Thursday, April 28, 2016

Pocket Prayers (Review)

This review is for the set of books by Max Lucado called "Pocket Prayers". This set includes a pocket-sized book geared toward graduates, dads, teachers, military personnel, moms, and friends. I am a huge fan of Max Lucado, so I was excited to read these books. Each book is written by Max Lucado along with another author. Each book begins with an introduction by Lucado, and then the book goes right into the prayers. This is a collection of 40 prayers that go with scripture that are geared toward the specific people named on the cover of the book. For example, graduates are given prayers of hope and direction, while military personnel are given prayers of faith and courage. The books are not only small enough to easily fit in a Bible case or bookbag, but the prayers are pocket-size as well. You can easily read one of these in just a couple of minutes - enough time to slow your mind down and refocus your mind on what is really important.

I have a friend whose husband is military and they are moving to another state in a couple of months. Since they have lived here over the past couple of years, her husband has been gone more months than he has been home and she has been diligent about being there for their six kids. She is an awesome mom, but I know her husband could use this book of prayers for encouragement when he is gone from his family!

I think this is an awesome series of books and I love that they are great gifts for friends and family. I highly recommend them!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for a copy of the books in exchange for my honest review.

Sister Dear (Review)

This review is for the book "Sister Dear" by Laura McNeill. In the beginning of this book we meet Allie Marshall in prison. She has been there for ten years for a crime that she claims she did not commit. She is finally out of prison on parole and determined to try to stay out of trouble, build a life with her daughter who barely remembers her, and also find out what really happened the night she was dragged off to prison. She has basically been abandoned by everyone who she thought would be there for her. No one truly believes her innocence so she is alone in her search for the truth. The author does a fine job of going back and forth between characters and the past and present. This book is full of suspense and twists, and mystery and backstabbing.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, April 22, 2016

21 Seconds (Review)

This review is for the book "21 Seconds to Change Your World" by Mark Rutland. I will be honest, when I got this book I was skeptical due to the title. I thought it was a self-help style book, or a book with "x" amount of steps to take to make yourself better, or something like that. What I found was a book that thoroughly detailed both the Lord's Prayer and Psalm 23 in a way that made both of these passages new, exciting, and emotional. Dr. Rutland's challenge is to repeat these scriptures - not in a way that it becomes "blah, blah, blah" but so that it becomes an act of worship and meaning. I think this is one of the best books I have read on these scriptures. The author is so right - these scriptures can become "old hat" and rote if you don't watch out. In reading this book they have become exciting again. Rutland takes them completely apart to study them. I also love when he studies them as parallel scripture between David and Jesus speaking. This is an awesome book on incredible scripture. I highly recommend it.

Thank you to Bethany House for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Celebrate Becky Wade's new book!

wade event promo - fb 

A female bodyguard plus her star NFL client plus danger equals a great recipe for romance! Her One and Only, book four in Becky Wade's Porter Family novels, releases May 3. To celebrate, Becky is hosting an author chat party on her Facebook page on May 5 at 5 PM PDT/8 PM EDT. Join Becky for an evening of book chat with other bookworms and prizes.

Plus a portion of all pre-sales and sales the release week of Her One and Only will be donated to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. For more details on how to purchase a copy, click here.

wade 400 - fallen heroes

About the Book

After ten years in the NFL, super star Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans. But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?

Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt–none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she’s determined to find Gray’s stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.

Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they’ll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives — and their hearts — to one another.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

Another Thursday here and gone. This morning we were off to work bright and early, ready to see our young friends at Sandhills PCA. We had just four kids today, so we had a lot of fun with them. Brianna and Hunter are so helpful with the babies. I really don't think I could get through a lot of those work days without their help. And I'm ever so grateful on these days that God chose to bless me with two individual children, and no multiples!!

This afternoon I found out that Brianna started reading a new series. It is about a dog named Wishbone who travels in time and goes through classic novels, retelling them in a fun way for kids. She read Jack and the Beanstalk.

She came downstairs, so excited about this book, and telling me all about it, when I realized that when I was about 8 or 9 years old, I loved to watch the TV show of Wishbone! The kids had finished all their school work and chores, so that meant they were allowed to have electronic time. I hopped on YouTube and found the entire first episode of Wishbone, which went through the story of Tom Sawyer. They absolutely loved it. I think as we read through these books we will definitely watch the TV show that coincides.

After dinner we made a fire, which always means we roast marshmallows. The kids helped pile up sticks and limbs, and then played while Stephen controlled the fire. Then we got down to business eating marshmallows.

In one of those pictures you see the kids in a ditch in our woods. At our last family dinner night, that ditch was named "Four Cousins" by Brianna, Hunter, and (you guessed it) their two cousins. So when I came outside after cleaning up from dinner, I couldn't see Bri, and I asked where she was. She came running out of the woods, limbs in both hands, yelling, "I was at the Four Cousins! You couldn't even find me, could you, Mom?" They think it is the coolest thing ever.

Brianna's hair is in about a dozen tiny little braids tonight. She wants her hair to be fancy because our cousin Shannon is getting married tomorrow. Bri has a big part in the wedding (in her mind) because she gets to open the door for Shannon to walk out with her dad. She has her fanciest dress set out and she is ready to go!

Sit Stay Love (Review)

This review is for the book "Sit Stay Love" by Dana Mentink. I will be honest, I am not typically a lover of dogs, but Tippy stole my heart right from the very beginning of this book. In this novel we meet Cal Crawford, a pro baseball player who has just lost his mother and is not too pleased to learn he has inherited his mother's dog Tippy. We also meet Gina, who is a dog sitter only while she is waiting to hear back from some teaching applications she has placed. Poor Gina can't control Tippy, and Cal can't stand Tippy, so there is a rocky start! It turns out that Gina is a huge lover of dogs so she is always on Tippy's side, but she also senses a lot of hurt in Cal that she tries to fix. This book is a series of silly, sad, and comforting events that all come together to create the journey to bring Cal and Gina together. I really liked this book. It was fun and a great light read.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Sit Stay Love Dana Mentink

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wonderful Wednesday

Today was not a typical Wednesday. On a typical Wednesday, the kids and I go to work at Sandhills PCA until lunchtime, then we rush home to eat lunch, have a one-hour rest time (more for myself than the kids, I think), do our school day, and then play a little before we go to evening service at our church.

Today was a bit different. We still went to our job at PCA, but Brianna did her school work in the car because we had a fun afternoon planned. After babysitting a dozen kids during Bible study, we were off to spend the afternoon at Grandma and Grandpa's house! Hunter woke up really early this morning so I picked out a recipe for him to cook for dessert. They were supposed to be chocolate chip cookie bars, and had only four ingredients - butter, brown sugar, flour and chocolate chips. Only they didn't look like any cookie bars I'd ever made, so I just kept on cooking them until I thought they must be done. They ended up a little crunchy. But they still tasted good, and Grandpa even had seconds! Anyway, after lunch I went to run errands and the kids spent the afternoon playing games, reading, being introduced to Shirley Temple, and eating lots of good snacks. They love their one afternoon a week at Grandma and Grandpa's! My parents also got me an incredibly beautiful bouquet of flowers to celebrate my recent Spartan Race. Mom got them because of the sunflowers in them. They are so beautiful and I never have fresh flowers in my house, so I was thrilled! They are adorning my countertops as we speak and it makes me think I should pick fresh flowers later this spring, or at least get some from the farmers market.

When we got home we didn't have to rush off to church. Instead, we decided to "live stream" it which is a new thing our church has started doing. We cooked some pizzas and sat down to watch the revival meeting that is going on this week. I have to say, although there is nothing better than sitting in church with some of your best friends and family, LiveStream is so much easier for nights like tonight! The kids became disinterested in the sermon rather quickly so they went upstairs to play while Stephen and I finished watching the sermon.

After it was over the kids asked if they could watch an Andy Griffith episode, which is our typical TV show we watch on Wednesday nights and Sunday nights after church. Stephen explained to them that I have implemented a new rule, which is no TV after 8:00 (I have always wanted this rule implemented but he has never been in favor of it, so this is a victory for me!), to which Brianna immediately burst into tears and yelled, "Worst rule EVER!" I'm so thankful she was stomping up the stairs so she couldn't see Stephen and I look at each other and start laughing! Although then she tacked on, "It's even WORSE than the rule Mom made about my stuffed animals!" which is: if she obtains a new stuffed animal she must get rid of one old one.

So apparently we rock at making rules.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Birthdays and Allergy Testing

Yesterday was Brianna's 7th birthday. Seven years old? That seems so impossible. I have actually been getting used to the 7-year old idea for the last couple of months, but now that the school year is winding down I have to get used to saying my daughter is about to start second grade. And that is just WAY too old for my liking.

I'm so thankful we have such simple kids. We spent the morning playing a couple of games, doing our schoolwork (just math) and then spent the afternoon at our homeschool co-op where she celebrated her birthday with many of her closest friends. When we got home, she was so excited to see that Stephen was already home from work, because that meant she was allowed to open her birthday presents from us. We got her a portable CD player and a custom-made T-shirt that says, "Jeep Hair Don't Care". Hunter and Brianna tend to fight over music in the car (she wants it, and she wants it LOUD, and he either doesn't want it at all or wants to hear the CD without her singing) so we thought the CD player would be awesome for her. Sure enough, she has used it consistently since we got it for her - so much so that I realize how many batteries we are going to be going through...  We got her the t-shirt because we like to ride in the Jeep with the windows taken off completely, and her hair gets CRAZY. Last time we went fishing Stephen noted, "Jeep hair, don't care!" and we decided a t-shirt was necessary. She requested Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner so that's where we went and had an awesome time. We came home and made brownies for dessert.

Today, Stephen stayed home from work. Unfortunately, it was because Brianna had allergy testing. I know that she was so nervous. We didn't really know what to expect. When we pulled into the parking lot, I turned the car off and said, "Do you want me to pray before we go inside?" She shrugged her shoulders and nonchalantly said, "No, why would you?" I shook my head and began gathering my items in my bookbag. I turned around to tell her we could get out of the car and saw her eyes were filling with tears and her face was getting all red and splotchy. She said, "Well, maybe could you pray?" I got into the backseat with her and cradled her while I prayed. She was so scared about those multiple skin pricks. I promised her I would be with her every step of the way, and that we would take it one step at a time. For example, going inside wasn't scary! Talking to the doctor wasn't scary! We could do all those things easily. And that's how we made it through.

When the nurse came in with the huge tray of allergens I asked if she would walk Brianna through the procedure. She showed Bri all the different allergens that are tested, and then let her "scrape" herself with a practice piece so she would know what to expect. Brianna laid on her stomach and giggled while the nurse wrote all the numbers up and down her back. Her voice was shaky and so were her hands, so I know she was a nervous wreck, but she was so brave. Within seconds, her control prick was raised up and already itching. Fifteen minutes of squirming and wriggling around passed by (much quicker than usual since I brought the Kindle for her to play with) and she was done! And all that she's allergic to are oak trees, hickory tress and dust mites. Thank the Lord that we know now, and have a plan for helping her with these yucky allergies. What a trooper. I told her tonight that she's my hero. Being brave doesn't mean that you don't cry or you aren't scared, it just means you have the courage to keep going when you are scared.

And then when we got home we had the whole afternoon with Stephen because we finished all our school work before our doctor's appointment. And for being so brave, he decided to take us all to Fayetteville to eat at a new-to-us restaurant called Mod Pizza. And afterwards we went across the street to the mall and got cookies from Great American Cookie Company! So now we have eaten out two times in the past two days, which is utterly unusual for our family, but I have absolutely loved being out and about with my husband and children. Stephen's work schedule was so rough there for a while that I am just soaking up the time when we are all four together.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Simple Pleasures (Review)

This review is for the book "Simple Pleasures" by Marianne Jantzi. This book definitely exceeded my expectations. I have always been the type to journal, although I do tend to go in phases and wish later that I had been more consistent, so I love to read the journals, diaries and blogs of others. When books come out that are basically journals or blogs put to paper, I really enjoy reading them, but often I find them lacking. This one was just awesome. I loved how Jantzi took the time to write down instances that we so often overlook, such as her young son pointing out a "praying" squirrel who was really just holding a nut to his mouth with his two paws. That is something that in our society we may laugh at, but then pass over. This book made me want to slow down and capture more of these everyday memories - because that really is simply what our lives are made up of, and those memories are so precious. I loved this book and I really think I'd love to get together with Marianne and let our kids go play outside while we have a cup of coffee or can some vegetables.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

A Dream of Miracles (Review)

This is a review for the book "A Dream of Miracles" by Ruth Reid. This is actually book three in her Amish Wonders series, but I easily read it as a standalone novel. Now that I have read it, though, I would LOVE to read the first two books in the series! In this novel, readers meet Mattie Diener. She is a widowed mother of two who is barely holding it together. Her son is constantly sick, but when we meet him there is something seriously wrong with him. She is untrusting of doctors, which makes them suspicious of her, and soon there is a child abuse case opened against her. The novel has twists and turns, and I honestly did not know what to believe. Along the way Mattie becomes close to one of the men on her case which makes even more difficulties arise! I really enjoyed this book and could not guess at all what was going on with the son. I was suspicious of everyone and kept reading after my eyes were burning just because I had to know what in the world was going on.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

A Dream of Miracles Ruth Reid

Friday, April 15, 2016

Back in the Saddle (Review)

This review is for the book "Back in the Saddle" by Ruth Logan Herne. This is book one in the Double S Ranch series. To be honest at the very beginning I kept feeling like there was a backstory from a previous novel. The beginning of the book refers to the past a lot, and I felt like it was updating readers, but sure enough, this is the first book in the series. I see now that it was all just for background reference. In this book we meet Colt Stafford and Angelina Morales - one a prodigal son, and one a housekeeper with a huge secret. We find out that Angelina has a secret background and one that could put her in danger. Colt has a background that keeps him from moving forward with his family and other relationships. Both of them struggle with trust and their past throughout this book. I will say that I kept waiting for something to happen with Angelina and her past - I won't be specific so I don't ruin anything - and the thing I kept waiting for never happened, so I'm a little glad that the story line wasn't so easy to figure out. All in all I really liked the characters and this story line. I'd like to read the next book and see who it focuses on next!

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.