Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God's Timeline {Book Review}

It is one thing to read a Christian inspirational work where the author takes her experience, discusses it, and refers to verses from the Bible to strengthen her writings. It is an entirely different level of depth that is found when an author takes experiences & people from the Bible, discusses them, humanifies the person, explains how God grew them and used them, and THEN blends in her own story after having laid down a biblical foundation. Marlo Schalesky accomplished this example of depth in her book, Waiting for Wonder.

Schalesky focuses on Sarah and the way she had to wait not just for a child, but also for the land God had promised. While Schalesky's key focus is Sarah, she also focuses on other biblical characters who learned, grew, and were used by God. The biblical characters (especially Sarah) become even more meaningful when Schalesky presents her personal experiences and relates them back to what God was teaching Sarah. It is a fantastic writing style, and I truly enjoyed this book.

**I received a copy  of the book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to give a positive review.**
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Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God’s Timeline (Abingdon Press, November 2016)
What if, in this waiting, God is calling us to more?
It’s easy to believe God when a promise is new. It’s hard when the years pass and nothing changes. It’s even harder when desperation strikes, your plans backfire, and still God does not fill the emptiness. But what if, in this waiting, God is calling us to more?
Join author Marlo Schalesky on a unique, contemplative journey to reveal the wonder that is often missed when we find ourselves struggling to wait well. Walking through the life of the biblical character Sarah, one who knows what it means to wait, you will discover a glimpse of God’s character that will give you strength to keep hoping and praying for the desires of your heart.
Waiting for Wonder is a journey into the heart of God where you will wrestle with personal questions, think deeply about God’s true character, and learn to appreciate His divine work as you discover your own path to the promised land. Recapture your hope, restore your soul, and renew your vision of a wondrous Savior when you learn to live on God’s time.
Leader guide also available.
Marlo SchaleskyMarlo Schalesky is an award-winning author of ten books, including "Wrestling with Wonder: A Transformational Journey Through the Life of Mary." A regular speaker and columnist, she has also published nearly 1,000 articles in various Christian magazines, including "Focus on the Family," "Today’s Christian Woman," "In Touch," and "Marriage Partnership." Marlo lives with her husband, six young children, nine horses, two dogs, five cats, two parakeets, ten rabbits, two chinchillas, three hamsters, and a bunch of fish in a log home in Salinas, California.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Great Resource as we Pray with Purpose


Intentional prayer--it's a reminder we shouldn't need, and yet we do. Pray A to Z is a great resource for how to pray with purpose, with passion, and to pray beyond ourselves. While it gives specific prayers, it is also written in a way you can still keep your prayers very personal. It is a good book for the longtime believer, yet also a great gift to give a newer believer who doesn't have much knowledge regarding the power of prayer.

**I received a copy  of the book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to give a positive review.**
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Pray A to Z: Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community (Worthy, November 2016)
Change the world one prayer at a time.
How would our community change if instead of absently saying, “I’ll pray for you,” we actually did pray–deeply, intensely, and purposefully?
Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Praying for Your Community will help you topically organize your prayer requests and lay the burdens of your community at the feet of our Heavenly Father.
With compassion and encouragement, Amelia Rhodes offers Bible verses and prayer prompts, organized topically for every letter of the alphabet. There are five topics per letter–three prayers of petition asking God to work in a certain area of need, and two more prayers of praise to reflect gratitude for God’s presence in the daily issues and relationships of life. Through petition and praise, your specific, focused communion with God will lighten your heart as you place the heaviness of those prayer requests where they belong–on His strong shoulders.
Whether you are praying for a friend’s adoption journey, a neighbor’s bankruptcy, or a family member’s cancer, this book will give you Bible verses, prayer prompts, and prayer starts to guide you through praying for even the most difficult issues that affect the people you know and love. Perfect for either individual or group prayer, Pray A to Z will help you experience the peace that comes from communicating with God.
Amelia Rhodes
Amelia Rhodes is a speaker and author of "Isn't It Time for a Coffee Break: Doing Life Together in an All-About-Me Kind of World." Amelia's writing has also been featured in four "Chicken Soup for the Soul" titles, devotionals for the OneHope blog Undeterred and the international devotional "Upper Room." Amelia has a growing speaking ministry and speaks regularly to women's groups on topics of spiritual growth, friendship, and community, offering practical tools for living our faith in the everyday. She lives in Lowell, Michigan.


Monday, December 19, 2016

ScriptureDoodle God’s Promises: A Six-Week Devotional Experience {Book Review}

This book is great for yourself, or perfect as a gift! I have both ScriptureDoodle's by April Knight; my 7th grade daughter oohed & aahed over them, so I gave her this one. She absolutely loves it, and it's been a true delight as a mom to look through her book and see all the ways she is learning, growing, and being creative in learning scripture! I enjoy it, too, but because so many reviews focus on adult women utilizing this book, I felt it important to focus on how much I recommend it for junior high, high schoolers, and young adult women as well.

**I received a copy  of the book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to give a positive review.**
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ScriptureDoodle God’s Promises: A Six-Week Devotional Experience (David C. Cook, December 2016)
ScriptureDoodle God’s PromisesSome of the most incredible stories in the Bible are of God’s promises and faithfulness to His children.
ScriptureDoodle God’s Promises refreshes believers who are feeling burned out or stuck in a rut in their relationship with God. Each of the creative worship prompts in this interactive guide includes biblical encouragement and ideas for worship through art. Artist April Knight includes creative lettering tips, color ideas, and completed examples to inspire readers to respond to promises in Scripture related to trust, faith, and the power of God’s Word in all circumstances.
This unique blend of Bible study and creative expression provides the opportunity to connect with God as Creator in a new, life-changing way.
Learn more and purchase a copy.
April Knight
April Knight is a worship artist based in Asheville, North Carolina. Knight’s work includes live worship painting and leading ScriptureDoodle workshops online and at conferences and retreats around the country and internationally. Her family of four is her greatest joy, along with serving alongside her husband at their local church.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Trust My Heart {Christian Romance Novel--Book Review}


I don't read Christian romance novels very often (or romance novels of any kind actually), but I was intrigued by the plot line as the synopsis held a little bit of mystery within the book. Trust My Heart is a very sweet read; it holds layers of nostalgia, loss, hurt & sadness--but it also holds hope. And the combination of those elements helps bring depth to the conflicts, storylines, and character development--especially main characters Grant and Jami. For more information about the book, please read the author's synopsis. It is a wonderful book, and I highly recommend it.

*I received a copy  of the book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to give a positive review.**
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Trust My Heart (Waterfall Press, October 2016)
Grant McAllister arrives in Murphy, North Carolina, with one aim: to sell his inherited property and leave as quickly as possible. 
The big-city lawyer has no interest in his late, estranged grandparents or the dilapidated mansion he just acquired. After his high-profile divorce, he should be avoiding perky reporters, too. But Jami Carlisle is honest, funny, and undeniably appealing.
After breaking up with her safe-but-smothering boyfriend, Jami is determined to ace her first big assignment. A story about the McAllister estate is too intriguing to ignore—much like its handsome, commitment-phobic heir. Thanks to her digging, the pieces of Grant’s fraught family history are gradually fitting into place, but also upending all his old beliefs.
The two draw closer as they share their dreams, until misread signals and misunderstandings begin to test their trust. But in the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains, there’s healing and forgiveness to be found. And for Grant, this unplanned detour may be just what’s needed to finally guide him home…
Carol J. PostFrom medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special-events decorating company, Carol J. Post’s résumé reads as if she hasn’t yet decided what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love of writing. She started as a child composing poetry for family and friends, then graduated to articles for religious and children’s publications. Now she pens fun, fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book award and selected as an RT Top Pick. When Carol isn’t writing, she enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. She also plays the piano and sings with her music-minister husband. Their two grown daughters and their grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all her nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Great Gift Idea for Moms {40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood}


"Littles are asleep, tea is brewed, and colored pencils are ready." 
~Rockin' My Mom Jeans Facebook post, September 23, 2016

What a fun way to have some creative quiet time with God! The devotional aspect itself would've made for a sweet book for mamas, but the coloring adds the opportunity for depth, growth, and a lengthier time of solitude. 40 Day to a Joyful Motherhood would definitely make for a fantastic Christmas gift!

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

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40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood: Devotions and Coloring Book to Nourish Mom (Abingdon Press, August 2016)
Nourishment for a mother’s soul through 40 days of devotion and . . . doodling! 
Wouldn’t it be marvelous if mothering came with a concrete set of instructions—an easy recipe we could follow? Instead, motherhood challenges women to find their faith, their true selves, and their family through daily doses of trial and error. It is a brilliant and healing time of life that is full of joy, pain, and beauty with a small side of crisis (and humor). What mothers do not know, they learn. And through this lifelong process of learning, they nurture and care for the most precious gifts on earth: children. In a modern society where moms often have a full and busy plate, these 10 minute daily devotions focus on six key topics of motherhood:
—Self-acceptance
—Self-care
—Reconciling with grief, hope and expectations
—Generosity
—Presence
—Forgiveness
In addition to the devotions, these beautiful pages are adorned with handmade illustrations to help you refresh from long days or even occasional sleepless nights. So, grab your colors and a little quiet time for yourself while doodling at the kitchen table. You will be grateful you did!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Great Book for Kids to help develop their own faith!

What a brilliant book for kids! It does a wonderful job of creating a very interesting storyline for tweens as they get to become a junior detective....but it isn't written at all in a way that is childish or condescending. On the one hand, the students are trying to find out information about an old skateboard. And on the other hand, the students go through information about Christ- did he really raise from the dead? Are miracles real?-and the interweaving of the two separate topics flows in a way that is extremely natural and interesting.
I have read this book, and will be giving it to my kids--I'm certain they will like it. More importantly, I hope that the book helps them look beyond what we teach at home and what they learn at church, & come to their own understanding that Jesus truly is who he says he is.
*I received a copy of the book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to give a positive review.**

Cold-Case Christianity for Kids(David C. Cook, October 2016)
Between the ages of 8 and 12, kids often start to wonder if Christianity is true. 
In Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, detective J. Warner Wallace draws readers into the thrill of high-stakes investigation by showing them how to think rather than telling them what to think. In this children’s companion to the bestselling Cold-Case Christianity, detective Wallace gets kids excited about testing witnesses, examining the evidence, and investigating the case for Christianity. Includes author illustrations and links to a website where kids can download activities, fill in case notes, and earn a certificate of merit.
Learn more and purchase a copy.

J. Warner and Susie Wallace have been training young people in the church setting for over a decade. J. Warner is a cold-case homicide detective who has been featured on Dateline, FOX News, Court TV and other crime-related television shows. A former atheist, he is the author of Cold-Case Christianity: God’s Crime Scene and Forensic Faith. He has a master’s degree in theology and is the founder of ColdCaseChristianity.com. Susie has a master’s degree in speech pathology and co-writes (and edits) all the kids books in this series. J. Warner and Susie have four children and live in southern California.

Great Final Books for Charmed Amish Life Series! {A Sister's Wish & An Amish Family Christmas}

I had read the first two books in the Charmed Amish Life series, and had hoped this third book would be well-developed, too. Whether it's due to the writing style, the plot, the character development, or my previous investment & history with the characters, A Sister's Wish is my favorite. Within each book after the first one, Shepard Gray chose main characters I did not expect for the newest storylines. Each time it caught me off-guard, but then I appreciated the way she took a pair of minor characters and creates a storyline unique to their relationship. In A Sister's Wish, Amelia Kinsinger is the young sister who now gets the spotlight, alongside her brother's best friend--Simon Hochstetler. Although Simon is a great guy, a troubled past and time away from the Amish community have Amelia's family declaring the relationship off limits. It's a great look at sibling dynamics, grace, forgiveness and love, and I truly enjoyed the book.

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



An Amish Family Christmas is the 4th (and sadly final) book in The Charmed Amish Life series. The final book focuses on Levi Kinsinger, who has recently returned to Charm and to the Amish community. During his absence his siblings have, gotten married, tried various jobs, had a serious accident, fallen in love, expecting a child, and other daily life that Levi is finding his footing as to where he 'fits'. He has been welcomed home with open arms, and buys a home separate from the family home. He meets his neighbor Julia when she loses her house keys, and a friendship between Levi, Julia & Julia's daughter develops. But Julia is hiding a secret that has big potential to destroy any relationship she has with Levi. This fourth book in the series has the most complex storyline and weaving of characters, and is a great ending to a wonderful series.

**I received a copy of the book from the publisher, but was under no obligation to write a review. My honest opinion has been provided without any requirement to give a positive review.**
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A Sister’s Wish (Avon Inspire, September 2016)
In Shelley Shepard Gray’s third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.
Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman—at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she’s also harboring a secret: She’s been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he’s about as far from “perfect” as an Amish man could get… but that’s exactly why she’s so drawn to him.
Life hasn’t been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he’s determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past…unless it pertains to Amelia.
He’s loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas—who just happens to be Simon’s best friend—has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he’s the only one who can truly make her happy.
But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together—and face their past mistakes. There’s a chance for love… but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.
Shelley 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.