Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Precious Moments: God Watches Over Me Prayers and Thoughts from Me to God

Precious Moments: God Watches Over MePrayers and Thoughts from Me to God

From Thomas Nelson publishers comes this adorable Precious Moments book. 

With its sturdy and unbelievably smooth pages, this book will delight your toddler or young child. As an adult, I found this book so pleasant to read to children. As many of you know, Precious Moments drawings are lovely and gentle. Thus the illustrations in this book makes it perfect for a quiet bedtime story. The book is filled with Bible verses and other wise quotes and poems. Each page can help open up thoughtful conversations between child and parent. The cover isn't simply sturdy cardboard but also has a cushion-like feel which will please children's fingers. This lovely book would make the perfect addition to a baby shower gift!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Share all the ways that God watches over us with your little one!
Illustrated with the adorable Precious Moments art, this sweet little book features rhyming text about all the ways God watches over His children, helping little ones to feel safe and loved. The book takes a child through all the things that happen in a day, accompanied with a prayer, and closes with a sweet poem that reminds children that God is always watching over us, even when we sleep. Complete with scriptures and prayers, this book will be a wonderful addition to every family's library.
Since 1978, Precious Moments has grown into an evergreen brand recognized worldwide, with more than 12.5 million books and Bibles sold through Thomas Nelson.

Effortless Healing Dr. Joseph Mercola; Foreword by David Perlmutter, M.D.

Effortless Healing

9 Simple Ways to Sidestep Illness, Shed Excess Weight, and Help Your Body Fix Itself

Dr. Joseph Mercola; Foreword by David Perlmutter, M.D.

Being an advocate of healthy living, and having trusted Dr. Mercola for the past 10 years I was especially elated when I discovered this new book!

 Have you ever felt like it didn't make sense that everything healthy is hard to accomplish? Did you ever feel too discouraged to begin exercising because you couldn't do it like the pros? 
Well, Dr. Mercola explains through his website and now this marvelous book Effortless Healing that humans were wired to heal themselves! You don't have to devote hours a week working out just to get the body you want. You don't have to pay thousands of dollars to follow some other person's diet plan. Treat your body as it should be treated, and it will indeed heal itself. Drawing from centuries of healthy ancestors, Joseph Mercola explains in understandable ways how our bodies function. 
After reading this book, you will come away amazed at the intricate functions of your body and the power God has given it to heal. 
You will be inspired to put foods into your body which will help your organs work well. And you will be energized to actually lose weight or become stronger by implementing good habits and easy exercises rather than overwhelming exercise plans.

Does this lifestyle work? I have to say: yes! My family and I have been adhering to such a healthy lifestyle for the past several years, and I have seen drastic changes. I began as a teen, and I saw myself gain clearer skin, more flexible muscles, not to mention that I transformed from a chubby girl into a lean young woman! I am ever inspired when I read Mercola's writings..in fact spring is the perfect time to get back into the great healthy eating and living style he recommends! I don't know about you, but I'm going for it!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Do you have to tell your leg to heal from a scrape? Your lungs to take in air? Your body that it’s hungry? No. Your body does these things automatically, effortlessly. Vibrant health is your birthright and within your grasp; you just have to step out of the way. In Effortless Healing, online health pioneer, natural medicine advocate, and bestselling author Dr. Joseph Mercola reveals the nine simple secrets to a healthier, thinner you. The results are amazing and the steps can be as easy to implement as:

·         Throwing ice cubes in your water to make it more “structured”
·         Skipping breakfast, as it could be making you fat
·         Eating up to 75 percent of your calories each day in fat for optimal health, reduction of heart disease, and cancer prevention
·         Avoiding certain meat and fish, but enjoying butter
·         Eating sauerkraut (and other fermented foods) to improve your immune system and your mood
·         Walking barefoot outside to decrease system-wide inflammation (and because it just feels great)
·         Enjoying a laugh: it’s as good for your blood vessels as fifteen minutes of exercise

Effortless Healing is the distillation of decades of Dr. Mercola’s experience and cutting-edge medical knowledge. With his wisdom and that of your body, you can optimize your health, your weight, and your life…effortlessly.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Skin in the Game: Living an Epic Jesus-Centered Life by Rick Lawrence

Skin in the Game: Living an Epic Jesus-Centered LifeSkin in the Game: Living an Epic Jesus-Centered Life by Rick Lawrence

The goal of this book is to emphasize a Christian's need to be a part of the battle, to live the Christian life with their all. 
Although this is a worthy and important topic I found that this small paperback was lifeless. It just didn't impact me. It felt like a lot of words and weak illustrations. 
Speaking of the latter, I didn't appreciate how the author, Rick Lawrence used secular examples for good things. Saturday Night Live, Buddhism, indie punk rocker Amanda Palmer are some of the examples he took to explain otherwise good lessons in his life. 
Even though the point of this book is worthy, it just isn't written in a manner worthy of re-reading. People will find it difficult to be engaged in this book, small though it is.

Lawrence has included questions “For Discussion or Personal Reflection” at the end of each chapter. If prepared well, these questions can be very useful. 
Lawrence asks eight key questions, including:
• Will you embrace your shame?
• Will you receive grace?
• Will you confront your fears?
• Will you wait, even when all hope is lost?

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Helo Matzelle's Halo Found Hope: A Memoir

Helo Matzelle's Halo Found Hope.

Recently, I have grown so much from reading books such as this autobiography. It is important for a person like me, who too often exaggerates life's struggles, who views self too highly, to view life through someone else's heart. 

Halo Found Hope is such a book. Chapter by chapter, I lived author Helo Matzelle's weeks of struggles and rejoiced with her over the victories which were granted by her Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ. 
This book puts life in a different perspective. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to only have a few days left to live? Or perhaps you, like me, have a nagging fear that your life is really too easy so far and anytime you may encounter some horrible tragedy. The reality is- we don't and can't know our future. But God does- every single moment of it. And we have to trust him completely. Thinking and acting as if we have any control over our future is just a recipe for disaster. 
Through this biography, Helo gives the reader a new view of life. 
“I had a second chance in life,” she said about what she learned from her whole experience. “What I gained was remarkable.”
As you may have noticed, I am viewing this book as a person who (gratefully) has never experienced any major problems with my health. It goes without saying that Halo Found Hope will be a wonderful book for those of you who are going through a difficult time. It will also bring comfort to those of you who know someone struggling through a tragedy or complication in life. 
For those of you who are not aware of Helo Matzelle, she is a middle-aged brain tumor survivor. The complexity or her condition was unusual and drastic- it was not known if she would survive surgery. Imagine: within a week her busy, happy life as a Christian stay-at-home mom was brought to a complete stand-still as she ''by chance'' discovered she had a brain tumor and had to take immediate means to eradicate it. The struggle did not stop there. Recovery from such a delicate surgery takes time, and this book describes in interesting detail the author's journey to a normal life with her family again. I love how she is transparent about her weaknesses and disheartened moments and how she brings glory to Christ through her memoir. 

Do not miss reading this excellent book! 
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cookbook review- Pure Food: Eat Clean with Seasonal, Plant-Based Recipes

Pure Food: Eat Clean with Seasonal, Plant-Based Recipesby Veronica Bosgraaf 

   As you may have noticed by now, I have a thing for healthy cookbooks. Although I am an experienced cook and have mastered the art of creating unique and healthy meals for my family, I absolutely love and appreciate new ideas! Pure Food is a simple cookbook full of healthy recipes you can rely on over and over again. The recipes are simple compared to the healthy ones I mostly accomplish, making it the perfect cookbook for someone interested in getting into healthy eating.

The recipes are printed on attractive green-highlighted pages, while the photographs of some of the recipes can be found in the center portion of the book. Recipes include Chocolate Rice Pudding, Scalloped Potatoes with Onion, Garlic, Peppers Savory, and Dill, Vegan Orange Cream Pops, Cheddar Artichoke Dip, Hummus, Tomato, and Caper Bruschetta, Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Fresh Tomato Sauce
Gluten-Free Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes.

   From what I have observed, the recipes are free of meats and don't usually include milk. 
The sweetener is often agave nectar or honey. 

This new cookbook from Clarkson Potter publishers will make the perfect spring addition to your cookbook collection! I can also imagine that it will make a delightful wedding shower gift. The beautiful cover of this paperback cookbook is so appealing. 

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

I have always been passionate about feeding my family the best foods, but as a busy working mom with three kids, cooking can be overwhelming. I know that fast food and frozen options are not the solution. I wrote Pure Food to inspire people to get back in the kitchen. Cooking doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. It can be simple, therapeutic and rewarding too!
The 120 plant-based recipes in Pure Food are modern, healthier versions of my Midwestern favorites passed down from my grandma and mom. I talk about how to cook with alternatives to processed sugars, dairy and flours, and I’ve created recipes that use unique and interesting ingredients like amaranth, coconut flour, tapioca, and turmeric. I’ve included some of my personal tips for cleaning your kitchen and lifestyle – from drying your own herbs to eliminating chemical cleaners.
I’m so excited that the dream of creating my own cookbook has become a reality and I can’t wait to share my journey with you and your family – Veronica
- See more at: http://thepurebar.com/pure-food-cookbook/#sthash.YNF9Sths.dpuf

Monday, March 16, 2015

Beyond the Mask movie...in theaters April 2015!

Movie poster for Beyond the Mask film

Double crossed and on the run, an assassin for the British East India Company seeks to redeem his past by thwarting a plot against a young nation's hope for freedom.

The leading mercenary for the British East India Company, Will Reynolds has just been double-crossed and now is on the run in the American Colonies. Working to redeem his name and win back the affections of the woman with whom he's never been fully truthful, Will now hides behind a new mask in hopes of thwarting his former employer. As his past life closes in on him, Will must somehow gain the trust and the help of his beloved Charlotte - as well as Ben Franklin - while he races against time to defuse a plot of historical proportions. Coming to theaters Spring, 2015, Beyond the Mask is a revolutionary new family film that brings history to life in a faith-filled adventure celebrating grace, liberty, and the true freedom that can only be found in Christ. 

Showings are throughout April 2015 (deadline to purchase tickets is in March)

   I don't know why it has taken me so long to actually blog about Burns Family Studios new film,                                      Beyond the Mask!
   Perhaps I fear sounding cliche with phrases such as: ''this is an AMAZING movie''....''you will LOVE it''...and so forth. The truth is, you will love this film and it is absolutely incredible. I'm also afraid that people will think we are just saying this because our own friends the Burns produced it...but although that may have been the case with their first films (most of which were never seen by the public), their newest creation goes far beyond the initial ''I love this movie because my friend's made it'' emotion. 

   I was thrilled by the context and time period of Beyond the Mask because there really isn't another of its kind that a family can safely watch together! And yet this time period and theme is such a favorite amongst families!
I feel that one of the greatest qualities of this new film is that it presents many enjoyable aspects: romance, action, the 1700s...and combines them in a faith-infused adventure.

  The message of this film was especially important at the time that I first saw (a draft of) Beyond the Mask! It is in fact, a timeless and all-important message: who are you before God's eyes? Have you seen yourself as He sees you? (that's not exactly how it's worded in the movie and God can use it in different ways according to what you need to be taught...but that's part of the point I got out of it.)
Have you turned to God, who is the only One who can redeem and cleanse you from your past?

   The fact that this movie will appeal to both boys and girls is a major plus. It was a winning idea to combine a beautiful romance with a ton of action...of course this movie does fall more in the adventure category than romance but I find it hard to imagine that anyone would discard it on that fact alone. Other aspects of this movie include:

-No gore (despite a 'healthy' amount of violence)
-Many beautiful dresses, but not a bit immodest- making this movie a win for the entire family!
-No bad language
-The message of salvation is not weak or 'just thrown in there' to make it a ''Christian film''
-The musical score is top-notch. (I especially love the romantic theme...it's so beautiful!)
-The heroine is brave and adventurous without being feministic
Not to mention... the setting is East India Trading Company/ England/ Young America!!!!
British accents mixed with a patriotic American feel...yes!!!
 I would totally watch this on Independence Day week!

and...there are the most amazing quotes in this film! 
I love a movie which has quotable phrases...and memorable characters....
Such as Ade M'Cormack as Joshua Brand
(My favorite scene is the one where he says...nevermind. Just go see the movie.)

The main actor is Andrew Cheney:
And we have Kara Killmer as Charlotte
Everyone will be delighted by John-Rhys Davies wily character:

The Benjamin Franklin in Beyond the Mask is perfect!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Review: Only God Can Make a Kitten By Rhonda Gowler Greene, Laura J Bryant (Illustrations)

Only God Can Make a Kitten


Having grown up with six younger siblings, I think I am qualified to judge children's books...and let me say, I can be a pretty careful judge! My siblings are also talented artists, and I am an avid reader, so we don't love just every storybook out there!

    I was extremely pleased with Only God can make a Kitten! It is an honorable substitute for all the loud, chaotic books published for children nowadays! My first impression of this delightful storybook was a combined pleasure in both the soft tones of the illustrations as well as the well-composed text. The latter is made up of rhyming words. Nothing too silly, nothing overwhelming. Just simple yet important words revealing the truths about God creating everything in this world, including the little child enjoying the storybook. The illustrations also captured that gentle, family spirit with pastel-toned drawings of a Mama and children exploring the beautiful world God has created. Although gentle in tone, this book is sure to capture young children's attention since there are many pleasing details in the illustrations. This is a book which children will delight in over and over again; perfect for a bedtime story! It is such a delight to see Christians publishing quality books for children.

More about the book: 
Bestselling author Rhonda Gowler Greene follows a conversation between a mother and child as she explains that God made everything.

Only God Can Make A Kitten, written by award-winning author Rhonda Gowler Greene and illustrated by bestselling artist Laura J. Bryant, follows a conversation between a mother and child as the child asks "Mama, who made . . . ?"
Told in delightful rhyme, this jacketed picture book shows young ones that God is behind all the beautiful blessings of creation-including kittens!
About the Author
Rhonda Gowler Greene is the author of over twenty picture books. Her books have received honors such as School Library Journal Best Book, Children’s Book Council Showcase Book, Bank Street College Best Book, and starred reviews. A former elementary school teacher, with a master’s in educational media, Rhonda is a frequent speaker at schools, libraries, and conferences. She lives with her husband, Gary, in a house overflowing with books in West Bloomfield, Michigan. They have four grown children. For more information, visit her on the web at—www.rhondagowlergreene.com

Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace by Dave Burchett

Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and GraceStay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace

Dog lovers, here is a book that will really speak to you! 
Stay, by Dave Burchett is full of ''amazing (furry)'' lessons from a dog's life. Or rather, lessons a dog owner can glean from watching his furry friend. 
My dear little ''Paisley pup''
She was hit by a car in 2013
Having experienced the friendship of a dog- my favorite ever!-  in the past, I was able to relate to most of the incidents within the chapters of this delightful book. 
   The author really does love his dogs and what I love about him is that he does learn from various everyday occurrences. He is open to God showing him the smallest of lessons, in the humblest of ways. Not every man is willing to take lessons from his dog! 
   Although I am not an all-out dog lover, I am fond of animals and loved my little Paisley pup who died a couple of years ago. I do heartily agree that dogs have this undying loyalty and affection which humans would do well to emulate. ;)
I remember Paisley, my little terrier would faithfully follow me whenever we arrived home from church (the rare day that I was absent from the home) and patiently wait, crouched in front of my locked door. When I (sometimes after a long while, depending on the state of my wardrobe) opened the door, she would adoringly shower me with kisses and roll over in submission. Our current dogs have the same loyalty although will less patience and adoration. I love how dogs will continue to seek out those they love, not abashed by previous scoldings or cold shoulders. I agree with the author of Stay that humans would find relationships easier if they approached friends with as much optimism and love.
  It may annoy some readers that the author of this book learnt so many deep lessons from being with his pets, but I thought it was good of him to be open to the Lord's teaching in his life. This isn't the deepest or most theological book obviously, but it is full of good thoughts and will please any animal lover!
   Dave Burchett has organized the book into different chapters such as ''unconditional love'', ''live in the moment'', and like subjects. The book is easy to comprehend and keeps the reader's interest throughout the chapters.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 

Our Triska and Scampy

 Amazing (Furry) Lessons from a Dog's Life
You'll be enthralled by this story of a man and his lovable Labrador retriever, Hannah, and what their canine friendship can show us about life, grace, and long walks in the park.Hannah was Dave's best friend. He couldn't imagine starting a day without her tail wagging an energetic greeting, her body wiggling with sheer gratitude when her food dish was filled, and her unbridled enthusiasm for tennis balls. (How she fit three tennis balls in her mouth at once he'll never know.)So when Dave first learned of Hannah's cancer diagnosis, he decided to take whatever time he had left with Hannah to cherish the moments and capture his thoughts in a journal. As he wrote about his canine friend, he soon realized that Hannah was an able (and furry) mentor of faith, grace, kindness, and forgiveness. The lessons were invaluable: from "being present" to "trusting the master." When Hannah lived well past the expected time frame, Dave started to see that the insights he was gaining were more than just journal entries about a family pet. Through Hannah's antics, God was preparing Dave for life itself.You won't want to miss this heartwarming tale of a dog who knew how to live . . . and showed her owner how

Book review: Mercy's Rain by Cindy Sproles

Mercy's Rain: An Appalachian Novel by Cindy K. Sproles

Mercybookcoverfinal300 This is author Cindy Sproles debut novel, and I must say...I am amazed by it!
Not many Christian novels makes me search my own heart. Not often does Christian fiction leave me in tears. Mercy's Rain is a different kind of Christian fiction. It is a life-changing, healing book. With unusual insight and feeling, the author of this book brings not only the heroine but the reader through a journey of healing and forgiveness.    By God's grace, this book will be a powerful tool to those who are grieving, broken and lost. From personal experience, I know it can also help break down a stony heart.
With a heart of thanks, I will mention that I have never been through a terribly abusive relationship. The girl in this story, Mercy Roller grew up in one of the most horrible situations imaginable. My heart grieved for her, and I struggled with her as throughout the book she attempts to reach a point of mercy and forgiveness. I loved how this story developed. From the depths of sin, to the plains of light, He lifted me. That is the hymn which comes to mind. This poor, physically and sexually abused girl who despises her name because it sounds like a joke in comparison with the world surrounding her slowly begins to learn what true mercy and grace and love is.
   This story of salvation is masterfully wrought, as are the characters. I think Cindy Sproles did an outstanding job with the man who helps bring Mercy to grace. Ironically and important to the story, this young man is also a preacher which initially causes Mercy much consternation given that her father was a false professor and a wolf in sheep's clothing. However, over time she has to admit that this preacher is entirely different. He has love, compassion and patience. A true gentleman with the love of Christ in his heart, this young preacher helps Mercy break through the walls of bitterness surrounding her battered heart.

   I especially recommend this book for women who have experienced abuse. Likewise, I would insert a warning to other readers, especially those who are soft-hearted...this book is graphic and cuts to the heart. It was good for me since I tend to be hard-hearted and selfish. But there are many abusive situations described in detail which caused even me to shed tears. This is truly a life-changing book.

Mercy Roller was raised by a twisted father who wore the collar of a Pastor and chose to be Jesus, judge, and jury by his own appointment. Abused, broken, and bitter Mercy lifts the hand that takes the Pastor’s life. In one swift action she becomes what she despises most about the Pastor. Now she seeks redemption. Can the unconditional love of a mountain preacher and his friends, guide Mercy to find peace?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Your Beautiful Heart by Lauren Scruggs

by Lauren Scruggs with Lisa Velthouse

A book always has more power when the author who creates it has a story. Lauren Scruggs certainly has one. Former fashion model, and proclaimed beauty from a young age, Lauren was tragically hit by a plane propeller in 2011. As a result, she underwent surgeries and a painful recovery. She lost most of her left arm and left eye. I cannot imagine the pain she must have suffered, both physically and emotionally. I have not read her first book, Still Lolo, but I assume it covers that journey. This her second book is specifically designed as a 31-day devotional for women. 
It is not an autobiography, as I first assumed (not knowing about her first book Still Lolo), but does draw from various lessons she has learnt throughout her life, including her accident and recovery. 
Women will be pleased to find that Lauren doesn't draw attention to herself in this book. She is all about God's glory and helping you, the reader. 
Each chapter begins with a real-life story to help you engage and open up your heart to the lessons which follow. I appreciated this stable, organized method of presenting the devotions. There is also lovely graphic design throughout the book of inspirational phrases and words. 
I do recommend this book for Christian women. I would not endorse it for non-believers because the author includes promises and encouragement meant for believers. 
On a critical note, I think this book is too encouraging for more hard-hearted women such as myself. Lauren Scruggs and Lisa Velthouse repeatedly assure the reader that no sinner is too sinful for God and such which is true, but some of us need to hear more about how we need to repent! You will know what I mean if you read the book. Therefore, I recommend this book for women going through a healing time! Women who have been through and who are in the valley of the shadow of death.

I do love how the author points out that beauty is not what matters; it is most definitely the heart! As you can imagine, she puts this cliche phrase in a whole new meaning. Like I mentioned at first, knowing that the author went through such a hard trial makes her advice much more potent. 

 Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this honest review. 

Displaying Kennedy-Scruggs906.JPG
Lauren and Jason's wedding, after the accident
Photo credit: Photo credits: Lindsey Brittain and Kat Harris.

Tiny Bear's Bible By Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated Igor Oleynikov

By Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated Igor Oleynikov
Published by Zondervan

What an adorable idea this child-friendly book is! I cannot imagine any child being able to resist the cute, fuzzy teddy bear face which the cover is comprised of. As an adult, I couldn't help loving the book. The soft furry binding is perfect for very young children, as are the sturdy board pages within.
This Bible story book covers several different accounts from the Bible of God's love and protection, retold by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Characters from the Bible are honored and beautifully presented in illustrations by Moscow resident Igor Oleynikov. There is a bear family featured in most of the illustrations, putting into visual application such lessons as thanking the Lord, prayer, and more.
Children will benefit greatly from the classic and pleasing illustration in this book, and will love toting it around because of its fuzzy binding. They may even want to take their new ''Tiny Bear's Bible'' to bed with them!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion 
More about the book:

Tiny Bear's Bible is a WARM, FRIENDLY, FURRY Bible for preschoolers with an irresistible message: GOD LOVES his children.
An adorable story Bible for kids 6 and under written by bestselling author Sally Lloyd-Jones. Tiny Bear's Bible is a warm, fuzzy reminder of how God loves his children - in a format that kids can cuddle. Together with their friend Tiny Bear, children discover eleven Bible stories in a book they can carry with them wherever they go. The closing story leaves us with this loving reminder: "No matter what, no matter where, God is with us, Tiny Bear." Sally Lloyd-Jones presents some of the most familiar Bible stories to children, which provides parents and grandparents lots of teachable, cuddly moments as they explore God's love together.
About the Author
Sally Lloyd-Jones is a leading writer of inspirational books for children. She is the author of three bestselling children’s Bibles, including the Gold Book Award-winning Baby’s First Bible and, most recently, the Moonbeam Award Winner and ALA notable, The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. She has written many picture books for children, including the critically acclaimed New York Times bestsellerHow to Be a Baby: By Me, the Big Sister. Sally was born and raised in Africa, was schooled in England, and now lives in New York City.
About the Illustrator
Igor Oleynikov has been drawing since early childhood. He grew up in Lubertsy, Russia, a satellite town of Moscow where he lived with his mother, a carpet designer, and his father, an engineer. Oleynikov has illustrated more than 25 children’s books from publishers around the world. He now lives Moscow with his wife and is a proud father and grandfather.