Sunday, May 24, 2015

How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible {a Bethany House Blogger review}

Let's start off with this.  I have read through the Bible.  More than once.

For a long time, I'd read through the Bible every year.  I've read the Bible out loud to my kids more than once.

Sometimes, though, I worry that statements like that make me sound super-spiritual and weird.  When the truth is, I'm not always ever sure I'm doing this whole thing right.  I'm sure this is supposed to impact me more directly than it does, I'm supposed to feel more of a relationship, I'm just supposed to actually become super-spiritual or something.

How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible by Keith Ferrin jumped out at me when Bethany House offered it for a May nonfiction review option.

I didn't want to review it though.  Because I've been trying to cut back on reviews and have a bit more time to process some of the junk going on in my life this year.

But it wouldn't let me go.  So I signed up.

From the publisher:
Do you feel like you should read the Bible more?

This book will help you
want to read it.
Keith Ferrin has been talking to churches for years about enjoying God's Word. Here he shares the most helpful ideas and habits you can start using today. You will find ten proven tips that are equally practical whether you are a longtime Bible student or simply exploring what this life-changing book is all about.

Aimed at deepening your relationship with God, these simple suggestions will help you focus more easily as you read, remember Scripture better, and most importantly, enjoy the Bible and its Author more than you ever dreamed possible.

Includes Discussion Questions and Reading Suggestions for Small Groups

My thoughts:

When the book arrived, I started kicking myself.   WHY did I sign up for this?  I really don't need someone else making me feel guilty that I'm not doing this Bible-reading thing right. 

Maybe I could just read the first chapter or two and write a review based on that.

But Ferrin sucked me in.  He isn't heaping guilt on me. 

What he is doing is giving ten tips, most of which are really straight-forward and dare I say 'easy' to implement?  Okay, well, they aren't all actually easy.

I ended the book (yes, I did read it all) feeling encouraged and challenged.  I want to jump right in to either his 60-day challenge, or into one of his 4-month challenges.  Because those look absolutely phenomenal.

That doesn't work, though.  You see, my church is doing something starting July 6, where we are committing as a church to reading through the New Testament in eight weeks.  So I don't have enough time to do one of Ferrin's challenges before this church one begins, and I know that overlapping them is a bad idea for me.

This challenge at church, though, falls oh-so-very in line with the ten tips that Ferrin is giving.  I kept thinking in each chapter about how I can use that with my church challenge.  Some of it is just going to happen automatically, and it was really exciting to see how this book is preparing me for the church challenge.

(Which is funny, because had I known that my church was going to be doing this whole read the New Testament in two months thing this summer, I never would have asked to review this book.)

I do have six weeks, though, before the challenge at church starts.  Six weeks where I'll be traveling, and dealing with going through my mom's things, and I'm not sure I want to exactly start a major challenge exactly.  Because I had thought about adapting a 60-day challenge to a 42-day one.  But that is setting myself up to fail.

Instead, I am going to focus on incorporating some of Ferrin's non-challenge tips into the next few weeks, and being really prepared for our New Testament work in July.

Bottom line:

I highly recommend this book.  It is already transforming how I look at Bible reading

Disclosure:  Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.  No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Join the Odyssey Adventure Club for a ‘Buck’ (Plus a Summer Challenge)

Don't know about your family, but my kids have all loved Adventures in Odyssey.  I love being able to log on and listen whenever we want to.

Right now, you can join the Odyssey Adventure Club for only a Buck!


Memorial Day is just around the corner, which means school will be out for the summer! Parents, does that fill you with dread, knowing all you'll hear for the next few months is, "I'm bored!"? Keep reading because we have a deal for you—one that will only cost you a buck and that will keep your kids safe online while allowing them to have fun and to grow in their relationship with Jesus.

Buck Oliver is back in the latest Adventures in Odyssey album, and to celebrate, you can try the Odyssey Adventure Club for just a buck for your first month. Sign up before May 31st using the promo code BUCK! *This deal only applies to first-time accounts and is good the first month only.

Members receive:
  • 24/7 streaming access to more than 750 Adventures in Odyssey episodes (a $1500 retail value).
  • A new, members-only Adventures in Odyssey episode every month.
  • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine.
  • A web quest of video stories and online activities reflecting the biblical theme of that month's episode.
  • On-the-go access with the OAClub mobile iOS app.
  • Growing access to Odyssey books, a daily devotion, access to select Radio Theatre dramas and more.

Additionally, a portion of each Odyssey Adventure Club membership benefits Focus on the Family partner organizations, such as Carry the Cure and Mission Aviation Fellowship, providing parents with an opportunity to teach children about the value of serving others. The Odyssey Adventure Club hopes to spend another 25 years hand-in-hand with parents seeking to teach biblical truth to their children while inspiring the theater of their imagination.


Your favorite Adventures in Odyssey characters are also Taking the Plunge in Album 59 and now you can, too! This summer, dive into your faith and grow closer to God by joining the Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine Taking The Plunge Summer Challenge. It includes these simple things:
  • Learn 5 memory verses
  • Get active with 5 family activities together
  • Share God’s love and your faith in 5 different ways

When you commit to the Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine Taking The Plunge Summer Challenge, you'll receive:
  • A promo code for an exclusive Odyssey Adventure Club first month offer (for new members only)
  • Adventures in Odyssey special studio message
  • “Strange Journey Back” book excerpt
  • “Jones and Parker Mysteries” book excerpt
To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Disclaimer: As part of the Odyssey Club Blogger program, I receive access to the Odyssey Adventure Club and some other resources in exchange for posting about the Club. I am not required to give positive opinions.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Privileged Species {a Schoolhouse Review Crew review} Review

I'll confess: prior to showing up on my list of upcoming Schoolhouse Review Crew vendors, I had never heard of them. ReviewChecking out their website, I discovered that they are all about providing Christian movies -- whether educational, inspirational, or entertaining.  Looking over their website, I certainly noticed titles I knew, and some I didn't.  Privileged Species was one that was new to me, but it sounded vaguely familiar.

Once we received it, I realized that we own Privileged Planet, a documentary we really loved.  That movie talks about all sorts of amazing 'coincidences' such as the outer gas giant planets providing protection from comets, or earth needing to be in a very narrow size range in order to support life.

Once we realized that, we were pretty excited to watch Privileged Species: How the Cosmos is Designed for Human Life.

From the opening sequence with Bill Nye speaking about how unimportant people are (insignificant specks on an insignificant planet orbiting an insignificant star...), this documentary grabbed our attention.

Essentially, this film is going through and addressing three substances -- Carbon, Water, and Oxygen -- and their amazing properties that make it so that life is possible.  For instance, carbon is an incredibly stable element, but it is only stable in a fairly narrow range of temperatures.  You know, temperatures that are normal on Earth.  Carbon isn't stable on Venus (it is too hot), or on Uranus (it is too cold). 

Did you know that scientists have identified 65,000,000 carbon compounds so far?  And that new ones are still being found?  That is an incredible number.

The photography is gorgeous throughout the film, and the animation sequences were wonderful.  By animation, I'm not talking cartoons, but things like showing the flow of blood and how if water was more (or less) viscous, things would be quite different.  The animations went along with what was being discussed quite well.

They also quote a wide variety of people throughout the documentary, which is always nice to see.  There is just so much packed into this 33-minute video, and you will definitely see things you missed when you view it again.

The movie prompted a discussion of Intelligent Design vs. Creation, and how this film does not make any claims about God, but speaks of a designer.  So many other resources seem to jump past the scientific parts and go straight to "God did it."  There is a time and a place for that, too, but my kids all (ages 9 to 18) appreciated that this one stuck to the idea that "scientifically, there is a lot going on that cannot be random chance," as Thomas (age 14) stated.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew also had the chance to look at some other titles from  Flight and Metamorphosis are similar in that they are documentaries with incredible footage touching on the science behind some of the amazing had-to-be-designed things on our planet.

Go read some of the other reviews for these titles, plus Exploring Ephesus, Torchlighters: The John Wesley Story, and Unbroken.

I know I'm coming up with a list of movies that I want to purchase. Review

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, May 15, 2015

Chance of Loving You {a Tyndale House Blog Network review}

I have a few favorite authors in the Christian Romance category.  I've talked about them before.  When I saw Chance of Loving You was written by three of my favorites, I simply had to jump in to review this book.

I've read a couple of other anthology types of books in the past, where some authors "get together" and each write a portion of a book that ends up being separate, yet somehow connected, stories.

Chance of Loving You includes three separate stories that are tied together by the fact that they involve some type of a contest, and they each include a recipe.  The three bestselling romance authors include:
These stories were fun.

The publisher's description of the stories:

For Love of Money by Terri Blackstock Trying to launch her own design firm while waitressing on the side, Julie Sheffield was drawn to the kind man she waited on at the restaurant last night . . . until he stiffed her on the tip by leaving her half of a sweepstakes ticket.

The Recipe by Candace Calvert Hospital dietary assistant Aimee Curran is determined to win the Vegan Valentine Bake-Off to prove she’s finally found her calling. But while caring for one of her patients—the elderly grandmother of a handsome CSI photographer—Aimee begins to question where she belongs.

Hook, Line & Sinker by Susan May Warren Grad student Abigail Cushman has agreed to enter the annual Deep Haven fishing contest. She’s a quick learner, even if she doesn’t know the difference between a bass and a trout. But nothing could prepare her for competing against the handsome charmer she’s tried to forget since grief tore them apart.

One chance for each woman to change her life . . . but will love be the real prize?

My thoughts:

I enjoyed all three stories immensely.  One fabulous aspect is that they are each fairly short, so I didn't have to stay up until 4 a.m. finishing the book.  I could stay up until 1:00 instead, and do the next story the next day!

Terri Blackstock's story is quite different from what I normally read from her, so that was lots of fun. 

Candace Calvert's story mostly took place in a hospital, with the main characters being a hospital employee and a member of the police.  That is typical of many of her stories, so I felt right at home with that one. 

Susan May Warren locates her story in Deep Haven, with the main characters all traveling there for the fishing contest.  A few familiar faces from her other novels make appearances here, which is fun.  If you've never read a Deep Haven novel, though, you don't miss out on anything in this one.

This was a fun book to read!

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Just Random Stuff: Mid-May Edition

I haven't done one of these for awhile, so I'm hitting you with one today.  Just to get some things off of my mind.

First, May in Colorado.  You never know quite what to expect.

  • I know I make comments about wanting my kids to stay little, and I comment on being sad when they go having big birthdays (like 18!!  Oh, my!) and all.  It doesn't mean I don't want them to grow up.  I know that is the goal in parenting, and I embrace that.  But I can still be sad for a moment now and then as I realize how fast it happens.
  • All of my children are now using Notgrass American History.  Richard and Trina are using the middle school version and the teens are doing the high school one.  I have truly missed having them all studying the same basic history.  Really missed it.  One way or another, this will continue.
  • I am so relieved that AWANA and AHG are over for the summer.  Cannot begin to express how much of a relief that is.
  • Life is short.  Hug your kids.  Tell your mom and dad you love them.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Heart's Danger {a Litfuse review}

It is time for another review of the Journey of the Heart series by Colleen Coble.  This time, I'm reviewing book 3, A Heart's Danger. 

Previously, I have reviewed A Heart's Disguise  and A Heart's Obsession.  I feel a bit off about those reviews, now that I've gotten through the third book.  I was not particularly liking the main characters, and I know some of my problem had to do with the fact that Sarah (female lead character) lost her dad.  Her mother had died years before.

I'm not handling books about people who are going through the death of a parent very well.

Sarah risks everything to expose the betrayal threatening the man she loves—but will the risk be worth it? Find out in book three, A Heart's Danger, of Colleen Coble's A Journey of the Heart series. Rand’s new fiancée wants to keep him from returning to Sarah Montgomery . . . for whom his heart clearly still yearns. Sarah just wants to move on with her life at Fort Laramie, but doing so under the watchful eyes of both Campbell—the man whose love she craves—and Croftner—the man whose lies have cost her everything.

My thoughts:

I like Sarah a lot more now that she is in Wyoming.  Her compassion for the Sioux living near the fort is wonderful, and her determination to move on and make a good life for herself and her brother is certainly commendable. 

This portion of the series is action-packed, with lots of fairly unlikely coincidences that didn't annoy me as much as I expected.  Unlike the first two titles in the series, this one comes to a nice conclusion that doesn't leave me anxious to get the next in the series.  At this point, I'm curious as to where things will go as we move into book four, but no pins and needles are involved.

I would highly recommend starting with book 1, as I really don't think these titles stand alone.

Enter to win the perfect pairing giveaway: three books (books one–three in Colleen's A Journey of the Heart series) and coffee to pair with your new book!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of A Heart's Danger
  • A pound of Colleen's favorite coffee, Captain Davy's Coffee Roaster Costa Rican
  • A copy of A Heart's Disguise
  • A copy of A Heart's Obsession
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 31st. Winner will be announced June 1st on Colleen's website.


Disclaimer:  I received this book through LitFuse Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.  

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book {a Blogging for Books review}

A while back, I reviewed a fabulous cookbook called The Great American Slow Cooker Book.  One of the things I loved about that cookbook was that they had directions for three different (common) sizes of slow cookers.

When I saw there was a new title available, The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book, I jumped on it.  Too quickly, I'm afraid.  My thought process was that I own three pressure canners or cookers, I've never used them to cook, really, so this would be perfect.

Once the book arrived, I realized that this book assumes that you have a 6 quart pressure cooker (though a 5.5 quart will work too), either electric or stovetop.  My devices are all either WAY too large for what they are proposing, or far too small.  So I set about just reading through the book so I could write a review.

In the process, I decided I needed a new pressure cooker.

Fortunately, I had some money available from some wonderful birthday presents, and I got a really nice electric one.  I'm thrilled.

My thoughts?

I am enjoying this cookbook.  It shares some features with the Slow Cooker one I reviewed before.  Specifically, it:
  • rates each recipe by the amount of effort required.  Love that.  The labels are common sense ones.  "Not Much" for a recipe like Turkey Sausage and Macaroni Casserole, where you brown the veggies and the meat in the cooker, then add ingredients, pressure cook, add a few more ingredients and let it sit.  "A Little" for a recipe like Pork Tenderloin with Black Beans and Coconut Rice, where you brown the meat, remove and add some veggies and cook til softened, add spices and cook, stir in a bunch of ingredients and stir until dissolved, add meat back, pressure cook, and serve.  Or "A Lot" for a recipe like Stuffed Flank Steak with Bacon and Pickles, which has a whole lot of steps but it sure sounds amazing.
  • uses mostly normal types of ingredients.  Not necessarily things I keep on hand, but things that I at least have heard of.  
  • has a "Testers' Notes" section for each recipe that is simply fabulous.  Like the Maple Dijon Wings recipe, where the notes tell you not to use anything but real maple syrup, and they give suggestions for if you prefer a thinner sauce.
 There are some other features here as well:
  • Each recipe includes instructions for both a stovetop pressure cooker and an electric one.
  • Some recipes include serving suggestions, like the Salsa-Braised Chicken Leg Quarter recipe, which suggests a rice/bean mix that you use as a bed for the chicken and sauce.
I haven't prepared many of the recipes yet, but the ones I have tried have worked out great (aside from my learning curve in figuring out my new cooker!)  It is amazing how quickly rice cooks, for instance, and I am loving that.  Just the other night, I used the pressure cooker to cook up rice (using instructions in the book), and used that to make jambalaya.  It was by far the best jambalaya I've ever made, and one big part of that was that the rice was actually cooked.

One thing I noticed is that these recipes frequently call for fresh herbs.  That isn't something I've traditionally had available to me, but I am growing some now so that should make those more possible.

I don't love this cookbook nearly as much as I did The Great American Slow Cooker Book, but it is still a pretty fantastic collection of recipes -- 500 of them! -- and I am glad I own it.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.