Thursday, 19 May 2016

Book Review: Sit Stay Love by Dana Mentink


About the Book: Take one abrasive professional athlete, a quirky out-of-work schoolteacher, and an overweight geriatric dog, and you're ready for a lesson in love . . . Tippy style.

Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he inherits his deceased mother's elderly dog, Tippy, he's quick to call on a pet-sitting service.

Gina isn't thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie in the classroom. Furthermore, she can't abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.

As Gina travels through Cal's world with Tippy in tow, she begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is falling in love with her too . . .

Discover the charming story of Tippy, the dog who brought a family together.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1W95mqe

My Thoughts:  I must admit that I am not a dog person (ducking the flaming arrows), but I thoroughly enjoyed this quirky book.

With charming characters and an engaging storyline, this book is a quick and enjoyable read, while still managing to teach you a thing or two along the way.  If you're a dog lover, you'll love this book - and if you're not, you still will! :)

I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more books by this Dana Mentink.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Book Review: Synced - Living Connected to the Heart of Jesus by Jennifer Kennedy Dean


About the Book: Prayer can become extraordinary when we live connected to the heart of Jesus.

Synced encourages you to emulate the way Jesus lived His life. With real-life stories of people walking closely with Jesus, finding themselves in the right place at the right time, readers are challenged to examine what staying in step with the Spirit looks like. National best-selling author and known prayer expert, Jennifer Kennedy Dean, uses the familiar passage of the Lord's Prayer as anchor points to present the way Jesus lived His life in step with the Father through prayer.

Every moment is pregnant with purpose. Every moment is drenched in power. Prayer is no longer the means by which you attempt to get God to perform for you and becomes, instead, the means by which you connect with His heart and mind. A praying life is a life of peace and soul-rest. A praying life is lived in sync with the heart of Jesus.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1U7102O

My Thoughts: Prayer is one of the spiritual disciplines that many believers struggle with, myself included.  We often don't think we're praying often enough, long enough, effectively enough, but are at a loss of exactly how to improve our lacking prayer lives.  I was hoping this book would be helpful in that regard, but it wasn't quite as much as I had hoped.

I did appreciate the somewhat unique twist of using the Lord's Prayer to discuss how we can become synced with God, connected to the heart of Jesus.  However, I found it a bit simplistic in parts.  With the suggestion that if we could only be synced with God, blessings and ministry would just flow effortlessly, it smacked a bit of prosperity gospel to me at times.

I definitely believe that God does miracles, and that sometimes heaven's power reaches through our earthly circumstances at the exact time we need it.  But it doesn't always.  And it's not due to a lack of faith or a lack confidence that God can come through for us.  Sometimes faithful believers lose their homes when the money doesn't come in at the eleventh hour.  I do think that the author realizes that, I just wished it would have been stated specifically, and that she would have explained what it means when we don't see heaven's power in our earthly circumstances, despite our fervent prayers.

I did, however, really enjoy her focus on obedience as well as her chapter on forgiveness, and found that particularly insightful.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Book Review: Pocket Prayers by Max Lucado



About the Book(s): Pocket Prayers (with various authors; Thomas Nelson, March 2016)

Bestselling author Max Lucado has teamed up with six authors to write the Pocket Prayers series for those in need of peace, renewal, rest, faith, hope, joy, direction, serenity, and courage.

Short, simple prayers are very effective, which is why each book in the series contains forty guided prayers and complementary scriptures for any situation, including for:

-Moms (written with daughter Andrea Lucado)
-Grads (written with daughter Andrea Lucado)
-Dads (written with Mark Mynheir)
-Military Life (written with Mark Mynheir)
-Teachers (written with blogger Jennifer Hale)
-Friends (written with Betsy St. Amant)

Purchase your copies: http://amzn.to/1VgCJqv

My Thoughts: These books are perfect for guiding your prayer life specific to the category you fit in.  Each of the 40 prayers starts with a complementary scripture passage followed by the prayer that flows from that thought.

The prayers are very specific to the indicated category and are very practical and useful.  However, even though they are short, they are still very meaningful.

For example....
In Pocket Prayers for Teachers....
Psalm 139:13-14 You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.
a portion of the prayer reads "...Help the teachers and administrators in my school see your fingerprints on every student. Let each challenge be seen as an opportunity for good; let each character trait be seen as a reflection of your glory."

Snippets of prayers from other days.....
"...Bless each student in my class, especially those from troubled homes. Let them feel my love and attention, and please protect their innocence. Show me how to be their steady, dependable guide."

"...Help my coteachers tap into their talents and use them well. Let your glory shine in their skills so we can celebrate the achievement of our students through your mighty work."

"...Help my students get along and form lasting friendships."

Beautiful prayers, perfect for guiding a teacher's thoughts and prayers, and calming their hearts.

Snippets of prayers for moms....
"...Today I feel spread thing and overcommitted. I don't have the strength in me to do what needs to be done. Give me the energy I need just for today. Give me time for rest and rejuvenation."

"..Help my children to fix their eyes on you when they experience fear or anxiety. Show them who you are, and grow their trust in you."

"...Today I am worried about my children. Temptations surround them at school, with friends, online. Sometimes I feel helpless. Give me wisdom, and help me release them confidently to your care."

For dads....
"..Bless my wife today. Protect her, encourage her, and wrap your love around her. Help her focus on our relationship with each other and with you."

"Help me be bold with my faith and unashamed that I follow you so I will speak freely about you. Help me walk in courage and faith every day because my strength and dependence flow from the Holy Spirit."

"..Give me the heart of a servant leader. Humble my spirit so I will desire to serve as you served, to lead as you lead."

For friends....
"...I ask you to bring healthy relationships into my life and to protect me from relationships that would pull me away from you."

"...I need discernment today regarding the friendships I allow in my life. Give me wisdom to know which relationships to embrace and which ones to pass by."

"...I want to be strong for my friends when they go through trials and storms. Help me pick them up and point them toward you in every situation. Enable me to laugh with them as they rejoice and cry beside them as they struggle."

For the graduate....
"...Be with my friends who are starting new schools and new jobs. When situations arise, help them ask you, before anyone else, what they should do so they will make wise decisions."

"...Let this year be my chance to start over. Let it be the year I begin to follow you, really follow you. And let my life show the fruit of the Spirit to those around me."

"...I know graduation is an exciting time, but it is also bittersweet to say good-bye to family and friends. Give me joy and excitement in this time of change."

And for military life...
"...I pray I never have to enter the field of battle, but if I do, remind me that I am secure in you no matter what."

"...Please be with my family and chase their fears away. Comfort them and give them peace when I'm absent."

"...My family needs you. I have to train so often, and my job requires a lot of time away. Help them understand and be able to manage the days I am away. Reassure them that I'm following your will for my life."

6 short books for 6 specific people.  I really enjoyed these books and highly recommend them to you, or to give to someone as a gift.

We were encouraged to give at least some of ours away.

I am going to give the one for teachers to my friends, Pamela.
I am going to give the one for friends to my oldest daughter, Emma.
I am going to give the one for dad to my husband.
I am going to keep the one for moms!
I am going to give the one for graduates to one of the grads from our church.
I am going to give the military one to a couple from church.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Book Review: And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts


About the Book:

And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye (David C Cook, March 2016)

"I was here. I saw beauty. I embraced it." -Kara Tippetts

How do you live out extravagant love in the everyday moments? How do you celebrate grace when your life turns out differently than the one you dreamed?

Kara Tippetts discovered how to find joy in the small moments of life. She learned how to hold tight to hope even while battling intense physical and emotional pain. And she lived out the truth that God can redeem any story.

In her final book, Kara offers gentle reflections on living and dying well. She invites us to cultivate soft hearts even when we face great disappointment. Her ideas for living are hard-won, wrestled with in the crucible of family, illness, and faith. And her constant reminder is that whether we are in the midst of dark days or mundane moments Jesus is always there, life is surprisingly beautiful, and God is forever good.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1QVAvgz
About the author:


Kara Tippetts was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. She blogged faithfully at mundanefaithfulness.com. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, has been parenting their four children and leading the church the couple founded in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

My Thoughts: As far as I can recall, this is the first book I've read by an author about her own death. I've read books by authors who are deceased, but not so recently and not a biography written during the process.  It was definitely a different feeling reading this book - poignant and sad, yet also filled with hope.

Kara writes with transparency and honesty, giving us a firsthand glimpse into the end of her earthly journey.  She tackles, both for us and more importantly for herself, questions like "How does one die well?" and "How does one glorify God in death?"  Reading this book makes it clear that she was able to do both and do them well.

There were so many things to take away from this book, but one thing that struck me was that the time we spend right now leaning on God, learning of God, following Jesus - that time will serve us well when the time comes for us to lean on what we've done in the past.  That foundation was crucial for her, and it is for us as well.

A beautiful and heart rending book!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Book Review: The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer


About the Book: Thirteen years ago, Evie's firefighter husband was killed in the line of duty, leaving her to raise their young son, Cody, alone. Now, Cody is marrying the love of his life, and as he packs up his belongings, the house feels as empty as Evie's heart. But for all her planning and mad organizational skills, Evie could never have anticipated the dramatic shift her life is about to make.

Tattooed, rough-around-the-edges Jack raises quite a few eyebrows in the tight-knit community of Banister Falls. Where Evie's life is stream-lined, Jack's approach to living is moment-by-moment. But as Evie gets drawn into Jack's world---a world that isn't as safe or predictable as the one she's worked so hard to create---he challenges her to open her eyes to the problems outside the walls of the church.

Jack doesn't make Evie feel comfortable, but he definitely makes her feel something. Something she hasn't felt since Max passed away---or, maybe ever. Because even though Jack isn't anything like her late husband, he just might be everything she needs.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/21Zw8Tk

My Thoughts:  I read and reviewed The Dandelion Field, the first book in this series.  I loved the first book, and enjoyed the second just as much!

The biggest thing I appreciate about Springer's writing is how realistic it is.  She doesn't gloss over the sometimes harsh realities of life, or fill the book with eye rolling cliches.  Rather, she weaves a story of love and growth among difficult subject matter in a way that will touch your heart and cause you to reexamine yourself.

Loved it and can't wait to read more!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for organizing this tour and providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Nourish Your Family's Spiritual Health this Easter

If your family is like most, breakfast is rushed to get everyone out the door. Lunch is spent at school or work. So where does that leave dinner? Nourish your family's spiritual health as you eat supper together. Adventures in Odyssey and Odyssey Adventure Club want to give you a free resource to help you begin your new dinner tradition of making the most of your family mealtime, beginning this Easter season. Simply head to this page and fill out the form to receive a free sample of Whit's End Mealtime Devotions.



Want new resources to continue to build your family's faith, even after Easter is over? Consider signing your family up for the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:
  • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas. 
  • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users. 
  • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes. 
  • A new, members-only AIO episode every month. 
  • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more. 
To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter. and Pinterest.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Book Review: Lolli and Pop Find Kindness by Carolyn Snelling


About the Book: For preschoolers and early readers, author Carolyn Snelling offers little "Lolli" Cake and her pup named "Pop". This sweet duo share their adventures as they learn about GOd's Fruit of the Spirit. This first book, "Lolli and Pop Find Kindness", helps your early reader understand that while kindness can, at times, be hard to show, God hopes we can learn to easily share it with others.

My Thoughts:  Overall, I thought this was a delightful children's book.  My kids are a bit old for the target range, but I thought I would get their perspectives on it anyway.

I read it to my 8yr old son and he loved it!  When I asked him a few days later if he wanted me to read it to him again he immediately said yes, and he asked if there were more books about the other fruit of the spirit.  So Carolyn, you better get writing!

My almost 11 yr old daughter thought it was a bit dull, but she's probably too young to appreciate that kids younger than her would think it was cute.

My 13 yr old daughter however, thought it was a great book for kids and she thought they'd like it.

I found the illustrations delightful and overall the story was good.  If I'm going to be picky, I thought it odd that Lolli called her parents "mother" and "father", as in real life, I only hear "mom", "mommy" or "mama".  My only other minor complaint is that in one part of the book it's implied that kindness shouldn't be hard because it's a free gift from God, but in another part it acknowledges that it sometimes is hard.   It IS hard to be kind at times, and that's how you know you're showing the fruit of the Spirit, because it is only through the power of the Spirit that we can show kindness even when it is hard.

Overall all, very cute book, and I hope Snelling continues with more in the series!

I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Lolli and Pop Find Kindness released in January 2016 from Carpenter’s Son Publishing. For more information about the series, visit Snelling’s website at  http://www.heartofthecrosspublishing.com where there is also a video for children that introduces the series and the activities for children.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Easter Devotions and Activities for Your Whole Family




We're down to the final two weeks before we celebrate Easter and Jesus' resurrection. Do your children understand and grasp the full meaning of why we celebrate the holiday? Adventures in Odyssey and Odyssey Adventure Club want to provide your family with a week of meaningful, fun Easter activities to help make the holiday come alive this year. Simply head to this page and sign up to download your free PDF full of family devotions, egg wraps, recipes, crafts, and cards. Oh, and as a bonus, here's a free activity sheet from Focus on the Family!




If you're looking to dig into the Easter holiday more and want to build your kids' faith, consider signing your family up for the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:
    • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas. 
    • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users. 
    • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes. 
    • A new, members-only AIO episode every month. 
    • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more. 
    To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter. and Pinterest.

    Saturday, 12 March 2016

    Walk Through Holy Week with Odyssey Adventure Club








    The Bible is no doubt a timeless book, but often it's seen by the younger generation as ancient and antiquated. How can we make the stories of the Bible—particularly the Easter story—alive and exciting for our children? Adventures in Odyssey has created a free activity kit for families to experience the Easter story brought to life through eight days of Christ-centered and fun activities. Click here to sign up and download the kit for free.




    If you're looking to bring the Bible to life further during the Easter season, consider signing your family up for the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:

    Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas.
    On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users.
    24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes.
    A new, members-only AIO episode every month.
    A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more.

    To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter. and Pinterest.

    Thursday, 3 March 2016

    Begin Prepping for Easter with Odyssey Adventure Club



    Witness-the-Greatest-Story-Ever-Told



    Easter is right around the corner! It's an exciting time of year for families, churches, and Christians everywhere as we remember the greatest story ever told: how God loved us so much He sacrificed His Son so we could spend eternity with Him. Take advantage of the Easter season to spend more time with your family investing in your kids' faith.

    To get you started, you can download a fun cutout to have a craft night with your family and to prepare them for Palm Sunday. Plus stop by this page for a slew of crafts, recipes, and stories to share with your family during this special time of year!



    90-Devotions-for-Kids-Quote-1



    If you're looking to take one more step in investing in your kids' faith during the Easter season, consider signing your family up for the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:

    • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas.
    • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users.
    • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes.
    • A new, members-only AIO episode every month.
    • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more.

    To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.



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