Saturday, November 18, 2017

Book Review: A Plain Leaving




I could start this book review nearly the same as I did my last book review: A young Amishwoman fled home after a tragic misunderstanding and went to live far away as an Englisher. After 3 years, she learns of her father's death. Jessica returns home to face her past, and ends up looking forward to her future. 

I enjoyed this book much more than the last one I reviewed. The modern day story is set up against another story from 1777, and I love it when two good stories are woven together! I kept wondering, "How is this going to end?? I hope so-and-so ends up with so-and-so!... Oh please, don't do THAT!"

Needless to say, I got involved in the story and thoroughly enjoyed the tale! Oh and there's good news: This is part 1 in a series!

You may learn more about the author HERE.   


I received this book from Bethany House for this review.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Book Review: The Proving




A young Amishwoman fled home after a tragic misunderstanding and went to live far away as an Englisher. After 5 years, she learns her mother has died, leaving her to run the family's bed and breakfast. Amanda Deinner must first run the inn successfully for 12 months if she is to inherit the property. Amanda returns home to face her past, and ends up looking forward to her future. 

This is a great Saturday read! Interesting, lots of little twists and turns, and a happy ending. One of those rainy day, poolside, or sick day books that are quick to pick up and spend some time on. A happy book, you might say. 

You may learn more about the author HERE.  


I received this book from Bethany House for this review.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Book Review: Good Night Tales


"Do you remember a time when kings ruled the forest? When the wilderness was not its own, and the mountains were reverent?... Every king in the land was powerful, but only one was glorious. His name was so pure that no creature or tree dared to pronounce it..."

So begins the fist story in Good Night Tales, a collection of fairy tales based on the Bible. 

We loved this book so much! Each story includes the Scripture reference upon which it is based and a series of questions (at the back of the book) to discuss the story. For many evenings we snuggled on the couch, read our story, and discussed the contents. 



The stories are well written, and drew my husband and me in as much as they did the children. The illustrations are beautiful. This is an all around excellent story book/devotional!!

To learn more about the author, click HERE

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Start Where You Are: Week-at-a-glance Diary Revie






This planner is a simple and functional yet pretty option for jotting down your daily to-dos and schedule. The first main section of the book is a row of boxes for January through December, so you can plan "big" things you need to remember.



At the front of each monthly section, is a two-page spread with an inspirational quote, a box for goals, a checklist of important dates, and a half page for notes.



For each weekday there is an unlined box with the day of the week and a line for you to write in the date. You can also circle the month at the top of the page.



At the end of the book are some reference pages: World time zones and international calling codes, Conversion factors, phonetic alphabet, wedding anniversaries, roman numerals, birthdays, and contacts.

Overall, I really like this as a daily planner! It's small enough to slip into most purses, and yet has plenty of writing room inside it. The one downside: There are no monthly calendars, and I like to see my month at a glance!

But overall, an inexpensive, pretty little book that ought to work for most people.


I received this planner from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Glam Bags and Birchboxes: October 2017

October is the month where, here in the south, we begin to get a reprieve from the hot days of summer. It's not exactly COOL, but it's not HOT either. There have only been a few days in the 90's, and some days only make it up to the 70's! 

October is also the second month for me to try Birchbox and Ipsy to compare for you. As in last month, there is once again a clear winner in my book. 

Here is my comparison of Birchbox and Ipsy for October. 

Here's what I got in my October Birchbox:

I received
-Oai Rose hair and body oil (smells good, looks great on legs but makes hair look greasy)
-Clarins Multi-Active night cream (smells nice, tiny sample)
-Lipstick Queen lip liner in Nude (I used this with lip gloss on top, and got complimented on the color!)
-Eyeko Skinny Eyeliner (I like how smoothly this goes on! Easy to use, and lasts well)
-Davines LOVE smoothing shampoo (I like how thick the formula is, but it seems to dry out my hair)

I also received two foil packet samples to try:
-Clarins Double serum complete age control concentrate (Yeah... pretty useless stuff... I imagine I'd have to use it regularly before I see if it knocks off a couple decades and makes me look like a 10 year old...)
-Davines LOVE smoothing conditioner (Thick like mud, which is nice to apply, but seemed to dry my hair)

I think this month's box was even worse than last month's. Though I don't usually use lip liner or black eyeliner, I can use it occasionally. The other samples are either too tiny to be of use or things that I just don't care for. I edited my Birchbox profile to say that I'm only 20, so hopefully I won't get so many anti aging things next time! 





Here's what I got in my October Ipsy:

I received
-tarte deluxe lights, camera, action 4-in-1 mascara (I love mascaras!)
-Cute balms vanilla lip balm (smells amazing and it really is cute! This went straight into my purse!)
-Urban Decay 24/7 glide on eye pencil in perversion (For the first time, I was easily able to accomplish the "cat eye!" Unfortunately, this rubs off easily and makes you look like you have a black eye if you accidentally rub your eyes)
-MDM Flow matte lipstick in Retro (This is a pretty pink color, but the lipstick stinks and is sticky)
-Nail Medic charcoal infused nail polish in Lava (This is a nice mild lavender/grey color). 
-Makeup bag (Deep red with a lacy pattern and an adorable bat zipper pull!)

This month there were 3 full sized products once again, and 2 large sample products! The bag is also amazing, and I will use every product, so once again Ipsy is the clear winner over the two subscriptions! 






If you would like to join in the fun, you can look into Ipsy by clicking HERE, or into Birchbox by clicking HERE. Have fun!

Have you ever tried Ipsy or Birchbox? Which is your favorite? 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Glam Bags and Birchboxes: September 2017

Last month, a friend of mine introduced me to Birchbox. It's a monthly subscription for $10 where you get 5 beauty samples in a pretty box. I have often complained that I don't know how to "do" makeup... I don't want to spend $20 on some product that I may or may not like, only to (maybe) have to throw it out if it doesn't work! So now I am able to try products for $10 a month, and if they're duds, I'll know not to invest, and if they work well, I can purchase full size! (and, knowing me, probably in a cheaper brand!). 

Here's what I got my first month, in August:

I received
-Dry shampoo (dud)
-Mud mask (fun/not necessary)
-Blush/bronzer duo (okay)
-Liquid lipstick (win)
-Day cream (win)


Overall, I was pleased with my subscription, so I decided to keep going. I also decided to add Ipsy, another $10 monthly subscription box, because Ipsy provides more makeup whereas Birchbox provides more skincare products. 

Here is my comparison of Birchbox and Ipsy for September. 

Here's what I got in my September Birchbox:

I received
-Spray in conditioner (haven't tried yet... meh)
-Makeup remover (can't I just use my usual facial cleanser?... meh)
-Anti-aging serum (do I really need this? dud)
-Lip mask (fun to do, didn't see any real results)
-Strobing stick (was broken upon opening, made my face look greasy)

All of the samples in this box are tiny, except for the strobing stick, which is full sized. Overall, this box was a big DUD, but I'll keep up because last month's was great!





Here's what I got in my September Ipsy:

I received
-TWO face masks (so fun and they felt good!)
-Nail polish (Fun! I had a nail salon party with my girls!)
-Primer (I don't really get the point of this... it didn't seem to do much)
-Blush (Looks good on me!)
-Liquid lipstick (Yay! what a pretty color!)
-Makeup bag (in faux leather and a nice satin lining, great quality!)

This month there were 3 full sized products, 1 large sample (2 masks), and only 1 small item. There was also the bag. I enjoyed and will use all the products, so this bag was a very big WIN in my book!




(Here's a closeup of the lining on the bag)


If you would like to join in the fun, you can look into Ipsy by clicking HERE, or into Birchbox by clicking HERE. Have fun!


Monday, August 28, 2017

Game Review: Deal or Duel

Welcome to my very first game review! As the back of the box explains, "In the face of the political instability and financial turmoil of the American Revolution, only one individual always came out on top: ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Pit your survival instincts and spending savvy against all the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) in this historical action card game whose simple objective is as old as Ameritocracy itself: get all the money or die trying."

The game can be played by 2-6 players, so my husband and I began a game one night once the kids were in bed.


It took about 15 minutes to set the game up for the first time, since the instruction booklet is long and very descriptive. The game is refreshingly complex. Each person starts the game with $150 and 9 historical people on their "team." There are two ways to win: Get $1,000 OR be the last man standing by knocking out your opponents' people.

We had only a couple of hang ups:

-We found some dead ends that weren't explained in the game. Like, "What do you do when it's your turn but none of your cards are playable?" But we took up the challenge, and invented new rules whenever we hit a dead end.

-The game seems like it would be MUCH better with more than two players. Some of the cards were pretty useless for a two player game. But that's okay; we're planning to get together with friends to play soon, and then I will be able to post an updated review!

Definitely a play again soon game!!


I received this game from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Book Review: Egypt's Sister



Alexandria, 79 B.C. Young Cleopatra is enjoying palace life with her best friend, Chava. Chava remains faithful to her as she ascends to the throne. But when Cleopatra begins to taste power, she also betrays Chava. Chava becomes a slave, travels to Rome, and must fight to survive. 

I don't want to say much more about the plot in this review (because I hope you'll go read it for yourself!), but this is an excellent book! The author did a lot of research and took great care to ensure the book is historically accurate. Chava is a fictional character, but in the novel we meet Cleopatra, the Ptolemies, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and many other real characters. The setting is also well described, with a background of geography, ship life, and class: slaves, freemen, and royalty. Overall a wonderful book about the "silent years" between the Old Testament and the New Testament. 

You may learn more about the author HERE.  


I received this book from Bethany House for this review.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Book Review: Almost There


Life is full of transition. Parts of "Home" might be ripped away at any time. People die, people move, relationships become fractured. We desire to have deep roots, but we are often uprooted. Even when we physically stay where we are, we are often unsatisfied, longing for something more. Author Bekah DiFelice and her husband have moved a lot. They get it. And Bekah writes to remind us that we are not rootless; we are rooted in an unchangeable God. He alone can quiet our restless hearts and become our true Home.

I've lived in 8 states and 5 countries, so the themes in this book resonate deeply with me. I felt like I could have written this book. Not the specifics, but the heart. God has shown me that He is my Home; that I am able to be content when my roots grow deep in Him. And so this book was a confirmation of sorts, a lovely book to ruminate over, to remind me of what's most important.

To learn more about the author, click HERE

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.

Book Review: Hope for the Same-Sex Attracted



Our culture has undergone massive changes in how it perceives homosexuality. Author Ron Citlau attempts to answer two fundamental questions: "How can someone with same-sex attraction be faithful to Jesus? And how can everyone else support and encourage them in this pursuit?" He does this by first identifying obstacles that must be overcome (such as, "the obstacle of gay marriage,") and then by sharing several gifts available (such as "the gift of the Church.")

The author himself once identified as gay, and therefore lends an excellent perspective on the issue at hand. I appreciate how he approaches the issue, often communicating that we ought not take HIS word for the things he says, but we must test his words, read the Bible, and search things out for ourselves. Overall I think this is a thoughtful, loving response to a difficult matter in our Church.

You may learn more about the author HERE


I received this book from Bethany House for this review.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review: Bible Sleuth, New Testament



Did you ever look at the Where's Waldo books? This book is a LOT like those books, except with Bible stories! This version (New Testament) starts with the Birth of Jesus and a busy Bethlehem scene and ends with the story of the crowd of people praising God in heaven. Here is what it says on the page about Jesus' birth: When Mary was expecting Baby Jesus, Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to register in the census. There was no place to stay for the night, so they slept in a stable. That night, Jesus was born. Some shepherds, who were watching their sheep nearby, saw a choir of angels singing, and the angels told them the Savior of the world had been born. The shepherds hurried away and found Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus in the stable, and they worshiped God... See Luke 2:1-20. In the Bethlehem scene, you can find Mary and Joseph, Baby Jesus, the shepherds, and a host of other villagers and animals!

This book is so much fun, my kids have been fighting over it! My 8 year old just said, "Can I read all of it?" I suppose that's the extent of this review: This book is awesome, colorful, fun, and educational!


I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.

Book Review: The Ragamuffin Gospel



What is grace? I've learned that it is "unmerited favor from God." But do we really believe it? Do we really believe in a God of grace? This book is about how we are "ragamuffins." We are ignorant, dirty, sinful creatures who do not deserve what God lavishes on us. Brennan Manning says, This is the God of the gospel of grace. A God who, out of love for us, sent the only Son He ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for His milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross, and died whispering forgiveness on us all. This is the Gospel, the Good News, for ragamuffins like you and me.

I read this book in a season when I needed to hear it. Most Christians know that the Gospel is for sinners, but a lot of Christians like to forget that they are STILL sinners. We like to think that we've gotten better than that. (And then, in moments of weakness, we come close to despair, for we see then that we can never measure up to God's glory.) This book is about the Ragamuffin Gospel. The Ragamuffin Gospel is for all of us, all the time. And that's some pretty good news!

To learn more about the author, click HERE

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Book Review: The Ebb Tide



Sallie Riehl is a young Amish woman who dreams of traveling. She is saving up her money for a trip to Australia before her baptism, before she has to settle down to a typical Amish life. However, her trip falls through, and she accepts an opportunity to work as a nanny for a family in Cape May, by the ocean. Her wonderful summer is made suddenly confusing when she meets a young Mennonite man. 

This is a sweet, light read by Beverly Lewis. I've always enjoyed her Amish fiction. The characters have realistic struggles and interpersonal issues, there is excitement and a bit of intrigue, and there is always a happily ever after. This book is great if you want to disappear into a good story for a day or two!

You may learn more about the author HERE


I received this book from Bethany House for this review.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Secret to Making Your Routine Work



Yesterday was a better day than today.  I wrote an article about Taming the Chaos: 5 Principles for Creating an Effective Routine. And then today I realized that I actually listed SIX principles, and no one noticed. (Or maybe they noticed, but never told me.)

It was one of many things that went "wrong" today. I didn't feel like getting up this morning. I was lazy. I got on the computer and scrolled (1,000 pageviews on my article! Wow!). I didn't get up to fix breakfast until after 8:30. We didn't eat until 9. We DID do school... thankfully it was a light day and we were finished by lunch time.

But I didn't clean my kitchen. And I didn't do any chores, even though the bathrooms need cleaning and I really ought to go to the store at some point and pick up some things.

I'm not sick, I'm not overly tired, I'm not unhappy... I'm just... bored. And lazy.


That article I wrote yesterday? It's all good on my motivated days. But what about my unmotivated days? How do I get up and keep going when I just... don't wanna? 

Some days I still don't know the answer to that question. 

Some days I just wallow. I wallow in the laziness, in the sense of my own inadequacy, in the tinge of guilt that I feel for not doing "more." 

But you know what? 

Some days I NEED to stop and rest, and the guilt is misplaced. 

But other days I'm just being lazy, and I ought to get up and move. 

I just have a hard time sometimes figuring out which day is which. 

But I have something good to say!


Now, stick with me here. Don't let your eyes glaze over because you've heard this so many times. Just slow down a bit and let it soak in:

Even when I'm at my worst, Jesus loves me. 

In fact, He knew I would be this miserable person who keeps getting new chances and messing them up, and yet He loved me anyway. (See Romans 5:8!)

Here is the beautiful paradox:

-Jesus, blameless and pure, loved me and took my sin and my wretchedness upon Himself and allowed Himself to receive my judgement. (1 Pet 2:24)

-Now, because Christ took my place, when God looks at me, I am blameless and pure. I am loved and made able to love others, without a speck of wretchedness remaining. (2 Cor 5:21)

You see, when I get stuck in myself, focused on me and all my problems, it's really hard to get out of that place. But when I stop and look at Him, I get pulled out of myself and am free to be me. 


I am so not able, folks. He makes my heart to beat and His Spirit breathes life into my lungs. He has given me my precious children and He alone gives me the strength to keep going on the days I just don't wanna. 


"I have learned the secret of contentment in any and every circumstance. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." 



Monday, May 8, 2017

Taming the Chaos: 6 Principles for Creating an Effective Routine

When I first became a mom, I didn't have much of a plan at all. But as more children joined our family, I began to get overwhelmed. I realized that we NEEDED some structure to our days! Our home is busy!

I mean, look! At meal times I feel like a cafeteria worker!



But as I began to try to figure out a routine, I have had a hard time coming up with a routine that works for us. I have read books, researched articles, and interviewed other mamas.

Here are the 6 things I've learned:

1. My routine will not look like anyone else's. 

When I first started researching how to "do" life with my kids, I had a hard time finding an example that was PERFECT for my family. Probably because no one's family is exactly like mine!

Here's my life: My husband and I have been preparing to be missionaries. I do not work outside the home. I have 5 children 7 and under, and we homeschool. My hobbies are writing, reading, and watching movies (also Facebooking). For exercise I do yoga and go for long walks.

Whose life is exactly like mine?

(*crickets*)

At the end of this blog post, you will find my current routine. But DON'T try to follow it exactly! Your home, your family, and your LIFE are all different than mine!

When you are trying to formulate your own routine, it can be frustrating that you can't have an easy answer. But it can also be freeing: You don't have to be tied down to someone else's routine! You can find what works for YOU and run with it!

2. The most effective routine removes the extras and sticks with what is best. 

I used to imagine a PERFECT schedule. The morning looked something like this:

6:15- Wake up, make bed, prayer time
6:30- Read Bible
7:00- Do yoga
7:30- Wake kids up, fix eggs and toast
8:00- Eat breakfast while we listen to classical music and read poetry

Let's stop right there. 

Can anyone else see the problem with this picture of perfection? Actual day may run like this:

6:15- Reset alarm because I'm tired
6:45- Go yell at kids because they're fighting and I'm trying to sleep
7:00- Drag myself out of bed and open Bible, but get interrupted by child in poopy diaper
7:05- Open Bible again, but get interrupted by kids who are "starving." Try to read again, but then kids says baby's poop came out of diaper in bed. Change sheets. Yell at kids. Feel guilty for not reading Bible
8:00- Stare at the pots crowding the counters, realize we're out of eggs and milk, and give each kid a tortilla for breakfast
8:15- Cry

.........

You know, all those things were GOOD things to do. Getting up earlier, Bible reading, etc. But they weren't right for MY life with MY kids. I was trying to cram in too much "goodness" and it ended up being a miserable failure!

Another thing is that for ME, the clock is NOT my friend. I need a morning routine that looks more like this (in fact, this IS my current morning routine):

7ish (no alarm): Wake up, do yoga/prayer time (when kids poke their heads out of door remind them they may come out at 7:30)
7:30- kids wander in and watch if I'm not finished yet, then we move on to couch time
(whenever)- I sit on couch and tell the olders to get dressed while I snuggle the kids one at a time and change and dress the youngers
(whenever)- I fix breakfast and then we do our morning chores (more on this later)

We're usually done with all that by 8:30 or 9!

Do you see? I have what is MOST important to ME in this season of my life, which is starting with exercise, time to snuggle the kids, no clock to watch, and a focus on chore training. 

All those extras: Reading my Bible in the morning, poetry, music, cooking a nice breakfast... those may work out better for me in ANOTHER season. 

3. A routine will only work if I am willing to work.

I hate this one. I WISH a routine were a magical thing that just flew into my life like Mary Poppins come to make my life beautiful, but it's not like that. I have to be the grown up. I have to be diligent.

 I have to discipline myself. There is no one else to do it. 

I used to spend hours planning, but very little time actually working. Proverbs 14:23 says, "There is profit in all hard work, but endless talk leads only to poverty." 

Ouch. That's so me, so much of the time!

Here's another verse that stings: Proverbs 13:4: "The slacker craves, but has nothing, but the diligent is fully satisfied." 

Hard work brings great reward. 

HOWEVER, that leads me to my next point: 

4. A daily rest period is a life saver

We can get so caught up in hard work, that we forget to rest. Work and rest are equally important. BOTH are vital to a successful routine.

The way I incorporate rest into my routine is by having a 2 hour rest period every day after lunch. We call it "nap time." It's nap time right now at our house, and the silence is blissful! The baby is asleep in my room. The 2 and 3 year olds are napping in a bedroom. The 5 year old is playing quietly in another bedroom. The 7 year old is reading books in the living room. And after I finish writing this, I'm going to go doze for a half hour.

Doesn't that sound wonderful!?

I can do whatever I want for 2 hours, but I'm not allowed to do anything I don't enjoy. I must rest. I also have a "no work after dinner dishes are done" policy, and a "Saturdays are usually unscheduled" policy. Of course, these "policies" get broken occasionally for something important, but we try to maintain the seasons of rest.

In fact, did you ever stop to think that the first FULL day that Adam and Eve were on the earth was a day of rest? God intended that they rest so that they could work. We often get it backwards: "I have to work hard SO THAT I may rest." But God's design is different: "I have to rest SO THAT I may work."

 Because we were created to work. We find our greatest fulfillment in work. 

Teach that to your children and their lives will be easier.

5. Once I get used to working and resting, the routine will run itself

This is the point where I was pleasantly surprised. Once I got used to regular periods of work and rest, the routine kicked in. My kids knew what to expect, and they were happier and more ready to comply with the next thing on our schedule. I knew that nap time was coming. And as time went on, we could do our routine without really thinking about it.

You just have to buckle down and work hard for a few weeks (or months) before you see the fruit of your efforts.

6. My routine will constantly change (and I need to be okay with it). 

This one stinks. I wish I could have ONE routine that works for ALL TIMES. If I could come up with ONE perfect routine, I'd be rich! But there are many things that can throw off my routine. 

Here are some:

-Baby stops morning nap
-Toddler potty training
-Rebellious child who keeps defying me every step of the way
-Adding a new child in school
-Illness

See? Things keep changing. There are many seasons in life. 

So I have to be flexible enough to change my routine when it needs to be changed.

If you need more help, here is The Secret to Making Your Routine Work

"So, what IS your routine like?"

I'm so glad you asked! Here's what our basic routine looks like:

1. Early Morning Routine (starting 6:30 or 7ish)
-Get out of bed, get dressed, do yoga and prayer and read Bible if there is time

2. Morning Routine
-Get everyone dressed, prepare and eat breakfast
-Table Chores (*)
-School time

3. Afternoon Routine
-Stop school and eat lunch at 12
-Table chores
-Nap at 1
-Laundry time while we watch a show (kids help fold)
-Finish school (if not finished yet)
-Go outside (if time and weather is nice)

4. Evening Routine
-Prepare and eat dinner (timed to when hubby gets home)
-Table chores
-Free/family time
-Story time/kids to bed by 8
-Couple time/to bed by 10ish

*Table Chores
-Kids clear and wipe table, sweep, take out trash, pick up toys, and in the morning brush teeth/make bed
-I clean the rest of the kitchen and in the morning start laundry and do at least one chore in my chore rotation

***********************************************************************

Books that have inspired me:








Sunday, May 7, 2017

Book Review: A Note Yet Unsung



The year is 1871. Rebekah Carrington returns to Nashville after spending years training as a master violinist in Vienna. She would love to join the newly formed Nashville Philharmonic, but women are considered "far too fragile and frail" for the hard work of being in an orchestra. As she runs from her difficult past, she finds herself forced to work with the conductor of the Nashville Philharmonic. He would like to earn her friendship, but she is upset by his refusal to let her join the orchestra. 

A Note Yet Unsung is the third book in the Belmont Mansion series. However, I enjoy the fact that each book can stand on its own feet. Each of the books in the series is an enjoyable read. The characters are well developed, the plot is interesting with some good twists, and the ending is satisfying. A great leisure book if you want to stay up late reading!

You may learn more about the author HERE


I received this book from Bethany House for this review.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Book Review: Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn't Give You What You Want.



Ann Swindell tells us the story of the Bleeding Woman, who waited 12 years for her healing. In our own lives, we know that God is good, we know that He is all-powerful... Why doesn't He always act when we know that He could? Sometimes we are called to wait. Swindell encourages all of us who are on our journeys waiting for God to change our circumstances. Waiting can be painful, yet all of us are called to wait on the Lord. 

God certainly has a sense of humor. Just as my husband and I received news that we must continue to wait for something that we have already been waiting for (for too long, we feel!), this book came in the mail! I spent a couple of weeks in this book, and I was encouraged in the middle of my wait. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him." He is working for good, and He uses us as we wait, and some day we will look back and see the whole story and how much better it is this way than the way that we had wanted things to be. We just have to continue to wait on Him... to trust Him while we wait. 


To learn more about the author, click HERE



I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Book Review: The Newcomer



After developing a romance with Bairn during their 10 weeks at sea, Anna steps off into the New World with her Amish church. The church has many more dangers to face in the new land. As they begin their journey to the land they've acquired, Bairn decides to make just one more crossing. A newcomer arrives and joins the church, and Anna is torn between her love for Bairn and this dynamic newcomer.

1. When will I learn to pay attention to the books I select to review? This is book #2 in the series, and I had to spend quite some time trying to figure out who was who and what was what. 

2. This is a good book!! Last night at 11 p.m. I decided to stay up and read "just one more chapter." When I finally put the book down, I had reached the end and it was 1 a.m. Some of the story was predictable, but in a friendly, comfortable way. This is the type of book you read if you want to be entertained and don't want to think too hard. This is the type of book you read if you want to be cheered up by some happy light reading. Exciting story, happy ending!


To learn more about the author, click HERE. 



I received this book from Revell Books for this review.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review: Long Days of Small Things



Motherhood can be demanding. I have 5 small children, and though motherhood is a joy, it can also be very difficult. In her book, Catherine McNiel strives to encourage moms so that they are able to recognize and savor the sacred amidst the mundane parts of life. 

I was so excited about this book! The subject matter is exciting, the title is perfect, the picture on the front is beautiful! But when I opened it and began to read, I was disappointed. Instead of the deep spiritual book I had been hoping for, this book is more shallow. It is more a coffee table book to pick up and browse when you have a few spare minutes. The tidbits of advice are good: pray, love people, read the Bible, etc. But the heart of the message seemed to be based more on "works of righteousness" than on truly resting in Christ to bring about transformation. If I keep trying to "do better" in my own strength, I fail every time. I just wish she had spent less time on what I "ought" to be doing, and more time on what Christ has already done for me. 


To learn more about the author, click HERE.



I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.

Book Review: Life After



A terrorist bombing on a train leaves 22 dead and one survivor. A year after the attack, Autumn is still haunted by survivor's guilt as she scrambles to remember the details of the days surrounding the attack. A widower with two children is haunted by his own grief and guilt. When he and Autumn are suddenly thrown together, they must work through their unique issues as they begin to heal. 

This is a fascinating study of survivor's guilt! The story line is interesting, with a few surprise twists and turns. The characters are nuanced and realistic. As the plot thickens, you may find yourself laughing and crying along with the characters. I cannot think of anything negative about this book, and don't want to say much more, lest I give away too much information! Such a great read!


To learn more about the author, click HERE.





I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book Review: Treasures in Dark Places




I was excited to read this book, hoping to learn more about the ministry of rescuing girls from being trafficked in India. However, I was surprised to learn that this book is more about the author's testimony than about her ministry. Her story is interesting and well written, if a bit more charismatic than I am comfortable with. She tells of how God pursued her and taught her through visions and dreams. Though I do believe God still speaks in these ways, I am hesitant to give God credit for everything I dream. Sometimes they are just myself speaking. 

My favorite part of the book came at the conclusion, when the author finally dedicated a few paragraphs to the importance of her ministry. A story was told of a 7 year old who was tricked into going to a brothel to work, her family having been convinced she was going to a nice boarding school. After a year of surviving as a sex slave, she climbed her 4 story building and jumped off to end her life.  I will leave you with an excerpt so you may better pray. 

Thousands of little girls across north India languish in similar anger, waiting for someone to help them. India has been termed the "poisonous hub" of sex trafficking in Asia.  The Ganges River area alone sees over 25,000 children trafficked annually. One researcher dubbed it the "touchstone of our success or failure in completing the task of world evangelization" with Christians numbering less than 2 percent of burgeoning three hundred million people. 

To learn more about author Leanna Cinquanta and her ministry, click HERE



I received this book from Chosen Books for this review.

Futility

I keep thinking that the things I do have some impact on God's work in my life.

But that's wrong.

No matter what I do, God is still God. He will continue His work, whether I am "good" or "bad."

I cook dinner most nights. Sometimes the 2 year old throws a hissy fit in the hallway next to me. I just continue to work on dinner. Sometimes the 2 year old has dumped the plastic plates and cups out of the cabinet. I just step over the mess and continue to work on dinner. Sometimes the 2 year old is clinging to my legs and singing. I just limp around and continue to work on dinner. I am at work no matter what he does.

In fact the things that I do are quite like the things my son does. They are quite futile.

Here's a definition for you:

fu·tile


ˈfyo͞odl,ˈfyo͞odīl/
adjective
adjective: futile
  1. incapable of producing any useful result; pointless.

    "a futile attempt to keep fans from mounting the stage"

    synonyms:fruitlessvainpointlessuselessineffectualineffectiveinefficacious, to no effect, of no use, in vain, to no avail, unavailing
    unsuccessfulfailed, thwarted; 
    archaicbootless

    "they piled on thousands of sandbags in a futile attempt to hold back the river"
    antonyms:useful

My actions are often futile. And that's REALLY frustrating! But no matter how hard I strive to "do better," my actions remain futile.

Look, I'm not making this up!

"For the creation was subjected to futility--not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it--in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God's children." (Romans 8:20-21)

It's right there in the Bible. Your works are futile. Why do you keep trying so hard??

Paul became exasperated with the Galatians for trying too hard: "You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:1-3)

Listen to me for a moment:

WORKING HARDER DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BETTER CHRISTIAN.

Jesus invites us into a place of rest: "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Besides that, He likes to use our weaknesses for His glory. Did you hear that? He takes all your sins and struggles and problems and uses them for His glory!

"Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us." (2 Corinthians 4:7)

He shines through the cracks in our lives. So cheer up, and don't be afraid of your futility!

But what if we stumble? What if we mess up? What if we say or do the wrong thing?

Well, we probably will. We're doing that already, aren't we? But if we stop trying to proceed in OUR strength and begin to rest in HIM, we will find ourselves stumbling much less. Try it.

What do I mean by rest in Him? Just remember that He loves you. Remember that He loves you when you're being very good, and He loves you when you're being very bad. His grace isn't dependent upon your doing better. He just loves you. Rest in that knowledge. Let it free you to relax in His arms. When you relax and take your eyes off of yourself and your problems, you are free to focus on Him. And as you keep your eyes on Him, He transforms you.

"We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Embrace your futility. It reminds you that you are not God.

(and for further study, check out Romans 8)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: The Mark of the King



In 1719, midwife Julianne is accused of murder when her client dies in childbirth. Julienne becomes a branded prisoner, is forced to marry another convict, and is shipped off to Louisiana colony. Her hope rests in God and in her search to find her brother, who went to Louisiana colony as a soldier years before.

The Mark of the King is a stunning book. The based-in-fact details are often gritty, yet give a fascinating picture of what life was like in France and the Americas in the early 1700s. Author Jocelyn Green quotes historical documents throughout the book, lending credence to the story line. Adventure, love, social class in France, Native American relations, historical hurricanes, faith... this was a book I couldn't put down!

To learn more about the author, click HERE



I received this book from Bethany House for this review.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Book Review: Nothing to Prove


As I read this book, I kept my eye out for a quote to share. Unfortunately, I ended up wanting to quote most of the book, so here I have a book review without a quote.

The first part of the book is called "Our desert of striving," and author Jennie Allen talks about how we continually strive to be "enough." The sad truth though is that we CANNOT achieve the things we pursue. We are not enough, nor can we be.

This would be a hopeless situation, but for God... The second part of the book is called "God's streams of enoughness." Here are the chapter titles for this section:

No Longer Thirsty
No Longer Lonely
No Longer Tired
No Longer Passive
No Longer Afraid
No Longer Ashamed
No Longer Empty

/This book is an excellent read for anyone who is tired of the endless cycle of trying and failing, trying and failing. Our modern Christianity keeps telling us to WORK HARDER and if you're a good enough Christian God will give you the strength to "arrive." But there's a better way.

We don't have to try harder, We don't have to work to be enough. Christ is already enough for all that we need, and that's such a refreshing message for any season of our lives.

To learn more about the author, click HERE.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Book Review: Where Does Love Hide?


"Where does love hide? Behind the door until... I unpack groceries. Do whatever you can to help. Deuteronomy 22:3" 





Your children go through different rooms of the house, to the yard and to the park to discover where love hides in this colorful lift a flap book. My children modeled the book for me, some of them more enthusiastically than the others. 

I'm conflicted about this book. It's definitely bright and colorful, with pretty illustrations. I love the art! And the flaps are fun to lift to see what's underneath them. And the messages are good, with scripture references included. However, I found it to be a bit confusing. What do they mean by "Where does love hide"? The author tries to explain difficult concepts simply, but I'm not sure the question "where does love hide" explains the concepts very well. A child might think that love is hiding behind the door until I unpack groceries... then what, where does the love go when I unpack groceries? Is it gone? The wording is just confusing to me. But overall it's a fun book with a good message. 


To learn more about the author, click HERE



I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers for this review.