365 Pocket Morning prayers: A Tyndale Blog Network Review

Sometimes it is hard to know how to pray. Even those who have a long-standing faith with many years of growing can go through seasons of not knowing what to pray. For those who are young in their faith it can be overwhelming to even know where to begin. We want to pray and desire intimate time with our heavenly Father, but it can be difficult to focus at times.
365 Pocket Morning Prayers by David R. Veerman, published by Tyndale House Publishers, is a sweet and gentle way to begin your time with God in the mornings. Each day has a short verse or two and a sample prayer written to coincide with it. The thoughts in the prayer are often devotional in nature and can spur on a longer time with God. 
I like the small, compact size as it is easy to pack for a vacation. Often when I’m on vacation I have a harder time staying on track with my  alone time with God. Having a small book like this can be helpful to me to stay consistent when away from my daily routines. The soft, leather-like cover was inviting to my girls. They thought it was so pretty and liked how it felt in their hands.
I personally would not pick this up as my only time with God during the day as the Scripture is minimal on each page, but I do think this is a great jump-start and a refreshing way to start morning devotions with God. I also think this is a great devotional for those first starting a daily time with God because of its simplicity. This could make a great gift for a college student as well. 
Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts are my own.

Pressing Pause: A BookLook Blogger Review

Moms who are also Christ-followers know we need time alone with God, but between all of the pressures of the mundane and the day-to-day needs we meet on a minute-by-minute basis, taking that time isn’t always at the top of our list. I can’t even count the times that all my good intentions have been thwarted by bickering littles, monstrous messes, or even simply sleeping through my alarm because of exhaustion. Add to that the seasons we face where weeks go by when sickness seems to be a constant family member. 
The younger our babes, the harder it is to not only find the time to read Scripture, but also keep our minds focused enough to hear from God as we are reading. This wonderful new devotional from Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk aims to helps moms reverse this. Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet Jesus is ideal for the mom who is trying to regain her footing in spending time alone with God. The short passages are expounded upon alternating between the authors. Real-life examples from each woman’s life. At the end of each devotion is a sample prayer and questions to ponder. Finally, there is space to journal your own thoughts after reading.
This is intended to be a way for mom to press pause on their day for just a moment. I think this would have been especially helpful when I was first starting on my mothering journey. Moments with God were hard to create even though it was what my heart desired. I talk to a lot of new moms and I’ve heard this same thing over and over. 
The title for this devotional is so perfect. My girls are apt to say, “Pause the game!” when they are playing pretend and need to do something in real life for a second. The same idea is here. We need to press pause from the tyranny of the ordinary. If it has been a while since you took some time alone with God this is a great place to start.
Disclaimer: I received this title from BookLook Bloggers in return for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way. I was not required to write a positive review.

Forty Names of Jesus: A Lenten Devotional for Families: A Review and Giveaway!

As a family we are always looking for ways to point our girls back to Christ. Our faith is so much more than just a Sunday morning thing and we want to convey that to our daughters. Sometimes that means we fly by the seat of our pants as the moments just happen. Those unplanned moments are amazing gifts from God that allow us to impart His truth to them. 
The problem is that if we leave all opportunities just come up and never really plan anything ahead of time, I don’t personally feel that we are completely fulfilling our mandate as Christian parents to train and teach our kids to know and remember the faithfulness of God. This year we will be participating in Lent. I am thinking of it as Advent for the Resurrection, a countdown to lead into the most important moment of remembrance all year long as a wonderful opportunity to focus us all on the Savior as we approach Resurrection Sunday. 
This delightful devotional was written by a homeschooling friend of mine. While we’ve never met in person we used to live in the same state for a while and chatted extensively about homeschooling as we both use Heart of Dakota for our curriculum. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her over the last several years. After a series of brief careers in electrical engineering, nuclear power, and teaching mathematics Jennifer was led to move into a new full-time calling…raising her three precious children in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. She has been formally homeschooling now for 5 years and she loves what she does!
I was super excited when she asked if I would like to review her new devotional. I jumped at the opportunity and can’t wait to begin this for Lent with my daughters. Each of the devotions are brief, but theologically deep. She communicates in a kid-friendly way that also penetrated my own heart as I was reminded of the wonderful names of Jesus.
What I love most is that each devotion begins with a Scripture to look up together. Then there are several additional passages to look up if you desire. This is perfect for families to decide exactly how long their devotional time should be. Those with younger kids can keep it nice and short while those with more mature children can have further time to reflect together. 
The devotional content is biblically grounded and theologically sound, yet at the same time written in a gentle and engaging way that will bring forth great conversations with your kids. We already have devotional times with our daughters. I am anticipating a lot of really good conversations after our studies. 
Although this was originally written as a devotional for Lent, it can be used anytime of the year as it is not necessarily specific to this season. That is really great because anytime is a great time to study the names of Christ! 
And now for a giveaway! 
I’m so excited to have the opportunity to giveaway a copy of this wonderful devotional to one of my readers! 

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Devos for the Rest of Us: A Tyndale Blogger Review

Devo for the Rest of Us is a new Devotional written by a pastor from Las Vegas. It is very down to earth and light to read. I appreciated the personal stories as they often brought biblical ideas into the perspective of present day.

I’m always interested in reading new devotionals. I also admit that I’m very cautious when reading them. I think authors have a great responsibility when it comes to guiding others in what God is saying to us through Scripture. I was unfortunately very disappointed with this particular book. for several reasons.

The first is the seemingly light treatment of sin. While I appreciate those who are willing to admit they are not perfect, I do not think very highly of individuals who relish or even seem to take pride in actions which are dishonoring to God. There were a handful of incidents of this used as examples in this devotional. The seriousness of sin should never be diminished and anyone who does so makes me very nervous about the rest of their perspective on Scripture.

I see the trend in many of the popular speakers and books becoming a flaunting of sin and a lack of reverence. I see many of the most sought after teachers parading their trespasses as badges of honor and it breaks my heart. While we should never resort to an attitude that becomes holier-than-thou, holiness is our aim. Scripture teaches us this, and any action which draws us away from the holiness of God should be mourned, not applauded.

Another reason I was disappointed in this devotional was the abrupt writing style. Now this is just a personal preference, but I like to read devotionals which encourage me to think and with thoughtful writing. The simplistic style of this devotional did not really appeal to me.

The latter complaint is really just my preference in devotionals. My first issue, however, is serious enough I cannot recommend this book to anyone.

Disclaimer: I received a e-book copy of Devos for he Rest of Us from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation.

More for Girls Only! Devotions: A Tyndale Blog Network Review

One of my favorite things as a pre-teen and teenager was my Brio magazine. Did any of you read that? This sweet devotional reminds me a lot of that magazine and all the reasons I loved it. Within the pages of this 60-day devotional is encouragement which feels relevant for girls of this generation.

Each devotional in More for Girls Only! Devotions by Carolyn Larsen from Tyndale Publishers has a story and Scripture to engage young girls. I am having both my 8-year-old (Beth) and 10-year-old (Rose) use this book. While Beth does like it, I think she may be a little on the young end. There is nothing inappropriate at all but my girls are still very much little girls and not growing up as quickly as some of their peers are. I love that about my girls. Either way the content would be appropriate for all little girls considered preteens.

Carolyn Larsen is a new author for me and I appreciate her easy style of writing. As I read through some of the stories and devotionals I felt as if this was the kind of woman I would love to have in the girl’s life as a mentor. My daughters are so very blessed to have many women in their life who care about their spiritual growth. While I’ll probably never meet the author in person I have a feeling she is the kind who looks for opportunities to mentor young girls with whom she is in contact. Her stories and Scriptural application are both relevant and engaging.

Both of my daughters really like the layout of this devotional. In addition to the opening story and Scripture there is a quiz, extra verses, biblical application, and challenges. All of the topics are age appropriate. Even the topic on purity does not delve into the sexual aspects of purity but rather what it means to have a pure heart.

This is an excellent devotional that a young girl desiring to grow in her faith will enjoy!

Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of More for Girls Only! Devotions from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. 

I Can Learn the Bible: A BookLook Blogger Review

Ever since my oldest daughter was just an infant we have made an effort to teach our children biblical truth. Rose was barely old enough to sit on her own when we started having family devotions with her. I remember clearly the sweet little board book devotional I picked out from a Christian Bookstore which was going out of business. It had just a few sentences on each page and a song to go with each of the devotions. It was great for tiny tots and we enjoyed starting out with this. We also have multiple children’s Bibles with pictures and stories and questions that we have used as they grew.

I have loved these previous resources, but I am ready for something more. Each of my girls has professed their faith in Christ and I have wanted something for our devotional time as a family which addressed more areas of discipleship.

I was so very excited to have the opportunity to review I Can Learn the Bible by Holly Hawkins Shivers. This children’s version of the Joshua Code has been exactly what my husband and I have been looking for to use with our girls. The cover of the book struck me as being adorable, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to really challenge my girls or grow them further in their relationship with Christ. They already know most of the Bible history by heart and I really wanted them to begin to engage more personally with Scripture. This sweet cover does not even begin to express the depth of truth my girls are gaining from it!

Subjects ranging from world view to your purpose as Christian are covered in a very real, yet understandable way for elementary children. Many of the topics were not ones I had really thought about addressing with my daughters who are 9, 7, and 5. I love answering their questions, but with this devotional we have been able to have a more direct, proactive approach to discussing certain topics. A key Scripture verse is included for each week as well as discussion questions and challenges for you as a family. It also ends with a suggested prayer to help you guide your children to know how to pray about what they are learning.

We are at war with our culture for the hearts of our children. I need as many weapons, both defensive and offensive as possible. Through resources like this we are more prepared for the battle and are preparing these sweet little hearts to know how to live godly lives.

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook.com® <http://BookLook.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Just Sayin’: A Book Look Blogger Review

A friend of mine was lamenting the woes of parenting a preteen and I said how I couldn’t really relate because I had not yet reached this stage. With raised eyebrows she informed me preteen refers to kids ages 8-12 and I suddenly realized she was right! I have an official preteen under my roof!
I have recently been studying and reading articles concerning teenagers/adolescents and was surprised to find this is a relatively recent term fairly unique to the western culture. While the ages are universal, the phenomenon of the difficult teenage years is something our culture has created and subsequently embraced. My husband and I are doing our best to raise kids in a counter-cultural way, but it is increasingly difficult as my daughter sees friends say and do things she is not allowed. I’ve been looking for ways to help her grow and be discipled in addition to the times she has at church.
Rose and I were both excited to have a chance to review Just Sayin’ new devotional for just for preteen girls. It is designed to go beyond just reading, but engage them emotionally and creatively. The layout is simple and short so it has so far enticed my daughter to want to complete a devotional each day. Carol McAdams Moore is highly experienced at writing for kids and my daughter was excited to hear she had written for Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. magazines. She definitely knows how to speak into the hearts of this age and my daughter says this is the coolest book she’s had about God!
The super fun feature about this devotional is it is interactive. Each devotional encourages drawing or something else artistic right in the book. My girl loves anything artistic so this excited her right off the bat. When I told her it was fine to decorate, add glitter, draw, or whatever right on the pages her eyes got huge and she was shocked! Then she ran off to get some glue and glitter. 
I appreciate that the text is appropriate for this age group, no matter where they are reading-level wise. Rose has never struggled with reading, but I feel comfortable recommending this devotional to anyone with kids this age no matter their abilities. 
The only part Rose said she would like changed was more Scripture to read and to use her Bible, not just have it written there. My daughter has been raised in Awana and strong Sunday School classes as well as discipleship as part of our homeschoooling curriculum. Her desire to see more Scripture is something I know is unique for one her age. In some ways I think the simplicity of meditating on one verse has been good for her. I also feel the simplicity makes it something I can recommend for anyone’s child no matter what their background is with the Bible.

Rose has loved this book and will continue to use it. After just one day she asked me, “Is there another book after this one is done I can get?” I hope the author is planning a volume two! 

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook.com® <http://BookLook.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Forgiveness: Booksneeze Review

Forgiveness is hard whether you are extending it or receiving it. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult graces from God to respond to appropriately. We don’t feel others deserve it from us. We are hesitant to ask for forgiveness, especially when we don’t think we did anything wrong. We can’t imagine God actually giving it to us. We should feel blessed God knew this would be an issue and gave us so many verses to help us in Scripture. While I would encourage anyone to start with Scripture, sometimes hearing others’ stories of forgiveness is helpful.

Matthew West is known for beautiful music which speaks to the soul. Several years ago he asked for stories. He wanted to hear stories from real people about forgiveness. He has collected several of these stories in his book, Forgiveness. Each story is followed by thoughts from Matthew West about each story. I really appreciated these insights after each story.

It is divided into four sections: Forgiving Others, Asking Forgiveness, Forgiving Yourself, and Accepting God’s Forgiveness. I appreciate they are categorized this way because there are so many different facets to forgiveness. Matthew West’s responses are grounded in Scripture. He has spent significant time studying God’s Word as he gives incredible insight for each story presented.

This light read will get you thinking deeply. Although it is a short book it is not one to be read in one sitting. The way to get the most out of this is to read it thoughtfully one section at a time in order to let it rest in your heart and mind. Whether you feel you are struggling with forgiveness or just want to explore the theology behind it, this is an excelling devotional to get you started.

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Devotions for Women: Review

We all know the way to grow closer to God is to spend more time with Him, yet it continues to be a battle of the flesh, the problem of choosing what is best. God desires relationship with us, yet we allow so much of the mundane to inhibit. At other times it isn’t the mundane as much as the tyranny of the ordinary, those every day must-dos which often distract us from what is excellent. 
So what do we do? We take a first step. We stop as soon as we realize we have not moved forward in our walk with the Lord in a while and we open the Word of God. The next step? Do it again the following day, and the day after that and the day after that. We keep on stepping until spending time with God daily is a habitual blessing we feel as if we can not survive our day without it. 
The One Year Devotions for Women: Becoming a Woman At Peace by Ann Spangler is one you’ll want to add to your bookshelf whether as a beginning first step or an addition to your established quiet-time routine. I have enjoyed reading other books by Ann Spangler and was so excited for the opportunity to review this! I knew this would be a wonderful addition to my day already being familiar with the author’s ability to take deep theology and make in understandable. 
I know from my own experiences and talking with other women that peace is hard to come by in our society. This one intangible desire is elusive to some to the point of seeking medical help. Others deny they are even missing peace in their life and yet their actions and words exhibit anxiety and distress. This is more than merely another year-long devotional. This is a spring to be refreshed with daily. 
I really like the personable way this is written. Ann Spangler takes moments from her own life to help explain a short verse of Scripture presented at the top of each day’s reading. I would have liked if there was an option for further reading, but the is an easy way for me to begin my days, especially when the days don’t begin in the way I wish they would!

As a homeschooling mother of three girls ages 8, 6, and 4 my mornings are unpredictable more often than not. I know how I would like my mornings to go, but I can count on one hand how many times it has actually gone this way! This has been a wonderful opportunity for me to center myself on Christ first thing while being able to meet my girls’ needs as they come up first thing in the morning.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a light devotional to give a moment of quiet at any time of the day whether morning, afternoon or evening. 
Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of The One Year Devotions for Women from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. 

On Pitching Fits

One night a few years ago as I was up for the fifth time with one of my daughters. Sleep seemed more than elusive for our household!

My oldest daughter pitched a fit worthy of an academy award the previous night night when we announced bedtime. We are used to getting the usual chorus of, “I don’t want to go to bed!” However that night seemed to reach a new level. I reminded her that fits don’t help; they only cause more problems, but it didn’t seem to help very much!

My middle daughter (three-years-old at the time) went to sleep okay, but struggled to remain there. She was up no less than five times within two hours, which conveniently started just as we were heading to bed. I suspect it might have something to do with the restless older sister who made the top bunk squeak. She was inconsolable unless either my husband or I were in the room with her. She kept peeking to make sure we didn’t leave.

The littlest one (she was about one) had the unfortunate problem of 3 teeth trying to break through. For the past two evenings she has fussed on and off every hour or two throughout the evening. The worst part is when we went in to try and comfort her she would push us away and didn’t even want us around. I suspected she was a little bit angry we couldn’t fix her problem and make the pain go away.

How often do we treat God the same way? We pitch a fit and do our best to get out of the things He wants us to do, all the time knowing we will have to submit and are just making matters worse. Sometimes we are so nervous about doing new things we are terrified God won’t be there with us. We want something tangible to give us comfort. Then there are the times when God doesn’t do what we expect Him to and we get upset. We’d rather He just leave us alone if He isn’t going to fix what we want Him to fix or how we think it should be done.

Many Scriptures talk about God as our Father and how much better are the things He gives to us than we, who are lowly sinners, give to our kids. I don’t believe this is necessarily talking about tangible gifts. I love my kids and want what is best for them even when they don’t always want to accept it. Not giving in to their every want is a gift. Providing for their basic needs is a gift. Teaching biblical truths is a gift. Loving them unconditionally is a gift. These are things I aim for, yet my human flesh often gets in the way. Our heavenly Father does each of these perfectly, without blemish.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
James 1:17