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.

greensig

 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

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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!

greensig

 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

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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

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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

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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 www.JoannaWeaverBooks.com. Readers can also keep up with her via Facebook and Twitter.

Posted in Books, REVIEW

Book Review: As We Forgive by June Foster

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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.
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Above provided by New Hope Publishers
 

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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 www.margaretmcsweeney.com.