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 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 Information Article, REVIEW, Wedding

Wedding Receptions & Ballrooms in Grand Rapids, MI


ith having married off three of our children, two last summer and one the summer before,  we are often asked about things we did research on, such as the best place for wedding receptions in Grand Rapids Michigan.

pictureBeing the ages of our kids, including some of the kids I have babysat for, it seems we are attending a lot of weddings.  One that stands out the most in my mind is the beautiful reception for one of the girls I used to babysit for.  It was a very elegant sit-down dinner and the atmosphere was beautiful.  The part that stands out the most in my mind, is before dinner began, the wedding party was introduced from the above balcony and as they came down the stairs.  It was just gorgeous. I am sure the bride especially loved her special entry to begin the reception with her new husband, being introduced as Mr. and Mrs.  It really was the perfect place for a wedding reception, and one of the best ballrooms in Grand Rapids.

I have only been to that specific ballroom one time, however I know our local high schools have had proms and homecoming dances at it as well.  It would also be an ideal place for corporate events in Grand Rapids Michigan with the ability to divide up the ballroom into separate areas.

It definitely is a place to consider for special events.

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.

Posted in Books, REVIEW

Book Review: As We Forgive by June Foster


oo often we put people in ministry on a pedestal, with the idea they do not have struggles, can fail or even sin. I am thankful the pastor of my church is very open that he does have struggles.   Yet, my family was in a situation at one time, where we were told to never question a pastor, and to do so, could even cause serious health issues!  

So, in reading, As We Forgive, the author, June Foster, tells a realistic story of a young youth pastor, Tim, who struggles with anger and losing his temper, a result of how he was taught from his father, growing up.  Tim wants to do right before God, and with his youth group, and not only does it seem he fails, the kids in the youth group also take advantage of him, and people in the church run with it, seemingly trying to destroy him.

In the meantime, Tim falls in love with Roxanne, a gal who also has a past of struggles, including her father who abandoned her.  Her way of getting through the pain is shopping, and putting herself into deep debt, which she too, tries to hide.

This story is of love, heartache and redemption, in a unique way.  It is an easy read, yet, very realistic and something each of us can learn from.  Rarely can we find families without some type of dysfunction  and this definitely shows it, yet, how God can be the Healer and make life changes in individuals who seek Him.  I highly recommend putting As We Forgive on your to-read list.

I received a free e-book of As We Forgive from LovenGod Promotions in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Books, Grief, REVIEW

Book Review: Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief by Margaret McSweeney

Loss is a four-letter word that grips our hearts and gridlocks our lives. Grief can hold us captive until we surrender it to God. How do we find the necessary grace to journey through the mourning process? Juxtaposed to the outpouring of her mother’s words about grief, the author shares her parallel journey from the emotional abyss of grief after becoming an adult orphan. With candor, the author shares her own emotions experienced along the spectrum of loss after her parents’ deaths: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—adding interactive options for readers. Five sections cover these common emotions and provide:
  • comfort Scripture lists
  • counsel sections from grief experts
  • chronicling sections with detailed helps
  • tangible handles on dealing with grief during holidays, capturing loved ones’ legacy, and more.
Above provided by New Hope Publishers


or someone who may have just gone through the earthly loss of someone close, it can be hard reading deep books. Their mind can be in such a fog and it’s so hard to comprehend.  I believe this can be a book to give to someone who has either had a close loss or to a friend or family member who wants to understand another’s loss.  Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief by Margaret McSweeney is like reading someone’s personal journal and various conversations of reply throughout this easy reading, tender book.  
Carolyn Rhea first wrote the book, When Grief Is Your Constant Companion: God’s Grace for a Woman’s Heartache after the death of her husband, which consisted of 52 devotionals for women walking the same grief journey.  After Mrs. Rhea passed away, her daughter, Margaret McSweeney was asked to expand her mother’s book.  Aftermath includes some of her mom’s poetry and writings, and Margaret’s walk of grief after the death of her mom.  It’s a very personal book, one of sharing so many raw emotions, the ups and downs and the ultimate security in Jesus.  It also showed to me, how important our little notes we leave behind, being in our Bibles, notebooks or letters to family is so important.  These are treasures that are passed on and show our hearts.
I highly recommend Aftermath for anyone to read . . . and would even be good for a family anticipating the death of a loved one, in things to prepare for and memories that can be made.

 This review was written in exchange for a copy of the book, and expresses my honest opinion of the book. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Margaret McSweeney is a well-published author often writing online articles for Make It Better (the former North Shore Magazine) and freelance articles for the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. In addition, she has authored and compiled several books including A Mother’s Heart Knows; Go Back and Be Happy; Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace and most recently, Mother of Pearl.

Margaret has a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in international business. As is the founder of Pearl Girls, Margaret collaborates with other writers on projects to help fund a safe house for WINGS, an organization that helps women and their children who are victims of domestic violence, and to build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda through Hands of Hope. For the past 10 years she has served on the board of directors and leadership advisory board for WINGS. Margaret lives with her husband and 2 daughters in the Chicago suburbs. Learn more about Margaret and the work of Pearl Girls at

Posted in Books, Faith, Grief, Matthew, REVIEW

Book Review: Desperate for Hope by Bruce W. Martin

Things are going just fine,
and then the call comes.

There’s been an accident.
There’s a mass in your breast.
The company’s downsizing.
Your husband is leaving.
Your daughter was raped.
And all of a sudden your life
is spinning out of control.
By Bruce W. Martin,


ave you had a call or life changing experience, like the author mentioned above?

We have . . .  from our daughter having serious heart defects and three open heart surgeries, a stillborn daughter and the death of our son. Sometimes it’s hard to make sense of it all, and where God is in it all, but indeed, we have seen and found Him, many times through the deepest valleys more evident than the brightest of days.  I appreciated that Bruce Martin, did not sugar-coat the life trials by sharing his heart and experiences, including friendships that were shattered because of it.  

His writings were encouraging, such as, to worship God even when things are bad, which is not our normal default, and how praising God can even change our attitude and help us endure through the situation.

“We move from thinking Woe is me to Great is our God.  The more we reflect on the greatness of God, the more our perspective on the situation changes.  We’re reminded that God is with us and He’s always up to something.  We just can’t see it yet.”  (p. 73)

Throughout Desperate for Hope, Mr. Martin relates to the story of Job and others from Scripture, along with the author of the song, It is Well With My Soul.  Part Three of the book is titled, “The New Normal“.  I’ve often referred to this myself, especially after the death of our 16 year old son.  Things would never be the same, but joy does come again, and there is a new normal.

I really appreciated the honesty of life experiences and reactions and looking for God in it all.  Each chapter is ended with with questions that are great for the individual reading it or for a book group going through this together, such as a grief group.

I highly recommend reading Desperate for Hope for anyone, and it would also make a caring gift for someone going through the valleys of life.

You can read many more quotes on the Desperate for Hope Facebook page and the author’s twitters.

Desperate for Hope is available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.  This review was written in exchange for a copy of the book, and expresses my honest opinion of the book. 

Posted in Baking/Cooking, Books, Recipe, REVIEW

Book Review: Don’t Panic–Quick, Easy & Delicious Meals for Your Family


 very much enjoy trying out new recipes.   So when I was given the privilege to review Don’t Panic–Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family, in exchange for an honest review, I was quick to say yes!  I am thankful I did!  I have enjoyed looking at this book and trying out several recipes.  This recipe book has normal every day recipes in it, that many times, I have most of the ingredients, or at least know of them and can pronounce them!  It is also very easy to understand and follow.   

One of my favorite sections in the book is the “Crockpot Collection” with over two dozen recipes.  I am looking forward to trying some of these when we start school.  My crockpot becomes my maid so I don’t have to cook for dinner!  There’s also some wonderful “Easy Baked Oven Dishes” such as an Apricot Chicken I want to try soon!  With numerous recipes it shows how to triple the recipe for freezing the extra meals.  There’s some great ideas in the “Breakfast, Breads, and Brunch” section, which would be great to bring for a bridal shower for my daughter next month!

This past weekend was my twin’s 21st birthday and we finally all got together.  Of course, what girl does not like chocolate, especially since they take after their mother!  🙂   Because the recipe yield is for 8 servings, I doubled it and baked it in a large glass pan.  It turned out WONDERFULLY!  It was so moist and chocolaty!  I did put a light cream cheese frosting on it.  I wanted it a little more decorated for their birthdays!

Crazy Good Chocolate Cake

Recipe Yield: 8 servings;   Prep Time: 15 minutes;
Total time: 45 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 T. distilled white vinegar
  • 1 t. vanilla

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place first five ingredients in an 8x8x2 nonstick metal pan.  Using handle of a wooden spoon, poke 3 holes in dry ingredients.  Combine cold water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla in a large glass measuring cup.  Pour liquid ingredients into three holes in dry ingredients (there will be some overflow). Using a fork, stir gently until batter is smooth. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve . . . no frosting needed on this delicious snack!

Nutritional Information (per serving): Calories: 271.8; Total Fat 9.7g; Cholesterol Omg; Sodium 304.5mg; Total Carbohydrates 44.9g; (Dietary Fiber 1.8g); Protein 3.1g

From Don’t Panic–Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family, page 225

I have certainly enjoyed trying out various recipes and plan to try some more!

Don’t Panic–Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family
Available August  2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell,
a division of Baker Publishing Group. 

Posted in Books, REVIEW

Book Review: Mindful of Him by Hollis Hughes

ABOUT THE BOOK:  Mindful of Him is a tale of heartbreak and triumph set in the 1950s. Separated from  his young wife, and with both of his parents recently deceased, Rob McLain sets off on an adventure for which he has longed since childhood. Travel with Rob as his journey not only takes him to beautiful places, but also crosses his path with influential men who help him through his loneliness. Five months into the trip, Rob has a moonlight encounter that changes his life forever and overwhelmingly convinces this young skeptic that God is indeed mindful of him!

Through it all, he receives answers to life’s deepest questions. What does he learn? What happens to his wife? Do they get back together? Does he make it back safely?

Find the answers to these questions and others dealing with faith, creation, nature, and more in Mindful of Him, which will keep you reading long after you had planned to turn out the lights. Mindful of Him  was inspired by the writings of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, the giant of 20th Century Christian philosophers.


y thoughts on Mindful of Him.

Rarely have I read a novel from a man’s perspective, and found it interesting hearing his voice and thoughts throughout the story.  We don’t always understand the way a man grieves, which he encounters first with his parents, then his firstborn child, and then a major estrangement with his wife and in-laws.  I imagine if this was written in today’s language, we’d say he went out to “find himself”.  He met numerous people during the next five months of his canoe travels that encouraged him spiritually  and to see things from a different perspective.  There was sweetness in the story when he realized what he was missing out with his wife and yearning for 

As far as rating Mindful of Him, I’d rate it a 3 out of 5.  I found it got a little long with his canoe travels and was disappointed with some of the language in the book, though realistic, it was not necessary.   I do not want to give the ending away, but I was mainly disappointed with the shortness of it.  From my perspective, had some of the canoe travels been shortened and I could have read more depth into the ending, it would have been more enticing to me.  I felt like I finally got to a good part, and it was over!

I also found the information about the author, which I share below, very interesting and would enjoy reading more about his life and his caring for his wife.  🙂

I received a copy of Mindful of Him from the publisher via Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. To see what others are saying about Mindful of Him , visit the Litfuse Blog Tour or visit Wine Press Publishing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, HOLLIS HUGHES:  On a cold February day in 1928, Hollis Hughes was born in a ramshackle house  with no insulation, plumbing, or electricity. Growing up on a farm during the Great Depression, Hollis spent his youth chopping wood, tending the family farm, milking cows, and tending to livestock. Following college graduation, Hollis worked as a high school teacher and counselor for 38 years, and operated a successful rhododendron nursery.When Hollis’ wife developed Alzheimer’s disease in 1988, he spent the next twelve years taking care of her. Today, Hollis is retired from education. He is a fly fisherman, hiker, and gardener. He is a member of the American Camellia Society,  and a lifetime member of the Birmingham Botanical Society. Hollis and his wife, Lera, make their home in Alabama.

Learn more about Hollis by visiting

Posted in Books, Education, REVIEW

Homeschooling: Beginning with MATH


couple of weeks ago I began writing on what our family uses for beginning the elementary grades of homeschooling.   This fall will be our 20th year of homeschooling, and beginning our last year of starting our youngest child with his first year of “formal” education.  If you missed my first post, it was on what we have used for teaching reading and phonics.

Today I’d like to share what we have used for math.  Again, I highly recommend the book, How to Tutor by Samuel L. Blumenfeld which is divided into three main sections:  (1) how to teach systematic, intensive PHONICS and READING  (2)  CURSIVE HANDWRITING  (3) ARITHMETIC PROGRAM.   You really can start out with JUST this book, doing the basics with your child and a piece of paper.  It gives great guidance in not overwhelming yourself and teaching the basics.

Going along with the simple basics, I’ve also liked Ray’s Arithmetic . . . and now called Classic Curriculum.  Each year is broken into four series, so for first year, first quarter I use Classic Curriculum Arithmetic Workbook Series 1 – Book 1.  This is VERY basic teaching writing numbers, counting, combining sets, comparing numbers to 20.  Though this is listed for first grade, I’ve used it more as Kindergarten.  For the following quarters, you’d get Series 1 – Book 2; Series 1 – Book 3 and Series 1 Book 4.  The next year you’d need Classic Curriculum Arithmetic Workbook Series 2 – Book1.

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

As I previously wrote as well, is a great place to find these books, but be sure to add these to your “wish” list a good year before you need them, because there’s many times a long waiting time.

In the past years, I’ve found I’ve only used the first year of the Classic Curriculum and then switched to A Beka books for Math for first through third grades.  I like the bright colors and the way the concepts build upon each other.  HOWEVER, there is times when it can move too fast, and if your child has not memorized the basics for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, they can get lost and overwhelmed.  It’s SO SO SO important for them to grasp this.  There’s been times we’ve just set the book aside and worked on memorizing these. I may make-up worksheets or have the kids play games with it.  It’s worth “getting behind” to get ahead!

A Beka Books can only be purchased directly from A Beka or “used” books on eBay.  

After third grade we have gone to Saxon Math, which are hard covered textbooks, that we can pass down to the younger children.  We have started out with Math 54 which is for the average fifth grader, though we have usually started it for forth grade.  It covers basic math functions, estimating, 2- and 3-digit computation, and decimals.   You will want to make sure to get the KITS at least for the first child, which will give you the textbook, tests, and answer key.  We then have continued on with the following Saxon math kits, next being Math 6/5: Home School Kit, then Saxon Math Homeschool: 7/6; Saxon Math 8/7 with Prealgebra (Kit: Text, Test/Worksheets, Solutions Manual); and then several algebra courses and geometry follow.

So, this is a brief overview of what we have found to work for our family.
Posted in Books, REVIEW

Book Review: Passages: How Reading the Bible in a Year Will Change Everything for You by Brian Hardin


wonder, how many of us have the New Year’s resolution to read through the Bible, this year, start out with a bang, and slowly slipping away. We get so far behind, we totally give up, and the days in God’s word becomes more and more apart.  Ugh . . . and then we feel defeated . . . and we try again the next year . . . and the story repeats.  For me, I easily get distracted . . . not that it’s all bad, but I start doing Bible studies, and stay more in one area, and I don’t stick with the schedule.

I was very intrigued to read  Passages: How Reading the Bible in a Year Will Change Everything for You and I’m thankful to have read the author, Brian Hardin’s, personal story.

My friendship with the Bible has taken me the scenic route from who I was to who I was created to be.  My path began with an act of obedience to read the Bible every day, and it wound it’s way almost backward to the beginning, forcing me to deal with the stresses and compulsions of trying to carve out an identity that was mine alone with God relegated to a back-up plan.  It took me back to the wounds that life can bring and invited me to compare what they were saying about me with what God was declaring over me.  The Bible isn’t hocus pocus and reading it doesn’t give you magical powers, but it does reveal to you who you really are and illumines a path that you were created to walk.  (p.26)

I appreciated the author’s personalness throughout the book, giving a variety of ideas to keep going through the Bible, including the daily audio version he began in 2006, Daily Audio Bible podcast and now has 1.5 million downloads a month.

Passages: How Reading the Bible in a Year Will Change Everything for You would be a wonderful book for a new Believer or one who is struggling for daily Bible time.

This book was provided to me by Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Books, Faith, Family, REVIEW

Book Review: Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection by Edward T. Welch


will not be able to do this book review justice, with so much packed in the 325 pages and it being a very personal book that addresses “shame” that can attack any person from so many different angles. Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection will definitely be in my top five reads for this year.  It’s pierced my heart in a new way, even though it was actually difficult to read at times.  There’s questions after each chapter.  Many of them I just could not answer, because of the rawness and trying to “gunnysack” past pains, but after I read through the whole book and God pursuing and slowly working on things in my heart and soul, I find myself going back through it, and able to answer some of the questions a little easier.  

This paragraph from the author, Edward T. Welch,  summarizes this well:

Since shame is so painful, we could be tempted to race to the end of the story and hope to be done with it quickly.  But shame rarely responds to quick fixes.  Better to walk through the biblical story than run through it.  There is much to be learned from shame’s long history.  And this is where it first appears.  Here is the stuff of life crammed into one paragraph:  God, temptations, self-consciousness, and shame.
(page. 45)

I believe the subtitle of this book is just as important as the title. It’s not just about shame, but what shame does in our lives . . . including the worthlessness and rejection. I so appreciated the truth and theology of Jesus’ personalness towards us interwoven throughout the book.

‘You, like the Samaritan woman . . . don’t have to go into the details of your life’s shameful events either.  Before you can construct a strategy to cover them up, Jesus says, “I know what happened to you, ” or “I know what you have done.”  Immediately, you can tell He doesn’t reject you, expose you, or pull back to avoid being contaminated by you.  He just says, “Be sure to come back.” ‘

Having been questioned when I was young, when I failed and sinned, if I was really a Christian, put me in a tailspin for many years questioning my Christianity, and if once saved, always saved.  I, like many, went through numerous times, asking Jesus into my life, would fail, would doubt my Salvation and go through the “process” again.  I appreciated the way the author confirmed Salvation:

“Once washed always washed” is another way to put it.  Jesus said, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean” (John 13:10).  This is the bath version of the Samaritan woman’s living water.  Drink the living water and you will never thirst again.  Take one bath in the living water and receive the cleansing that comes with being identified with Jesus.  You are done! You still sin and need daily washing, but dirty feet do not nullify the enduring effects of the bath.”  (page 163)

There is SO much I could quote from this book, where it touched me, but that is where God was speaking to me, and each of us are being accused by the enemy in different ways.

Mike Wilkerson, Pastor and Director of Biblical Counseling at Mars Hill Church wrote on the publisher’s Facebook page (New Growth Press).

“Ed Welch finds us hiding in our shame and draws us out to be re-clothed by Christ. He surprises us again with the deep relevance of God’s Word—even Leviticus—to the secret fears that dominate our daily lives. This brutally honest book is for everyone.”
And I definitely believe it is for everyone.  Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection would be excellent in a small group for those that are struggling, or  for a counselor, coach or two friends to go personally through together.
I see God using Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection in amazing ways for healing that comes from Him.

The author, Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He has counseled for thirty years and is the best-selling author of many books, including When People Are Big and God Is Small; Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave; Blame It on the Brain?; Depression: A Stubborn Darkness; Crossroads: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Addiction; Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest; and When I Am Afraid: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Fear and Anxiety. He and his wife Sheri have two daughters, two sons-in-law and four grandchildren.

I was provided a copy this book by
The B&B Media Group for my honest review.

Posted in REVIEW

BOOK REVIEW: Don’t Panic–Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family


like to cook and love new ideas,  so I was thrilled to review, Don’t Panic–Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family, by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell and Bonnie Garcia.  Having some quick meals to make especially now in the midst of bridal showers and a wedding less than a month off, I figured this would be great to use!

Don’t Panic–Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family is a very simple type cookbook.  The layout is easy to follow and with many of the recipes gives the option to triple it so you can freeze some meals.  Throughout the book are also some “tips”, such as for breading chicken and keeping clean hands and avoiding contamination, use disposable gloves.  The recipes are quite simple, which is nice, and for the most part, the ingredients are going to be common ones that are in most pantries (except for meats and perishables).

When I try recipes, rarely do I stick to it completely . . . especially if I do not have the exact ingredients.  So this recipe below gave me a great start for a quick meal to put together in my crockpot.  In the [brackets] I put what I did differently.

Slow Cooker Pork Chops
(4-6 servings)
page 127

1 onion, sliced
4-6 bone-in pork chops [I used a pork roast – it was cheaper!]
1/2 cup apple juice [I used a peach/mango juice]
1 – 10 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 clove garlic, minced [I used about 4 – we like garlic!]
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

Directions: Place sliced onion in bottom of crockpot.  Layer pork chops on top of onion.  Mix together all ingredients except mushrooms and pour over pork chops.  Cook on high for 4 hours  [with roast, I cooked for about 6 hours.] Place fresh mushrooms on top of pork chops during last hour of cooking time.  Delicious served over rice or with noodles. [we served on mashed potatoes!]

My family loved it.  I know it was a change with the above recipe, but it gave a great idea and definitely something I will make again.

That said, if I would have seen Don’t Panic–Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family in a bookstore and leafed through it, I would not have bought it.  It does not have one picture in it and overall is quite boring to look at!  The book has sections for appetizers, breakfasts, pastas, crockpot, easy baked oven dishes, desserts and more. At the beginning of each chapter there is a page listed of the recipes that are in that chapter but no page number.  You can find the page numbers in the very back in the recipe index.  Most of the recipes to requite “prepared foods” such as cream of mushroom soup.  This is not  from scratch type recipes.

Don’t Panic–Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family would make a nice gift for someone who may need the basic ideas for some nice home cooked meals and does not need the visual pictures for encouragement!  I give it a 3 out of 5.

Don’t Panic–Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family is now available at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group , who provided this book for me to read and review.

Posted in Books, REVIEW

Book Review: Embraced By God by Babbie Mason


here is a wonderful devotional book to help you discover God’s unconditional love for YOU!   Embraced By God: Celebrating Who & Whose You Are is a 21 day devotional, broken down into seven different themes or promises with three devotions focusing on the each of the themes.  The promises are: God’s passion for you is unconditional, God’s picture of you is beautiful, God’s presence in you is perpetual, God’s provision for you is immeasurable, God’s plan for you is exceptional,  God’s power in you is accessible, and God’s promise in you is incomparable.  

In each chapter the author, Mrs. Babbie Mason, gives gives you four areas to contemplate by encouraging you to take personal action with. She asks you to “Think About His Love”, “Read About His Love”, “Pray About His Love” and to “Be About His Love”.  I found this book to be deep in someways because it touched my heart, yet like having a conversation with the author.  It’s one that any woman struggling about herself and if she is loved, especially by God, should absolutely read.  I highly recommend it!

I was given a complimentary copy plus one to give away of
Embraced By God: Celebrating Who & Whose You Are
from Litfuse Publicity

in exchange for posting my honest review and opinion.
and the additional information provided below: 

Enter Today and Save the Date-3/6!

About the book:

Have you ever wondered, “Does God really love me?
Do I really matter to him?”
As a matter of fact, God loves you just as much as he loves His own Son.
In the pages of this heartwarming, thoughtful and life-affirming 21-day journey, award-winning gospel singer, songwriter, and teacher Babbie Mason reminds you, when you know you are loved by God and that you are in His eternal plan, you’ll never again wonder if your life matters.
Click for more information
About Babbie Mason:  Babbie Mason is a Dove Award-winning and Grammy nominated gospel singer, songwriter, author, creator of the Embrace: A Worship Event for Women ministry, professor of songwriting at Atlanta Christian College and Lee University, and a television talk-show host. She was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2010 and has appeared on numerous national television and radio programs. Babbie has been honored perform for Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Lady Margaret Thatcher, Colin Powell, Steve Forbes among many others. Babbie performs a holiday special at Carnegie Hall every year. Babbie lives near Atlanta on a farm with her husband Charles.