Sacred Holidays By Becky Kiser

I don’t know even where to begin to review this book! It is so much and more! I wish I had it when my children were younger. I always tried to center our holidays on Christ and make them special. This book would have been a goldmine for me.
I liked the unique approaches she used; not only in planning but also in how we view the celebrations. Everything we do and every day should be focused on the Lord. He is to be our number one priority. This book will help you do exactly that. I saw it as a spring board to specific ideas tailor made for a family. Ms. Kiser’s suggestions are wonderful and easy to implement, but you can also add your own personal touch.
I was impressed that she covered not only what we consider religious holidays but other memorable times you share as a family you might not have thought of such as birthdays and summer. Why not develop your own for fall, spring and winter! This isn’t just a book to read but one to keep and use over and over for reference and a workbook too! Each holiday section has pages to write down ideas, what worked and what didn’t; future plans, and struggles you faced. Alongside each struggle listed, there is a reference to the chapter in part 2 of the book that covered it. Very helpful!
She does briefly touch on Santa, the Easter bunny, and Halloween that are debated among Christians, very graciously. She gives ideas on how to be a part, but not be a part. Personally I choose not to participate in any of them. The author includes prayers and L0TS of scripture which one definitely needs if God is to be the center of our plans! I found her emphasis on not getting carried away very helpful for us OCD types. This book is not a quick fix, do it right away thing. The author is clear that you are to take “baby steps’, doing it prayerfully and slowly. I agree because it is a making traditions and important quality time with your family. Yes “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, not just Christmas but every season! This book would get way more than 5 stars if I could give them!
I received this book from the B&H Bloggers/Lifeway Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

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Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, Wife of Charles H. Spurgeon Ray Rhodes Jr.

Biographies have long been a favorite genre of mine. They permit me to step inside the lives of famous people and get to know them better. It also allows me to learn about their strengths and things I might apply to my life.
I have to say this is an excellent biography, probably the best I have ever read. It isn’t just a big over view of Ms. Spurgeons’ life with her famous husband, but it has real meat to it. Not only did I learn so many wonderful details about her but also her personal challenges, emotions, thoughts and her relationship with Mr. Spurgeon. The book is packed with not only facts but a treasure of correspondences they exchanged which was immense.
I was in awe at all the physical ailments they suffered due to very poor heath, yet they continued to serve God and rely on their great faith. I found that to be such a testimony to me of persevering with a good attitude and not losing sight of your purpose.
I applaud the author all the painstaking research he did to bring this wonderful book to fruition. A beautiful tribute to an amazing woman!
I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Big Story Seek-and-Circle Bible Battles By Alyssa Jones

What a wonderful surprise this book was to receive! Not only is it a super sturdy board book but it is also BIG. I liked the fact that the bright colorful illustrations were not cartoonish but realistic yet still attractive. The large size is a plus since this is an activity book. A child can lay it on the floor having room to lean on it and work. The use of dry erase markers makes this an entertaining book to be used again and again.
While I love Christian board books to teach little ones more about God and His Word, I was particularly impressed with the unique subject of this one: battles of the Bible. Not an easy thing to teach small children, but with the help of this fantastic book they can have fun and learn the basic facts. The first two pages are for parents: scriptures to read, truths to remember and questions to ask. The next page explains the Armor of God. How perfect because that is what we need in any battle!
There are 5 battles depicted. Each one is a 2 page spread (I liked this!). At the top is the scripture reference where the battle is found. To the side is a key with 20 things to find in the picture. There may be anywhere from 1 – 18 pictures of a single item to discover. The pictures are not super tiny in a lot of seek and find books but they will still be a challenge. In addition, there is a large circle with a picture of with a part of the armor of God to find. Another teaching plus giving the children a visual children representation. At the very end of the key is a “Christ Connection” showing how Jesus is a part of everything in God’s plan. An outstanding book!
I received this book from Lifeway Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

A Seat by the Hearth By Amy Clipston

Priscilla had fled her Amish home 8 years ago to escape her emotionally and verbally abusive father. She had not fared very well in the world. You might say she had jumped from the frying pan into the fire. She became involved with a physically abusive alcoholic. After having a son with him and finding she could endure no more, she escaped. The only place she had to go was back home. Showing up on her parents doorstep after such a long absence and with a six year old illegitimate son, took a lot of courage, but she had no other alternative.
While her mother was thrilled to see her, her father had not changed a bit. He was still stony and gruff. She accepted her lot and all of his ultimatums. She had to dress and be Amish again in every aspect. As with Amish custom she also must confess her sin before the church and ask forgiveness, hoping to be brought back into the fold. Harder yet he demands she will marry an Amish man ASAP! Another man is NOT what she wants in her life.
Mark Riehl, the most sought after bachelor in the community finds himself drawn to her. Not only is she distrustful of him being sincere, but becomes angered at his attempts at friendship. She sees him as nothing but a vain flirt. He hurts for her and truly wants to be a friend. He doesn’t give up! After the two are caught by her father and the Bishop in an innocent but incriminating situation they are forced to marry or both be shunned. Does she flee again or enter a marriage with no love?
This book was definitely emotionally charged! I couldn’t put it down! When someone is abused, the pain spreads like a ripple to those who love and care about them. Her mother grieved over her husband’s treatment of their daughter and wanted to bring comfort. Mark wanted to protect Priscilla and take care of her, but she was not open. As a loving mother she ached to do what was best for her son. There were times my chest actually tightened feeling Priscilla’s, frustration, pain and hopelessness. The book is also filled with surprises that catch you off guard. This is my first book to read of Amy Clipston’s and I for sure want to read more. A very satisfying read! Hoping there is a sequel!!!
I received this book free from http://www.Booklookbloggers.com in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Lady of a Thousand Treasures By Sandra Byrd

I was delighted with this book!! While there was suspense and mystery, it flowed
so gently. I love historical fiction, and was thrilled that I learned something new
about the Victorian era. The internet is filled with one of kind priceless treasures
and collector’s items most of us would never dream of owning. These opulent
possessions and wealthy buyers also existed during the 1800’s, as did the fakes
and frauds.
The fine art of procuring and evaluating takes great training and skill. Even more so for those of this time who only had a magnifying glass to work with! Eleanor Sheffield had excellent training, growing up in her father and uncle’s business. Her father has died and her aged uncle is unable to run the business. It falls on her shoulders to not only support him and their household but run the Sheffield Brothers. Not only is that a huge undertaking for her as a young woman but was not acceptable in high society, and they were customers!
The man she loves, a childhood friend and son to a wealthy client has not proven to be reliable as a beau. Her heart is distrustful and broken from their past. His father passes away and leaves her and the family firm in charge of making the decision concerning who will inherit his massive costly collection of a thousand treasures. Her choices are his son Harry or the South Kensington Museum.
A woman of integrity she determines to look at every facet to determine who the rightful heir should be, not allowing her heart to get in the way. To choose the museum would assure the firm and her of an elite position and guaranteed financial success in the future. This is much needed as the bill collectors are at the door and they lose everything, but she did not waver in her duty.
I enjoyed the descriptiveness of the items and how their worth was determined. I could see them in my mind’s eye. Eleanor earned my respect and admiration for her loyalty to her family, and to care for them not matter what the sacrifices. She derived her courage and strength through scriptures and prayer. I felt I was a part of her mind as she carefully sought out the truth, comparing the positive and the negative and struggling through her doubts. I appreciated the author’s pure and clean way she included romance in the story.
I promise you the story is exciting! I was sad when I read the last page. I gobbled up detailed historical notes and the end of the book!
I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Courage for the Unknown Season Jan Silvious

The title speaks volumes! Oh how I do want courage for the unknown, for the difficult times I am not expecting. I need that courage before it happens, not grapple for it in the midst of the chaos! I am sure we could all write a book about the painful trials we have faced or are facing. The ones that cause us to feel weak and falter. I know I could. This book was a blessing and a soothing balm. I love the way Ms. Silvious writes, so gently and compassionately. I appreciated the biblical wisdom, comfort and encouragement she gave me. The target audience is toward those are aging. I certainly fit this having passed the big 65 this year.
When I was young the world was my oyster, and with youth we just always assume life will follow our script. As I have grown older I am finding life has a whole new learning curve. The future looks very different than I saw it in my 20’s to my 50’s and my experiences make me wonder about dealing with what is to come.
She gave me guidance in the area of staying healthy, giving me direction I needed. I have always lived a fit lifestyle but lately it has been challenging. Over and over I related to what a read and how it applied to my circumstances and feelings. She also provided the tools for me to apply these things in my life. I felt like I was not alone as few of us discuss this with our friends. I have had many amazing Christian people in my life from their 70’s to over 90 that were and are incredible examples. Yet I had no clue how they did it. To be honest I was so overwhelmed and confused about facing my old age and especially as a widow I had begun to think, “What’s left?” Sad I know.
Let’s just say she covered the “whole ball of wax” for me! I loved the chapter “Heading Toward Ninety”! Thank you Ms. Silvious! Your book is what I exactly what I needed for this season and the coming seasons of my life! God bless you!
I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

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Forever with Jesus By Lee Ann Mancini

Finally finally finally! A book for children that explains death to them in a
scriptural view and a way they can understand. It also includes Jesus’s death on
the cross for us! I had never seen a book with the Sea Kids, but I love them! They
are so cute and precious! If they touched my heart I know they will a child’s.
Grandparents are a treasure to grandchildren and it is usually one of the first
deaths a child experiences of someone close to them. As a minister’s wife for over
2 decades I have searched far and wide for a book like this. It explains a painful
loss of a loved one with the only comforting way there is: scripture. How beautiful
the author also gives the only hope we have: accepting Christ as our Savior. They
are shown peace and security that those they love are not suffering but happy and
whole. I cannot praise this book enough! It is a MUST for every Christian
teacher, parent and grandparent to share with the kids in their life. I plan to use it
in my Sunday school class. This will be one of my #1 children’s books from now on!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Switch On Your Brain Every Day By Dr. Caroline Leaf

God created our brains to be amazing and powerful. I think this fact is ignored and often neglected in our daily walk. Our minds influence every aspect of our lives; mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally. I believe we often forget this and accept whatever thoughts come into our minds as … well okay. Scripture is filled with examples and the importance of our thoughts. Science has even verified this, but I love it that Dr. Leaf shows the scriptural truths behind what man has learned about our marvelous brains.
This is a full year of devotionals. It can even be a study if you would like. Everyday has a verse and a “brainy tip” as the author calls it. It is scientific information about our brains. These really had an impact along with the scripture on seeing the enormity of this and how it affects me. The author suggests you keep a journal. Each day write down questions you find yourself asking. Next answer them by applying them to your life. Lastly write down your personal thoughts and plans to implement what you have learned. This is far more than just a positive thinking book. It is tool to see and control your thoughts, changing your life and Christian walk. Pardon the pun but this is a “mind altering” book! I do wish the verses had been in the King James Version, but I easily looked them up.
I received this book from Baker Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Untouchable By Brittany Rust

First and foremost I want to praise the author for her courage and humility in sharing her story. She faced the embarrassment and shame to help others not fall into the same trap. For many, premarital sex is no big deal in our day and age. How wonderful Ms. Rust felt convicted and saw it as God does: sin. That was her transgression but the book can apply to ANY sin one might find themselves a part of.
Being a pastor’s wife for over 2 decades, I never quit cringing when I heard a Christian say, “I’ll never …..” because I knew they were in danger of doing that very thing. I must add the majority of the time that the people uttering those words did exactly what they believed they never could. Whether it is pride or feeling one has reached a level of supreme Christian that prompts these declarations I do not know but I believe it puts a target on our backs for Satan.
Ms. Rust not only warns us that anyone can fall but if they do, it is not a “death sentence” to our Christian walk. The same God that saved us and forgave our sins can heal and restore. She gives sound scriptural advice on how to protect ourselves from this flawed thinking and actually falling into sin. Ms. Rust doesn’t leave the reader there. She guides them with encouragement and God’s Word on how to move forward. I liked the chapter on the Amour of God, a very important gift from the Lord that is often overlooked as a means of protection. I felt it was outstanding that she told about the practice of true church discipline; holding the person accountable in love with the purpose of restoring them. That is something that is rarely seen today. It is very scriptural and much needed in churches today but rarely applied. This was a book written from the author’s heart.
I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I stated are my own.

Lady of Tarpon Springs By Judith Miller

I love it when I love learning something new about history. Not just facts and dates but unusual subjects I would not have dreamed of. This novel truly did that! I never thought of the sponge business and the divers or how they risked their lives.
I felt as if Ms. Miller took be back in time and dropped me into the early 1900’s in the town of Tarpon Springs. Zanna Krykos and her friend Lucy Penrose are challenging the norms of the day. Zanna is a lawyer and Lucy is the town’s doctor. They are very close friends. When Lucy’s father suddenly dies she finds herself inheriting a sponge diving business he had arranged and she knew nothing of! She wants zero to do with it and asks Zanna to help. There is no way out and on top of that, 50 sponge divers are coming from Greece to be housed and fed! Lucy hands it ALL over to Zanna to manage. Heading the crew is Nicos Sevdalis. He and his men are unaccustomed to women filling any management capacity or giving them directions. Nicos and Zanna are forced to work together. He knows no English and depends on Zanna (Greek also) for translating. Their beginning is pretty rocky, but they become a team.
I am absolutely fascinated by the details about diving during that era. Having seen the big heavy diving suits I never thought of how difficult and dangerous it was. Not to mention the medical problems should something go wrong. My knowledge of sponges was zero. It impressed me how incredibly hard the work was for something I am sure people during that time took for granted.
The Greek customs, food and family dynamics was wonderful. There were times I felt I was hiding behind chair listening. I would love to try some of the food mentioned. When I pick up books by Judith Miller I know without a doubt I will enjoy them! She checks all my boxes for a good read: Christian, historical, suspense, and a dash of romance!
I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.