Monday, October 5, 2015

Ties That Bind {By: Cindy Woodsmall}

I have an obsession with Amish fiction. I especially love it when that Amish fiction is written by Cindy Woodsmall. She is one of my favorite authors and has such a love for the Amish community. She lovingly tells stories about their lives and makes it accessible to everyone else in the world. Her new book and the first in the series The Amish of Summer Grove, Ties That Bind, is such a wonderful and delightful book to read. There are twists and turns and events that keep you on the edge of your seat...and it's all in a book.

Ariana Brenneman is the main character. Her story is so unique and full of so many plot twists. Her life in the Old Order Amish seems normal to her. She has aspirations to open a café to help support her family. But, someone in her life wants to lure other Amish people into the English lifestyle. Are his plans to help her or bring her harm? She wants to find out and when she does it is the biggest surprise of all.

Her family has kept secrets from her that Quill Schlabach wants to reveal. Will he be successful or will he be stopped before the truth comes out? No matter what Ariana does, Quill keeps showing up in her life. This time, he has information about her family's secrets and how that could affect her in the long run.

I love everything about this book. The Amish lifestyle is explained very well. Sometimes when you read Amish fiction it can be confusing. Cindy Woodsmall does a fantastic job walking the reader through every part of the Amish life and explains why they do what they do. Since she is so connected to the Amish community she has "insider" information and knows the ins and outs of their day-to-day life. I highly recommend this book and look forward to the sequel.

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

A Christian Guide To The Classics {By: Leland Ryken}

I absolutely LOVE reading the classics. Canterbury Tales, Edgar Allan Poe, The Pilgrim's Progress, anything by Jane Austen, and so on. My love of books came from reading the classics when I was younger. It gave me a good foundation for reading and they all have great vocabulary. But, as a Christian I tend to read them with a different viewpoint. Leland Ryken's new book, A Christian Guide To The Classics, helps to break down these books (and other written materials) from a Christian worldview. He expounds on the greatness of the classics while also being realistic in that we shouldn't read them just because they are considered "classic". I received this book from Family Christian for review purposes.

The author gives the reader step-by-step instructions on breaking down exactly what a "classic" is and how to read them. He gives many examples from great historical authors and includes a sampling of different literary classics from many different genres and time periods (page 94-98). At the back of the book are a few quotes by famous classical writers about reading and books. It was fun to read what some of them had to say about books.

Here are the chapters listed in order:
  1. Misconceptions about the Classics
  2. What is a Classic?
  3. Why We Should Read the Classics
  4. The Greatest Classic: The Bible
  5. How Not To Read a Classic
  6. How to Read a Classic
  7. Christian Classics, Part 1
  8. Christian Classics, Part 2
  9. Secular Classics
  10. Where to Find the Classics
I found this book to be helpful in many ways. First, I really didn't know what the definition of a classic was. Mr. Ryken writes in a way that I could understand and make an educated decision when at the library picking out books to read. Second, I never thought about the fact that there are "Christian" classics and "Secular" classics. He writes about the difference between these two and also how to tell a true "Christian" classic from one that masks itself as Christian. I enjoyed reading that section of the book because so many authors call themselves Christian authors without even thinking about if their work is actually Biblically sound and can be tested by scripture. Third, I love the lists of classics that he gives toward the end of the book. I kept looking for lists of classics and he kept me turning the pages until the end. It was a great strategy to get me to read the entire thing.

I have a home library because I homeschool. Not that you have to homeschool to have a home library but we do because of that reason. Over the years I have collected many books. After a while I got to a place that I would only buy books that were considered "morally sound" and/or a classic. Earlier this year I went through all of my books and weeded out the "twaddle" books and am left with plenty of books still. With this new book, A Christian Guide To The Classics, I feel fully equipped to buy great books and literary works in the future to add to my collection.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves books. You will learn so much about the different styles of classics and what a true Christian classic really looks like.

Friday, September 18, 2015

5 Minutes With Jesus {By: Sheila Walsh}

Sheila Walsh is one of my favorite authors, speakers, and singers. She is a Scottish- born Christian and loves Jesus more than anything. She has written many books including How To Be God's Little Princess, God's Mighty Warrior Series, God Loves Broken People, and the list goes on. I love her style of writing because it is honest and open. Her newest book, 5 Minutes with Jesus, is no exception. She has poured her heart out in this book so that the reader will be able to know the importance of spending time with God each day.

Sheila Walsh explains how we are busy people. So busy that sometimes the most important things in our lives get put on the back burner. Our time with Jesus each day shouldn't be one of those things. If we give Him even just 5 minutes each day it will be life-changing. God wants our hearts. He wants our time. He wants our prayers. In this little, hardback devotional you are given just that...5 minutes with our Savior.

In each devotion, you will find a powerful story. She tells stories from her life and from those who are in the bible. Her way of writing is vulnerable and captivating. There is also a takeaway section that gives you a small quote from the devotion that you can use to remember what you have read. Then there are scripture verses from the bible that go along with each devotion to give you God's insight about each subject.

The 5 minutes you spend with Jesus reading this devotional each day will be powerful and inspiring. It will help you get through your day with His word hidden in your heart. I know as a busy mother to three little boys (that I also homeschool) I have a hard time carving out just a few minutes to myself. I even have a hard time going in the bathroom without someone banging on the door. But, I have learned that if I get up a few minutes before my children (they know not to get out of bed until 7am) I can get those first few minutes of time in with my Lord.

It is so worth it to me. I highly recommend 5 Minutes with Jesus for your devotional. No matter where you are in life or what is going on, taking time with God is the most important decision you will ever make.

*I was given this book by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.*

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Praying The Bible by Donald S. Whitney (Review & A Giveaway!)

Praying is one of those things that many of us do not know how to do naturally. I have struggled with prayers since I became a Christian when I was 16. I have studied many books and the Bible. I have also listened to many sermons and speakers about this subject. Finally, I was gifted this book by Family Christian for review. Praying The Bible by Donald S. Whitney is a fantastic book about how to pray using only scriptures.

Praying using only scriptures seems easy enough but there is more to it than opening your Bible and saying the passage. It's about finding the right passages and using them to glorify God in our prayers. This little book is hard bound and very simple to read. It can be read in an afternoon while sitting under a shade tree on a quilt. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of praying.

Praying The Bible starts off with The Problem with how we currently pray. We get side tracked very easily, we become robots just saying what we always say, we get tired and bored. Then the author brings us The Solution. He writes about what we can do about the problems to have a more satisfying prayer life. Finally, he writes about The Method in which you can obtain this new and profound prayer life.

In the later part of the book, Donald Whitney gives examples of praying the Bible. There is a chapter on Praying The Psalms, Praying Other Parts Of The Bible, and so on. I love to pray the Psalms. It is one of my favorite ways to pray and with the help of this new book I am able to communicate with God better.

I absolutely loved reading Praying The Bible and I know you will too. That's why Family Christian has allowed me to give one away to a reader on my blog. Please enter to win a copy for your very own home library below. Blessings to you in your prayer walk!

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Things Not Seen {A Review & Giveaway}

I know you have all probably heard of the website I go there often to look up sermons and read articles pertaining to current events with a Godly perspective. Jon Bloom is the cofounder and president of and the author of Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith. His new book called Things Not Seen gives you a fresh look at old stories from the bible and the promises that God has made to us.

You can read this as a regular book with short stories in it or as a devotional like I did. I have an obsession with devotionals. I just love them because you can get your time in with God and feel refreshed for your day in a short amount of time. Things Not Seen gave me hope and a new perspective about what the Bible says about God's promises and trusting Him.

Jon Bloom goes through 35 Bible stories and retells them very creatively. He captivates the audience by giving each story a real life feel. Sometimes it is hard to relate to some of the stories and people from the Bible but this book allows you to get a closer glimpse of what life would have been like in that time and how it can relate to your life now. Each story comes with the actual Bible passage and then a retelling from Jon Bloom's perspective.

Some of the stories that are retold in this book are:
  • Abraham and Sarah and what to do when facing the impossible.
  • Moses and the feeling of inadequacy when facing trials.
  • Mary and Martha and who you really serve.
  • Joseph and his brothers and extending grace to all.
  • Judas and the love of money.
  • Gideon and why God does give us more than we can handle.
  • Samson and how weakness can make you strong.
I devoured this book when I received it for review from Family Christian. I have used it for my daily devotions and even read a few of the passages to my children and husband. It has opened up conversations and had us asking questions. We searched the Bible for our answers and as well looking in our hearts to seek God's peace and wisdom.

Family Christian is gifting one of my readers with a copy of Things Not Seen by Jon Bloom. Please enter below for your chance to read this book for yourself.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Berenstain Bears' Harvest Festival {Review}

I just adore a good Berenstain Bears book. The newest addition to the collection is also a Living Lights book. It is called The Berenstain Bears' Harvest Festival. It is full of hope, love, and God's beauty.

The whole family is out helping in the garden on the first day of fall. The children are noticing the new changes such as the colorful leaves and the squirrels gathering nuts. Mother suggests they go to the Harvest Festival at their neighbor's farm where their church congregation will be also.

As they walk along the road on their way to the festival they all see how beautiful God created the fall season. The colors, the animals, and even the insects. When they arrive at the farm the children see all of the wonderful vegetables and fruit that have been growing for the fall season. There are apples, pumpkins, and corn stalks.

The festivities begin with apple picking and pumpkin picking. They soon take a hayride around the farm where they see all of God's wonderful creations. They end the evening with a big harvest meal and a prayer from their pastor.

It is such a delight to read a book to my children that is focused on God and seeing God in all things. I love Berenstain Bears book and always recommend them to anyone with children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, students, etc.

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Crash The Chatterbox by Steven Furtick {Review}

Crash The Chatterbox is a new book written by Pastor Steven Furtick. He is the founder and lead Pastor for Elevation Church based out of Charlotte, NC. It has grown to about 10,000 people in attendance per week. Steven Furtick has written other books (Sun Stand Still and Greater), which became New York Times best-sellers.

Honestly, Crash The Chatterbox is one of the best books I have ever read on the subject of hearing God's voice above all the worldly noise. I could not put this book down. I read is very quickly because it was easy to read and it kept me saying "Amen!" the entire time.

The author refers to all the voices in the world that tell you anything different from God's word as the "Chatterbox". He also refers to Satan as the "Chatterbox". I love that he used hashtags throughout the book. It helped me to be able to promote the book easily.

Here is some more info about Steven Furtick:
  •  "Steven Furtick is the founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church.

    In just under seven years, Elevation Church has grown to more than 10,000 people in weekly attendance, meeting at seven locations in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Elevation has been named one of the fastest growing Churches in America by Outreach Magazine for each of the past six years.

    Pastor Steven has been privileged to minister to a global audience, speaking at conferences and churches around the world, including Catalyst Conference, Hillsong Conference, and the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. He is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, Greater, and the nationally acclaimed Sun Stand Still.

    Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    He and his wife Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey."
Here is more about Crash The Chatterbox:
  • “I used to think that someone who struggled with the kinds of weaknesses I deal with daily was useless to God. I felt so often like I was drowning in internal dialogue I couldn’t control. It had been the soundtrack of my life for as long as I could remember.

    Yet everything changed when I began to realize God has given us the ability to choose the dialogue we believe and respond to. And once we learn how, we can switch from lies to truth as deliberately as we can choose the Beatles over Miley Cyrus on satellite radio.

    This is the key to pressing ahead and doing God’s will anyway, even as you are bombarded with thoughts, feelings, and even facts about why you can’t do it.

    I’m now awakening to the reality that we can access the power of God’s promises to constantly crash the system of our broken beliefs. I’m learning how to overpower the shouts of the Enemy by bending my ear to the whisper of God’s supernatural truths about my identity in Him and His strength in me.”
    -STEVEN FURTICK, from Crash the Chatterbox
    Includes discussion questions for individuals or groups.
    Inside your head and heart is a chatterbox. Its lies are keeping you from realizing your God-given potential. But what can you do about them?
    The Voice You Listen to Will Determine the Future You Experience

    In Crash the Chatterbox, Pastor Steven Furtick focuses on four key areas in which negative thoughts are most debilitating: insecurity, fear, condemnation, and discouragement. He asks, “What great deeds are in danger of remaining undone in your life because of lies that were planted in your past or fears that are looming in your future?”

    With personal stories, inspiring examples, and practical strategies, Pastor Furtick will show you how to silence the lies and embrace the freeing affirmation of God.

    Learn how to live out God’s truth no matter what is going on in your life or thoughts.

    Learn how to crash the chatterbox…and hear God’s voice above all others."
Knowing how to hear God's truths over Satan's lies takes a lot of practice, prayer, and bible knowledge. I felt God leading me, through reading this book, to quit listening to anyone and anything (including my own thoughts) if they do not align with the bible. One of my favorite quotes is "My joy is not determined by what happens to me, but what Christ is doing in me and through me." (pg. 170) That is such a powerful statement. I am going to type it up in bold letters and laminate to put above my desk in the school room.

Another of my favorite quotes is found on page 184, "Don't let what you expected keep you from what God wants you to experience. God has plans for you that you know nothing about right now. That means He may take you down paths that seem to lead to nowhere. Believing God means assuming that He is always working, even when our faith and prayers and love don't seem to be working at all. Realizing this opens our hearts to accept what God has allowed in each season of our lives without being overtaken by discouragement..." (emphasis my own). These are very important words and we should dwell on them.

I HIGHLY recommend this book. I will be gifting this book to others who may be struggling to hear God's voice above the crazy noise of the world. Please go out and buy this book. It will change your spiritual and mental life. I am already speaking more positively to myself and of myself.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.