Book Review: “Parent Hacks” by Asha Dornfest

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This book is the collection of over 135 hacks (tips, tricks, and shortcuts) for parents. It is such a fun book! There are tons of cute illustrations and highlighted text that make this book very easy to read. Some of the hacks are ones that I used when my kids were young, and others are simply brilliant ones that I wish I had known about then. One of my favorites from the book discussed the many uses of a roll of painter’s tape. Another great idea was to use an open dishwasher for young kids to practice their dexterity as they pour liquids into a cup. The author summed it up perfectly on the back of the book when she said, “Why didn’t I think of that?” My life as a young mother would have been so much easier if I had. This book would be the perfect gift for new parents!

I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

Book Review: “Hope Unfolding” by Becky Thompson

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This inspirational book was truly wonderful! It was so easy to relate to the author and so many times she reminded me of many of God’s truths from the Bible using stories of her own real, and sometimes raw, experiences. She makes lots of great connections between the Biblical thought she’s discussing and familiar stories or objects that you can relate to like using an analogy of hiding things in a junk drawer and hiding things in your heart. Each of the ten chapters expounds on an encouraging thought:

God Hasn’t Forgotten About You
God’s Plans Are Perfect
God is Good Even When Life Isn’t
You Are Not Alone
You Are Not Your Mess
Let God Be Your Strength
Have Grace for Who You Are
God Still Performs Miracles
God Loves You Just as You Are
You Are Enough

This book speaks to the heart of the mom who tries hard every day to be the best mom she can be, but doesn’t feel like she measures up. Mrs. Thompson reminds the reader that it’s okay not to be perfect, and nor should they try to be. On page 112, she says, “The messy areas of your life do not tell a story of your failures. Those areas tell the story of your humanity, and they are a continual reminder of your need for a Savior.” The book points the reader to finding their hope, peace, strength, confidence, and acceptance in the Lord. I think it’s a great, encouraging book for all moms.

I received this book for free from BloggingforBooks.org’s Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review. 

Book Review: “Blotch – A Tale of Forgiveness and Grace” by Andy Addis and Illustrated by Tatio Viana

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My daughter and I really enjoyed reading Blotch together. It is the story of the title character who is covered in blotches and goes on a journey to find someone to remove his blotches. On his journey, he runs into groups of hiders, pretenders, and pointers before finally finding the King who agrees to help him on his quest. This heartwarming tale is portrait of the Gospel. My daughter quickly picked up on this and said, “Mom, the King is like Jesus.” The book has good character development and fun illustrations with beautiful colors. My daughter found it to be interesting and liked the mystery of whether or not Blotch would find what he was looking for. The early chapter book with plenty of pictures was easy for her to read. The book also contained discussion questions for each chapter to facilitate family discussion and a hands on activity for each chapter. This was a fabulous book and would a wonderful addition to the reading list of young children and tweens.

I received this book for free from B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review as part of their Lifeway Bloggers Program. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” by Nicki Koziarz

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This book was an easy read by Nicki Koziarz. It is filled with honest, vulnerable stories from the author along with the story of Ruth, both of which didn’t quit when adversity came to them. I loved how real and authentic Koziarz was in the book, not giving a clinical prescription on how not to quit, but more like a friend talking to you and sharing her experiences to help you through a problem. The book was everything from funny to inspiring to me. She pointed out many things related to quitting that I had never considered. One of those things is that quitting doesn’t always have to be some dramatic episode where one screams “I quit!” and huffs out of the room. Quitting can also be starting projects and dragging my feet to get them to completion for all kinds of reasons. It also considers those of us who feverishly work towards a new goal and just fade away as other commitments or discouragement or disappointments get in the way. The book covers each of the five habits in two chapters each. Also included are Biblical Quit Quitting Verses and 5 Questions Every Quitter Needs to Ask before She Quits. This book is for all the women who want to be like Ruth by having faith in God’s plan and timing.

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions stated here are my own.

Review: “You’re Already Amazing – Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be – LifeGrowth Guide and DVD Set” by Holley Gerth

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It’s been quite some time since I have enjoyed a Bible study book as much as I enjoyed this one. Mrs. Gerth was very personable and had a relaxed, encouraging tone on the DVDs. I felt like it was really like sitting down with a friend for coffee to discuss these issues. The study guide has six sessions and has tons of free online content on the author’s website. The guide is filled with lots of open-ended questions that cause the reader to explore and examine many parts of their life that they might not typically sit down and ponder. I found all of the exercises to be insightful and interesting. I especially enjoyed the section at the end of each session where you are given a creative prompt related to that session. As someone who enjoys exploring my creative side, it was fun to get to combine creativity with Bible study.

I found it to be such an encouragement to explore Bible verses regarding trying to live my life the way God intended me to live it. Mrs. Gerth is very careful to explain the title You’re Already Amazing by distinguishing between humanistic pride and simply recognizing yourself as being the amazing person God created you to be. I’ll admit that it is hard for me to accept that I’m amazing. I usually have a hard time with positive thoughts of myself and generally am very critical of myself and my efforts. However, this passage struck me as early as page 18 of the guide:

“What I’ve discovered through connecting with thousands of women is that we’re great at encouraging everyone else, but we’re hesitant to do the same for ourselves. But God loves us all the same, and it hurts him just as much when you talk negatively to yourself as it would if you were saying those unkind words about someone else.” – Holley Gerth

As I read that, I thought of how I feel when my child is struggling with negative thoughts about themselves. It deeply saddens me to know that they think such thoughts, and I desperately want them to see just how wonderful they really are. For the first time, I thought about how that talking negatively about myself is doing the same thing to God when I’m overly critical of myself. The book is full of Bible verses, encouraging ideas, and word art that were so inspiring. My copy is full of notes and highlights which is an indication of a book that I love. I recommend this guide and accompanying DVD set to anyone who would like to “embrace who you are and become all God created you to be.”

I was given a copy of this guide for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Book Review: “Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant to Mom Alone” by Jill Savage and Anne McClane

I can’t express just how much I enjoyed this book. On almost every chapter, I found myself nodding along and being able to relate to so many of the concepts and personal stories shared by the authors. I have several handwritten pages of quotes from this book. It’s that good. As a mom who has benefited from “momming” together now and in the past, I can attest to the concept that sharing difficulties and struggles can be so helpful to not only to myself, but to the other moms too. The book encourages moms to be more real with each other and more understanding of our backgrounds, experiences, and differences. There are then seven chapters that detail how we can “mom” together: learning, helping, caring, sharing, praying, forgiving, and encouraging. The book also features the following helpful appendices: conversation starters, mothering personality inventory, mom co-ops, and 33 Bible verses to share with a friend going through a hard time. I found the mothering personality inventory to quite interesting and helpful to understanding why I act in the ways that I do. I also gathered at least two ideas for starting a mom co-op. Finally, the book has a small leader guide in the back that has discussion questions about each chapter. This was an inspiring book and one I can’t wait to share with my friends. I’d recommend you also read it no matter what stage of mommyhood you’re in. After all, Mrs. Savage said it best when she said “You’re not alone.” Surround yourself with other moms who can help and encourage you.

I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to provide a positive review. All opinions are my own.

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If you pre-order, you’ll also receive:
1 Printable: 33 Bible Verses to Share with a Friend Going Through a Hard Time
3 Wallpapers/Backgounds for Phone and Computer
7 Audio Workshops (downloads)
• Keep It Shut–Karen Ehman
• Embrace Your Mothering Personality–Jill Savage
• Living and Laughing Together–Ken Davis
• Could Someone Please Remind Me Who I Am–Juli Slattery
• Bad Moments Don’t Make Bad Mamas–Lysa Terkeurst
• Created to Be–Dr. Kathy Koch
• Confessions of an Imperfect Mom–Julie Barnhill
Bonus Video: No More Perfect Kids–Jill Savage

Book Review: “Cold Shot” by Dani Pettrey

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Griffin McCray is a SWAT team sniper turned park ranger at Gettysburg National Park. Finley Scott is a forensic anthropologist. This book tells the story of their romance budding in spite of what brings them together: a body found at Gettysburg. Griffin’s life is further complicated by the reunion of two old friends from college that the case precipitates. This reunion brings with it past pain that must be dealt with and resolved. All the while, danger is lurking around every corner it seems. Will Griffin, Finley, and his friends solve the crime before they fall victim to a crime themselves?

This was my first time reading a novel by Pettrey, and I enjoyed it. She weaves a somewhat large cast of characters into a story with lots of mystery, romance, and suspense. The book is clean and Christian-based. I can’t wait to see what happens in the life of the main characters in the next installment of this series. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys romantic suspense.

I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Book Review: “Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage” by Greg and Erin Smalley

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I decided to read this book since I was familiar with the authors through Focus on the Family. I found it to be a good marriage book that was appropriate for both young and old marriages. The book details 12 romance secrets through relatable personal stories of the authors and various examples from popular culture. I appreciate the authors’ willingness to be honest about their marriage struggles and their admission of not always getting it right in their marriage. In fact, it was funny to see that some sources of marital conflict seem to be universal, such as in the case of communication and division of household tasks. Little bits of wisdom are sprinkled throughout the book and visually easy to pick out. The book also has a website associated with it that has a free marriage assessment. I think this would be a wonderful book for any married couple, but I think it would make an excellent wedding gift.

I received this book for free from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.

Bible Journaling Book

Drawn using tutorial at timewarpwife.com
Learned from tutorial at timewarpwife.com

Recently, I became introduced to the world of Bible journaling, also known as documented faith or illustrated faith, via an Instagram post by Rachel Wojo. I loved the combination of Bible verses, art, and creative lettering. It was as if two things that make me happy, scrapbooking and Bible study, had collided. I quickly searched Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram and found lots of inspiring examples and tutorials. I have started with picking some of my favorites and trying to replicate them in my inspiration notebook. I also use that notebook to practice alphabets in different fonts that I find.

My first "journaled" verse.
My first “journaled” verse.

Using my inspiration notebook, I write verses and my thoughts about verses in a separate Bible study notebook. I’m far from being good at this, but it makes me intensely happy to be able to learn to draw and letter while learning Bible verses. The act of determining the design of the artwork causes me to take time to ponder the verse and how I want to convey its’ meaning. I also love that even the notebook and pencils were a gift from my children and the container for my pencils came from a ladies’ meeting at church. It is my hope that my children will someday take these journals and enjoy knowing which verses I chose to copy.

Banner drawn using tutorial from timewarpwife.com
Banner drawn using tutorial from timewarpwife.com

Like any crafting thing, there is a plethora of supplies that you can use. Since I just got started, I don’t have a lot of different items. Here is what I do have:

My supplies
My supplies

-Pretty notebooks, spiral or composition (a lot of people journal directly in special journaling Bibles, I prefer to have a separate notebook)
-Colored Pencils
-Pencil for Sketching
-Zig Ball Pen, .5mm
-Marvy Calligraphy Pen, 2.0mm and 3.5mm
-Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen, B
-Washi Tape

I hope to buy a Tombow Fudenosuke Soft Brush Pen soon. From what I can understand, these pens are great for the contrast of thin and thick lines of modern calligraphy that is so prominent today. Later, I’d like to also try some watercolor brush pens. I’m trying to resist the urge to run out and buy a lot of new supplies. One website suggested mastering one art medium before moving on to the next. I think that’s wise advice.

A page from my Bible journal
A page from my Bible journal

I’m still learning. Here are some resources to get you started if you are interested:

Time-Warp Wife
Rachel Wojo
Creativlei
One Artsy Mama

Flowers drawn from technique learned at oneartsymama.com
Flowers drawn from technique learned at oneartsymama.com

Book Review: “Healthy Fats, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook” by the American Heart Association (5th Edition)

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With heart problems and high cholesterol plaguing many members of my family, I was very interested in this cookbook. Not only did I find a book full of heart-healthy recipes, but it also had a lot of educational information. The book starts with chapters detailing the connection between fats, cholesterol, and heart heath; another connecting healthy foods to a healthy heart; and another showing the relation between staying fit and heart health. The recipes are what I would consider regular, family-friendly food. Many of the recipes are heart-healthy versions of things I already cook. Each recipe has detailed, clear directions and lists the nutritional facts for each serving. The recipes are divided into categories covering everything from appetizers to desserts, including vegetarian entrees and breakfast. The book concludes with instructional appendices on healthy strategies for shopping, cooking, and dining out; the science behind nutritional recommendations; the risk factors for heart disease and stroke; and the warning signs for heart attack and stroke. The only thing missing from this book are pictures. If those were present, this book would be perfect for me. In any case, I can’t wait to cook my way through some of the 200 recipes of this book.

I received this book for free from BloggingforBooks.org’s Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. I was not obligated to write a positive review.