I have discovered over the years, that life can be challenging. God desires to sustain us as we look for "splashes of His grace" every day. My desire is that through posts, or book reviews, you may find something that points you to the grace of God, and that He ultimately will make a difference in your life.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Precious Moments Storybook Bible by Sam Butcher

The Precious Moments Storybook Bible, by Sam Butcher is a beautiful hardback book that can be used to introduce stories from the Bible to young children. The pastel illustrations using Precious Moments characters are an added treat.  The pictures, I believe, would capture a child's attention. This Storybook Bible is based on the International Children's Bible® so it is easily understood by children as it is being read to them, and would be equally easy to read by an elementary aged child.  Scripture references for each story are given under each title so children and their parents know where in the Bible this particular story can be found.

The book is divided into four sections: Favorite Bible Classics, Words of Praise and Wisdom, More Stories of the Faith, and Songs and Prayers.  There is also a section in the front of the book, like in regular Bibles, to record family history and major spiritual events.

The Precious Moments Storybook Bible would be a delightful addition to your family library and a wonderful way to share God's Word with a child.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Mockingbird Parables by Matt Litton

The Mockingbird Parables, written by Matt Litton, is based on Harper Lee's classic book, To Kill a Mockingbird. Litton takes this masterpiece and gleans "parables" from its characters and life situations to instruct it's readers on the Christian faith.  The story of To Kill a Mockingbird had an impact on me that I didn't expect.  It's truths were clear and moved me.  However, I feel Matt Litton stretches things at times and other times falls a little flat in his attempt to take it's characters and assign them a biblical meaning.

Though I could appreciate what the author was trying to do, and found some merit in what he was saying, I didn't always agree with him theologically, and the "parables" didn't always capture my attention. On a positve note, the book was thought provoking as it points readers to consider how their lives should impact those around them, and how the Christian faith can and should be seen in every aspect of their lives and community. While Harper Lee's book inspired me to draw those moral and spiritual conclusions on my own, Litton's book seemed slightly more forced in designating Boo Radley as "God", or Scout Finch as portraying "The Role of Women in Ministry".  I feel the characters in the orginal book spoke for themselves.

Some may find this book interesting, but personally I don't believe To Kill a Mockingbird was intended to be a spritual allegory like C.S. Lewis', The Chronicles of Narnia, or Paul Bunyan's, The Pilgrim's Progress.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Captured by Grace by Dr. David Jeremiah

Captured by Grace, authored by Dr. David Jeremiah, did capture my heart. We hear so much about God’s grace, but perhaps never fully comprehend what a wonder it is. Once you are a recipient of God’s grace, you can do no less than extend that same that grace to others. Dr. Jeremiah weaves the stories of the lives of the Apostle Paul, and John Newton, with Newton’s most famous hymn, Amazing Grace, to produce a truly amazing picture of God’s grace. Though these two men lived centuries apart, they still had so much in common. A closer examination proves that we, today, also have much in common with both of them. We all need to experience and be captured by God’s grace.

The book is divided into three parts: Grace For The Past, Grace For The Present, and Grace For The Future. Each chapter focuses on a line of the hymn, Amazing Grace, and ends with a summation in devotional form called “Moments of Grace,” where Dr. Jeremiah allows you to personalize and put into action the thoughts of the chapter. Throughout the book one can see how God has pursued these men and sense how He still desires to pursue each of us and capture us by His grace.

I highly recommend this book as it made me appreciate the goodness and grace of God and reminded me that NO ONE is beyond God’s reach of grace.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Friday, September 10, 2010

Out Live Your Life -- by Max Lucado

It is a fact of life.  We all will die one day. But we can choose to "out live" our lives by the choices we make each day. Renowned author, Max Lucado, encourages his readers to do just that in his newest book, Outlive Your Life. We were created to make a difference in the world in which we live. Max Lucado attempts to help us see that we can make a positive difference in the lives of a hurting world around us. The things we do today will have an impact that can last years into the future. Even after we die, what we have done will live on.

Outlive Your Life opens our eyes to the physical and spiritual needs that sometimes make us feel uncomfortable. Lucado wants us out of our comfort zone and in the trenches, trying to make a difference. Each chapter ends with a verse of Scripture and a prayer, to help solidify the emphasis of the chapter.  The end of the book contains a Discussion and Action Guide which helps facilitate discussion in a small group, (or give you things to contemplate in a personal study), and then gives some practical ideas on how these concepts can be put into practice. To me, this enables the reader to become a doer of the Word and not a hearer only.

If we each begin to be that positive influence in the communities and cities we live in, and then reach out to our state, nation, and beyond, will eventually make the dramatic impact on the whole world. You may do something big or small, but God can use each thing to make a lasting impact.

Max Lucado wants to be an example of putting into practice what he is encouraging his readers to do, so he is donating one hundred percent of his royalties from this book to "benefit children and families through World Vision and other ministries of faith-based compassion."

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Boy Who Changed the World -- by Andy Andrews

The Boy Who Changed the World, written by Andy Andrews and beautifully illustrated by Philip Hurst, is a story written to show children that everything they say or do, whether it's big or small, can make a difference in the world around them now and in the future. Andy Andrews takes the same theme and story from his book, The Butterfly Effect, and translated it into a book that children can understand. The illustrator also includes pictures of butterflies throughout the book to emphasize this fact.

The book recounts the story of the life of Norman Borlaug who developed "super seeds" of corn, wheat and rice that saved 2 billion people from starvation. Even though he was credited with this great accomplishment, there were many people, including Henry Wallace, George Washington Carver, and Moses and Susan Carter, who played a part in who he became and what he did.

This book would be appropriate for children ages 6-10. Younger children would enjoy the pictures, but may need help understanding the people mentioned in this story. Children of all ages can learn that God made them special and everything they do is important.

This book encourages children to understand that everything they do matters and can and will have an effect not only on their own life, but on the lives of others.  This book shows them that God made them special and even as a child, they can make a difference. Who knows....one day THEY may change the world!

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The Butterfly Effect - by Andy Andrews

Have you ever wondered if your life really matters?  The newspaper is filled with reports of important people doing spectacular things. Perhaps you see yourself as ordinary.  You do not hold an important position. You're not in a position to influence great numbers of people. Does what you do even matter?  After reading the book, The Butterfly Effect, you'll see the answer is YES!  You will see how everything you say or do can have an effect on those around you now and in the future.

Andy Andrews builds upon the theory called the butterfly effect.  This theory states that "a butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which in turn moving more molecules of air -  eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet." Andrews expands that idea to include people.  His premise is that everything you do matters.  It may be a small, ordinary act, which starts in motion, events that eventually turn out to be of great importance. One ordinary act, can make all the difference in the world -- literally!

In The Butterfly Effect, Andrews recounts the stories of two people whose lives forever altered world events.  Joshua Chamberlain, an ordinary school teacher, fighting in the Civil War, made one decision that had a profound effect on the future of the United States. Norman Bourlaug, was honored for producing hybrid high yield and disease resistant seeds which have saved the lives of billions around the world -- but he did not do this alone. You can trace his success back to various people, who were simply living their lives. These people's actions influenced situations, that ultimately produced events that changed the world through Norman.

This book is an attractive gift book which can be read easily in one sitting.  It will inspire and encourage you to look at yourself and your life in a new light. As Andy Andrews writes, "Every single thing you do matters. You have been created as one of a kind. You have been created to make a difference. You have within you the power to change the world."

God can take your ordinary life and make something extraordinary out of it. Reading this book will help you realize that everything you do really does matter.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Embracing Your Second Calling

Embracing Your Second Calling, by Dale Hanson Bourke, is a book written to challenge women, in the second half of their life, to become the true person God wants her to be as she transitions from the past into the future. The first half of a woman's life may be filled with building a career or raising children, but the second  half of life can be just as exciting and fulfilling as we discover new purpose and passion for the things that God has now called us to. The author challenges women to take what they have learned and done in past and translate it into how God can now use it to minister to others. The second half of a woman's life should be a time of listening to God and becoming the women He has created you to be. 

Dale Bourke intertwines the story of Ruth from the Bible to emphasize how God can take someone who thinks their life is over, and transform it into a time with new purpose. The first half of our lives we tend to concentrate on doing.  The second half of life, Dale suggests, should be about becoming.

Each chapter has some interactive questions/statements for women to consider as they take a journey through this book.  Some are questions to "Reflect" upon and others are things to "Act" upon.  I think they can be helpful additions to the reading, but found them a little distracting having them in the margins throughout the chapter. I feel they would have been more effective to have them at the end of each chapter as a "put it into practice" section.

Overall I think the book could be helpful to women transitioning from a career into this next stage of life, though I had a hard time relating to the "important" things she is now doing with her life after a successful career. It may have been more helpful if it was more of a "how to" rather than "look what I've done" type of book. As a stay at home mom whose children are now practically grown, I will never be in the position to do what she has done, but the book encouraged me to find out what God IS calling me to do with the second half of my life, no matter how big or small that task may be.
Book Sneeze provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister

The Secret Holocaust Diaries - The untold story of Nonna Bannister is a true story, written from the childhood diaries of Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, which tell of her journey from a life of privilege through the tragedies of World War II and the Holocaust. After living in Eastern Europe and suffering through the years of war, she eventually emigrated to America where she met her husband, Henry Bannister, to whom she finally revealed her secret after decades of marriage.

Her childhood diaries, along with some family pictures were tucked away in the attic where she had meticulously translated them in order to have her story documented. This book is her recollections, family history, and story of survival as seen through her eyes. The book is written from her diaries and her memories, along with occasional added “editorial” notes and explanations which were helpful.

I have read history books and reports of WWII and the Holocaust, but this book brought to life the atrocities on a personal level. My heart went out to her as I tried to comprehend how the people she encountered could be so cruel, and how she survived the emotional impact of this time in her life. I was also amazed that she had not become bitter. This book is a testimony of love and forgiveness. How she could keep this part of her life secret for so long is a mystery to me, but I am glad she finally decided to share her story with the world.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado

Life can be difficult. We all face a few “giants” along the way. What do we do when we find ourselves in a situation, a relationship, or a crisis that seems overwhelming or terrifying? Do we run the other way, or do we face our giant? Max Lucado suggests that we can “face our giants by facing God first.” He believes that when we focus on our giants – we stumble. When we focus on God – our giants tumble.

This book takes a look at life of David, and uses his life as an example for us. There were times when David looked to God and found victory and other times when he tried to do things on his own and failed.

If you have ever felt alone, desperate, or grief-stricken, lacked direction, had relational problems, or found yourself in a stronghold, this book is for you. Maybe your giant is debt, disaster, danger, deceit, disease, or depression. If so, this book can help you as you face these frightening situations. You will discover that with God, you can face your giants.

Max Lucado writes in a relaxed style which is very readable. At the end of the book, there is a study guide which raises questions that correlate to each chapter. These questions can help facilitate application either personally or in a small group setting.

I was personally encouraged by the message of the book. When I first started reading it, I was about to face a real giant in my life which required eye surgery. I am still in the midst of the fight, but I am determined to trust God and am confident that He will see me through. I do recommend this book for anyone who is struggling with their own personal Goliath!

I received a copy of this book free of charge from Book Sneeze in exchange for a review.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Distorted View!

Since I had my glaucoma surgery on February 18th, the vision in that eye has not been normal. If you can "envision" streaked, bright, blurry, wavy, distorted double vision, you'll begin to understand how things look to me out of that eye! The doctor assures me the vision will return to normal, but until then, this is how I see the world! My depth perception is off, I'm a bit wobbly at times, and I can't do some things I'd like to do, like drive!!

This all has been a bit frustrating to me and it has caused me to feel irritable, and if I'm honest, just plain sad. Countless people have been praying for me and still, nothing has really changed. As I approached God about this one day, asking why I STILL have this distorted vision, I sensed Him ask me about my view of HIM. I really didn't think God answering my question with another question was what I was needing at the moment, but He persisted. He wanted to know....How did I see HIM.

As I thought of this a moment, I understood. You see, when we face trials and struggles -- when we don't get our prayers answered as quickly or in the way we see best -- we have to make sure our view of God is in proper focus. Do we view God as a harsh, impersonal being, whose goal is to keep us in line? Do we see Him as uncaring, far off, or unconcerned? Do we have a "distorted" view of God?

As I pondered how I viewed God, my vision of Him began to come into focus. What I know about God is first of all He is Good. He does everything with purpose and will even work my trials for my good. He is Love. He doesn't just love, He IS love. It's His essence. He is Faithful. He does what He says He will do. He keeps all His promises. He is my Heavenly Father. He sees me as His child and cares and protects me as His own. He is Light and in Him is no darkness at all. He can illumine the path before me. He directs me and there is nothing in Him that is evil or impure so I can trust Him. He is the Good Shepherd so He takes care of me. The list can go on and on.

My question of the seemingly unanswered prayer began to fade from my mind as I began to confess to God those attributes that truly reflect who He is. Though I desire my vision to clear, I am assured that no matter what, God is good. He is here with me and loves me beyond what I can even imagine.

So, when you are tempted to see through an unhealthy eye, remember your view of God will be distorted. But when your eye is clear, you'll see Him clearly.

"The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light ; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Luke 11:34

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Tidy Life

I function best when things are neat and tidy. Things don't have to be perfect, and I am FAR from compulsive about being organized and sanitized! But, I do like to eventually get things in order so life flows a little more smoothly and a lot less frantically.

Life for the most part has been "tidy" for me. I've had ups and downs, and problems most everyone faces, but for the most part, I've straightened up the small messes, and gone on with living. The last few years have been a little more challenging for me. I've found life is not as easy as it once was. Emotional challenges, health issues, major decisions my children need to make, aging parents, and lack of sleep, all contribute to a feeling of being out of control. Life is not as "tidy" as I'd like it to be.

If I had my way, things would line up perfectly. The right decisions for my children would be completely and unmistakably obvious. My mom's memory issues would vanish and she'd be how she used to be. My glaucoma would simply be healed instead of me having to have surgery. I would not have had to deal with hurt and the emotions that accompanied that. And I would close my eyes and be able to sleep ALL night. Something that hasn't happened in about 3 years now!

Yet, I can say that am thankful that things don't always go my way. If they did, I never would have understood forgiveness like I do. I wouldn't have developed my relationship with the Lord through prayer as I have. I would not have had to trust my Heavenly Father for His care and understood His love for me. I would not have known that I can truly trust Him for my next step as well as the future for my life and for my family's lives.

Though life is not as neat and tidy as I would like, I know I have a God that walks along side of me daily. He sees the big picture and can be trusted to work all things together for my good because He is Good. I don't know what the outcome of my eye surgery will be on Thursday, but He does, and I trust Him because He has been and always will be faithful.

Though life can be messy, the Lord is an expert in straightening things up, if we will only trust Him!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

This is Your Brain in Love -- by Dr. Earl Henslin

This is Your Brain in Love by Dr. Earl Henslin looks at the correlation between the brain and people's behaviors, and the way it causes them to interact in relationships. He has concluded that through the use of a SPECT scan, (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography imaging) obtained through Dr. Daniel Amen's Clinics, one can determine the exact area of the brain that is affected and therefore, through the use of supplements, food, or drugs, one can balance these areas in the brain that are overactive and solve issues in marriage that have long been sources of problems.

Chapters 1 - 3 are introductory, describing love and sexuality in the context of marriage and the importance of a healthy functioning brain in the midst of it. The following five chapters define different types of "lovers" (I feel better term would be personality types) -- "The Scattered Lover", "The Overfocused Lover", "The Blue Mood Lover", The Agitated Lover", and "The Anxious Lover". Each of these chapters begin with a quick test in order for you and your spouse to rate yourselves/each other to see if you fit this profile. Then, throughout the chapter there are suggestions as to how to deal with the problems associated with this "brain problem" as well as stories of couples who have found help dealing with these issues.

I found the scientific research of the brain fascinating and it reinforced my belief in our Creator who designed intricate systems of the body. The brain can affect our feelings and actions and in order to function to our full potential, our mind, spirit and body need to be healthy.

The final chapter gave the secrets to lasting love: kindness, patience, forgiveness, and honesty and why they are good for the brain.

I found the book to be interesting, but not quite what I expected when I looked at the title. I was hoping to find a book with more suggestions for deepening the marital relationship through spiritual and emotional connections, but instead, it felt more like an infomercial for the Amen Clinics. Though Dr. Henslin did recommend supplements at times before medications, and offered suggestions for dealing with each type of "lover", he always seemed to recommend the SPECT brain scan -- a costly scan that insurance did not cover. Those with limited resources or without access to an Amen Clinic, may tend to "blame" their problem on a faulty brain, and not deal with some of the underlying issues that have caused their brain to become faulty.

My husband and I didn't really fall into any one category particularly. We each have a few of the characteristics of each of them occasionally depending on our circumstance, so the book wasn't exceptionally helpful to me. But readers who rate very high in one category, may have their eyes opened for the first time, and begin to seek the help they need.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


As I was with my grandson last week, I was reminded just how much we are alike. It wasn't so much a physical resemblance, (though the thigh rolls looked quite similar), rather it was how quickly he could go from being perfectly content, to completely upset in just a matter of minutes. At times he was practically inconsolable. All his basic needs had been met. He had been fed recently, his diaper was dry, he was fully clothed, and he was around people who loved him. He had just been playing and smiling and yet, for some reason, he suddenly became unhappy. He was tired and needed a nap, but he continued to fuss, struggle, and refused to give up his fight. Sometimes his crying went on for an hour. His mom and I knew he needed to relax, settle down, close his eyes, and rest in the arms of the ones who loved him, but he chose to fuss, wiggle, arch his back, and scream! We would rock, walk, and rock some more, and eventually he would give up and fall asleep, but not till he had made himself "most miserable!" I had to smile. The change was dramatic! The look on his face now was one of peace and contentment. And, once again, life was as it should be. How much easier would it have been, if he had just closed his eyes, and found rest in the arms of his Gramma!

I thought about how many times I do the same thing. Things seem to be going fairly well. I have all the necessities of life. I have food to eat, clothes to wear, a home to live in, and a family who loves me, and yet, something goes crazy in my mind and I loose it! I begin to fret about the "what if's". I worry about finances. I'm frustrated about decisions that need to be made. Fear begins to creep in, and emotionally I'm drained and tired. What I need to do is to curl up in my Father's loving arms and find peace and rest there. Instead, I usually begin to fuss. Soon this becomes a frantic cry as I wiggle and fight the One who is trying to soothe me. It would be so much simpler if I quit my fretting and rested, but like my grandson, Ben, I choose to struggle against the very things and the very One that would help me.

In those times of distress, I need to remind myself that taking time to rest in the Lord will do wonders for me, as well as for my loved ones around me. There is nothing worse than a frantic, crying, inconsolable woman!!

So the next time you find yourself weary and tired, instead of fighting it, allow the Lord to hold you in His arms and comfort you with His love, and find the peaceful rest you truly need. I'll try to do the same!

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)