Thursday, April 28, 2011

ESV Seek and Find Bible

I received a free copy of the "Seek and Find" Bible from Crossway books to review. I was not required to write a positive review.

My first thought on seeing this Bible (marketed to 5-9 yr olds) was that it is HUGE! It's a big, hardcover Bible with a dust jacket. The artwork on the front is interesting, showing illustrations of several Bible stories. My thought about the dust jacket is that it is superfluous, I mean what child will be able to keep the dust jacket nice if they actually use the Bible?

I like that this was a complete Bible, not just a collection of Bible stories. A full Bible is very valuable even for young children, following along in church, finding and reading different passages throughout.

I have mixed feelings on an overall summary of this publication. So here are my thoughts, intermixed. I really liked the illustrations, the time-lines, the character sketches, the explanations of historical things. They were a great addition to the text. I did not like the separate Bible "stories" interspersed throughout the Bible text. They make it hard to find Bible passages easily and quickly and add to the overall bulk of the book. I don't have issue with what was written in these stories, but I think they would have been better printed as a companion book, rather than in the Bible itself. Another caution about this set-up is a child's possible confusion over which is the inspired Scripture and which is just the added story part. The seek and find/related Bible readings etc. were great, don't get me wrong, but I really would rather see them separated from the actual Bible. Other sections such as maps and dictionary--nice and necessary.

All in all, this is a nice Bible format. I would have organized it differently, but it is eyecatching and contains valuable extra information that will enhance a child's Bible reading experiences. My children will use this as a resource and as an additional version of the Bible, but I can't see it being their favorite one to take to Sunday School.

Thanks to Crossway books for letting me review this new publication! Please feel free to see

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Small attempts

I'm looking for some ideas--maybe you can give me some! Here's what I'm thinking about right now. Occasionally I see homeless (?) or at least begging men sitting at the highway exits (you know, with a sign saying something like "Anything helps" or some such) and I would like to be able to help. I don't have money to give, but I'd like to be more prepared.

Every Sunday we stop for doughnuts after church and I give one to the homeless (?) guy who sits at our exit--sometimes with a tract, other times just the doughnut. He looks for us now :) and we have a short superficial few seconds chat. It's just a doughnut, but it's what I can do.

Today I saw another fellow, at another exit, and I wished I had something small to share with him. It started me thinking, what could I keep in my car to give to guys like this? It couldn't be something melty, like chocolate, and nothing that would spoil. Any ideas? Please feel free to share your ideas with me in the comments section!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Craving Grace by Lisa Velthouse

The subtitle of this book (Craving Grace by Lisa Velthouse) is “a story of faith, failure, and my search for sweetness.” This is a very nice concise summary of the book. It is the story of the author’s search for an understanding/experiencing of God’s grace. She wrestles with ideas of earning God’s grace, manipulating Him to gain grace, and other nuances of attaining grace. The understood point throughout all of this is that God’s grace is completely un-earnable, totally a GIFT from Him.

I enjoyed this book much more than I imagined I would. It was deep, but manageable. The thoughts about grace inspired a lot of thought and searching about my own life in relation to God’s grace. We so often feel that we can manipulate God into “gifting” or doing good things for us, but that’s really not what grace is about! I really identified with Lisa’s root struggles and amazement at God’s true nature and grace which is so undeserved; a true gift—for me!

I also liked the theme of fasting. It was told from such a different angle, with the fasting from sweets; it challenged my thinking about why fasting is important, and warned me away from thinking of fasting as a way to “get” God to do something for you.

The style of the book was a little odd, I didn’t really get the way the chapter titles skipped back and forth from three years ago to current times. I found I was less confused if I just didn’t read the chapter titles! But it didn’t detract from the book.

My final summation of the book is to say it is certainly a valuable read. It’s challenging and should be read and thought over—it’ll grow your ideas of God—and yourself. I also think it would be a wonderful book for a group Bible study or a Christian discussion group—it brings up so many great ideas for discussion/thought. Read it! It’s time well spent, and you will find yourself thinking about the topics long after reading the book.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes; I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Non-patched pants

These pants had been patched and the patch kept pulling apart, so we tried something different! Holey pants plus a sweater equals a little girl's new favorite pants!! :)


Friday, April 22, 2011

When God Created My Toes by Dandi Daley Mackall

When God Created My Toes is a sweet book for little children. It’s written in a rhyming poem/song style the sort of which a child would make up and sing along. It talks of God creating different body parts, toes, knees, hips, head, etc., using a fun sing-song story line. The words together with the illustrations are silly and will elicit a giggle here and there. They give a picture of a little girl with a little mischievous spirit, doing things that normal children will do.

I like that this book has a nice-sized hardcover binding, and a combination of line-drawings and colored illustrations. The part I didn’t like was the front cover illustration, which I thought looks a little creepy for some reason. To me it doesn’t reflect the cute illustrations that fill the book; as a matter of fact, if I were to see this book on a bookstore shelf, I probably would not even pick it up, based on the cover illustration. I hate to say it, but there it is. I would have judged this book by its cover and missed out on the content.
I will recommend this book—it’s a nice book, great for a 3-5 year old, I’d say. You just have to overlook the cover art!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quick redesign!!

Quick and easy denim jeans remake into denim skirt!

Yesterday I took 3 pair of old jeans which were too short for me and too small :), cut the legs off, opened up one of the side seams (whichever one was boring), and made a wonderfully cute skirt!

It was SO easy--here's how I did it:

Measured waist, hip, and length I wanted, divided waist and hip measurements by six, added 1" to each of those measurements, and made a pattern piece.

Opened out the pant legs and cut one piece from each leg (I placed them so that where the pantleg didn't sit flat was the hem end, for a little extra "flare") using that pattern piece.

Next step was to sew the 6 pieces together ( I used my serger so they wouldn't fray like crazy) and then zig-zagged down them on the top side so that the seams would lay flat.

NEXT--I tried it on and saw I had plenty of room for an elastic waist--so I cut a piece of scrap fabric out and made an inner waistband, cut elastic to fit my waist and put it in.

LASTLY--I sewed around the hemline, about 1/2" up from the lower end of the fabric, then snipped up almost to that line so that it'd fray, threw it in with a load of laundry, and it came out SO CUTE and frayed at the hem.

Here it is!!

So much easier than I thought it would be!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lead Serve Love by Gregory E. Lang

Lead Serve Love is an attractive looking book on the outside, and an interesting inspirational book on the inside. It’s a smallish chunky book with retro design—would look great on a desk! So, superficialities aside (though they truly add to the book!)—let’s talk about the book itself.

This book is one hundred short, 3-word inspirational sayings (of ways to live a better life), with a short narrative about each saying as well as several Scriptures related to it. In the introduction the author suggests that you not only read these passages, but make it into a small Bible study by looking up and reading each verse in context—good idea! You can use this book in many ways—a quick read for a quick inspirational thought for the day, or as suggested above.

It was funny timing for me to read this book—due to the fact that I had just finished reading with my children the kids’ book No Talking by Andrew Clements, which is about a grade of students taking a pledge to not talk other than in 3 word phrases—it’s amazing what you can convey with only three words. The concisely phrased words in this book, Live Serve Love, are short enough to make it easy to refer to all day long—to incorporate into your daily life. And these ARE things you will want to (should want to) incorporate into your life—some of my favorites were “Ease others’ burdens”, “Refrain from revenge” (yikes!), “Do your share”, and many other great ones. Pretty convicting stuff! Definitely things worth striving after.

I would for sure recommend this book. It’d make a nice gift for someone too!

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.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Summer fun to come!!

My husband has been patiently saving money and looking for a boat within our very slim budget. Our regular boat is a 12 foot rowboat (see camo picture)with a little air cooled motor (yup, really, air-cooled!) We have caught lots of fish out of that old boat, and it was a wedding gift from my in-laws (was theirs when my husband was little)--it's just that it IS just 12 feet and with 2 grown-ups and 3 kids, who are getting bigger and bigger :). . .well, it's gotten so that it is a tad bit scary if the waves pick up.

So. . .we have been blessed to find this old beauty!Photobucket It's a 1965 Starcraft--pretty, huh? We'll have so much fun with it this summer, I'm sure!! And best of all, it didn't break our budget!

The other time we thought we had enough saved up to buy a boat, this is what we ended up with:

so obviously we're all thrilled with the Starcraft! :)

Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Another book review?! Yes!! I've been reading a lot lately, and have been enjoying it! This most recent book I read in just a few days, Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer. It is a pretty typical historical romance, with a story about a young-ish woman beginning her first job as a teacher in a far-away town, in the 1880's.

I'll tell you that I'm not a huge fan of historical romances, but I certainly enjoyed this one! The characters were very believable and interesting and there was quite a bit to the story other than just "the romance." Edythe Amsel is a likable girl with lots of good teaching ideas which, unfortunately, go opposite of what some of the more traditional folks in the town want to see. Other characters in the book are developed well-enough to give you a good look into their town and its dynamics. I don't want to give away too much of the story, but suffice it to say that it's a nice light read, enjoyable, would make a great vacation book--good clean Christian historical romance--it's not deep, it's a quick read, but therein lies its charm.

I'd definitely recommend this book (and I know it's superficial, but I do like the cover too! :) nice brilliant colors in the artwork!)

I received a copy of this book for free for review purposes from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Max on Life by Max Lucado

I enjoy reading Max Lucado's books, hearing his insights; some of my favorite quotes are by him. I was happy to see this new book of his added to the list of other books he's written.

In reading through this new book, Max on Life, I was a little surprised at the format--instead of a read-through book, it's a question and answer type book. You see, he's taken 172 questions that people have asked him in one form or another and written a short (1 page) response to each of them. These questions range in topic from prayer, to relationships, to God's unfailing love for us, to angels, to death, to finances, and etc. It wasn't a really easy book to read straight through from cover to cover, but, oh what a great resource! So many things that I wonder about, or others have wondered about and asked my opinion about, are addressed in one or more sections of this book. Each answer is thoughtfully written, easy to understand, with Scriptural references included.
To further enhance its use as a resource, topics are divided into the sections: Hope, Hurt, Help, Him/Her, Home, Haves/Have-nots, and Hereafter. There is also a topical index and Scripture index in the back to enable one to easily find a question relating to the particular topic they’re searching for an answer to.

This is the type of book to keep on your bookshelf to be referred to for years. It’s not a “read it once” book, but rather one that will be of great use to you throughout the years. It’s timely and succinct, and I think it’d be a great addition to anyone’s library.

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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock

What a sweet, interesting read! I just finished this novel by Ann Tatlock and really enjoyed it. It is the story of a young girl in the 60's whose life is affected by divorce, racial issues (lightly), abuse, family, war, etc. The main character is a girl named Roz who flees from an abusive father into a new area with her mother, big brother, and little sister. The other main character of the book is a slightly eccentric woman named Tilly who "adopts" the family as her own. I don't want to say too much and spoil any of the fun of the story!

Suffice it to say that this book was a nice light story, enjoyable, with a few twists, and a fairly predictable ending. For me, this is an ideal book; topics such as race, war, abuse, etc are touched on gently. One of the characters, Tilly, is a believer in Christ, but there is not much emphasis throughout the book on her beliefs. This is the only area where I might have wished there to be a little more clarification.

I would certainly suggest this book to friends and family for a good summer read! It's a great one to take with you on vacation, enjoyable, clean, entertaining fiction.

I received a free copy of this book for review from Bethany House publishers; I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My never-fail fish chowder

This chowder is one of my family's absolute favorite meals. Any kind/amount of fish and any availability of veggies added in makes variation. Skim milk keeps it healthy too!

Here's how I make it

Put a little canola oil in a large saucepan, cube up 9 or 10 potatoes and an onion in 1/2 in cubes. Heat up and cook for ~5 min or so. Add 2 c water, some salt and pepper, 1 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning, cover and cook for about another 6 or 7 minutes, till potatoes are softened. Add other veggies (frozen, canned, fresh) that you want (cubed squash makes a good addition too!), add 4 c milk and heat up, add fish too (whatever kind you have!--don't even have to cook it, it'll cook in the liquid) Simmer for 5 min or so. Mix 1 c cold milk with 1/3 c flour, whisk together, then mix it into the hot chowder. Return to boil, cook for another 5 min. Serve yummmmmmmmmmmy!!

The Final Summit by Andy Andrews

Amazing book! I hardly know where to begin telling you about it! This book, The Final Summit, follows Andrews' earlier book The Traveler's Gift. Reading the inner cover summary I honestly didn't think I'd be too interested in this book. To summarize without giving too much away. . .David Ponder, widower, aged 74, embarks on another time travel adventure to save the world. Sounds a bit hokey, right? WRONG! The story includes many of the world's greatest people, in an imaginary setting where they would all be able to interact (despite not being historical contemporaries) to use their combined wisdom to find a way to save humankind.

I encourage you all to read this book—whether or not you’ve read the first book, The Traveler’s Gift (I hadn’t read it). I generally don’t care for time travel books or sci-fi books, but this was definitely an exception. It was so interestingly written that the chapters just flew by! How fun to imagine such figures as Joan of Arc, Benjamin Franklin, King David, Thomas Edison, and so many others—interacting and sharing ideas with each other! I can say that this book appeals to men and women, of all different ages—I would recommend this book to my dad, my grandma, my nephew, my neighbor! I plan on purchasing several copies of this book to use as gifts.

This book was entertaining, thought-provoking, suspenseful, and challenging. You WILL be glad you read it!

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.

Description from the publisher:
Book Description
David Ponder is back. This time the fate of mankind is in his hands.

This is mankind’s last chance. Centuries of greed, pride, and hate have sent humanity hurtling toward disaster, and far from its original purpose. There is only one solution that can reset the compass and right the ship, and it consists of only two words.

With time running out, it is up to David Ponder and a cast of history’s best and brightest minds to uncover this solution before it is too late. The catch? They are allowed only five tries to discover the answer.

Readers first encountered David Ponder in The Traveler's Gift. Now, in The Final Summit, Andrews combines a riveting narrative with astounding history in order to show us the one thing we must do when we don’t know what to do.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Johann Sebastian Bach by Rick Marschall

The book Johann Sebastian Bach by Rick Marschall is in a series of books called “Christian Encounters”. This series of biographies has been written to show the Christianity that was a large part of some of history’s familiar characters. It is a nice small-sized book, with fold-over covers that can function as bookmarks in a pinch!
This book has many explanations about traditions of the day and other sections that explain how things “worked” in that age and time. Details are given about Bach’s family (for instance, did you know that he came from a long line of musicians—music really “ran in the family”! There are descriptions of circumstances under which he wrote many of his musical works as well.

I am sorry to say that I did not much like this book. I love biographies and reading about the lives of historical figures, but found that this book was not an easy style of book for me to read. If I were doing detailed research of Bach I may have found it more helpful, but for me, it was not entertaining, compelling, or even easily flowing. It was very laborious to get through all the chapters. So, I’m going to just say that I’m sure there are many readers who would like this book, maybe more scholarly people, but it just didn’t happen to be a favorite of mine.

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.

Monday, April 4, 2011


WOW! This may be one of the all-time best tips I've ever heard. . .

for those of you who have chickens or buy fresh eggs, you know that they are very hard to peel when boiled (unless you let them sit in your fridge for a few weeks). WELL--I read this tip and just tried it, for easy-peeling hard boiled eggs.

Ready for it?

STEAM them, don't boil them!! Steam them for about 10 min then cool in cold water, and the peels practically jump right off!! It's amazing!

thanks to the girls at MJF for this tip!! :)

Book Giveaway--Bad Girls of the Bible

Great book by Liz Curtis Higgs, good for either a group Bible study or individual. I'd love to give away a copy! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post about. . .anything!

Also--if you're a MJF person, leave me your username so I can get ahold of you if you are the winner! otherwise, I'll need to know how to contact you if you are the winner :)

Winner will be chosen on Thursday morning! :)

ALSO--if you could "rank" my review of this book (see previous post) that would be helpful to me! Thanks! :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs

As I finished reading Bad Girls of the Bible (And What We Can Learn from Them) by Liz Curtis Higgs, I was wishing I was a part of a women’s Bible Study Group to carry on the discussion sections of the book. This book was a very well-written book about ten of the “bad girls” found in the Bible, such as Eve, Potiphar’s wife, Rahab, Lot’s wife, Delilah, and several others. The book was laid out in a format such that each chapter covered one woman—beginning with a fictional parallel story of a woman today, followed by the Scriptural record of each one, and a discussion of her and how she relates to each of us today.

The book was written in a friendly conversational tone, easy to read, and compelling to follow. She related these “Bad Girls” to each of us, whether we consider ourselves to be a “bad” or “good” girl. These women all had characteristics that can be seen in our lives today, and we are challenged to overcome these tendencies

I definitely liked this book. It was an enjoyable challenge read by myself; however I think I would have enjoyed it even more if read and discussed as part of a group Bible study. It could easily have been used in this format, as each chapter has great discussion questions included at the end of each chapter.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.