Thursday, October 27, 2016

Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom {Book Review}

Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom is written to build up and encourage moms who may feel they've given up their desires and dreams because they are pouring into & rearing their young children. The authors present honest, raw emotion, both from their own lives as well as the lives of other moms. The book recognizes the various seasons of motherhood, and how our creativity ebbs, flows, pauses & grows throughout our motherhood journeys.

My favorite line from the book is found on page 38: "Your life at home is where it all begins, not just in the great big, inspired moments, but also in the small, simple, ordinary ones. So keep it up!"

If you are a mom who has laid down her creativity to care for your little ones, this book is for you. If you are a mom whose brain is spinning, full of new ideas & desires (or dusting off the cobwebs of past dreams), this book is for you. And if you are a mom who is establishing yourself within your creative field, or spending private moments creating a joyful world all your own, this book is for you as well.

As someone who has spent most of motherhood longing for my college days when I would sit and journal, or experience the rush that came from putting pen to the paper in my non-fiction writing classes, this book was a great encouragement! Sometimes, God lets us grow in and continue to develop our creative makeup--and other times He adds different situations and circumstances that pushes us onto a different path, weaving together a new path and plan. My perspective on "what my life will look like when I grow up" continues to develop, and I'm excited to see what my future holds as I more intentionally follow my dreams.

**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.**

Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom (Kregel, September 2016)
What was God thinking when He created you creative and then gave you children?
Creative moms often feel as though they must lay their passions down. But God had something special in mind for the creative woman during this intense season of mothering.
In this Pinterest age of handcrafted children’s parties, Instagram photos of beautifully decorated homes, and blogs filled with poetry and prose, it is clear that we are in the midst of a brand new artistic renaissance. Not one born in Italian cathedrals or Harlem jazz clubs, but rather in kitchens, nurseries, and living rooms around the world. Mothers, working in the cracks and crevices of each hectic day, are adorning the world with their gifts, and they’re showing all of us the beauty of this Life Creative.
In this book, you’ll learn:
—Why the world needs your art
—How this Life Creative begins at home
—When art can turn a profit
—Your part in this modern day Renaissance
Life Creative paints the stories of moms, just like you, who are fitting their inspired lives into the everyday, ordinary places of motherhood. Women like home decorator Melissa Michaels and jewelry designer Lisa Leonard, author Angie Smith, recording artist Ellie Holcomb, and many more.

Wendy Speake is a trained actress and heartfelt teacher. She ministers to women’s hearts through storytelling and life applications, utilizing drama, comedy, poetry and the study of God’s Word. During her career in Hollywood, Speake found herself longing to tell stories that edify and encourage women. She is the author of "Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses" (BRU Press, 2015). Speake is a wife and homeschooling mother of three boys. ||**|| Kelli Stuart is a writer and a storyteller at heart. She has written for several websites including The Huffington Post, 5 Minutes for Mom, The MOB Society, (in)courage and Compassion International. She is the author of three books, including "Like a River from Its Course" (Kregel Publications, 2016) and a noted speaker. Stuart her husband live in Florida with their four children.PREVIOUS CAMPAIGN

The 10 Myths of Teen Dating {Book Review. For Parents of Teen Daughters}

This book is a "real world" presentation of teenage dating life, from people who know teens best--high school teachers. We parents may want to think we know it all because we remember our teenage years, but it is extremely helpful to have the insights of Daniel & Jacqueln Anderson (who are father & daughter), who have spent years teaching high public high school. Both authors are Christians, yet they make it clear this book is a wonderful resource for any parent who desires to see their daughter build healthy relationships and understand the journey to her lifelong happiness and well-being.

As a mom of several daughters, I truly appreciate this book. I especially like the writing style, as Daniel Anderson presents his viewpoint and experiences, and then Jacquelyn Anderson follows up by remembering her teen experiences (which is an honest portrayal of the areas her dad made mistakes as a parent, the ways he could have approached topics better, and also her viewpoints now as an adult). The tag-team of the authors brings a unique, reliable voice to The 10 Myths of Teen Dating, and it is a resource to which I will continue to refer.

**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.**


The 10 Myths of Teen Dating: Truths Your Daughter Needs to Know to Date Smart, Avoid Disaster, and Protect Her Future (David C Cook, September 2016)
There’s no greater moment of panic in a parent’s life than when their daughter begins to date.
Due to their lack of knowledge about the world their teens face coupled with the scant dating information they received as teens, many parents feel ill-equipped to guide their daughters through the minefield that is teen dating.
And by the same token, teenage girls crave information about dating and relationships. And left to their own devices, many will develop their own assumptions about dating by talking to their friends or watching the latest TV shows and movies. But that will only lead them down a path toward heartbreak.
So how do you engage your daughter in discussions about dating, relationships, and her future happiness? Expert educator Daniel Anderson and his twenty something daughter, Jacquelyn, help you navigate the biggest dating myths, including: the myth that a boyfriend will make your daughter happy, that she should trust her feelings, or that sex will enhance her relationship. Combining the latest scientific research with poignant personal stories, as well as proven truths and practical application, The 10 Myths of Teen Dating will equip you to teach your daughter how to date smart for today . . . and tomorrow.
Daniel Anderson is a former college All-American basketball player, an expert educator, and a father of two grown daughters and a son. As a veteran high school teacher in the public school system, Daniel was troubled by how his students approached dating and relationships. He and his daughter, Jacquelyn Anderson—a twenty something and also a high school teacher—decided to address this need by equipping parents with "The 10 Myths of Teen Dating," their first book together. Daniel and Jacquelyn both make their home in Portland, Oregon.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Love Our Vets: Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD {Book Review}

While I do not have any family members who live with PTSD, I do have some friends who live with it. Because of that, I wanted to read this book and then determine if I should buy a copy for them, too. My answer is ABSOLUTELY!! I myself gained so much insight, understanding, compassion, clarity, wisdom and very aware of the importance of love and grace by reading this book. I truly believe if a broader range of people read Love Our Vets, our society would have a whole new outlook on what PTSD is and how we respond to those who have it. And those who have PTSD would not feel as isolated!

Author Welby O'Brien is extremely qualified to write this book, which is a key reason for my 5-star rating. She holds a Master's degree in counseling, and her husband has lived with PTSD for a very long time (which means it has affected her life for quite a while, too!). In addition to her qualifications, O'Brien brings something critical to this book--the words, voices, feelings, and advice of countless others who live within a PTSD-affected environment. The book is broken down into 3 parts, and within each part are questions that are looked at and answered. The book format is wonderful in that you can look at certain topics specifically, or learn a wealth of information from reading the whole thing. The final perspective O'Brien brings to the book is how important our prayer life and spiritual growth are in helping us fill our cup and pour out love. We can't accomplish this heavy task on our own--but with God's help, we can gain hope, love wisdom & grace--and then we can share God's love with those who need it so very much.

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.

About the book: 

Love Our Vets: Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD (Deep River Books, April 2015)

Chances are that if your loved one has seen war, he or she has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at some level, and you who love your veteran will also be deeply and profoundly affected.

Finally, the cries and needs of the loved ones have been addressed in this comprehensive, practical book, now newly updated in its second edition!

Love Our Vets answers more than 60 heartfelt questions, providing down-to-earth wisdom and much-needed tips for taking care of yourself. Sharing as a counselor and from her personal experience of living with a 100% disabled veteran with PTSD, Welby O'Brien gives hope, encouragement, and practical help for families and loved ones who are caught in the wake of the trauma. This book addresses a broad spectrum of issues and concerns and offers realistic wisdom from a wide variety of individuals who share from real hearts and lives.

Now newly revised and updated with additional material, the second edition of Love Our Vets continues to be enthusiastically welcomed by VA and other counselors. This is not just another book about PTSD; rather, it is a tremendous resource for families and loved ones who struggle heroically along with their vets to face the day-to-day challenges.

Purchase a copy:
About the author:

Welby O'Brien
 holds a Masters Degree in counseling (Portland State University) and a teaching degree (Biola University). Author of Formerly A Wife, and Good-bye for Now (Wingspread); contributing author, Shepherding Women in Pain (Moody Press), and Chicken Soup for the Soul, Divorce and Recovery. Founder of Love Our Vets support network; wife of veteran with PTSD.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wrapped in God's Grace {Book Review & Amazon Gift Card Giveaway Link!!}

Wrapped in God's Grace by Barbara Bras is a unique take on how past events affect our current life, and how faith can weave through and be passed down generation to generation. The biography begins   with the powerful authenticity Bras shares of her life of infertility, her cries to God and wondering if He would answer, the doors he opened when she & her husband adopted their son, Raphael, the surprise blessings of biological children, and then the difficulties and heartbreak that occurred due to various decisions Raphael made from childhood into adulthood. While our stories are not the same, the fact I also have biological and adopted children made Bras sharing extremely tender and touching.

After sharing her story of learning to truly release Raphael to the Lord and trusting Him completely, Bras then shifts her book to a focus on two people who experienced the horrors of the Armenian Genocide. Those two children, Arshag & Gulle would find their paths crossing many years later. They are able to move to America & get married. Through God's grace, they not only survived the Genocide, but have several children. Their first grandchild is Bras. Again, God's plan and purpose is on display.

The final portion of the book focuses on Bras teenage and adult years--the times she sometimes trusted God, but didn't trust and follow Him completely. Through various missteps, heartbreaks, and yearning for more, Bras finally finds her life back on track as she marries her second husband--the one with whom she would adopt Raphael and continue with on a path that continues to put God and whatever He has planned for their lives above everything else.

While I truly enjoyed this book, I do wish the end would have presented a clearer telling of when Bras "put her stake in the ground" in going whole-heartedly after God. It's mentioned in the Afterword (which is one paragraph), but a chapter focusing on this area would have truly brought the book full-circle in a powerful way.

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.

To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book

The crushing pain of seven years of unanswered prayer for a child. A miraculous adoption story, followed by unforeseen challenges and heartbreak.

Barbara Bras begins her memoir by sharing God’s answer to her prayers and the difficult times that followed. Although God does not provide an easy fix, the intricacies of God’s plans reveal themselves to her, and she relives her life in a new light.

Bras then recounts the stories of her grandfather Arshag and her grandmother Gulle, survivors of the atrocities of Armenia in 1915. Arshag, sent to South America for his protection, returns as a soldier of the Armenian Legion to fight for his country. Gulle is the only member of her family to survive the death march into the desert. Through God’s grace they find each other, marry and move to America in 1921. Bras is their first grandchild.

The final section of the memoir follows Bras as she marries and moves to Hawaii, only to return as a single mother to teach school in a small town. It is there she finally realizes that God has provided her with protection and direction. Bras discovers that once we truly surrender our will to God, His plan always produces blessings beyond our wildest dreams!

About the Author

In 2015, Barbara Bras left her career to pursue her dream of serving God. She believed that her first step would be to share the amazing ways God had blessed her. As she wrote of her son’s miraculous adoption and the challenging years that followed, it led to the rediscovery of her entire life, including the history of her grandparents’ remarkable survival in Armenia and her search for purpose and love. Her memoir led to her first novel, which she hopes readers will find engaging and memorable.

Guest Post from Barbara Bras

An Unanswered Prayer

I struggled for many years with one unanswered prayer. It was my “go to” request every time I came before the Lord.

Convinced that with God nothing is impossible, I also knew that the Lord may say “Not now” many times, even before he says no. I acknowledged that the Lord probably had a much bigger and better plan in mind for me, but none of that offered any comfort. As I struggled year after year with my unanswered prayer I found more questions than answers.

Was I fooling myself and ignoring God’s “No”? Could my lack of faith be the reason I couldn’t hear the Lord? And if not now, then when dear Lord?

Then I discovered that the Lord said “Not now.” because he had a miracle waiting for me, more amazing than I could have ever imagined. Like Hannah, God finally answered my prayer for a child. And through that miracle I learned that surrendering my will to God allows Him to bless me beyond my human understanding.

To my further surprise, I discovered that the miracle didn’t mean the end of the story. Experiencing a miraculous adoption didn’t come with a guarantee or a promise that the rest of my life would be free of heartache.

After all of those years of unanswered prayer, I found myself back on my knees with a new daily prayer request. The Lord had something else to teach me through this new struggle, a lesson that took me another fifteen years to learn.

Not only did those fifteen years lead me right back to where I started, surrendering my human will to His and trusting in His greater plan, but it convinced me that the Lord wanted me to share my story.  

Wrapped in God’s Grace, a Life Rediscovered begins with my unanswered prayer for a child, but as I wrote it, God’s plan for me became clear. The second section of the book recreates the events surrounding the survival of my grandparents through the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Their immigration to America in 1921 led to my existence. The book closes with the Lord blessing me with a loving husband in spite of the many missteps I made directing my own life. A reviewer found this nonlinear sequence of events unusual, and I am fine with that, since that’s how the book unfolded before me.

Captured by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, I now view my writing as a tribute first to the God who comforts and strengthens all of us in hardships and trials, and second as my mission to encourage others.

A photo gallery for Wrapped in God’s Grace, a Life Rediscovered can be found on my website Click here to view the Photo Gallery

Blog Stops

October 14: Book Love
October 15: A Greater Yes
October 16: Carpe Diem
October 18: Pause for Tales
October 19: A Reader’s Brain
October 20: Bigreadersite
October 22: Mary Hake
October 22: Simple Harvest Reads (Spotlight)


To celebrate her tour, Barbara is giving away a $100 Amazon gift card! Click here to enter:

Friday, October 7, 2016



Begin to build your family discipleship and become the key disciple-makers in your children’s lives with Melissa Spoelstra’s new book, Total Family Makeover. Disciples are made, not born. Whether your children are babes in arms or teenagers getting ready to leave the nest, making disciples at home starts with you! Give your family a makeover with this practical approach to helping your children learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Plan an evening of fun, pizza, devotionals, and games with your family! Melissa is giving away a Family Fun Night Prize Pack.
One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on October 7. The winner will be announced October 10 on Melissa’s blog.
Total Family Makeover PK


Total Family Makeover: 8 Practical Steps to Making Disciples at Home(Abingdon, September 2016)
Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it. —Proverbs 22:6
God calls us as parents to be key disciple-makers in our children’s lives, but if we’re honest, some days it’s a battle just to get them dressed and ready for school on time. How can you mold their hearts when sometimes you can’t even find their shoes?
In Total Family Makeover, author Melissa Spoelstra gives parents a way—a sort of spiritual track to run on—when it comes to building family discipleship. She focuses on eight key habits of growth:
—Spending Time in Prayer
—Reading God’s Word
—Growing Through a Mentoring Relationship
—Finding Community in the Church
—Serving Others
—Taking Time to Rest
—Giving Back to God
—Sharing Your Faith
Disciples are made, not born. Whether your children are babes in arms or teenagers getting ready to leave the nest, making disciples at home starts with you! Give your family a makeover with this practical approach to helping your children learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Melissa Spoelstra


Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women’s conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Theology and enjoys teaching God’s Word to diverse groups and churches within the body of Christ. She is the author of the “First Corinthians: Living Love When We Disagree,” “Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness,” and “Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World Bible” studies and “Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home” book. She lives in Dublin, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids.
Find out more about Melissa at

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Book Review {Jesus and the Beanstalk}

Jesus and the Beanstalk~Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life provides a unique, creative, applicable & Biblically sound insight on what it means to conquer the giants in our lives. Author Lori Stanley Roelevold takes an in-depth look at 2 Peter, throws in the fairy tales we learned in childhood, and somehow manages to relate them to each other in a way so we see the truth of Christ's character in a way that allows us to better go after a closer walk and relationship with Him. The opportunities to reflect upon recognizing God is who is says he is, and then doing our part to build and deepen our reliance upon Him are very well presented and laid out clearly throughout the book. 

Jack and the Beanstalk is woven throughout the chapters, as are real-life examples of building a stronger faith. Chapter 9 begins with my favorite line in the book:
Are you ready to bury the beans?

That challenging sentence is followed by the wonderful sentence listed here:
It takes faith to believe a dried-up bean contains life, which is why Peter makes sense when he tells us the process of being effective and fruitful in our knowledge of Christ begins with faith.

It isn't enough within our walk and relationship with Christ to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. We need to truly put our faith and trust in Him and let him fully & completely have our whole hearts and full attention. Jesus and the Beanstalk takes what can often seem insurmountable and gives us a clear, easy-to-read-and-follow presentation of the power of God and all He desires to do in our lives and hearts. I am very thankful to have read it, and plan to pass it along to my kids to read.

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.

Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life (Abingdon Press, September 2016)
What if a fairy tale and ten Bible verses could free you to live an effective, fruitful life in Christ?
We live in unsettling, challenging times. Everywhere we look, we see giant problems: giant obstacles to sharing faith, giant barriers to peaceful lives, giant strongholds of fear. But what if you knew eight small secrets to unlocking a strength big enough to overcome whatever obstacle life may bring?
Using allegory and a bit of humor, Jesus and the Beanstalk explores a passage in 2 Peter 1 to uncover eight truths that will help you unleash a larger-than-life faith:
—Affection for others
In this creative, refreshing perspective on spiritual growth, you will discover an unyielding strength when you tap the power of a God who is stronger than any beanstalk and bigger than your biggest giants.
Lori Stanley RoeleveldLori Stanley Roeleveld is the author of "Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus)" and "Red Pen Redemption." Her blog,, was voted Top 100 Christian Blogs by and has enjoyed over 1.5 million views. Lori lives in Hope Valley, RI.