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    Hitting the reset button

    Hitting the reset button

    In case you were wondering, no, I have not dropped off the edge of the earth.  With the holidays and visits from friends and family, I haven't been doing much ...

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    Excitement is in the air

    Excitement is in the air

    As if the upcoming holiday and getting to see family wasn't enough, there is extra excitement in our house this morning.     Yep, the weather people are predicting some of the white ...

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    What’s in your heart? Part 1

    What's in your heart? Part 1

    We have this pumpkin sitting out back on the railing of our deck.  A few months ago I had picked it from our garden, drew a silly face on it, ...

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    Walking Without Stumbling

    Walking Without Stumbling

    a devotional from Pastor Brian: As a pastor, father, and husband, I stumble constantly. No, I don't mean the type caused by toys that got left out. I'm referring to the ...

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    What’s in your heart?

    What's in your heart?

    In my reading through the Bible in a year plan, I came to the book of Proverbs a while back.  This book along with Psalms are two places I ...

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Book Review Canyon of Danger and River of Peril by Susan K Marlow

Set in Goldtown, California in 1864, the books in this series feature Jem (short for Jeremiah) Coulter who seems to be in midst of all kinds of adventure. Just as the hero of the story is twelve, this book will probably best appeal to preteens, both boys and girls (but probably especially boys). At 147 pages, this book is not particularly long, so even your more reluctant reader will be able to finish this book.

From the very beginning of Canyon of Danger, Jem’s Pa, the local sheriff, is away on a trip, and Jem seems to get himself into quite a mess by his own carelessness. I particularly liked the way the author tells you a lot of what Jem is thinking and how he is struggling to be all that his Pa would want him to be in his absence. The sort of turmoil he experiences is the same for preteens whether they live on a ranch in the wild west or in the suburbs today. Life is made of choices and Jem is faced with a lot of them in this book. It’s great to see a good clean book for young people to enjoy.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Children’s Bible review

Review: My Bedtime Story Bible by Jean E Syswerda and illustrated by Daniel Howarth

We have seen quite a few children’s Bibles here at our house and something we have come 739753oto realize is that you just need to know what you are getting.  You  may be expecting a Bible to contain actual stories for children to have read to them, but that is not the intent of this book.

 

This book is meant to create beautiful (dare I say snuggly, even) moments between you and your children at bedtime while learning about Biblical characters.  If you keep that in mind, you will see how the author has really done a good job to accomplish this.  This 120 page book has sweet and colorful pictures on pretty much every page while introducing your little one to a number of Bible characters.  The “stories” actually have very little in the way of plot.  They just sort of set the scene in a way that a very young child can relate.  For example, to tell about Moses parting the Red Sea, the author tells of a little girl with her mother crossing the Red Sea and then she is safely tucked in for the night.  Nope, that’s not found in Scripture, but it definitely could have happened just as described.

 

The introduction to this book will help explain how to use this book as well.  The author writes “The intimacy you establish with your child will form a foundation for his or her future intimacy with God.”  I personally feel this book is best suited for very young children.  I would probably read it aloud from birth up through age 3, but I am sure older children will enjoy it too.

 

This is not one of my favorite Bible story books, but it is certainly very sweet.

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this book from Zonderkidz in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Another thoughtful and meditative devotional from John Piper

A Review of A Godward Heart: Treasuring the God Who Loves You by John Piper

John Piper is not for everyone. Though, if one considers the number of resources his ministry distributes, it seems that his style appeals to more than not.

Piper has added another devotional to his collection. Containing 50 meditations on a variety of subjects, this newest addition will challenge believers to think more about the God of the universe and the practical ramifications of the Christian life. Some devotional thoughts are stronger than others. Pipers thoughts on raising children, complementarianism, racism, women in combat, William Wilberforce, and a variety of others are just spot on. In just a few pages on each subject, Piper challenges the reader to think- to really meditate on specific truths from the Word of God and how they apply to real life.

There were a few entries that I thought missed the mark a little, but these are few and far between, and are primarily a result of differing theological and philosophical backgrounds. Overall, this is another strong devotional from John Piper, and well worth the time of any believer who wants to continue to be challenged in their thinking.

5 out of 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Suspense-filled and Fast-moving thrillride

A Review of Don Brown’s Storming the Black Ice

Storming the Black Ice is the third in the Pacific Rim Series. When oil is discovered in Antarctica, Chile and Great Britain reach a quiet agreement to share the find. However, there are other nations who get wind of the find, and a situation quickly escalates. A base camp is attacked, hostages are taken, more brownnations get sucked in, and a massive naval conflict erupts. In the middle of the crises sit two primary characters- Pete Miranda and Austin Rivers. Miranda is a US submarine commander, and Rivers a British Special Forces Soldier. Both are sucked into dangerous and difficult situations, each while trying to deal with struggles at a personal level.

Brown’s story moves quickly, and the characters are well developed. The book is a straightforward, edge of your seat thrill ride, with naval and land battles, tense situations, challenging decisions, and the inner struggle that comes when man tries to wrestle with belief in a Creator God as opposed to his own self-sufficiency.

The religious overtones in the story are almost exclusively Roman Catholic, and there really is no “come to Jesus” conversion moment- the gospel is not in any way prominent. This would be my one beef with the story. In most Christian fiction, faith either plays a major role or almost no role at all. Brown seems to try to straddle the fence on this.

I know next to nothing about naval warfare, so I really don’t know if some of his descriptions of the battle sequences bent the rules of reality or not. They did, however, make for a very good read. I would give the book five out of five stars, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Tom Clancy- type writing.

I received a free copy of this book from Zondervan as part of the BookLook Blogger program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Review: Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

Book Review: Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

 

What mom (or dad even) wouldn’t be intrigued by the title of Crystal’s newest book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode?  Don’t we often feel like we are caught in a cycle of b206469usyness that we cannot escape?  How many times do I catch myself saying “if I can just make it to the end of xyz committment, then things will slow down”?  We know it isn’t true.  What we really need is to make changes, maybe even drastic changes, to slow down.

 

If you have ever dropped by Crystal’s blog (moneysavingmom.com) or been an avid reader (like myself), you know that there is a reason she has so many followers.  She offers plenty of “common sense” advice to help you save money, but the thing that has kept me reading has been her beautiful spirit and Christian testimony.

 

You won’t find much in the way of new and exciting material in Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.  You probably already know a lot of what she writes in this book, and most of us very desperately want to get out of “survival mode.”  Following her tips will put you on the road to a better life and I am sure many will benefit from this book.

 

What I liked most about the book was reading more of Crystal’s own life story.  She shares from her heart and that sort of drives the message home.

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

I received a free e-copy of this book from Crystal’s book launch team in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

Review: Pirates on the Farm by Denette Fretz

Pirates on the Farm by Denette Fretz and illustrated by Gene Barretta is a fun little picture book that will teach your children a great lesson while entertaining them with some rather out-of-place pirates.  Though your young children may not understand all the pirate lingo, they are sure to 61OaG5uyjwL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_understand that pirates don’t know the first thing about living on the farm.

 

Of course, the farming community is all abuzz with their newest neighbors and their obvious lack of knowledge about country life.  But probably my favorite part is how the dad treats these pirates throughout.  He truly shows Christ-like love in quiet ways.  Though the story is a bit quirky, the message is clear.  The illustrations are great and the story is sure to inspire lots of questions among your young school age children.  Which is what I like best – a starting point for a great teaching moment.

 

5 out of 5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this book from Zonderkidz as part of the Booksneeze program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Review of Children’s Bible

Review: Candle Bedtime Bible by Karen Williamson and illustrated by Christine Tappin

859551oWe love to read Bible stories to our children and at this point we have quite a number of them on our shelves.  So here is our take on this particular children’s Bible. 

 

Pros:

  • The book is arranged with a choice of 3, 5, and 10 minute stories throughout so you can pick one that is the right length for the child.

 

  • The illustrations are cute and engaging with lots of beautiful colors. 

 

  • The book is a well-made hardcover with thick glossy pages that are sure to last.

 

  • Scripture passages are references at the end of every story.

 

  • The author has written the stories in a way that children can easily understand.  The book contains 160 pages which are packed with over 40 stories from the Old and New Testaments.

 

Cons:

  • Every single one of the characters is depicted as having very light/pale skin which to me seems pretty inaccurate.  I was so disappointed by this because the illustrations are so beautiful!

 

  • Noah’s ark is teensy tiny and very obviously could not hold all the animals that God told him to bring.  To be fair, this is a very common problem in children’s Bibles for illustrators to show a cute little ark with a handful of animals sticking out with Noah.  But if we present this story as a fairy tale then why should our children believe the Bible is trustworthy at all.

 

  • As parents, we have to do a bit of explaining with this particular Bible because the stories are simply narrative.  This is especially noticeable at the end when Jesus dies and is resurrected and there is very little explanation as to why.

 3 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Are you Guarding your Heart?

A while back I started a little study on the heart as it is found in the book of Proverbs.  I do plan to pick that up again soon, and it will work out nice with Valentine’s Day coming up (no I didn’t plan it that way).  My husband recently read this book and really benefited from it.  It seems to be sort of a similar topic.   I hope you enjoy his book review and maybe can find a copy of it yourself to check out!

 

A Book Review of Robert Saucy’s “Minding the Heart: The Way of Spiritual Transformation”

It seems like every month a new book hits the Christian book stores that advertises a 436652“new” way to spiritual victory, a way to have Jesus “speak to you,” to be happier, healthier, and wealthier, and the list goes on. When you get a book that seems to deal with things at a slightly deeper level, it usually disappoints by leaving the realm of biblical authority and delving deeply into popular psychology and “self-help” tactics. So, picking up a new book by Robert Saucy on the mind and heart both caught my attention and raised red flags.

To my surprise, the red flags were unfounded. The book is endorsed by the likes of David Dockery, Darrell Bock, Wayne Grudem and Paige Patterson. Saucy closely follows the text of scripture in arguing that the key to spiritual transformation is how a person guards their heart. What you allow into your heart affects your worldview, beliefs, feelings, etc. If we want to become more like Christ, we must guard carefully that most precious area of our life. We have to guard what goes into it and what we expose ourselves to.

I love Saucy’s book because it is rooted completely in the text of scripture. He uses modern psychology only to reinforce what the Bible is already teaching. He gives clear and easy to understand principles for guarding and transforming the heart. As the church in the US struggles to overcome the consumer mindset that plagues our churches, and spiritual maturity is lacking in so many areas, Saucy’s call for spiritual transformation is refreshing. The book is worth reading and the principles are needed for every Christian.

I give Minding the Heart five out of five stars.

 I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for a fair and honest review.

History made fun

Book Review: The Redcoats Are Coming!  (Adventures in Odyssey The Imagination Station Book #13) by Marianne Hering and Nancy Sanders, illustrated by David Hohn

 

977747_1_ftcIf your family has been enjoying the books in this series as much as ours has, then you will be excited to jump into this new book which takes place during the early American Revolution.  Patrick and Beth learn firsthand what it is like to live during dangerous times and help with the cause of the Patriots. 

 

The back of the book identifies this book as being suitable for ages 7 and up.  Our children are not that old yet, but our son enjoys listening to the book being read aloud a few chapters at a time.  The words are simple and the storyline is full of action to keep your children interested (a lot like the Adventures in Odyssey radio program).

 

Since we are reading this book aloud, we especially enjoy the illustrations that are sprinkled throughout the book.  They are very nicely done.

 

5 out of 5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Hitting the reset button

In case you were wondering, no, I have not dropped off the edge of the earth.  With the holidays and visits from friends and family, I haven’t been doing much posting.  As a family, we spent a good bit of time chillaxin’ and celebrating.

“Celebrating what?” you say.

My husband and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary!  Wow. So we went as a family to a nice little getaway.  Check it out.

100_3098We enjoyed lots of family time without interruptions (a rare commodity).

I also scaled back a lot on book reading.  I know, how crazy is that.  This coming from the person who is typically working through 3 books at a time.

Besides reading my Bible, I just took a break for a bit.  I am hoping to jump into a HUGE stack of biblical counseling books in the next few months here.  I have been meaning to get around to it for a while (as the stack grows larger), but now is certainly the time.  I read a lot on this particular area in college and mostly in seminary.  But now is the time to fill in the gaps (at least that’s how it feels to me).  Maybe sometime soon I will share a little of what I am reading and learning.

 

The last thing I have been spending my time doing is picking up a new hobby.  My sister recently had a baby and she asked if I would make her something. . .that’s how it all started, a baby blanket.

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First I relearned how to crochet.  Well, I learned how to crochet a scarf a long time ago and that was the extent of my crocheting skills.  So I went back and learned enough of the basics to do a few projects.

 

But then, I wanted to try something that I have always told myself I probably wouldn’t be able to figure out.  Knitting.  I checked out a book from the library and got a bit frustrated.  Then I found a great DVD on knitting from the library and took off from there.

 

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This is the dishcloth I am working on right now.  I love the colors and the texture of this particular yarn a lot.

 

So it has been nice to just put the “to do” list aside and spend time just enjoying simpler things.  We have had plenty of snow around here too, which is always a great reminder to me of the need to slow down.

I hope your new year is starting off well and that you got the chance you needed to reset — for whatever God brings in your life in 2014.