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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Colliding With Destiny

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Sarah Jake's Colliding With Destiny: Finding Hope in the Legacy of Ruth is for anyone who has survived a difficult past, is struggling to move on from past hurts, or who simply needs encouragement to grow and accept themselves as they are.

Sarah shares her life's story, her struggles, and her triumphs, and she offers advice based on her experiences, as well as an example of grace and strength:
"My biggest concern when I had my son at fourteen was what other people would think about me. I knew that news would spread relatively quickly, so I needed to brace myself for what I thought I'd hear. I called myself every name in the book thinking that it would somehow make it hurt less once the rumor mill started. Instead of strengthening myself with messages of hope, I fed myself with the negativity I thought was coming" (p. 73).

Colliding with Destiny offers a look at the book of Ruth, but rather than being a Bible study, this book is more of a devotional and journal. The format is ideal for working through in a small group setting, but the personal writing style and 30 short chapters are ideal for busy moms to pick up and read during a few minutes of quiet time each day. It is easy to read, with short chapters and lots of room for journaling and reflection. Sarah's leading questions inspire readers to search within themselves and think about the impact of Ruth's story on their own lives.

Jakes constantly points readers toward God and provides heartfelt prayers at the end of each chapter. Though Colliding with Destiny doesn't offer an in-depth study of Ruth, there are ample examples and passages that lay the framework for each section.

{The publisher provided a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

Monday, October 13, 2014

Candy Aisle Crafts

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Jodi Levine's Candy Aisle Crafts is a fun "cookbook" of crafting with food ideas. My little chef snatched this book up as soon as it arrived, and he is inspired by the unique and doable recipes. Formerly with Martha Stewart Kids (which I miss so much!), Jodi's familiar style of kid crafting shines in this irresistible book.

Each project features pre-made candies and other ingredients like ice cream cones, so most of them require little advance prep. There are also some cake and cupcake decorating ideas, but the cake recipes are not included. Instructions will tell you to have something like "pink frosted cupcakes" in the supplies list. I like having the items listed in bold at the beginning of each set of instructions, so I can make my shopping list easily and determine how much advance prep is required. 

The recipes in Candy Aisle Crafts are kid-friendly, and kids are featured in many of the photographs. Several of the projects would be cute for birthday parties for kids from baby on up, and many of the projects are adaptable for holiday fare. Some of the ideas are super-simple, such as shaped marshmallows for hot chocolate, and some of the ideas are elaborate, such as the cookie castle cake. But all of them are really accessible. 

Some of the activities include making flowers from gumdrops and Necco Wafers, peppermint ornaments, clown cupcake toppers, gummy animal menorah, marshmallow birds, and triangle tree pops.

My young son is able to follow the instructions and create his own version of all the projects we've tried, without frustration. It's no fun to pick up a cookbook or craft book and quickly discover that you'd have to be a professional to attempt them. Candy Aisle Crafts is practical, yet features beautiful and unique food crafts. 

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

Sunday, October 12, 2014

365 Pocket Prayers for Mothers

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365 Pocket Prayers for Mothers: Guidance and Wisdom for Each New Day is an encouraging resource for moms, providing inspiration and prayer for every day of the year. This small book is purse sized, and it features a leather-like purple cover with a removable overleaf. 

A wonderful way to delve into quiet time, this book features prayers by subject and a complete index. The one-page or less prayers are quick to read, but they get to the heart of issues that women, moms in particular, deal with each day. Each prayer is accompanied by a verse of Scripture for further reflection.

For those times when you don't have the words to pray, or when your brain is just too full of daily multi-tasks, 365 Pocket Prayers gives you a guide for spending time with God. A few minutes is all it takes to read through one of the prayers, but you will find yourself meditating on the words for much longer. The prayers are written in conversational style, and the words feel natural and personal. For example:
"You are my shelter and refuge from life's storms. Knowing that you see each tear that falls and promise never to leave me brings me such comfort. Thank you for being the Great Physician in the midst of my pain" (p. 126).

Writers Amie Carlson, Karen Hodge, and Erin Keeley Marshall contributed devotions on topics such as finances, worry, marriage, culture, grief, perspective, home, love, perseverance, and many more. 365 Pocket Prayers for Mothers is designed so you can read through it chronologically, or you can find prayers on specific topics as needed. 

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Why Dogs Are...

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A sweet picture book for all ages, Why Dogs Are... by Tana Thompson is a story about the hearts of dogs. Featuring all the ways dogs help those who love them, this book focuses on how dogs for the disabled have a special calling. The illustrations by Marita Gentry complement the story as they capture the imagination. This writer/illustrator team pairs up glowingly to create a beautiful story.

Why Dogs Are... depicts dogs as living in heaven with God, while a young boy on Earth named Brian is closed off from the world through his disabilities. Though he has a loving family and enjoys things like pizza and swings, God wants to show him how much He loves him though something he could touch and understand. God decides to send Dog to Earth, especially for Brian. Their relationship is illustrated without words, perfectly capturing Brian's experience. Dog not only loves Brian, but he also brings a smile to his face and provides a bridge to the rest of the world. As the other dogs with their people show as well, they are able to reach people in a special way that nothing else can.

Though the premise of this book is God's reason for sending Dog to Earth, the story is not biblical and should not be taken as such. The depictions of God and heaven are fictionalized and do not follow the Bible, so care should be taken to explain this to younger readers.

Anyone who loves dogs or who has worked with therapy dogs will be moved by this book. Why Dogs Are... is a wonderful read-aloud for young kids, but it is presented in a way that all ages will enjoy. It would be an especially nice book to provide to a children's hospital library. 

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book through Bookcrash in exchange for my honest opinions.}

Monday, October 6, 2014

NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women

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The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women is a beautiful compact Bible with a sea glass and Caribbean blue embossed leather-like cover and pages etched in silver. Enclosed in a floral designed box, this Bible is a great gift idea. The presentation of this Bible is really gorgeous, and its proportions are purse size. Because of its petite dimensions, however, the print is very small and tightly laid out. 

This devotional Bible is edited by Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries, with daily devotionals by Lysa and the women of Proverbs 31, including Renee Swope, Glynnis Whitwer, Karen Ehman, Micca Campbell, LeAnn Rice, and more.These devotions are written specifically to women, tackling topics that real women can relate to, such as issues of work, motherhood, relationships, and the responsibilities of busy everyday lives. The 366 devotional readings are numbered, so if you choose to, you can read one a day along with the suggested accompanying verses for an entire year. 

Delving into God's Word in the NIV Real Life Devotional Bible is a pleasure. Features include a table of contents and an alphabetical listing of the books of the Bible, an index of the devotions by author, a topical index, and a chart of weights and measures. The color scheme of sea glass and blue is carried throughout the pages with each title's ink color, as well as the background of the devotional pages. And, the words of the ladies of Proverbs 31 complement the Scripture beautifully. For example, in reflection of Isaiah 40:12, Micca Campbell writes:
". . . He can hold the oceans in the palm of his hand! With a God this big, what could ever escape his attention? What need could we have that he cannot handle? What on earth, above the earth, or under the earth can make us afraid? Certainly, we can place our trust in a God so big that even the waves obey their boundaries (p. 821)."
This pretty Bible will entice you to pick it up and delve inside. It is a wonderful resource for life.

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}