Thursday, December 31, 2015

Children's Book Review: Super Heroes of the Bible Sticker And Activity Book

Book Description:
Bible heroes come to life through age-appropriate puzzles, activity pages, and 50 reusable stickers in this friendly and fun sticker and activity Book featuring The Beginner’s Bible classic art and simply written content.

My Review:
All the children I know love stickers and super heroes. This a wonderful book for kids who enjoy activities and like to do puzzles. The colorful format will keep them engaged as they learn about Bible characters. Great for those cold winter days.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.  

The Year of Trust

This has been a year of trusting God for answers. Through health issues for myself and people close to me, challenges at work, decisions on where to worship, and happy times--my daughter's wedding and the addition of more family have brought me to my knees so many times. Both in praise and request, I've sought out God's wisdom and the Holy Spirit's nudgings. I thank God for tending to me and my loved ones. 2015's word for the year was "follow." And I tried my best to walk the path God rolled out before me.

For 2016 I want to "keep moving forward." That sounds easy enough. But I know I can get stuck in a rut and ignore the prompts to move, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. By moving forward I hope to grow in wisdom and faith.

I'm not one to make resolutions but I do want to be aware of my need to grow and learn through this new year.

I pray you have an excellent year ahead.

What are your thoughts on resolutions and goals in the new year?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Children's Book Review: Little Love Letters from God

Book Description:
What child does not love to receive mail? What if that child could receive, open and read his or her own personal mail from God? The Little Love Letters from God board book will invite them to do just that! Accompanying each of the eight stories in this unique children’s Bible is a very special and encouraging letter tucked away in its own lift-the-flap envelope. With a padded cover for little hands, Little Love Letters from God introduces children to God’s Word with eight of the most popular Bible stories—including creation, Noah’s ark, the birth of Jesus and more. Following each story the child will find his or her own letter from God. Children will love the excitement of opening the letters and parents will love how each letter elaborates on the Bible story being told. A very special Bible verse, entitled God’s Wonderful Words To You will accompany each story and letter. Much more than a mere memory verse, each carefully chosen promise will be God’s very own personal words of love, encouragement, and hope.

My Review:
This beautiful book will be one to treasure. Glenys Nellist poems tell the Bible stories in a lovely way. Each of the little letters speak to the soul and will be valuable teaching tools for the person sharing this wonderful book. British artist, Sophie Allsopp's illustrations are outstanding. The techniques she uses add a whimsical and delightful element to the pages. I love this book, and I think you will, too.
I received this book in exchange for a fair review.  

Two Childrens' Book Reviews: Joseph the Dreamer & Facing the Blazing Furnace, pictures by David Miles

Book Description:
Joseph may be his father’s favorite son, but his brothers feel differently and sell him into slavery in Egypt. In this Level 2 I Can Read written and illustrated in the tradition of the bestselling Adventure Bible, find out how God turns a bad situation into a big blessing. Perfect for beginning readers ages 4-8, learning Bible stories on their own.

My Review:
I like the I Can Read! Adventure Bible series. Joseph the Dreamer is especially wonderful for boys. In the story Joseph suffers at the hands of his brothers, goes on to fulfill God's plan and learns to forgive. The story is simple, yet holds a great message. If you have an early or independent reader, this series is a great addition to their library. David Miles creates colorful illustrations that enhance the story.
I received this book in exchange for a fair review. 

Book Description:
When King Nebuchadnezzar orders everyone in his kingdom to worship a golden statue, three young men refuse to obey. They disobey the king and risk death in the fiery furnace. Find out what happens in this Level 2 I Can Read written and illustrated in the tradition of the bestselling NIV Adventure Bible. Perfect for beginning readers ages 4-8, learning Bible stories on their own.

My Review:
Facing the Blazing Furnace is a good teaching tool for children to explain what it means to worship God. The story is exciting and intense and should be read together. With the characters walking into a fire, an adult will want to explain what the times were like for Daniel and his friends. As always David Miles illustrations add a great deal to the story.
I received this book in exchange for a fair review.  

Far Better Things Ahead

Check out my post at Putting on the New where I talk about moving forward despite setbacks.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Children's Fiction Book Review: Woodford Brave by Marcia Thornton Jones, Illustrated by Kevin Whipple

Book Description:
Cory Woodford, aka “The Kid”, is determined to live up to his intimidating family legacy of bravery. While his father is off fighting in World War II, eleven-year-old Cory and his friends spend the summer building go-carts, drawing comics, playing baseball . . . and tracking down Nazi spies. Right and wrong are more complicated than in Cory’s beloved comics, and he and his friends soon learn that the world isn’t as black and white as they thought. In an age when friendships are deep and complex, Cory makes mistakes and hurtful decisions. Based on the author’s personal experience and research, Woodford Brave is a deeply satisfying novel of summer and friendship, but also explores what it means to be a son, a friend, a neighbor—and truly brave. Includes an author’s note and selected bibliography.

Book Review:
First of all, Kevin Whipple's illustrations add so much to this book. He's created a comic book within the story lines that will entertain readers. I love the 1940s children and their view as they deal with the reality of war and how it affects them, their town, and their families. As I read the story, I felt I had a better understanding of what my parents went through as WW2 hit home. This would be a good book to help kids understand the history, the value of friendship, and family. A word of caution, there are some swear words in the book and some sad events. Overall, I'd recommend the book to kids 4th-8th grade.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Not a Creature is Stirring

Luke 2:28-35
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
   which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
    a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

The day after Christmas and all through the house not a creature is stirring...

This morning I picked up the remnants of last night's party. My fridge is full of left-overs and my heart overflows with the joy of family. We shared gifts. Some hand-made, some made for spending later. And I loved every one. We added new family this year and watched a sweet 18-month old enjoy the magical chaos. And in the midst, we read of the angels who announced to the shepherds, the birth of the man who would be Savior.

Yes, Jesus came to earth as a baby. And I love celebrating his birth. But more than that I love remembering his life. He walked the earth for thirty-three years. In his last three years he taught his followers and all who would listen about God. He spoke the beatitudes. He preached of light and salt. He was tempted and baptized. He lived so he could die for me and all who walk on earth. But most important, as I told my grandchildren last night, he rose from the dead to offer new life after this one ends. I love Jesus and thank God for his son. Praise God for the gift of life!

Monday, December 21, 2015

December in a Small Town

Santa and Frosty came from the Marathon gas station in Lynchburg
candy canes grace
small town
Main Street.
Santa's coming,
Jingle Bells plays,
Nativity's in place.
Carolers jostle down the street 
Christmas tea.
Evergreens twinkle 
in windows,
on street corners.
Christmas lives
in small town.

Small town.
My town.
Your town.
Grow up
And grow memories

In small town.

This is part of the poem "Small Town" I wrote about growing up and raising my children in Lynchburg, Ohio.

To read the whole poem go to: 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree

Luke 2:11
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Christmas trees adorn the windows of the stores and businesses. Some twinkle with white lights, others don red ribbons. I've even seen a few pink ones. In the morning, while the dark still covers the day, tree lights peek from behind curtains. In our home a silver tree lights the corner with multi-colored lights. And what a fun sight to see a car zipping along the highway with a fresh cut tree tied to the top.

The evergreen tree has been a symbol of hope since ancient times; a reminder that spring followed winter. Since the evergreen doesn't lose its leaves and remains green all winter, it's also a great symbol of life. Because Jesus Christ died on a wooden cross, sometimes referred to as a tree, I'm reminded of his sacrifice every time I see a Christmas tree. The evergreen has life through the winter when other trees stand stark. Jesus offers life in heaven, where God reigns and life flows abundantly. This Christmas as I look at the beautifully decorated trees at a time when I celebrate Jesus birth, I'm reminded of his death and resurrection. Praise God for his son.

Merry Christmas! May peace and joy fill your days.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Tim & I wish everyone a Christmas filled with peace & joy!

Children's Book Review: Angels in the Bible Storybook by Allia Zobel Nolan, illustrated by Alida Massari

Book Description:
Where were the angels when God created the world? Why did an angel force a donkey off a road? Who did the angels get out of jail twice? Young readers will find answers to these and other questions in this exciting storybook, written by bestselling author Allia Zobel Nolan with illustrations by Alida Massari. Angels in the Bible Storybook gives children a fascinating look into how God’s powerful behind-the-scenes helpers interacted with Bible greats from Abraham, Lot, and Gideon to Zechariah, Mary, and Jesus himself, acting as messengers, protectors, warriors, and more.
TheAngels in the Bible Storybook, written by bestselling author Allia Zobel Nolan and illustrated by Alida Massari, is filled with vibrant illustrations and engaging text that brings beloved Bible stories to life.

My Review:
This sweet book filled with amazing stories about the angels in the Bible will entertain young people. Nolan has done an excellent job telling the stories of the incredible miracles the angels were a part of. I think as humans we forget the part the angels have played and continue to play in the lives of believers. The narratives have everything a child would want from a story; excitement, entertainment, and truth. Massari's whimsical art adds beauty to the stories. I'd recommend Angels in the Bible Storybook for children 10+. My grandmother loved the stories of the angels and often shared them with me. This would be a great way to share angels with a special young person in your life.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Twinkle and Sparkle

John 8:12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Along the village streets twinkling wreaths hang from the light poles. The new trees in the medians are decked with strings of multi-colored beauty. Greenery twined with lights drapes along the concrete bridge. I get to see this beautiful sight every morning on my way to work. The other night Tim and I took a spin around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights. Some homes looked like gingerbread houses. Sparkling trees peeked through the windows.

Every light I see reminds me of why we celebrate Christmas. The true light of the world came as a baby and grew into the man who would sacrifice his life so I might have grace. I love what Jesus said to the people, "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Even when circumstances bring despair and gloom, I have Jesus' light inside me. He guides my path with his light. Praise God for light!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Those Brown Paper Bags

We were shopping after church at Aldi's today. As usual we bought more than we had boxes for. My husband grabbed two paper bags and placed them on the conveyer belt. At that moment, I flashed back in time.

As a child, I remember going to William's grocery store with my mom in December. My little girl eyes sparkled when I watched the bagger place bread and milk in brown paper bags stamped with Merry Christmas, and the baby in the manger, Santa, or a Christmas tree.

Those simple brown paper bags, printed with an offset holiday design, ushered in the beginning of the Christmas season. I knew they'd be filled with chocolate chips, marshmallow cream and butter for my mom's fudge. Candy canes and the smell of popcorn would soon fill our home. Just the sight of them brought joy to this little girl's heart. The magic of the season had begun.

That moment of memory reminded me of the childlike joy I love at Christmas. Amidst the hustle and bustle, I want to keep my eye out for the simplest touches of the season. The ones that remind to keep a smile on my face.

I love finding the beauty in every day things.

What simple Christmas memories do you have?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Historical Fiction Book Review: Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray

Book Description:
Just months after the closure of the Chicago World’s Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyed patron. He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person. All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.

Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks. She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.
Lydia and Sebastian form a fragile friendship, but when she discovers that Mr. Marks isn’t merely a very wealthy gentleman, but also the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club, she is shocked.

Lydia insists on visiting the club one fateful night and suddenly is a suspect to a murder. She must determine who she can trust, who is innocent, and if Sebastian Marks—the man so many people fear—is actually everything her heart believes him to be.

My Review:
I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but this one intrigued me because the main character, Lydia, is a librarian and the story is set in Chicago. I like Lydia. She's spunky and goes against the societal rules of the day in order to stand for her beliefs. She's also got an insatiable curiosity about life, which leads her to get to know a man she'd most likely not give the time of day. Sebastian Marks is a self-made man with a mysterious past. The two are an unlikely match which makes the story that much more fun to read. Part of The Chicago World's Fair Mystery Series, the book stands as a read alone. Shelley Gray does an incredible job placing the reader into the scenes of the city, both the good parts of town and the seedy. I learned a great deal about the time period, which I wasn't familiar with.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

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About the author: 
Shelley Gray is the author of The Heart of a Hero series. Her Amish novel (written as Shelley Shepard Gray), The Protector, recently made the New York Times best seller list. A native of Texas, she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in Colorado and taught school for ten years. She and her husband have two children and live in Southern Ohio.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Promise of the Angels

Luke 2:9-10
An angel of the Lord appeared to them [the shepherds], and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people."

I snuggled on the couch with my seventeen-month old granddaughter, Ella Cate, on my lap and my grandson, Eli, beside me. On TV the Grinch tortured his poor dog, Max, by plopping reindeer antlers on his head and forcing him to pull the sled. As Max flipped and flopped through the air Ella Cate giggled. The more the poor dog struggled and acted goofy the more she laughed out loud. The tinkle of her laughter filled my heart with joy. And isn't that what Christmas is all about. The joy of the season.

Too often the stress of the holiday and the sadness of life overwhelm. Then I hear the sweet sound of a child's laughter or the tender voice of a grandchild saying he loves me. I see friends hug as they greet one another. I watch a mom love on her kids. Jesus came to earth to bring peace and joy. Though the world is not at peace right now and sometimes joy is not obvious, peace and joy remain in my heart because the Holy Spirit dwells in me. As Christmas draws near, I'll cling to the promise of the angels. Jesus brings good news that will cause great joy. Praise God for his precious gift.