Very Best, Hands-On, Kinda Dangerous Family Devotions By Tim Shoemaker

When our girls were growing up family devotions were sometimes hard on all of us. We had them upon rising and all of us were a little bit sleepy. The girls would doze off or lay now so we had to make rules. While we were being obedient parents by spending time in the word with our children, I am not sure how much they remembered! I wish this book were available then and I bet they do too!
It makes the children participants in the devotionals, not a captive audience! Scriptural principles are taught with exciting, fun and very unique ideas. This concept will capture the kid’s attention and make what they are learning memorable. There are 52 devotionals, one for each week of the year! I liked them all but some of my favorites were: “Watermelon Drop, Spudzooka, and Life Lessons from a Graveyard”.
The book begins with the chapter, “Ending the Stop and Start Syndrome.” It has 14 suggestions to help your children get the most of the devotionals, ideas to help you build on being consistent and successful in your family time in the Word. I found these very helpful!
The theme of each devotional is at the beginning. The items needed and advanced preparation for the parent is listed out and very clear. Some of the planning is quite a bit, but isn’t it worth is to teach your children the Bible? Granted it you may not have some of the items suggested but you can easily borrow them from someone who does! Or better yet come up with a creative substitution.
Next the author explains how to execute the activity. I was impressed about “Teaching the Lesson”. It isn’t too long but gets to the point and brings up many ideas that might be overlooked. Finally “Summing It Up” helps bring it all together by sharing how the devotional applies to everyday life. I see this book as a win-win for parents and children. The parent will be obeying God and the children will be learning and applying.
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Wooing Cadie MCaffrey By Bethany Turner

I haven’t read many Christian comedy romances and this one was definitely unique.
Cadie and Will are both in their 30’s, unmarried and very involved in their careers. They begin seriously dating and develop a loving and comfortable relationship. But after 4 years of hoping proposal Cadie becomes frustrated. Will drops hints of marriage but never takes the next step. She finally breaks up with him. Will truly loves her and determines to do all he can to woo her back.
There were so many things I liked about this book! First and foremost was the humor! So many times I was laughing out loud. I feel Ms. Turner realistically portrayed the relationships and interactions of young adults today. The lack of communication between the two was also spot on. It is an area so many people are lacking in and with disastrous results as with Cadie and Will.
I admired that they couple were saving themselves for marriage and wanted God’s best. I was not comfortable (even though it was handled very tastefully) when their passion went too far. I saw regret and shame for failing, but not a true repentance toward God. I thought it was wonderful that Cadie honored her parents and was concerned about sharing what she had done. Yes she was an adult and didn’t have to, but it showed respect. In spite of their not saving intimacy for marriage, the author did a wonderful job of stressing God’s forgiveness and starting over. It introduced the concept that no man or no woman is perfect and all a person needs. Commitment to one another requires forgiveness, acceptance, compromise and work! A sweet book with many important messages for couples.
I received this book from Revell Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Living Lies By Natalie Walters

Natalie Walters hit a home run with her first book! The characters and the plot were amazing, but the author skillfully included serious issues in the forefront of society today: PTSD, depression and anxiety. The story immediately grabbed my attention from the first paragraph and didn’t let go. I was hooked into the old readers’ syndrome, “I am just going to read one more chapter to see what happens”.
It is late at night and a young woman (Lane) is standing near the edge of bridge on the verge of jumping to her death. The town’s new deputy (Charlie) happens by and finds her. She attempts to explain she is just taking pictures but Charlie can see through the facade. Ashamed and frightened she bolts into the woods but in the darkness she trips over something and falls. That something was a dead body! Very quickly a troubled war veteran with PTSD is suspected and the small town wants justice! Lane knows in her heart he is innocent and courageously takes a stand for him.
Lane is a widow and mother who had moved back to her hometown and start a new life leaving her guilt, grief and secrets behind. Charlie, a war veteran has moved there to work with his uncle, the sheriff. Both are sure they want no part of romance or marriage but God has other plans. Lane suffers from severe depression and anxiety. Due her family’s attitude toward her struggle, lack of support and understanding she sees herself as broken and undeserving of love. Charlie also faces family disapproval for leaving a career in the military. The story moves so smoothly as clues to the murderer’s identity is sought.
The author does a beautiful job of showing the minds and hearts of those with mental illness. I feel it gives the reader a greater understanding of how those afflicted suffer, needing our compassion and understanding, not disapproval. They are often hindered in forgiving and accepting themselves by the harsh judgement of others. Ms. Walters shows throughout the book that the true source of overcoming and moving on is trust in God. I cannot wait to read the next book!
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.

Another Good Dog By Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a dog lover deluxe! I never met a dog I didn’t like or didn’t want to pet. Therefore, any true story about these furry angels has my attention. Not all are well written and some don’t really focus on the animals. Ms. Achterberg does a fantastic job with both.
The author not only shares her experiences rescuing and fostering dogs but also shares her heart. I laughed, I cried and I stood in awe at her perseverance, dedication, sacrifice and deep love for these animals. It wasn’t their fault they ended up without a home but that of irresponsible humans. I was touched my how she accepted each one for who they were and was able to see past problems some of them had due to their experiences. She works so hard not only finding them a new home but overcoming obstacles they face. Every animal, be it a dog or any species deserves a second chance. Thankfully there are people like the author who will work so hard to give them one.
This audio book made the miles of driving go faster as I enjoyed every minute of this book. I couldn’t wait to get back in the car and go somewhere to hear the rest! I felt a very personal connection with each animal and wish I could pet and snuggle each one. A touching story.

With Winter’s Frost By Kelly Irvin

This book was different and I liked it! It breaks all the norms about Christian romance novels! Most are about couples in the bloom of youth, and I have read a few about middle aged couples. The romantic couple in this story is senior citizens in their 70’s. That might sound a bit odd but the story is beautifully and realistically written.
Laura is a widow and retired midwife. She is still very active helping in her community and with her family. Zechariah is a widower but he is not in good health and is suffering from Parkinson’s. Along with the difficulties of the disease, he is struggling living with his family besides relying on them for his daily needs. The two have known each other since grade school.
After his granddaughter has a difficult birth with twins, Laura steps in to help with the household, the younger children, and Zechariah. Losing his independence and his failing body has turned him into a real grumpy old man. She sees his discouragement and emotional pain and determines to cheer him up. As time passes they realize there is a spark between them. The question is can they find that kind of happiness at their age and the obstacles that come with it?
Ms. Irvin touches on so many true to life challenges faced in the senior years. Even though Zechariah had family to care for him, the loss of his independence was devastating. Being told what to do, where to live and having all your decisions made for you is frustrating. As the body grows frail it is discouraging not to be able work and to everything you once enjoyed. The youth of the family take the place the person once held making it easy to feel useless and unwanted. The couple’s aches, pains, exhaustion in doing the simplest tasks was so true-to-life.
I loved the family Amish family moments of meals, special times for a cup of coffee and fresh baked cookies. It was heartwarming and brought to light there are still sweet pleasures at any age. Most of all I like the wonderful Laura’s wonderful sense of humor. I haven’t read the other books but I am going to now!
I received this book from Booklookbloggers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.

Your Future Self Will Thank You: Secrets to Self-Control from the Bible and Brain Science

Our future depends on the choices we make today. A huge part of what we do, positively and negatively depends on self-control. This seems to be lacking in today’s society in a big way. As Christians our guide to the why and how of self-control is God’s Word. Mr. Dyck does an extraordinary job digging deep into the Bible to find those answers for us.
I have heard the old saying, “you do what you love”. The author points out that if we choose to give into the flesh and sin, then we love it more than God. That sheds a pretty bright light on the decisions we make! We must love God first and foremost (as He tells us in His Word) and we will have the strength to do right.
I like the way Mr. Dyck helps the reader combine the spiritual with our real life struggles. This enables us to see and apply, not just read and wonder.
He also brings out a VERY important point that people miss about God’s guideline for Christian living. It is not confining and cramping our style, like a chain to be endured and drug around for life. The Christian life done God’s way is freeing! We can be and do all He wants us to be, unencumbered by the destruction of sin’s consequences. Self-indulgence is a tool of Satan to push us into his plan of misery. We actually give him control over our life instead of the Lord.
What people think will make them happy in the moment will bring far reaching unhappiness. To look at the bigger picture, God’s plan and deny that moment of pleasure or ease will bring more joy and blessing than one can imagine. The author presents not only a very clear understanding of the problems we face, but also a biblical point of view and the tools to strengthen ourselves. One of my favorite parts was about wasting time. This is my Achilles heel, especially online time. A book I recommend for all Christians to read!
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Joyful Surrender: 7 Disciplines for the Believer’s Life By Elisabeth Elliot

To read one of Elisabeth Elliot’s books is a spiritual experience. Her writings are not just from the heart but come from a much deeper place: her lifelong relationship with the Lord and what He has taught her. She doesn’t just write about it she has lived it. Going back to the tribe that killed your husband to lead them to Christ more than qualifies her to write about discipline!
I love her statement at the very first of the book: “Discipline is the believer’s answer to God’s call.” This is a very timely subject in our world today. Discipline is gradually fading in all areas of life and being replaced with a willy-nilly fleshly attitude of doing whatever one desires. If the flesh leads and is not brought under submission, we cannot follow or serve Christ. Scripture tells us of this spiritual war.
Ms. Elliot shows the reader through her skillful writing, personal experiences and scriptures, the 7 areas a Christian must work toward discipline to fulfill their calling in Christ. She includes not only the how but the why. The areas are: body, mind, place, time, possessions, work and feelings. I found the subjects of possessions and feelings to be ones maybe people don’t look at in this light. This is a book you will want to read more than once and study.
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

A Bound Heart By Laura Frantz

Scotland and its history is not something I am familiar with. I recently found out through DNA testing that a large part of my ancestors are from there! Lark McDougall and Magnus McLeish were raised together as children, on equal footing as nobility. Lark’s father lost his title through false accusations. Lark and her grandmother were left in desperate poverty.
Lark had the job of maintaining the gardens and bees, also formulating herbal remedies for the castle. She loved her doing it and being in touch with nature. Magnus becomes Laird of Kerrera Island. He is a loving and kind ruler that truly cares about the people. Both have always been in love with each other but due to Larks’ family scandal, never married. Magnus married a whimpering, selfish, sickly woman whom desires to produce an heir. When his wife dies suddenly, Lark is accused. Magnus attempts to protect her and they both end up on prison. As their punishment they are sent to Virginia and Jamaica as indentured servants! Talk about bad going to worse!
The story is fast paced and exciting, with lots of surprises. I enjoyed this book on many levels. Ms. Frantz’s picturesque description of the island painted breathtaking pictures in my mind. I almost felt the wind blowing in my hair and I could smell the sea! I saw Lark’s and Granny’s poverty, seeing the desolation of their small home. There were times I found myself standing there looking around and observing.
The author’s remarkable accounts of the prison and slave ship were incredible! It is hard to fathom that thousands of people really experienced such horrid conditions and treatment! They were ripped from their families and homes, probably never to see them again. How frightening to face an appalling voyage and if you survived only to find yourself in a severely abusive living situation to where there was no escape!
What shone even brighter in all of this tragedy was Lark and Magnus’s solid faith in God and reliance upon Him. Their desire to follow Him no matter what the situation or cost was inspiring! They trusted the Lord explicitly. What a great read!

River to Redemption By Ann H. Gabhart

Have you ever thought about if an epidemic spread through your town and most of the residents died or were left to die because there was no one well enough to care for them? That is what happened in 1833 in Springfield, Kentucky. Cholera swept across like a ranging forest fire leaving most of the men, women and children dead in a short time. There was no hospital or special medications to heal or relieve suffering.
Adria Starr was only 7 years old when her entire family died right before her eyes. She was so sick; she can do nothing but remain in the house with her deceased loved ones. Louis, a slave left alone to care for his master’s home and business is somehow immune to the disease. He tirelessly cares for the sick and buries the dead. His faith in God is strong and deep. He finds Adria and takes her back to the hotel where he and Tilda an elderly slave were nursing the sick alone. Ruth Harmon and Pastor Will Robertson have had their faith shaken after both lost their spouses in spite of their belief and endless prayers. Where was God? Tragedy will bring all their lives together in an unexpected way.
This book was an eye-opening historically. We take so much for granted in our time and our how fortunate we are with modern medicine. The character that had the biggest impact on me was Louis. Oh to have faith in God as he did! Christ was his only focus otherwise he would not have blessed and saved 100’s of lives. I want to be like him! Not matter what the situation he found himself in, his only thought was what the Lord wanted. He could have fled and gained his freedom but he chose to remain. His and Tilda’s sayings and attitude toward hardship were incredible! I wanted to write them all down and remember them. (I may still do it!) Will and Ruth were faced with continuing on while struggling to understand why God had allowed this. Ms. Gabhart beautifully creates a beautiful story of true faith and how God can bring beauty from ashes.

A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh By Carolyn Miller

Carolyn Hatherleigh is in the upper echelon of Victorian London society. Her father is a viscount. At the ripe old age of 18 it is time for her to find a suitable husband. Forget about love and character being desirable in a spouse. Title and money are the name of the game. Due to a societal indiscretion of a young man Carolyn was seen with, her mother sends her off to her grandmother’s estate by the sea in Devon. Christmas has just passed and she is expected to stay until spring! To say Carolyn is upset is an understatement. All she can think about is how BORING it will be with her distant stuffy grandmother.
Carolyn is a brat! She is selfish, thoughtless, prideful, and is a very unkind in her dealings with others. By accident while out for a walk she meets a young man named Gideon. He is a Paleontologist whose interest in fossils is to show them not as part of evolution but God’s creation. He is kind and gentle. His sister Emma is just a sweetheart! Her health is bad and her body is frail but her spirit is joyful. Caroline begins visiting her and a friendship develops between the two girls and Emma’s brother.
Both Carolyn and Gideon find themselves attracted to each other but both try to dismiss the idea as they are not on the same level of society. They become dear friends. Something Carolyn realizes she has never had. She is swept up into their lives and secrets. Mysteries and danger follow. I won’t say anymore but it gets very exciting!
I found it sad that Carolyn’s extreme wealth and lofty heritage robbed her of the realities of life. She was not a Christian but worshiped the god of aristocracy which revolved around numerous customs and ridiculous etiquette. Most would think abundant riches would foster freedom as an individual however Carolyn’s life was nothing more than a prison.
Her relationship with Gideon and Emma not only helped her see Christ by their words and actions, but gave her a comparison with which to view herself This brought conviction in her heart of how she truly was and it was not a pretty sight. I thought it was wonderful that in spite of her snobbish upbringing, she didn’t make excuses but wanted to change. Gideon and Emma were beautiful examples of how Christians living out their faith will be a testimony for the Lord and change lives. True faith and salvation in Christ were they mainstay of this book! A truly wonderful book on many levels!
I received this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.