and experiences with this difficult topic in In The Middle of the Mess.

Walsh has often shared her story of depression and the time she spent in a psych ward early in her ministry. However, this book goes deeper. In the Middle of the Mess shares Walsh's story and family background with her father's brainaneurysm, mental illness and ultimate suicide. Walsh then shares how that family history affected her and the challenges she has had with depression and suicidal thoughts herself.

I like how Sheila Walsh writes. I have read several of her books. I always feel like we are just sharing stories over a cup of tea. Walsh shares from a "me too" perspective in this warm, vulnerable book.…

Love and Kindness by Christine Topjian

Love and Kindness are two virtues that we hope to instill in our children today. Love and Kindness by Christine Topjian would be a good book to read with your children to spark discussion on how we can be kind and show love to those around us.

Topjian shares several examples in Love and Kindness that could help children see ways to be kind when they have the opportunity. Love and Kindness also helps readers know that Jesus loves us and shows that love to us through various ways, reminding us to be loving to others as Jesus is our example.

Love and Kindness would be a helpful book to read with elementary age children. This paperback book is bright and colorful. Love and Kindness has several good reminders to the kids to demonstrate love and kindness whenever they have the opportunity. I like that this is a larger book for talking with children in a group too. It measures 8 1/2 by 11 inches. Besides using it with a family, I think it would be a good book to share at Sunday School or anot…

Divine Time Management by Elizabeth Grace Saunders

Divine Time Management is unlike any other time management book that I have read before. It isn't just a way to manage your time to maximum productivity like most time management books. Instead, Elizabeth Grace Saunders guides readers to look to God to direct their time with a subtitle of "the joy of trusting God's loving plans for you."

Divine Time Management is divided into three sections: Trust in God at the Center, Love For Your True Identity, and Alignment with God. There are three chapters in each section. Each chapter guides the reader to look to God and to look at how their life can better reflect a life that lives for God. Then at the end of each chapter there are exercises to reflect on the material and to apply it to live each day being transformed though Him.

I found Divine Time Management to be an extremely helpful book to me personally. I had a hard time reading it quickly because I wanted to reflect on the reading and apply what I was learning. Througho…

The Crooked Christmas Tree by Damian Chandler

The Crooked Christmas Tree by Damian Chandler offers a new way to look at God's love through God, his family and the lens of a crooked Christmas tree.

This true story starts out with a family picking out a Christmas tree. Dad wants a perfectly straight tree that he can show off to everyone who comes to the house. However, the kids have a different idea and they end up with a crooked tree. Chandler then uses the story about the Christmas tree to share how God loves us like those kids love their tree.

The Crooked Christmas Tree isn't a very big book and it looks like a quick read. For me, it wasn't a quick read though. I found Chandler's overall story to be thought provoking and it kept me reflecting on God and Christmas. At the same time, I found some of the author's slang and a few key phrases to be foreign to me as they aren't used where I live in the Midwest. That may or may not be a problem for other readers depending on where they are from. I also thought th…

Love Welcome Serve by Amy Nelson Hannon

Love Welcome Serve: Recipes that Gather and Give by Amy Nelson Hannon has the recipes you need to cook comfort foods for your family but browsing through this beautiful cookbook is comfort for your soul before you even lift the spatula.

"I feed people. . .Why do I feed people? Because I believe with my whole heart that people who are cooked for feel cared for. " says Hannon in the introduction. Hannon shares that her grandmother, Euna Mae Nelson modeled that way of life for her as she was growing up. If you aren't familiar with Hannon, she runs a kitchen boutique and social media platform sharing her love of cooking for others. Love Welcome Serve is a compilation of family friendly recipes that Hannon hopes readers will fix for their loved ones.

Hannon's cookbook is as friendly as her kitchen hospitality. After her warm introduction in Love Welcome Serve, she starts out sharing cooking tips on ingredients and stocking your kitchen with essential cooking tools. There …

The One Year Experiencing God's Love Devotional by Sandra Byrd

The One Year Devotional series from Tyndale has been a favorite series of mine for many years. This new release, Experiencing God's Love Devotional by Sandra Byrd, is quite beautiful to look at. It also full of messages that help readers understand how much God truly does love them.

The One Year Experiencing God's Love Devotional has a devotional reading for every day. However, the great thing about these devotionals is that you can start reading any day of the year. These readings are short and really are do-able every day. Byrd has written a devotional for every day that is a few paragraphs long that most everyone can relate to. Then there is a Bible verse or two written out to go with the day's devotion. There are readings for six days each week and then the opportunity to show God's love with a more "hands on" reading on the seventh day. That reading on the seventh day does help hold you accountable for showing God's love to those around you.

I like ho…

Well by Sarah Thebarge

Sarah Thebarge is a Yale-trained physician assistant. Well is her story of her spiritual and vocational calling to medical missions work in Togo, West Africa.

Well is a different book than most books that I have read. This book is not divided into chapters. Well is Thebarge's story told pretty much cover to cover of her trip to Togo to work at the Hospital of Hope, a conservative Baptist missions-run hospital in Mango, Togo. Thebarge shares her medical challenges in treating the local people in great detail. She also shares her spiritual challenges and takeaways from the experience, along with the physical toll on her body and mind from the experience.

Love Looks Around was my big takeaway from Well. I may not be able to go to a missions hospital and work in my lifetime, but I am able to look around with a love that comes from God and see what I can do to love those around me as I believe God would want me to. I am glad I read the book for the spiritual takeaways. I also felt The…

30 Days to Peace: A One-Month Creative Journal from Waterbrook

If you enjoy creative journaling, I think you will enjoy 30 Days to Peace. As the introduction says, In our busy and loud lives, it's easy to get sucked into the pandemonium and ignore the life-giving breeze of peace. That's what this journal is for."

I reviewed 30 Days to Joy on October 27. This book is quite similar. The two make good companions and would make a nice gift tied together with a ribbon and a bundle of pretty pens/pencils for a creative friend or family member. There are pages with questions to answer such as: "Why do you think God calls us to have peace within our own hearts and to live peacefully with those around us? and "Reflect on a time recently when you truly felt at peace." There are others that allow you to use other creative ways to illustrate the journal prompt such as this one, "On these two pages, depict mundane activities whose regularity and steadfastness bring you peace." You could choose to write an answer to that …

Free of Me by Sharon Hodde Miller

In our culture of perpetual selfies and Social Media "Look at Me" postings, Free of Me by Sharon Hodde Miller, is the counter cultural prescription that we need to read.

Free of Me is divided into 3 parts. Part One: Self-Distracted shares much of Miller's story. Part Two: Seven Mirrors, talks about when we make seven areas of our life about us: God, Family, Appearance, Possessions, Friendships, Calling and Church. In Part Three: How to Be Free of Me, Miller talks about ways we can set ourselves free from loving ourselves so much and turn to loving God and others more. Each chapter starts with a quote, then goes into the topic and ends with a Focus Verse, a Focus Prayer, and Discussion Questions. Free of Me would be a great book for a book club discussion and these questions could be quite helpful. However, they are also good to just reflect on with a journal if you are doing the book by yourself.

On the front cover of Free Of Me is an endorsement by Ann Voskamp, "Fr…