Posted in Books, REVIEW

Book Review: Atlas Girl by Emily Wierenga

And then at thirteen, when I was dying on the hospital bed and the nurses said I was a miracle, I finally saw him.

I saw God for who he was – a Savior who wasn’t a minister with a wrinkled forehead stuck in his office [her dad], who wasn’t a mother who had never been affirmed growing up, who wasn’t the church with all of its rules.

He grace.  And I began to believe with more than my mind, because I wanted to live. 

Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look page 48 by Emily T. Wierenga

 About the Book
Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.

Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I have followed Emily’s blog for many years now, so I was thrilled to get her book to review.  And, I was not disappointed. This memoir brings about all emotions . . . those of compassion and understanding, to gripping your heart for the unknown that Emily writes of.  I really like how Emily’s book brings you through her childhood – to heart commitment of never returning home – and then God changes that, and with it brings so much healing.  I find this so true in life – when we say “I will never do such and such” God often has other plans.

I found this book to be like I am  reading through someone’s journal – skipping around, and then coming back to fill in the gaps.  Her words are raw and real – writing things that we wish we could say at times, giving hope, truly found in Jesus.  I highly recommend reading Atlas Girl.


 Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look was provided courtesy of Baker Books,
in exchange for my written, honest review of this Book.

Posted in Books

Book Review: Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray


his past week has been a humbling and healing time, which, in time, I will write about, but is part of my delay in writing this review for the blog tour (this was due last week). I was reading this book throughout some major home renovations and heart renovations, making this an especially wonderful God-ordained time to read, Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray.  I’d like to encourage you to click that link and not even read any further.  Order the book now!  It’s that good. There’s hardly a page in my book without a marking on it.  And, I can see it as one for anyone, where ever you may be with God. It was written from a broken heart in such a personal way that can touch a heart very personally, like it did mine. 

whitespace-coverI felt many times I was sitting at a coffee shoppe with Bonnie, saying, “oh yes, I have/am there too . . . yes, I struggle with panic attacks and dreams and struggles from the past…things I want to shove aside, forget“, and Bonnie would respond,

Perfect peace from God isn’t found by forgetting. Peace is ours if we dare to remember our pain and our sorrow, and experience our fears fully with Jesus.  Shalom peace from God is a putting back together.

Shalom is the movement to recover pieces of ourselves that have been abandoned, a putting back together of what we’ve left behind, to find Jesus with us in our memories.

….Shalom peace is now my place of faith.  My journey to find rest is now a journey toward wholeness.  A putting back together that includes broken pieces.

The journey of rest is leading me to recover all of my soul.  This peace makes no detours around reality.

Finding Spiritual Whitespace page 76, 77

Bonnie and I could easily understand together how “[b]ehind every pain lies a lost dream” and how we need to allow Jesus to repair the nets of  our dreams we’ve left behind and allow God to fill them full, and overflowing.  I imagine there will always be the knots in nets that have torn, but we can find the beauty even from those snarls and snags in our lives.

I can go on and on about Finding Spiritual Whitespace.  Her words are so much better than mine here, so I invite you to read her book.  I believe you will be greatly encouraged!I


 Finding Spiritual Whitespace was provided courtesy of Baker Books,
in exchange for my written, honest review of this Book.

Posted in Books

Celebrating World Book Day


very April 23 since 1995, people all over the world gather to promote and celebrate the joys of reading and writing literature. This is World Book Day, a yearly event organized and promoted by UNESCO to encourage reading for pleasure around the world. Though people of all ages are encouraged to participate, World Book Day is geared especially towards children and young people, encouraging them to develop a good relationship with books and good reading habits that they will then carry into adulthood.

Significance of the Date

April 23 is WORLD BOOK DAY! What are you reading? What's your favorite childhood book?

The date of April 23 was chosen because it coincides with several important dates in literary history. William Shakespeare was born on April 23 in 1564, and he died on the same date half a century later in 1616. April 23 is also the anniversary of the Miguel de Cervantes and Garcilaso de la Vega, a 17th century Spanish writer who also served as a chronicler of Spanish presence in Peru. The French novelist Maurice Duron, Colombian short story author Manuel Mejía Vallejo, and the Icelandic poet and novelist Halldór Laxness were also all born on April 23. This makes the day uniquely suited to represent writers from all over the world.

History of World Book Day

World Book Day was established in 1995. It is not an official holiday in any of the many countries in which it is celebrated, but it was conceived as a global initiative to be celebrated all around the world at the same time. UNESCO, the education and cultural outreach branch of the United Nations organized World Book Day. Each year, UNESCO chooses a city around the globe to serve as the World Book Capital City for that year. Madrid, Alexandria, New Deli, Montreal, Bagota, and Amsterdam are some of the cities chosen as past capitals. Capital Cities receive backing from UNESCO so they can put on more ambitious events.

Events Around the World

World Book Day events are generally left open for libraries, schools, and community organizations to put together themselves. Book fairs are common, as are costume contests where children dress as their favorite literary characters. A few cities host more ambitious annual events to celebrate their own literary traditions. In Spain, many cities organize public  “readathons” of the full text of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote. This is an ambitious undertaking, as the full text of the novel takes around two days of continual reading to complete. The Don Quixote Prize for Spanish literature is also awarded on this day. Similarly, pubs and other public spots in Ireland hold readings of James Joyce’s Ulysses, and people organize Ulysses tours, where participants visit all the locations around Dublin that are mentioned in the novel. In the United Kingdom, World Book Day is celebrated with the publication of a series of £1 books for children. These inexpensive books include many of the most popular titles for kids and make booksets for classrooms more easily accessible for schoolchildren in the country.

With so many distractions in modern life, it is easy to forget the pleasure of immersing yourself in a good book. World Book Day serves as an important reminder of the joy of reading.

Presented By Book Pal

Posted in Books, Information Article

Why Read to a Baby?


arents are excited and proud when their baby learns to say a few words.  From infancy onward, of course, the baby has been listening and learning language.  The skill of saying the words aloud is just the tip of the iceberg. Inside their developing brains, babies are ripe for knowledge. They soak up everything that they see and hear.  Reading books to them can enrich their knowledge and lay the foundation for a richer vocabulary at an early age.

BookReading to an infant may seem silly, but they love the sound of your voice and they are learning the nuances of language. By reading to them from all sorts of sources, parents can create an atmosphere of learning.  As they get old enough to see pictures, then the real interaction between language and visual cues really begins. Personalized baby books can deliver a one-two punch of learning. One of the first words that a baby recognizes is the baby’s own name. After all, it is usually said again and again by the parents. If it is said in a book, then the baby becomes more alert to the text that the parent or grandparent is reading. This provides both enjoyment and education at the same time.

An enriched vocabulary helps babies to understand the world faster. Reading books aloud is an important and loving aspect of good parenting.

Posted in Book Reviews 2013, Books, REVIEW

Book Review: The Promise by Dan Walsh & Gary Smalley


few months ago I shared a book review for  The Dance, by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley which was the first book of “The Restoration Series, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  So I was quite delighted when I was given the opportunity to read the second book in the series, The Promise, also by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley.  I certainly was not disappointed!  

bookIn this story, Tom Anderson loses his job, and does not tell his wife . . . for five months!  He continues with his normal schedule by leaving for work each day and coming home at the same time each evening.  His wife, Jean, senses something is going on.  She cannot figure out why her  husband is so concerned about finances, when he has a good job.  He even wants her to clip coupons!  But she has a secret of her own, and does not know how to tell him.  Their communication is definitely broken.   I imagine many readers will be able to relate to this couple.

Tom’s parents,  Marilyn and Jim (the couple whom the book, The Dance is about) are on their second honeymoon in Italy.  I especially appreciated their new communications skills and how they learned to love each other in a new way and how later in the story, Jim takes responsibility for some of the things he taught his son in the wrong way.    

The Promise is definitely a heart-felt, realistic story that encompasses real family and marriage trials that can lead to healing, forgiveness, restoration within a marriage and family,  all coming  from God.  I am looking forward to the next book in the series!


 The Promise  is available at your favorite bookseller from Revell,
a division of Baker Publishing Group.

A free copy of this book was provided to me for my personal, truthful and unaltered review.

Posted in Books, REVIEW

Book Review: A Farmer’s Daughter: Recipes from a Mennonite Kitchen by Dawn Stoltzfus


ith finally getting into more of a routine after our daughter’s wedding,  I am looking forward to making more homemade warm comfort foods. I was given the book,  A Farmer’s Daughter: Recipes from a Mennonite Kitchen by Dawn Stoltzfus to review, and it certainly is one I will be using a lot, especially through the fall and winter months.  I love making bread and the recipes look wonderful, even for Thanksgiving, such as, Fresh Apple Walnut Bread with Maple Drizzle or Honey Corn Bread.  There’s numerous breakfast recipes that would be great for Thanksgiving or Christmas morning and many yummy soup recipes, one my married daughter even wants to try.   

But tonight, after a cold windy day,  meatloaf just seemed like one of those warm, comfort foods for tonight. So I tried Mini Cheddar Meatloaves and it was an absolute hit!  The recipe said to shape it into 8 mini loaves.  Instead, I made it into little balls and put into a muffin tin.  It was so easy to serve up.  I also doubled the recipe to freeze some for another meal and sent some with our son when he was going to a friend’s house.  Here is how the recipe is written, in A Farmer’s Daughter:

Mini Cheddar Meatloaves

  • 1 lbs ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard

Preheat oven to 35o°F.  Mix together ground beef, egg, cheese, milk, onion, and salt.  Shape into 8 mini loaves, place in greased 9 x 13 pan.   In a small bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard; spoon evenly over loaves.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.  Serves 4-5.

This will definitely be a recipe I will be using.  What I like about meatloaf, is you can add additional things to it.  If you have leftover rice . . . add it in!  This was so easy to double and made 30 muffin sized loaves.  I love it when the kids ask for more, and they certainly did!

I look forward to trying out more recipes in A Farmer’s Daughter.  If you are looking for a Christmas present, this would be an ideal one!

I received a copy of  A Farmer’s Daughter: Recipes from a Mennonite Kitchen at no cost for the purpose of review.  All opinions are my own and were not otherwise compensated. This book is now available from your favorite bookseller of Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Posted in Books, REVIEW

Book Review: At the Feet of Jesus by Joanna Weaver


have read and both enjoyed and been encouraged by Joanna Weaver’s books,  so when I was given the opportunity to read and review  At the Feet of Jesus: Daily Devotions to Nurture a Mary Heart I was thrilled and I am not at all disappointed!  

This is a devotional book for a full year.  Each day includes the author’s devotional on a topic that affects many women and many of them are excerpts from her books, and at the end of each devotional is a reference to Scripture to read and a short sentence afterwards on a thought to “reflect” on.  Throughout the book there’s are pages called “Going Deeper” which encourages for more intimate time with God and how to do so.  At the Feet of Jesus is a great book to pick up each day and just be encouraged where we are at.  I have always liked Joanna Weaver’s  realness as she relates to everyday, stretching, and growing women who have pains and deal with life in general.  This book is no exception.  Even if you have read her other books, I found reading through some of the devotionals it being reminder of things that pricked my heart previously and know God wants me to remember!

I really like this At the Feet of Jesus and think it would be a great Christmas or Birthday gift to give to a special friend, daughter and/or mom.  It’s definitely a book I will be continuing to read!

I received a copy of At the Feet of Jesus at no cost for the purpose of review.  All opinions are my own and were not otherwise compensated. The information below was provided by Litfuse Publicity to share with my review.

About At the Feet of Jesus  – You were made for more than serving God; you were made to “know” Him. 

Intimacy with God–to know Him and be known by Him. It is what our hearts desperately need, but somehow life conspires to keep us busy and distracted.

For anyone who struggles when it comes to daily devotions, “At the Feet of Jesus” extends an irresistible invitation to set aside your duties and find the amazing peace and incredible joy that come from time alone with Him. Drawn from Joanna Weaver’s beloved Bethany trilogy, each reading in this 365-day devotional includes a Bible reading passage and reflection question. All-new material and “Going Deeper” sidebars are also woven throughout.

Discover for yourself the riches that come from spending a portion of each day alone with God. At the feet of Jesus–where true life begins

Includes a unique One-Year Bible Reading Guide.

About Joanna Weaver – With more than one million books in print, Joanna Weaver is the best-selling author of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Having a Mary Spirit, Lazarus Awakening, and the award-winning gift book With This Ring. Her books have been translated into several languages around the world. 

Weaver’s articles have appeared in such publications as Focus on the Family, Guideposts, and In Touch. She has also appeared on a number of national TV and radio broadcasts such as The Harvest Show, Midday Connection, HomeWord and others.

She is also a highly sought-after speaker and shares her message at intimate gatherings and several high-profile events each year.

As much as she loves writing and speaking, her greatest joy is found in being a pastor’s wife and a mother. The parents of three, Joanna and her pastor husband, John, live in Montana.

Learn more about Joanna Weaver and her books at Readers can also keep up with her via Facebook and Twitter.