Tuesday, September 29, 2015

'Gather Around the Amish Table' book review

We took the pumpkin cookie recipe & turned it into a bar cookie!

I had anticipated that an Amish cookbook would be time consuming, difficult to replicate recipes, and just simply above both my skill set as well as my timeframe. Oh, I was definitely wrong with all my assumptions!
  • I love this cookbook. It holds the prettiness of The Pioneer Woman in that it's truly a beautiful book in and of itself. If you are building a collection of "pretty" books for your kitchen, Gather Around the Amish Table is one you want to add.
  • The recipes are simple. Basic. Time savers. Ingredients are things I either have on hand or can easily purchase at the store.
  • The recipes are great for large families. And regular size families.
  • The book contains great stories. It is fun reading the snippets regardless of what you decide to make.
  • It is a wonderful collaboration. Gather Around the Amish Table contains "treasured recipes and stories from Plain Communities".  In some ways it reminds me of the church and family reunion cookbooks I have in my cabinet, but contains a wonderfully professional touch that helps create a phenomenal resource!
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. ~LDK
Incorporate Amish cooking traditions this fall in your kitchen with Lucy Leid's Gather Around the Amish Table. Straight from Amish kitchens to yours, this cookbook offers favorite family recipes and charming stories from Amish and Mennonite cooks. Gather your family around the table to sample the nourishing fare and trademark charm of the plain people. In the words of one cookbook contributor: “Bake someone happy!”

Get your fall baking underway with an Amish baking basket giveaway from Lucy and MennoMedia!


One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 29th. The winner will be announced September 30th on the Litfuse blog.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Review of 'The Finishing School' by Valerie Woerner

I am a mom who multi-tasks...and I mean well beyond your 'typical' juggling of life! I'm currently sitting in my van, in the driveway. My three youngest children (ages 3, 1 & 1) are asleep in their carseats. School pickup for 2 of the 3 "big kids" begins in 30 minutes. It's simply not worth getting little ones out of the  van. So, from the driveway I can access my wifi, write a blog post, run in and use the restroom, let the dogs play in the back yard, and keep one eye on the clock so I leave in time to complete my first afternoon pickup. Between now and bedtime I will also run and pick up kid #2 from cross country practice, bathe a very dirty dog, change many, many diapers, stare at the kids when they ask "what's for dinner?", say hello & thanks to my mom when she arrives because she's watching kids while Mike and I go to our church Small Group, drop our oldest off to babysit as we head to our destination, dig into Ephesians, pick up kid #1, check "the homework situation", send mom home, send kids to bed, make & pack school lunches, take the dogs out, toss laundry into the washing machine, and head to bed.

Bed. After I check Facebook. And Instagram. And scroll through Pinterest. And pull up house listings in my town, even though we have no plans to move. Again check Facebook. Look at the clock. Scroll through the news headlines for USA Today. Pull up my local paper. One more look at Facebook. Finally go to bed.

Somehow, doing all the mindless scrolling and checking and wondering and updating has entered more of my day than I had ever intended. It's something of which I'm aware, and have been intentionally working on--one of the ways I wanted to discipline myself away from the mindless filling of my mind all day was pursing the opportunity to review books for Litfuse Publicity Group and get back into reading and writing on a more regular basis. And the chance came to review The Finishing School by Valerie Woerner, I knew it was one to which I should give my attention. Because changing the "free moments'  within my day needs attention.

The Finishing School takes things that are--for me especially--'head knowledge' and discusses the importance of truly LIVING OUT the life to which God has called me. Each chapter is set up as a guide to a specific area (9. Spontaneity Loves Structure: A Guide to Balance. 18. Buried in the Sand. A Guide to Awareness). Valerie Woerner takes examples from her life, and sets the framework for taking our lives and begin living intentionally. She points out both the importance of minimalism, while also giving validity to a flexible lifestyle. Rather than hit one extreme or another (which would lose this reader completely), her chapters express a need for balance in every area of my life as I run our household and seek heavenly perspective. The book itself helps you see the process for pruning, trimming, and refining your life in ways that are not only practical, but extremely doable.

This book can be read and absorbed into your life in a couple of ways. The first one--which is what I did--was read the book over a couple of weeks, highlighting the things that stood out and writing down other things that were helpful ideas. The second one--which I intend to do--involves completing the "Homework" part after each chapter. Here, Valerie has worksheets you can download. She also gives Recommended Resources after each topical chapter. This author has done her research! The third and final way you can read and soak in The Finishing School is to do it with a group of friends. Each chapter and its homework can be looked at one week at a time. There is some very rich potential to not only do the weekly chapter review and discussion, but to even expand into looking deeper at the Recommended Resources. While that isn't something I personally am interested in doing, I am absolutely certain that others--who treasure that fellowship & sincere desire to refine every area of their lives--would relish.

If you are looking for a book that's not merely 'self-help' but even more about self-reflection that turns into self-motivation to pursue holiness, you will certainly enjoy The Finishing School.

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.

About the book: 
The Finishing School: How One Book Nerd Began Living What She Learned
 (Nyree Press, August 2015)

Are you tired of waiting for change to happen in your life? Do you feel stuck, even though you want to live more intentionally?

In today's world, our most precious pursuit of a life well lived gets squeezed out by the silliest of things: binging on Netflix or ice cream, shopping trips for things we don't need, bad habits we can't seem to get a handle on, and so much more. Valerie has been there despite knowing what she wanted for her life. Actually do it? That's the challenge.

After gobbling up all the non-fiction and self-help books her donut-filled belly could handle, she decided it was time to put her knowledge to good use and start actually living it out. You will hear about her journey through victories and plenty of failures and find practical tips to apply to your own pursuit of holiness. You will find homework at the end of each chapter that includes a worksheet to put real change in motion for your own life as well as recommended books to further study those topics that really test you.

Purchase a copy: 
About the author: 

Valerie Woerner is owner of Val Marie Paper. She and her husband, Tyler, live in Louisiana with their daughter, Vivi Mae. The Finishing School is her first book.

Connect with Valerie: websiteTwitterInstagram

Saturday, September 19, 2015


If you are looking for a children's board book that's not only cute, wonderfully illustrated, tells a darling story, but also throws in biblical truth and presents The Lord's Prayer in a way little ones can comprehend, Let's Learn about the Lord's Prayer by Catherine DeVries and published by Cook Publishing is the book you want to purchase! I had the opportunity to receive a copy from Litfuse Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review--and this review couldn't get more honest than having my 3 year old, Charlie, be my reviewer!

The book is written in a great way--it tells the story of Emma, a little girl who is getting ready to eat her lunch. The reader (Charlie) gets to interact with Emma as she asks him some questions. Then, as she gets ready to eat, she tells Charlie her mom has been teaching her The Lord's Prayer. So, Emma explains The Lord's Prayer phrase by phrase in a way Charlie can understand. It's also great for older children--and even adults--as it helps us better grasp how to truly teach The Lord's Prayer to the children around us! You also have the opportunity to download a song that helps your child learn The Lord's Prayer, too!

This book is promoted as the "first book of the HeartSmart series". I look forward to purchasing the other books when they come out as well. What a great way to add verses to our book library! ~LeAnne


Teach your child the Lord’s Prayer in a practical but fun way with the new children’s book from Catherine DeVries, Let’s Learn about the Lord’s Prayer. Preschoolers are invited on a playdate with Emma. Together they learn the Lord’s Prayer and practice “teaching” it to Emma’s favorite teddy bear. The entire Lord’s Prayer is included, along with a custom song (free download with access code).
Let's Learn about the Lord's Prayer PK


Let’s Learn about the Lord’s Prayer (David C. Cook, September 2015)
In this first book of the HeartSmart series, preschoolers are invited on a playdate with Emma. Together they learn the Lord’s Prayer and practice “teaching” it to Emma’s favorite teddy bear.
Introducing HeartSmart, a Scripture memory series designed to create opportunities for children to fill their heart with God’s Word. HeartSmart combines key Scriptures with songs, giving parents a spiritual formation path for building a strong foundation of faith.
The entire Lord’s Prayer is included, along with a custom song (free download with access code).
Catherine DeVries


Catherine DeVries has written twenty books for children, including the bestselling “The Adventure Bible Storybook.” As associate publisher of Children’s Resources at David C Cook, she leads product development for The Action Bible collection, which has sold over a million copies. Catherine lives with her husband, their three children, and their big furry dog in the Colorado forest.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Book Review for Until My Name Is Known by Sonya Contreras

As someone who loves history and enjoys historical fiction, I was curious what my opinion would be with reading my first Biblical fiction novel. Until My Name is Known by Sonya Contreras drew me initially out of curiosity, and then held my interest through descriptive narrative and detailed 2nd-person conversations. I enjoyed the opportunity to look at Moses' journey in leading the Israelites out of Egypt in a very personalized way.

I had assumed "Until My Name is Known" would be a quick read; I was wrong. But if you are ready to sit down and drink in details in archaeology, rituals and life details for both Israelites and Egyptians, it's very well written. It also is a nicely analyzes the complexity of human nature & God omniscient blended in ways that personify Moses, Zipporah, Aaron, Pharaoh, and others in drastically different ways (based on how he or she views God). If you love history it is very detailed! But please keep in mind (as Biblical fiction) that it neither replaces the Bible nor can be considered more accurate than the Bible.

*I received a complimentary copy of Until My Name is Known from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review*