Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Sacred Holidays: Less Chaos, More Jesus

Sacred Holidays, what started as a ministry to bring advent and lent bible studies & reading plans have morphed into a book about making the holidays sacred. There are some things Becky Kiser gets right and there are still some things I feel she misses the mark on.

So let's start with what she gets right. She offers solid planning ideas and space to plan your holidays and birthdays. She offers grace about being different and doing holidays differently. She's adamant about learning how to say no so that you can say yes to the valuable things. I love that she wants us to plan 30-60 days in advance the holidays and birthdays, which would make my life so much easier, as we have 5 children and birthdays can be quite hectic since they seem to come back to back (March 4, May 3, May 7, May 30, & August 9). 
She helps us tackle budgeting because while some are natural budgeters, some of us are not (*raises hand*).  She helps us set realistic expectations of ourselves because it is easy to try to do it all the first year and it may not happen or it may not be consistent. And the goal is consistency. 
So, baby steps (Becky's words). 

So, with all that said, what could have possibly gotten wrong?  For me, it lies in the chapter on Halloween. That's one holiday I refuse to celebrate. Regardless to how you dress it up as having some Christian roots, it is a day that satan worshippers revere & celebrate as much as we, Christians, do Resurrection Sunday and Good Friday. I can appreciate what she attempts to do by suggesting that we engage our neighbors on the holiday and share the gospel.

Maybe we're those Christians because for us it's simple either you serve God or you serve satan by turning from God. Revelations is quite clear, being warm isn't acceptable to God. You're either all in or you're out.

For what this book intends to do, for the most part, it hits the mark: to have less chaos and have more Jesus during the holidays.

{FYI: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my HONEST opinion.}

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Better Mom Devotional

The is the devotional follow up to Ruth Schwenk's novel The Better Mom (my review on it here) named after her blog, The Better Mom. And I must say it is quickly becoming my favorite devotional! It literally speaks to my often overwhelmed, sometimes weary mom heart. That part of me that questions just how well am I doing at this job. 

And on top of that, it is insanely beautiful. It comes as a hardback which means...longer lasting quality. HUGE plus. And the pages are of great quality, they're heavy enough to be read and turned many times without worrying about them ripping so easily. 

Each day starts with a bible verse/passage and ends with a prayer prompt and questions for pondering that I use as daily journal prompts. There are exactly 100 devotions, so that's just over 3 months of devotions.

Below are a few shareable images: 

THIS is one of the main themes of this devotional.

This is an often prayer of mine, that we are acceptable representatives of Christ in all we do & say. That people want to join His family when they interact with mine and feel God's love in action.

This one is such a HUGE truth that we have to remember daily as moms and wives. We are supposed to be a gift to each other AND an example to the WORLD of Christ's relationship with His bride, the church

The Struggle Is Real

The struggle is real is a book that is supposed to help us get better by relying on faith and God. I'll be honest, I struggled to even read the book. Most books are able to pull me in to read and get a good opinion of it. This one was a real struggle to get into to even form a basic opinion of it. I understood where the author was trying to go with this book. The problem was that the intro story does not draw one in. It doesn't beckon you to sit down and read it with enthusiasm. If you can get past that, then you have the ability to really grasp and get into a book that wants to pull you out of you and help you see past what keeps you stuck and not living life as God intended for you. 

The first step comes in Chapter 2 recognizing the lies then move on to chapter 3 where you accept God's truth about you. 
Then the second section is helping us live out that truth. To help you not just let your story happen BUT for you to direct your story, to actually live and enjoy your story.

For me, this book will likely be passed on to someone in need of encouragement and pulled out of a rut. 

{FYI: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my HONEST opinion.}

Friday, October 26, 2018

God's Blessings Day By Day

If you knew me personally and could view my home bookshelf, then you'd know I love kids devotionals. Why? Because usually, kids have a shorter attention span, so giving them the Word in nuggets each day works SO much better and easier until their attention spans get longer and they're ready for full on bible studies.

So a couple of things to note about this devotional. First, it is of course for kids. Second, it is a compilation of devotionals written by people from around the country. There are 52 weeks of devotions, with devotions for Monday-Friday and then one for the weekend of each week. Each devotional starts with a focus bible verse, which can be easily used as a daily memory verse (make it fun with treats or rewards for actually memorizing) and then has the actual devotional. Ending each devotional with a prayer or praise prompt.

This book is hardback with solid pages, not too thick yet not too thin that they'd easily rip.  I definitely recommend this for kids, up to around 9 years old. After that, it may seem babyish to them and they may require a pre-teen devotional.

(FYI: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my HONEST OPINION.)

The Better Mom

The Better Mom is the long-awaited book by Ruth Schwenk from the blog, The Better Mom.

So the first thing to note is that The Better Mom does not mean the comparison of one mom to another but that we are striving to be better moms...together.

Ruth does an amazing job in reminding us moms that we aren’t called to perfection but to grace and to Jesus. We are called to steward the hearts of our babes. And it’s ok that the season of parenting that you are in is hard. Parenting was not made to be easy but give yourself grace and turn to Jesus to allow Him to refresh you, to be your refuge, to give you wisdom as you parent your children.

As you see above in the table of contents Ruth covers the real topics and seasons of life. There are days when I feel like I need alone time. I’ve got 5 kids and stay home with 3 of them. There are days when I question if I make a difference. There are days when I question my identity because I feel all consumed with my husband and children. And that’s where I NEED God’s Word to refresh me and remind me of why I do what I do and who I am. And Ruth helps us that struggle with this. But in everything, she points back to the cross instead of to herself. And THAT is what I love most about this book & is my biggest takeaway from this book.

2 thumbs up! 👍🏽 👍🏽

(FYI: I received my book from the publisher in exchange for my HONEST OPINION.)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Lifegiving Trilogy

If you've been following along, then you know that there are 3 books in the Lifegiving Trilogy. 

The Lifegiving Home (review found here)
Two words that sum up this book: Cultivating HOME.

The Lifegiving Table (review found here)
Two words that sum up this book: Intentional discipleship.

And lastly The Lifegiving Parent (review found here). 
Two words that sum up this book: Intentional parenting.

As you may have read, these are well-written books that expound on being lifegiving. Intentionally Lifegiving in our homes, Intentionally Lifegiving with the meals we serve, Intentionally Lifegiving in how we parent our children. We want to cultivate the intentionality because it does NOT come naturally. It doesn't come naturally for me. If I am not intentional then I will spend entirely TOO much time on social media (if you don't believe me ask my husband). I have chosen to use Lifegiving Table this fall/winter season (along with another book, you can find here) to disciple the hearts around me by simply inviting people for dinner. Inviting my neighbors to Thanksgiving dinner will allow me to use a meal to be intentional in being hospitable and loving towards them. The same with Christmas. I want not only my family but those around us to want to come to our home. And that starts with me. 

I recommend this trilogy to everyone who wants to cultivate something special in their home, in their family. Even if you do not have children, you can still appreciate at least 2/3 of the books.

Thank you, Sally, for this oh so needed reminder! And if you want to know more about Sally or her books, you can connect with her here. And thank you, Tyndale, for allowing me the chance to experience these books! 

You can purchase the entire trilogy HERE for only $24.49 (prices subject to change).

The Life-Giving Home

Here we come to the first book in the Lifegiving trilogy yet I read it last. This one is a collaboration between Sally and her daughter Sarah, whereas the second was all Sally and the third book was a collaboration between Sally and her husband Clay. You can read about them here and here. This one is about creating a home that is a safe haven for the entire family. What I truly love is that Sally and Sarah think about the ENTIRE year, not just the holiday season which is usually what most books focus on. 

As you can see from the above table of contents there's a chapter for each month of the year (and it also tells you who wrote each chapter). I also like that Sally included Sarah in writing this book because you gain the perspectives of parent shaping the home and the child who benefits from this shaping. 

There's also a planner to go with this book that helps you implement some of the ideas and shape your home to be lifegiving for your family. 

I recommend this book for every family. I think as moms we have to be intentional in cultivating our home to be a safe haven. We have to be intentional in bringing a warmth to our homes all year round so that our families and even their friends WANT to be in our homes.

{FYI: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my HONEST opinion.}

Sacred Holidays: Less Chaos, More Jesus

Sacred Holidays, what started as a ministry to bring advent and lent bible studies & reading plans have morphed into a book about m...