Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Sacred Rest by Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD {Book Review}

My new year started off with new pj's I bought for myself, a special Starbucks tumbler from my brother, and a book to read & review--Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew your Energy, Restore Your Sanity by Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD. I had no idea how much insight, clarity, comfort, assurance, education and challenge I would discover within the pages of this book. Dalton-Smith writes from a place of personal insight; not merely as a physician, but as a woman who has struggled with finding balance in her own life. Dalton-Smith doesn't shy away from the fact she is a Christian, and she shares Biblical truths that have strengthened her. It is clear she desires for her book and God's words to bring strength and encouragement to others as well.

The book begins by defining rest, and also showing specific areas where our rest can be found (and also depleted). Answering some questions lets the reader discover his or her own key area. Each detailed chapter brings great insight and understanding. As the book progresses, the reader discovers how various things are gifts to our bodies, minds, and emotions. By accepting those gifts (boundaries, reflection, art, & faith to name a few), it opens wide the realization that we can choose our best life. I have already recommended this book to the women in my small group, and I pray it is a book that will be a life-changer for many people.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.

About the book:

Staying busy is easy. Staying well rested- there's a challenge.
How can you keep your energy, happiness, creativity, and relationships fresh and thriving in the midst of never-ending family demands, career pressures, and the stress of everyday life? In Sacred Rest, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a board-certified internal medicine doctor, reveals why rest can no longer remain optional.
Dr. Dalton-Smith shares seven types of rest she has found lacking in the lives of those she encounters in her clinical practice and research-physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, sensory, social, creative-and why a deficiency in any one of these types of rest can have unfavorable effects on your health, happiness, relationships, creativity, and productivity. Sacred Rest combines the science of rest, the spirituality of rest, the gifts of rest, and the resulting fruit of rest. It shows rest as something sacred, valuable, and worthy of our respect.
By combining scientific research with personal stories, spiritual insight, and practical next steps, Sacred Rest gives the weary permission to embrace rest, set boundaries, and seek sanctuary without any guilt, shame, or fear.

About the author:

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is an author, speaker, and board-certified physician. She has an active medical practice in Alabama (near the Birmingham area). She received her B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of Georgia, and graduated with honors from Meharry Medical College in Nashville. She has been an adjunct faculty member at Baker College and Davenport University in Michigan teaching courses on health, nutrition, and disease progression. Dr. Dalton-Smith is a national and international media resource on the mind, body, spirit connection and has been featured in Women's Day, Redbook, and First For Women magazine. She is the author of "Set Free to Live" and "Come Empty" (winner 2016 Golden Scroll Nonfiction Book of the Year and 2016 Illumination Award Gold medalist). She is a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Association and a repeat keynote speaker at their annual gathering. She has shared her tips on merging faith and medicine with over 16,000 health care professionals to encourage the current and next generation of doctors to treat the whole person.
Find out more about Saundra at

Friday, December 22, 2017

Imperfect Justice {Book Review}

Imperfect Justice is a fantastic legal thriller. The storyline builds its complexity from a very common yet very rarely explored topic--domestic violence. The storyline sets up when attorney Emilie Wesley is trying to help Kaylene Adams leave her abusive husband....but who exactly is the victim & who is the perpetrator when Kaylene appears to have killed her daughter & then committed suicide? 

Emilie struggles with what her role is in the situation, and her feelings become even more mixed when her boss tells her to stay out of the investigation while Kaylene's brother Reid asks Emilie for help in proving Kaylene didn't commit suicide or murder. 

The character development is pretty solid, and the additional tension that comes from the undercurrent of minor storylines adds depth to the book, too. This was an enjoyable, quick read (if you get the chance to sit and read it in a couple of sittings!) & I look forward to reading more books by Cara Putman. **Note: this is the second book in the series. I haven't read the first book, but plan to go read it and can also say the book I just read stands alone nicely.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*

Imperfect Justice (Thomas Nelson, December 2017)
The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . . can they?
To the world it seems obvious: Kaylene Adams killed her daughter and then was shot by police. Attorney Emilie Wesley knows a different story: Kaylene would never hurt anyone and was looking for a way out of a controlling, abusive relationship. Her death shakes Emilie’s belief that she can make a difference for women in violent marriages. Self-doubt plagues her as she struggles to continue her work in the wake of the tragedy.
Reid Billings thought he knew his sister—right up until he learned how she died. He discovers a letter from Kaylene begging him to fight for custody of her daughters if anything should happen to her. No attorney in her right mind would support an uncle instead of the father in a custody case, but Kaylene’s letter claims Emilie Wesley will help him.
Thrown together in a race to save Kaylene’s surviving daughter, Emily and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. If they can hang on to hope together, can they save a young girl—and find a future for themselves in the process?

Cara PutmanCara Putman is the author of more than 25 legal thrillers, historical romances, and romantic suspense novels. She has won or been a finalist for honors including the ACFW Book of the Year and the Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. Cara graduated high school at 16, college at 20, completed her law degree at 27, and recently received her MBA. She is a practicing attorney, teaches undergraduate and graduate law courses at a Big Ten business school, and is a homeschooling mom of four. She lives with her husband and children in Indiana.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Wonderful Story Bible!

As a mom of 6, a children's ministry volunteer for most of my teen, college, & early married years, followed by 14 years (and counting) of vocational children's ministry, I have owned and read many children's devotionals. The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible has just become my favorite story Bible for young children--if I could give it more than 5 stars, I absolutely would do so. The illustrations are large, with a bright color palette. The stories are simple, yet full of clarity and truth. The stories present God's Word, connect the points to our own lives, and then ask a question making it even more personal for our children. I have really enjoyed reading this to my 5 year old son and 3 year old daughters, and have had our reading match what they have been learning in church. I think slightly older children will really enjoy reading this on their own, too, as the typeset is big enough for a grade schooler to see and understand. If you are looking for a great Christmas, birthday, or child dedication gift, I highly recommend this book.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*

The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible(New Growth Press, November 2017)
How do you explain the gospel to toddlers and preschoolers?
Often adults are stumped, but Jared Kennedy’s focus on the promises of God makes the gospel come alive to the littlest hearts. Through fifty-two Old and New Testament stories, The Beginner’s Gospel Story Biblehighlights God’s perfect promises. Every page pops with bright colors, playful illustrations, fun learning opportunities, and, best of all each story points children to Jesus.
Kids know the value of a promise. Through the gospel, our good and all-powerful God keeps his word and fulfills his promises to us better than we could have ever thought or imagined!
In The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible, author Jared Kennedy traces God’s perfect promises through fifty-two Old and New Testament stories, retold in simple and compelling ways with toddlers and preschoolers in mind. Each gospel-centered story highlights God’s tale of redemption through Jesus and the unexpected and surprising ways that God’s grace and mercy are revealed throughout the Bible. Children will hear the good news of God’s love for them clearly expressed in ways that will speak to their young hearts. Brightly colored illustrations highlight the stories and add fun teaching elements of counting, opposites, patterns, and object recognition to keep even the youngest child’s attention. Every story also ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to further reinforce the message.
Through reading this book one chapter at a time to your children—or letting them read it to you!—even the youngest kids will come to know that God’s promises are especially for them, and that God always keeps his promises.
Jared KennedyJared Kennedy, MDiv, ThM, is the husband to Megan and the father of three girls—Rachael, Lucy, and Elisabeth. He serves as Pastor of Families at Sojourn Community Church—Midtown in Louisville, KY and as children’s ministry strategist for Sojourn Network. He blogs regularly at and is also the coauthor of "Leadership Mosaic" and two VBS programs, "Proof Pirates" and "Clap Your Hands," "Stomp Your Feet."

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Woman Overwhelmed {Book Review}

This book is a light-hearted yet thought-provoking women's devotional/autobiographical/study. I think it would be a great book for new Christians or women who are still trying to figure out what a relationship with a personal God looks like. It's also a nice book for the 'seasoned' Christian, as it provides a refreshing and fun look at insights that too often fall into a rote 'Christianese'. I enjoyed having someone so honestly discuss life as an overwhelmed woman and what it means to turn that over in total surrender to being filled by God and allowing him to have your complete heart.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*

A Woman Overwhelmed: Finding God in the Messes of Life (Abingdon Press, August 2017)
“A Woman Overwhelmed” is a phrase with which many women can relate.
But what would happen if we could see the insanity in our pace and embrace our overwhelming God?
There is a reason they say that a woman’s work is never done— because it isn’t! As women, we often are overwhelmed by the demands and circumstances of life, resulting in stress, fear, worry, impatience, fatigue, frustration, and even depression. The truth is that we were created to be overwhelmed . . . not by life but by God! When we learn to be overwhelmed by God, the fruit in our lives goes from rotten to fragrant—filling our days with peace, hope, love, and joy.
In A Woman Overwhelmed, best-selling author Hayley DiMarco shares biblical insights and personal stories to offer a glimpse at the comedy of an overwhelmed life while encouraging us to discover the depths and heights of God’s love and power.
Be empowered to find freedom in becoming overwhelmed with who God is—by learning to focus on what we know about God so that we can hold onto faith even when it seems that all is lost. For it is when an overwhelmed woman gives up the mission of me and exchanges it for the mission of God that being overwhelmed becomes a good thing.
Choose to bask in the abundance of the Father instead of the abundance of life as his unfathomable depths can surely replace our fathomable messes.
Hayley DiMarcoHayley DiMarco is the best-selling author of more than 40 books, including multiple books in the God Girl line, "The Fruitful Wife," "Obsessed," "Die Young" and "Own It." As the founder of Hungry Planet, a company intensely focused on feeding the world's appetite for truth, DiMarco speaks regularly for women’s groups and events, including Women of Faith, dotMOM, Precept National Women’s Convention and MOPS International. Hayley and her pastor husband, Michael, live outside Nashville with their daughter and four dogs.

The Gift-another great book by Shelley Shepard Gray {The Amish of Hart County book 3}

The Amish of Hart County series continues to be a winner for both Gray as well as her readers. Even though this is a series, each book stands very much on its own; The Gift is no exception, as anyone could read this and be fully drawn into the storyline without any confusion or missing information. The Gift is great in the way it looks at how finances and hardships affect even the Amish. The main storyline revolves around the Vance family, who had to sell their beloved farm, and the Schwartz family, who was able to buy the farm at a very reduced price. One family feels they have lost everything, the other feels they have gained the world. The complexities of the novel take place when the reader sees how the children within each family--specifically Neil Vance and Susanna Schwartz--are affected by the hurt, confusion, jealousy, and rejection that surround the farm transitioning from one family to the other. The tension increases when misfortune & accidents keep befalling Susanna and her family. The plot continues to weave through the various aspects of Neil & Susanna's relationship, has very solid secondary characters, and keeps the antagonist a secret until the very end of the novel. It's a wonderful novel, and I look forward to book number four!

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*

The Gift: The Amish of Hart County(Avon Inspire, November 2017)
A special Christmas story about love and blessings in the next book in the Amish of Hart County series
The Schwartz family is happy to be spending Christmas on their new farm in Hart County. But when Susanna Schwartz hears gunshots that causes her buggy to overturn, and then her little sister falls through a wooden bridge into the icy creek, it becomes clear from these dangerous “accidents” that someone wants them gone.
Neil Vance has been heartbroken ever since his parents lost their family farm. He knows it’s not the Schwartz family’s fault, but he can’t help but be resentful. Until he meets Susanna. She is kind-hearted and bold, and Neil can’t stop thinking about her pretty green eyes.
Neil thinks the accidents are just that, but Susanna’s father is convinced the Vance family is responsible. Susanna refuses to believe Neil would do anything to harm her. She’s fallen in love with him and knows he is a good man. But her family is ready to pack up and move, and time is running out to uncover the truth before someone gets hurt . . . or worse.
Shelley Shepard GrayShelley Shepard Gray is a "New York Times" and "USA Today" bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A very wonderful mystery novel {Murder in Disguise Book Review}

Murder in Disguise is the 3rd novel in the series, and I can say it's truly fantastic & stands alone because I have yet to read the first two novels in the series. In fact, this is the first book by Donn Taylor that I have ever read. It was clear that I was missing some info that would've provided more depth and detail to the key characters, but rather than making me disappointed in what I was reading, it has me planning to go back and read the first two novels because I really enjoyed protagonist Preston Barclay.

Preston Barclay is a 'quirky' character; he reminded me of my junior high & high school days of reading Agatha Christie and being totally amused and impressed by Hercule Poirot & Miss Marple. Preston is a protagonist who is brilliant and yet so unassuming, and most people upon first meeting him would consider this college professor to be a fuddy-duddy, when he is actually a very calculated, insightful, strong & smart man. My biggest difficulty in getting into this novel is the fact that various music will run through Preston's mind when goes about his day--the music displays his subconscious, from how he views people to the mood of his day. After a couple of chapters I got used to it and was able to more easily focus on the storyline. I liked how Preston is looking deeper into the supposed suicide of a friend. The plot and characters are very well developed, and the layers of conflicts, mystery, danger and protagonist v antagonist carry until the very last page of the book. 

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*

Murder in Disguise (Lamplighter Mysteries, October 2017)
Official verdict: Suicide. 
But why would that vigorous department chairman kill himself? To avoid disgrace? Those rumored ventures on the dark side? Some other secret life? Visiting professor Preston Barclay wonders. But his questions bring no answers, only anonymous threats. He has enough problems already, proving himself on a strange campus while radical faculty do all they can to undermine him. Worse yet, that sexy siren assigned as his assistant complicates his courtship of the beautiful Mara Thorn.
While Press keeps asking questions, Mara’s research reveals a cancer of criminal activity that permeates the community and even the campus itself. The more Press questions, the more dangerous the threats against him become, and the more determined he grows to clear his friend’s name.
But can Press and Mara’s stumbling efforts prevail against the entrenched forces of the police, the campus radicals, and an unseen but powerful criminal organization that increasingly puts their lives in danger…?
Donn TaylorWith a PhD in English literature (Renaissance), Donn Taylor taught literature for 18 years at two liberal arts colleges. Now retired, he has published suspense novels, mysteries, and poetry. His historical novel "Lightning on a Quiet Night" was a finalist for the 2015 Selah Awards. He is a frequent speaker at writers' conferences. In a prior incarnation, he led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. He now lives in the woods near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.

Counseling Under the Cross {Book Review}

Counseling Under the Cross: How Martin Luther Applied the Gospel to Daily Life is a great resource for true Biblical Counseling. The book itself is a blend of the life of Luther & provides a historical account of the man himself. It then looks at him in a more personal way, showing the what/how/why he utilized the Bible and its truths to make the Bible the key resource in counseling others. I enjoyed both the history as well as the applicable insight that is still quite relevant today.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to write a positive review.*

Counseling Under the Cross: How Martin Luther Applied the Gospel to Daily Life (New Growth Press, September 2017)
Martin Luther not only reformed theology, but his understanding of the gospel revolutionized soul care.
In Counseling Under the Cross, biblical counselor and noted author Bob Kellemen explains how Martin Luther’s gospel-centered and cross-focused pastoral care transformed his own approach to soul care.
As Kellemen mines Luther’s own writings and other first hand accounts, readers will gain a new understanding of how Luther richly, relevantly, robustly, and relationally applied the gospel to suffering, sin, sanctification, and our search for peace with God. Counseling Under the Crosswill guide pastors, counselors, lay leaders, and friends toward a rich understanding of the gospel that will directly impact their personal ministry to others.
Through lively vignettes, real-life stories, and direct quotes from Luther, readers will be equipped to apply the gospel to themselves and others so together they find their hope and help in Christ alone.

Bob KellemenRobert W. Kellemen, PhD, is the Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Chair of the Biblical Counseling Department at Crossroads Bible College and the founder and CEO of RPM Ministries. He is also the author of many books, including "Gospel-Centered Counseling" and "Gospel Conversations." Bob and his wife Shirley have two children and two grandchildren.