Category Archives: Book review

The Song {And a Giveaway!} #awakenlove

The Song 2

I have shared before that Dominic and I spent way too many years struggling in our marriage. We just weren’t equipped to handle marriage well and we were far from God…it was not a good mix.

Unfortunately we built up a lot of bad habits during that time and learned how to fight well and love poorly. Today I am so grateful for the grace that has been poured out on our marriage and the restoration that we have seen take place.

It isn’t easy and it takes work and a lot of prayer – but God is faithful!

Today we work together and spend most of our days and nights together. There have been “interesting” moments for sure, but for the most part we both feel blessed that we have this opportunity now.

But the one thing we are the worst at is finding time for just the two of us.

Date night? What is that?! 🙂

In fact a few weekends ago we had some clients to visit in the afternoon and decided to get dinner out together afterwards and Dominic felt guilty that we were having a nice dinner and the kids were a home eating leftovers. (They survived if you can believe it!) 😉

Time together just the two of us, not doing work, is so important though. 

It is easy to get busy, make excuses and not participate in things because there is always something else that needs our attention.

Recently we started hosting a small group from church at our home every Sunday night. It has been so good to fellowship with other couples, even if all our kids are upstairs.

But even more than that I want us to learn more about each other, so when I was asked if I wanted a copy of THE SONG: Awaken Love Couple’s Devotional  to review, I was excited. I love having resources available that help encourage strengthening a marriage.

The Song 3

This devotional is based on the Song of Solomon in the Bible. It is a 6 week devotional with short lessons for 5 days of each week.

Short stories and some discussion questions to get the couple talking, this is an easy way to increase communication and look at how God’s Word views marriage.

The Awaken Love devotional is a great resource for any couple to have!

I would encourage you to check out this website. It has links to materials you can purchase as well as links to other free resources. These were my favorites. Rekindle your Marriage Resource and 10 Ways to Pray Protection over Your Marriage.

As a part of this post FlyBy is offering the devotional for free to one of my readers. So if you would like to win a copy please leave a comment below and I will pick a winner on Friday November 21st!

#seethesong

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

31 Days of Finding God – HONOR

Thank you for joining me in my series 31 Days of Finding God. Each day I am going to use a prompt from Kate and incorporate that into how I am finding God in my everyday!

Noah 1

Today’s prompt is Honor!

Honoring God is not something I do well. Especially when I am being asked to do something hard or seemingly impossible.

My pull would probably be to act in a dishonorable way, repent and seek to do it right the second time around. : /

In the Bible we have an example of someone who was a very honorable man of God.

Noah.

Noah 4

I was recently sent a children’s book to review by Handlebar Marketing. Noah is a wordless picture book for children and adults alike. The pictures on each page are stunning.

Because there aren’t any words, it allows the opportunity for the reader to share the story in their own words. While I know the “traditional” story of Noah, I wanted to re-read it in Genesis again with fresh eyes. See Genesis 5:32-10:1 to read the entire story for yourself!

First of all, the story starts that Noah was 500 years old when he fathered his 3 boys. How had I never remembered that?!

Second it talks about how wicked man had become. Men and women that weren’t honoring God and God regretted that he had created man. BUT Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Because Noah had lived in an honorable way, righteous and blameless in God’s sight, God came to Noah and said that He was going to send a flood that would wipe out all humanity, all creatures. He then asked Noah (who was over 500 years old!!!) to build an ark.

What I found new in this story (to me ) was that God was very specific with Noah, specific about the size, the rooms and levels. The animals that he was to bring with. While the request may have seem crazy, God guided every step!

Noah 2

The Bible says that when the flood waters came Noah was 600 years old! The animals came that the Lord commanded and God shut them in the ark. And the waters prevailed for 150 days. Noah sent a dove out to find dry land, once the dove returned with an olive branch Noah knew that there would once again be dry land.

Noah 3

Once on dry land, Noah being an honorable man, gave up a burnt offering to God and God was pleased and made a covenant with Noah and future generations.

Genesis 9: 9-11 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you,  and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth.  I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Sometimes making the right choice is hard. We may have to work, to trust God in the unknown, follow His plan even when it feels crazy or impossible. But when we do, we honor God. And like Noah we will be richly blessed because of it.

This book would be a beautiful addition to your children’s library. What a fun way to tell this important about being honorable to God, to your children.

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In Him, Kristin

**Disclosure – I received a copy of Noah from Handlebar Marketing for free in exchange for my honest review of the product. All opinions expressed here are my own.**

Overrated {A Review and Giveaway} #OverratedBook

Overrated

Can I be honest with you?

Sometimes I am all talk. It sucks to admit that, but it is true.

I have a passionate heart for others. I have blogged here before about difference causes I support and believe in. And I DO believe in them.

But you know what else?

Blogging about it, maybe donating $50 here or there feels good, and at times feels like I am doing enough.

But am I?

Could I do more – of course. But do I? Because in doing more I may be asked to step out of my comfort zone. I may be called to give bigger, go places I am afraid of, serve people in my community….am I ready for that?

In his book “Overrated”, Eugene Cho tackles this very subject. In his own words, “I like to talk about changing the world but I don’t really like to do what it takes.”

Yep…the tag line of his book caught my attention in a big way.

Because if I am honest, this is me.

I have always said that I want to DO something with my life. Make a difference, BE a difference. But what am I doing about it? Not much I am afraid.

Eugene Cho wanted to start living what he was preaching. “Overrated” is his and his families journey to doing more. He challenges the reader to research and understand the causes they support and then get out there do the work.

“We owe it to ourselves to be prayerful, knowledgeable and committed to being experts on the work and conviction to which we feel called. While we may never fully get there, it’s a life long commitment to be a learner. This is, in essence, what it means to be a disciple.”

And these words hit home as well..(I am telling you this is a tough book, tough because it IS convicting but in a good way! I needed these words!)

“Don’t ask people to pray if you’re not willing to pray.”

” Don’t ask people to fast if you’re not fasting.”

“Don’t ask people to serve if you’re not willing to serve….”

I have blogged before about a cause I believe in, but then actually never did much else. Not that spreading awareness is a negative thing. There may be someone who reads our words and it is just the cause they feel called to help. But to be an even greater example, I need to be willing to forge ahead myself first!

Here’s the thing, and the point of this book – be aware. Be aware of why we are telling the stories we are. Why we write about causes we love, is it to make change or make us feel better? Are we willing to do the hard work ourselves, and not for our glory but for God’s? “Let’s not just tell a good story, let’s live a good story.” 

“Ideas, dreams, and visions don’t change the world. Rather, it’s people – like you and me, who faithfully, prayerfully, and tenaciously live out these ideas, dreams, and visions – who change the world.”

Eugene is someone who has struggled with these very issues, he writes with honesty and transparency and challenges the reader to think differently. I was fortunate to receive a  copy of this book from FlyBy Promotions in exchange for my honest review.

They are also giving me a copy to give away here to one lucky reader. So to enter please leave a comment sharing one cause/charity that is near and dear to you! Winner will be chosen on Friday October 3rd.

Check out the book trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqvd12mEEK4&list=UU4vF_MunQDVGg-P497Bj6nA

Official Websitehttp://areyouoverrated.com
Disclosure: Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and not infulenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

What Your Heart Needs

Phone booth

I am not much of a phone call kind of girl. In fact they sometimes scare the daylights out of me. It is those awkward pauses that might happen and “what if I say something stupid” kind of fears.

I don’t enjoy having to call and order the pizza, in fact for years I refused to do it. (I know what am I 12?!) Calling clients is one of my biggest fears at work, when the reality is that most often I can answer any questions they have and our conversations usually end up just fine.

I guess it is something that has always caused me some sort of anxiety, so I just avoid it if I can. So let me apologize right now if you have ever called my house and I haven’t answered the call…. : /

But this weekend I got a voicemail from my friend Kami (this call I totally missed I swear!!) and I called her back and just had the most wonderful conversation with her.

We don’t see each other but maybe once a year, it isn’t often enough but it was so nice to just catch up and share life a little. To talk to another mom who gets where parenting isn’t usually glamorous or even wonderful. A friend who knows what it is like to have “that” child….you know the one that doesn’t listen and seems to like being naughty. 🙂

And when I got off that call my spirit felt lighter.

I didn’t even realize that I was feeling a little down, but that call lifted me and I am so grateful for it.

Some days we just need that pick me up don’t we?!

Maybe it is a call from a friend, or some retail therapy, even a good cup of coffee if you are into that sort of thing! 😉

If I have learned anything the past several years it is that life isn’t, and won’t, always be easy. I will get frustrated, feel lonely or angry and upset. I will feel misunderstood and left out.

So knowing that these days will come, what can we do to counteract it?

I find for me that I need to surround myself with truth.

The truth of God’s word, a favorite scripture taped to my mirror (Ephesians 3:20-21), or a devotional book filled with inspiring truths that encourage and offer hope.

My dear friend Holley Gerth has written a new devotional called “What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days.” And it releases TODAY!!

What Your Heat Needs

It is a beautiful book filled with 52 short devotionals. At the end of each day is a prayer and a space where you can write a reflection from the reading.

Holley is the real deal. She is a woman that writes from experience, someone who has been dealt the hard days, and walked through them with grace.

This doesn’t mean that she has enjoyed the process, or even always handled it well, who of us have right!?!

But as you read these devotionals you feel as though you are sitting across from a friend, pouring out your heart, and she understands all you are dealing with.

In her words “Acknowledging the hard parts of our lives doesn’t mean that we’re not grateful for the gifts God has given. We can thank him every day for the child he’s given us while also feeling exhausted when that same child gets on our last nerve….”

“God understands both”

God wants us to bring the good and the bad to Him. (<====Click to Tweet)

He knows there will be hard days, days when our hearts need a lift.

I am so grateful that He has called and gifted Holley with words of hope so that she could bring that message to us. This is a devotional that you will want to get and keep close by for those times when you need a reminder that you are not alone.

Thank you Holley for once again filling my home with words of light, His light that shines through you. I am so blessed to know you and honored to be able to help promote this newest book of yours!

I was graciously given a copy of Holley’s devotional from Revell Books to read and review as a part of a blog tour. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Phone Booth Photo Credit: Monica Arellano-Ongpin

A Journey to Finding Home – #AtlasGirl

This post is part of the Atlas Girl Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!

Family Vacation

My beautiful family on vacation last summer!

When I was growing up my parents took us on a family vacation each summer. We would load up the van with all of our camping gear, some food staples and head out on our adventure.

We would have rented some family friendly cassette tapes from the library and sing along to “C is for cookie”. And we would work on a new latch-hook project (does anyone else remember those?!) It was a time of innocence and something that we all looked forward to.

We tent-camped, cooked our meals on a little Coleman stove and made smores almost every night. When we would get to the camp site we would drive around and look for the best site to put up our tent and then once that was done we would go exploring.

One vacation was to Yellowstone National Park. We had been there a day when the spot next to ours was filled with this HUGE pull behind camper. And out came this girl who was just about my age. I honestly can’t remember her name right now, but I am going to call her Cindy.

Cindy was from California and she was surely rich. I hadn’t ever been inside a pull behind camper before and it was AMAZING. Put our 5 man tent to shame and I instantly felt a little twinge of jealousy.

She had pegged-rolled jeans (something those of us from the midwest hadn’t experienced yet) and she just seemed to be so wise about the world at the young age of twelve. I wanted to be just like her.

We became fast friends and when we were at the campsite together we would explore and she would tell me stories of this wonderland called California. I was pretty sure that I needed to go there when I “grew up”, because it was THE place to be.

We exchanged addresses and maybe even a couple of letters after that first summer, but the friendship with Cindy didn’t last. What stuck with me though was that feeling that what I had in front of me wasn’t “good enough” and if I wanted better I would have to go far away to find it.

I graduated from high school, and my dreams of living in sunny California had long since passed. Staying close to home was comfortable, safe. And I like those feelings. I can talk big about wanting to travel but the reality is that where I am most at home IS at home. (<====Click to Tweet)

I didn’t value family when I was growing up. I wasn’t able to see all of the wonderful things that my parents did for us. I just felt like because I didn’t have what someone else did, that I didn’t measure up.

But becoming a parent myself has changed that vision. 

I know how hard my parent’s worked to provide for us and  especially when they planned these trips each summer, I am well aware of how much went into making these memory-filled experiences. And I am grateful for them. I hope that I can do the same for my own family.

Emily Weirenga went on a journey of her own to find herself. Today her new book Atlas Girl – Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look is released and it is a beautiful memoir of her finding home in the most unlikely of places. Emily left home believing that she wouldn’t return and yet God sought her in each place that she travelled. As she did some exploring of her own she found His healing hand, redemption from the hurts of her past and the road leading her back home.

Each of us are on a journey to finding home, this book will encourage and inspire you to trust God in the midst of trials and darkness, to seek His light in this dark world and find to home in Him, wherever that leads you.

Thank you for your beautiful words Emily, what a treasure this book of yours is!

 

Emily T. Wierenga, award-winning journalist and author of 4 books, has released her first memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look. They say the book is like “Girl Meets God” meets “Wild” meets “Eat, Pray, Love.” I say the book is inspiring. You can grab a copy here. I was given a copy of Emily’s book to read and review, from Baker Publishing Group, all opinions are my own.

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A Time for Rest – Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Balance beam

My word for 2014 is Balance.

The last several months of 2013 were a blur. Dominic and I were so busy at the office that there were times I wondered if we would make it. Now don’t get me wrong, we are blessed and grateful for this business and how God has provided for our family, but I felt very flustered for too long. I needed balance.

I thought that if my one word could be balance that I might be more intentional about finding it.

I can tell you that it has been, and continues to be, a work in progress.

I suppose I hoped that by mid-way through a year I would have been further along, but the reality is that life just happens and I allow myself to get swept up in the wave of it all.

Then one day I got an email from Bonnie Gray  asking if I wanted to be a part of her new book launch team for “Finding Spiritual Whitespace – Awakening Your Soul to Rest“. Her book sounded like JUST what I needed because “rest” seemed so lacking in my daily life.

And by rest – I really don’t mean more time to sleep. While that would be nice, I have become so accustomed to sleeping WITH interruption for the last MANY years, that sleeping through the night seems unnatural to me!

No, what my spirit really needs is finding that rest IN God. In relationship with Him.  (<====Click to Tweet)

“Making room for whitespace means taking the journey to confide in Jesus the way we would if he were standing right here in front of us.” pg 31

My hope is that during these times of busy, I would be intentional about seeking and finding God in the everyday. I don’t want my relationship with God to be one where I treat Him like my 1-800-CRISIS line. It HAS been that way in the past and I found that for many years I felt like God was my enemy because He just didn’t “fix” all of my problems.

Instead, I want to create a spirit of thankfulness in all situations. To find comfort in His promises despite what is happening in the world around me.

Rest

Recently I have done a few things to stay in a closer relationship with God. I have been spending a little time each morning in quiet time, reading the Bible, listening to praise music and praying over my husband and my family.

There are mornings when I am exhausted and don’t want to get up with my alarm. And on those mornings, I usually start my prayer time by thanking God for giving me the energy I need to get through the day, to do a short workout, and be awake and beneficial for my family.

A heart of thankfulness makes all the difference, doesn’t it?! (<====Click to Tweet)

Bonnie share her heart in this book. The deepest parts of the hurts from her past, a past that threatened to drown her once the details started coming to light.

And yet she also offers hope.

Hope that our past doesn’t have to define us. And a path to seeking and finding a loving God that wants us to find our rest IN Him.

I don’t want my life to be defined by how busy I was. I am thankful we are busy, but it can’t take the place of spending time seeking God’s plan for my life. Spending time in His Word, offering up prayers, even when they come from exhaustion, with thankfulness on my lips, and singing His praises are just a few things I am doing to find rest.

What areas of your life do you need to find rest?

Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Purchase a copy for yourself here!

Thank you Bonnie for allowing me to be a part of your amazing team of women seeking to find God, find peace and find rest.

Photo Credit: sherbonbon

God’s Amazing World – Giveaway!

Book 1

I love books. And I especially love children’s books that are fun to look at and teach a good message.  I was given the opportunity to review “God’s Amazing World!” by Eileen Spinelli and Ideals Books.

My children look at the world differently that I do at times.

They can see the beauty that I take for granted, they find wonder in the bugs that are crawling in the grass and the birds that are in the air.  When I think of all the things that God created I am amazed. How often do I miss it though?!

But God, He thought of everything!

And what a story to share with your children. The way in which God created us, this world and everything in it. When we give our children God’s words, His stories, they keep them in their heart and remember them.

Just the other day I was talking to my 4 year old about Dominic having to work late and feeling bad that he was alone and Elijah said “He isn’t alone silly, he is never alone because he has God in his heart.” I had said that very thing to him weeks before when he said he was feeling lonely.

Our children are listening and remember what we say.  What a better way to give them truth than in a book about God’s Amazing World?!

Book 2

I love that because Gabriel is old enough to read on his own he can help read to his brother and sister. While they were listening, the minute I wanted to take a picture they wouldn’t sit on the couch, of course! 😉

Book 3

In God’s Amazing World! “Gracie and her cousin Bo explore the seven days of Creation, all without leaving the backyard!”

The pictures are beautiful and as they discover each new day and what God created special for that day, kids are not only learning about the Creation story, but also about seeing God’s hand in everything around them. Even in their own backyard!

Book 4

This book is a new favorite and we have read it over and over again!  I am very excited because Flyby Promotions has given me an extra copy to give away to one of my readers!! If you have children you will want to enter this!! Just leave a comment below and tell me what is your favorite children’s book?!  A winner will be chosen on Monday March 31st! #ShareAMoment

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

You’re Going to Be Okay

Holley's Book 2

Oh friends do I have a treat for you!! It is a special week because my dear friend, Holley Gerth’s, newest book is finally available to purchase!

I was blessed by an advance copy and it is so good! I will admit I haven’t gotten through the whole thing yet but it is because I am reading it slowly and underlining in so many places it is taking me some time to get through! 🙂

Holley is a natural encourager. She has a gift of using her words…God’s words, to touch the hearts of women.

She is no stranger to difficulties either. She writes with the understanding of a close friend. She has walked through dark times, and seen God’s goodness during and after. Those are the words that you will find in this book.

Words of encouragement, affirmation and support.

Just starting the book she talks about God’s purpose for our lives. Do you know that I lived a long time believing that I had messed up God’s plan for me? Mistakes, problems, and difficulties in my family had me feeling like I couldn’t ever get “back on track”.

And then I read this in Holley’s book….

“When life comes along and slaps us silly, it can feel as if God’s purpose for us has now been cancelled. But nothing can stop His purposes for us!”

And this…

“God’s purpose for you will prevail. In all of history, no person has ever been able to thwart Go’s ultimate plan. He isn’t shocked by the brokenness of this world or even our personal failures. He can redeem and reroute as much as is needed to get us to the destination he has in mind.”

All this time I had never considered that. You know the idea that the all powerful God of the Universe may just have a little more control than little ol’ me and I am unable to mess up His ultimate plan?! Seriously! 😉 But really – I believed God couldn’t redeem my mess!

And finally before I share too many of the amazing nuggets that this book has, there was this….

“In other words, the very places and times when you feel God can use you the least are when he may actually shine through you most.” (<==== Click to Tweet)

My failures seem overwhelming at times. I blog about my faith and I mess up with my family daily. Who do I think that I am trying to set myself apart as a Christian here? I am likely one of the worst examples of “good Christian” there is…

But Holley reminded me that he uses my weakness to make me strong.

So I press on, and share my mess-ups and then share about the continued redemptive work of God in my life because without Him NONE of this is possible!!

I KNOW that this book is going to be a blessing to so many and I just can’t keep the joy all to myself! So I am giving away a few copies today! Yay and fun right?!

Just leave a comment why you would like a copy and I will pick the winners on Monday and have Amazon deliver a copy to you. Open to US and Canada residents only please! 🙂

For an additional entry tweet the link below and come back to let me know you’ve done it!

Enter for a chance to win @HolleyGerth’s new book You’re Going to Be Ok at the @richesofhislove’s blog. @RevellBooks(<===Click to Tweet)

**Update! Giveaway is now closed. I have decided that I couldn’t randomly pick a few winners because I believe in this new book so much so everyone that commented will be getting their own copy! 🙂  I have emailed each of you and once you have sent me your address I will have Amazon ship a copy to you! ** YAY! 🙂

Undivided Mom – E-Book Review!

I am excited to share a new book with you today from my friend Kayse. Kayse is a wife and a mother and God has been working in her heart recently and she has written a 14 day devotional Undivided Mom to help mothers “find Christ in the midst of the chaos of motherhood”!

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As a wife, mother and a woman that works full time outside of the home I struggle with balance. It can be difficult to carve out time for me, time for studying God’s Word, time for my kids and my husband.

I know that I don’t handle the balance well – but I am seeking ways to do this better. One of the things I do in the mornings is spend some quiet time reading the Bible and other devotionals. It helps me begin my day right and usually encourages a better attitude for the day.

I was given an advanced copy of this new e-book devotional and started including it in my morning routine.  What I like about this book is that it is a quick and easy read – but challenging and encouraging.

Kayse is in the “thick” of motherhood and knows how challenging it can be. But she uses stories from the Bible and her own life experiences to help encourage other mamas to spend their time wisely  and have the right focus on and for our kids.

In her own words she challenges us to see where our heart is at….

“Are we anxious and worried about everything that we “need to do”, so distracted by serving that we forget to consider those we serve? Or are we concerned with the “one thing” that trumps all others?

Jesus has called us to be wives and mothers, yes. But first and foremost, He has called us to Himself! He desires our hearts more than our service. If we’ve got our hearts in the right place, everything else is secondary.”

And this gem of wisdom….

“Let’s be sure to communicate to our children that they are the ones we value before all else. That they are deserving of our time and attention. That they are loved, not only by us, but by the God who is never distracted and always available.” 

I can’t give away all the goodness though! You need to read it for yourself! And as a part of her launch party she is offering 20% off both of her e-books with code UMLAUNCH20! Coupon code will expire on October 13th.

And to add to the fun please check out Kayse’s launch post that has a Huge giveaway included!!

Do you struggle with finding balance?

Undived Mom