Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jesus is Calling - 365 Devotions for Kids by Sarah Young

This book is simple, yet relevant and attractive to young audiences. The author has written one devotional for each day of the year. Each are only a few paragraphs in length, with a key Bible verse relating to the topic for the day, as well as supplemental Bible reading for kids who want to go further in study. This devotional book is unique, because the author has written the devotions as though God is speaking directly to the reader.

I think this is a great book for elementary to pre-teen age kids who are starting out in developing a quiet time with God. The topics of the devotionals speak of things that children can relate to and it is written in a way that brings God’s Word into everyday life. I think the fact that God seems to be talking with reader helps establish the truth that Scripture is living and active, and that God is very much involved in the details of our lives. I also like the “Read on Your Own” suggested scriptures because it encourages kids to not stop at a one page devo, but to spend time learning and growing on their own. In addition to how valuable the content is, the cover is fun and trendy. I highly recommend!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Christmas Prayer by Amy Parker

A Christmas Prayer is an adorable children’s book that leads children in a sweet prayer modeled after the Christmas story of the Bible. The prayer draws attention away from the material aspects of Christmas, and turns children to the true Christmas Gift, Jesus. As children read the prayer, they can follow the small child in the book who sets up a nativity type scene piece by piece. The child uses toys and stuffed animals to create a precious display of Christ’s birth.

The illustrations, by Marijan Ramljak, are soft and precious. The book is attractive, with a padded cover and cardboard pages. And I love that the book both teaches children how to pray, while teaching them about Christ’s birth. While the style of book is perfect for toddlers, the prayer is something that even early elementary children would enjoy. I look forward to sharing this book with my niece and nephews!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker...and a GIVEAWAY!!

This book is a thrilling fiction novel that captivates readers with the passion of the story. It is a story with a basis of all things entertaining: suspense, action, romance, mystery. It is set in a time and place with a cast of characters that play upon the curiosity of the reader. Yet it is the unfolding story of love, betrayal and sacrifice that grips the heart of the reader more than anything. It is a complete illustration of the power of sacrificial love and redemption, not only within human relationships, but within our relationship with God, the true lover of our souls.

This book left me contemplating sacrificial love: the cost of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for me…just to be with Him. But I also thought about the call on my life to have a sacrificial love toward others. What is sacrificial love? What does it look like?

I believe it can be illustrated and demonstrated in many ways. The ultimate demonstration of sacrificial love was of course, Christ bearing all our sins on the cross, defeating death and hell so we can spend an eternity in God’s presence. The extent of His pain I know I cannot fathom. But even what I do understand I cannot imagine being able to have that type of sacrificial love without His power in my life. To love beyond my own desires, needs, pains…to love beyond betrayal…selfless and pure…this is sacrificial love. I fall short daily, but because of HIS redemption I can freely live and keep on trying.

Now it is your turn: What is sacrificial love to you?

As part of my review, the folks at Thomas Nelson Publishing have asked me to do a t-shirt giveaway. This is exciting because that means one of you will win this FREE t-shirt created especially for the release of Immanuel’s Veins!! I have one too (see photo). It is simple and artistic, featuring the words “Spread the Love”, something we should strive to do every day.

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is post a comment answering the question (what is sacrificial love?) by midnight on September 15, 2010. I will contact the winner and provide details for getting your free shirt. That’s it! Good luck!!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado

In this book, Lucado brings the idea of changing the world closer to home. Most of us are ordinary people and we often fall into thinking that we cannot make much of a difference…or that God only uses extraordinary people. Lucado reminds us that God has and still does use regular people to accomplish His will, the question is: are we brave enough to be obedient?

The book is full of relevant and practical points that help readers understand the great need in our world for people who will step out to make a difference. Each chapter covers a different aspect of being a servant and giving of oneself to a cause or need. Perhaps the most significant characteristic of this book is that Lucado doesn’t simply inform, but instead challenges the reader to action. The chapters are short, but loaded with ideas to consider. It is fitting that each ends with an applicable Bible verse and prayer the reader can use to take the first steps to fulfilling the challenge presented.

This is one of those books you cannot breeze through in a day. I believe Lucado accomplished his purpose in writing the book, creating something that causes any follower of Christ (including me) to give pause and reconsider…am I willing to make a difference? After all, it is what I was made to do.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Heavens Proclaim His Glory by Lisa Stilwell

This is a beautiful book of images taken by the Hubble telescope of God’s creation in our universe. Images range from galaxies to planets, the birth of stars to their death, illustrating the vastness of God’s creation. Along with the images, the author used short facts to describe the photos to help the reader understand the magnificence of what was pictured. She also included relevant quotes from other Christian authors, leaders or artists and scripture that reflect what the images mean to them and give God praise for his works.

I thought this book was breathtaking, not only because of the images themselves, but because of the care taken to give God glory at the turn of each page. It is impossible to view the photos and read the descriptions without being captivated by the magnitude of God’s creativity, power and intelligence. I find books like this to be a treasure as it reveals a part of creation that we cannot see with our own eyes on a daily basis.

This is the type of book that would be great on display or presented as a gift. I would love to keep it, but I think I will pass it on to bless someone else with it.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

100 Prayers God Loves to Hear by Stephen Elkins

This is a fun book to help children learn how to pray about all kinds of things: thanking God for all He gives us, presenting Him with requests, praying for our families, our nation and so on. The book comes with two CDs of 100 total praise songs that correspond with the prayers in the book. This would work great as a daily devotional book for kids, or even to use for Sunday School lessons. It is structured so the child first reads the prayer and short discussion on the prayer topic. Then they listen to the song on the CD. Sometimes a specific Scripture reference is included, but not always. The book uses examples from Bible stories as well as modern day life situations that children can relate to as the basis for each prayer topic.

I think this book and CD combination is a great supplemental tool for helping children learn the importance of prayer and praise. It is a high quality product; the cover and illustrations are attractive to kids. And the songs on the CD are pleasant and fun. I’d say the book is most appropriate for ages 5-8 depending on reading level. Younger children would definitely like the music and pictures. My nephew loves to sing and dance so this is a perfect book for him!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Angel Song by Sheila Walsh & Kathryn Cushman

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but must preface by explaining that when I read a fiction novel that I enjoy…I don’t read very critically. I just allow it to entertain me. I was so swept up in Angel Song’s story that I finished the book in a weekend.

Angel Song is about Ann Fletcher, a young woman rising up in a home staging business in New York City. She finds herself confronted with her past in Charleston, South Carolina when she becomes the last living member of her family. She is “adopted” by her sister’s friends who challenge her to discover who she really is beneath her own strategically designed fa├žade. One especially influential character was Keith, the 12 year old boy with Down Syndrome, who had the ability to hear and see angels ministering to both him and Ann.

I loved following Ann as she worked through her grief, her career struggles and her lack of faith in God. I found myself sympathizing with her and cheering her on in her personal victories. I thought the authors did a good job drawing the reader in to the character’s world as well as addressing real world challenges that combat faith. The only complaint I have is that the ending left me wanting more!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge

In this book, John & Stasi reveal some of the greatest mysteries of woman, leading the reader through an exploration of why God designed her heart as it is. Without disregarding the “individual”, the book delves into commonalities shared by women through God’s design. Topics include woman’s purpose, fulfillment of her desires, the worst enemies of her desires, paths to healing and encouragement to use womanhood to support the body of Christ.



I LOVE this book. The first time I read it, my heart was opened to the mysterious of myself as a women. I discovered many of my “quirks” were really part of God’s design; some of my “weaknesses” were actually strengths. I learned how to heal from hurts I never realized were an assault against my God-given womanhood. Now, I am encouraged to grow in my beauty as a woman, in spirit, soul and body; to live boldly for God’s purpose for me.


I really appreciate all John & Stasi’s work, for many reasons, but one is simply for the fact they write together. Their shared work provides a well-rounded approach to all the topics. They are well grounded in Scripture as well, speaking life and hope into their readers while discussing the hard topics. It is evident God uses their words to bring healing.


I highly recommend this book for women AND men. Then go read “Wild at Heart” to unlock the secrets of the man’s soul.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Love & War by John & Stasi Eldredge

One thing you don't often hear in pre-marital counseling is that marriage is not only an act of love, but is also engaging in war. This book explains how it is necessary to fight for your marriage daily and in ways we don't always recognize.

The basic premise of the book is that we have an enemy and it is not our spouse. One of the greatest ways to love one another is to fight for each other daily. The authors show how this love is learned from God, who fights for us (and sacfrificed Himself for us!) so that we may experience His perfect Love. The story of man begins with marriage (Genesis 2:21-25) and it ends with marriage (Revelation 21:1-2, 9). And so the devil ferociously attacks marriage.

John & Stasi lovingly explain to readers the ways the devil most often attacks marriages: through unhealed brokenness in individuals; through agreements to his lies we make against our spouses (i.e. "He is always doing that...", "I can never trust him to..."); through sexual barriers; unforgiveness; lack of prayer. The best part is the authors also provide spouses with tools to use against these attacks. I love that they always turn the reader to prayer and intimacy with God, both individually and together with your spouse.

I found this book to be extremely practical; the authors provided tips and advice for how to apply what they write about. This includes everything from praying (example prayers written out in the back of the book) to conversation starters with your spouse. The authors also made the book interesting and relatable by including personal stories from their own marriage or experiences with couples they know. I especially enjoy that John and Stasi take turns writing about each topic so whether you are the husband or the wife, you have someone you can relate to....or learn from. They are writing as a married couple, not his story or her story.

I loved reading this book and plan to read through parts of it (if not all) again. I'd have to say John & Stasi Eldredge are my favorite authors on all topics related to marriage. Other great books by them are Wild at Heart and Captivating.

This book was not provided to me by any book review company. I purchased it myself and chose to write a view simply because I enjoyed it so much!

Friday, March 26, 2010

66 Love Letters by Larry Crabb

It is not often I think of all 66 books of the Bible as love letters from God. Frankly, not all of them leave me with that warm-fuzzy feeling associated with love.

However, the author of 66 Love Letters summarized the Bible book-by-book into a dialogue with God that reveals His love for us throughout all of Scripture. I believe one of the main points of the book is that God has a specific purpose for each book of the Bible - not just as a collection of spiritual guidelines, but as one Truth with one integral message of Love.

To be honest, I found this to be a hard read for mixed reasons. I found it awkward reading a constant dialogue between God and the author. The conversations between God and the author do provide a great contrast between Holiness and humanity. I just felt like if I was having the conversation, God and I would be talking about things differently.

The book was also hard because I did not entirely agree with the author’s view and understanding of Scripture. In an extremely condensed summary of what I mean: he emphasized God’s “tough love” and down-played His tenderness. The reason for this disconnect could relate to my first point – the book reflected the author’s relationship with God, whereas my relationship with Him is in a different place, focused on different lessons to be learned at this stage in my life.

This book did challenge me in a positive way too: the author emphasized God’s will for us to desire intimacy with Him above all else. The book helped me see this in places in Scripture I had overlooked before. I am also challenged to reconsider what I value most.

I recommend this book if you are ready for a challenge. Do not read this if you are seeking entertainment or even the warm-fuzzies expected from a love letter. Be ready to consider the words of this book carefully and apply them only prayerfully.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald

Where has my time gone?
Why do I feel so unaccomplished when my schedule is full of good and productive activities?
When will I ever get time to rest?

These are all questions I have asked myself more than once in my life and I know I am not alone in entertaining these thoughts. One reason I am so sure I’m not alone is because Ordering Your Private World is a book that addresses the root to these questions: the lack of order within one’s private self.

In his book, MacDonald provides chapter after chapter of practical truth and application for anyone wishing to get their inner lives in order. He uses Biblical wisdom as well as personal experience to explore and explain why people struggle with setting priorities and finding peace in the midst of daily routine.

There are only a couple of principles I was able to fully digest this first time reading it. Not because MacDonald is hard to follow or understand, but because of the depth of the wisdom within the book. One of these principles I picked up early in the book and found some relief and peace in: As a Christian I am called to a particular purpose and pursuit; therefore it is important I live as one who is called and not as one who is busy, distracted or driven by selfish ambition. This challenged me to assess how I spend my time – do my tasks contribute to my calling or my own ambition? What a great way to identify the time-wasters in life!

The other principle relates well to the first and I found it at the end of the book: Keep the Sabbath holy. What this means is not simply go to church on Sundays. This means understanding what the Sabbath is – a day of rest implemented and commanded by God for us all to observe. A day filled with church service (during which I work), eating out, finishing forgotten chores, making lists for the week and meeting up with friends, is frankly, not a day of rest. Rest is found is quietness, reflection, spending time in God’s presence. It is found in taking time to understand why we do what we are called to do; remembering our purpose and responding to God’s leading.

I found myself wishing I had taken notes while reading this book, something I hate to do since it feels so…academic. I was glad to discover there is a study guide in the back of the book which I plan to use my second time through. Once again, quite academic but something I believe is entirely necessary. It is the type of guide one cannot read, understand and implement all at one time. I hope to gather all the wisdom I can from this book so that I not only know what an ordered private world should look like, but so I can experience it as well.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book My Shelf

Book My Shelf. I love to read. And any opportunity I have to add books to my library, I'll take it. This includes borrowing books from friends or the library. At least the book is on my shelf temporarily! Since I enjoy reading books and sharing them with others, I thought it would be fun to start a blog where I shared my thoughts on what I read. Hopefully it will help you as you seek out your next read. Mostly, it will spur me on to add more books to my shelf. Enjoy!