Saturday, March 10, 2018

Book Review: Faithful Finance ~ Emily Stroud

Faithful Finance is full of sound advice, written by a financial advisor, businesswoman, entrepreneur and full time mom. Sounds like a full plate, doesn't it? Thankfully, she has taken the time to write this book in both a conversational and to-the-point way. Emily lays out steps to help families be more empowered to tackle their current and future financial situations.

I appreciate that her topics are straight forward and applicable in many ways. Here are a few of the topics that I find most important: Create a budget and build up an emergency fund; Be a giver--generously and faithfully; Invest in retirement; Saving for college; Pay yourself first--start a savings plan. There are other topics as well--10 in all.

In this day and age of many feeling the need to have the newest iPhone, take on the highest mortgage a bank offers, etc., it is of utmost importance to take a step back and realize there needs to be a sound financial plan. Emily gives individuals and families a great starting point to get on track.

Book Review: The Transformational Adventure Study Guide

The Transformational Adventure Study Guide is intended to be used within a small group setting. As this is simply a book review for the study guide, it will be focused on how the book is laid out.

There are seven lessons in The Transformational Adventure, each beginning with a video lesson and presumably discussion within your small group. The study guide is an amendment to the program; intended that the participant will use the study guide between video lessons.

Each chapter includes an area to take notes during the video, a selection of Scripture, an area to respond to questions based on the video, and a section to self-study God's word as you search deeper within His word and your soul to understand better what God intends for you. Overall, it appears well laid out and has me interested in looking into the videos themselves.

The authors, Alan and Inda Williams "had it all" and then cancer struck. The complete program takes participants through their story and welcomes you to respond to God's invitation to live your life with meaning and purpose.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Book Review: Praying the Scriptures for your Adult Children

Jodie Berndt has written other books in her "Praying the Scriptures" series of books, but this is the first and only book I have read. While I'd like to read some of the others, I was drawn to this book. As parents, we are 'at that age' where our oldest will be heading to college soon and several friends have already moved into that next stage of life where children are either just leaving for college or jobs, or have already left. I just can't believe how quickly time has flown by since our firstborn was a newborn!
How important it is to not only raise our children in the light of God's Word, but also to continue to pray for them as they prepare to move out on their own. What better heartfelt words to pray than those right out of the Bible. This book goes well beyond this stage (career, marriage, health issues, etc.), but it's just the stage we are personally coming up on that I tend to be focusing on.
I know it will be difficult to take our eldest to college and drive away; makes me tear up even thinking about it! Yet, I/we trust God to work His will in his life; praying Scriptures over him is a reminder that he is God's first. We will never stop being his parents, even if our roll as parents changes.Whether you have a child who is floundering or "knows" where he's going, making Godly choices or is following a wayward path, good health or poor health, experiencing things we never wanted them to dealt with or living out her life for others--Praying the Scriptures offer insights and personal stories from others who are praying for their children. Personalized prayers with Scripture are included at the end of each chapter. May this book be a blessing to you and in your prayer life.

Book Review: Adored - 365 Devotions for Young Women

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women is a beautiful hard cover devotional book. I'll admit it: I'm drawn to beautiful covers and hard cover books! Considering this is a read-every-day-for-a-year book, it was a wise decision to make it hard cover. Each day's devotion is a Bible verse and a short commentary on the verse and/or how to apply that verse to middle/high school. While I'd prefer more Scripture each day, each Bible verse does carry it's own beauty, wisdom, and truth. Perhaps focusing on a verse a day is just what some young ladies need to grown their desire for God's Word. I'd consider this age-appropriate for grade 7 through grade 10. It does discuss bullying, dating, social media and friendships (among many other topics); depends where your daughter fits into the topics at hand as to whether it will be more or less relevant to her life. The Scripture is always relevant; perhaps not all the topics it's related to (ex. social media).

Book Review: Brave Beauty ~ Lynn Cowell

Brave Beauty, by Lynn Cowell, is a short chapter semi-devotional. It contains 100 mini chapters that talk about or tell stories about relevant things in the life of a middle school-aged girl. There are some self-quizzes and very short fill-in journal entries (not in every chapter though) with thought-provoking questions. Our daughter loves this kind of thing. My only disappointment come with the fact that it isn't really a devotional book. Most chapters reference a verse of Scripture that is applicable to the chapter topic. In addition, each chapter ends with a very short prayer. However, I was disappointed to see so little Scripture in light of the book's purpose (as stated on the back):
-See who God says you are
-Talk about tough stuff
-Discover how people of the Bible handled hard things
-Learn more about God and how He helps us
-Explore how God's words can help us become fearless and brave.

We purchased a devotional book for our daughter to go alongside this book. In all, Brave Beauty addresses topics that 8-12 year-old girls would find relevant and easily opens discussions between friends, and between mother/daughter.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Book Review: My Holy Bible for Girls, Journal Edition

Zondervan has put together this beautiful Bible in a journal format for girls. I didn't know what to expect when asked to review the style of this Bible. However, upon opening the package, I was all smiles. It's a beautiful hard cover Bible with a perfectly girly combination of matte and shiny patterns. I would have loved to receive this anywhere from about age 8-16. Our 10-year-old daughter oohed and ahhed over it.

The elastic strap is securely attached to the back cover. Who doesn't love a pink elastic strap? Sweet! Each page of scripture has a side bar of lined journaling space, adequate for brief note taking or referencing other verses. The pages feel paper-thin, but there is substance to them, so I don't believe a regular ballpoint pen would run through. I don't know that I'd use the new gel pens...although I haven't put that to the test either. Overall, it's super cute and well layed out. An NIV edition, it would be nice to see this style offered in NKJV as well.

All opinions are my own in this review. I love it and hope you will too!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Book Review: Earth Psalms ~ Francine Rivers

      Francine Rivers, a long time favorite author of mine, has published a lovely devotional book entitled Earth Psalms ~ reflections on how God speaks through nature. Karin Stock Buursma has added Scripture, poetry, quotes and hymns to this beautifully bound hardcover book. Photographs of scenery and animals in nature make this into a coffee table type devotional book: Pretty and inviting for others to pick up. Included are 52 devotionals, each with a Scripture reading, one of Francine's personal, insightful stories and statements/questions that give you space to reflect, apply what you've read and connect with God. The publisher even attached a silk bookmark. Overall, this has been a wonderful way to begin my mornings.  I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review and look forward to purchasing further copies as gifts.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Book Review: Crossing the Waters ~ Leslie Leyland Fields

Leslie Fields has woven her demanding (yet rewarding) Alaskan life on a remote island as a story within a story. It's a personal journey; both memoir and challenge to Christians. Leslie walks around the Sea of Galilea visiting significant places that Jesus traveled to during the course of His earthly ministry. She engages with various people along the way and takes the reader back into the Gospels, to the time Jesus walked the shores of Galilea or sailed on its waters.

When Jesus called to the disciples, "Come, follow Me," what exactly did that cost them? What does it cost us today? What should it cost us today? Life is often difficult and there are situations/people/jobs we really don't want to face, but what is God calling us to? Follow Leslie's journey to gain insight into the costs, raw struggles and rewards of what it means to be true 'fishers of men.'

There is a study guide included at the end of the book, making it a great option for a group study. A short introduction and discussion questions lead the reader/group participants back to Scripture.

Even though I received this book in exchange for a review (from Tyndale), I am already looking for other books that Leslie Fields has written. I enjoyed and felt challenged by Leslie's words. Her writing style was also quite delightful and the transitions between times/places flowed easily. It's one of those books that is difficult to put down.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Book Review: The Mind of Terror ~ by Tass Saada

Tass Saada, a former Muslim Fatah sniper, now reaches out to those in the love of Christ. His book details exactly what the title implies: it assists the reader in understanding the mind of terrorists. ISIS and other extremist groups are running rampant; detailed is what you need to understand about the Muslim teachings and Middle East culture as it's effects are far-reaching.

Read to understand why the "co-exist" bumper stickers address unrealistic solutions. Recognize what is happening in today's world and how to address both terrorism and terrorists.

Written from the perspective of someone once heavily involved in terrorism, you will begin to understand where the ingrained hatred stems from. Your heart will both be heavy with questions and emboldened to stand firm; your spirit stirred between weeping for innocents being tortured and praying for the Lord to change the souls of the torturers. The truth is, no one is so far gone from God that His love for him or her is not enough.

I was provided this book in exchange for my personal review from Tyndale Publishers.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Book Review: All But Normal ~ by Shawn Thornton 

All But Normal Life on Victory Road was both an enjoyable, difficult and enlightening read. Enjoyable because Shawn Thornton and Joel Kilpatrick have put real life situations into an engaging format; difficult because it brought back memories of childhood experiences of a father who struggled with depression; enlightening because, by the end of the book, the reader sees a fuller picture. Life is like a puzzle; you have to look back over the years to see the big picture of how God's hand worked in ways you didn't fully realize.

Shawn Thornton's mother, Beverly, was in a car crash that forever changed her life and the lives of those around her. She was left with brain damage that changed her once-gentle personality battling with waves of violent and uncontrollable bursts of rage. Amidst the chaos and frustrations, Beverly still loved God and had a strong desire to reach out to others; she wanted to share in their struggles and be a shoulder to lean on.

Shawn shares his memoir with others as a way of encouraging those with similar struggles and his book sheds light on a topic rarely discussed: mental illness. The main focus of his book demonstrates that even in the most turbulent lives, God is there. In spite of our human weaknesses, sins and flaws, the capacity for God's availability and work in individuals' lives is unlimited.

I received this book for review from Tyndale House Publishers; all thoughts expressed are my own.