Saturday, December 10, 2016

Review: Pray A To Z by Amelia Rhodes

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I requested Pray A to Z from Litfuse Publicity Group to read and review. I was pleasantly surprised. This small paperback book is full of prayers listed alphabetically, but it isn't just 26 prayers. There is more than one prayer for each letter of the of the alphabet, and the topics are listed clearly at the beginning of the book.

Each topical prayer fills one page of the book. It begins with a Scripture, a note of who you are praying for, and closes with a written prayer. You can pray the provided prayer word-for-word or use it as a launching pad for your own prayer.

The prayers are written broadly, so you could make it a blanket prayer for strangers within your community, but they also can be easily personalized to pray for specific individuals. I did this with the prayer for pregnancy, praying specifically for my daughter and another woman in my church.

There are topics in this book that I would never have thought to pray for. I think this works best when prayed through from start to finish, in order, as a systematic approach to changing your community. But, when God lays a specific need on your heart, you can also flip right to that prayer and lift it up to God.

I mostly see this book as a training tool. I can't imagine anyone not being changed as they pray through this book, and not being inspired to personalize these prayers. So let the book be used as a starting point, an inspiration, a checklist of needs ... and then let the Holy Spirit work through you as you become a prayer warrior for your community.

April E.


Are you ready to change your community, one prayer at a time? Learn how to organize your prayer requests topically and lay the burdens of your community at the feet of our Heavenly Father with the help of Amelia Rhodes' new book, Pray A to Z. Whether you are praying for a friend’s adoption journey, a neighbor’s bankruptcy, or a family member’s cancer, this book will give you Bible verses, prayer prompts, and prayer starts to guide you through praying for even the most difficult issues that affect the people you know and love. Perfect for either individual or group prayer, Pray A to Z will help you experience the peace that comes from communicating with God.

Learn more about Pray A to Z and how to pray for your community, and enter to win Amelia's Guide to Prayer Prize Pack to get you started.

One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on December 20. The winner will be announced December 21 on Amelia's blog.


April E.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Review: The Low-Pressure Guide to Parenting Your Preschooler by Tim Sanford, M.A.

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I've been a mother for over 21 years. I have two adult children out of the home, and seven still at home. I just became a grandma. I still live with the idea that it's my job to make sure my kids turn out right, make the right choices, and grow up to be responsible adults who don't need too much therapy. I've lived my parenting life full of shoulds, oughts, and internal pressure to do everything right. I wish I'd read The Low-Pressure Guide to Parenting Your Preschooler  years ago.

It doesn't just apply to preschoolers. As I read the book, I could see how children at all their different ages needed the same things, and how I fall into the same parenting traps even after all these years. (Why do I suddenly feel so old writing this review?)

This book really does offer good parenting tips, excellent communication skills, as well as help reduce the pressure we put on ourselves as parents. It won't make your life instantly easier, because kids are still kids, and they will make bad choices. But, it can help you walk through the parenting journey without taking on problems that aren't really yours in the first place.

I did learn a lot about communication with children and I am working to make changes in how I parent ... even after 21 years of experience. It would make a great gift for a young mom in your life! I'm going to read it a second time, then pass it to my daughter so she can avoid some of the mistakes I've made.

April E.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Review: Amy Grant's New Tennessee Christmas CD

We love Christmas music at our house. We start listening to it long before Thanksgiving, and Amy Grant's Christmas albums have always been family favorites. So, I was excited to have the chance to review her new Christmas album: Tennessee Christmas. After all, it's been nearly 20 years since her last Christmas album was released.

Yes, the title song on the new album is a remake of her 1983 song, from A Christmas Album. Along with that familiar song, Amy sings some old familiar songs, as well as some original Christmas music. Some of the songs are co-written by Amy herself, and her friends and family join in the recording. The album includes some spoken thoughts from Amy between song, and it has an air of coziness, warmth, love, and friendship.

The new songs on the album are To Be Together, Melancholy Christmas, Still Can't Sleep, Another Merry Christmas, Christmas For You and Me, and December. These are all warm, mellow songs.

The old, familiar songs include Tennessee Christmas, White Christmas, Joy To The World, I've Got My Love To Keep You Warm, Baby It's Cold Outside, Christmas Don't Be Late, and O Come All Ye Faithful. This mix of carols and fun Christmas standards just sounds and feels like Christmas to me. 

My husband and I have this CD playing on repeat in our bedroom. It's perfect for bedtime, reading, and resting in general.

If you're a fan of Amy Grant's, or if you are just looking for some new Christmas music, listen to the videos. Tennessee Christmas would make a great stocking stuffer for someone you love, or yourself!

April E.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Review: Everything Beautiful Coloring Book for Inspiration and Reflection

I love the variety of photos and quotes in Everything Beautiful! The 45 coloring pages range from birds in a nest, to a whale's tail in the ocean, blowing dandelions, and complex all-over floral patterns. Each page has a quote from a book, Scripture, or a person. The quote is explained with attribution and often with a longer excerpt from the book or Scripture.

The 9.75 inch square pages are printed on thick paper and perforated. You can remove them before coloring, frame them, give them as gifts. The perforation also makes it easier to share, so you can color with a friend or a family member.

One feature I haven't seen in other coloring books is the spotify playlist that Waterbrook  Multnomah creates and shares. The link to the encouraging playlist is in the back cover of the book so you can color while listening to uplifting music.

This really is a beautiful collection of uplifting quotes and coloring pages. Gather your friends, some colored pencils or gel pens, turn on the music, and relax!

April E.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Review: Moments & Days by Michelle Van Loon

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I have to admit I didn't grow up with any familiarity with church holidays (holy days) other than Good Friday, Easter, Advent, and Christmas. As an adult, I've learned more about Pascha, Epiphany, Passover, and All Saints Day, though we still primarily celebrate those that my husband and I grew up celebrating.

Michelle Van Loon doesn't just present a factual list of holy days and how to celebrate them in Moments & Days: How Our Holy Celebrations Shape Our Faith. She explains the spiritual significance of each holy day in the past, and the present. The book is divided into two sections: Jewish Biblical and Historical Feasts, and The Christian Calendar. Each chapter covers the Bible background for the holiday, a historical explanation of changes in celebration, how Jesus is the fulfillment of the holiday's emphasis, and practical suggestions for celebrating the holy day in your family.

The greater emphasis of the book is to let the rhythm of the holy days mark our life, to consider it a yearly cycle of personal worship and growth. Michelle explains how focusing on the meaning behind each holy day can help us to grow closer to Christ and point our children to God. Moments & Days isn't just about decorations and the physical trappings of a holiday. Van Loon takes us deeper into the spiritual focus of each holiday and meaningful ways to celebrate them.

If you're looking for more depth in your spiritual walk, guidance in helping your children understand holidays, and a Christ-centric rhythm to your daily life, you really should read Moments & Days. This book is for every Christian - Messianic Christian, Arab Christian, Catholic Christian, Protestant Christian, Non-Denominational Christians. Everyone who wants to understand and celebrate the deeper spiritual focus of the holy days.

April E.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Review: NIV Holy Bible Journal Edition

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When the NIV Journaling Bible for Girls arrived, all the girls in my family were oohing and ahhing over it. The turquoise floral hardcover is so pretty, and the journaling Bible has a different shape than most Bibles; the extra margin adding to the width of the book overall. There is a pink elastic strap that wraps around the Bible when it is closed, holding any loose papers in place and helping to flatten any pages you've decorated, as well as a turquoise ribbon bookmark.

I haven't started doing art journaling in any Bibles yet, but I am a profuse note-taker. The Scripture on each page of this Bible is pushed toward the center binding, allowing for a wider margin on the outside of the page. Each side has a 2 inch wide, lined margin. Although I don't particularly need the lines, this Bible is intended for younger girls to use, and the lines will be helpful for them to write their thoughts and sermon notes.

The font in this Bible is a bit small, but much bettter than my compact Bible. It isn't a red-letter version, nor does it have any maps, cross-reference column, or commentary notes. It does have footnotes that have some very minor notes that define certain words or explain an alternate translation of the text.

This is a beautiful, well-made, hardcover Bible, with plenty of room for journaling or artwork!

I've been having a hard time with the idea of passing this on to my ten year old daughter, though I know I should. I've taken it to church and written in it already, but I know I should pass it on to her, since she wants to use it in the same way. I guess I need to get a journaling Bible of my own instead.

April E.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Review: 40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood Devotions and Coloring Book

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood is a devotional first, and a coloring escape to nurture yourself second. Sarah Humphreys walks you through a forty day devotional that builds upon the previous lessons each day. "These 10 minute daily devotions focus on six key topics of motherhood:
  • Self-acceptance
  • Self-care
  • Reconciling with grief, hope and expectations
  • Generosity
  • Presence
  • Forgiveness"

Sarah teaches from her own personal experience as a mother, the lessons she's learned in her struggle to care for herself as well as her family. Each devotional is short, just a few paragraphs long. However each section of the book (divided into groups of 5 devotionals) is introduced with a 2 page lesson. This division by 5 makes it perfect for an 8 week study, giving yourself the weekend to focus on worshiping with your church instead.

Each of the coloring pages is fairly large and simple. This allows you to finish a picture during nap time or in small snatches of your day. It shouldn't take you all week to complete a complicated picture with lots of small details. The pictures are full of flowers, hearts, curls and whimsy!

Sometimes we feel like we haven't made much progress as a mother, but as I read through these devotions, I recognized many of the same struggles I'd experienced as a younger mom, and many of the same lessons I've already learned.  Aha - I have learned something through the years! And yet, it was good to read the reminders, because it's so easy to forget and fall back into old patterns.

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood can help any mother take time to focus on her relationship with God, and nurture her creative side, as well. It gives you permission to rest for a bit and relax, while pointing you to Christ's love and grace. It refreshes you so you can pour God's love out into your family again.  

April E.